2:00PM Water Cooler 4/12/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, more soon. –lambert UPDATE All done!

Bird Song of the Day

A shore-bird. I can’t hear the sea, though I wish I could.


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

I feel I’m engaging in a macabre form of tape-watching.

Vaccination by region:

Look at the South go! • Early in February, I said a simple way to compare Biden’s performance to Trump’s on vaccination would be to compare the curves. If Biden accelerated vaccine administration, the rate of vaccination post-Inaugural would kink upward, as the policies of a more effective administration took hold. They have not. The fragmented, Federalized, and profit-driven lumbering monstrosity that we laughingly call our “health care” “system” has not responded to “energy in the executive,” but has continued on its inertial path, albeit in an upward direction.

Case count by United States regions:=


The Midwest in detail:

Michigan is… not looking good. And Minnesota is following.

MI: “Michigan Shows Why Managing The COVID-19 Endgame Is So Hard” [HuffPo]. “Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer responded to her state’s soaring COVID-19 caseloads on Friday by calling for a two-week, voluntary return to more social distancing…. But while Whitmer urged residents to avoid indoor dining and asked school districts to suspend both in-person high school learning and after-school sports for the two-week period, she declined to issue new orders in either case. It’s a less aggressive move than many public health experts had been urging, even as she faces ongoing, relentless calls from Republicans and their allies to dial back restrictions even more…. Friday’s announcement suggests that she is trying to walk a fine line between following public health guidance and recognizing that her constituents, even the politically sympathetic ones, have lost their patience for pandemic restrictions. Of course, that is precisely the problem now all over the country: Many Americans are ready to move on from the virus, but the pandemic isn’t over just yet. It’s a difficult situation to manage, especially in such a politically polarized environment. But lives are literally at stake.” •

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

The big drop in New York, but flattening. Florida on the continues its slow climb. I’ve helpfully added a black line to compare our new normal with New York’s peak last year.

Test positivity:


Still heading down.

Case fatality rate (plus deaths):

Good to see those deaths dropping. The fatality rate in the West is dropping now, for some reason as unknown as why it rose.

* * *


“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

UPDATE It remains to be seen what comes out of the rioters’ trials:

A smart demagogue combined with jury nullification could do a lot of damage. (That said, I don’t think most of them thought they were “incriminating themselves” at all. Carefree insouciance was the norm!

UPDATE “‘This is War’ Examining Military Experience Among the Capitol Hill Siege Participants” (PDF) [Program on Extremism, George Washington University / Combating Terrorism Center at West Point]. “43 of 357 individuals (12%) charged in federal court for their role in the Capitol Hill siege had some form of military experience. Of these 43 individuals, the vast majority (93%) were veterans and not currently serving in an Active Duty, reservist, or Guard status. Individuals with military experience had, on average, 9 years of service experience. The range of experience was substantial, from 3 years on the low-end to 25 years on the high-end. Over one-quarter were commissioned officers, and 44% deployed at least once. Around one-third joined before 2000, and around 50% left the service over a decade ago. 37% of individuals with military experience had affiliations to domestic violent extremist (DVE) organizations like the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, around four times more likely to be a part of such groups than those without military experience. Some individuals with military experience held leadership positions in these organizations. Many others, however, arrived at the Capitol either in organized clusters or alone.”

Biden Administration

“Why Would Anyone Want to be President?” [Elizabeth Drew, Project Syndicate]. “Some presidents indulge in the “Mount Rushmore syndrome” making an obvious effort to achieve greatness. Normally soft-spoken and apparently modest Biden is making his own bid for immortality.” • Whew!


“Amtrak’s Future Lies Between Boston and Washington” [Matt Yglesias, Bloomberg]. “The best thing Amtrak could do for its long-term future is to identify routes with high returns on investment — that is, ones that are likely to generate large increases in ridership and reduce its dependence on federal subsidy. That means focusing on high-speed rail in the Northeast Corridor, where for many trips it’s already faster to take the train than fly (once you factor in travel to and security at the airport).” • Says the Acela Corridor rider…. Why are we accepting the premise that Amtrak needs to be profitable?

“I don’t get the high-speed rail thing (yet)” [Noah Smith, Noahpinion]. “The potential decline of business travel calls into question the entire economic benefit of HSR. Yes, making it easier for businesspeople to travel between production locations is a boost to productivity. But Zoom might simply supersede those gains by providing a much bigger boost. Making it slightly more convenient to talk face to face with a coworker, supplier, or customer in another city is good. Making it infinitely cheaper and much more convenient is better, and eliminates much of the scope for gains from trains.”

Democrats en Deshabille

The reason the rules don’t seem to make sense is that they do not, in fact, make sense:

Isn’t Biaggi guilty of micro-aggression, here?

Republican Funhouse

UPDATE “Trump relaunches his fundraising machine after months of quiet” [Politico]. “Former President Donald Trump is reigniting his small-dollar fundraising operation for the first time since leaving the White House, part of his political ramp-up to stake out an outsize role in the 2022 midterm elections and expand his financial network ahead of a potential 2024 comeback bid. The effort illustrates how Trump is trying to capitalize on his considerable small-dollar base to establish a massive war chest, bolster like-minded candidates and grow his database of supporters. ‘I expect former President Trump to remain a force in small-dollar fundraising. He maintains a pretty potent online fundraising base, which he can use for his political committees,’ said Tim Cameron, a Republican digital strategist. The proceeds are filling the coffers of Trump’s political action committee, Save America, which he can use for an array of political activities, such as holding campaign events and dishing out cash to favored candidates. Save America PAC currently has around $85 million in the bank, according to a Trump adviser, a substantial sum that is likely to dwarf what other conservative committees have on hand at such an early point in the 2022 election cycle.'” • I wouldn’t begin to speculate on Trump’s motives. By Occam’s Razor, the money is enough.

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “Biden Republicans? Some in GOP open to president’s agenda” [Associated Press]. “Jay Copan doesn’t hide his disregard for the modern Republican Party. A solid Republican voter for the past four decades, the 69-year-old quickly regretted casting his 2016 ballot for Donald Trump. When Trump was up for reelection last year, Copan appeared on roadside billboards across North Carolina, urging other Republicans to back Democratic rival Joe Biden. Nearly three months into the new administration, Copan considers himself a “Biden Republican,” relieved by the new president’s calmer leadership style and coronavirus vaccine distribution efforts. Copan is the type of voter Biden is counting on as he pushes an agenda that’s almost universally opposed by Republicans in Washington. As Biden meets Monday with a bipartisan group of lawmakers to discuss his massive infrastructure plan, he’s betting that the GOP’s elected leaders are making a political miscalculation. The party’s base remains overwhelmingly loyal to Trump, but Biden believes that Republican leaders are overlooking everyday Americans eager for compromise and action… “I really want there to be a good two-party system,” said Copan, a former senior officer with the American Gas Association.” • Putting the “M” in PMC…..

