2:00PM Water Cooler 5/4/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Here is another weaver bird, also with a pretty song; I liked the name “spectacled weaver,” since I am be-spectacled myself.

* * *


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:

Case count by United States regions:



The Midwest in detail:

Continued good news.

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

Continued good news.

Test positivity:

Down, except for the West, now flat.

* * *


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

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

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

Capitol Seizure

“Proud Boys saw wave of contributions from Chinese diaspora before Capitol attack” [USA Today]. “[T]he Proud Boys enjoy significant support from a slice of the Chinese American community and the broader Chinese diaspora. Some Chinese Americans have bought in to the rhetoric spread by the Proud Boys, conspiracy theorists such as Alex Jones and conservative commentators that America is under attack from communism. They believe the Proud Boys are on the vanguard of protecting the country from a communist army controlled by antifa and the Black Lives Matter movement – claims that have been widely debunked. For some who left China in rejection of communism, particularly those who support former President Donald Trump, the Proud Boys have taken on an almost mythical status as tough street soldiers on the front lines of this battle between democracy and communism.”

Biden Administration

Biden walking back a promise on vaccine patents?

“Majority Of House Democrats Want Joe Biden To Waive COVID-19 Vaccine Patents” [HuffPo]. “A majority of House Democrats signed a letter to President Joe Biden on Tuesday calling for the White House to temporarily waive patents and other intellectual property protections preventing developing countries from mass-producing COVID-19 vaccines…. Biden has thus far declined to lift the United States’ opposition to the World Trade Organization, or WTO, even considering a temporary waiver of the protections for drugmakers…. The letter’s signatories span the ideological spectrum and include a number of moderate Democrats in swing seats, including Reps. Jared Golden of Maine and Elissa Slotkin of Michigan. There are some puzzling absences as well. Of the 93 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, 23 did not sign the letter.”

Paging Diane Arbus:

No knock on the Carters. But what an odd photo!

Democrats en Deshabille

“Swiss Billionaire Quietly Becomes Influential Force Among Democrats” [New York Times]. ‘He is not as well known as wealthy liberal patrons like George Soros or Tom Steyer. His political activism is channeled through a daisy chain of opaque organizations that mask the ultimate recipients of his money. But the Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss has quietly become one of the most important donors to left-leaning advocacy groups and an increasingly influential force among Democrats. Newly obtained tax filings show that two of Mr. Wyss’s organizations, a foundation and a nonprofit fund, donated $208 million from 2016 through early last year to three other nonprofit funds that doled out money to a wide array of groups that backed progressive causes and helped Democrats in their efforts to win the White House and control of Congress last year. Mr. Wyss’s representatives say his organizations’ money is not being spent on political campaigning. But documents and interviews show that the entities have come to play a prominent role in financing the political infrastructure that supports Democrats and their issues.” • The Center for American Progress. Of course.

Republican Funhouse

“Facebook Can’t Cure Trump’s Chronic Low Energy” [Politico]. “Although Trump’s Facebook account was popular—35 million users still follow it in its “frozen” state—and his videos there pulled very high shares, he never extolled it the way he did Twitter. Setting aside which service performed better for him, Twitter was always Trump’s favorite child and reporters picked up on that, forever citing his Twitter feed even when he cross-posted a message to Facebook. Even the brevity of Trump’s messages indicate that Twitter was—and remains—his social media venue of choice. He will welcome Facebook reinstatement, of course, but will consider the honor a runner-up trophy. Twitter made him. It never let him down. None of this is to suggest that Trump is finished politically. He could, like a dormant volcano, erupt again and rain pyroclastic flows on his enemies once more, with or without help from social media. Until he gets off his duff, the Facebook adjudication, no matter which way it’s decided, won’t make that much difference to his political future. Trump has voluntarily set aside his publicity hoggery, and the media diet continues to slim him. Never count the old porker out, but feel free to count him down.” • Hard to imagine Politico describing, say, Bill Clinton as “the old porker.”

Trump Legacy

“Meet the people deciding Trump’s fate on Facebook” [Politico]. “The so-called Facebook oversight board has been deliberating Trump’s case since January, when he was booted off after the Jan. 6 siege on the Capitol over fears he might incite more violence. Their decision could give the former president back one of his most powerful megaphones or muzzle him permanently on yet another major social media platform.” • Thank you for that “so-called.” At least one board member isn’t sure that the board is genuinely independent or not:


“‘Second Steele dossier’ on Donald Trump’s sexual exploits produced for FBI” [Sydney Morning Herald]. “The second dossier contains raw intelligence that makes further claims of Russian meddling in the US election and also references claims regarding the existence of further sex tapes. The second dossier is reliant on separate sources to those who supplied information for the first reports… It is understood that Steele believes the targeting of Kilimnik shows collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian intelligence services.” • Grifters gotta grift?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“When the Party’s Over” [The Baffler]. “the slow, deliberate, boring work of the meetings and the spreadsheets and the phone calls is necessary to build the structures that can carry movements forward, provide accountability, and allow for thoughtful deliberation and debate. This too is what democracy looks like. The most necessary organizing is difficult, unpaid, and largely unheralded. Working people are busy and tired and stressed out; why should they spend their free time doing something that will leave them even more drained as often as it energizes and restores them? Why do that difficult historical or theoretical reading when there is a new terrible show on Netflix that won’t ask for anything more than a smooth, blank brain to project itself onto? Or, indeed, a YouTube personality whose endless stream you can tune into for parasocial political catharsis? In the aftermath of Bernie 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the George Floyd rebellion, it has become clearer than ever that one of the primary questions that the left in the United States today must answer is that of organization.” • That’s the bottom line. The bulk of the article is a useful summing up of the Sanders campaign. Well worth a read.

““Woke” CIA Ad Is No Reason to Throw Out the Language of Liberation” [Natasha Lennard, The Intercept]. “[C]o-optation doesn’t really tell us anything about the inherent usefulness of an idea.” • Totally. Which is why we see material on imperialism and the class struggle all over the front pages of the World Economic Forum.

Wokeness is the ideology of today’s PMC, hegemonic within that class and those it dominates as a reaction to Trump. Since wokenesss marries the performance of social justice concerns to career advancement in the corporate and NGO context, it should come as no surprise that it is equally serviceable to the intelligence community. Here’s James Clapper’s memo lauding diversity: “We have adopted ‘diversity’ as one of the core Principles of Professional Ethics for the Intelligence Community. ”

“Grieving the End of Progress” [Musings from Mark]. “What if, then, we posit that our society is moving through the process of grieving the end of progress, and that different groups within society are at different stages [of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance — ] based on when progress ended for them? That was an insight that “clicked” for me, as much of the strangeness I have been observing started to fit into place…. Within this framework, the political right is substantially further along on this process, and indeed positioning along this axis seems to be actively reorienting the political spectrum. This is apparent when noting that regions in decline – timber towns, mining towns, agricultural areas, manufacturing hubs – lean strongly right. These areas in general have much poorer prospects than in years past, low and declining housing values, high rates of poverty, and lower life expectancy. Meanwhile areas where progress continues – cities, college towns, tech-industry-dominated communities – lean strongly left. These areas have better prospects (but still lower than the prior generation), high and rising housing values, and lower rates of poverty. This is also apparent when noting that the working classes have largely moved rightward on the political spectrum while the affluent, traditionally-conservative suburbs have moved leftward.” • Intriguing but I think overly schematic.

