2:00PM Water Cooler 3/4/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

From Peru, another tour de force. Macaulay supplies waveforms for each audio clip, which is a good way to sort for what might be interesting. Most bird species have similar waveforms for all the clips (differences come from other birds, or buzzing insects, or automobile noises). Not so the mockingbird! Most of the waveforms differm even within species!


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:

Early in February, I said a simple way to compare Biden’s performance to Trump’s on vaccination would be to compare the slopes of the curves. If Biden accelerated vaccine administration, the slopes would get steeper. What I expected was that that the slopes would remain the same; that the fragmented, Federalized, and profit-driven lumbering monstrosity that we laughingly call our “health care” “system” would not respond to “energy in the executive,” but would continue on its inertial path. What I did not expect was that vaccine administration would collapse, as it has been doing for the last two weeks, with the nose-drive accelerating in the last week. It is true that I’m looking at averages, but if the averages continue like this for another week or two, at some point somebody’s going to notice and say something. Biden has taken steps to increase production, it is true, and has moved the date when any American can get a vaccine forward, but with a multiplying process like a pandemic, the future is now.

Case count by United States region:

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

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

New York and Texas now in parallel.

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 fatality rate in the West (red) is rising still, which is what worries me. Now it’s at it’s highest in over a year. It’s not going vertical, which is what I feared. Is the reason nobody else is worrying about this is that it’s not really a problem?


“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

“What Are the Cultural Revolution’s Lessons for Our Current Moment?” [The New Yorker]. I missed this one back in February. The material on China is interesting and I assume has undergone the famous New Yorker fact-checking process. But: “Trump failed to purge all the old élites, largely because he was forced to depend on them, and the Proud Boys never came close to matching the ferocity and reach of the Red Guards. Nevertheless, Trump’s most devoted followers, whether assaulting his opponents or bombarding the headquarters in Washington, D.C., took their society to the brink of civil war while their chairman openly delighted in chaos under heaven.” • Holy moley! More: “Order appears to have been temporarily restored (in part by Big Tech, one of Trump’s enablers). But the problem of political representation in a polarized, unequal, and now economically debilitated society remains treacherously unresolved. Four traumatic years of Trump are passing into history, but the United States seems to have completed only the first phase of its own cultural revolution.” • This is liberal Democrat self-aggrandizement of a high order! Comparing the Capitol seizure to the Cultural Revolution, and Trump to Mao Tse-Tung? Really?

“Most alleged Capitol rioters unconnected to extremist groups, analysis finds” [Guardian]. “Nearly 90% of the people charged in the Capitol riot so far have no connection with militias or other organized extremist groups, according to a new analysis that adds to the understanding of what some experts have dubbed the ‘mass radicalization’ of Trump supporters. A report from George Washington University’s Center on Extremism has analyzed court records about cases that have been made public. It found that more than half of people facing federal charges over the 6 January attack appear to have planned their participation alone, not even coordinating with family members or close friends. Only 33 of the 257 alleged participants appear to have been part of existing “militant networks”, including the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers anti-government militia.” • Lol. Not exactly Red Guards led by Chairman Mao, as the fools at the New Yorker seem to really believe!

“Capitol Police ask that National Guard stay for another 60 days” [ABC]. “Two U.S. officials confirmed Thursday that the Capitol Police have requested a 60-day extension for the National Guard presence at the Capitol. One official said the request is being reviewed.” • Two months sounds pretty close to permanent, to me. Maybe we should build the Guard some nice barracks?

Biden Administration

UPDATE “Ron Klain has one of the busiest jobs in D.C. — and one of the most active Twitter feeds, too” [NBC]. Oh, look. A beat sweetener. “Now, Biden officials see Klain’s Twitter account as one of their main messaging channels to progressive forces they see as a key part of their governing coalition.” • Oh.

UPDATE Kamala does some heavy lifting:

The replies are quite something…

“Column: Biden’s $1.9-trillion big spend is a big bet on modern economic theory” [Los Angeles Times]. “[N]ow economists — and Biden — are trying something new. They’re working on the premise that it’s neither government deficits nor a failure of thrift that causes economic problems. Rather, it’s government stinginess that leads to unemployment, which in turn deprives people the money they need to cover taxes, which in turn pay for the common good. As Stephanie Kelton, former chief economist on the Senate Budget Committee, argues in her bestseller “The Deficit Myth,” the country’s real deficits are in healthcare, jobs, infrastructure, education and the climate. But rather than address those things by spending, writes Kelton, the government proceeds in terror of not ‘balancing the budget,;’ falsely believing that an unbalanced budget is the source of inflation. ‘We run around like a six-foot-tall guy who wanders around perpetually hunched over in a house with eight-foot ceilings because someone convinced him that if he tries to stand up tall he’ll suffer a massive head trauma,’ she writes.” • “Head trauma.” That’s a keeper….

“Biden’s State Rescue Dwarfs Tax Hit, Turning It Into Stimulus” [Bloomberg]. “Listen to any of the architects of the $1.9 trillion spending package winding its way through Congress — from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to White House economic adviser Brian Deese — and they will tell you the aid is urgently needed to rescue the economy. It is, they insist, simply relief for Americans struggling to get through the pandemic. But at least one important slice of the package — the nearly $200 billion being earmarked to state governments — goes beyond a rescue and is almost certain to further stimulate an economy that is already beginning to rapidly recover. That’s because those proposed cash transfers are more than six times greater than the approximately $31 billion of expected tax revenue that disappeared in the current fiscal year, according to pre-pandemic and more recent forecasts compiled by Bloomberg. In other words, that money could make up for that loss and be plowed back into states’ economies, such as their own version of relief checks, infrastructure projects and more, depending on the federal guidelines around the aid.” • Good!

Biden Walkbacks: “A Path to Nowhere” [Rampant]. “Despite the campaign rhetoric and repeated promises to restore a “fair and humane” policy, Biden and the Democrats are already walking that back—and appear to be walking away—from any real push for substantive immigration reform. The much-touted flurry of executive orders to ostensibly roll back the horrible policies of Trump have been only half-steps. Many of his initial orders and memos introduce temporary pauses to some aspects of enforcement to supposedly allow for review without making explicit changes. Meanwhile, the promise of immigrant legalization within one hundred days is shaping up to be a replay of the failed promises of the Obama era. Furthermore, the Biden proposals leave the already sprawling architecture of migrant repression intact.” • Worth reading in full.

“The House Passes a Major Voting Rights Bill—and Creates a Helluva Battle in the Senate” [Mother Jones]. ” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), a chief sponsor of [HR 1] the voting rights legislation, tells me she supports killing the filibuster to pass this legislation. ‘I would get rid of the filibuster,’ Klobuchar says. ‘I have favored filibuster reform for a long time and now especially for this critical election bill.'” • Interesting.

Republican Funhouse

“The new grifters: outrage profiteers” [Axios]. “As Republicans lost the Senate and narrowly missed retaking the House, millions of dollars in grassroots donations were diverted to a handful of 2020 congressional campaigns challenging high-profile Democrats that, realistically, were never going to succeed…. Call it the outrage-industrial complex. Slick fundraising consultants market candidates contesting some of their party’s most reviled opponents. Well-meaning donors pour money into dead-end campaigns instead of competitive contests. The only winner is the consultants.” • Wait, this isn’t the Amy McGrath race? Or whoever ran against Susan Collins?

Democrats en deshabille

“New book: Cuomo angered Biden team with convention address” [The Hill]. “New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) angered now-President Biden’s campaign in 2020 over his speech at the Democratic National Convention, which aides considered to be self-aggrandizing. According to the new book ‘Lucky: How Joe Biden Barely Won the Presidency,’ Cuomo did not deliver his recording of his speech until the day he was set to appear and used much of his remarks to tout his response to the coronavirus pandemic rather than praise Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee. When Biden’s aides asked him to refilm the speech, Cuomo refused,… In his speech, Cuomo did not mention Biden until the final 10 seconds of his five-minute time slot. ‘They put his speech on our doorstep, lit it on fire, rang the doorbell, and then ran away,’ said one person involved in the content production.” • Could it be that Cuomo actually believes that he did a good job?

UPDATE “Cuomo Enters Survival Mode After Public Apology, Show of Remorse” [Bloomberg]. “Even if Cuomo survives this latest crisis, it marks a striking turn of events from earlier in the pandemic when he was given the moniker “America’s Governor” and won an Emmy award for his televised virus briefings.”

UPDATE “Cuomo’s office accused of violating its own sexual harassment policy” [Politico]. “A high-ranking Democrat in the New York Legislature and a lawyer representing one of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s accusers say the governor’s office flouted its own rules on handling sexual harassment complaints. An executive order issued by Cuomo two years ago requires such allegations against state employees to be referred to the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations, which must conduct an investigation even if a victim declines to file a formal complaint with the office. State law also requires such an investigation. But Cuomo’s staff won’t say if that happened when Charlotte Bennett, a 25-year-old executive assistant in the governor’s office, complained to Cuomo’s chief of staff, Jill DesRosiers, that the governor had questioned her about her sex life last spring.”

No, the mail isn’t from Frank Luntz. It’s from those ghouls at Mothership Strategies:

Our Famously Free Press

“TikTok Played a Key Role in MAGA Radicalization” [Wired]. “Our team at the National Conference on Citizenship has been monitoring content on Parler continuously for the past few months, and what we saw generally mirrors what others have reported: The platform was a hotbed of misinformation, conspiracy theories, hate, and incitements to violence. There was also a lot of spam and junk. Parler was, and is, a dirty, disgusting place, but in terms of volume and reach, it was just a drop in the ocean. We’ve also been monitoring TikTok for the past two years, as it grew from an entertaining novelty into a significant player capturing online attention share. Practical jokes and dance memes might be the dominant content, but just below the surface lurks a darker current infused with violence and hate that mirrors what we see on Parler, except here it has a much wider committed following. While Parler prided itself on having little to no moderation, TikTok has moved aggressively to enforce community guidelines and take down content. Still, a large and growing segment of the platform creates and shares problematic messages that risk radicalizing users. Many of these videos fall into a gray area that makes them difficult for moderation to address.


“David Shor on Why Trump Was Good for the GOP and How Dems Can Win in 2022” [New York Magazine]. “One high-level takeaway is that the 2020 electorate had a very similar partisan composition to the 2016 electorate. When the polls turned out to be wrong — and Trump turned out to be much stronger than they predicted — a lot of people concluded that turnout models must have been off: Trump must have inspired higher Republican turnout than expected. But that looks wrong. It really seems like the electorate was slightly more Democratic than it had been in 2016, largely due to demographic change (because there’s such a large partisan gap between younger and older voters, every four years the electorate gets something like 0.4 percent more Democratic just through generational churn). So Trump didn’t exceed expectations by inspiring higher-than-anticipated Republican turnout. He exceeded them mostly through persuasion. A lot of voters changed their minds between 2016 and 2020.” • So that lunatic, Scott Adams, was right?! More: “Over the last four years, white liberals have become a larger and larger share of the Democratic Party. There’s a narrative on the left that the Democrats’ growing reliance on college-educated whites is pulling the party to the right (Matt Karp had an essay on this recently). But I think that’s wrong. Highly educated people tend to have more ideologically coherent and extreme views than working-class ones. We see this in issue polling and ideological self-identification. College-educated voters are way less likely to identify as moderate. So as Democrats have traded non-college-educated voters for college-educated ones, white liberals’ share of voice and clout in the Democratic Party has gone up. And since white voters are sorting on ideology more than nonwhite voters, we’ve ended up in a situation where white liberals are more left wing than Black and Hispanic Democrats on pretty much every issue: taxes, health care, policing, and even on racial issues or various measures of “racial resentment.” So as white liberals increasingly define the party’s image and messaging, that’s going to turn off nonwhite conservative Democrats and push them against us.” • The whole article is worth reading in full, especially the “defund the police” material.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Republican governors loom over precarious Senate” [Axios]. “Nineteen seats in the U.S. Senate could potentially flip parties if there’s an unexpected vacancy, according to Axios’ analysis of state vacancy rules, which most often allow the governor to appoint a replacement. … Depending on the senator, a single resignation, retirement or death — by accident or old age — could flip control of the 50-50 Senate, or give Democrats a two-vote cushion….. More than a quarter of the Senate is 70-plus…. Six of those senior senators are Democrats in states where a Republican governor is authorized to appoint a replacement — at least in the interim — if a senator abruptly retires or dies in office.” • Gerentocracy has a price….

UPDATE “How Much Longer Can This Era Of Political Gridlock Last?” [FiveThirtyEight]. “[T]oday, the factors locking in continued closely-balanced hyper-partisan politics are much stronger. And absent a major change to the rules of our elections, no realignment lies in sight. Instead, deepening partisan trench warfare will only worsen fights over the basic rules of voting, undermining the shared legitimacy of elections on which democracy depends.”

