2:00PM Water Cooler 4/21/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

More from Amazonia.

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

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

Vaccination by region:

The Northeast jump is down to an enormous data error; the CDC data doesn’t show it, so it’s down to Johns Hopkins of DIVOC-19; I’ve written the maintainer.

Case count by United States regions:

Good news two days in a row.



Re Silc

The Midwest in detail:

Michigan and Minnesota heading down, along with their neighbors (Could be that people actually do listen when Governors ask them do so stuff, but enough, and enough of them?)

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

Florida, by a nose. California not following.

Test positivity:

Midwest increases.


Still heading down.

Case fatality rate (plus deaths):

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

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“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

Capitol Seizure

“There are hundreds of posts about plans to attack the Capitol. Why hasn’t this evidence been used in court?” [NBC]. “‘There are thousands of posts — with tens of thousands of comments — detailing plans to travel to Washington and engage in violence against the U.S. Capitol,’ said Daniel Jones, a former FBI analyst and longtime Senate investigator who is now president of Advance Democracy. ‘The ultimate end goal of this violence was, on behalf of Trump, to disrupt the Congress and overturn the presidential election.” • Yes, the Großer Generalstab, right there in plain sight. (Amazingly, this is the NGO that’s driving the story: Check out the website. Looks like they need to do some fundraising….)

Biden Administration

“Joe Manchin Mocked Bernie’s $15 Minimum Wage Bill at Lobbyist Event” [Jacobin]. Of course Manchin, but also this: “[Sean] Kennedy, who previously served in the Obama White House as a special assistant to the president for legislative affairs, has become the public face of corporate opposition to a $15 minimum wage.” • Thanks, Obama!

“‘Problem Solvers’ Threaten Biden’s Infrastructure Plan Over Rich Donor Tax Break” [Read Sludge]. A bipartisan group of representatives led by New York Democrat Tom Suozzi is now playing hardball to get the SALT cap repealed and lower tax bills for their wealthiest constituents. In January, Suozzi, the vice chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus, and six other members of the caucus introduced the SALT Deductibility Act to strike the cap on SALT deductions from the tax code. Last week, Suozzi drastically ramped up his efforts by threatening to block Biden’s infrastructure spending and tax package unless the tax cut for the rich is added. “No SALT, no deal,” Suozzi said in a statement. He’s being joined in his threat by Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) and Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.). With Democrats currently having a slim majority in the House with multiple vacant seats, if just two Democrats sided with Republicans on an otherwise party-line vote they could potentially block the infrastructure bill.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“F.D.R. Didn’t Just Fix the Economy” [Jamelle Bouie, New York Times]. “Roosevelt had to prove to all Americans that self-government worked; that it could restore confidence and tackle the economic crisis without compromising the principles of the revolution and the founding. That’s why Roosevelt embraced public employment and its direct line to ordinary Americans, so government could ‘restore the close relationship with its people which is necessary to preserve our democratic form of government.’ That’s why he would direct his administration to build dams in the Tennessee Valley, bridges in California’s Bay Area and a second tunnel connecting New Jersey and New York — to show Americans that the government could do big things and do them well. The New Deal libraries and parks and postal offices and other buildings also stand as monuments to collective effort and the public good, to the idea that democracy works best when it works for most of us, and that through this effort, we come closer to the ‘more perfect union’ of our Constitution’s preamble. The New Deal was not perfect. It liberated some Americans from want at the same time that it deprived others of their freedom. It opened new opportunities for Black Americans — providing jobs, education and even housing to citizens who lived in need of each — at the same time that it, as Rauchway writes, ‘left existing segregation untouched and even expanded it into new areas, perpetuating it for new generations.’ And yet the breakthrough of the New Deal — the way it reshaped the nation’s politics and transformed the relationship between state and citizen — set the stage for the social revolutions of subsequent decades. The New Deal brought, in Roosevelt’s phrasing, ‘the broadening conception of social justice‘ to American life.” • Throwing down the gauntlet, here.

“The Politics of Cultural Despair” [John Ganz]. “I think the very formulation—”the politics of cultural despair” is a very accurate description of a mode that’s becoming dominant on the right and it helps us to conceptualize a certain combination of conspiracism, belief in pervading social and political decadence and corruption, and the embrace of or sympathy with outbursts of violence. The sense one gets from many members of the intellectual right and seemingly among their public is that as a society we have reached a point where the social maladies of liberal society are intractable and only some kind extraordinary expedient can effectively combat them. There is a kind of giving up on the conventional institutions of American life and a belief that only desperate gambits like electing a disruptive leaders like Trump or preventing the electoral college vote from being counted will be effective measures to carry out Right wing politics. Extremist violence or some imagined dictatorial seizure of power, when not explicitly endorsed, is rationalized as a consequence of the state of society and politics. This is all combined with a kind of morbid fixation on the perceived cultural depredations of liberalism: an obsession with the presence of cultural products that are believed to contaminate or corrupt a more healthy sexual or racial order that existed in the past. In this imaginary world, sinister forces lurk behind every facet of liberal society: the most apparently milquetoast and moderate liberals are actually in the thrall of hardcore revolutionary Marxist ideology. It’s tempting to silo this mood of cultural pessimism on the right, which is its more natural home I think, but it finds certain echoes in sections of the left that view themselves as defeated and dispirited in the wake of Bernie Sanders’ primary loss and view every apparent liberal adoption of a left-wing sounding programs as an example of trickery or co-option.” • This is the most sophisticated instantiation of Horseshoe Theory I’ve ever read!

“Pastor Arrested for Buying 39 Cars With PPP Loans” [The Roys Report]. “A Maryland pastor is facing a potential 20 years in prison for fraudulently obtaining $1.5 million in Payback Protection Program (PPP) loans, which he then used to buy 39 cars, authorities say.” • Why 39?

Stats Watch

Trucking: “March 2021 Trucking Is Either Outstanding Or Contracting” [Econintersect]. “Headline data for the CASS Freight Index show that truck volumes show volumes improved month-over-month – and the year-over-year growth is now in double digits. In the opposite corner, the American Trucking Association (ATA) index declined and is in contraction year-over-year. The CASS index is inclusive of rail, truck, and air shipments. The ATA truck index is inclusive of only trucking industry member movements (ATA’s tonnage data is dominated by contract freight). I put a heavier weight on the CASS index year-over-year which is more consistent with rail and ocean freight. Econintersect tries to validate truck data across data sources. It appears this month that the truck employment rate of growth continues to improve. Please note using BLS employment data in real-time is risky, as their data is normally backward adjusted (sometimes significantly). Additionally, Econintersect believes that the BLS is not capturing all truck employment.”

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Commodities: “New Lithium Giant Emerges to Feed Surging Battery Demand” [Bloomberg]. “A planned $3.1 billion merger of two Australian miners is set to create one of the world’s biggest producers of lithium products key to meeting fast-growing global demand for electric vehicle batteries….. Lithium raw materials are most commonly extracted at brine operations which pump liquid from underground reservoirs into vast evaporation ponds, or in traditional hard rock mines. China is the biggest player in electric vehicle batteries, with the majority of the world’s production capacity, and has a stranglehold over processing of the required commodities.”