“Q: Into the Storm Exposes the QAnon Conspiracy and Its Toxic Roots” [Jacobin]. “Interacting with both Jim and Ron Watkins over the course of several years — the project being some three in the making — the director’s seemingly passive eye clearly understands its subjects well, and a mixture of editing and commentary makes it obvious that he finds them neither sympathetic nor trustworthy. The series’ key moment [spoilers incoming] comes in its final episode, when Hoback, having embedded himself with Jim Watkins during January 6 Capitol storming, concludes by arguing that the identity of the mysterious Q is, in fact, Ron Watkins himself. ‘If you look at my Twitter feed, that’s what I’m doing publicly now,’ Watkins tells the filmmaker during their final conversation in the film, adding: I’ve spent the past . . . almost ten years, every day, doing this kind of research anonymously. Now I’m doing it publicly, that’s the only difference. . . . It was basically . . . three years of intelligence training teaching normies how to do intelligence work. It was basically what I was doing anonymously but, before, never as Q. Watkins, whose ensuing cheeky expression carries the air of someone catching themself midway through a mistake, hastens to add: ‘Never as Q. I promise. Because I am not Q, and I never was.’: • RussiaGate normies, of course, were taught how to do intelligence work by high intelligence officials, on national media, and their service providers in the press.

Stats Watch

Inflation: “United States Consumer Inflation Expectations” [Trading Economics]. “Inflation Expectations in the United States increased to 3.20 percent in March from 3.09 percent in February of 2021.

* * *

Retail: What Happened to Pickup Trucks?” [Bloomberg]. “Since 1990, U.S. pickup trucks have added almost 1,300 pounds on average. Some of the biggest vehicles on the market now weigh almost 7,000 pounds — or about three Honda Civics. These vehicles have a voracious appetite for space, one that’s increasingly irreconcilable with the way cities (and garages, and parking lots) are built. Styling trends are almost as alarming. Pickup truck front ends have warped into scowling brick walls, billboards for outwardly directed hostility. ‘The goal of modern truck grilles,’ wrote Jalopnik’s Jason Torchinsky in 2018, ‘seems to be… about creating a massive, brutal face of rage and intimidation.’…. Giant, furious trucks are more than just a polarizing consumer choice: Large pickups and SUVs are notably more lethal to other road users, and their conquest of U.S. roads has been accompanied by a spike in fatalities among pedestrians and bicyclists.” • [sings] “We’re bringing the war / back home….”

Retail: “Nightclub nightmare: industry fears for its post-Covid future” [Financial Times]. • No more velvet ropes manned by thick-necked, steroidal enforcers? That’s a damn shame.

The Bezzle: “Coinbase Sails Toward $100 Billion Valuation on Crypto Frenzy” [Bloomberg]. “Coinbase Global Inc., the fast-growing exchange at the center of the speculative frenzy in cryptocurrencies, is expected to go public this week at a staggering valuation of about $100 billion. That’s more than the venerable New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq Stock Market combined — for a company that didn’t even exist a decade ago. If all goes according to plan, Wednesday’s scheduled direct listing on Nasdaq will cement Coinbase’s position as the Big Board of the U.S. crypto scene and a potent symbol of the risks and rewards of the new era of digital money.” • I wouldn’t be so negative about “digital money” if I could see anything other than downsides for me, personally. It seems like a rentier’s wet dream. Which I suppose explains the valuation.

The Bezzle:

Tech: “What chipageddon? Samsung says sales and profits soared in Q1” [The Register]. “However, Samsung is less affected by the shortage than others as the giant chaebol makes many of its own components.” • Vertical integration as a form of insurance?

Tech: “Why it’s easier to move country than switch social media” [Wired]. “When we talk about social media monopolies, we focus too much on network effects, and not enough on switching costs. Yes, it’s true that all your friends are already stuck in a Big Tech silo that doesn’t talk to any of the other Big Tech silos. It needn’t be that way: interoperable platforms have existed since the first two Arpanet nodes came online. You can phone anyone with a phone number and email anyone with an email address. The reason you can’t talk to Facebook users without having a Facebook account isn’t that it’s technically impossible – it’s that Facebook forbids it. What’s more, Facebook (and its Big Tech rivals) have the law on their side: the once-common practice of making new products that just work with existing ones (like third-party printer ink, or a Mac program that can read Microsoft Office files, or an emulator that can play old games) has been driven to the brink of extinction by Big Tech. They were fine with this kind of “competitive compatibility” when it benefited them, but now that they dominate the digital world, it’s time for it to die. To restore competitive compatibility, we would need reform to many laws: software copyright and patents, the anti-circumvention laws that protect digital rights management, and the cybersecurity laws that let companies criminalize violations of their terms of service.”

Tech: “Revealed: the Facebook loophole that lets world leaders deceive and harass their citizens” [Guardian]. “The most blatant example was Juan Orlando Hernández, the president of Honduras, who in August 2018 was receiving 90% of all the known civic fake engagement in the small Central American country. In August 2018, Zhang uncovered evidence that Hernández’s staff was directly involved in the campaign to boost content on his page with hundreds of thousands of fake likes. xOne of the administrators of Hernández’s official Facebook Page was also administering hundreds of other Pages that had been set up to resemble user profiles. The staffer used the dummy Pages to deliver fake likes to Hernández’s posts, the digital equivalent of bussing in a fake crowd for a speech. This method of acquiring fake engagement, which Zhang calls “Page abuse”, was made possible by a loophole in Facebook’s policies. The company requires user accounts to be authentic and bars users from having more than one, but it has no comparable rules for Pages, which can perform many of the same engagements that accounts can, including liking, sharing and commenting.” • Even under Hanlon’s Razor, Facebook can’t possibly be that stupid.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 54 Neutral (previous close: 60 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 64 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). One year ago, just after the end of the Before Times: 42 (Fear). Last updated Apr 12 at 12:39pm.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 187 (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so high is better.)

The Biosphere

“A Soil Scientist’s Perspective – Carbon Farming, CO2 Certification & Carbon Sequestration in Soil” [Resilience]. “When it comes to humus and soils, the focus must be on soil fertility, ecosystem services and greater resilience to climate change, and not on CO2 sequestration, certificate trading and carbon storage. Considering an isolated factor within an agricultural ecosystem in purely economic terms does not put enough value on ecosystem services and risks incentivising the adoption of one-sided measures.”

“Evolutionary stasis of a deep subsurface microbial lineage” [Nature]. From the press release: “[A] group of microbes, which feed off chemical reactions triggered by radioactivity, have been at an evolutionary standstill for millions of years…. ‘This discovery shows that we must be careful when making assumptions about the speed of evolution and how we interpret the tree of life,’ said Eric Becraft, the lead author on the paper. ‘It is possible that some organisms go into an evolutionary full-sprint, while others slow to a crawl, challenging the establishment of reliable molecular timelines.’:

Health Care

A thread refuting WHO”s John Conley on aerosols (from the recent conference on aerosol transmission at the University of Calgary):

Shorter: If you want to manage the complexity, learn the science instead of denying it. Some other reactions to the conference:

The Agony Column

“A Truce Proposal In The Trans Wars” [Andrew Sullivan, The Weekly Dish]. • Hmm.

