2:00PM Water Cooler 6/10/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, I have thrown in the towel on fixing my trackpad — clearly a software issue, since the mouse works on the login screen — and so I am reinstalling MacOS (just like we used to do for Windows). It’s only going to take three hours, also like Windows. Ugh.

Bird Song of the Day

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#COVID19

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

I feel I’m engaging in a macabre form of tape-watching, because I don’t think the peak is coming in the next days, or even weeks. Is the virus gathering itself for another leap?

Vaccination by region:

Up and down, up and down….

Case count by United States region:

Now an uptick. That’s unfortunuate, just as we’re opening up.

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

An uptick in Texas.

Test positivity:

Uptick in the South.

Hospitalization (CDC):

Continued good news.

Deaths (Our World in Data):

Continued good news

Covid cases worldwide:

Politics

“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

Biden Administration

“Inside Biden and Manchin’s Joemance” [Politico]. “Biden has largely remained quiet about the senator’s insistence that infrastructure bills be bipartisan and his opposition to both filibuster reform and the sweeping elections bill that expands voting access. Biden and his senior staff are regularly in touch with Manchin, according to a White House aide. And Biden appointed Manchin’s wife, Gayle, to the Appalachian Regional Commission…. ‘Biden’s very perplexed by Manchin. He doesn’t know how, or what he thinks. Or what he really wants,’ said a lawmaker who has spoken with Biden recently. ‘That makes it hard for the president to ‘get him,’ so to speak.’….. Bipartisan talks are still playing out on infrastructure, for example, meaning it’s not yet time for Biden to secure Manchin’s vote on a more aggressive, partisan proposal. And the 50-member Senate Democratic majority lacks the votes to change the filibuster rules even if Manchin were to entirely reverse his hard stance against reforming it.” • It only takes 51 votes (not 60) to change the filibuster, and Harris, as the presiding officer of the Senate, can vote.

“Analysis: Biden ambitions on infrastructure, voting, guns hit Washington buzz saw” [Reuters]. “Biden came into office in January promising to harness the power of bipartisanship for grand action to tackle COVID-19, fortify the American economy and fight racial injustice. ‘If Democrats can’t come out of this year without saying they solved the problems they were elected to solve, that will be trouble,’ said a Democratic strategist who coordinates with the White House, speaking on condition of anonymity. The path to do so through Congress is not clear, the strategist added.”

“The Democrats Successfully Crafted a Bipartisan Bill. It’s a Failure in Every Way.” [The New Republic]. “The Senate voted 68–32 Tuesday to pass the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, a wide-ranging package promoted by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican Todd Young, aimed at countering unspecified threats from China…. One component is likely to end up as a $10 billion giveaway to Jeff Bezos’s spaceship company. Another hands a $52 million blank check to microchip manufacturers. Republicans were able to whittle the bill’s most promising components—$100 billion for the National Science Foundation, for instance—down to a pittance. Even foreign policy hawks were disappointed by the resulting package, though they arguably won more than those pushing for it in hopes of beefing up R&D…. Reaching bipartisan agreement on the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act has not bred goodwill for future deals. Neither has it given voters a clear reason to believe that Democratic rule will make their lives better. If anything, the bill has created a wealth of opportunities for Republicans to extract giveaways for their donors. It does not make climate policy more likely, particularly given how much time Schumer burned to make it happen.”

“Ocasio-Cortez: Democrats ‘burning precious time’ with GOP talks” [The Hill (Re Silc)]. “‘Pres. Biden & Senate Dems should take a step back and ask themselves if playing patty-cake w GOP Senators is really worth the dismantling of people’s voting rights, setting the planet on fire, allowing massive corporations and the wealthy to not pay their fair share of taxes, etc,’ Ocasio-Cortez added.'” • ”Etc.” Indeed!

“Administration officials perplexed by Harris’ border answer and worry it will overshadow her trip” [CNN]. • Well, every time I see a photo of Biden at some podium, there’s Harris in the background, as if they’re getting us used to it. Will that practice stop, at some point?