Credit: “$12.3 Trillion in Stimulus Killed the Debt Default Cycle” [Bloomberg]. “Almost all fear of bankruptcy has been obliterated from debt markets even though the global economy is still struggling under the worst health crisis in a century. The simplest way to see this is quite basic: The lowest-rated companies are enjoying the cheapest borrowing costs in history. All-in yields on corporate debt rated triple-C and below have fallen to about 8% from as high as 20.2% as recently as March 2020, ICE Bank of America index data show. Investors have raced one another to lend billions of dollars to cruise companies and airlines even as they bleed cash. The amount of U.S. junk-rated debt included in the Bloomberg Barclays U.S. High Yield bond index has surged to a record face value of $1.53 trillion from $1.2 trillion in October 2019.” • Crack pipe, anyone? And isn’t this moral hazard? And is this any way to allocate capital? And speaking of crack–

Finance: “Dogecoin Rips in Meme-Fueled Frenzy on Pot-Smoking Holiday” [Bloomberg]. On 4/20: “Fans are driving Dogecoin higher to mark a day known for celebrating pot smoking…. In the past week, Dogecoin has jumped more than 400% and now has a market value of more than $51 billion… The likes of Bitcoin and Ether are still up about 90% and 180%, respectively, this year as the crypto industry matures.” • Or not: “’There’s a tribe of investors, many of them millennials, who see it as a cause, a movement,’ said Antoni Trenchev, the co-founder of crypto-lending firm Nexo. ‘Dogecoin is symptomatic of the zeitgeist happening before our very eyes.'” • I sure will be glad when we get this carbon trading thing really rolling. And more crack–

The Bezzle: “A New Threat to New York’s Clean Energy Goals: Bitcoin Mining” [New York Focus]. “A decade ago, the bankrupt owner of the Greenidge power plant in Dresden, New York, sold the uncompetitive coal-fired relic for scrap and surrendered its operating permits. For the next seven years, the plant sat idle on the western shore of Seneca Lake, a monument to the apparent dead end reached by the state’s fossil fuel infrastructure. But today, Greenidge is back up and running as a Bitcoin mining operation. The facility hums with energy-hungry computers that confirm and record Bitcoin transactions, drawing power from the plant’s 106-megawatt generator now fueled by natural gas. The mining activity is exceptionally profitable, thanks to an 800 percent rise in Bitcoin’s price since last April. Seeking to ride the boom, the plant’s new owners plan to quadruple the power used to process Bitcoin transactions by late next year. Environmental advocates view Greenidge’s ambitions, if left unchecked, as an air emissions nightmare. And they fear that dozens of other retired or retiring fossil-fueled power plants across New York could follow Greenidge’s example, gaining new life by repurposing as Bitcoin miners or other types of energy-intense data centers.” • And more crack–

The Bezzle: “Massachusetts regulators seek to revoke Robinhood’s license; brokerage sues” [Reuters]. “Massachusetts regulators on Thursday sought the revocation of Robinhood’s broker-dealer license after charging that it encourages inexperienced investors to place risky trades without limits, while the online brokerage sued to invalidate a new rule underlying the case.” • And more crack–

Tech: Robot buses:

That road looks more like a railroad than a road…

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 56 Greed (previous close: 47 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 50 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 21 at 12:21pm. Looks like readers want to keep this. Thank you!

Health Care

“Top Canadian WHO adviser under fire after downplaying airborne threat of COVID-19” [CBC]. “Dr. John Conly, an infectious diseases physician and professor of medicine at the University of Calgary, not only denied that aerosol transmission is a primary route of transmission, despite mounting evidence to the contrary, but also said that N95 masks can cause “harms” — including acne. ‘Any time you look at benefits, you need to look at harms, of which there are many harms with N95s — and I think to ignore them you are at your peril,” Conly told a panel discussion at the University of Calgary on April 9 on the role of airborne transmission in the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘There is acne, also issues with eczema, conjunctivitis, CO2 retention; there has been decreased O2 concentrations in pregnant women — many side-effects to this.’ His comments on oxygen and carbon dioxide have been largely discredited, with a 2014 study in the American Journal of Infection Control showing no significant differences in levels between pregnant and non-pregnant women wearing N95 masks. The WHO’s position is there’s a possibility that aerosol transmission can lead to outbreaks of COVID-19 in certain situations. A change in stance from the WHO on aerosol transmission as the main driver would have huge implications on the need for increased air ventilation and better personal protective equipment for health-care workers and essential workers around the world.” • And we know “huge implications” translates to–

The institutional reaction to “Ten scientific reasons in support of airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2” in the Lancet:

As I suggested here.

“Filtration Efficiency of Hospital Face Mask Alternatives Available for Use During the COVID-19 Pandemic” [JAMA]. From last March, still germane. Handy chart:

C’mon, let’s be reasonable. Everybody knows surgeons are the only HCWs who talk or move their heads!

“No-prescription, rapid COVID-19 home tests to be sold at CVS, Walgreens and Walmart beginning this week” [USA Today]. “Consumers will be able to buy rapid coronavirus tests without a prescription this week at three national chain retailers, an expansion that comes as the nation’s vaccination effort accelerates and states relax distancing requirements and mask mandates. Abbott Laboratories’ BinaxNOW coronavirus self-test kits will be shipped to CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens and Walmart locations, and also will be sold online. The two-test kit, which last month received Food and Drug Administration emergency-use authorization for serial screening, will cost $23.99, the company said. Another rapid test made by Australia-based Ellume will be sold at CVS stores in Rhode Island and Massachusetts for $38.99. It also can be purchased online or at most CVS stores in other states by the end of May. These retail tests eliminate another barrier for people who want to test themselves without visiting a doctor or a telehealth provider. Both tests deliver results in about 15 minutes and don’t require a lab.” • haven’t seen any reviews on accuracy….

“More on meta-epistemology: an epidemiologist’s perspective” [Whitney R. Robinson, Insight]. “Principle 1. “Look to previous phenomena to know what questions to ask… Principle 2. “Observed versus expected.” In other words, “Pay attention to unexpected data that has no natural constituency and to lack of data that are in high demand”… Principle 3. Beware of ‘sticky’ priors.” • Worth reading in full, since the application is “How One Epidemiologist Decided Whether to Send Her Children to Group Childcare.”

“America’s incredibly successful pilot of universal health care” [Ryan Cooper, The Week]. “Last weekend, I finally got my first coronavirus vaccine shot (the Pfizer/BioNTech version), at one of the FEMA sites here in Philly. It was without question the best experience I have ever had with American medicine. The National Guard troops and volunteers had the process down to a science — along with hundreds of others, I just answered a few quick questions, sat down, got my shot, and then scheduled my second appointment while waiting to make sure I had no allergic reaction. The whole thing took about 20 minutes from start to finish. I didn’t have to get out my insurance card, or fork over any co-pays or co-insurance, or fill out a stack of paperwork, or sit in a waiting room for hours. I didn’t get a bill at a 10,000 percent markup, or have to argue with my insurance company about whether FEMA is in-network, or spend weeks fighting some enormous surprise bill afterwards. I just got the care I needed and went on my way. It’s not a coincidence that this is very similar to how Medicare-for-all would work: treatment that is free at the point of service, funded by the government. When we have a truly dire need for medical care, the status quo health care system is simply too complicated and broken to get the job done.”