“Now Could Be Buffett’s Moment to Lend America a Hand” [Conor Sen, Bloomberg]. “From a new presidential slogan of “Build Back Better” to an economy strained by supply chain problems everywhere, it’s never been more clear that America is consumed with the need to invest heavily across a variety of industries to power growth in the years to come. That still begs the question of who’s in the best position to make those investments. When the need is in the hundreds of billions, if not trillions, of dollars over an indefinite time horizon, the list of potential players shrinks dramatically. Not many companies have the resources to do it in the private sector…. [I]nfrastructure and fixed investment might become the ideal Berkshire investment opportunity in the years to come… Berkshire now finds itself better-positioned than any other company to be a bottomless source of capital for funding whatever opportunities present themselves in a decade where infrastructure investments might define the decade’s economy.” • Well, aside from the State, of course. In any case, we don’t want opportunities to “present themselves.” We want to create them.

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: “United States Initial Jobless Claim” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose to 745 thousand in the week ended February 27th, from the previous week’s revised figure of 736 thousand and compared to market expectations of 750 thousand. Claims remained at high levels as the US economy struggles to sustain the labor market recovery amid coronavirus-induced restrictions and a lack of fiscal support.”

Employment Situation: “United States Challenger Job Cuts” [Trading Economics]. “Planned job cuts announced by US based companies fell by 57 percent to 34,531 in February of 2021, the lowest monthly total since December of 2019. Most jobs were cut in retail (9,257), followed by energy (3,736) and insurance industry (3,128).”

Productivity: “4Q2020 Final Headline Productivity Contracts” [Econintersect]. “A simple summary of the headlines for this release is that labor costs are growing and productivity is contracting on a quarter-over-quarter basis… Doing a productivity analysis during a major recession or recovery period is a waste of time as productivity is obscured by government interventions.”

Manufacturing: “United States Factory Orders” [Trading Economics]. “New orders for US manufactured goods rose by 2.6 percent from a month earlier in January 2021, the largest increase since last July and above market expectations of a 2.1 percent advance. Demand for transport equipment climbed by 7.7 percent, boosted by jumps in orders for civilian aircraft (389.9 percent), defense aircraft (63.1 percent), ships and boats (52.1 percent), and vehicles (1.6 percent).” • Interesting it’s transport.

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Shipping: “Is dry bulk shipping’s strange Q1 a sign of strength to come?” [Hellenic Shipping News]. “It has been a particularly strange Q1 for dry bulk shipping. Usually, the larger ships — Capesizes with capacities of around 180,000 deadweight tons (DWT) that carry iron ore and coal — do poorly all quarter. This year, they did better in January than they had in a decade before succumbing to their usual slump. Then came another oddity: The smaller bulkers began earning much more money than the Capesizes…. The bullish view on all of this strangeness is that Capesizes did so well early in the quarter because the supply-demand balance is tight.”

Tech: “Google promises it won’t just keep tracking you after replacing cookies” [The Verge]. “Google is slowly phasing out third-party tracking cookies, and today, it’s making it clear that it won’t just replace them with something equally invasive despite the impact the change will have on Google’s lucrative advertising business. In a blog post, Google explicitly states that it ‘will not build alternate identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web’ after the third-party cookies are gone. ‘Instead, our web products will be powered by privacy-preserving APIs which prevent individual tracking while still delivering results for advertisers and publishers,’ writes Google. ‘Advances in aggregation, anonymization, on-device processing and other privacy-preserving technologies offer a clear path to replacing individual identifiers.'” • I wonder what “on-device processing” means…

Tech: “Brave buys a search engine, promises no tracking, no profiling – and may even offer a paid-for, no-ad version” [The Register]. “Brave, maker of the identically named privacy-focused web browser, has acquired its own search engine to offer as an alternative to Google Search and competing search engines that exist but aren’t all that visible in Google’s shadow. On Wednesday, the company plans to announce that it’s taking over Tailcat, a search engine developed by Cliqz, another privacy-focused browser biz that aspired to compete with Google and shut down last year. The deal, terms undisclosed, makes Cliqz owner Hubert Burda Media a Brave shareholder. Brave intends to make Tailcat the foundation of its own search service, Brave Search. The company hopes that its more than 25 million monthly active Brave customers will, after an initial period of testing and courtship, choose to make Brave Search their default search engine and will use it alongside other parts of its privacy-oriented portfolio, which also includes Brave Ads, news reader Brave Today, Brave Firewall+VPN, and video conferencing system Brave Together.”

Manufacturing: “GM extends production cuts due to chip shortage, Stellantis warns of lingering pain” [Reuters]. “The global semiconductor chip shortage led General Motors Co on Wednesday to extend production cuts at three North American plants and add a fourth to the list of factories hit, and Stellantis [a a multinational automotive manufacturer] to warn the pain could linger far into the year.”

Concentration: “The Whole Web Pays For Google And Facebook To Be Free” [Bloomberg]. “Consider all the paywalls and paid services that are rolling out across the internet. News, films, music and even theatrical streaming are now available for a subscription fee. The latest example is Twitter Inc., which announced last week that it plans a paid product, dubbed “Super Follows,” where users can charge followers for “premium” tweets and other content. The move is a way for the company to decrease its dependence on advertising revenue — a pot of money that’s increasingly being swallowed up by just Google and Facebook. If online power, and the ad revenue that comes with it, continues to concentrate within those two platforms, expect what you watch, read or listen to elsewhere on the web to start costing you money.”

Concentration: “Amazon accused of copying camera gearmaker’s top-selling item” [CNBC]. “Peak Design has been selling its ‘Everyday Sling’ since 2017, while Amazon’s private-label business released a strikingly similar product last October, called the ‘Amazon Basics Everyday Sling.’ … Peak Design isn’t the first company to question how the retail giant comes up with its own products. Allbirds co-CEO Joey Zwillinger in 2019 called out Amazon for releasing a knit shoe with “striking resemblances” to its own product. More recently, a Wall Street Journal investigation last April found that Amazon uses data from third-party sellers to help develop its private-label goods.” • Peak Design made a video. It’s pretty funny:

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 49 Neutral (previous close: 52 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 58 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 4 at 12:40pm.

The Biosphere

“Can Bacteria Build A Cheaper Refrigerator?” [Issues in Science and Technology]. “Refrigeration accounts for 17 percent of global energy consumption. In addition to being expensive, it often uses toxic gases that harm the atmosphere and cause global warming. Students from Universidad de los Andes explored ways to bring refrigeration to remote communities in Colombia that lack electricity and refrigeration. These rural areas face health risks when vaccines, lab tests, and medicines can’t be refrigerated properly. The students focused on properties of a bacteria called Pseudomonas syringae, which often attacks plants. Scientists have discovered that this bacteria also produces a protein that makes water freeze at higher temperatures. Using this bacteria, the team were able to raise the freezing temperature of water to 4 ºC (39.2ºF), potentially lowering the amount of energy needed to make ice. In well-built coolers, ice made this way can last much longer than regular ice. The team named its natural refrigeration project PseudoFreeze, after the bacteria itself. Its first application is an icebox to transport vaccines to places without electricity.” • Cool!

“A ‘space hurricane’ hovered above the North Pole for about 8 hours, study says” [USA Today] (original). “The observations, made by satellites in August 2014, were only uncovered during retrospective analyses led by scientists from Shandong University in China. The phenomenon would be an incredible sight, but it’s likely no one saw this particular space hurricane. It would be visible to the naked eye, Lockwood told USA TODAY, “but because the event is over the pole you would have to be at very high latitudes (to see it).”:

Health Care

A ton of useful videos on ventilation and aersols in this thread:

Perhaps I should go back an aggregate the studies….

“Masks Don’t Affect Oxygen Saturation in People With Asthma” [MedScape]. “Wearing a mask to protect against transmission of COVID-19 does not decrease oxygen saturation, according to a new study. Oxygen saturation did not decline in more than 200 mask-wearing individuals attending an asthma and allergy clinic, regardless of the type of mask they were wearing and how long they had been wearing the mask.” • A late-breaking paper at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

Our Famously Free Press

“NYTimes Peru N-Word, Part Two: What Happened January 28?” [Donald G. McNeil Jr.] Times Executive Ediitor Dean Baquet: “But Donald, you’ve lost the newsroom. People are hurt. People are saying they won’t work with you because you didn’t apologize.” • You’ve “lost the newsroom”? Really? Well, I suppose the job of an Executive Editor is to, well, execute….

Meanwhile, David Brooks is still firmly ensconced:


“Dungeons & Dragons’ Racial Reckoning Is Long Overdue” [Wired]. From January, still germane: “The Dungeons & Dragons roundtables have been excellent, and they highlight the community-led efforts to make role-playing games more inclusive. Less great have been WotC’s revisions and updates to its old material. Curse of Strahd Revamped is an excellent example of this disconnect. During a Curse of Strahd campaign, players are helped and hindered by the Vistani. As written, the Vistani are itinerant people who live in elaborate wagons, wear bright clothing, enjoy drinking, and try to scam the players every chance they get. Most, but not all, work for Strahd, the campaign’s principal villain. The Vistani are a paper-thin Romani stereotype, and WotC promised to update Curse of Strahd with the help of a Romani consultant. So what did they change or remove? The original publication included the sentence “Although they can seem lazy and irresponsible to outsiders, the Vistani are serious people, quick to act when their lives or traditions are threatened.” The revised edition removed the lines about laziness and irresponsibility. The revised edition also removed a single use of the word “vardo” to describe Vistani wagons, a direct reference to Romani. That’s the bulk of the changes to the Vistani in the revised Curse of Strahd. Aside from a few lines pulled, their characterization is largely the same. They still lay curses on people, use a power called the “Evil Eye,” get drunk in scripted scenes, and attempt to con the players out of their fortune. A few overtly offensive lines were changed, but the Vistani remain much as they were—a thinly veiled Romani stereotype.” • I’m not a game designer. It’s not at all clear to me how to write a game without stereotypes. If fully-rounded, fleshed out individuals are what we want, that’s a job for a novelist, and the great ones are thin on the ground, plus the business doesn’t scale, plus great novelists have their own biases, for good or ill. What do readers think?

Book Nook

Happy World Book Day:

More to come on this, –lambert UPDATE See below; alll done.

“The reckoning with Dr. Seuss’ racist imagery has been years in the making” [NBC News]. “‘In Dr. Seuss’ books, we have a kind of sensibility which is oriented toward centering the white child and decentering everyone else,‘ said Ebony Thomas, a professor of children’s and young adult literature at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of “The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games.'” • Leaving aside whatever they or authorial intent is implied by “oriented”, and whatever is meant by “centered,” Thomas means — besides Dr. Seuss — books like Alice in Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh, Mary Poppins, the Wind in the Willows, the Wizard of Oz, Charlotte’s Web, Where the Wild Things Are, Goodnight Moon, Harold and the Purple Crayon, Make Way for Ducklings, Madeline, the Tale of Peter Rabbit and all of Beatrix Potter, Eloise, My Father’s Dragon, and Pippi Longstocking, presumably all now on Thomas’s hit list, or other consultant’s. Of the other childrens’ book I read — or had read to me — I’d worry about Dr. Doolittle (racist portrayals), Rudyard Kipling (colonialism), and sadly, the Babar series (ditto colonialism). And yes, if “Dr. Seuss once drew Black boxers as gorillas and perpetuated Jewish stereotypes by portraying Jewish characters as financially stingy, according to a study published in the journal ‘Research on Diversity in Youth Literature,” those are books I wouldn’t recommend to the unwary reader. But then we get this very interesting thread from Michael Harriott, from which I excerpt the Seuss-relevant part, but which you should read in full:

Far be it from me to question the authority or judgment of Harriott’s mother, although “Green Eggs” is not one of Seuss books no longer to be published. But here is a copy of Green Eggs and Ham in video form (you can turn the sound down).

What I see as an adult today — I don’t recall what I saw as a child — is Sam I Am finding all kinds of ways to offer a behatted, nameless, and extremely white creature color — and the white creature ultimately accepting the offer. Readers, if you have an interpretation that brings out the racism, please share.

How I remember Doctor Seuss: I was and am a dyslexic. I had a very hard time learning to read (I couldn’t get my head round the idea that the order of letters in words was significant). So over a vacation, my father sat me down at the top of the stairs, and we would read Doctor Seuss together, starting with One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, and moving on from there. By the end of the vacation, I was reading well, and never looked back. I guess it was those hours spent with my father reading Doctor Seuss that drove the racism irremediably, deeply, into my soul. Good to know, I guess. Happy World Book Day!

Class Warfare

“In Palm Beach, Covid-19 vaccines intended for rural Black communities are instead going to wealthy white Floridians” [STAT]. “They came from Stuart and West Palm Beach and Miami, even from Port Charlotte on the Gulf coast, many arriving in Pahokee for the first time. Plenty of locals were vaccinated too, but they were outnumbered by the out-of-towners. They drove with hearts in their mouths, anxious at the possibility of finally getting Covid-19 protection after weeks of rising at 5:45 a.m. to unsuccessfully enter the online lottery for vaccines that had been outsourced to the Publix supermarket chain…. Individually, each person who arrived was desperate for a life-protecting injection. Collectively, their demographics reflected a pattern that has played out within Florida and across the United States, where the Black and Hispanic populations disproportionately affected by Covid-19 have been left behind in the vaccine rollout.”

“Some “Politically Incorrect” Pathways Through PC” [Stuart Hall]. PC is yesterday’s “cancel culture.