“Biden replaces Trump executive orders targeting TikTok and WeChat” [The Hill]. “Biden reversed orders put in place by Trump that targeted TikTok, WeChat and eight other communications and financial software applications. Biden’s order provides criteria for identifying software applications that may pose “unacceptable risk,” such as applications that support foreign adversary military or intelligence activities, applications that are involved in malicious cyber activities or applications that collect sensitive personal data. The president is also directing the Department of Commerce to make recommendations to protect against harm from the sale, transfer of, or access to sensitive personal data, including identifiable and genetic information. The order also directs the department to make recommendations for additional executive and legislative actions to further address the risks associated with foreign adversary connected software applications.”

“Garland defends Justice Department moves seen as pro-Trump” [Politico]. “During a Senate budget hearing, Garland said he was aware of the controversy triggered by the Justice Department’s actions defending Trump in a civil suit and seeking to maintain secrecy around memos sent to former Attorney General William Barr as he responded to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation…. In the past week, the White House has issued statements on three occasions to distance itself and Biden from Justice Department decisions or legal filings.”

Democrats en deshabille

“The Opposition Opposes” [Eschaton]. “I keep saying this, but it’s actually appropriate for Mitch McConnell to behave as he does (mostly). Doesn’t mean I like him! He’s a Republican! I don’t like Republicans! But he’s doing what an opposition is supposed to do.” • Atrios has made the same point many times over the years. There’s no point whining about Republican obstructionism, particularly if you’re not willing to ask President Manchin to do anything about it.

Republican Funhouse

“Republicans and the Great Replacement” [Noah Smith, Noahpinion]. “With nothing else left to hold onto — no economic program, no religion, no flag — is it any wonder that conservatives are looking for something new to unite around? And here comes the Great Replacement theory, offering one unified explanation of why conservatives are declining in cultural and political power. It’s all about Them. The newcomers. Resist the inflow of aliens, and perhaps the center-right nation you remember can be restored.” • If you Photoshop out the funhouse mirror effects, isn’t this pretty much a reaction to Ruy Teixeira’s theory of the “Coalition of the Ascendant?” Teixeira was at CAP, the belly of the liberal Democrat beast, and his theory was central to Democrat strategizing for many, many years.

Election Legitimacy

“Arizona ballot audit backed by secretive donors linked to Trump’s inner circle” [Guardian]. “Republicans in the Arizona state senate, which authorized the inquiry, allocated $150,000 in state funds to pay for it – just a fraction of the projected overall cost, which is still unknown. The state senate had enough money in its operating budget to pay for the investigation, the Arizona Mirror reported in April, but chose not to pay the full price. Instead, the effort is being paid for by private donors, who remain hidden from the public, according to a review by OpenSecrets and the Guardian. Arizona Republicans and Cyber Ninjas, the Florida-based company overseeing the review, have refused to say who is providing the rest of the money.” • Oh.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“No More Excuses” [Discourse Blog]. From January 2016, after Warnock and Ossoff won the Senate for Democrats: “With control of the Senate in their hands, they have no more excuses. If Democrats do not do big things in the next two years, it will not simply be because the bad Republicans are blocking their path. It will be because the Democratic coalition—even after crucial evidence that boldness is politically beneficial—is not willing or capable of transformative change….

One of the good ones:

Too bad Carter isn’t the Democrat candidate for Governor, instead of that corrupt, Clinonite oaf McAuliffe.

“Former Department of Health data analyst Rebekah Jones announces campaign for Congress” [WPTV]. “Jones has alleged that she was forced to manipulate COVID-19 data while working for the Department of Health. DeSantis and other state officials have denied this. Gaetz, meanwhile, is embroiled in scandal involving a federal investigation into whether the Republican congressman from Florida’s panhandle paid underage girls or offered them gifts in exchange for sex.”

“The Story of How Same-Sex Marriage Went From Fringe to Mainstream” [New York Magazine]. “I think that there’s really an elite opinion story here that’s different than the popular opinion story. There were three trials over gay marriage: In Hawaii, in 1996, in federal court in San Francisco in 2010, and then, a few years later, in federal court in Detroit. And every time, the problem got worse and worse for opponents of same-sex marriage. In each case, a state had to present a rationale for excluding gay and lesbian couples from marriage. And they could not find credible, expert witnesses. They wanted to argue that, basically, the children raised in same-sex households were worse off than those in opposite sex households. And there actually was not social science research that demonstrated that. But also, I think there was a cultural shift. Even in 1996, gay marriage may have been polling at 27 percent nationally, but finding a tenured academic anywhere in the United States who wanted to be seen as the face of that opposition in a high profile trial was impossible. And that’s obviously all happening as people were coming out of the closet in greater numbers, and creating a sort of street level atmosphere of familiarity with not just gays and lesbians, but the types of relationships that they have” • That is my reading: It was “coming out of the closet” that did it, an enormous collective effort conducted with great courage. I’m not sure what the equivalent would have been for “pro-choice” (a neo-liberal slogan if ever there was one), but clearly reliance on the courts, attractive though that is to the PMC, was not a substitute for it, sadly.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Jobless Claims 4-week Average” [Trading Economics]. “The 4-week moving average of US jobless claims, which removes week-to-week volatility, fell to 402.5 thousand in the week ending June 5th, from 428.0 thousand in the previous period. It was the lowest level since March 2020, when the pandemic first hit the US labor market.”