“Dallas County elections official promises full review after problems closed some polling places for hours Saturday” [Dallas Morning News]. “Park South Family YMCA on Romine Avenue was one of six sites on Saturday that experienced problems, such as voter machines that did not work and volunteers being unable to get into buildings, county officials told The Dallas Morning News. Half of those sites, including the YMCA, were in District 7. The race for that council seat featured eight candidates, more than any other race. Michael Scarpello, who was named Dallas County’s elections administrator in December, acknowledged the issues on Sunday and described the county’s current voting infrastructure and processes as ‘deficient.’ He said he plans to oversee a full review of Saturday’s voting process. Dallas has countywide voting centers, so voters could cast a ballot at another open center in the county if one was experiencing problems. But it’s unclear how many people were turned away from polling places because of issues Saturday, and how many of them ended up casting their ballots elsewhere. Those questions loomed large one day after the votes were tallied in District 7. A 25-vote margin separated two candidates for the last spot in the June runoff against sitting City Council member Adam Bazaldua. ”

“The counting will continue until results improve” [Popular Information]. “The Arizona Senate issued a subpoena to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, demanding they turn over its ballots. The purpose of the subpoena was to allow the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans who backed Trump’s false claims about voter fraud, to conduct their own ‘audit’ of the results in Maricopa County. The Board fought the subpoena in court but was ultimately ordered to turn over 2.1 million ballots to the Arizona Senate. At first, the Arizona Senate didn’t know where to put the ballots, but eventually secured Veterans Memorial Coliseum, the former home of the Phoenix Suns. It hired Cyber Ninjas, ‘a Florida-based technology company with no known experience in election audits,’ to oversee the process. The CEO of Cyber Ninjas is Doug Logan, ‘who has a history of posting unsubstantiated claims of election fraud online.’…. Logan has set up a series of bizarre procedures to examine the ballots, including putting them under a UV light to check for watermarks. Arizona ballots do not use watermarks…. The Arizona Senate is paying Cyber Ninjas $150,000, but that is not enough money to conduct a hand recount of 2.1 million votes. So where is the rest of the money coming from? The Arizona Senate is pushing people to a private website, fundtheaudit.com, that is seeking to raise $2.8 million.” • Oh.

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States Factory Orders” [Trading Economics]. “New orders for US manufactured goods rose by 1.1 percent from a month earlier in March 2021, rebounding from a revised 0.5 percent fall in February and but missing market expectations of a 1.3 percent growth. Demand increased for machinery (1.5 percent vs -0.2 percent in February), fabricated metal products (4.0 percent vs 0.4 percent), computers and electronic products (0.5 percent vs -0.2 percent), and primary metals (1.6 percent vs 1.2 percent). ‘

Trade: “March 2021 Trade Data Improves” [Econintersect]. “Trade data headlines show the trade balance continues to worsen with imports numerically rising faster than exports. From the BEA: ‘The global pandemic and the economic recovery continued to impact international trade in March 2021. The full economic effects of the pandemic cannot be quantified in the statistics because the impacts are generally embedded in source data and cannot be separately identified.'”

Housing: “March 2021 CoreLogic Home Prices: Millennials Propel Home Buying” [Econintersect]. “CoreLogic’s Home Price Index (HPI) home prices recorded an 11.3% annual gain, the highest since March 2006. ‘…. As consumer confidence rebounds and the job market picks back up, the 2021 spring homebuying season is on track to outpace trends seen in 2019 and 2018. Millennials lead the homebuying charge with older millennials seeking move-up purchases and younger millennials entering peak homebuying years.'”

Economic Optimism: “United States IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index” [Trading Economics]. “The IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index in the US decreased by 3.5 percent to 54.4 in May of 2021, the lowest level since February. ”

* * *

Real Estate: “Covid-19 as Real Estate’s ‘Great Disruptor'” [Barry Ritholtz, The Big Picture]. “[Jonathan ] Miller explains how Zillow Surfing has become the pandemic real estate pastime, and has driven some of the activity. Even as vaccinations become widespread, contracts for sales continue to rise. The lockdown has acted as an accelerant on a variety of pre-existing trends. The ‘death of cities’ has been greatly exaggerated, too. They have an optics problem — the business districts are mostly empty during WFH, but the residential areas are vibrant and active. Net residency is the result of an inbound/outbound ratio where inbound has been frozen during the pandemic lockdown, but outbound shifts to standalone homes with more space than apartments has been very active. We also discuss a possible transition of office space, which he estimates as having an excesses of 20% in total square footage.”

Tech: “Facebook Pledges to Remove Discriminatory Credit and Loan Ads Discovered by The Markup” [The Markup]. “Facebook says it will remove ads from several companies that violated its anti-discrimination policy after The Markup discovered companies targeting financial services to specific age groups on the platform. Facebook policy prohibits advertisers from discriminating by age when running ads for things like credit cards and loans. The Markup’s report was published on April 29. Facebook didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment but reached out to The Markup a day after publication to say that it has since taken action…. [Facebook] didn’t respond to follow-up questions on how many ads Facebook has since removed, and how the ads were able to run in the first place.” This is interesting: “The ads in question came from data obtained through The Markup’s Citizen Browser project, through which a nationwide panel of Facebook users automatically share news feed data with The Markup. The data includes ads that appear in their feeds, as well as some information on how those ads are targeted, via the ‘Why am I seeing this ad?’ feature. From March 16 to April 26, 2021, the panel included more than 1,800 people in the U.S. ” • Though you’ve gotta wonder why Facebook, whose resources are practically infinite, isn’t doing the same thing.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 54 Neutral (previous close: 59 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 58 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 4 at 12:02pm.

Health Care

“Beer? Money? States and Cities Offer Incentives to Get Vaccinated.” [New York Times]. • Demands for compliance with experts having failed, we turn to bribery. Anything but treat people like citizens.

“The experts can stay wrong longer than you can stay alive” [Lessons from the Crisis]. After quoting a myriad of experts who were wrong about travel bans: “The straightforward lesson to take from this is that international public health experts belong to a social and political class which thinks closing borders is bad for mostly domestic political reasons, and in the absence of external reality checks like a pandemic, people wanting to make a career public health can really only advance by mimicking the beliefs of the senior people who are the gatekeepers for advancement. If they hate border closures, and you want them to give you a job, well you’d better hate border closures too…. Is there any mechanism at all for alternative views to surface? After all, you can’t short their belief. Maybe you can get them to bet you money that’ll pay out in the event of a pandemic, but you’d actually have to convince them to take the bet…. None of this sounds realistic for anyone likely to be in those rooms. I think if you were an early career researcher in public health and sceptical about the prevailing beliefs, there basically isn’t much of a way for you to speak your mind at all and even if you did, if global pandemics happen every 100 years, you could have lived your whole life before being proved correct. The experts can stay wrong longer than you can stay alive. The scary lesson in all this is that for unusual risks like pandemics, where the real-life test of expert theories occurs very rarely, we should expect many expert consensus views to be completely back-to-front wrong, because the in-group incentives will drown out any real-world test of their theories and beliefs.” • I’m not sure this is entirely correct, because paradigms do change. But we see the same dynamic with masking, and with aerosols vs. droplets, too. It’s not that all experts are wrong, but the entrenched ones are more likely to me. I don’t know how to solve this (and I’m not sure we want civil servants to have skin in the game). Perhaps some form of public deliberation would be helpful.