From 2018, still germane: “In the old days, class and economic exploitation were what the left considered the “principal contradiction” of social life. All the major social conflicts seemed to flow from and lead back to them. The era of PC is marked by the proliferation of the sites of social conflict to include conflicts around questions of race, gender, sexuality, the family, ethnicity and cultural difference, as well as issues around class and inequality. Issues like family life, marriage and sexual relations, or food, which used to be considered “non-political,” have become politicized. PC is also characteristic of the rise of “identity politics,” where shared social identity (as woman, Black, gay or lesbian), not material interest or collective disadvantage, is the mobilizing factor. It reflects the spread of “the political” from the public to the private arena, the sphere of informal social interaction and the scenarios of everyday life. The feminist slogan, “The personal is political,” captures these shifts perfectly.” • Here is the complete original, which includes material on Thatcherism’s successful beatdown of Ken Livingstone’s Greater London Council. I dunno. On material conditions, maybe everything old is new again? After all, “Where’s my $2,000 check?” is a question that cuts across class, but that most if not all identities share.

And on the anti-cancel culture right, a thread:

I can’t help but think that a lot of the neo-cons came from the Marxist tradition, which say what you will, has an extremely robust tradition of debate practiced by expert controversialists. Today’s right — coddled on wingnut welfare by billionaires — has no such tradition. Nor do they have the energy that comes from apostasy. Perhaps that accounts for their flaccidity and dullness.

News of the Wired

I am not feeling wired today, I am afraid.

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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 (EB):

EB writes: “Cedar tree in Olympic National Forest with additions.”

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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. Samuel Conner

    > Comparing the Capitol seizure to the Cultural Revolution, and Trump to Mao Tse-Tung? Really?

    They even have their own “Long March” (“through the institutions”, courtesy of Bill Buckley and company. How poorly he conceived what his movement would become)


    1. Alex

      Another good analogy the New Yorker may want to add in a follow-up article: The Reichstag Fire was the Nazis framing the communists in order to seize greater control. Jan 6 was the Democrat oligarchy framing the populist right…
      It’s been a quiet March 4, so I guess those troops will be leaving DC, right?
      I’ll eat my words if something terrible happens, but come on, guys.

      1. km

        The Reichstag Fire was clearly a false flag. I don’t think the Capitol Hill Riot was.

        However, 1/6 was hella convenient for those in Team D who were looking for an excuse to sic law enforcement on their enemies.

        Just like I am not a 9/11 Truther, but the dust had barely settled from the Towers when the neocons had The Patriot Act and the War on Iraq, all ready to go. All they needed was a reason, and 9/11 gave them that reason.

        1. Michael Fiorillo

          Yes, there is no contradiction in maintaining that the political response to 9/11 was opportunistic and, in important ways, baked in advance, without thinking the buildings were brought down in a planned demolition overseen by Dick Cheney.

          Interestingly, maximalist Russiagaters and 9/11 Truthers share a similar, messianic, magical conviction that once the word – i.e. evidence-free conspiracy theories – it out, justice will prevail and the resident bad guy(s) will be removed.

          Let’s be kind and just say, a serious politics it’s not.

          1. km

            The Russiagate conspiracy theory can be seen as the flip side of the QAnon conspiracy theory.

            QAnon is but a rehash of the old NESARA conspiracy theory.

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                From Wikipedia, the title of the NESARA book is… Draining the Swamp: Monetary and Fiscal Policy Reform (!!!).

                Published 1996. Maybe I can ask Kamala for some yarn for my diagram, sheesh, it’s all just too much.

            1. Temporarily Sane

              Russiagate is basically propaganda on steroids, it’s a massive exaggeration of something that does happen, i.e. nation states meddling in each other’s affairs.

              QAnon, otoh, is just family bloggin’ nuts and has more in common with medieval blood libel type conspiracies than anything reality based.

              They are both conspiracy theories but that’s where the similarities ends.

              An aside….With all the, justified, outrage over the Democrats and the liberal “left”, the right escapes a lot of criticism. Just because the Democratic Party and its acolytes are shysters, doesn’t mean the Republicans and their collection of ghouls are any better or wiser. But there is a lot of …but Russiagate, …but Obama, …but Democrats type stuff when the right’s nefariousness is brought up.

              Personally, I pick c) None of the above, but I get the sense many politically involved people have a difficult time not following or supporting one or the other duopoly party.

        1. John

          Why? Isn’t the fence, the presence of which offends me to the soles of my feet, enough? Does anyone understand the picture all this is presenting or are they too busy pulling the blanket over their heads to look?

          1. Tom Stone

            John, I think the picture being presented by the Capitol being
            “protected” by the Military is appropriate, considering the state of the Nation.
            There’s little or no need to pretend any more…

            1. rowlf

              Weird, as it appeared the US military’s purpose was to protect Saudi Arabia and Israel. What does the US military do for the US?

              Instead of a fence around the Capitol why not a moat?

        2. Robert Hahl

          This military response may be about protecting the 50/50 Senate. If they didn’t like it, somebody would have switched parties by now.

      2. clarky90

        Did you know that there are only 7 basic plotlines (archetypes) throughout all story telling?

        Leon Trotsky: ‘I stake my life!’

        NY Hippodrome Meeting, American Committee for the Defense of Leon Trotsky – 9 February 1937

        6000 People gathered in New York Hippodrome to hear Trotsky defend himself against the accusation’s in Stalin’s Moscow Trials, where he was defendant in absentia. Trotsky was assassinated in Mexico in August 1940.


        “…..The Zinoviev-Kamenev trial has provoked in public opinion; terror, agitation, indignation, distrust, or at least, perplexity. The trial of Piatakov-Radek, has once more enhanced these sentiments. Such is the incontestable fact. A doubt of justice signifies, in this case, a suspicion of frame-up. Can one find a more humiliating suspicion against a government which appears under the banner of socialism? Where do the interests of the soviet government itself lie? ………”

        1. chuck roast

          I’m watching Babylon Berlin for a second time on cable. There is a subplot of Trotskyites from the 4th International trying to smuggle the bearded exile gold to Istanbul. One of the cool things about the Trots’ was that they had a little “4” tattooed on their hands.

      3. ObjectiveFunction

        Hey, give it a couple of years and it will pass into the ‘heroic’ mythology of both “Woke” and “RIght”. Consider Horst Wessel, son of a preacher, who, as bourgeois poseurs will do, overplayed the Thug Life thing and walked into a Spartacist bullet in 1930, only to be resurrected as a Stakhanovite hero of the NSDAP. Extremists looooove them a martyr.

        Dear Diary, I’ve cut off Heather Chandler’s head and Heather Duke’s head has sprouted in its place, like some mythological thing my eighth grade boyfriend would know about.

        Social Distortion: Machine Gun Blues

    2. R

      A bit close to the knuckle, that Long March analogy. An admission that the US is an authoritarian gerontocracy with essentially one party.

      We will see Buden swim the Potomac? Or will Mrs Biden rule with Bill and Hilary after Joe’s death?

      1. The Rev Kev

        The Chinese Long March was about 8,000 miles (12,500 kilometres) long. Those rioters that marched to the Capitol Building only marched a few blocks – and probably some of them were huffing and puffing by the time they got there. So one of these things is not like the other.

      2. Temporarily Sane

        What, no Mention of Trump or McConnell? Oh, right they are spring chickens compared to Biden and Pelosi and way less authoritarian.

  2. boydownthelane

    As a recent purchaser of a Peak Design 30-liter backpack through B&H Video in NYC, I am aware that the company has also helped fund the documentary film “Understory”, now touring globally. “Understory” is a short film that takes us deep into Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, the largest remaining temperate rainforest on the planet. Our guide, Elsa Sebastian, is a young local fisherman who grew up “off-grid” in a remote village surrounded by the vast, ancient forest. When Elsa learns that the U.S. federal government is axing environmental protections for nine million acres of the Tongass, she is driven to action–first fixing up an old sailboat, and then setting sail on a 350-mile expedition along the rainforest’s coast.

    Elsa is joined by Dr. Natalie Dawson, a biologist who has spent decades studying Alaska’s wildlife, and artist Mara Menahan. For a month the team documents old-growth trees threatened by logging, witnesses the dark aftermath of clearcuts, visits streams teeming with salmon, and learns about indigenous cultural connections to the Tongass. As Elsa, Natalie, and Mara personally and directly face the devastating impacts of the timber industry on the old growth forest, they struggle to hold onto hope. With the end of their journey comes the realization that saving our last ancient rainforests is more urgent than they could have imagined.

    Director Colin Arisman deftly unpacks and presents the story of greed and mis-guided government management that has defined decades of logging in the Tongass. Through breathtaking cinematography and poignant personal experience, Understory makes the case that saving ancient forests like the Tongass is critical to both the resilience of humans and the future of our planet’s climate.

    Learn more at http://www.tongassfilm.com

    The film features stunning photography, a good soundtrack, is well-written, and features a great narrative that culminates nicely at about the 37th minute. I commend it to you. It should win the Derrick Jensen award. https://derrickjensen.org/ If you have not read his books, you should start soon.]

  3. a different chris

    >But the problem of political representation in a polarized, unequal, and now economically debilitated society remains treacherously unresolved.

    Tangential to Lambert’s point, but something – keyed off the words “political polarization” – I like to bring up occasionally to everyone’s discomfort: We have too few politicians.

    Specifically in the House of Representatives. The current size is 435, and has been since 1913 when the population was well under 1/3 of what it is now. If you tripled the House to 1500 people, then gerrymandering would be just about useless. Other political parties might start seeping in, in fact.

    Our government is still an archaic form of “democracy” specified by rich white men who would be gobsmacked if shown a 1979 Chevy Chevette, let alone internet porn and really needs completely revamped from the ground up. But that’s even less likely to happen than properly sizing the HofR, so there we are.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      ” the Congressional Apportionment Amendment is still pending before the states. As of 2021, it is one of six unratified amendments. ”


      AKA “Article the First”.
      i’ve been flogging this periodically for a long while.
      dems go glassy eyed, repugs yell “not moar gubmint!”
      “My” representative currently “represents about 700,000 people.
      and so does yours.
      Impossible, even if they wanted to, and had the best of intentions.
      I’d suggest at least 3 times as many…but more would be better.
      it would totally shake things up, which everyone but the Big Middle(oligarch party,D&R Wings)) says is what they want.

  4. Carolinian

    Wait I thought Cancel Culture was the new Cultural Revolution (waving the latest New Yorker rather than Mao’s little red book?) and those pudgy middle agers at the Capitol more like the victims in need of reeducation camps.

    As it happens I’ve been reading some books by Peter Hessler who was once The New Yorker’s China correspondent. He’s very good and conveys how conformist Chinese society is making it very unlike libertairan America. Glib analogies are dangerous.

  5. Arizona Slim

    State of the Union focus group? Meh.

    I’m about to bottle some mead. I wanna know about the State of the Union drinking game!

    And, Lambert, are you going to live blog SOTU here on NC? I hate it when I have to play drinking games by myself.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > And, Lambert, are you going to live blog SOTU here on NC? I hate it when I have to play drinking games by myself.

      Oh gawd. I suppose duty calls. But I don’t believe it’s been scheduled yet.

          1. ambrit

            We should send you a sign to put up by your front door: “Achtung! Met!”
            I’ve had home made mead before and soon found it difficult to perambulate in an upright manner. (Terry ‘conned’ me into sitting on his Mom’s front porch in Abita Springs and downing a tumbler full of his latest batch along with him and some others. Luckily for us, Terry’s Mom hid all our vehicle keys and called our various partners to tell that we would be delayed in getting home.)
            Drink responsibly!

      1. Baldanders

        I’m tempted to join in, but the presidential/vice-presidential debates nearly killed me.

        Playing drinking games with tiki-style drinks can be dangerous.

  6. deplorado

    Re the 4 degrees ice: isn’t the temperature what matters, and not the physical state of water, in refrigeration?
    If water could stay solid at 20C, would that still not spoil your food and vaccines?

    Am I missing something?

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      good catch.
      changing the freezing point of water wouldn’t change the freezing point of whatever is in the vial, packed in that pseudo-ice.
      i suppose that if you changed that freezing point, whatever organisms within the now frozen, changed water, would also freeze, since they had already incorpoprated that changed water within themselves.

      1. Rodeo Clownfish

        Adding, that I’m very sceptical of the claim of getting water to form ice at 4 degrees above zero Celsius. Kind of violates the principles of colligative properties (eutectics in particular). Water can persist as liquid below zero Celsius by additives that have strong interactions with the H2O molecules (salts, sugars, alcohols) and thereby frustrate the organization of crystalline solid water.

        The Pseudomonas syringae has proteins that are called ice nucleators. So they help water crystals form, when the temperature is at or below the freezing point. So they reduce the kinetic barrier for ice formation. But there is no way for them to alter the enthalpic requirement. Water freezes at zero Celsius and lower. Never higher. At least, at standard pressure.

        See here for more details on how the ice nucleation works.

  7. Josef K

    One thing Trump shares with Mao, aside from a complete lack of good taste–a criminal mind. Both were/are utter ghouls, like many of their ilk down through history. Mao just didn’t have the systemic pushback Trump did, and the Chinese suffered mightily as a result.