Inflation: “United States Inflation Rate” [Trading Economics]. “Annual inflation rate in the US accelerated to 5% in May of 2021 from 4.2% in April and above market forecasts of 4.7%. It is the highest reading since August of 2008…. Biggest price increases were recorded for gasoline (56.2%), used cars and trucks (29.7%), utility gas service (13.5%), transportation services (11.2%) and apparel (5.6%). Shelter costs were up 2.2% and food also went up 2.2%.”

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Retail: “Merchants Weigh Fewer Cashiers, More Curbside Pickup Post-Covid” [Bloomberg]. “More than three-quarters of top executives at merchants in the food and beverage, retail and hotel industries said the pandemic has forced them to focus on their digital platforms, according to a survey released Wednesday by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the payments provider FreedomPay. That includes a rapid shift from legacy systems to things like touchless checkout….

The Bezzle: “The Worst Business Ever” [The Irrelevant Investor]. “It’s hard to make a profit when you don’t make any money. This describes the state of the food delivery business, which according to the founder and CEO of GrubHub, ‘is and always will be a crummy business.’* It’s hard to believe he actually said this, but then again, he’s not lying…. Food delivery just isn’t a very good business, like Maloney said. During the height of the pandemic, their competitor DoorDash, the biggest player in the space, ended up with 90 cents on the average order of $36, according to the WSJ.”

The Bezzle: “Don’t Call Bitcoin a Bubble. It’s an Epidemic” [John Authers, Bloomberg]. “After a year of watching charts of epidemics in different countries, comparing R-0 rates, cases, vaccinations, excess deaths and all the rest, and applying moving averages to sinister lines snaking across graphs, maybe we should now use our new-found familiarity with epidemiology to give us a new mental model for how markets work, and how they become overpriced. Epidemics are, as we all now understand, an intensely social phenomenon, born of the way in which we interact with each other, and sometimes thwarted by our choices not to interact with each other — just like market manias….. Bitcoin has run into moments of speculative excess that certainly look like bubbles several times already — but as I’ve pointed out before, the price has gone on to recover. The analogy of a fad, or of a virus that finds a way to mutate, is a better one than a bubble. Many of the most extreme investment manias in history involved the introduction of genuinely exciting new technology, whose valuation was difficult to fix initially. This applies to canals, railroads, and motor cars. There is a burgeoning literature in defending bubbles as a by-product of healthy excitement over investing in new technologies — but it’s impossible to support a true ‘bubble’ like the South Sea Bubble or tulipmania. Defending investment fads or epidemics makes far more sense.” • Actually an interview with Robert Shiller, but I thought Auther’s quotes were more interesting.

Tech: “Amazon Sidewalk Shares Your Internet With Neighbors: How to Opt Out” [NBC]. “Amazon launched its Wi-Fi sharing system Sidewalk on Tuesday as a way to extend internet service between Amazon devices like Echo smart speakers and Tile trackers. And unless you opt out, your Amazon devices will automatically be enrolled in the program.” • Ugh. If it’s so great, why wouldn’t people opt-in? Amazon also keeps emphasizing that your neighbor won’t be able to see your data (and I wonder what the over-under on months to disprove that is). But Amazon will. So….

Tech: “Internet outage: which websites and services were hit by Fastly issue” [Guardian]. “The internet outage caused by a fault with cloud computing service Fastly took down thousands of websites in multiple countries, affecting governments and businesses in sectors ranging from media to online retail and telecoms. The interruption was relatively brief, lasting slightly more than an hour in most cases and occurring mid-morning UK time, before many people in the US will have woken up. Nevertheless, it choked off the flow of millions of pounds in revenue to corporations including Amazon, Boots and eBay. All government websites using the gov.uk domain were swept up in the outage….” • If your government depends on a platform….