“The Healing Power of JavaScript” [Wired]. “A pattern was set: When the complexities of social situations exhausted me as a child, I turned to code, became an isolate. Ellen Ullman writes in her book Life in Code: A Personal History of Technology, ‘Until I became a programmer, I didn’t thoroughly understand the usefulness of such isolation: the silence, the reduction of life to thought and form; for example, going off to a dark room to work on a program when relations with people get difficult.’ Reading assembly language books in middle school or programming BBS software in high school didn’t register, then, explicitly, as a salve.”

The Conservatory

“Rest in Peace: Earl Simmons and DMX” [Six Perfections]. “Years and years passed. Now I can listen to his songs through a different prism. Earl Simmons had terrible asthma, too many kids, was in and out of jail, struggled with money, drugs, and the warrior myth of DARK MAN X. He couldn’t escape the monster of his creation. I relate to that…but I still bob my head when I hear his song, recall the videos, think about all the drama, and the songs he left like the armor-plated suit of an imposing superhero. Dark Man X.”

Our Famously Free Press

An aerosol scientist grapples with gaslighting. A thread:

Police State Watch

“LexisNexis to Provide Giant Database of Personal Information to ICE” [The Intercept]. “Though LexisNexis is perhaps best known for its role as a powerful scholarly and legal research tool, the company also caters to the immensely lucrative “risk” industry, providing, it says, 10,000 different data points on hundreds of millions of people to companies like financial institutions and insurance companies who want to, say, flag individuals with a history of fraud. LexisNexis Risk Solutions is also marketed to law enforcement agencies, offering “advanced analytics to generate quality investigative leads, produce actionable intelligence and drive informed decisions” — in other words, to find and arrest people. The LexisNexis ICE deal appears to be providing a replacement for CLEAR, a risk industry service operated by Thomson Reuters that has been crucial to ICE’s deportation efforts. In February, the Washington Post noted that the CLEAR contract was expiring and that it was “unclear whether the Biden administration will renew the deal or award a new contract.”

Class Warfare

Twitter, interestingly, flags the second tweet (“if there is some profit…”) as “The following media includes potentially sensitive content”:

News of the Wired

Motif, 1934:

Motif, 1937:

Moar trains:

* * *

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

AM writes: “No idea what this is, but it’s definitely alive and not your ordinary palm. North Naples, FL 3/24/21.” Well, it’s not a maple or an oak, that’s for sure.

* * *

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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. antidlc

    Thank you for the train video! Made my day!

    I cannot believe the work that went into that.

    1. Isotope_C14

      I wonder how much money went into the Riedel wine glasses. I might be wrong, but that’s the sound they make when water is in them and you are cleaning them. I don’t think this is the lead crystal line, but possibly some of them are, for the proper tone. They sure are the right shape for the Riedel vinum series.

      Note: I cleaned a lot of them, as I was born poor. If only I had a better plan to get born by a richer family I would have evaded climate collapse (and doing dishes for country club morons).

  2. Seth Miller

    Re: Amtrak’s Future

    By Yglasias’ logic, they should run a direct Amtrak spur to the Hamptons. Profitable! Run a car service to Moynihan station, and charge extra for bottle service and massages. Keep the constituents happy!

      1. Arizona Slim

        News you can use! (Sorry, Lambert, I couldn’t resist.)

        And one of these days, I’m going to take a long-distance train trip.

      2. grayslady

        Thanks so much for this information. I passed it on to a friend of mine who can’t travel by air anymore and is on a limited budget. This may enable him and his daughter to get out to the east coast for his eldest grandson’s wedding. Happily, both are fully vaccinated.

    1. Laughingsong

      Both Yglesias and Smith torqued my hide! Profitprofitprofitprofit! Argh!

      Mass transit means MASS transit, goldurnit. And not just @&*$#& bidness people need and want to travel! And many (yup like me) have had it up to here with the whole TSA/fees-for-nothing/waiting-at-layover/1000-paper-cuts that is air travel.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      By Yglasias’ logic, they should run a direct Amtrak spur to the Hamptons.

      Whenever I hear someone utter “highspeed rail”, I find they almost always mean this exact scenario because they took a train from Paris to Berlin! Watch them squirm when you ask them about the half hour trip to get to the station reminding them the stops aren’t going to be at their house. The whole appeal of Musk is his pod promise, so there is no risk of accidentally encountering a non-white person. Unless the non white person is like these two in

      Not Another Teen Movie

  3. Dalepues

    Chinese Fan Palm? We had a fan palm in our yard in Florida and it was grayish in color, but the fan points were more frayed than this one.

  4. Alex

    “Kamikaze” is an essential word in the Chris Trump story. If any of them had been killed by police on 1/6, I bet that many could have been considered deaths of despair. Oh wait, one was killed, and it really was a DoD if you look at her story.

    Also, QAnon turns out to be backed by exactly as much substance as Russiagate was. If Rachel Maddow is still getting paid $30k a day by the cable company, maybe we should ease up on the pearl clutching over domestic terror.

  5. cocomaan

    This made it high up in reddit today: A Quick Walk Down Kensington Ave, in Philadelphia https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpyHhrDgG5A

    The imperial economy of the US is further and further separated from the lives of a good portion of Americans. What happens to many people has ceased to matter. Maybe it didn’t ever matter to the powers that be.

    1. zagonostra

      This could be from just about any major U.S. City. It’s noteworthy that China has a high profile policy to eradicate severe poverty and yet clips like the one don’t seem to be a part of any serious effort to “restore soul of America.” People have become inured to such sights and it hardly registers in their consciousness, it’s part of the accepted landscape, background noise with no significance.

      1. Anthony Noel

        I’m not sure if it doesn’t register, more like it has to be ignored or else you’ll just stop being able to function. The “average” person is acutely aware that they are literally one bad day away from this. One thing goes wrong, be it medical, or social, or mechanical/technical and you will be joining the ranks of these people on the street in a very short order.

        So you ignore it, or you tell yourself they deserved it, because you know you can’t change it. No one can ever change it. Keep your head down and take the scraps because the alternative is the street.

        As for the people in power, well it’s a great reminder of what could happen if you decide to get out of line, maybe demand a little dignity, respect and economic and social security. It’s a nice little life you’ve eked out there, hate to see anything happen to it…

        Unfortunately we need another battle of Blair Mountain or for someone to start using the prop guillotine they setup outside of Bezo’s house to remind the powers that be that the Hampton’s are not a defensible position.

    2. roxan

      HoodTime does good work. Sad, what is happening in Philly. Even Septa drivers are afraid these days.

  6. Darius

    I’m going to propose the plantidote is a vigorous young cabbage palmetto benefiting from being pampered in a garden, with the dead fronds cut away. In nature, they hang on the trunk like a coat.

  7. RopeADope

    “Retail: What Happened to Pickup Trucks?”

    Wasn’t what happened was that fuel mileage requirements per manufacturer had an exemption over a certain weight? I have not seen any reporting that Democrats have closed this loophole which would make sense as large trucks have a higher profit margin that can fund pensions and benefits.