    1. ambrit

      You don’t consider the Kuomintang a source of pushback? How about the ‘Gang of Four?’ And that general who was shot down while trying to flee to Mongolia?
      Mao had “Killer Instinct.” Trump does not.
      Yes, the Chinese people have suffered mightily, and that fact drives a lot of the policy of the Chinese Government. (The elites suffered along with the ‘masses’ during the bad times.)
      In America, the ‘Bad Times’ are barely begun.
      Our Mao is yet to appear.

      1. RMO

        “Our Mao is yet to appear.” Yep. Just waiting to see if I can spot it in the early stages. As you say Trump didn’t have the Killer Instinct – or in my opinion a real understanding of institutional power and how to manipulate it. I would say he’s not really even interested in real power, just the trappings and adulation. Continuing with business as usual all but guarantees that someone will come along who will pick up on what led to Trump’s sorta-success and who will have the sort of mind that Mao and Stalin etc. had. If that happens it isn’t going to be pretty.

        1. Massinissa

          Can’t even see Sun Yat-Sen yet, because Biden sure ain’t that. Gonna be awhile before we see Chiang Kai Shek or Mao. Get ready to wait a decade or three.

          1. ambrit

            I’d say that FDR was our Sun Yat-Sen. He tried to ‘reform’ a failing system. Now, the system is spiraling down into chaos yet again.
            Bill Moyers did a program, on CBS if I remember correctly, where he compared the early political moves of FDR and Hitler. Both started out as reformers of messed up systems. One went one way, the other went the other way. America was very lucky back in the 1930s. We can’t rely on being lucky all the time.

            1. Massinissa

              Honestly, by that measure we may as well go farther back than 20th or 19th century China, seeing as how FDR succeeded, even if only temporarily. I think the best comparison you’re looking for, on a recent timeline, would be the Qianlong Emperor, who controlled the Qing for the entirety of the 1700s. Led China to economic prosperity and military victories, and turned the Qing dynasty from what it was into a serious international powerhouse. Then he died and everything started to fall apart about 30 years after his death or so, with the following 100 years after that getting worse and worse and worse over time.

              Hey, at least we almost certainly won’t have an event like the Taiping Rebellion, about five decades after he died! For all our talk about the Chinese Civil War today, the Taiping Rebellion had about ten times as many dead. 2-3 million died in the civil war. 20-30 million died in the Taiping Rebellion. You know, when that one dude read a translated version of the bible, had a vision he was the younger brother of Jesus, and decided to start a pro-Han race war against the Manchu led Qing Dynasty. Fun conflict. Not so fun for the ten times as many people who died in that war compared to the civil war in the 20th century though. Honestly I’m not sure why most non-Chinese people forget this war was even a thing. It happened at the exact same time as the American Civil War, but unlike in our more civil conflict, both sides went scorched earth. 10 mil died from combat and 10-20 million died from starvation alone. Brutal.

              Makes their later civil war sound tame.

        2. Anthony G Stegman

          Maybe it will be pretty, in that you find beauty in billionaires, oligarchs, kleptocrats, and assorted hangers on stood up against a wall and shot. Real revolutions are always bloody affairs.

          1. RMO

            I seriously doubt that a “Trump with brains” and a real knowledge of how to use power and manipulate the system who could arise out of the current US situation would have any interest at all in shooting “billionaires, oligarchs, kleptocrats and associated hangers on.” I have serious doubts that any sort of left wing reform movement will be able to achieve any real success and a revolution from that quarter is even less likely. On the other hand a right wing false populist appealing to people who are being chewed up and spat out by business as usual and wrapping their rhetoric in freedom, capitalism, militarism and the flag I consider an unfortunately probable future. I doubt we;ll have to wait three decades to see it happen.

      2. Massinissa

        Hell, our Chiang Kai Shek hasn’t appeared either. Trump was what, Yuan Shikai? Shikai also ruled the damn country for four years before, uh, being ‘unelected’, through being forced to abdicate and dying. Then there were about ten years of uneasy peace under Sun Yat-Sen, before the Kuomintang took over and the civil war began. We’ll probably have more years than ten, but still, Biden is no Sun Yat-Sen.

        1. John

          The period you refer to as an uneasy peace is often referred to as the Warlord Era. Jiang (Chiang) set out to unify the country with the Northern Expedition in 1927. He marched, fought when he had to, and negotiated deals with the warlords to recognize him as leader/president. As Jiang’s army neared Shanghai, his backers in the city among whom werre the bankers and the Green Gang slaughtered all the workers and Communists they could lay their hands on. At this point Mao set up his Soviet in Jiangxi province. Jiang set up the Guomindong government in Nanjing; his power was in the south. He was recognized as the nominal president of the Repubic of China. In reality, his writ was confined to those areas he was actually able to control with troops and police. The outer provinces under warlord command were more or less independent.

          I am getting carried away.

          There are parallels between “canceling” people and “struggling” them. The self-criticisms also have a parallel in the practices of the CCP, but I would argue the USA has not had its revolution with the old order being overthrown, a Yuan Shikai declaring himself emperor followed by the period of disunion before the consolidation of power by a new dynasty in China’s case the “Red Dynasty.”

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            “The outer provinces under warlord command were more or less independent. ”
            trick is gonna be staying thataway.
            a period of pseudofeudal warlordism is what i’ve long expected as the Empire withdraws from far flung places like where i live.
            local powerbases are in place, with their influence and kin networks, etc.
            i have sort of contingencies in place for these scenarios…although it’s exceedingly difficult to predict how chaos will ensue and ultimately shake out.
            Nobody….and I mean nobody,including the local militia types with their guns and revolutionary cosplay…wants to think seriously about what happens when “Normal” is irrecoverably and obviously lost…even though folks like the DOD all maintain contingencies for such myriad outcomes, and it makes sense to at least think about it, given the chaos of the last 20 years, as well as the universal but inchoate belief, by all and sundry, that things are falling apart

            I maintain much ignorance regarding Mao Era Chinese History…like with India and Persia, i get bogged down in the names.
            My focus has always been western Antiquity….see:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joannes for a Biden Analog…Trump being akin to Honorius, with features of all those bad boys(Caracalla, et alia)—(and a rotating chaotic stable of Stilicho analogs)

            My go-to historical rhyme for our near term future has always been the Roman withdrawal from Britannia.

            1. Wukchumni

              My go-to historical rhyme for our near term future has always been the Roman withdrawal from Britannia.

              Do you mean in the way the Britons went backwards for so long after the Romans left, and they didn’t know how to make anything, having relied upon the empire for consumer goods.

              I guess the corollary would be China filling in for the Romans?

              1. Amfortas the hippie

                I know a guy who raises and trains draft horses(Percherons)…and delivers over ten states.
                and a few others who have learned to make cheese or soap or whatever…but nobody who has the knowledge base…let alone the actual practical skillset…to get by in the world if the supply lines and economy cease to function over a largeish area.
                I rolly could…because i’ve made it my life’s work to learn about such things.
                most folks i see in my (limited, admittedly) wanderings would be eating paper, their dead elderly neighbor’s out of date canned goods and each other before too long.
                bad time to be a cat.
                a week of no trucks coming in counts as a disaster…even out here, where living people remember grandad talking about being captured by indians.

                1. Wukchumni

                  I kind of wonder how we’d switch from a throw it away culture, to one where every item is cherished as there aren’t any more?

                  I got a glimpse of it in NZ in the early 1980’s when they were the ultimate cradle to grave socialist country with heavy import duties on everything, so as a consequence the cars on the road were often from the 50’s, think Cuba now, but instead of 57′ Chevys, it was more like 57′ Morris Minors.

                  It wasn’t just cars, everything was old.

                  The joke @ the time was the pilot in the 747 would announce: ‘Ladies & gentlemen, we are now beginning our descent into Auckland international airport, please set your clocks back 20 years.’

                  There’s probably in excess of 300 horses around these parts that rarely get ridden, I think people like the challenge of a giant pet that is never going to sleep on your bed or sit on your lap, and although a pony doesn’t cost as much as a college education, very spendy. A friend with a backhoe makes an odd living once in awhile when a Mr. Ed passes on, he charges about $500 to dig a hole big enough to bury them.

                  That said, if the grid went down for an extended period of time, they’d make for interesting transportation, not that many know how to ride a horse, I pretty much always had a 106 pound jockey ride around the ‘oval office’ @ Santa Anita for me.

          2. Massinissa

            Depends on how one defines ‘old order’, really. If one means the Reaganite era order, if Trump didn’t break that, he at least offered up the first challenge to it since its inception. It didn’t work out too well for Shikai either, and things went ‘back to normal’, in a bureaucratic sense at least, for a few years after that, even if they didn’t actually bother to put Pu Yi back on the throne, before everything went to hell on Sun Yat-Sen’s death. Depends on the definitions one uses.

        2. Tom Doak

          I don’t know my Chinese history — wasn’t part of good history classes in the 1970’s — but did they name their currency after Yuan Shikai? Trump would consider that a great honor!

    2. Massinissa

      “Mao just didn’t have the systemic pushback Trump did, and the Chinese suffered mightily as a result.”

      You do realize that at the end of WW2 that the Kuomintang had all of China except for Manchuria, which was almost the only thing the Communists had at that point, right? Trump had half the country fighting with him. Mao went from a position of having 25% of the country to having the whole damn thing. Who do you think had more damn pushback? And that was just 1945. The CCP had been doing a guerilla war against the much stronger Kuomintang since 1927, with Mao having been in charge of the Red Army the whole time and becoming the head of the Politburo in 1935.

      I don’t like Chiang-Kai Shek either, but isn’t it sort of insulting to not only both of them but also the entire country, ato pretend that the entire 25 years of Chinese civil war, which was only briefly interrupted by the Japanese incursion, never actually happened at all? This is historical revisionism. You really think 25 years of civil war isn’t ‘pushback’, when Trump won an election, was president a few years, and then promptly lost the election? How is his not winning reelection not ‘pushback’?

      Sorry if this was at all rude, but this is almost ridiculous.

      1. Old Sarum

        Well said,

        But what it is all about is pivot points. These are very difficult to identify when you are in the thick of it. From my point of view, the cultural revolution in the US happened when bankruptcy became the better, happier, and more celebrated condition.

        I hope someone can point out when the polity applied the last incision of a death by a thousand cuts and boiled the frog on that one.

        Pip pip!

  8. lobelia

    I am increasingly suspicious as to why Monday’s Las Vegas Amazon Warehouse suicide has barely garnered a peep in the Mainstream News.

    I suspect something nefarious, even the Associated Press [AP] (which usually picks up major news within hours) did not pick it up, though NBC quickly did (https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2021/03/links-3-3-2021.html#comment-3516635 ). It’s frankly outrageous. I am guessing this man who took his life, at least expected it to cause some kind of well deserved outrage. And sorry, but not buying the contagion argument that’s been used for over a decade to stifle such news. It has not done a thing to stifle the country’s increasing suicides and deaths of despair for over a decade.

    Perhaps it has exploded on twitter (If Jack[off] has allowed it), but as of December I can no longer read twitter feeds I once was able to (same with yelp, which – while I don’t care for Founder Jeremy Stoppelman at all – I found extremely helpful regarding being a health guardian for a loved one, since the Federal, State and Local Governments can no longer be relied upon at all to watchdog the care (health, and otherwise) of quite vulnerable human beings). Sigh, the gates keep closing everywhere.

    gotta run

    1. JBird4049

      It does not fit the Woke Narrative and it is too “class reductionist,” which is a term some in the DSA start using when material conditions in regards to class and poverty are talked about, instead of you know being woke in a supposedly socialist organization.

  9. Reality Bites

    Re The Wired article on D&D:

    Wizards of the Coast can only change so much about D&D and still have it be D&D. RPGs are games are fantasies. In order to have a plot, intraparty tension, and a reason to obliterate opponents, you have racial/tribal tensions. Also, not all of the characters that people want to play are ‘good’ characters. Some are explicitly evil and hate particular races for reasons explained in their background. The descriptions in the stories are also shorthands of how the characters see a particular group of people. It does not mean that said group is always bad.

    Moreover, this is…fantasy. It is not real. The point of stories is that they are not every day life. People don’t throw fireballs and have long chats with dragons. People also turn to RPGs, video games, fiction novels, in part to escape the strictures of every day reality. I don’t see this succeeding.

    As a side note, it is rather telling that they choose to go after RPGs instead of video games. In Call of Duty, you can blow away faceless Russians and vaguely Arab types with nary a peep. You can play characters that have sex with practically everything that moves in some other games and there is not an outcry. But then again, D&D is still lowtech.

    1. ChrisPacific

      D&D, and a lot of the fantasy literature it was based on, was a product of the culture and society of the time, stereotypes and racism included. The modern fantasy genre has been steadily reexamining its assumptions and evolving them across various media in recent decades, with many of the old tropes offering new creative possibilities via their alteration or removal. For example, Blizzard subverted the idea that orcs are an evil race by creating a whole story told from the orcs’ point of view in their Warcraft universe, complete with orc heroes like Thrall. Orcs still behave in ‘evil’ ways in their world sometimes, but it’s due to character flaws or poor decisions on their part rather than corruption inherent in their race. Most of the other fantasy concepts have been repeatedly reinterpreted different ways to expand perspectives and explore different treatments that are more in line with modern attitudes.