Tech: “How a single cloud computing customer caused half the internet to go dark” [Vox]. “[T]he outage highlights how dependent, centralized, and susceptible the infrastructure supporting the internet — especially cloud computing providers that the average user doesn’t directly interact with — actually is. This is at least the third time in less than a year that a problem at a large cloud computing provider has led to countless websites and apps going dark…. One of the reasons the Fastly outage seems so wide in scale is that cloud computing service companies like Fastly are consolidating, leaving websites dependent on a shrinking number of providers…. Central to the challenge of systems like Fastly’s, [Christopher Meiklejohn, a PhD student at Carnegie Mellon’s Institute for Software Research] said, is the fact that these cloud computing systems can involve tens of thousands of servers deployed across the world. It’s very difficult for developers working on new changes to anticipate all the characteristics of the larger system, a scenario that makes it more likely for an error to occur when updates are finally implemented. Companies don’t always have the tools to detect these problems before they happen, though there’s growing research and effort into better solutions.” • Oh.

Concentration: “Worried About Tracfone Merger Approval, Verizon Pretends It Didn’t Exploit COVID Emergency Program” [TechDirt]. “While the program does little to fix US broadband’s bigger competition issue, it’s certainly helping folks; roughly a million folks signed up the first week. And while the majority of the 825 participating ISPs are engaging in the program in good faith, it’s not particularly surprising that some ISPs decided to try and game the system to make an additional buck. Charter, for example rejected users from signing up if they didn’t agree to pay for a more expensive broadband tier once the program ends, which appears to violate the program rules. More problematic is Verizon, which got caught forcing users to sign up for even more expensive tiers if they wanted to apply to the program, resulting in some users being forced to pay more for broadband than if they’d never signed up for government help in the first place.”

Labor Market: “Surprise Jump in U.S. Wages Gives Inflation Debate a New Twist” [Bloomberg]. “[L]ast week’s jobs report showed a larger-than-forecast pickup in average hourly wages for a second straight month. It turns out that whatever the unemployment numbers say, there’s a shortage of people ready to work at the going rate of compensation — prompting many employers to boost pay or offer bonuses in order to staff up…. That raises the prospect of what’s known and dreaded in economics as a wage-price spiral. The idea is that higher wages spur more spending growth that strains production capacity and drives up business costs. In turn, companies raise prices and workers demand even larger pay increases to stay ahead of a rising cost of living.” • Two months and they’re panicking…

Labor Market: “The US Labor Market Is Now A Funhouse Mirror” [Heisenberg Report]. “Job openings jumped to 9.286 million in April, an almost unfathomable print that made a mockery of consensus (8.2 million). In addition to representing a one million+ upside surprise, the headline JOLTS number was a record. And, as the simple figure (below) shows, the word ‘record’ seems somehow inadequate…. Obviously, this suggests labor demand isn’t the problem. We have ourselves a bonafide imbalance. Job openings in accommodation and food services jumped by a record to a record.”

Labor Market: “Why Teenage Workers Are Leading the Recovery” [Bloomberg]. “The job market recovery is looking better for 2023 and 2024, even while this year’s forecasts need to be reined in a bit. The best evidence for the optimistic outlook is coming from a surprising place: teenagers. The last two jobs reports poured cold water on the hope that we could add a million jobs or more for a few months in a row, which means a full employment recovery to pre-pandemic levels is going to take longer than we thought. But booming employment trends among teenagers suggests that over the next few years, strong demand for workers should flow through into higher levels of labor-force participation than we saw in the late 2010s. What makes teenage employment useful to study right now is that teenagers are less affected by the factors holding back labor supply than any other demographic. If they lived at home with their parents, they weren’t eligible for economic impact payments. If they were full-time students, they’d be ineligible for unemployment insurance, making enhanced benefits a nonfactor. They’re unlikely to be parents squeezed out of the labor force by closed schools or a lack of child care. They’re obviously not older workers who may have accelerated retirement plans during the pandemic. And teens were less likely to get seriously ill from Covid-19, and so perhaps less likely to avoid working for health-related reasons. They’re also more likely to be drawn to the types of jobs that employers are desperate to fill right now. Teenagers lack the greater levels of education and experience that allow older workers to take on roles ranging from corporate executives to home health aides. Teens are more likely to seek lower-paid service jobs, perhaps on a part-time basis, than any other age group.” • Ritholtz responds–