    1. Hal

      By adding weight, through size and features rather than cast iron ingots in the frame, the emissions per engine remained constant relative to the ever tightening weight versus emissions standards, with the same size engine.
      Thank Obama for monster trucks.

    2. Eloined

      The 2006 light-truck rule which implemented the size-based standard was preceded by a class-based standard (e.g. a across a manufacturer’s total fleet of light trucks, incl. SUVs). That one had its own workarounds, such as Subaru raising the ground clearance of the Outback by a couple of inches in 2004 so that, amidst anti-SUV sentiment in those days, the Outback would still look like it belonged around Northeast college towns while meeting DOT requirements for light trucks — thus facilitating Subaru’s compliance under lax Bush-era standards without sacrificing that giddy-up which certain drivers feel they need to pass and merge comfortably.

      Following a freeze on CAFE standards in 2000, the Bush-era opportunity to increase CAFE standards, enabled by major engine efficiency improvements, was thoroughly squandered for horsepower, mass and indeed the application of Mack-like grills to light trucks.

      See also: the flex-fuel truck charade.

      FWIW, as a pickup owner for material-handling purposes, I think — aesthetically — Ford has generally been the worst offender with offensive frontages. Not only did they adopt more ‘chrome’ (or plastic lookalike) sooner than other brands, and leaving aside their choice of a raging Dennis Leary as spokesman, I reckon from observation that, relative to their overall prevalence on US roads, Fords are overrepresented in the category of trucks tailgating as an intimidation tactic.

  8. Ranger Rick

    At this moment, from my window, I can see a 1990s-era Ford Ranger parked next to a 2010s-era Ford F150. The Ranger is dwarfed by the full-size pickup, which is easily 50% larger. I recall the excitement that accompanied the announcement of the (now-released) Chevrolet Colorado — finally, a small truck that isn’t 30 years old! — up until people discovered it’s… barely 15% smaller than a full-size modern Silverado. Same goes for the new Ford Ranger.

    The embiggening phenomenon isn’t restricted to pickup trucks, however. Amongst automotive aficionados perhaps one of the most pitied is the fan of the station wagon (“estate” for those overseas). You’re not going to find too many still being made for the US market these days: they all became crossovers instead. What Subaru did to the Outback was jaw-dropping when I first saw the new version.

    1. Glen

      Yes, having recently switched from a 1991 Ford F-150 to a 2020 Ford F-150, the size takes a while to get use to – it seems to be a foot larger in every direction. Yet, at the same time I have a harder time getting into it, and it seems smaller inside.

      It is rated to carry and tow more than the older truck. It does get better gas mileage, averaging about 22 mpg as opposed to 15 mpg in the older truck, but considering that there were 30 years between the two trucks, it’s disappointing that it is not an EV. But I suspect that I will not be able to afford the EVs when these do show up.

    2. RMO

      1992 F-150 wheelbase: 133 inches to 168.4 inches, length: 197.1 inches to 253.3 inches, width: 79 inches
      2021 F-150 wheelbase: 122.7 inches to 164.1 inches, length: 209.1 inches to 250.3 inches, width: 79.9 inches

      Much of the impression of massiveness is styling. Increases ride height and bed height also make them look much bigger (bed height being my personal pet peeve as it makes it so much harder to load and unload heavy items from newer trucks) A much higher proportion of trucks sold now compared to thirty years ago have four door cabs so the current mix is made up much more of the largest versions available but the actual dimensions of the old and new trucks aren’t really as great as it would appear.

      Another factor is that the really compact trucks are long gone from the market – e.g. a Japanese made Mazda B-2200 single cab. Compared to the smallest truck available now they seem so low it feels like you’re getting into a Lotus Europa or something.

    3. Keith

      And yet, it seems the beds are getting smaller. I have a 2017 Frontier, which I plan to trade in this year for a bigger truck, namely for a bigger bed for hauling (also heavier loads, as the Frontier does have issues with carrying too many cinder blocks).

      Another factor is that the pick up has become a family vehicle, with all the bells and whistles. A full size can fit a family in it. Plus, it has towing capacity to pull a trailer. The truck, basically, has become the all in one vehicle, especially for those in flyover that need vehicles to do in all in potentially hostile weather. I suspect that plays into it, as well. Again, looking at my Frontier, the baby seat in the back takes up pretty much all the space, further necessitating upgrading the truck.

      Another factor are the CAFE standards. This causes companies to pick and choose their lines based on fleet economy rather than customer wants. In fact, it was due to CAFE that I first ended up in a pick up. I had originally wanted a new Xterra, but Nissan cancelled them, unofficially due to CAFE.

    4. wadge22

      Yes, embiggening everywhere you look. The excerpt portrays a 7,000 pound truck as “about 3 Honda Civics,” but Civics are pushing 3000 lbs these days, themselves!

      Here’s a link I stumbled upon, which has weights for lots of vehicles going back through the model years, for anyone interested in seeing how embiggeneing has played out with their favorite models. It looks like the website has plenty of other data, but when I looked into exterior dimensions, it wasn’t laid out as conveniently. YMMV

      Here is a stupid listicle of the smallest cars available that shows, however, that the small stuff is still out there. Spark, Mirage, Sonic, Fit, Yaris, Rio, Accent, and Versa are all well under $20k.

      The biggest machine of all must be the one that convinces the majority of drivers that they need the 7,000lb, $35k+ vehicles.

      1. cuibono

        Supersize that Sir?

        everything is getting bigger. Americans waists especially. Good for business dont you know. More food, Bigger houses. Bigger cars. More Lipitor. More more more.

      2. Carolinian

        I can remember when VW Beetles weighed 1800 lbs. So the Ford would be four times the weight.

        Should be said though that cars have also taken on the spikey styling trend as seen in current Hondas and Toyotas and as not seen in the mellow, flower power roundness of the Bug. Perhaps Mad Max due for re-release. It was recently updated with Mad Max Fury Road where a Ford 150 would fit right in.

      3. ambrit

        “…well under $20k.” !!!!!!
        One of my sisters-in-law bought a brand new VW Bug back in the ’60s for $1800 USD.
        I’ve bought fixer upper autos for $300 USD and driven them home!
        Sheesh, you’d think that there was some sinister plot afoot to make automobiles too expensive for the poor folk to afford, thus cutting back on pollutants etc.
        My folks bought the house in Miami Beach back in ’67 for less than one of these new pickup trucks cost.

        1. wadge22

          Yes. That is a lot of money. The $35k+ range is unthinkable for me. For a rusting, grinding, depreciating machine you can’t fix yourself.

          I’m with you, though. I drive cars that cost me less than $1500, generally, and try and spend as little as possible on maintenance. Never pay anyone for work, except for tires and alignments. If I don’t want to do the work to fix it, time to scrap and look for another one. If one lets me down, there are more like them, including usually at least one extra in my driveway.

          Also to note, I bought a house here in Akron back in ’13 for less than one of these new pickup trucks cost.