      WotC could very easily have reviewed all of this and done something similar, but chose instead to go with the old approach of lifting a stereotype and using it as is with only a word or two changed. That’s lazy storytelling, which is a bigger sin than the ones called out in the article in my opinion.

    2. occasional anonymous

      This is nothing more than WotC bowing to bullying. No one who really plays these games actually cares about any of this ‘controversial’ nonsense. Basically everything in fantasy that isn’t genuinely original is a direct riff on something from the real-world, simplified to one degree or other into what you could call a stereotype. If you don’t like the narrative rules of a setting, roll your own character that bucks those rules. That’s literally part of the whole point of tabletop gaming; all the stuff in the books is just flavor to get you started.

      I would love for the woke to try and pull this with Games Workshop. Almost every faction in that setting is enthusiastically a historical (or fictional; there’s an entire faction of Bram Stoker Dracula counts) stereotype. Bretonnia are medieval French, Tomb Kings are an entire faction of zombie Egyptian mummies, and so on.

      It’s always interesting what gets targeted as well. I don’t recall anyone complaining that Legend of the Five Rings is all about a stereotype of bushido that never actually existed. Of course, to know why it’s nonsense would require the woke to read a real history book once in a while.

      Let me know when someone takes a class angle to getting offended and points out how ‘problematic’ it is that Orks are almost always portrayed as working class ‘white trash’ with cockney accents. I won’t hold my breath that this will ever happen.

      1. massinissa

        “I would love for the woke to try and pull this with Games Workshop. Almost every faction in that setting is enthusiastically a historical (or fictional; there’s an entire faction of Bram Stoker Dracula counts) stereotype. Bretonnia are medieval French, Tomb Kings are an entire faction of zombie Egyptian mummies, and so on.”

        Hate to break it to you, but WFB has not been a thing for a decade now. It got replaced by a different game called Age of Sigmar, with a completely different setting and focus. Brettonians and Tomb Kings got the axe and no longer exists. WFB as you know it only exists in Warhammer Total War, a game by makers of the total war series. Though that version is very excellent. Considered to many to be a fully realized version of the setting.

        And yes, Brettonians and Tomb Kings are in WTTW2. Same as they’ve always been. Same with Vampire Counts.

        As for factions you havn’t been familiar with, one faction they just got all the chaos marauders from Norsca, added tons of trolls, added Wooly Mammoths, added Fimirs (from super old lore, I was thrilled they were included), added werewolves because why not, and mashed them all together to make Norsca, a chaos associated faction with Viking aesthetic.

        Vampires of the Coast are a weird lot. Nautical vampires who summon drowned peoples and undead sea monsters to destroy their flows. Theres the PTSD vampire, the vampire who wants to rule the sea, the daughter of some sea god who became pirate queen of Sartosa, and the best one, the dead opera singer from Brettonia that likes to sing her enemies to death with her adagio of death.

        1. occasional anonymous

          I’m well aware of the travesty that is Age of Sigmar. I’ve chosen to ignore it. Actual Warhammer Fantasy is returning as The Old World, precisely because the Total War games demonstrated how popular it still is.

          And what do you mean ‘factions I’m not familiar with’? it was Total War that made Norsca a fully-fledged playable faction in the first place! The video games are leading the way now, GW is playing catch up to them.

      2. Baldanders

        The whole concept of D&D is “breaking and entering, murder, then theft,” all justified by the concept that “some species are inherently evil.”

        Woke D&D is hilarious. Making the orcs and goblins “humanized” just makes the whole game even less Woke, as now your PCs are racist, genocidal bastards. (Being the evil DM I am, I made my human/demihuman cultures pretty explictly racist against Orcs/goblins/etc. in my last campaign about a decade back.) At least the really dumb stuff, like sex-based limits to character Strength, evaporated with the 2nd edition in the mid-80s. I believe race-based stat modifiers are being phased out for Unwokeness in 5th. Conflating D&D “race” with RW race is bizarre. They may be able to interbreed, but much like Humans/Vulcans/Klingons, they are clearly supposed to be different species.

        And simplified, stereotypical representations of real-world cultures is how D&D has always dealt with all of its societies. Much like the SF and fantasy novels that inspired it. But somehow, the ridiculously stereotyped Wakanda (Leadership by trial by combat? The leader is basically God?) is woke as all get out, while D&D gets the fine-toothed comb treatment.

        Applying real-world morality to power-fantasy fulfillment is bizarre. I ran a few sessions of D&D for a group of high schoolers last year that included transgender and autistic kids. They were there for the murder, theft, and danger, just like every other D&D group I have been part of.

        While I’m babbling, I would like to mention my hypothesis that D&D’s main positive effect on society is giving folks who don’t get treated particularly well by society generally (particularly ASD) a “safe space” to practice working and communicating with other folks. And there do seem to be a substantial number of transwomen in the hobby in both RL and digital spots these days. ASD has been very common since the beginning.

        Creating those “safe spaces” is mostly up to individual playing groups/DMs, however. And we DMs tend to act like petty gods….

        1. ChrisPacific

          Creating those “safe spaces” is mostly up to individual playing groups/DMs, however. And we DMs tend to act like petty gods….

          ‘DM of the Rings’ is a good satire on this, using screen captures of the movies to present them as a D&D campaign. For example, the orc blowing a hole in the Helm’s Deep wall becomes a device invented on the spot by an aggrieved DM after players came up with an imaginative defensive tactic that he couldn’t find a reason to disallow, and that negated his whole carefully-planned assault sequence.

          1. Baldanders

            I had a party wreck about two hours of prep with a teleport spell.

            They were lucky I had a strict “I can only use what’s written in my prep” honor code going with myself.

        2. occasional anonymous

          “And there do seem to be a substantial number of transwomen in the hobby in both RL and digital spots these days. ASD has been very common since the beginning.”

          That’s because being trans is predominately a fad among socially awkward people who can’t get a date. Trans people are overrepresented among nerds for a reason. “I can’t get a girlfriend, so I will become the girlfriend” is a widespread phenomenon (for FTM it’s more that it’s a kind of social contagion, like anorexia was a decade ago). The fact that the vast majority of transwomen never get genital surgery is kind of a red flag to me that this is mostly about a fetish, and about not any kind of genuine gender dysphoria. They’re happy to transform themselves into some approximation of a sexy woman (if most of them really just want to ‘be a woman’, why is there so much obsession with ‘passing’ as the male gaze’s standards of what a ‘real woman’ is? Ugly women aren’t any less women, even if men don’t think highly of them), but they won’t go as far as irrevocably compromising their own sexual function.

          It isn’t that tabletop gaming is providing a space for social outcasts like transwomen, it’s that people who are already social outcasts who are into tabletop gaming are more likely to gravitate to being trans. It’s the same reason there are so many transwomen in video game circles.

          And Wakanda is straight 19th century stereotypes about ‘darkest Africa’ and ‘noble savages’, only ‘woke’. That it’s been embraced as a positive portrayal says nothing good about the type of people who push identity politics and their capacity for critical thinking.

          1. Lindsay Berge

            I try to treat people as they want to be treated. It seems basic courtesy.
            I cannot personally understand gender dysphoria but that does not mean I can conclude it does not exist or guess how frequent it is. I certainly cannot judge other peoples motives and sincerity with any certainty.
            If someone wants me to treat them as a woman, that is the least I can do. Or if they want to treat them as a man. I have been seeing many more young people who were originally identified as female identifying as male than the opposite. I see no reason not comply with their wishes unreservedly.

            1. ChrisPacific

              Agreed. It’s not like there should even be much of a difference anyway, unless I’m considering them as potential romantic or sexual partners, which I’m not. If it comes down to changing a couple of words I use to refer to them, it’s not exactly a hardship.

            2. occasional anonymous

              My inclination as well is to just refer to people how they want to be referred to. My point is that most ‘trans’ people in fact don’t have gender dysphoria. In fact in my interactions with people who insist they really do have it they frequently tell me they feel like outsiders from the LGB’T’ community; that it doesn’t actually represent them.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I ran a few sessions of D&D for a group of high schoolers last year that included transgender and autistic kids. They were there for the murder, theft, and danger, just like every other D&D group I have been part of.


    1. Massinissa

      Guh, White Wolf has been a complete mess for years now. VtM 5th edition hasn’t gotten any better since that Chechnya thing near the beginning, and in fact has barely had any expansions worth noting at all since then, seeing as how they had to switch up the entire creative team, right after the game was released, leaving some other schmucks who didn’t even design the thing, which was a mess, to try and make more content for it. Pretty much everyone who likes WW games use one of their older systems.

  10. Toshiro_Mifune

    Amazon accused of copying camera gearmaker’s top-selling item
    Yeah… I like Peak Design and all (I use their Slide strap) but there ain’t nothing new about that design. Hell, half of Crumpler’s line from the mid-00’s was nothing but camera slings like this one.
    By all means hate on Amazon is you feel like it, but accusing them of ripping of a design that was itself a ripped off design is weak.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Amazon ripped-off a market they identified through their partial monopoly of the primary web-marketing window. The Slide strap may not be new. The size of the market and price point information were not general knowledge. You can join in hating on Amazon as Peak Design disappears and the price for the Amazon Slide strap slides up and competing ‘slide’ straps disappear to page 9 of your Amazon product search. You might also notice fewer entrepreneurs attempting to create and market new designs, old designs filling an unfilled niche, and new products. Why bother if it will just end up as an Amazon product? You might also notice a decline in the quality of your Amazon Slide strap as Amazon squeezes the margins of its pet supplier Slide strap replica supplier.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      I am just a layman on the arcana of product design. If you can show with explanations, charts and pictures how the Peak Design bag in question is just as much a clone of whatever exact thing it was specifically cloned from as the Amazon Peak Design bag is a clone of the Peak Design Peak Design bag, then I will consider your line of thinking in this matter. Or if you can offer a link to someone/something which can show all that.

      But Amazon naming its ripoff product with the exact same name as the product being ripped off had, does seem a bit suspicious right there.

      1. John A

        While i have no time for Amazon, if the Peak Design guys had designed a unique bag, they would have patented it and Amazon would have to pay them royalties for 20 years or so. Or alternatively, tweaked the design to look sufficiently different so as not to sufficiently infringe on the patent.

  11. noonespecial

    Idaho GOP and Early Care and Education

    Chocked back the laugh whilst finishing lunch when I read the following. I’m also reminded of Gore Vidal’s “I don’t watch 19th century Fox” since something about that quip applies here.

    From Vice (https://www.vice.com/en/article/wx89w9/republicans-rejected-federal-childcare-money-in-idaho-because-a-mothers-place-is-in-the-home)

    One quote says it all: ‘“The goal in the long run is to be able to take our children from birth and to be able to start indoctrinating them and teaching them to be activists,’ Republican Tammy Nichols said.” The concern? Vice’s piece adds that, “GOP legislator, Priscilla Giddings, said she looked through a catalog for the National Association for the Education of Young Children, with whom the Idaho nonprofit is affiliated, and pointed to a line saying white and male privilege are real.” One phrase and out the window goes money to support working parents, single or otherwise.

    The article notes that the bill to approve the federal grant had broad support from top Idaho Republicans and business groups. But since the lead agency in the state may be in cahoots with SJW trainers who infiltrate Suzy’s ECE center at the Y, think of the children. Am looking for the memes with preschoolers in Che-chic circle time wear.

    1. a different chris

      The one thing that always cracks me up about conservatives is their belief that children can be indoctrinated. Does Ms. Nichols have kids? I bet an interview of the psst, we won’t tell your mom type with them would be way interesting.

      Youth can be put in a situation where they have to pretend to behave a certain way, and they can very well be apples that simply didn’t fall far from the tree.

      But parental influence? Hahahaha…

  12. Calypso Facto

    I wonder what “on-device processing” means…

    It typically refers to using a mobile device’s internal microcontroller or other systems-on-chip hardware to do additional processing outside of API calls across the public internet to construct a web page. Here’s a nice explainer on adding voice command detection to a piece of hardware that goes into much more detail about on-device vs network or cloud doing the processing and delivering the result to you.

    I’d have to dig into Google’s docs to see what they fully mean by this as it just sounds like the same info is being tracked just only accessible to Google.

      1. Calypso Facto

        Thank you Ian, this is a great link! From the above, explaining a bit more about what is being computed on the device, per Lambert’s question:

        Google’s proof of concept used the domains of the sites that each user visited as the basis for grouping people together. It then used an algorithm called SimHash to create the groups. SimHash can be computed locally on each user’s machine, so there’s no need for a central server to collect behavioral data. However, a central administrator could have a role in enforcing privacy guarantees. In order to prevent any cohort from being too small (i.e. too identifying), Google proposes that a central actor could count the number of users assigned each cohort. If any are too small, they can be combined with other, similar cohorts until enough users are represented in each one.

        The article then goes on to explain some of the risks with this proposal, which are similar to some raised in an earlier post here about another proposal by TB-L for ‘data pods’ (cut a bit for brevity):

        As described above, FLoC cohorts shouldn’t work as identifiers by themselves. However, any company able to identify a user in other ways—say, by offering “log in with Google” services to sites around the Internet—will be able to tie the information it learns from FLoC to the user’s profile.