The Agony Column

“What rude jibes about Caesar tell us about sex in ancient Rome” [Psyche]. “Like many premodern societies, the Romans rarely if ever identified people by their sexuality, at least not in terms of what gender their sexual partners were. To be sure, they had categories for types of sexual activities, but not for the sexual identities we use today. The terms ‘homosexual’, ‘heterosexual’, ‘bisexual’ and so on are modern inventions. There is no evidence for the existence of the concepts themselves, and Romans didn’t define people by the gender of their sexual partners. But that doesn’t mean the kinds of sex we’d label with those words didn’t exist – far from it…. And in all these combinations and activities, we see again and again that it isn’t the genders involved or the acts themselves that the Romans cared about, but the question of who’s doing it, and who’s being done to. That’s where gender and status suddenly mattered – a lot. The key thing, for a Roman, was that your sexual participation lined up with your perceived gender. The essence of masculinity was to be the penetrator, while to be vulnerable to penetration was to mark yourself as nonmale…. The flip side was that, as long as the man was doing the penetrating, he was (usually) living up to his masculine duties – and it didn’t matter whom exactly he was penetrating.”


“There are no clear winners in the West’s water wars” [High Country News]. “The inevitable train wreck has not yet happened, for two reasons. First, Lakes Mead and Powell – the two largest reservoirs on the Colorado – can hold a combined 56 million acre-feet, roughly four times the river’s annual flow. But diversions and increased evaporation due to drought are reducing water levels in the reservoirs. As of Dec. 16, 2020, both lakes were less than half full. Second, the Upper Basin states – Utah, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico – have never used their full allotment. Now, however, they want to use more water. Wyoming has several new dams on the drawing board. So does Colorado, which is also planning a new diversion from the headwaters of the Colorado River to Denver and other cities on the Rocky Mountains’ east slope.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

We get press releases:

“This Is Not Justice. It’s Self-Preservation.” [New York Magazine]. “More than a legal referendum on Chauvin’s conduct, the trial was a bilateral effort to defend the virtues of policing….. The crux of the prosecution focused on whether Chauvin’s behavior was deviant enough to warrant consequences. Close to a dozen former and current police officials — mostly from Minneapolis, but elsewhere too — testified against the former officer, who last spring was video-recorded kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes until the 46-year-old Black man died. …. Killing people is not usually a problem for American police, who on average kill roughly 1,000 civilians a year, including fatally shooting more than 400 unarmed people total since 2015… Thus, the rebuke of Chauvin by his fellow officers should not be interpreted as institutional opposition to needless death. It is a preservationist response to the questions of legitimacy that arise when an officer gets caught on camera torturing a handcuffed man to death…. Throwing Chauvin under the bus in court is a good way to reassure people that this system can and does work the way they want it to…. “This case is called the State of Minnesota v. Derek Chauvin,” said prosecutor Steven Schleicher. “This case is not called the State of Minnesota v. the Police. Policing is a noble profession … and there is nothing worse for good police than a bad police, who doesn’t follow the rules, who doesn’t follow procedure, who doesn’t follow training, who ignores the policies of the department, and the motto of the department: ‘To protect with courage, to serve with compassion.’'”

“I Wish I Were Relieved” [HuffPo]. “It felt like a shift was happening, like maybe we could finally be optimistic about real change. But through the remainder of 2020 and into 2021, fervor for fighting for a world where Black people are humanized and protected faded. Then, just a week prior to the verdict announcement, 20-year-old Daunte Wright was fatally shot 10 minutes away from the building where the judge announced the conviction. I refuse to tell anyone how to process or react to this news. It’s surely an anomaly and a piece of hope that one day some future generation will live in a system that doesn’t kill Black people. But I can’t celebrate right now. I can’t celebrate because Floyd didn’t ask for any of this. He was going to the store, for God’s sake. He didn’t ask to be a martyr, he asked for breath in his lungs. ”

“Pelosi criticized over thanking George Floyd for ‘sacrificing your life for justice'” [USA Today]. “‘Thank you, George Floyd, for sacrificing your life for justice. For being there to call out to your mom — how heartbreaking was that — call out for your mom, ‘I can’t breathe,” Pelosi said. Floyd’s name ‘will always be synonymous with justice,’ she said. However, many people took issue with Pelosi’s phrasing, noting that Floyd did not willingly “sacrifice” his life, but rather was murdered.” • Nancy.

“Chauvin verdicts reduce pressure for police reform” [Axios]. “Senior Democratic and Republican aides — who would never let their bosses say so on the record — privately told Axios the convictions have lessened pressure for change. They noted the aftermath of mass shootings: time and again, Congress has failed to pass gun control legislation, and the conversation ultimately moves on until another terrible event occurs.” • Then again, a lot of Congress critters watched the verdicts on TV…

Class Warfare

“Lessons from Labor History for Organizing Amazon” [Labor Notes]. “Amazon did everything it could to stymie the union drive; no surprise there. That’s what capitalists do and any organizer who expects, or hopes for, “fair” treatment should find another line of work. (Which is not to say that unions shouldn’t use every opportunity to expose corporate duplicity and inhumanity.) But we should remember that whatever Amazon does to coerce or intimidate its employees pales in comparison to what employers in previous eras were able and willing to do, up to and including murder…. Tom Girdler at Republic Steel amassed a private arsenal that dwarfed the civil defense resources of many major cities (though the Chicago police did the killing at the Memorial Day Massacre, allowing Girdler to preserve his ammunition). Ford and General Motors employed networks of company spies and vigilantes who ensured that organizers were beaten and fired, and blacklists guaranteed that they couldn’t find employment anywhere else…. Yet despite the raw power those corporations possessed—Jeff Bezos is a piker compared to the tycoons of yesteryear—workers organized and won. Amazon too can be overcome.”

“Inside a Long, Messy Year of Reopening Schools” [The New Republic]. “When it comes to workplace safety, avoid taking an employer at their word. They also highlight something that, following dragged-out reopening fights, has been confusing to worn-out parents and community members, who are unclear why the pledges made by school districts have been insufficient to persuade educators to return more quickly: Isn’t this enough? Aren’t you letting perfect be the enemy of the good? These dynamics are compounded by a raft of shifting and not infrequently conflicting local, state, and federal public health guidelines—which can and are routinely used to accuse each side of “not following the science.” Even in February, following the release of the long-awaited Biden Centers for Disease Control and Prevention school reopening guidelines, experts quickly came out with contrasting opinions on the recommendations. Some felt the CDC shouldn’t have tied in-person learning to community transmission rates, despite evidence linking the two. Others thought the CDC should tie them but believed their metrics were too conservative. Others were frustrated the CDC stuck to recommending six feet of social distancing, and yet still others criticized the agency for downplaying the role of ventilation. (Two weeks after releasing its guidance, the CDC responded by releasing additional recommendations on school ventilation.)” • I’m filing this under Class Warfare, not Health Care, because of the strong role of the unions. The whole piece is worth a read. (“releasing additional recommendations on school ventilation” misstates the politics of what CDC did. These are separate, standalone documents not part of the school re-opening guidance per se (and with every click-through you lose readers). The CDC and its DIrector, Rachel Walensky, have ferociously resisted making aerosols and ventilation bulleted talking points in their routine, public communications.

Another press union drive:

“No One Told Me Being Middle Class Meant Wearing My Retainer Forever” [Culture Study]. “My braces went on when I was in fifth grade. They didn’t come off for nearly three years. I’d go in every month to get them tightened, and would cry from the pain for days afterwards…. What I’m trying to say is that my parents paid thousands of dollars for me to be tortured by small pieces of metal and rubber in my mouth over the course of three years. I had big protruding buck teeth and a crossbite. It was never a decision, it was a given. Those braces were for my dental health but they were also for my middle-class future…. There are other, less medically pertinent sites of continual middle class maintenance. For women in the amorphous life stage before it becomes “acceptable” to have classy gray “woman of a certain age” hair, it’s eliminating evidence of it, often at a significant cost. There’s teeth whitening, and sun spot eliminating, and facial hair waxing, and appropriate moisturizing. Make-up isn’t enough; in fact, too much make-up, particularly on an aging face, is “too much.” Breast implants have to be replaced. Botox has to be refreshed. None of these tasks are one-and-done. They’re monthly, quarterly, yearly costs.” • This is excellent.