          1. ambrit

            Yes. Working on one’s own vehicles is both rewarding, in several senses, and also a classic pain.
            I can’t even begin to think of how one will work on an electric vehicle, especially one with direct electric drive wheels. (Hint: No mechanical drive train. Maybe also electromagnetic brakes. Stopping would charge up the battery. It’s going to be a brave new world.)

      4. Keith

        Another factor with regards to the increasing weight of vehicles are the additional safety features/mandates. Car companies put more and more safety features into their vehicles, which likely add to the weight of the vehicle, as well as increasing the cost.

        1. tegnost

          This has something to do with it too…

          To illustrate the potential savings from these first-year tax breaks, suppose you buy a new $65,000 heavy SUV and use it 100% for your business in 2020. You can deduct the entire $65,000 in 2020 thanks to the 100% first-year bonus depreciation privilege. If you use the vehicle only 60% for business, your first-year deduction would be $39,000 (60% x $65,000).

          Lawyers and real estate agents etc… and the construction biz

      5. Duke of Prunes

        Except the Yaris, Sonic and Fit have all been discontinued.

        There are a number of tiny suvs, but they tend to be more expensive and less efficient than the cars they replaced.

        1. wadge22

          Wow good catch. Surprises me for the Fit particularly, I thought those still had some fans.
          Looks like the trend continues.

          1. Lunker Walleye

            It would be a stretch to say I love the 2008 Fit, but it is serviceable and can carry a big load. I’ve learned to ignore the check engine light and low pressure tire indicator which are features and not bugs.

    5. cnchal

      >. . . one of the most pitied is the fan of the station wagon

      I have three of them, each bought for used go kart money, but they are priceless to me and twenty years old or older. Pity, however should be reserved for anyone that has a car or truck less than ten years old with so much electronic crapola, that a couple of sensors going bad can scrap it. Colossal waste by design.

      An odd result with regards to large vehicles is liability insurance. The bigger and heavier the vehicle, the less is the liability insurance, because the driver and passengers in small cars are at high risk of serious injury or death when getting crushed by a 7000 lb behemoth, and in the view of the insurance industry, are completely irresponsible for choosing a death trap instead of a tank.

  9. Alfred

    I am not sure what to make of this: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/regeneron-says-its-cocktail-can-help-prevent-infection-us-won-t-play-whac-a-mole-with-vaccine-supplies-live-covid-19-updates/ar-BB1fyse9

    Dr. Rochelle Walensky noted that it takes two to six weeks from the time vaccines are jabbed until the impact could be realized.
    “When you have an acute situation, an extraordinary amount of cases like we have in Michigan, the answer is not necessarily to give vaccine, the answer is to really close things down,” Walensky said at a White House COVID response briefing. “If we tried to vaccinate our way out of what is happening in Michigan we would be disappointed that it took so long for the vaccine to work, to actually have the impact.”
    Andy Slavitt, the White House senior COVID adviser, said shifting vaccine supplies “to play Whac-a-Mole isn’t the strategy that public health leaders and scientists have laid out.”

      1. Duke of Prunes

        I thought similarly. J&J takes a few weeks to be effective. I’m sure they’re recommending at least a few weeks shutdown. What’s the problem?

        Whac-a-mole = adapting policy to changing conditions?!?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > If we tried to vaccinate our way out of what is happening in Michigan we would be disappointed that it took so long for the vaccine to work, to actually have the impact.

      So Walensky expects the Michigan spike to last a lot longer than two weeks?

      Does she propose to do anything else? Or just leave Michigan twisting slowly, slowly in the wind?

  10. Jomo

    The tree is a heavily pruned Bismarck Palm, perhaps. Nice tree, had one in the front yard of a house I owned. But I’m just a homeowner and no expert on palms

  11. Duck1

    RE: Why would anyone want to be president? Elizabeth Drew
    Drew, still cranking out the words after all these years, enlightens us about the Harris appointment to fix the boarder by taking a “root causes” approach. ” Root causes are believed to be corrupt governments, lousy economies, gang violence, and climate change “. Enchanted presidency runs into the malign neglect of Central America by preceding enchanted presidents. Anybody remember Obama pissing on democracy in Honduras? Nothing like firming up the oligarchy in one of the poorest countries. Joe was around there in DC doing something back then.

  12. zagonostra

    >Retail: What Happened to Pickup Trucks?” [Bloomberg].

    I’ve wondered why they stopped producing small trucks. Look at the Toyota Tacoma made in the 90’s,it’s svelte styling and practicality are legendary. Every time a small truck comes on the market it sells immediately, even if it has 350K miles on it. So why can’t produce one today? Is it because there isn’t the same profit margin, I know a small truck would sell well, even as a secondary vehicle, especially for those who have some acreage attached to their property to haul seed and soil around. Does Hypertrophy infect everything that is produced in the U.S.?

    1. RMO

      Up until very recently Nissan was still selling the Frontier (a new model is due out soon) here in Canada that was the closest match to a truck like the 1990s compacts. It was available in a plain cab, four cylinder, two wheel drive version at around $20,000 (and of course more elaborate and expensive versions were available too). The Tacoma was only available starting as a four wheel drive super cab that was $38,000 and got more expensive from there. The Tacoma outsold the Frontier by about a ten-to-one margin. I like small simple trucks. Some other people do too, but even all together we’re a small group. That small group is enough to let demand exceed supply on the old trucks because there just aren’t a whole lot of them around – no matter how bulletproof they are time, heavy use and most importantly rust has more than decimated their numbers. The “chicken tax” frequently gets blamed for the demise of the truly compact pickup but this ignores that the Japanese companies shifted production of their trucks to North America starting in the 90s so the tax didn’t apply to them after that.

    2. Keith

      I recall reading somewhere that the issue is not demand, as you correctly point out, there is a demand for them. It is an issue of balancing fleet gas per mile with profitability. Bigger trucks come with bigger profits, so the companies want them in their line up. Due to mileage concerns, they have to cut some other vehicles while keeping the really small non-sellers.

  13. Jeremy Grimm

    “Inflation Expectations in the United States …”

    I recall ‘The Russian Wheat Deal’ of the early 1970s and I also recall the way bread prices went up at the local supermarket when my mom sent me to pick up groceries. I also recall that prices for bread never went back down to where they had been. Although economics draws pretty charts showing the workings of the great invisible hand through the holy dogmas of supply and demand curves, my life experiences vaguely recall other mysteriously uncanonical prices that ratcheted up their increases. I recall the gas lines and stagflation of the middle 1970s and wonder at the singular focus on MMT versus Neo-Keynesianism versus Neoliberal/Classical Monetary Theory as predictors of inflation and guides for policy. In lieu of rescue by long phantom philosopher kings, the MMT theories of inflation, and origins of the value of money, combined with some common sense and a little classical Keynesianism definitely seem ‘best of breed’ for designing practical fiscal and monetary policy to achieve a Just Society. But our future must deal with prices that ratchet up and seldom down; prices that rise due to logistics created shortages and ratchet up; prices that increase because their demand-supply curves never were and never could be elastic; prices that increase through monopoly or decrease through monopsony powers; and prices that reflect underlying depletions, extraction cost increases, or reflect demand pressures due to our exponentially growing populations — mostly not originated in the US.