        Two categories of information may be exposed in this way:

        Specific information about browsing history… [and] General information about demographics or interests…

        This means every site you visit will have a good idea about what kind of person you are on first contact, without having to do the work of tracking you across the web. Moreover, as your FLoC cohort will update over time, sites that can identify you in other ways will also be able to track how your browsing changes. Remember, a FLoC cohort is nothing more, and nothing less, than a summary of your recent browsing activity.

        You should have a right to present different aspects of your identity in different contexts. If you visit a site for medical information, you might trust it with information about your health, but there’s no reason it needs to know what your politics are. Likewise, if you visit a retail website, it shouldn’t need to know whether you’ve recently read up on treatment for depression. FLoC erodes this separation of contexts, and instead presents the same behavioral summary to everyone you interact with.

        The link above also includes links to several other proposed standards that are riding with FLoC being test run in the new versions of Chrome. Their naming convention is bird-themed; here’s the proposal for another type of targeted ad service called Sparrow. Under the section for Proposal, there is a very explicit and understandable discussion of the actual ad bidding process that will happen when a user receives a targeted ad. May be interesting reading for those looking to understand how this sordid biz works and the utterly insane rube goldberg machine that has been constructed to keep the ad money clicks coming.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      On first blush “on-device processing” suggests Google is promoting a great new vector for remote attacks through our webrowsers.

  13. Matthew G. Saroff

    I would just warn people about the subtext of Brave: It’s founder, Brendan Eich, gave money to Prop 8 banning gay marriage in California, and has been a Covid truther, denying the efficacy of masks and the like.

    This may not mean anything, but founders create corporate culture: Just look at how egregious bastard Jeff Bezos shaped Amazon.

    I would not trust Brave. Sticking with Duck Duck Go.

    1. Darthbobber

      Was he named after the Eich? They were one of the superevil races playing a subordinate role in the extrasuperduperevil Boskonian empire of Doc Smith’s Lensman space opera novels.

  14. Mr. Magoo

    Re: David Brooks.

    A frequent guest on NPR. Always seems to have a spin on his answers that align more with corporate interests than people in general. I am sure a lot of people are maybe not as on alert as they should be when listening to NPR.

    1. zagonostra

      Matt Taibbi nailed it on Brooks years ago. I think he refers to Brooks now as “bobo” and writes periodic parodies of Brook’s garbled thoughts.

      For David Brooks, the Rich Are People, the Poor Are Numbers America’s favorite get-off-my-lawn cultural conservative is too sheltered to talk to the millions of people he criticizes over and over again – Rolling Stones

      Brooks spent about 300 pages in Bobos hanging out with other affluent New Yorkers, drooling over their amazing taste in Nordic furniture and their physical superiority (“Their teeth,” he wrote, without irony, “are a tribute to the magnificence of American orthodonture”), and dreaming of the advanced beings that would issue from the Bobo marriages he saw announced in the Times society pages.


      1. upstater

        I can’t get Taibbi’s charactature of Brooks in his silk pajamas out of my head whenever I see his column or hear his voice… Brooks is a classic…

  15. flora

    Thanks much again for the bird song links at the top of the WC post. No matter how stressed I’m feeling about the news of the day the bird songs brings me back to what’s real.

    Here’s a shout out to my now long gone 6th grade teacher for making us memorize this part of Robert Browning’s poem “Pippa Passes.” :

    “The year’s at the spring
    And day’s at the morn;
    Morning’s at seven;
    The hill-side’s dew-pearled;
    The lark’s on the wing;
    The snail’s on the thorn;
    God’s in His heaven—
    All’s right with the world!”

    And for all the k-12 teachers out there, my 6th grade teacher made a world of difference in my later adult success. Your students will later know your importance.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Thanks much again for the bird song links at the top of the WC post. No matter how stressed I’m feeling about the news of the day the bird songs brings me back to what’s real.

      That means the bird songs are doing what I want them to do!

    1. Roger the cabin boy

      Lambert- I’ve been wondering about this one for a while. If I see your comment here doesn’t that mean I’ve loaded a version of the page that includes your updates? If it doesn’t, how long after the comment appears should I refresh? If it does, then shouldn’t I just scroll back if I read the water cooler earlier?

      1. CuriosityConcern

        Ahoy Roger,

        If you’ve read the Water Cooler and you see Lambert’s update comment without having refreshed your browser, then in the main post you may have noticed at least one or two entries with “UPDATE” as the first word.
        In my experience, Water Cooler is posted at 11 AM Pacific, and updates are in place sometime before noon Pacific.
        I am by no means an NC expert, but I think the above is generally true.

    2. Carolinian

      Never cared much for Seuss but Dr. Doolittle was one of my favorite books and, I believe, the first one I ever read. The talking to animals thing was cool.

      I still see dogs as mini versions of us. Don’t recall a racial angle to the book but it’s been awhile.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Picked up an old copy of Dr. Doolittle a few years ago in a used bookstore on a whim without flipping through it, thinking I’d read it to my kid. Not sure if the illustrations in Dr. Doolittle have always stayed the same over the years like those in Dr. Seuss books, but in the volume I bought there were some extremely racist stereotypes in the illustrations of African people. Way worse than anything I ever saw from Dr. Seuss.

        1. Carolinian

          Probably not as racist as Hollywood in the “Golden Era.” I could cite countless examples. So should we turn our backs on all those old movies? Burn the negatives?

          I do think prejudice is something people absorb as children but probably less through books and entertainment than from their own parents. And there are many forms of prejudice–not just racial.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > in the volume I bought there were some extremely racist stereotypes in the illustrations of African people

          My recollection is that this happened in the first book. I think in later books in the series most of the humans except for the Doctor and his sidekick — “the Cat’s Meat Man?” — disappeared and the focus was all on the animals, which was great.

          I loved that serious, but the illustrations of African people were indeed egregious.

    3. Darius

      Wait till they discover The Five Chinese Brothers. Pretty stereotypical. I liked it when I was a kid, and my mother is Japanese. Not the same as Chinese, but I was and still am pretty sensitive to Asian stereotyping. I’m more bothered by hypocritical liberal condescension than 70-year old children’s books. Also, I guess Pearl Buck is cancelled. I will say Anna May Wong was robbed when they cast “The Good Earth.”

    1. RMO

      Which Klingons? The original show ones who were stand-ins for the Communist bloc or the later ones who were had become Kzinti but without the endearing cat-like appearance? (The later development seemed weird to me because the Kzinti were made part of the Star Trek universe in the animated show and apparently were going to be on Enterprise if it hadn’t been cancelled)

      1. Darthbobber

        Or the even more recent version who were basically Trumpies in the service of a “Make Klingonland Great Again” atavistic and xenophobic project.

        1. Massinissa

          Most trekkies try and pretend Star Trek Discovery doesn’t exist. Most of the established fandom dislikes it, and from what I can see the few people who actually do like the show were looking for a more generic show about spaceships blowing up rather than having much experience with previous parts of the brand. Which is perfectly fine, there’s nothing wrong with that. But its openly reviled by much of the fandom, and not because of having a black woman as the star as some would claim, considering the Benjamin Sisko and Captain Kathryn Janeway characters already explored the separate parts of that identity, in terms of being the starring role of a show, previously. Mostly the show is reviled for being very Michael Bay-esque, which isn’t entirely surprising, considering the showrunner for Discovery is Alex Kurtzman, one of Bay’s associates and one of the screenwriters of several of Bay’s Transformers movies. Basically, it’s vapid and filled with violence, barely necessary special effects shots, and repeated use of ‘lens flares’.

          1. RMO

            Massinissa: My brother in law had an assignment to watch and review Discovery and he came to our house for this – so he could do so uninterrupted by his three kids. My wife and I started out watching it with him but I dropped out early. My wife hung on to the end but she lost hope for it pretty quick. She stayed on mostly to hang out with her brother. her brother of course was getting paid to watch it so he had the best reason to stick it out to the end.

            I got tired of Voyager after a few years but it wasn’t because of Captain Janeway. I thought the character was one of the best I had seen in the Star Trek world. I really like Kate Mulgrew as an actress too.

        2. occasional anonymous

          In Picard it’s the Federation that is portrayed as turning xenophobic. It’s extremely stupid how they do it.

          The Federation having its principles challenged by extreme circumstances could be interesting*, if it were handled with anything approaching nuance and tact. It isn’t.

          *in fact Deep Space 9 already covered a lot of that ground decades ago.

          1. Darthbobber

            But at least Picard works dramatically as a spacegoing noir detective yarn, plus you get the kinky Blood of the Walsings thing from the Romulan brother/sister duo.

      2. HotFlash

        Which Klingons indeed? The originals (Kirk era) were basically white guys from Central Casting in polo pajamas but with pointy ears — sort of a cross bewt Vulcans and Romulans, viz “Trouble with Tribbles”. Later on in DS9 “Trials and Tribble-ations”, Sisko and an away team which includes Worf are digitally/time travel inserted into the original Tribble episode. Nerise (IIRC) asks Worf why the Klingons they are seeing on the old Enterprise don’t likehim, he sulks, “We do not like to talk about it.”

        One of my favourite lines evah.

    2. Massinissa

      I kinda, sorta get the beef people have with Klingons, even though I disagree with the NGE Klingons being problematic. I mean, as far as I can tell, the main problem people have with the NGE era Klingons is they have dark skin, as if alien races can’t have non-white skin tones without being racist. Still, I can see the argument, and there is still a debate to be had there, and I agree that their portrayal in the original series was particularly egregious.

      But I swear, I will never fully understand why people think the Ferengi are an anti-semitic stereotype. What, because they’re seen as greedy? Because they have flesh colored skin tone rather than… I don’t know, flesh colored skin tone? Because of having big ears, as some anti-semitic depictions have? Where are the beards and long noses, then? Is it not possible to parody capitalists without having accusations of anti-semitism? If you really feel they’re some kind of anti-semitic caricature, why don’t you try explaining it rather than lobbing it like some kind of grenade as if its already a proven fact?

      I’m sorry if I’m testy here. But I’ve seen this accusation used for years as a sort of hit-and-run attack, with it barely being explained beyond ‘very slightly tan skin’ and ‘GREEDY CAPITALISTS!’ as if semitic persons have some kind of monopoly on either of those things. JTM, you’re a good commenter who has been here a long time, so if you want to make a more nuanced argument you are free to do so. Again, sorry if I am overly combative here, I just don’t appreciate people making these kinds of statements with not even a facsimile of an attempt to explain them. Quite frankly even saying “Greedy Capitalists Aren’t A Thing Outside of Anti-Semitic Stereotypes!” would be better than nothing at all.

      Again, I don’t mean to offend anyone here, if I seem to have been overly combative. I’ve just never seen many attempts to make this argument at all despite it continually being referred to. Just wish someone would try and articulate it more coherently to me, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a piece of journalism that attempts to do that beyond hasty generalizations. No offense meant to you JTM.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        , I will never fully understand why people think the Ferengi are an anti-semitic stereotype.

        Walt Disney could have designed the Ferengi.

        1. Massinissa

          Oh, please! Not ANOTHER unfounded allegation! He had multiple jews working in his company, and their isn’t a whole lot of antisemitic behavior genuinely. He WAS an anti-union, commie hating, nazi sympathizer, but the holocaust didn’t become commonly known about in america until the war started, and the majority of rich businessmen had pro-nazi anti-communist sympathies before the war due to Communism being anti-capitalist and Nazism being Capitalism with State Support. He didn’t do anything like publish copies of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion like Ford did. I can’t see anything truly justifying this trope. He had multiple jewish employees, associates, and business contacts. Perhaps he was not overly fond of them, or was somewhat anti-semitic, but this is largely unfounded by any actual evidence of specific events or media publishing.

          I say all this hating the man, deeply. He stole all the credit Ubb Iwerks deserved. You know, the guy who designed and drew Mickey Mouse? His anti-union suspicion continued on most of his career. I do NOT like that man, at all. He basically stole credit for almost everything he was involved with. But I do not see much evidence of him having much more antisemitism than the average American at the time.

          Ub Iwerks deserves more recognition. Mickey is NOT Walt’s own creation.

      2. ambrit

        I’ll try a bit.
        What screams “anti-semitic,” though I don’t have a problem with the basic aspects of this, is the show’s depiction of the Ferengi treatment of their females. This is close to the attitudes of Ultra Orthodox towards women. The “Rite of Passage” of declaiming the ‘Rules of Acquisition,’ (all 285 of them!) sounds suspiciously like a Bar Mitzva ceremony. (It could also be analogous to a Catholic confirmation ceremony, but I digress.)
        See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rules_of_Acquisition
        Want to play the ‘ethnicities’ card? Try Kahn Noonien Singh. Can we say Captain Nemo boys and girls?
        See: https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Khan_Noonien_Singh
        What is constant about fictional treatments of peoples and ethnicities is that they change to fit the times that they were created in. Retconning literature is a mug’s game.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          this reminds me of the various and sundry diatribes against Lord of the Rings…that Evil is always Dark…Orcs are “Swarthy” in the books, but “black folks” in the films.
          This is the purpose of the Woke…to distract and divide, and further erase Class.
          Everyone must hate on and fight each other, always, and alliances are impossible.
          Constituencies of 300 million Ones.
          and in service of “Inclusion”, as well!

          again, that sounds suspiciously like Hobbe’s State of Nature, to me…all against all, etc.