“The devastating cost of the Big Tech billionaires’ immense wealth” [Fast Company]. “The barons’ financial advantage over the average person is extraordinary. While their median net worth is $90.2 billion, the net worth of the median white American household is $189,000, while that of Black American families is $24,000. In other words, the median Big Tech billionaire is more than 477,000 times wealthier than the median white American family, and more than 3.7 million times wealthier than the median Black family…. What is to be done? Even when billionaires commit to giving away their wealth, they invariably give to undemocratic, private institutions. This allows billionaires—not democracies—to set global priorities.” • “What is to be done,” eh? When you’ve lost Fast Company…

News of the Wired

“Scientific conclusions need not be accurate, justified, or believed by their authors” [Haixin Dang & Liam Kofi Bright, Synthese]. “When stating their central claims scientists should not be held to the kind of norms we hold assertions to if collective inquiry is to flourish. At the least, properly put forward scientific public avowals frequently do not and need not satisfy those norms of assertion that have been discussed in the analytic epistemology literature. Public avowals in science ought to be governed by a different norm….Underlying all our arguments is the conviction that a scientific research community must ensure its members must spread out across logical space. We must allow for the exploration of different theories, by different methods, and accept that there will be different positions adopted as time goes by and results accumulate. Perhaps inquiry shall prove to be a process of never ending adjustment, and this will be our state in perpetuity. Or perhaps we may eventually learn from science what is actual. But even if so, in order to get there, we must allow that in the midst of inquiry, scientific public avowals will frequently be defences of implausible possibilities.”

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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 (JK):

JK writes: “The Bluebonnets are just starting to come up in central Texas. In another week these will be twice as high with all the spots where you can still see grass in this shot filled in.” Gorgeous!

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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. cocomaan

    Post office intelligence/law enforcement division trolling social media for threats.


    I love the images in the bulletin. They look like they were made by another intelligence agency. Self licking ice cream cone.

    In the past year, I went from loving the post office, to being disgusted by it, to now hating it. Shut it down and start over.

    1. flora

      Well, is that story true? Or is it designed to further undermine the Post Office? (After which the private companies that will take over can make out like bandits with costs to mail a letter, for example.)

      1. PHLDenizen

        This isn’t new. The Mail Isolation Control and Tracking initiative, for instance, has been around since the ‘01 anthrax scare. The USPS photographs the front and back of your mail to scoop up metadata, same way the NSA does. It’s under the guise of “zomg terrorists!”, but its real utility is in building social graphs for LE orgs looking to conduct surveillance, covert or not. And MICT is absolutely a feeder into the NSA, DHS, FBI.

        For instance, the DEA might tip off the USPS that a particular address seems to shipping out drugs, leading the post office to conduct a controlled delivery and attempt to bust buyers.

        1. cocomaan

          Yeah, well, for the record, I’ve been against that for a long time too. Because it’s complete horse hockey to be tracking everyone.

      2. Procopius

        I’m not so sure that would work. It goes against orthodox economic theory to raise prices because sales are falling. There are examples of upward sloping demand curves, but I don’t think this is one of them. Having removed the Post Office’s monopoly status already, the private companies would seem to have removed the incentive for them to take over the operation. Of course DiFi’s husband shows that there’s lots of profit to be made from selling its real estate, but that’s a wasting asset. Eventually it’s all going to be gone. There are barriers to new competitors entering the market, but there are already several alternatives to USPS.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well, you were led on your journey by a carefully engineered sabotage campaign against the Post Office to make it disgusting and hateful.

      If you choose to fall for that campaign, and if enough other people join you in choosing to fall for that campaign in order to get the Post Office abolished and the profitisable parts of the rubble privatised and profitised, then it will cost you ten dollars to send a letter. If the PrivaProfit Delivery Service deigns to serve you and your area at all.

      Sometimes we fill our own toilet, then we swim in it. Is ” abolish the Post Office” really a toilet you want to spend the rest of your life swimming in?

      Because the Feinstein’s-Husband Democrats and the DeJoy Republicans are happy to put you there.

      1. cocomaan

        Yeah, I get it. I have read these arguments for years. Bought into the arguments, also, because people smarter than me were talking about it.

        Poor embattled post office, hamstrung by Congress, front loading their pensions, etc. and so forth and so on.

        But I’m over it. Not when they’re also in the spy business. It’s less a matter of spending time wanting to abolish them. I’m just not going to make excuses anymore, or patronize them if I can help it. If they’re so strapped for cash, why is their union letting the enforcement division (not sure if enforcement is also in union, whatever) sit around on social media ratting on people? Pathetic.

        1. Alfred

          Who isn’t in the “spy business.” What is record-keeping but the “spy business.” Yikes. I need the Post Office. It’s the best thing going as far as I’m concerned.

          1. polecat

            Nice SQUIRREL there Alfred.

            One has to draw a line on were the incidiousness of OuR vaunted Panopticonia ends .. no?

            1. Josef K

              FWIW, I’m not in the spy business, unless voyerism counts. Just kidding.

              Quietly, FedEx decided it had to, and could, scan the QR on the back of my DL when I ship something. The first time, I was asked to hand over my DL, and rather than read the required info off the front, or confirm my ID, as I expected, they scanned the QR on the back. I was not amused, yet of course my protestation was met with the usual response these days, that combination of assurance there’s no need for concern topped with an eye-roll and sprinkled with high dugeon that I’d even object. Well, if you say so it must be true.

              That QR patch has got to have more info about me on it than the basics. If only FedEx would divulge what of my personal information it has, along with the State–I’d like to know too.

              1. Alternate Delegate

                My State put a PDF417 barcode on the back of the driver’s licenses. At the time, I had access to equipment that could read those codes. The first part of it was just a copy of the information on the front, but the second part was encrypted. I wrote to the State demanding to know what was on the back of my driver’s license. They even wrote back, but sent their response in the form of an attachment I couldn’t read. I assume it was some boilerplate letter with excuses about why they wouldn’t tell me, but I don’t know. True story.

      2. km

        What makes you so sure that the Post Office could never do such a thing, the way every other government agency could?

        Lest I be accused of “falling for it” or of orchestrating a hate campaign against the PO, I am well aware that a privatized USPS could do exactly the same thing, and with fewer legal safeguards.

        After all, private detectives are subject to even fewer restrictions than are real cops.

    3. Big River Bandido

      Plenty of other government agencies are already spying on Americans — about the only thing they’re good at or care about these days. They’re dangerous. The Post Office? Lols

      I wouldn’t trust the NYT. Why in the world would I take seriously for a moment some CT “exclusive” in Yahoo News?

      1. Michael Ismoe

        The USPS is so screwed up that they mailed all their information to the NSA and they never got it.

        Is this just the reason they are going to use to kill off DeJoy? The Dems always need a reason to do what they should have done on January 201st.

  2. fresno dan

    Jake Tapper
    Seriously, read it again knowing what we know:
    How many times?

  3. flora

    The Dems keep saying better PR is needed for whatever project they have in mind. Where does that PR come from, I sometimes wonder.