Labor Market: “What Makes Teen Employment Data So Interesting…” [Barry Ritholtz, The Big Picture]. “My pet theory: The lagging minimum wage has kept teens from the workforce. In 2007, before the great financial crisis, the national minimum wage level was a paltry $5.15. This was not all that long ago. For a teenager with even the most modest withholding / FICA, their take-home is so small it’s not worth it to work. You can see that in the trends over the preceding decades. By most measures — productivity, profitability, inflation, exec comp — the minimum wage has lagged badly. Teens did the math, and said WTF, why bother? But the minimum wage began to rise during the financial crisis despite skyrocketing unemployment. It was raised in 2008, and then in 2009, and again in 2010. Post GFC, it’s been $7.25 an hour. Not coincidentally, at exactly that time, the labor participation rate of teenagers began trending upwards. Today, it’s even higher than it was before the pandemic began. Maybe it’s boredom, perhaps some teens just want out of the house where they’ve been stuck with mom and dad and their siblings during the past year. Or just maybe, local employers are raising wages sufficiently to make summer jobs attractive to teens.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 56 Neutral (previous close: 50 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 46 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 10 at 12:54pm.

Health Care

“‘Healthcare’ Is the Economy” [MedPage Today]. “If we learned anything in 2020, it should be that public health is not separate from economic health. “Healthcare” is the economy, a meta-market around which $142 trillion in global GDP is linked and flows. It’s ‘system value’ that matters. This is why China is moving away from gross domestic product (GDP) as a measure of strategic success, instead introducing the concept of ‘gross ecosystem product’ (GEP), the total value of final ecosystem goods and services supplied to human well-being, as a new standard. The organizing idea is not ‘cost,’ but the ‘production of health’ as a new narrative.” • Somehow, I don’t think the United States would do well by that measure.

The Biosphere

“Carbon dioxide peaks near 420 parts per million at Mauna Loa observatory” [NOAA]. “There was no discernible signal in the data from the global economic disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.”

“Let’s Rebuild the U.S. Jaguar Population—Yes, Jaguars” [Scientific American]. “On a chilly January morning in 1964, Russell Culbreath, a U.S. government hunter, trapped a jaguar on the broken hills above the Black River, on the White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona…. While many of its American cousins live in the Amazonian rainforest, this jaguar and his kin had inhabited the dry cedar breaks and rugged pine-oak woodlands of the American Southwest for centuries. The historical evidence for jaguars is strongest in Arizona and New Mexico, especially in the ancestral homelands of the Apache, Yavapai, Tohono O’odham, Pueblos, Hopi, Navajo and Zuni peoples…. This block of suitable habitat is vast, over 20 million acres, an area the size of the entire state of South Carolina. The U.S. Forest Service manages most of this land (68 percent) for the public good, including the health, diversity and productivity of its ecosystems, with several declared wilderness areas. Native American tribes, which have sovereign rights to manage wildlife on their lands, care for another 13 percent…. Many Americans in the 21st century want to make amends. Nature is ready, as always, to help and to heal. Let us begin with justice for the jaguar, America’s great cat.”

“24,000-year-old organisms found frozen in Siberia can still reproduce” [Guardian]. “A microscopic worm-like creature, labelled an ‘evolutionary scandal’ by biologists for having thrived for millions of years without having sex, has now been shown to persist for at least 24,000 years in Siberian permafrost and then reproduce, researchers have found. Multicellular invertebrates that are solely female, bdelloid rotifers are already renowned for their resistance to radiation and ability to withstand rather inhospitable environments: drying, starvation and low oxygen. They’ve also existed for at least 35m years – and can be found today in freshwater lakes, ponds, streams and moist terrestrial habitats such as moss, lichen, tree bark and soil. These tough little critters – which have a complete digestive tract that includes a mouth and an anus – are able to survive hostile environments by halting all activity and almost entirely arresting their metabolism.”