    I believe we will see significant inflation in the costs for the bundle of items in Everyman’s basket — food, housing, medical care, education, transportation …. I trust Government inflation statistics as I trust Government unemployment statistics. I suppose they measure inflation and unemployment seen by someone else — not me.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Was that ” inflation” ? Or was that shortage-generated scarcity-pricing?

      I remember reading ( and even dimly experiencing) the price of meat going up shortly after that, and “the housewives of America” making their displeasure known. The unhappiness reached the ears of Richard Nixon.

      His response was to work with Earl Butz to push the policy of fence-row to fence-row plowing and planting and changing the subsidy structure from ” pay not to grow” to ” the more you grow, the more we subsidize”. That was the dawn of our current golden age of mass quantities of petrochemical shitcorn underwriting the cheap “food” policy.

      1. Eloined

        And to add another chapter: the farm[ers’] crisis starting in the early ’80s, when loans taken out to plant from fence-row to fence-row could not be paid, after which stricken farmers could neither go big nor go home.

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        “Was that ‘inflation’ ? Or was that shortage-generated scarcity-pricing?”

        Considering the price of bread — it was a shortage-generated scarcity that raised the price of bread at the supermarket. BUT the price never went back down after the scarcity was relieved. If the price of bread goes up and stays up I think that feels like inflation. I am speculating that some of the prices that have gone up on account of Corona Days and logistics glitch shortages might ratchet to the new leader — price discovery of the highest price the market will bear. I suspect there was also some monopoly action at play — on the part of Cargill and the Supermarket chains.

  14. Hepativore

    I heard that in addition to all of the other intimidation tactics it was imposing on its workers, Amazon had UPS install a ballot box on site so it could harass and target workers who were bringing ballots to work. Apparently, this was after Amazon had been told it could not do this by both the NRLB as well as USPS.

    Since this was a blatant violation of the NRLB, what sort of repercussions could Amazon face, if any? This assumes of course, that there is any political interest in punishing Amazon on the part of its flagrant violation of several labor laws.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      There is no such interest.

      What if the Union Leaderships tried getting all their members to boycott Amazon until Amazon permitted unionization? How many union members would actually practice such a boycott? The experiment deserves to be run. The results would be very clarifying.

      ( I myself would rather see Amazon exterminated from existence and wiped off the face of the earth than see it unionised. It would still be a cancer spreading throughout the whole rest of the economy).

      1. rowlf

        In the 1980/90s the International Association of Machinists union I was a member of used to list companies to boycott in their monthly or quarterly publications. I left the IAM twenty years ago so I have no idea if they still print or keep a list.

        The list seemed to work well, as you did not want to be the person who warmed up a can of Hormel chili in the breakroom.

  15. molon labe

    “A Truce Proposal In The Trans Wars” [Andrew Sullivan, The Weekly Dish]. Hope this isn’t too improper: how about keeping our current two restrooms but changing from male and female to penis and no penis?

    1. Kurtismayfield

      If you do it by biology, some people will not be happy until you do a full karotype.

    2. Lynne

      I had one real issue with the article. He said:

      Tomboy girls and feminine boys are threats to no one. Many will turn out to be gay or lesbian; many straight. And yet they are now pressured both ways: to conform to rigid gender stereotypes by reactionaries or to see their atypical behavior as a sign they were born in the wrong body by woke progressives.

      The problem is that the “woke progressives” are adopting and trying to enforce even more regressive and rigid gender stereotypes than the reactionaries. Many are in their hearts misogynists and homophobes, certain that any deviation from 1950’s stereotypes is not just “a sign” but absolute proof of gender dysphoria. But then, I’m one of those old-time feminists, who was absolutely appalled when the horribly ignorant and bigoted “wokes” went after Navratilova, proclaiming that she didn’t know what discrimination was. Judging from the tenor of their attacks, I suspect that if any of those critics had experienced even half of what Navratilova and her contemporaries went through, they’d each be curled up in a little ball at home.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I’m one of those old-time feminists, who was absolutely appalled when the horribly ignorant and bigoted “wokes” went after Navratilova, proclaiming that she didn’t know what discrimination was. Judging from the tenor of their attacks, I suspect that if any of those critics had experienced even half of what Navratilova and her contemporaries went through, they’d each be curled up in a little ball at home.

        That’s what is baffling to me. (Greenwald, IIRC, made the same comment on Navratilova). From where do these dog-pilers derive their moral authority?

    1. Duck1

      Apologies if already linked, but another good one from the American Conservative https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/facing-the-facts-of-war-with-russia/ by Douglas MacGregor.
      Sample: Conflict with Russia may be inevitable. Kiev’s strident threats to resolve the crisis in Eastern Ukraine with force of arms, combined with Washington’s refusal to acknowledge that Moscow actually has legitimate national security interests in Eastern Ukraine, makes it so. Equally troubling, the president sees no particular reason why he should explain to the American people why Washington’s readiness to support Kiev’s use of force against Russia makes strategic sense for America.

        1. Procopius

          He did, and I’ve been thinking about it a lot since the Iraq invasion. Back in the ’50s, with the establishment of Operation SETI, there was speculation in the science fiction community that every advanced species must evolve from a predator. They would, then, be territorial and aggressive. It seems likely that any such species that reaches nuclear fission will destroy itself. There was a little alarm when they were sending radio signals because if there was any species that had not yet destroyed itself, and if interstellar travel is feasible, then we were sending a predator notice that dinner’s on. The neoconservatives seem to have fallen into the delusion that a nuclear war is winnable, fallout is not bad, and they won’t be inconvenienced by it anyway. See John Bolton and Robert Kagan.

  16. Mikel

    RE: “Why it’s easier to move country than switch social media” [Wired].

    Big tech silos are the reason I like software that can be used offline.
    Related, but not the same, some of the biggest early adopters of digital tech were in the music biz.
    MIDI showed early on that competing manufacturers and brands of digital equipment and software can design their products to communicate. You can have a line of hardware linked to various software from different decades and make most of it work.

  17. drumlin woodchuckles

    If I did Twitter, I could perhaps reply to Harris’s Tweet way up-post about how he couldn’t understand how/why Biden picked Harris after she all-but-called him Jim Crow. But I don’t do Twitter, so I can’t tweet a reply.

    If I could, I would say this: Biden did not do that picking. The Wall Street Democratic Inner Party made that choice. They chose Harris because she proved her eager and enthusiastic support for Wall Street Crime Waves when she immunized and impunified Steve Mnuchin for his crime wave against home-owers. Harris is a female Obama. And as such, Harris is just what Doctor Wall Street ordered.

    The Goldman-Sachs Democrats are the people who picked Harris for VP. Biden had nothing to do with it. Asking ” why Biden diddit” is asking the wrong question.

    Maybe some Tweeteritter who does have Twitter will feel like sending Harris way up above a Tweet explaining all that.