“COVID-19-related anosmia is associated with viral persistence and inflammation in human olfactory epithelium and brain infection in hamsters” [Science]. “[O]lfactory mucosa sampling from patients showing long-term persistence of COVID-19-associated anosmia revealed the presence of virus transcripts and of SARS-CoV-2-infected cells, together with protracted inflammation. SARS-CoV-2 persistence and associated inflammation in the olfactory neuroepithelium may account for prolonged or relapsing symptoms of COVID-19, such as loss of smell, which should be considered for optimal medical management of this disease.” • One more reason nasal sprays are the cat’s pajamas, bees knees, positively the lobster’s dress shirt.

Police State Watch

“Police fired 24 shots at a handcuffed man. Why didn’t they turn on their body cameras?” [NBC]. “Experts say police departments need to implement three basic rules in order for the cameras to be effective: tell officers specifically when to hit record, ensure they announce they are filming, and outline clear consequences for when the rules are broken. But many of the nation’s major police departments don’t follow these basic guidelines. Examining the body camera policies of 28 large police departments in a geographically representative array of U.S. states, along with the policy in Chester, NBC News found 45 percent gave specific instructions for when officers should start recording. Roughly 41 percent required officers to announce they’re recording. And only 34 percent clearly stated there are consequences for not recording.”

The Tube

“Mike Schur-Shea Serrano Comedy Among Shows on Amazon’s IMDb TV Development Slate” [Variety]. “‘The Fed,’ which follows the personal and career drama surrounding a group of young finance hopefuls as they begin an elite fellowship with the Federal Reserve, the nation’s most powerful financial institution. These young financial geniuses are destined for greatness — provided they don’t screw it all up with secrets, lies, sex, and politics. Produced by Warner Bros. Television, the drama is executive produced and written by Nkechi Okoro Carroll (‘All American’), who worked for the Federal Reserve prior to her TV career. Adesuwa McCalla, who has a first-look deal with Amazon Studios, will also serve as executive producer.” • Looks like the West Wing Thing crowd has a new show to follow….

Guillotine Watch

The point of the service economy is to have servants, if only for a single transaction:

By mobile. Of course. Mobile’s role in enabling new classes of servants (e.g., food delivery) has not been examined, so far as I know. “Edward” would never have been able to deliver such an order face-to-face, if only because somebody waiting in line would have killed or maimed him. But the layer of indirection created by mobile also created the social relation.

Class Warfare

“Ask The Onion: How To Retire Comfortably” (slideshow) [The Onion]. Question: “When would be the best time to start saving for retirement?”‘

“Paradigm Shifts’ [New Left Review]. As usual with the NLR, make a pot of coffee. The conclusion: “Politically, the Democrats have defied predictions that Biden would face rebellions from an unruly left. From aoc to David Sirota, left critics have focused on the scale of the packages—not enough—rather than their ‘compete with China’ character. The logic may seem reminiscent of Bernsteinian social imperialism in the 1900s: as long as the domestic working class is doing well, who cares about the dynamics driving mounting tension with international adversaries? Since the scale and scope of Biden’s leftward discursive shift has been so sudden, and so unexpected, it would be unfair to tar them with that. But this is the challenge the Biden Administration poses to America’s fledgling left: the delicate and difficult task of how to counter national-imperialist thinking on China with new forms of international solidarity.”

Translate to mRNA as a platform:

“The Most Dangerous People in the Country” [Belt Magazine]. This is about teacher organizing, and it’s hard to excerpt. Here’s a historical nugget: “Her words inspired local miners to step up and organize. This resulted in the Paint Creek-Cabin Creek Strike of 1912-13. A through line can be traced from this strike to 1920’s Matewan Massacre, when Matewan police chief Sid Hatfield and a group of union miners found themselves in a shoot-out with Baldwin-Felts detectives contracted to the mine operators. Things boiled over in 1921 with the Battle of Blair Mountain, in which thousands of union miners armed themselves and marched against company men and local and state law enforcement. It has been called the largest armed uprising in our nation’s history since the Civil War.” • Makes the Capitol rioters look like pikers.

“Rich People Are Fueling Climate Catastrophe — But Not Mostly Because of Their Consumption” [Jacobin]. “Rich people have enormous carbon footprints. But the fundamental problem with their climate impact isn’t what they consume — it’s that they own the means of production, and it’s extremely profitable for them to pollute.” • In a nutshell!

News of the Wired

“What Makes Music Universal” [Nautilus (Anthony L)]. “A 2019 paper in Science, “Universality and Diversity in Human Song,”2 got me thinking anew. The paper concludes, ‘Music is in fact universal.’ The conclusion is based on an impressive computational analysis of two cross-cultural datasets, one of recordings drawn from 86 societies, the other of ethnographers’ notes about musical behaviors from 60 societies around the world. The authors assert music is the product of ‘underlying psychological faculties’ sparked by the basics of living. They write that four song types are heard in every society—love songs, lullabies, healing songs, dance songs. All cultures are animated by people who fall in love, have babies, seek spiritual health, and, if I may quote Teddy Pendergrass, get up, get down, get funky. ‘We’ve shown you don’t need to be familiar with a particular culture to understand and enjoy its music,’ Samuel Mehr, lead author on the paper, told me. Mehr is a research associate in the Department of Psychology at Harvard, where he is principal investigator at the Music Lab, a psychology laboratory studying music perception and music production. ‘You can find music meaningful and artistically interesting, and even glean reliable information, objective facts, from music made in different cultures. That’s really interesting socially because it shows there’s a common ground in this artistic product across cultures.'” • Hmm:

Maybe so!

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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 (EH):

EH writes: “My friend Fay’s Japanese Flowering Quince bush.” That is very pretty. It’s not to late to plant one, either!

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


      1. km

        I was sure that it was possible to find a Wikipedia article that discusses the role of honk in the Colombian economy, but one would still think that an economic history of that country that references events after 1970 might possibly mention it.

        1. ObjectiveFunction


          LOL! I remember “Nose Candy”, but that one definitely passed me by. But I lead a sheltered life.

          Grandmaster Flash (Higher Baby!)

          I remember reading about the evils of “Bennies, Goofballs and Knuckleheads” in 8th grade health class. And that the cool kids call the devil weed ‘Maryjane’ or ‘MJ’. (And if you don’t try it, they call you… chicken!)

  1. flora

    re: “Beer? Money? States and Cities Offer Incentives to Get Vaccinated.” [New York Times]. •

    Do bribes fall under the category of soft coersion?

    From TAE:

    The vaccination rollout is becoming tiresome, because it breaks too many laws to keep track of. There’s the Nuremberg code, and the Helsinki Declaration, and Unesco’s Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights. They all say the same thing: people can not be coerced, let alone mandated, into being part of a medical experiment. It’s highly illegal. Yet that is what’s happening with the so-called vaccines. And no, it’s not about the level of risk involved, it’s simply illegal. These codes and declarations were written to counter the acts of totalitarian regimes, remember that.


    1. Synoia

      People can not be coerced, let alone mandated, into being part of a medical experiment.

      Are you asserting that the current vaccines are “Experimental” at this point in time?

      When in your estimation do they become “proven,” that is not experimental?