Groves of Academe

“A Matter Of Public Concern”: Virginia Judge Orders Reinstatement of Teacher Who Criticized Gender Policy” [Jonathan Turley]. “[T]he rule does state that ‘School staff shall, at the request of a student or parent/legal guardian, when using a name or pronoun to address the student, use the name and pronoun that correspond to their gender identity.’ Yet, this is ‘when using a name or pronounce to address the student.’ What if a teacher simply does not use a pronoun? If Cross refers to such students by their last name and avoids any pronoun, would that be considered compliance?” • ”Gender identity” isn’t the same as gender? Is this a dumb question?

Guillotine Watch

” Will the Sacklers get away with it?” [Patrick Radden Keefe, The Ink]. “[B]etween those two guilty pleas, in 2007 and 2020, all these lawsuits start to converge around Purdue. Every state in the union is suing the company. Half the states filed suit against the Sacklers themselves. But all the while, in the background, quietly, the family was pulling money out of the business. Three hundred million here. Four hundred million there. So the company is committing crimes, and the family is still very much calling the shots about what’s happening at the company, and the whole time those crimes are being committed, the family is siphoning money out. The Sacklers ultimately took more than ten billion dollars out of Purdue. They did this because they knew a day of reckoning was coming, and they wanted to be ready when it came. So in 2019, when the family had effectively looted its own company, the Sacklers said, “Too bad about all those lawsuits. The company’s got no money left! We’re kicking it into bankruptcy.” When Purdue filed for Chapter 11, all that litigation was put on hold, so the business could be restructured and hundreds of thousands of creditors could fight over the scraps. Now, the Sacklers have not declared bankruptcy. They still have all that money they took out of the company. But they want to use an exotic feature of the bankruptcy process to evade personal liability. What they’re hoping is that this federal bankruptcy judge in New York will give them a sweeping grant of immunity from any and all civil lawsuits related to the opioid crisis. And they’re ready to sacrifice the company to do it. Protect the family, at all costs.” • “Our democracy,” norms, the rule of law, blah blah blah blah.

Class Warfare

“Biden administration will limit mandatory Covid workplace safety rules to health care settings” [Politico]. “The Labor Department will limit long-awaited emergency Covid-19 workplace safety rules to the health care sector, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said Wednesday, a decision that disappointed unions pushing for more expansive rules but that will likely be a relief to businesses worried about new costs. The rules, which have been under White House review since late April and are set to be released Thursday, were expected by both unions and businesses to apply broadly to all workplaces and require workers to wear masks on the job. But the administration has decided it will instead update its optional guidance for general industry and has ‘tailored; the mandatory safety requirements to apply only to health care settings, Walsh said.” • Right. That’s why the occupations with the highest Covid death rates are, in this order, cooks, line workers in warehouses, agricultural workers, bakers and construction laborers. This is a grotesquely bad decision by the Biden Administration, not least because it, er, takes the air out of efforts to make sure ventilation in all work places is safe — which will protect us from the next respiratory virus pandemic. I assume Walsh is doing Biden’s bidding, but that doesn’t make him less of a fool.

““New Bones” Abolitionism, Communism, and Captive Maternals” [Verso]. “When hegemonic leaders—in or out of government— market themselves as the source of “new bones” for social justice, their popularity is often leveraged, but rarely by the masses. Rather, mass media, political parties, and nonprofit industries invest in managing resistance to elite-dominated political-economic orders by raising a favorable profile visibility of their desirable leaders. Black feminist leadership has been celebrated for delivering an electoral victory (Black men were the second largest voting demographic for the Biden/Harris administration, thus Black people were key to defeating President Donald Trump). Still, hegemonic Black leadership—elevated during the Obama administration— has not developed and delivered a system for working and laboring classes to elect and remove “liberation leaders” based on their lack of accountability to under-resourced communities. Since the recent uprisings against antiblack police violence, millions have taken to the streets and hundreds of millions of donor dollars have poured into organizations and monetized political struggles. As Black suffering and protests become spectacles (similar to 19th- and 20th-century lynching) that fuel news, publications, and prestige, non-elite communities still lack access to power necessary to control the legal apparatus (as of 2021 no anti-lynching bill has passed into law) that legitimizes predatory policing. In newly-found markets, movement millionaires emerge to claim not only that they have rightly “earned” their wealth but that they sport new bones for effective leadership for mass and activist cadres that will not be purchased or funded. Increasingly, academics—as rising celebrities or defenders of movement organizations that garner access to considerable wealth—play curious roles in stabilizing civil rights markets and defending questionable accumulations within their networks.” • ”Stabilizing civil rights markets.” Ouch. That’s a nasty twist of thought.