    This was written by Jon Rappoport in 2011, supposedly as fact. I read it only as fiction – very entertaining John Le Carre style fiction, imo. It’s about getting “the right PR” stories planted in the press, from where, and for what purposes. Better PR. (long. 22 page pdf.)

    The Matrix Revealed.


    1. Watt4Bob

      Been reading “These Truths” by Jill Lapore. Link is to Free PDF

      She dates one of the most damaging trends in American politics to the fight against Truman’s efforts to build a National Health Care system.

      There was a couple who created one of the first Public Relations firms, and who took a few million dollars from the AMA, and launched a multi-year campaign to scare the American people into believing Healthcare for all would lead to SLAVERY. (remember Hayak’s The Road To Serfdom? same time frame.)

      All related to the vague notion that socialism leads to communism and on and on….

      This was the period when the social sciences spawned pollsters and PR consultants involved in politics.

      Lapore points out that what we call the social sciences in this context, is essentially a bunch of business practices dressed up as ‘science’.

      1. Watt4Bob

        They were successful in stopping Truman’s legislation, it took a couple years but it was stopped dead.

        Truman said that the AMA’s efforts were closer to socialism than his Healthcare plan.

      2. jsn

        Within a generation of propaganda being rebranded as public relations.

        Goebles and Stalin gave the former a bad name.

        What will it take to break the spell this time?

      3. pck

        Weird – todays “Citations Needed” podcast episode discussed this exact book/author and I was looking for a way to read it. Thanks for the link.

      4. km

        I read The Road to Serfdom and other books like it, and internalized the basic argument. You institute state-sponsored old age pensions or deposit insurance, and next thing you know, you’re seizing control of the means of production and something something muh gulag!

        Then I asked myself why Germany has had socialized medicine since 1883, a system which survived losing two world wars and multiple government defaults, but hasn’t turned communist yet?

        I guess there’s the old standby that the Nazis were really just cleverly disguised communists, but they got rudely booted out by actual communists, and the German system survived that, as well as 40 years of West Germany, and still no gulags. In fact, Germany today is probably less socialist today than West Germany was during the 1970s and 1980s.

        1. Petter

          The irony, or hypocrisy here is that when the Charles Koch invited Hayek to come to the USA in 1973 to join his Institute, Hayek was reluctant, afraid that he would be ineligible for health insurance. Koch checked and learned that when Hayek worked in the USA he had paid into SS for the required ten quarters and was thereby eligible for SS benefits and Medicare.
          Yasha Levine and Mark Ames reported on this for The Nation.

          1. Procopius

            In the end Hayek decided his benefits in Austria were so much better than Medicare that he decided not to come. So much for “the best medical care in the world.” I find it hilarious that Charles Koch was such a “cheap charlie” that he wouldn’t set up a trust fund for the man he supposedly admired so much. The cost would have been trivial for him — the equivalent of leaving a tip for a server at a restaurant. Less. But rich people do not spend their own money. That’s part of why they’re rich.

      5. Stillfeelinthebern

        I have this book in my “to read” pile and will pull it out and start reading it tonight. Thanks for the nudge.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The Oregon and Washington State National Guard would side with Canada and try to keep the Californicator National Guard confined to California, in the event of such water-seeking aquagression.

    2. Stephen

      As a proud resident of a Great Lakes state…at what point do we build a great Intercontinenral Pipeline and start selling Lake Erie to Arizona?

        1. Alternate Delegate

          The 2007 Great Lakes Compact (based on an earlier 1985 agreement) is supposed to stop this sort of thing. The Great Lakes Compact consists of federal legislation plus State legislation to the effect that: “new diversions of water from the Great Lakes Basin are prohibited with limited exemptions.”

          This is probably safer than most legislation, due to the jealousy and self-interest of the eight States involved.

        1. WobblyTelomeres


          Louisiana is closer to Arizona. Just divert the Mississippi, say around Natchez or Vicksburg, and Bubba’s your uncle!

      1. Screwball

        NW Ohio here. They will put the pumps where they can get all the algae bloom to send along as well.

        Nothing like selling what you don’t want to an unsuspecting consumer.

        Only half kidding.

      2. PHLDenizen

        Obama’s already set the precedent for what constitutes “safe” water, his Flint performance art a fine testament. Pennsylvania must do its part to enshrine Saint Barry’s legacy of Best President Ever(TM) by bequeathing to its western brethren the great bosom of fracked water in its possession. To do anything less would be inhumane and thoroughly unpatriotic.

        And just as we would keep Obama’s flame burning bright, so too do we keep those thirsty states hydrated, illuminated, and cozy. All with our wondrous elixir! Who needs candles during a sumptuous bath when a dimly lit match below the tap can unleash such a brilliant and endless fire! You can drink it, you can fuel your furnace, you can chase away the terrifying darkness.

        Pennsylvania leading the way in “value added natural resources”. The Other “Wooder”.

    3. JBird4049

      The Most of Marin’s water comes from the various reservoirs with some from Sonoma who would possible cut them off next year if there is another dry year. Certainly the counties’ governments would be, let’s say, a bit acrimonious. So, they are being prudent.

      1. Michael Mck

        A bunch comes from even farther north. A tunnel brings water from the main stem of the Eel river (which meets the sea 200 miles north of Marin) into lake Mendocino and from there it flows to wine grapes, Sonoma and Marin.

    4. Wukchumni

      How dry is it in Cali?

      I heard a woman who was expecting didn’t recycle the H20 when her water broke and was sentenced to 9 months of hard labor…

      1. ambrit

        Wasn’t that held in Juvenile Court?
        Really though, what ever happened to the scheme to pump water from the Sea of Cortez to the Salton Sea region and use solar powered boilers to distil the salt out?
        Use the same sunlight to drive Stirling engines to run the pumps needed.

  4. antidlc

    Seriously, no comment on this? I posted under today’s links:


    Dallas County will spend up to $30 million in federal coronavirus aid to pay for future vaccine efforts, including pop-up inoculation sites and walk-in clinics.

    Commissioners unanimously approved a contract with Colorado-based American Medical Response Ambulance Service to lead the next chapter in the county’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution. The company will begin to take over the county health department’s vaccine hub at Fair Park as early as next week.

    Would that be the same American Medical Response described here?

    After 2008, a number of private equity firms moved to take over ambulance and air ambulance providers. Of the three air medical transport companies that have since captured 67 percent of the U.S. market, two are private equity–owned. American Medical Response, the largest provider of ground ambulance services in the U.S., was purchased by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. Known as KKR, this firm also owns one of the largest air transport companies, Air Medical Group Holdings. Priority Ambulance, LLC, which operates 400 medical transport vehicles, is a portfolio company of Enhanced Equity Funds.

    Private equity involved in vaccine distribution? What is happening in your area?

    From the dallasnews.com article:

    American Medical Response has previously helped local governments with vaccine sites throughout the country, including Arlington. The company helped the Arlington Fire Department with its vaccine site.

    Has this been reported elsewhere and I’m late to the party? Or is the reaction just, “Ho, hum, business as usual?” Or are the two American Medical Response companies different companies?

    This site has reportedly at length on private equity.

  5. Alfred

    The Bezzle: It costs money to prevent Covid! Pay your freakin (exhorbitant) medical bills for treatment of COVID!