      I believe that milestone is clearly visible in the rear view mirror.

      1. urdsama

        Considering the current vaccines are still under the emergency mandate, and IM Doc has noted several issues with the adverse reporting system, I don’t feel these vaccines should be considered proven by any stretch of the imagination.

      2. QuicksilverMessenger

        Perhaps someone can comment here on the legalities and technicalities between emergency use authorization and full approval of a vaccine. I’ve heard people refer the the current vaccine roll out as essentially a phase III trial. Is this actually true? And maybe if it isn’t strictly speaking part of an actual ‘trial’ in the normal sense of the stages of the approval process, perhaps in reality, it is?

      3. flora

        They are experimental. These vaccines have not received full FDA approval for any use – on or off label. They have not yet completed the standard FDA set of trials leading to full approval. That’s why they’ve been released only under the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). They are scheduled to be in this drug release category until 2023, at which time data will be gathered and sorted and full approval can be requested. That’s the timeline as of now. In 2023 the vaccines may be proven, or may not be, we won’t know until then. That’s still a much shorter approval time frame than usual.

        Under an EUA, FDA may allow the use of unapproved medical products, or unapproved uses of approved medical products in an emergency to diagnose, treat, or prevent serious or life-threatening diseases or conditions when certain statutory criteria have been met, including that there are no adequate, approved, and available alternatives. Taking into consideration input from the FDA, manufacturers decide whether and when to submit an EUA request to FDA.


  2. Synoia

    Wokeness is the ideology of today’s PMC…

    Oh really! Does that indicate that Wokeness is just the latest lip-service-window-dressing, with only a rotten core of Careerism (money)?

    We have to remind ourselves that the PMC is very, very skilled, to the point of addiction, at agitprop,

    1. flora

      Wokeness language is (PMC) class signaling. That’s one reason terms can change quickly with little reason – Latinx, for example, which Latinos do not use, by and large. Using the term signals the in-group from the out-group. My 2 cents.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        NPR reporters use it. I hear them use it on NPR.

        But did they invent it? Or did certain moral-superiority stuff-strutting Woker-than-thou leftist intellectuals and/or leftist intellectual students first invent it?

    2. ObjectiveFunction

      The talented Aris Roussinos, linked via these august pages last year. Now part of my regular reading:

      How we bend the knee to our HR overlords

      Think of our current Vice President (or Hillary) as our Chief HR Officer, and it all begins making sense.

      When we hear the righteous indignation of middle-class young women, lecturing soldiers for cleaning graffiti off the Cenotaph that they are furthering a system of structural racism or whatever, we hear the nasal tones of the future managerial class asserting itself, drunk with its own power.

      Imagine the sound of a passive-aggressive email from HR plinking into your inbox, forever: that is the sound of ideology taking the helm of the state.

  3. cocomaan

    Proud Boys saw wave of contributions from Chinese diaspora before Capitol attack, Will Carless, USA TODAY

    I find it hard to believe that they did any research on Chinese diaspora for this article but somehow didn’t uncover the vast Falun Gong diaspora that resides in the United States, including the leadership of the religious group which is in NY State.

    The Falun Gong are incredibly anti communist, partially because of the persecution they suffered in the 90’s at the hands of the CCP. Falun Gong expats love right wing causes and run the Epoch Times news outlet, which is pro-Trump and regularly publishes about all kinds of right wing topics.

    I guess I should get over my disappointment with mainstream media, but the laziness just never gets old.

    1. Fireship

      I find it hard to believe that there are many Chinese people retarded enough to believe Alex Jones. etc. Does moving to America inflict traumatic brain damage on people? It is already bizarre enough that anyone would fall for this but as Morris Berman never tires of pointing out, Americans are special people. Very special.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      My experience is anecdotal and very much second hand, but I don’t think Falun Gong are big players in the pretty large right wing network of Chinese expats, mostly because despite their rhetoric they tend to avoid getting too involved in politics (maybe its changed the last few years, but the FG people I knew a few years ago were very gentle and a-political). Christian evangelical converts are the biggest and most aggressive right wing movement, mostly because they are so organised, and they interlink with Taiwanese and South Korean churches (the latter are far more active in the far right at all levels). In my experience, a lot of Chinese Americans, both immigrants and first generation, really liked Trump, even those who are not anti Beijing or particularly right wing. They saw him as blunt and plainspeaking and admired what they saw as his standing up for the US and the whole ‘big boss, self made man’ type thing.

      As so often, the assumption that its only fat white guys in stained sweatshirts who are attracted to far right conspiracy theories doesn’t stand up to real life experience.

      1. Pelham

        The discussion of Falun Gong recalls for me Richard Evans’ history of Nazi Germany and the chapter on church resistance. Essentially, among the rank-and-file, there wasn’t all that much. More among Catholics than Protestants, but little you could point to with any consistency.

        The truly noble exception was Jehovah’s Witnesses. They stood their ground against the Nazis to a man and woman and at every turn, despite brutal persecution. Collectively, these poor and working-class Germans were probably the only true Christians at that time and place.

        It’s just way too easy to scoff at such believers.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Falun Gong is not “gentle and apolitical.”

          You are confusing FG the institution with individual members of FG, to which PlutoniumKun refers. That said, I don’t think much of the Epoch Times; I can’t imagine linking to it. Reading it reminds me of Lyndon LaRouche.

      2. cocomaan

        Yep, I do agree that from what I’ve found, FG can be on the quieter side.

        However, I happen to know a lot of right wing people who listen to a lot of right wing commentators, and Epoch Times, which is a FG rag, is ground zero for these folks. People like Dan Bongino, who has taken over Rush Limbaugh’s chair, cite the Epoch Times daily. It’s got a lot of influence in the right wing, esp. Trump area. Pretty fascinating stuff.

    3. Gareth

      You’ve got to remember that they hold apocalyptic views regarding communism. For them, when the world ends all communists are condemned to eternal torment, and those who opposed communism get the eternal reward. That makes fighting communism the core of their spiritual mission. Epoch Times was only pro-Trump because he was willing to confront the communists in China. They didn’t take much notice of him beforehand , and they are more focused on Biden being soft on China than they are on carrying water for Trump at the moment. Their concerns about election fraud, censorship, and social credit arise organically out of their experiences in China and their belief that these are tools used for the spread and maintenance of communism. The alignment between these groups and the American right is more of a mutual aid agreement than an ideological perfect match, so I don’t know how long it will last especially now that relaxed COVID restrictions will allow them to go back to their traditional fundraising method.

    4. Larry Y

      I know a few “Uncle Roger” types who voted for Trump the first time.

      As for Falun Gong, Guardian had an article on it: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/apr/30/falun-gong-media-epoch-times-democrats-chinese-communists

      My impression that Falun Gong (and Epoch Times and Shen Yun) are well funded and work hard to be visible – I’d often see Falun Gong protesters across the street from the NYC consulate, or near tourist sites popular with mainland Chinese in HK and Taiwan, though I suspect the HK protests have been squashed within the last few years.

    1. jhallc

      It reminds me of the technique that real estate photographers use to capture and enhance the size of a room. It distorts the scale of everything. Probably some kind of wide angle.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Wide angles can be problematic when people are the subjects. Way too easy to introduce distortion where none exists in the actual scene.

        1. Basil Pesto

          for digital, photographic software can pretty readily correct for lens optical distortion.