“I Was Paralyzed by Severe Depression. Then Came Ketamine.” [New York Times]. • I would never make light of depression, but speaking of the labor market: “Though my jobs were poorly paid, ketamine allowed me to utilize the skills I’d learned in therapy to reframe experiences in a positive light. Bleaching gym mats in a martial arts studio and washing buckets in a flower shop became meditative practices, rather than drudgery.” • So putting ketamine in the water supply would solve a lot of problems, wouldn’t it?

News of the Wired

“Meet Grace, the healthcare robot COVID-19 created” [Reuters]. • No.

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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 (lyman alpha blob):

lyman alpha blob writes: “Some fungus from near Moosehead lake.”

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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.

149 comments

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          The again blows the joke I think. Isn’t it supposed to be:
          Will she be able to play the violin?

          Reply
              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                Here is the full text of the story, from 1939, back when the New Yorker was still good. Here’s the beginning:

                “We’re going through!” The Commander’s voice was like thin ice breaking. He wore his full-dress uniform, with the heavily braided white cap pulled down rakishly over one cold gray eye. “We can’t make it, sir. It’s spoiling for a hurricane, if you ask me.” “I’m not asking you, Lieutenant Berg,” said the Commander. “Throw on the power lights! Rev her up to 8,500! We’re going through!” The pounding of the cylinders increased: ta-pocketa-pocketa-pocketa-pocketa-pocketa. The Commander stared at the ice forming on the pilot window. He walked over and twisted a row of complicated dials. “Switch on No. 8 auxiliary!” he shouted. “Switch on No. 8 auxiliary!” repeated Lieutenant Berg. “Full strength in No. 3 turret!” shouted the Commander. “Full strength in No. 3 turret!” The crew, bending to their various tasks in the huge, hurtling eight-engined Navy hydroplane, looked at each other and grinned. “The Old Man’ll get us through,” they said to one another. “The Old Man ain’t afraid of Hell!” . . .

                “Not so fast! You’re driving too fast!” said Mrs. Mitty. “What are you driving so fast for?”

                Eight engines!

                Reply
  1. Carla

    Lambert, McAuliffe is not the Governor of Virginia. He is a former governor of that state, and just won the Democratic primary. He will run against Trump-supported Republican Glenn Youngkin in the Nov. 2021 general election.

    Reply
      1. dcblogger

        I know that blaming the voters is not a winning strategy, but the US is badly governed because the voters consistently vote for bad people.

        Reply
        1. Pat

          Looking at my current primary choices in NYC and remembering my choices last November my options are largely bad, bad, do not vote.

          Reply
        2. Mo's Bike Shop

          The people with the time to vote in the primaries are largely making Pepsi/Coke decisions. On largely Pepsi/Coke candidates.

          We don’t have political parties, we have a company union. Imagine a crazy platform like, ‘the health of the US population is a National Security priority.’

          Reply
        3. JohnnyGL

          There are very few contested elections in my true-blue state of MA. It’s pre-selected party hacks up and down the ballot. No other options allowed.

          The markey-kennedy race was the only one that even had multiple options in the primary in my precinct.

          In order to blame the voters for bad choices, there needs to BE choices on offer.

          Reply
        4. Wellstone's Ghost

          California has two Senators.
          Alaska has two Senators.
          Representational Democracy is not working.

          Reply
        5. drumlin woodchuckles

          When the DemParty leadership consistently conspires to prevent good people from being able to get nominated, how are voters supposed to vote for the good people who were carefully prevented from running?

          Case in point, the Clyburn-Obama conspiracy to drive Sanders out of the race. How do you plan to blame that on ” the voters” ?

          Reply
        6. Lambert Strether Post author

          > the US is badly governed because the voters consistently vote for bad people.

          Well, it is a democracy (I suppose). Either the people are ultimately sovereign or they are not.

          Reply
    1. Grant

      Democratic voters have an amazing record of picking horrible candidates that don’t change a fundamentally broken system. Hard to place the blame at the footsteps of the Republicans all the time when nothing duds like McAuliffe are elected the majority of the time. I would really be interested in getting good data on who votes in the primaries of the Democratic Party.