  6. David Jones

    Re: Roman sexual insults/jibes. Nothing really new here.Catullus in a number of his scurrilous poems insults other males by threatening to fuck their mouths’

    1. The Rev Kev

      True that gladiators were objects of want by high-class Roman women but this article makes me wonder about one aspect of this relationship. If it was really all about who was doing the penetrating, could it be that gladiators were in a special category because they were doing de facto penetrating as a profession? And by that I mean with their swords against their opponents? After all, swords being compared to the penis is an age old cultural meme.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Having a stone penis on your wall or home was considered a good luck charm in those days. I would love to see the reaction of some SJW fresh from some college and how outraged they would be if confronted by them. Would they demand that they be removed as being too triggering? Or would they demand that they be covered over with plaster to remove the offending sight? Come to think of it, is the Vatican Fig Leaf Manufacturing Division still in business?


            1. The Rev Kev

              Suetonius? He always was a bit of a gossip collector. I am proud to have his book in my Classics section. But just remember – it is only “scandalous” if they catch you doing it. Unless you are rich like Caesar and you can then just blow the whole thing off. Like Jeff Bezos and his dix pix.

            2. The Rev Kev

              I’ll add to this a comment. That article makes reference how Roman soldiers would sing bawdy songs of their commanders when marching through Rome and apparently Caesar was not the first to be deliberately embarrassed by these songs. But you get such things happening in modern times too.

              Once in WW2, Winston Churchill was overseas reviewing British soldiers marching past after a great victory. When a Scottish Regiment came by, they were singing the infamous song ‘The Ball o’ Kirriemuir.’ Churchill did a double-take, grinned, and then gave them a salute too.

            1. The Rev Kev

              Well as King Edward VII once said – “I don’t care what the people do, as long as they don’t do it in the streets and frighten the (donkeys).”

          1. Procopius

            Don’t know if it’s still there, but there used to be a small park behind the Bangkok Hilton Hotel called the Penis Park, where Thai women brought penises of wood or stone to petition the spirit to grant them a child. I think some of them were, like, three or four feet long. One of those insider tourist attractions. Also, out in the countryside, it used to be common for mothers to tie wooden penises around their boy children’s waist to encourage growth of the real thing.

  7. Alfred

    perhaps we may eventually learn from science what is actual. But even if so, in order to get there, we must allow that in the midst of inquiry, scientific public avowals will frequently be defences of implausible possibilities.”

    I am trying to resolve this with my experiences as a student in a respected university’s biology lab, where I was told to “ignore anomalies.”

    1. jrh

      Undergrad courses use spherical cows. In undergrad bio labs, the experiments are so predictable, and have been performed so many times, that it is safe to assume student error in aberrant findings. The point is to teach techniques and principles rather than discover new knowledge.

      In higher level applications, there is seldom such demonstrable predictability. The novelty of the knowledge pursued almost necessarily precludes a sufficient existing body of knowledge to which new findings may be compared.

      1. Durans

        This reminds me of my own experience in electronics engineering labs in college. I’ve told this story before, maybe here, maybe somewhere else. For some of the projects in the labs no one, I repeat, NO ONE, was getting the correct results. This apparently went on for years. These labs were on old school analog electronics and had been originally written a long time ago. They had worked before and the laws of physics hadn’t changed what was up?

        Several of the teachers and grad students that ran the labs pretty much figured the students must have done something wrong, or just ignored that no one could get these experiments to work.

        Finally one of the newer teachers in the department was assigned to oversee some of the labs. This teacher conducted the experiment himself, and it didn’t work. He spent over a week looking into what was going on, and finally found the culprit. The experiments that were failing all required use of signal generators to generate an electronic signal that was then passes through various analog circuits and the labs were to see what came out the other side.

        The problem was the signal generators themselves, they could not produce the signals at the output levels required for some of the experiment to work as expected. They would produce their signal only up to their maximum amount and say, no more, that’s all you get. All this without showing they couldn’t produce the desired signal and therefore were limiting what they were outputting. This lowering of the input signal meant the output signal was lower than expected, and so the experiment seemed to not work as expected.

        The teacher found an older signal generator in the lab equipment storage that could produce the signal out the output levels required and the experiment worked. Because these pieces of equipment were older and less capable in other ways he eventually just rewrote the experiments to require less power so that the experiments would work with the newer equipment

        The big thing is that when taking the ages of the equipment into account, these experiments were “not working” for over a decade before one of the instructors finally looked into why.

        *Part of the problem was the newer machines were labeled somewhat deceptively. They showed the maximum voltage and current they could output, but not the maximum power. The device could only achieve max voltage at about 2/3rds max current and vice versa. If you only looked at their “rated” max voltage and max current in theory they would work fine for the experiments as originally written. But when you take in account what they could actually put out they wouldn’t work.

    2. Howard

      Check out the thinking of Paul Feyerabend — you should be able to find summaries or maybe a Wikipedia article. He wrote Against Method and what I remember best from that book is how he takes apart Galileo as an icon of the modern scientific method, while still admiring Galileo greatly. For Feyerabend, if scientists want to use sarcasm and irony or flowery rhetoric as the main way of advancing their theories, or if they want to ignore inconvenient facts, and if these methods produce interesting results, then more power to them.

      I know that the above sounds pretty simplistic, but Feyerabend’s full arguments are much more subtle and compelling than what I am able to express here.

      1. jrh

        Thank you, Howard.

        A cursory overview of his positions is enough to know that I need to read more. Seems like I’m in both enthusiastic agreement and vigorous disagreement. Fun!

  8. Geo

    “Monetary and fiscal stimulus for just the U.S. could have amounted to US$12.3 trillion from February 2020 through March 2021”

    Can we just rename the stock market as a “government handout” at this point? Seriously. The market is like a guy bowling with bumpers thinking he is an expert bowler. Take away the bumpers and most throws would be gutter balls. And if you threaten to take away his bumpers he calls you a communist.

    1. Geo

      Edit: Not saying the stimulus is wrong. A fraction of it did go to helping people survive which is nice. But, the “free market” champions freak out when us little people get our minuscule aid and go off about moral hazard and valuing hard work and whatever. But, they’re acting as if they are titans of free market brilliance when they’re just collecting government handouts too. Albeit, much larger ones.

      Maybe we should make student loan interest rates chained to Fed lending rates? If banks can get no/low interest loans, so should students.

  9. FluffytheObeseCat

    The Anne Helen Petersen Substack article is great……. except note that skinny jeans are now déclassé and have been for 1-2 years, depending on regional difference. See below:




    This doesn’t at all injure the point she’s making, in fact it utterly proves her point. It’s just that her article would be even better if she’d known that we have already entered another costly ‘middle class maintenance’ cycle in womens’ business & casual clothing.

    1. Alfred

      LOL! What does déclassé even mean in Vermont. I wear what fits at the consignment store…
      And yes, I am not throwing out my skinny jeans (I’ll fit into them in a couple months again).

    2. crittermom

      I couldn’t complete the second two articles as they’re behind a wall. But I had read enough.
      As I’m finally unpacking my 40′ container with my former life crammed into it 9 1/2 years ago when my home was stolen, I’m pretty sure that if I lost some weight & dug through the clothes, I’d be right back in style!

      In truth, at my age it’s been many years since I worried much about style, and just wear what I like.

      Nice to know that skinny jeans are now out (again) and boot cut are back in. Those go best with my cowgirl boots and remain common for many of us living rural.

      Hey, I guess I’m already ‘back in style’!

    3. GroundZeroAndLovinIt

      According to Forbes, skinny jeans are out but “tapered leg” jeans are in. For those of you keeping score, that means jeans that fit snug around the thighs and tightly around the shins are out, but jeans that are just slightly relaxed at the thigh and snugger around the shin are in. Wouldn’t want to make a sartorial, status-ending error in this regard, nosiree.