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          Try Kahn Noonien Singh.

          To be fair, it was the 60’s, and the name was some guy Roddenberry knew from the war and was trying to find. He hoped the Noonien Singh would see the show.

          1. ambrit

            I didn’t know that. It goes to show that the best “fictional” ‘bits’ are thinly disguised real world artifacts.
            The basic writers creed: Write about what you know about best.

        3. The Rev Kev

          I think that it is more simple than that. The Ferengi are simply our 20th century capitalists portrayed as another race. In fact, in DS9 it was made plain that the general dislike was because the Ferengi reminded the Federation of who they once were. Watch this short scene-

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5J_qn93Nkc (1:01 mins)

          As for the treatment of Ferengi and their women, there are parallels in our own history. Look at old photos of public events and the like and you will see no women. Plenty of mustaches but no women. If you were an alien anthropologist studying our history, what conclusion do you think they would draw by examining our past cultural norms except that they were mostly excluded from the public sphere?

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            i think all that is silly…to attack star trek, of all franchises, as racist, sexist, etc…when they were, from their inception, the opposite…at least in the times the various series were made.
            almost as bad as attacking Seuss.
            plenty of actual monsters to slay, after all…like kids dying of exposure in Texas because the myriad “light companies” can’t manage a grid, do repairs or plan ahead.
            or that i expect to never have access to healthcare again, save what i can get in trade for tomatoes and eggs.
            but by all means, let’s remove jefferson, and attack with fury the failures in wokeness of every film and tv show ever produced.

            as i said the other day…when i saw thatthe high school library had a donated copy of sarah palin’s book displayed prominently…with her beady eyed insanity smiling maniacally at the impressionable youth…i didn’t endeavor to burn it…but donated a copy of Marcus Aurelius, instead, and as a counter.

            1. Massinissa

              I agree.

              “Ah yes, Star Trek! That show that had a Black Woman, an Asian Man, and a Russian (this being the cold war) on the main cast, in the 1960s, when that was absolutely unheard of! How DARE they be so racist to cast a black woman who (in the words of Whoopi Goldberg) is a character who is NOT a maid!’

              Ah yes. So very racist. As bad as the gen 1 Klingons may have been, Star Trek was the first show on television to have an interracial kiss. I don’t like the early Klingons either, but is it really enough to negate something like that? For the 60s to do something like that was absolutely unheard of and literally had not been done.

              As for the later show, I don’t have as many positive things to say on that note, as persons of color and women were more common in major roles by the late 80s so that TNG/DS9/VOY was not nearly as groundbreaking in that sense, but at the same time, its not as if they DIDNT have first a black man and then a white woman as main protagonists.

              Sigh. I don’t know. I hope I don’t seem to be overly defensive about any of this as that is not my intent.

              1. Amfortas the hippie

                i’m a trekkie, too.
                but i was a tolkienist long before that.
                all such revisionism, erasure and applying modern moral fads to long ago arts is anathema to me.

                i see the Picard Era, in-universe, as a dream of where we might have gone, given less avarice and assholery.
                might still be a thing if someone invents a replicator…and figures out the gravity well.
                with just the latter and not the former, i reckon that The Expanse is the more likely outcome.

        4. Massinissa

          “is the show’s depiction of the Ferengi treatment of their females. This is close to the attitudes of Ultra Orthodox towards women.”

          I don’t know. It could be similarly said for muslim women or the like. Still, a reasonable point, but it mostly reflects the Ultra-Orthodox specifically, rather than jews as a greater whole. And I don’t see much evidence of the Ferengi being critiques of the Ultra-Orthodox specifically, considering that among the Ultra-Orthodox, the men don’t work or do business and simply study the Torah, while they make their women go work. You know, the reverse of what the Ferengi do? Still, its somewhat plausible, though I don’t see much evidence for it myself.

          “The “Rite of Passage” of declaiming the ‘Rules of Acquisition,’ (all 285 of them!) sounds suspiciously like a Bar Mitzva ceremony. (It could also be analogous to a Catholic confirmation ceremony, but I digress.)”

          Also plausible. It sounds like it could simply be a coincidence, but either one would ultimately be a Devil’s Proof, but that still means its somewhat plausible.

          “ethnicities card”

          We were talking specifically about the Ferengi. Specifically. And I’m not sure Khan having a somewhat ‘orientalist’ name really means much. Hell, he was better portrayed than the generation 1 Klingons are! Also Ricardo Montalban did a good job. I hate how for Star Trek Into Darkness they just… instead of finding an Indian actor, they cast Benedict Cumberbatch, but didn’t even bother to change Khan’s name, essentially whitewashing the character. At least having a spanish actor pretending to be ethnic is better than completely whitewashing the character and pretending he’s just … Benedict Cumberbatch. I understand the criticism, but this was about the Ferengi. Gene Roddenberry was not involved in Star Trek TNG, where the Ferengi originated, and died before DS9, where the Ferengi had most of their development beyond simply ‘greedy capitalists bad’ as they were portrayed in TNG. Trying to blame the same brand for being responsible for both Khan and the Ferengi is curious considering that Khan appeared in an episode of the original series over two decades before the Ferengi appeared, with none of the production team of one being involved in the other. Roddenberry was almost on his deathbed by the time the Ferengi were introduced and was not involved in TNG

          “What is constant about fictional treatments of peoples and ethnicities is that they change to fit the times that they were created in. Retconning literature is a mug’s game.”

          I’m not even sure what you’re trying to suggest here. Who is doing the retconning of the ferengi again? Is this some reference to Benedict Cumberbatch being the new Khan? I’m not quite sure what you’re referring to or insinuating here, specifically. The Ferengi were only used during the late 80s mid 90s time period. I’m not sure either of us are trying to retcon them? They havn’t been in a show for almost three decades now, unless they showed up as a cameo in some random part of Enterprise fifteen years ago.

          The first two make sense and are fairly plausible. The second is essentially a non sequitur trying to comment on something completely separate. And I think I must be misunderstanding the last part? Because I have no idea what you are trying to say there.

          Ah, thank you for making an attempt!

          1. ambrit

            Glad to try. I don’t often hit the mark I am aiming at, alas.
            I concede that the Ferengi are a later element of the Star Trek universe. To retcon them would be ‘Woke Squared.’ I am a bit heretical in that I consider DS9 and Voyager, which were essentially coterminous, to have been the last “good” Star Trek productions. They at least held on to the ‘Wonder’ aspect of The Original Series. By the end of Voyager, the shift to Space Soap Opera had been almost completed.
            I work from the premise that “cancelling” something culturally is the equivalent of redefining it according to a later sensibility. To that end, the rebooted Star Trek films seem to have been already quietly conceded to have been failures. I have not seen the later portrayal of Kahn, so, must decline comparing it to the original, Montalban characterization.

            1. ilpalazzo

              Hat tip to you sir. I have a soft spot for Voyager myself and consider late series Doctor and Seven of Nine chemistry the peak acting of the franchise. Watching them sing “You are my sunshine” brings tears to my eyes.

        5. occasional anonymous

          The guy who played the largest role in shaping the Ferengi, Ira Steven Behr, is himself Jewish. So I very seriously doubt they’re meant to be an anti-semitic portrayal.

          The rite of passage may in fact be a riff on a Bar/Bat Mitzva, something Behr would be personally familiar with. Similarly, the negative portrayal of how they treat women may be a jab at the Ultra Orthodox. In which that still isn’t anti-semitism; it’s an attack on Jewish fundamentalism from a more secular Jew.

          The Ferengi as a whole are representative of capitalism, not Jews.

      3. JTMcPhee

        Started quite a hare. Seems to me the reactions kind of make clear what I had in mind, that the Woke game and canceling are doing their function, divide, confuse, and conquer. So many particulars and shades and angles so many of us are so quick to exploit or tee off on.

        With silence, other than the Narrative (or whatever past, present or potential bit of it makes a platform for I’m-Better-Than-Youism) as the end point…

        Were the Romulans evocative of Wall Street and private equity? Dare one ask such questions? I guess it should be obvious where the Borg fit into the Trek-interpreted version of the universe. Who knows what evil lurks in the minds of men…

    3. Adam Eran

      JFYI, “Ferenghi” means “foreigner” throughout Asia.

      Also…psychological testing reveals 90% of the population has unconscious racial bias. Even more devastating to the “anti-racists” is the absolute necessity to pre-judge before we can perceive the world. That’s right, without prejudice we would literally be unable to see (cf. Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception for the entire story.

      Personally, I’m at the point when anyone starts talking about racism, if they don’t bring up the class war, I say they’re propagandists.

  16. NotTimothyGeithner

    Not all heroes wear capes

    The former NBC News personality Luke Russert, who lives next door, complained at a meeting of the neighborhood board that the sculptures are a safety hazard, citing the number of people who stop in front of Howard’s house to take photos. Howard scoffed. “In my humble opinion,” he told me, the objecting neighbors, including Russert, “are individuals who are entitled.”

    I would be offended if I lived next to Luke Russert.

  17. Another Scott

    I tried reading the David Shor article and got very confused, primarily about the way that he used words like liberal and conservative. I have no clue what he means, especially when applied to policy positions. Look at the discussion of immigration, does anyone else remember when Bernie Sanders called Ezra Klein’s position a “Koch Brothers idea?” These viewpoints are far more complicated than simply calling one liberal and the other conservative.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      only substantial mention of any universal material benefits is about the GOP being against them:
      “Most voters may not identify as liberals. But judging from opinion polls, most voters do reject the lion’s share of the conservative movement’s governing priorities. In Congress, a “conservative” is typically a lawmaker who supports tax cuts for the rich and funding cuts for Medicaid, while opposing a higher minimum wage and another round of stimulus checks. Those are all extremely unpopular positions.


      then both flow seamlessly back into IdPol nonsense, where everything is about Racism.

      but then Shor:”Ideological polarization is a dead end. If we divide the electorate on self-described ideology, we lose — both because there are more conservatives than liberals and because conservatives are structurally overrepresented in the House, Senate, and Electoral College. So the way we get around that is by talking a lot about progressive goals that are not ideologically polarizing, goals that we share with self-described conservatives and moderates. Even among nonwhite voters, those tend to be economic issues. In test after test that we’ve done with Hispanic voters, talking about immigration commonly sparks backlash: Asking voters whether they lean toward Biden and Trump, and then emphasizing the Democratic position on immigration, often caused Biden’s share of support among Latino respondents to decline. Meanwhile, Democratic messaging about investing in schools and jobs tended to move Latino voters away from Trump.”

      then the interviewer deftly steers everything back to Race.

      and i agree…the “Liberal”/”Conservative” as markers are all but useless any more.
      I “Identify” as a libertarian socialist who would settle for a New New deal…and am as colorblind and actually feminist as they come…Universalist Humanism, and all….but I’d rather hang out with Rod Dreher than the majority of the Democrats i see on TV.

  18. Mark Gisleson

    I’m not surprised Sen. Klobuchar wants to get rid of the filibuster. Simply put, she’s not clever enough to ever use it to her advantage and is highly resistant to hiring staff more clever than herself.

    People love to point out the least intelligent members of Congress but I’ve always thought the real threat comes from the plodders who resent their more clever peers for constantly taking advantage of them. #mediocracy

    1. neo-realist

      Republicans got rid of it to push their judges through. I guess they weren’t intelligent enough to use the filibuster to push their interests.

      1. John

        Consortium News just published an article about the origin and use of the filibuster. The article credits John C. Calhoun with originating it for the express purpose of defending slavery. It was revived in the 1960s to oppose the civil rights bills.

        Suppose if you want to filibuster, you had to actually stand up and talk … talk as long as you like … but you have to actually be there and do something instead of using the time to phone donors.

        It is long past its sell by date.

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              abortion was the hill she chose to die on.
              in Texas.
              she was a fish in a barrel for the gop.

    2. Mark Gisleson

      Minnesota’s other Senator, Tina Smith, now says she too wants to end the filibuster.

      I’m guessing that’s the strategy. They won’t get it done, but they’ll blame the filibuster for everything else that doesn’t get done whether there are any actual filibusters or not because excuse-wise the threat of a filibuster is the exact same thing as a filibuster.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Will those mess halls be like the ones I experienced, as a mope enlisted man assigned to KP many, many times (“problems with authority”), or more recent ones where contractors peel the potatoes and fill the coffee urns and dish out food that is more than five different kinds of starch and a slop of mystery meat?

  19. Cpm

    I’m confused. Your graph shows average vaccinations per region dropping over the last 2 weeks.
    But front page graph on NYT today shows a steady stair step up over last 10 days up to 2 million per day. This aggregate US data.
    How do I reconcile these data sets? What am I missing?

    1. Laura in So Cal

      I don’t have NYT, but perhaps their graph is cumulative adding up the total number of vaccines given vs. the graph Lambert uses which is rate…measuring how many are given each day. They both could be correct.