    2. The Rev Kev

      The Carters look like something out of Madame Tussauds – but miniaturized. There are not that many people that the Bidens can be photographed with to make them look younger so I would count this a win for them. But I am pretty sure that you will never find Biden hammering nails into new houses being built for poorer people like Jimmy carter has done.

  4. Michael Fiorillo

    So, according to Natasha Lennard’s article in the Intercept, last year’s uprisings were led by “young Black proletarians.”

    Wow, it takes either wilful blindness and/or a lot of chutzpah to try and pass that off as reporting.

    Right: Deray McKesson, Patrice Collours (she of the million-dollar real estate acquisitions), Garza and the rest are true proletarians, as I suppose are those posting BLM and “Love Is Love” (what does that even mean, except that you are a morally superior Being?) posters and lawn signs in PMC- heavy neighborhoods.

    If only these people occasionally got singed when their straw men combust, but those are not the times we live in.

    Live long enough, and you observe the same patterns repeating. I’m old enough to remember liberal obsequiousness, funding and insufferable virtual signalling toward black freedom struggles in the 1960’s and early ’70’s, followed rapidly by their almost complete abandonment (if not outright revanchism) for decades. Just wait until the inevitable mis/malfeasance scandals hit BLM (which almost seems to be structured so as to invite slippery political entrepreneurs) and new political hemlines set the tone for Lifestyle Liberalism.

  5. enoughisenough

    That Starbucks article is making me livid.

    They need to change their website to prevent these orders.

    Most websites don’t allow that much user discretion anyway, even in crucial matters, it’s drop-down menu choices that force you into false precision.

    For a coffee shop, though, that seems like all you need. *which coffee you’re ordering/*whipped cream yes/no

    I hate Starbucks for their monopolistic and evil business practices (forcing out other indie coffee shops that serve better coffee), but they are supposed to be SOOOOO GOOOOOD to their workers.

    I knew that was a lie.

    1. Josef K

      I think the founder, what’s his name, must have once heard someone quip “would you like some coffee with your milk and sugar?” and had a eureka moment.

      I was fond of comparing USAian culture to ice cream until I realized Starbucks coffee is in fact the perfect metaphor therefor, that’s why it exists.

      1. Josef K

        I’m so behind the times; “…some coffee with your bananas, ice, cinnamon, caramel, honey, whip cream, and more caramel?”

        A number of regular users have called them out for over-roasted coffee beans, so all that sweet stuff also masks the burnt taste. Symbiosis.

        1. wadge22

          No doubt the somewhat burnt taste was developed to cut through the dairy and sweeteners that the majority of the drinks they sell contain. If you’re blending a little coffee into a vanilla milkshake, you want it to be strong and noticeable, since it will be diluted and competing with other wonderful flavors.
          They designed a restaurant that sells desserty drinks, disguised it as a hip local coffee shop, and people love it. Coffee nerds, as well as the cup-of-mud types, know to look elsewhere.

      2. Acacia

        Starbucks secret sauce seems to be high-fructose corn syrup with vanilla flavoring.

        You can smell it in the air at any Starbucks, just like you smell that nasty oil at Mickey D’s.

        1. ambrit

          Perhaps Starbucks is using the old “let them smell food cooking” trick. It definitely makes me hungry to smell it.
          Years ago, when I worked for a small time commercial plumbing outfit, we did the plumbing part of a Burger King renovation. (Chains do this on a schedule to keep the “branding” looking fresh.) I noticed that the exhaust fans over the meat patty broiling conveyor belt vented outside above the main parking area. I have noticed the same set up in many other ‘fast food’ outfits since.
          As the article linked below states, this method has been perfected and “weaponized” to draw in customers.
          Read: https://foodbabe.com/the-behind-the-scenes-marketing-tricks/comment-page-1/
          Bon appetit!

          1. cnchal


            Even subtle changes in operations can trick our noses and make a big impact on increasing food sales. For instance, Panera Bread recently moved its baking time to daytime hours so that customers smell the bread all day long and their New Haven, Connecticut location has a small “show oven” without a hood, so the smells vent into the restaurant. This is the same reason that Subway places their bread ovens up front in their restaurants, so that smell hits you when you walk in the door. Starbucks has an “aroma task force” to make sure their stores smell like coffee and not the cheese from their breakfast items.

            Praise be the STEM educated worker. Where would we be without them? Here they toil for corporations whose profits come from deception and selling low level poison.

      1. John

        Am I out of line to think that if you are making a complex coffee order, you do not actually like coffee as coffee, but coffee as a base for all sorts of fluff and glitter?

        1. wadge22

          Probably..? There are lots of espresso bar drinks that take a few words strung together to describe accurately, a la Niles, which are still a pretty basic part of coffee culture. To some people in some settings, asking for one of those probably sounds pretty hoity toity (and being Niles never helps with that). Still there are other legitimate ways to enjoy coffee beans than just as black drip coffee.
          Now all the coffee milkshake food products at Starbucks… I’m with you.

      2. ambrit

        Yet, on one of the very few times I patronized a Starbucks, they didn’t know what Cuban Coffee was. That was the way, growing up a good bit of the time in the Miami, Florida region, that I learned to drink coffee. It definitely wakes you up for the day’s work.
        Later on, I became inured to Supply House Coffee. Most ‘professional’ materials warehouses will have a coffee machine going very early for the often times hung over construction workers who frequent them at the beginning of the work day.
        Now, when I worked in the French Quarter, I learned to appreciate coffee and chicory.
        America does have regional cuisines. You just have to get off of the beaten track and search.

    2. Keith

      Well, thing is most people that frequent Starbucks like that product. As for being a monopoly, maybe many years ago, but even the gas stations are offering just as good if not bette product than Starbucks, especially if you are old fashioned and just want a coffee flavored cup of coffee.

      Interesting thing in the twitter comments (so not sure if true), but Starbucks receipts read all the ingredients in the drink, so it already makes it long, with additions making it worse. Again, not sure.

      @Lambert, I must disagree, I have been in a Starbucks trying to get a quick cup of Joe, and I have had to listen to people with these outrageous orders, to include hipsters overing for their friends by reading the text. So far, these people have not been pummeled, but it is likely due to a lack of caffeine and/or effects of the withdrawals.

      1. Nikkikat

        Keith, like you, I have wanted to jump on the “frap” idiot in from of me and do some serious pummeling! Those drinks are beyond disgusting! Sugar,syrup and then whip cream and caramel…..yuck! Secondly those hipsters and ordering eight of the darn things when there is a huge line. It’s all about them. Another pet peeve? Rich yuppie types letting their kids order while everyone waits and waits as the kid makes up his mind. While moron parent looks on lovingly and expects the rest of us to be okay with that nonsense.
        My mother never let us make decisions…the way it should be! Lol

        1. cnchal

          > . . . While moron parent looks on lovingly and expects the rest of us to be okay with that nonsense.

          You are wrong about that. What they expect is your admiration at the child’s self evident genius.

        2. neo-realist

          If I’m out of town and I need a quick and serious caffeine fix and I go to the starbucks and see that the line is too long, I go to McDonalds for coffee–underrated straight-up brew, no diabeticino drinks, and short and quick lines.