      I guess America is ready to get back to full-tilt consumerism again now that we are all past the pandemic? /sarc

    4. John Anthony La Pietra

      TBH, all fashion has ever done for me is tp make clothes I like either harder to find (when they’re out of fashion) or harder to pay for (when, more rarely, they’re IN fashion).

  10. lobelia

    Re: Pelosi’s Thank you, George Floyd, for sacrificing your life for justice. For being there to call out to your mom

    So revolting, on so very many levels, from Mom™, Nancy.

    Pelosi has been a Federal House Member in obscenely wealth, nepotism, and corruption ridden San Francisco Districts since 1987, and I don’t once recollect her being outraged by the over a century of abundant and unnecessary cop violence in bipartisan counties- physical, and psychological violence, which can be just as crippling as physical violence sometimes, if not more so – in California specifically, let alone the Nation.

    Pretty soon she (or her striver ghost announcement writer) will be praising the exploding thousands of California homeless for their sacrifice when they die of hypothermia, or are burnt alive in their tents and RVs, for helping to clear the streets, etcetera.

    p.s. for antidlc, regarding your April 21, 2021 at 2:37 pm comment:

    I read your comment and am outraged for Dallas County’s little people (reminds me of California Governor Gavin Newsom and huge Newsom donor, Blue Shield Insurance Companys’ MyTurn™ nightmare), as likely many of us were, but are severely restrained by time limitations and sometimes inability to ‘nest’ comments to verbally respond. It’s something I really mourn about the loss of physical communities (versus the online severe limitations of the six senses); previously we were able to see, possibly even smell, etcetera (we are mammals, after all) empathy being communicated, without a word having to be written, or spoken.

    gotta run

    1. Alfred

      I have been on a couple of blogs that lionize The Present House Speaker. I have been kicked off all of them. Plus I have the “honor” of having my email account de-activated (for investigation) in early 2016 when I called her office to complain that she said they “weren’t going to be talking about” Medicare for All. If the ice cream Sub-Zero fridge didn’t sink the Dems in 2016, I don’t know what did./s But, you know,gotta have munny to get re-elected.

    2. antidlc

      Thanks for the reply.

      What concerns me is that the article stated that it wasn’t just Dallas — American Medical Response helped with vaccination sites throughout the country.

      What else are these guys doing?

    3. Procopius

      Look at it this way — not as bad as Hillary watching Qaddafi impaled on a bayonet and laughing.

    1. Alfred

      Why cars? That’s my question.
      Out of all the felonious things I might have bought, they would be at the bottom of the list.

      1. Wukchumni

        Sure, we might call them cars, but they were really mobile ‘stations of the cross’ as far as the pastor was concerned.

        1. John A

          Enough for 2 churches and a few spares, or would he have bought 42 for 3 if not busted first?

      2. Watt4Bob

        Maybe they were a laundering technique?

        Turn a big loan into a bunch of relatively small cash sales?

        And 39 sales may be the limit before being forced to register with the state as a dealer.

  11. Jason Boxman

    I wish we’d start calling it a $15 living wage; It’s easier to ask someone why they don’t support a living wage. (Granted $15 is not really a living wage these days, but you get the idea.)

  12. Dr. John Carpenter

    I really like this story: https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2021/04/in-epic-hack-signal-developer-turns-the-tables-on-forensics-firm-cellebrite/

    Admittedly, I don’t know a ton about Signal, but anyone throwing shade at Cellebrite is probably doing some good. The guy has a sense of humor to boot. The comments bring up a couple of good questions. Does the presence of Apple code in Cellebrite’s system mean Apple was working with them or is this a copyright issue? And will his “special files” he’s referring to at the end get them kicked off the App Store?

    (For anyone who doesn’t know, Cellebrite is a big player in digital forensics, helping police unlock phones and whatnot.)

    1. hunkerdown

      Fetching code over the internet is a big no-no under iOS App Store rules. There’s an enterprise app signing program for people who need to do that. However, they don’t specify whether code written for a processor that doesn’t exist in that device, nor is run by an emulator on that device, is considered code for compliance purposes. Very Fearless Girl to go up against a trillion dollar company, almost daring them to hide their politics behind pOLicY mISteR mARliNSpiKE and boot him.

      1. Dr. John Carpenter

        Thanks for the comment. I’m not an app dev, but what you explained was what I thought. I’ll be interested to see what happens. I do enjoy tech pie fights over stuff like privacy.

  13. crittermom

    I liked the article by Ryan Cooper in “the Week”.

    Straightforward. Easy to understand his point. Stated simply with a common sense approach. Relatable to most everyone.

    For all those against M4A, I doubt any could find a good rebuttal for it (once you take their money and activate their brain, so they’re actually thinking in a realm of common sense).

    Now if only our ‘representatives’ (not ‘leaders’) actually represented the interests of the people…

    I remember reading articles stating that the majority of citizens (even Repubs) want M4A, but ‘our’ govt says ‘we’ *cough* can’t afford it.

    They’re supposed to be our ‘representatives’.

    We need to remind them of that and I think the easiest place to begin is to quit calling them our ‘leaders’.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      When I signed up online for my appointment to get my first shot they requested the name of my medical insurance. Since I had no intention of looking up my Medicare number, i just wrote in “NONE” and they still gave me an appt.

  14. Matthew G. Saroff

    Nancy Pelosi’s comments show her to be a toxic mix of wokeness, narcissism, and senility.

    Retire Nancy.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      “… a toxic mix of wokeness, narcissism, and senility.”

      You can’t use those terms to describe Nancy. It’s the Democrat Party motto.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Nancy will only leave office feet first – and then be awarded the sort of funeral that John McCain had. And the main stream media will lionize her accomplishments and being a pioneer in having powerful women in politics. And anybody speaking about her on social media and criticizing her will be immediately dog-piled and maybe have their account yanked for spreading ‘false’ stories. And even after death people trying to publish books about what Nancy was really like and how she hurt so many people will not find a publisher in America willing to buy that book. You read it here first.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Only Nancy’s voting constituents can retire her. And they love her too much to do that. She is a perfect expression of everything the combination of Goldman-Sachs Feminists and Limousine Wokester Liberals stand for.

  15. enoughisenough

    “rapid COVID-19 home tests to be sold at CVS, Walgreens and Walmart”

    Guess this means no more free testing, and no one is going to keep pushing for it. This will control a pandemic Not. At. All.

    This is a boondoggle. Medicare For All, NOW!

    Really enraging.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “No One Told Me Being Middle Class Meant Wearing My Retainer Forever”

    Interesting article this. I have an interest in archaeology and in reading this article, I can only imagine what archaeologists will be finding in a few centuries when they dig up people like this. The report that they will do on the recovered teeth would be a study in themselves. You can already test such things to determine which region a person grew up in by traces left and the fact that so much work was done would designate a ‘high status’ person. It might be a case of ‘Who knows what procedures lurks in the bones of women? The Archaeologist knows..

    I don’t know either about skinny jeans but any word when bell-bottom trousers be back in fashion?

    1. ObjectiveFunction

      …. maybe when those Rikers style jeans with the crotch down at the knees come back? (that style took a heck of a long time to go)

  17. Wukchumni

    Got my second shot of Pfizer today on a walk-in, and talking to the pharmacist @ Walgreens, she told me they are getting a fair amount of people from LA/SF, for the local evangelical christian population in Visalia is mostly afraid of biblical implications of getting vaccinated, as they read into it.