      1. lambert strether

        It’s regional, and averaged. Localities fluctuate. If the situation has turned around, it will show up. (Also, vaccination data is patchy.)

        1. shrewd wookiee

          There is currently a problem with 91-divoc’s data ingestion. The state level daily vaccination data has not been updated for the past week, and is instead showing up as zero new vaccinations/day. This is artificially driving the 7-day rolling average down for each state. Since regional tallies are computed from the state data, they are also artificially down. See https://91-divoc.com/pages/covid-visualization/states-normalized.html?chart=states-normalized&highlight=Utah&show=us-states&y=both&scale=linear&data=vaccineAdmin-daily&data-source=owid&xaxis=right#states-normalized with Utah as an example.

          The NYTimes tracker appears to be working fine.

  20. lyman alpha blob

    The replies are quite something…

    They read as if Kamala paid for a bunch of “I love yarn” bots as fluffer. Maybe Harris will knit us all some $2000 checks…

  21. Goingnowhereslowly

    Whatever the Twitterati say—and I haven’t had the stomach to check—Alexandria’s Fibre Space is a true gem. They have a seating area where knitters can hang out and knit and talk: a tiny but convivial “third space” where both established knitting circles and random folks can gather. In the Before Time I spent some hours there as a struggling beginning knitter and I still treasure some of the conversations I had (or overheard) with people I would otherwise never meet.

    Yes, Fibre Space’s yarn is expensive and some would consider its setting in the heart of Old Town to be twee and bougie in the extreme. But the staff are knowledgeable and helpful and the enterprise clearly promotes and supports knitting as a craft for all ages, skill levels, and genders. There are so few of these kinds of places left and yes, they are mostly for (upper) middle class people. But they cultivate affinity groups that cross some lines and pass on real skills. My ultimate Happy Place is the similar fabric and sewing store Stitch, a block and a half from Fibre Space.

    Publicizing Fibre Space might just be Harris’s most important contribution as VP. I’ve yet to see any others.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      thanks for that.
      that’s an interesting take on something i know absolutely nothing about…and i admit that my gut reaction to that tweet was an eyeroll.

      out here, fossil, artifact(like arrowheads) and topaz hunting has a similar effect, regarding being across all partisanship, demographics and walks of life.

    2. Stillfeelinthebern

      x100 and the shoutout to small biz was nice.

      Before stepping out and saying goodbye, Harris again reiterated how much she and the President value the small business community. “It’s 50% of America’s workforce–50% own a small business or work for a small business…and [it is] so much the fabric of the community.”

        1. ambrit

          Perhaps she ‘centred’ the yarn shop later because she discovered that the Canadiens weren’t aboot to let her be the centre of attention in their country.
          The yarn shop is also the perfect venue for the skeins of her political machinations.
          “Let us knit the frazzled fabric of America together again and I’ll handle the pearl necklaces.”

  22. Doc Octogon

    Mockingbirds are open-ended learners, meaning they can continue to learn new songs throughout entire life with a tendency to mimic sounds with the tell-tale rapid succession of a single note. One theory, this mimicry is serving as an illusion that the mockingbird’s immediate vicinity is crowded with alert birds so that rival males take a hike and predators search for prey unprotected by the flock. Frustrating efforts to ascribe an evolutionary purpose to the mimicry is that there are no behavioral changes that correspond to the mimicry, just a cacophonous broadcast all day long.

    Trafficking in racial mythological claptrap is a proven way to attract cuckoo birds LARPing for amorphous ideals about as lethal to multinationals as nerf footballs. Like the mockingbird’s cacophonous broadcasting an improvisational saga masking inadequacy, Republican media rely on aged John Birch decoder rings and atrocity papered over as individualism to fill the vacuous space where creativity would have plugged in. A cult worshiping prissy mediocrity, not so much leading the country, as harassing the country. The simple repetition provides the illusion of embrace by a like-minded crowd of people who “get it.” — Get what? Themselves? Neat trick.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      to further the analogy(i spend a lot of time with Mockingbirds), the males also have an unfortunate habit of finding their reflection in one’s truck side mirrors, and hanging out there, day after day, attacking that reflection, pooping all over the truck door, and scarring up the mirror in the process.
      maybe april through june, i’ve generally got one on each side of the truck, doing their thing, prancing about for the reflection, and tap tap tap…nd singing that endless, repetitive collection of cover songs.

      now, i’m thinking about trump and ted cruz, wayne lapierre and about fifty other ragged peacocks who think they’re interesting and wise.

      1. Patrick

        Why do mockers open and close their wings while ground feeding? Previous research revealed no explanation.

        1. ambrit

          I see it as a method of ‘trapping’ prey bugs close to the ground long enough to give the bird a chance of scooping up the food beastie.
          I have had them do the wing extension trick when trying to scare me away from nests or fledglings. It makes them look much larger than they really are. A threat display is my best guess.

  23. Darthbobber

    New Yorker got me to pull out my little red book. Doesn’t read very Trumpesquely to me. And except for happening at the Capitol, January 6th bears more resemblance to Weatherman’s silly “Days of Rage” event in Chicago than to any aspect of the cultural revolution.

    Institutionally, the quasi-mandatory “white struggle sessions” inflicted on participants from Smith College to Google offer easier comparisons with the “political reeducation” aspect of the cultural revolution than anything Trump did.

  24. Tertium Squid

    Fascinating account by that NYT editor who lost his job. I think it had less to do with purity enforcement than popularity contests.

    Reading between the lines there’s a powerful cautionary tale as well. I think the desire to argue over details and words made Mr. McNeil good at his job but kind of bad at life.


    1. Don’t argue over every detail to hammer out the truth and make people see your side; use the bland and generic apology that your bosses suggested in the first place.
    2. If you regularly have enormous interpersonal strife in your private and professional relationships, maybe you are an a-hole.
    3. Don’t try to mentor teenagers if you’re patronizing and pedantic, that makes them feel stupid and resentful.
    4. Emotional facts count more than objective ones.
    5. If your bosses have it in for you, leave on your terms first so you don’t have to leave on theirs.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Well, a newspaper where the Executive Editor says “You’ve lost the newsroom” is clearly one where management has abrogated its basic responsibilities. Of course, that may be a good thing, but at the New York Times, at least, I doubt it.

  25. Wukchumni

    A trio of big earthquakes have hit just off of NZ, the first one was thought to be an American billionaire landing on a private jet with so much money on board and a pre-made bunker that it caused the 7.2 temblor, although authorities are downplaying an illionaire type causing the 8.0, stressing that it seemed to be Mother Nature’s doing, but it could’ve been on account of a hedge funder water skiing off the back of his 330 foot yacht that triggered a rare non earthquake tsunami.

    Did any of our Kiwis on here feel them?

    1. The Rev Kev

      Maybe Washington DC is set to gets its own Green Zone like Baghdad has. So, when do they set up the gun turrets?

      1. JTMcPhee

        Just, then, an invitation for the ordinary people to acquire 81mm mortars and 122mm “Grad” and B-40 rockets, and to figure out how to implement IEDs and truck bombs? To complete the scenario…

      2. Keith

        I would support that. Set all more walls and fencing to ensure our security, namely keeping all the govt types inside and safely contained.

  26. occasional anonymous

    >Ebony Thomas, a professor of children’s and young adult literature at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of “The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games

    Young Adult is a genre that literally shouldn’t exist. If you’re old enough to be reading about post-apocalyptic dystopias, you’re old enough to start engaging with actual literature. YA is basically extended training wheels for people who should already be growing up; it’s loathsome.

    And of course she writes about Harry Potter. Of course she does. I don’t have any particular animosity towards HP in and of itself; the way it was getting legions of kids to wait in line for thousand page door stoppers a couple decades ago was genuinely cool. The problem I have is with all of those kids who never grew up and moved on to other books. There’s an entire subreddit dedicated to skewering such people, r/readanotherbook. There’s usually significant crossover between the type of person who manages to connect everything in the real world back to Harry Potter and the type of person who is obsessed with The West Wing.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Young Adult literature is literature that appeals to interests young adults might share. It has as little to do with the quality of the writing as the categories Romance Novels, Mystery, or Science Fiction. I read several Young Adult books to my children in the hopes it might encourage their interest in reading and overcome the strange distaste for reading their schools engendered by forcing them to read what I suppose you might regard as “actual literature”. Some of the school reading books were OK but most were nothing I would voluntarily read. I have never watched The West Wing, but I enjoyed reading the Harry Potter Series, the Sabriel Series, His Dark Materials, Enchantress from the Stars, the Giver, the Hunger Games Trilogy, Shade’s Children, the Ragwitch, and other books that straddle the Young Adult category.

      1. occasional anonymous

        I don’t know when you read them these books, but everything you mentioned is pushing at least thirty years old now. I’m not talking about young adult as a vague category, I’m talking about YA as a specific genre. There’s been an explosion of them in the last decade especially, driven largely by the success of The Hunger Games. There are now dozens of ‘teens in a dystopian future’ books, as the hacks come out of the woodwork to try and ape some of that sweet, sweet Suzanne Collins money (especially if they can land a movie deal). And in the last four or five years the woke have infested the genre, so now it’s a bunch of hacks trying to one-up each other with how enlightened they are.

        The Hunger Games actually marked a kind of high-point for the genre (even if it was basically a long-form Battle Royale ripoff). At least it was actually about class. I’m kind of expecting it to get canceled at some point (protagonist is a white girl, most of the characters are white).

        1. a fax machine

          For what it’s worth there is something to be known in the sub-sub-sub genre of “teens in a dystopian future” books. Teens are attracted to these books because they’re pretty frank about the reality they live in as teens: they go through the motions and rituals society demands just to get dumped out. I enjoy the allegory within the Maze Runner for this reason. Teens are subjected to a world they don’t understand and largely can’t until they die or escape. That is the reality for millions right now and is why such media is popular. I beilive, in time, it will come to define the 2000s and 2010s as it perfectly symbolizes a lost, wayward generation with no (at the time) purpose.

          Of course, there is then the question of what comes next. The books don’t bother thinking of that, most parents just blindly assume their children will eventually be them and have normal mortgages, jobs and lives they did. When this doesn’t happen, society panics. Trump, Covid, and the likely Covid recession all point to this larger intergenerational breakdown.

          It also explains the rise in populism – these books have a reverence for authority, power, and might. Someone once said that if people had to choose between a strong horse and a weak horse most would choose strength. And ultimately all the “players” are compliant in such a system – they preform their job regardless of it’s actual value to society.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I’m talking about YA as a specific genre. There’s been an explosion of them in the last decade especially, driven largely by the success of The Hunger Games. There are now dozens of ‘teens in a dystopian future’ books, as the hacks come out of the woodwork to try and ape some of that sweet, sweet Suzanne Collins money (especially if they can land a movie deal). And in the last four or five years the woke have infested the genre, so now it’s a bunch of hacks trying to one-up each other with how enlightened they are.

          I seem to recall some early, second-hand (to me) manifestations of what we now know as “cancel culture” from YA in the last two or three years. Books that were seemingly sufficiently woke being cancelled after the contract was signed, and so forth.

  27. cuibono

    Using this bacteria, the team were able to raise the freezing temperature of water to 4 ºC (39.2ºF),

    years later, in the midst of the growing ice age, people wondered how they could have been so foolish as to let this bacterium loose…<:

    1. polecat

      Yeah. Today, the Freezer. Tomorrow, the New Ice Age .. sans green lands.

      A possible case of ‘Sciencectuals yet Idiots – of knock-on effects’… because “the Mighty God of PROGRESS!”

  28. Cuibono

    how do we reconcile the apparent contradiction of ” All the vaccines are going to white wealthy enclave” and “White republicans refuse the vaccine in record numbers”?

  29. Joshua Buermann

    “What I did not expect was that vaccine administration would collapse”

    “Johns Hopkins University CSSE / CCI does not provide any data” for the nation as a whole while its 650K/day net for US regions comes with the disclaimer “Reporting of vaccine data is new, updates are sporadic, and may not be complete,” presumably because it is in fact not getting completely reported data while if you flip over to Our Word In Data’s set for the nation as a whole it shows the 7-day average in new shots rising since Biden’s inauguration from around 900K to today’s widely reported 2M+.

    With Hopkins’ regional vaccination dataset if you switch to “total administered” it shows 0 new vaccinations anywhere since since February 26th, flatlining at a total of 65M, where if you go directly to their website they say 28M have been completely vaccinated and 83M have gotten one shot (which lines up with OWID’s number). Most likely something is buggered with 91-divoc, but the rate of vaccination has doubled since the inauguration.

  30. Late Introvert

    re: “GM extends production cuts due to chip shortage, Stellantis warns of lingering pain”

    Here’s a thought. Maybe cars should have LESS semiconductor chips in general? How many are being used for displays and entertainment systems in a wasteful manner to drive high-end sales?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Maybe cars should have LESS semiconductor chips in general?

      Start with a clean sheet of paper and try for zero. You end up with a Trabant, and what’s wrong with that? I dunno if that would work with EVs, though., Still, an engineer could tell me if this is a terrible idea: The “Trabant EV”™ would have a single electronic control: An On/Off switch. Everything else would be a done with mechanical gearing.

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