  18. maps

    The cope shot another Black man here in the Twin Cities yesterday, in a suburb called Brooklyn Center. There is a 7 pm curfew for Hennepin county, not sure about St. Paul. The police are claiming that it was a mix up and they had meant to taze the man, not shoot him; it is amazing that the cops could screw up this bad during the trial for Chauvin. It feels dangerous out today.

  19. Mikel

    Reading about the “60 Minutes” show with DARPA talking about their vaccine and Covid treatments.

    But what is this they were talking about: a filter for a dialysis machine that removes the virus from the blood?
    And it’s already been approved by the FDA and used on “hundreds” of people? And I wonder if this is the REAL DEAL “approval” and not the “emergency approval” contingency being dealt with for other vaccines?

    And, apparently, the military is working on a vaccine for all the variants. (And what does that REALLY say about what is out there now??)

    But looks like they also want to microchip implant people…
    Which makes me think of the article from links today regarding “gullibility” and “conspiracy theories”…

    Well, here are the microchips…and didn’t have to read about from some psyops called “Q”.

  20. Widowson

    My wife and I got the J&J shot yesterday at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. She had most of the side effects, e.g. low-grade fever, sore neck, lethargia, etc., but I had none of the above (I had baseball practice right after the shot so normal resulting soreness may have masked any other symptoms). I have to say, we both felt like were attending a church service we shouldn’t have been at: there was constant clapping and cheering after every shot administered, and it seemed like everyone involved was a True Believer. My wife’s a part-time teacher and I could– theoretically– travel for business when business travel resumes. We both felt societal & familial pressure to get the shot(s), but only would have done so if the J&J single shot was on the menu. It felt really quite strange with how conscientious and over-helpful everyone seemed. It made the cynical skin on me crawl and I can’t quite explain why.

  21. ddt

    Re: the Kamala tweet calling Biden “Jim Crow Joe”… Seems that ever since she was assigned to deal with the border situation those stories died down a bit? Or is it just me?

  22. anon

    ‘It Is Still Not Safe To Go Outside,’ Says Fauci’s Head In A Jar In Year 2739

    WASHINGTON, D.C.—An intercepted transmission that appears to be from the year 2739 shows footage of Dr. Anthony Fauci — or rather, just his head, which has been preserved in a jar. In the video from the future, Fauci says it’s still not safe to go outside, go to movie theaters, or eat indoors.

    “Honestly, even if you’ve been immunized and are quadruple-masking, per current recommendations, I don’t think I would risk it,” he said. “Although we eradicated the virus some seven centuries ago, we can’t be too careful. We must remain vigilant.”

    “If we let up even a little bit, we could end up right back where we were in 2020.”

    Fauci also revealed that the alien invasion that occurred in 2471 was a “major setback” in the fight against the virus, as much of humanity refused to social distance while going to war against the creatures from the distant planet Graxon V.

    “People were very careless during the War for Earth,” he said. “We tried to get the troops to wear masks and such, but they continued to go outside and save humanity without the slightest care for COVID-19.”

    Despite the grim outlook for the pandemic 700 years in the future, Fauci says he is optimistic that he will remain in the public spotlight at least until the heat death of the universe.


      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        True, but if the our public health establishment hadn’t butchered the pandemic from beginning to end, we might be in a position where those jokes don’t land. Granted, Trump helped, though gawd forbid the Democrats should develop a program and spokeshole of their own.

  23. NotTimothyGeithner

    Re: Alessandra Biaggi

    Its the old Clinton playbook. Accuse your opponents of what you are doing. To be fair, being a scion of a political family likely means a person simply was never challenged growing up. Its not terribly different than what a local Democratic committee person would come up with on their own.

    Though despite the anti-asian sentiment, I mean its true about Yang’s libertarian supporters. They are more inclusive about what constitutes “white” even if they wouldn’t use that word.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The only way to stop Woke Boorzhwahh scum like Biaggi from using her Woke Privilege against her targets is to destroy Wokeness itself, so it can no longer be the weapon it was designed to be for the preening Woke Privilege Boorzhwahh Left.

  24. drumlin woodchuckles

    About the latest covid spike in Michigan, and given the public mood here among the armed sector of the public, another “mandatory lockdown” would probably not be observed.

    If public health officials think a lockdown should be enforced, let them don the body armor, pick up the gun, and come out here and enforce it their own personal selves. Don’t ask Whittmer to do it for them. Be a man and do it themselves. That’s where much of Michigan is at nowadays.

    The best Whittmer can publicly do anymore is try telling people within the sound of her broadcast what kind of behavior might slow spread, what kind of behavior will speed it up, tell how to lessen exposure to stagnant aerosol buildup if she even knows about that, and hope for the best.

    Especially given Biden’s sniffy huff to the effect that no, he won’t speed up vaccine delivery into Michigan just because Michigan is having a speedup of cases.

    1. Mikel


      This article compares what’s going around Cali with what is going on in Michigan and elsewhere. They really don’t know what’s going on in Cali – just sounds like some lucky months versus unlucky months.

      But here’s what gets me about these state-by-state rundowns: anybody here in the USA can drive, fly, walk, or roll to any other state.

  25. chuck roast

    “Rest in Peace: Earl Simmons and DMX” [Six Perfections].

    Interesting that Six Perfections had an epiphany and dumped his big stash of gangsta’ rap and got into James Taylor, Paul Simon et. al. I can say from experience that this one-eighty is rare indeed.

    I had a record store during the ’80s. The usual routine was that youngsters would come into the shop with their older siblings or neighbors and check out what was happening. When they got a bit older and had some cash they would come in and buy Led Zeppelin’s first album. Later they would wander back in and score one or two more Zep albums. The young teens didn’t know it, but they were at a crossroads. What they did next typically determined their long term musical future. Were they going to buy a Pink Floyd album, or were they going to go for AC/DC?

    The kids that went for Pink Floyd would go on to develop eclectic tastes…Elvis Costello, Joy Division, Jonathan Richmond, a bit of jazz, Throwing Muses. They were becoming music listeners. The kids that went the AC/DC route took the highway to head-banging hell…Motorhead, Metallica, Black Sabbath. They were music hearers.

    There is always the exception to the rule. One of my regular metal-head customers walked into the store one day with a big pile of head-banging hits that he wanted to trade. OK fine. Out he walked with The Clash, Modern English, New Order, Talking Heads. The kid single-handedly destroyed my long-standing, perfectly well-honed theory. I forgave him though.

    1. Riverboat Grambler

      Pink Floyd is still my favorite band and metal is one of my favorite genres. My stepmom likes James Taylor and Disturbed. Musical tastes are weird.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        If you have a lot of work that has to get Done, god damn it; AC/DC is the music to play in the background.