  18. JBird4049

    What is to be done? Even when billionaires commit to giving away their wealth, they invariably give to undemocratic, private institutions. This allows billionaires—not democracies—to set global priorities.”

    When looking at the history of eugenics, one can see that while it the word itself was created by Francis Galton and the ideology of social Darwinism was developed both in the United States and England; it was only when such people like Mary Harriman, Henry Ford and organizations like the Carnegie Institution started to give funding to organizations like the Eugenics Records Office, that eugenics, including forced sterilization sometimes with forced institutionalization, really grew. The Nazis did get most of their ideas from the Americans. They just went much further than even what the Americans wanted to do.

    Galton, while supporting the idea of eugenics as a field of study, at most supported the idea of cash bonuses to those people who married other “suitable” people. He thought it would have been a bad thing for him to get involved in. You could make the argument that it was the early 20th century American oligarchy, with the help of their nomenklatura, apparatchiks, and NGOs that was the cause of the Holocaust. Perhaps allied with a kind of depraved Futurism, American style, packaged and sent to the Germans as a tasty intellectual and social mental snack, justifying the worst actions of the Nazis. Also, even though American society was extremely racist over a hundred years ago, most people were uneasy with, even actively opposed to, the more extreme ideas like sterilization, but once the fanatics got their funding, they were steamrolled. I think it is similar with the Germans. Many Germans were anti-Semitic, and I believe probably would have been happen to live Judenfrei, but the Holocaust was not something that they actively supported.

    Going further (and this might be streeetching it), I could make a connection with neoliberalism. From my understanding, the original goal of the Mont Pelerin Society was not to shape the Earth into its increasingly dystopian economic hellscape, but to prevent WW III while creating a good enough, if not really good, society. They did not allow for the oligarchy, with the help of their own pet nomenklatura, apparatchiks, and NGOs to not only capture and reshape the world’s society, but to do so via immiserating the bottom 90% and destroy the environment; unlike Francis Galton, they did not take the prudent, long view. The Holocaust enabled by the work of small minded, small souled, like Adolf Eichmann or the power hungry like Joseph Goebbels using the creation of an organization with its own ascribed goals as the means to fill their own emptiness and personal goals.

    And just look at the United States today, whenever an American politician or many activist says something, they seem to be just play acting and saying sh*** without any real belief in what they are saying and doing. It is just needed for the job. For the money, perks, and position. However, they still are enablers of real evil by accepting the American regime’s coin. And who has the most coin?

  19. lobelia

    Alfred, regarding your above response, on April 21, 2021, 4:56 pm, emphasis mine:

    …. Plus I have the “honor” of having my email account de-activated (for investigation) in early 2016 when I called her office to complain that she said they “weren’t going to be talking about” Medicare for All. If the ice cream Sub-Zero fridge didn’t sink the Dems in 2016, I don’t know what did./s But, you know,gotta have munny to get re-elected.

    You have my utmost sympathies. That’s horrifying having one’s email account deactivated, especially when large businesses and the government have forced so much utter reliance on email accounts since Anthrax™, but I’m not at all surprised. The countless pay to play legislators, and agency heads in California play really, really dirty – at a potentially life destroying level for the little people – when they so desire. That, particularly given the venal social scoring™ that’s been going on at least ever since the ghastly Silicon Valley’s Facebook IPO, and Palantir’s birthing, in Palo Alto, California.

    antidlc, re your response on April 21, 2021, 7:39 pm:

    …. What concerns me is that the article stated that it wasn’t just Dallas — American Medical Response helped with vaccination sites throughout the country.

    What else are these guys doing?

    Pretty sure nothing ‘nice.’ Kinda reminds me of Maximus™, which Medicare (along with countless other Federal, State and Local: Health and Human Services Programs™) needs to be defenestrated from if Medicare for all ever becomes a reality. That, along with acknowledging that people’s teeth, eyes and ears are vitally important to health and any quality of life, which Medicare has yet to (horrifyingly, really), as it’s currently run. I generally support Single Payer, or a much improved Medicare healthcare system; e.g. there should be no differentiation based on class and privilege amongst the populace, as to affording to maintain physical and emotional well being.

    gotta run

  20. Wukchumni

    Bond, secret agent .007%
    The amount of U.S. junk-rated debt included in the Bloomberg Barclays U.S. High Yield bond index has surged to a record face value of $1.53 trillion from $1.2 trillion in October 2019.” • Crack pipe, anyone? And isn’t this moral hazard? And is this any way to allocate capital? And speaking of crack–

  21. The Rev Kev

    Brought to you from the Department of You Can’t Make This Sort Of Stuff Up. ‘Israel doesn’t need the AstraZeneca jabs it ordered, says pandemic coordinator, govt trying to ‘divert them elsewhere’ ‘ Seriously? They want them sent to other countries now? They can’t think of what to do with those unneeded 10 million AstraZeneca jabs? Nothing comes to mind? (Hint – that is enough jabs to give every Palestinian two shots)-


  22. ambrit

    I’m late to the game, but, a quick Zeitgeist Report: Jurisprudential Department.
    Went to the County part of the Grand Jury case load today. It started in at 8:30 Am and ran until 5:30PM with two 15 minute catered pizza lunch breaks and a few ‘call of nature’ estoppages.
    The original list had 189 separate charges filed against 130 individual people. We managed to clear roughly 135 charges, with roughly 55 being ‘continued’ until next month’s meeting.
    Roughly 80 of the cases were for Possession of Illegal Substances. There were a few cannabis cases, but all that were not paired with more ‘serious’ substances were for dealing levels of product, as in kilos. The most common substance charged for was Methamphetamine. Then Cocaine, both powder and crystal. Trailing the pack were MDMA, opioids, and heroin.
    There were a fair number of Felons in Possession of a Firearm charges. My comment from before that most crooks are dumb was fully validated by today’s charge sheet.
    One point that a senior functionary from the State Drug Task Force made quite forcefully was that the region was experiencing a flood of fake opioid pills formed to look just like Vicodan etc that were actually fentanyl based. These ‘products’ were believed to be manufactured in Mexico and imported for street sale. The region is experiencing a major increase in overdose deaths traceable to these fake pills. The man was explicit; “Tell anyone you know who might be in that ‘market’ to watch out.”
    Another ‘driver’ of increased drugs usage was the explosion of homeless encampments in the region. A Sherriff’s Department functionary claimed that the numbers of homeless had roughly doubled from a year ago. It was mentioned that various NGOs were doing outreach to the homeless regarding the increase in drugs usage due to despair.
    Pro tip for drugs users. Having firearms and or scales in close proximity to drugs guarantees that the charges attendant to the bust will be “enhanced,” as in extra added years to the sentence.
    Another pro tip for drugs users. Don’t do drugs and drive! One danger is that the K-9 unit will often be left next to a partially open window in the cruiser. The doggies will often ‘alert’ to an automobile when it smells the odour of cannabis wafting across the lanes of traffic. Again, like Monday, the number of times when the arresting officer mentions smelling cannabis smoke coming from an automobile is remarkable.
    Well, I’m dead tired.
    Stay safe everyone!

  23. Mme Generalist

    Re No-prescription, rapid COVID-19 home tests to be sold at CVS, Walgreens and Walmart beginning this week

    Here’s a link to the RapidTests website:


    And a Time article from Nov 2020 making their case:


    And an interview with the Time article’s author, Michael Mina, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Immunology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics and Associate Medical Director of Microbiology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-RuvUkcyJI&t=6003s Discussion of rapid tests starts at 00:11:51.

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