          1. cnchal

            I don’t get Starbucks, at all. I have been there only a couple of times ever, when accompanying a Starbucks devotee and got strange looks for ordering a coffee, black with nothing in it. It was not good. Basically they are no better that Coca Cola – selling a low level poison with the ridiculous ingredients. My observation is Starbucks is about the pretentious sophistication and not the coffee.

            When on the road I go straight to McDonalds, medium size, black and nothing else to preclude the sales pitch for a heap of sugar disguised as food. What is funny about that is there was an occasion where I got fuel at a combination Tim Hortons and gas station and the Timmies was closed and the McDonalds next door open, when the clerk says to me, at my dissapointment about Timmies being closed, “McDonalds is open and their coffee is better too”. He was right. Much better than burnt taste Timmies. Consistent too, tastes the same wherever I go.

            The downsides for the Starbucks devotee going to McDonalds would be no cares about your sophistication.

    3. Gareth

      I use mobile ordering exclusively with Starbucks because otherwise it takes thirty minutes of waiting in line to get a latte in my town regardless of whether you go to Starbucks or one of the three local companies. I can put in the order when I leave the house, and I can just walk in and pick it up. I’m in and out in a matter of seconds. Ordering at the drive through or in line means spending twenty minutes staring at the wall. When the local companies offer mobile ordering, I will switch to them.

      I also modify the order, but not to the extent shown in the article. I usually change the milk, add more coffee, and cut the syrup in half. That way I get a latte rather than sugar flavored with coffee. Barring the people who abuse it just to see what they can come up with, it works really well, and it is much easier for the barista to see it written out than it is for me to recite it and for them to remember it. That type of abuse also occurs in other food service businesses with mobile ordering. There are people who will intentionally remove all the toppings from one side of their pizza just to see if the pizzeria will do it. They are paying for laughs, not food.

      1. HotFlash

        I drink my coffee black and *always* make it at home. When out I order hot chocolate or tea or (in extreme cases) hot water (ordered as “tea, please, bag out”). What do people have against actual coffee?

        1. Gareth

          I like my coffee many different ways, including black. Black is easy to make at home with my press. However, I have no interest in investing in an espresso machine, grinder, and all the associated equipment, so I go out when I want a cappuccino or an espresso shake. I have a few friends that only drink frappes, and to hear them describe it, you would think black coffee is metallic sludge. I just tell them they haven’t had good black coffee yet. In truth, I think some people are more sensitive to the bitter flavors than others. Tastes also change; I could not stand wine when I was in my twenties, and I love it now.

        2. Robert

          I got a Bialetti Moka Express Pot in which I prepare Cafe Bustelo coffee. There is a real tactile pleasure in using the Bialetti. It’s fun to watch it percolate too. The coffee is delicious. Sometimes I drink it black, other times with sugar and heavy cream. Cheers!

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      If there is a good-coffee-seeking customer base which is ready to pay fair price for good coffee, an Indie coffee house can stay in business even up the road from a Starbucks.

      In Saratoga Springs , New York is a coffee house called Uncommon Grounds.
      I go there when visiting family in Saratoga Springs. One day I went there and the line-out-the-door was so long I just wasn’t prepared to wait the half hour or so it would have taken to get in. So I went to the Starbucks down the street and there was no line at all. And it was pretty empty inside.

  6. Henry Moon Pie

    Grieving the end of progress–

    The author is onto something, though with respect to much of the Right, he might have added the decline of Christianity as a factor even though a 4th century CE religion and “Progress” make an odd couple.

    I saw Alan Watts mentioned in a thread earlier, and he had something indirect to say about this combination. He counted the underlying myths of his time (around 50 years ago) as the Ceramic Myth and the Automatic Myth. The former was God as potter, making the cosmos including humans. The latter was Newton’s billiard balls bouncing around the universe randomly forever. Even half a century ago, Watts counted the Ceramic Myth as dying if not dead, superseded by the cosmos as random machine. It is upon the Automatic Myth that the Progress Myth is built since it is ultimately the ability of humans to predict how the cosmos will behave that allows for “progress.”

    But it all turned out to be a little more complicated than Newton or the writers of “The Jetsons” thought.

    In the intervening period, a new myth has appeared, with support from The Science, that posits the Earth as living being, i.e. the Gaia Hypothesis. Given the death of the Ceramic Myth and the terminal nature of the Automatic Myth’s multiple maladies, we might consider adopting this new myth that could establish a healthier relationship with the planet that formed us once we move past the earlier stages of grief and reach acceptance.

    1. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

      “a new myth has appeared, with support from The Science, that posits the Earth as living being”

      With the added assumption that consciousness pervades the entirety of this reality and where all things are part of some sort of conscious “super organism”.



      It is assumed that “healthier relationships” would require the overcoming of at least some of the deep rooted and hard wired biologically evolved behaviors that result in negative outcomes. Selfish accumulation, overconsumption, or hoarding of wealth and material items, as a primary, or absolute goal in and of itself, seems to be one such behavior. If that is the case, then a radical overhaul of current economic principles would also be required and those who benefit most from the status quo would most likely be unwilling to have the order of things disturbed.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        “Selfish accumulation, overconsumption, or hoarding of wealth and material items, as a primary, or absolute goal in and of itself, seems to be one such behavior.”

        I would connect the above with our sick culture rather than anything hard-wired.

        As to politics and economics, my view is that they’re derivative of culture and would change radically if the culture shifted significantly. On the other hand, we can see how successful we’ve been trying to change politics or economics by appealing to the intellect. If the culture is the foundation, then neither will budge.

        1. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

          “I would connect the above with our sick culture rather than anything hard-wired.”

          Hard wired and deep rooted means, for example,

          “People like to think we don’t see major human environmental impacts until the Neolithic, with farming, but I think that’s absolutely not the case,” he says. “We see it from the very beginning of human existence on the planet. I think it speaks to our nature as animals, as ecological agents, as shapers of the environment. For 50 years now we’ve been trying to falsify overkill and we’ve failed. That, to me, suggests it’s a pretty strong hypothesis.”


            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              The sudden re-onset of Younger Dryas seems to support an “outside disturbance”
              event. Places in Siberia and Alaska with geologic-sized masses of violently-torn apart or otherwise killed and then flash-frozen ice age type animals certainly speak to some huge sudden disturbance in that area. What kills a woolly mammoth and then flash-freezes it so suddenly that unchewed plant bits are found between its teeth and semi-digested plant remains found in its stomach?

              And there is a strange genre of You Tube films discussing the “megalithic remains” here and there on the earth. No mainstreamer has actually debunked them or shown them to be fake videos of fake ruins. The mainstreamers merely studiously ignore them in hopes everyone else will too.

              Here is one such . . . a photo-video montage of megalithic ruins in Southern Ural mountains area in Russia with a sonic background of interesting music. They are too obviously constructed to be dismissable as geologic accidents. Who built them? How? When? Why? And what then exterminated these people and their civilization?

    2. FriarTuck

      I’m sorry, but not to be too crass, but this guy appears to be partaking of his own supply.

      I don’t think the author’s essay is so much describing circumstances as attempting to construct a narrative to frame circumstances as inevitable, and perhaps, desirable. However, Kubler-Ross description of grief is, to my understanding, not prescriptive, but descriptive.

      The author cherry-picks newsworthy events to fit into the grief model, claiming that each constituency (organized by political affiliation, of course) is merely progressing down a path of experiencing the “end of the Religion of Progress”, categorizing each event as though it is a natural outcome of this end. The essay then proclaims “It seems that the time has come when self-styled progressives must face their own reckoning with the end of progress”.