    2. anon y'mouse

      and some did both. any/all of the above. or were so schooled in Zep from infancy that we didn’t need to buy those as we had them memorized on our internal hard drive, along with most classical rock, then “grew up” with your new age list playing on all of the sony walkmen all of the time so quickly didn’t need to purchase those either, even if we loved them. perhaps because we loved them all.

      and if you can’t “listen” to And Justice for All album, or early Sabbath then what in hell was i and so many others doing all of those years? Metal can be as complex as classical music. ok, maybe not AC/DC but you don’t listen to that for those purposes. that’s just fun get together drinking and delinquency music.

      perhaps the customers you designated as only “hearing” didn’t buy all of their music from you. or they listened to different things in different contexts (background music for daily purposes of study etc vs socializing music vs getting more into it on a sound/emotion/intellect level). perhaps you were simply a store they walked into when they were doing something else in the area to waste a few minutes. engaged in a little “guilt for wasting shopkeeper’s time” splurge. who knows?

      turning your own preferences into snobberies to taxonomize others is great though, isn’t it?

  26. ambrit

    Southern Zeitgeist Report.
    Your humble correspondent was called in for Jury duty last week. I was told to show up in a requisitioned ‘Event Space’ in the local State University main building, (a big place. [Your tax dollars at work!]) Monday morning (today) at eight thirty AM.
    The clerk mentioned that four hundred summons were sent out. Sixty people showed up. (Mail back excuses were not mentioned.) Ten of those sixty persons were excused from serving for one reason or another. Thus, the “show up rate” for our little half-horse town’s jury pool was 12.5%.
    Yours truly was not chosen for the jury [12 plus 2 alternates.] The case was a civil action for “Medical Malpractice.” The complainant’s lawyer turned the description “on it’s head” by characterizing the case as one of “Wrongful Death.” Today was just the ‘voir dire’ part of the case. Yet, both attorneys essentially began litigating “on the sly” right out of the gate. Both attorneys objected to the other’s tactics. The judge seemed bemused by this turn of events. Perhaps this is standard (sharp) practice today.
    I thought that I had dodged the bullet. Then the Judge mentioned that the remaining potential jurors would be entered in a ‘sweepstakes’ to serve on a Grand Jury. The name tokens were put in an old hand cranked bingo mixer and drawn out, one at a time.
    Yours truly will now be on the County Grand Jury for the next six months. This is not too dire. “Once the years worth of backlogged cases is cleared out, Grand Jurors will only need to be called in for one or two full eight hour days a month,” saith the District Attorney.
    The District Attorney also let slip that the County had only one short lived Grand Jury for the entirety of 2020. Something about some pernicious Pandemic gumming up the works was trotted out as an excuse for that situation.
    Interestingly enough, the local version of a Grand Jury has twenty members. The District Attorney was quite adamant that he could only miss one or two at most from that Jury before he risked losing legitimacy.
    Next Monday at eight thirty AM begins the task.

      1. ambrit

        I think that I can get away with doing as the Big Data companies do; pull the metadata out and use that.
        I never thought that I’d be a “public servant,” but there it is, and by sortition too!

  27. Mikel

    Leaving you all with an evening laugh:


    “…On one front, however, Microsoft should tread carefully. No other technology company has been as active shopping for large companies. In late March, Bloomberg reported Microsoft was in talks to buy gaming chat community Discord Inc. for more than $10 billion. This, after the company completed its $7.5 billion acquisition of video-game publisher ZeniMax and reportedly considered Pinterest Inc. in recent months. And of course, Microsoft made an attempt to buy the U.S. operations of TikTok last year. Too many big deals may draw the attention of regulators, who may eventually wonder if the same antitrust scrutiny now given to giants such as Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc. should pertain to Microsoft as well…”

    Punch line: That shows you how scared they are of “scrutiny from regulators”. That “scrutiny” is part of the budget for these deals.

  28. The Rev Kev

    “‘This is War’ Examining Military Experience Among the Capitol Hill Siege Participants”

    This article reminded me of a strange point about the events of that day. So everybody has seen videos during the occupation of those legislators cowering in their seats and others being evacuated wearing plastic bags over their heads. They were visibly shocked that their actions might actually have personal consequences.

    So some time ago in Water Cooler, Lambert did an article showing how many ex-military and ex-spooks the Democrats had brought into the party and had elected as legislators. So here is the thing. It may be only my prejudices here but where were they? With all that experience, why did we not see them helping to take charge and giving orders? Showing initiative because they are actually trained people. Yet I saw no evidence in those videos of anything like that happening.

    1. LawnDart

      Although much has been outsourced over the past few decades, much of US Military personnel is still overwhelmingly support, not operations, and even less spooks are front-liners in the Intel world– this goes for all branches and all (known) agencies.

      Just because someone is ex-military, it doesn’t mean that they’re worthy of the attributes that some might mistakenly project upon them…

    2. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

      The whole thing was an op. A work. Those spooks know how to play a role.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Lambert did an article showing how many ex-military and ex-spooks the Democrats had brought into the party and had elected as legislators. So here is the thing. It may be only my prejudices here but where were they? With all that experience, why did we not see them helping to take charge and giving orders?

      That’s an excellent point. I don’t know if I’d expect an intelligence official like Slotkin to take charge, but I would expect it from military officers. Perhaps the military doesn’t promote on leadership any more?

  29. lobelia

    Well, one thing for sure, the personal bodyguard business is probably the only industry where labor jobs have been totally exploding for at least the last two decades (e.g. International, Sweden Based Securitas AB™ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Securitas_AB ), given the stunningly venal lowlife elites and their, frankly venal also, paid and owned lackeys who hire body guards (some along with the protection the government already provides them on their constituents victims’ ‘dime[s]™); all of whom (the elites and their lackeys) are running millions of lives into the ground – AND TO THEIR WAY TOO PREMATURE DEATHS – in the US alone, let alone in other countries.

    US Postmaster/CPA!, Louis DeJoy alone will likely need thirty body guards real soon , as the USPS increasingly delivers vital mail so late that it’s causing life threatening terror for millions.

    How can these pathetic excuses for human beings sleep at night?

    gotta run

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the personal bodyguard business is probably the only industry where labor jobs have been totally exploding

      Quoting again from one of my favorite Elmore Leonard, novels, Gold Coast, freelancer Roland Crowe speaking:

      “Deal only in personal services. Not things. No lifting, no heavy work, no overhead, no machinery to speak of. Look good, listen carefully, take a minimum of shit, live close to the Beach and always make yourself available to people who called and said, Roland, there’s this man owes us money. Or, Roland, we believe this man is going independent on us. Or, we believe he’s telling us a story.”

      Rentiers gotta have thugs….

  30. Tracie Hall

    Picture of the day: I love your comments, Lambert, on the photos. “Not a Maple or an Oak” looks like some species of a very content fan palm to me. I’ve read that Mexican Fan Palms grow well in Florida and reach 70 to 100 feet — maybe this is a young one of those.

  31. Tracie Hall

    Oh wait! I know this is now a couple of days old and everyone is past caring, but can I retract my guess on the “Not a Maple or an Oak” Plant for the day? I should have looked that Mexican Palm up before posting. They look nothing alike! Now I’m going with Merd, Jomo, and RoberD–It looks like a very happy Bismarck Fan Palm. That might be my favorite palm tree ever!

  32. John Anthony La Pietra

    I’m even later with my guess — but I have to say that, when I saw the plantidote, my first thought was: “It’s a Venus Them-Trap!”

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