      This, despite the very real and very tangible, um, reality that a large number of those described events were derived and constructed by the way we have chosen to order society through our politics.

      Trying to frame world events through the lens of grief and “the end of progress” removes any kind of individual and social agency, and turns world events into a cynical End of History kabuki stage play. If this were an accurate descriptive analysis, why would there be any motivation to go on ? Every individual and our entire society would thus be at the mercy of outside force, beyond our control, inherent to our nature; and we should just lie over and die.


      The only conclusion I can come to is that the essay is full of bunk.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        Thanks for your reply. It’s inspired me to elucidate more fully what appealed to me about this article.

        I’m one of those people who has been struck by how both major players in our politics seem to have lost their minds. Democrats spent four years chasing Russian rabbits down Ukrainian holes while the bulk of Republicans were waiting expectantly for Q’s next drop. When the author cites Taibbi’s book about the essential equivalence of Maddow and Hannity, I’m right there with him.

        I’m also one of those people who looks at declining life expectancy, declining birth rates and soaring drug usage, both legal and illegal, and comes to the conclusion that our society is dissolving around us just in time to be hit with an ever more impactful and unavoidable ecological catastrophe. When I look at what the author cites as evidence of some kind of breakdown, that resonates with me.

        Given such dire circumstances, I’m also of the view that we all better get cracking building a new big picture, a narrative you call it, that can serve as the glue holding society together through some very rough times that are on the way. I care about that because I really don’t want to see my children or grandchildren living in Mad Max or Handmaids’ Tale.

        As for “progress,” I’m happy to wave good-bye to that myth. Technology has been most effective as a tool in oppressing and killing people while destroying the Earth as collateral damage. We’ve gotten such a bad complex that we’re rewriting our own DNA, no longer confining ourselves to creating Frankenplants. Apparently, we don’t really believe in natural selection because we’re going to outdo evolution on the fly.

        After a few centuries of all-yang-all-the-time “progress,” I’m ready for some yin-time of reflection, consolidation and redirection. And it seems quite possible to me that the author is onto something that there will be some grieving to go through before we relinquish our claim to being geo-engineering gods and settle back into being humans whose home is Earth.

        1. FriarTuck

          I’m right there with you, in terms of your observations. I appreciate you sharing what attracted you to the essay as well.

          I also think a grand narrative that everyone can invest in is required to reorient our politics, though it has been made much harder to coalesce because of interested parties with lots of power working against that goal.

          Bernie Sanders thus far has come the closest to even achieving part of that narrative. But; we all saw what happened when that narrative started to coalesce into power to change things.

    3. ambrit

      The main problem with “embracing” the Gaia Myth I can think of is that ‘Nature’ is without agency. Positing ‘Gaia’ as a Pantheist Being is just another version of the Ceramic Myth.
      Having lived through Hurricane Katrina and some near misses by tornados, I can attest to the truth to the assertion: Mother Nature is a B***h. That last also assumes agency on the part of a mechanistic universe. A hard proposition to square.
      It is easiest to assume that everything, everywhere, all of the time, is trying to kill you.
      Stay safe! Don’t forget to duck!
      Speaking of ducks; here is something from the boys and girls at Termite Terrace that might explain the problem. Elmer Fudd as Gaia.
      See: Duck Season! Rabbit Season!: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0kSYH-L-YQ

      1. Jason

        I’m not sure the guy who came up with Gaia even believed in it himself at the end of his life. I remember watching an interview with him (Lovelock) and they asked him about recycling – something he was formerly in favor of – and he essentially said it’s a joke, just throw everything away. Which actually may well be true, but the larger point is that he was pretty nonchalant about the entire human project. Of course, this was in old age – and said from his reclusive estate somewhere.

        1. R

          James Lovelock is still alive, I believe. He sold his Tamar river valley for something more manageable but still secluded.

          I am not sure he has abandoned the Gaia hypothesis / thought experiment, he just despairs of greenwash like recycling and speaks with the cheerful pessimism of somebody who sees humanity’s last minute recantations as pissing in the wind (which he would ironically find rather difficult because he had a botched operation that left him with a damage ureter and I think he has to use a silver straw to pee).

          He really is a remarkable man. He claims to have invented the microwave oven as a by-product of investigating the cryonic suspended animation of hamsters. I think he revived them with a warm teaspoon to the chest otherwise.

      2. Chris Hargens

        Maybe a first step would be to fundamentally abandon the notion that human beings are exceptional.

    4. Pelham

      Re this subject: There was a link here yesterday to an article about a movement in northern England to split off from the London- and finance-dominated south. I suppose the economic misery imposed over the past few decades is better defined geographically over there than it is here. Too bad. Otherwise those of us in flyover might be well advised to consider a similar initiative.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Perhaps different groups of we in different places and areas here in flownover could begin doing emotional and psycho-politicultural versions of that very thing. And then growing tiny little survival economies in places with a localised critical massload of cultureconomic seccessionaries.

        Not revolt. Just indifference to the Hostile Greater Whole. What if some MidWestern towns and cities could evolve their own latter-day Greek City State type regionalocal survival economies?

  7. John

    I am mentally composing the Arizona Senate’s audit report. What are the odds that they will not ‘find’ what they think they want?

    1. George Phillies

      “…putting them under a UV light to check for watermarks. Arizona ballots do not use watermarks…” So if you find a watermark, it’s not a ballot?

    1. witters

      If there is a case for universal(ly shared) values, this (your link) is it. Music. Shall we dance?

  8. upstater

    Former Alcoa Aluminum smelter turned in a bitcoin mining operation. 435 MW of hydro being used and claimed to be the largest bitcoin mining operation in the world.


    Coinmint operates the largest digital currency data center in the world, in a former Alcoa Aluminum smelter in Massena, New York. At 435MW of transformer capacity at its Massena complex, the facility’s capacity is three times larger than any other known operating Digital Currency Data Center.

    The facility has been operational since May 2018, and in this short time, is already making a material contribution to global digital currency infrastructure. Coinmint’s mission, in short, is to bring this facility to its full potential in 12 to 24 months.

    Given the abundance of hydroelectric and wind generation in the area, the experience of its management team in wholesale electricity markets, and the historically large scale in terms of capacity, Coinmint has a material electrical economic advantage.

    Is this SICK or what?

  9. JJsDada

    Nasal spray to protect against Covid? That sounds very interesting. Can someone enlighten me please and thank you?

      1. John Zelnicker

        Yves – I don’t mean for this to be considered medical advice, I’m not a scientist or doctor. However, I use a 0.5% Povidone-iodine nasal spray after being in a closed environment with a lot of people without masks (grocery stores, etc.).


        There are other links below the abstract.

        1. Tom Collin's Moscow Mule

          Additional links of interest and further informative supporting evidence found here:

          “Povidone Iodine (PVP-I) Oro-Nasal Spray: An Effective Shield for COVID-19 Protection for Health Care Worker (HCW), for all”


          “Review of the use of nasal and oral antiseptics during a global pandemic”


          How very interesting; since, it seems that it is something not often, if ever, mentioned in the MSM.

          1. Yves Smith

            I have been telling readers regularly about povidone iodine in comments, before the press confirmed it. Kills Covid in a petri dish in 15 seconds, v. 30 second for isopropyl alcohol. Safe enough to use as a gargle and nose drops (up to 2.5% concentration tested with no ill effects for 5-6 month use; Japan has an OTC mouthwash at 0.5% concentration). Only counterindication I know of is if you have high thyroid.

            1. John Zelnicker

              Yes, Yves, you have. In fact, it was here on NC that I first learned about it.

  10. rowlf

    Has the US Congress been vaccinated to the point of achieving herd immunity yet? It would be a strong display of leadership if they were holding sessions without wearing masks or social distancing due to being vaccinated. I’d even be reassured if they divided into separate sections for vaccinated and unvaccinated to show their confidence in the protection given by the vaccines.

  11. allan

    Judge orders Justice Dept. to release Trump obstruction memo [AP]

    A federal judge has ordered the release of a legal memorandum the Trump-era Justice Department prepared for then-Attorney General William Barr before he announced his conclusion that President Donald Trump had not obstructed justice during the Russia investigation.

    The Justice Department had refused to give the March 24, 2019, memorandum to a government transparency group that requested it under the Freedom of Information Act, saying the document represented the private advice of lawyers and was produced before any formal decision had been made and was therefore exempt from disclosure under public records law.

    But U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said the Justice Department had obscured “the true purpose of the memorandum” when it withheld the document.

    She said the memo from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel contained “strategic, as opposed to legal advice” and that both the writers and the recipients already had a shared understanding as to what the prosecutorial decision would be. She said this meant it was not — as the department had maintained — “predecisional,”

    “In other words, the review of the document reveals that the Attorney General was not then engaged in making a decision about whether the President should be charged with obstruction of justice; the fact that he would not be prosecuted was a given,” Jackson said in an order dated Monday.

    In other words, the review of the document reveals that Barr and his minions lied.
    Perhaps Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who voted to confirm Barr, could be asked for their thoughts.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “‘Second Steele dossier’ on Donald Trump’s sexual exploits produced for FBI”

    I know this this is a mainstream local newspaper here in Oz but gawd – the stupidity! I started to actually feel IQ points dropping as I was reading it so wisely gave up. Look, Oz is one of the Five Eyes so I am calling this a planted story by them so that it might get more traction in the US. Five years ago it was an ex-Australian politician – Alexander Downer – that triggered a counterintelligence investigation into Russia’s attempts (!!!) to disrupt the 2016 US Presidential election after he met with George Papadopoulos in London. This time? I would say that the groundwork is being laid to make sure that Trump won’t be able to run in 2024 as he will be accused once more of being Putin’s puppet.

  13. John Zelnicker

    Has the Kent State shooting been memory-holed?

    Today is the 50th anniversary of the National Guard opening fire on students at Kent State University protesting the secret invasions of Laos and Cambodia during the Vietnam War.

    I was a junior at the Univ. of Pennsylvania working in the newspaper office when the news came over the UPI teletype as a 10-bell Most Urgent message. It was, to me, earth-shattering. These young soldiers were killing their contemporaries. The war had come home in the worst possible way.

    The picture of the woman kneeling over the dead student is burned into my memory.

    Never forget.

      1. John Zelnicker

        Thanks, Rev. I read Links first thing in the morning here in Alabama and didn’t have time to get very far in the comments today.

  14. Cuibono

    “I don’t know how to solve this ”
    shut the revolving door for agencies and big business is one thing.
    attract young people into these industries who are not by character motivated largely by greed and power would be another.
    A free press a third.

  15. dk

    “The experts can stay wrong longer than you can stay alive” [Lessons from the Crisis]

    Lambert: It’s not that all experts are wrong, but the entrenched ones are more likely to [b]e.

    The two competing social forces are loyalty and skill. One can get ahead with a lot of loyalty (praise, favor exchange, collusion to hide error, etc.) and little or no skill (practical domain experience/btdt, comprehensive knowledge, etc.).

    I don’t know how to solve this (and I’m not sure we want civil servants to have skin in the game).
    How can civil servants not have skin in the game of their own community/state/nation? The problem is when the game of own career and profit diverges from the game of competent and responsible service.

  16. a fax machine

    re: End Of Progress

    The 20th century began with Electricity’s promise to change the world, and ended with the ultimate expression of that in the Internet. We’re now regressing to a pre-20th century mode of living where everything is owned by a few oligarchic, globalist monopolies. This affects rural mining towns and factory towns more quickly than core suburban zones, which are now building up into typical cities or turning into rich enclaves, just as it was 150 years ago. Now the power grid is just a thing to be dismantled for corporate dividends, as PG&E is successfully doing and hurting many in the process.

    Once this realization hits the student debt generation, they’ll crash down into depression which is when the economy slips out. After that it’s either Stalin or Hitler. Trump is just a prototype, and one which Washington hasn’t learned any lessons from. See David Bowie’s comments on the matter.

  17. JBird4049

    >>>“Police fired 24 shots at a handcuffed man.

    Gee, nothing funky about this at all. Just how does a man with his hands handcuffed in the back, escape, run to his car, grab his gun, and commence shooting at someone? Almost blindly, I would guess for some unknown reason over an arrest for a $45.98 lock. This, after he had come back to the store, and was, presumably, trying to pay for the lock he took a few hours earlier.

    There have been cases of people having committed “suicide” by shooting themselves in the head, either in the back or the front, while handcuffed (in the back) and in the police car.

    This is like JFK’s magical, mystery bullet.

  18. Trogg

    Of course my representative, a vacuous faker and member of the progressive caucus, is one of those who didn’t sign the letter urging TRIPS suspension. Meanwhile some of the most conservative Dems signed. It goes to show that calling oneself a progressive means nothing substantialy today.

  19. Eustachedesaintpierre

    I need a music hit after about 3 days & what I listen to depends on the mood I’m in, which as I have gotten older is most often classical stuff. I think the genres especially if they come under the World Music label are like forms of language & when I was a teenager I was something of a monoglot, but gradually got a hang of the many variations, like non Nashville Country, blues, rock etc. Clubs that played Jazz Funk / Fusion got me eventually into more mainstream jazz & various types of music from around the world. Bebop is stlll beyond me as is Chinese opera music, but Sufi stuff is fun.

    I would be pretty lost without my i-pod & it’s 40 odd playlists which require constant editing & updating as there is always something new & amazing to be discovered that all comes from just 10 notes.

      1. Terry Flynn

        12 notes are great but a starting point :-) Equal temperament is nice mathematics but the trouble is that many key “ratios” defining the chords that tend to be “universal” (to some degree) don’t fit the power series that gives us the 12 steps to get up an octave (doubling the number of Hertz).

        My dad, years ago, discovered a cool trick you can play on people using just the first phrase of Beethoven’s 6th Symphony. It really exploits the fact that the (mainly strings) subset of the orchestra is clearly playing in just/pure temperament and hearing the resolving chord at the end of the first phrase if you have C major rooted in mind (rather than F major, the key of the movement) then it sounds awful and totally off key!

        I’ve discussed on here before (with, I believe, a brass player) about the interesting stuff arising when we in orchestras (I played violin but piano was my 1st instrument) when it was a piano concerto (and need to match the piano) or not. Temperament rapidly gets highly mathematical and these days is beyond my paygrade but the actual number of distinct notes to “trade on people’s love of purity” is pretty massive.

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