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Mostly older people who have free time to go to events and get a pat on the head from a MacAuliffe and rot their minds with cable news. Their reasoning more or less amounts to “he was governor so he must be good or tv man says.” This is the bulk. They have theirs and don’t really apply themselves, but the handshake with the great man is their moment in the sun.

        A good deal is made about the current PMC class here, but it starts with this reliable group that simply want a pat on the head and despise change. Getting these people, its the same people, to even adopt VAN, the Team Blue voter database, was incredibly difficult. I hate MacAuliffe with a passion, but he mentioned in one of his books how late Team Blue was into investing in computer databases. For these people, its not about winning its about being cool for admiring the commemorative plate version of JFK. Their attitude about doing more than a bar-b-qu/fishfry/their particular event is part of the reason for the rise of groups like DSA. Even the brake fixing operation down in New Orleans (?) is a function local Team Blue committees could throw together

        I remember a committee meeting when I was in high school, and those smucks couldn’t even figure out how to authorize and pay for a billboard because of the timing requirements of the billboard company and the next meeting. These people thought I was brilliant because I proposed we vote on a budget allocation for the committee to spend on their own authority since they already had the money allocated for advertising purposes with approval of the committee. Its frightening how many people in that room went to the same public ivy I did. The guy who detailed the problem and simply shrugged his shoulders was a history professor. In retrospect, he’s probably a perfect example of Hannah Arendt’s warning about historians becoming overly specialized and too narrow. I might be giving him the benefit of the doubt and assuming he knew anything about anything. Their useless nature was part of who they were.

        It doesn’t matter where you go. They are all like this. To a certain extent, I think DSA should focus on seizing the committees as opposed to individuals focused on seizing the committees. Its subtle.

        Reply
        1. dcblogger

          To a certain extent, I think DSA should focus on seizing the committees as opposed to individuals focused on seizing the committees. Its subtle.

          DSA seized the entire Democratic party of the state of Nevada and that is why the old staffers embezzled the $.

          Reply
        2. The Rev Kev

          ‘a perfect example of Hannah Arendt’s warning about historians becoming overly specialized and too narrow’

          Sort of like the historian who specialized in the thirty thirty seconds of the Industrial Revolution.

          Reply
        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          Wait. You’re telling me the Democrat fraction of our political class is completely dysfunctional as a party organization at base level? That hardly seems possible. MR SUBLIMINAL You forgot the irony tag!

          No wonder highly paid Democratic strategists have to parachute in, and no wonder so much of the press is generated by (billionaire-funded) NGOs. The Party can’t do it.

          Thanks, this is very revealing. And it must be driving DCBlogger crazy, because she remembers the day when there were functional precinct captains.

          I would really like comments from the readership on this. Is it the same everywhere? Chicago, for example?

          It also occurs to me that the Republican Party is different. Say what you will about the Arizona recount operation, at least the base is in there punching. They remain feral.

          Reply
      2. Objective Ace

        McAulife received way more in campaign contributions then other canidates. He had more advertisements then other candidates. People believe what they see on TV and cant be bothered to actually do any research and thinking on their own

        Reply
      3. albrt

        “Democratic voters have an amazing record of picking horrible candidates that don’t change a fundamentally broken system.”

        That’s why the Democrats are never serious about expanding the voter base. They are very happy with the voters they have.

        Reply
  2. synoia

    That includes a rapid shift from legacy systems to things like touchless checkout….

    Hmmm, Reads like a Dating app…

    Reply
      1. ambrit

        Erica who? Isn’t she that “Fear of Flying Nuns” woman?
        It’s too funny to think that we all segregate ourselves by what we read for “pleasure.” (I mean, after all, that series of books should be called “Fifty Shades of De Sade.” [“The Story of ‘O'” has already been “taken.”])

        Reply
          1. ambrit

            Ah, the “Feelies” from “Brave New World.”
            Somehow, I can’t make myself seriously imagine the Dragon Lady starring in a remake of “Five Weeks in a Balloon.”

            Reply
  3. synoia

    ” These tough little critters – which have a complete digestive tract that includes a mouth and an anus Are able to survive hostile environments by halting all activity and almost entirely arresting their metabolism.”

    Politicians, everywhere.

    Reply
  4. john sweeney

    Gaetz vs Jones in the fall? Wow! What a choice. Tweedledum vs Tweedledee. Remains to be seen if Gaetz will face any GOP primary challengers. One can certainly hope. But is Jones the best candidate Democrats can field? Gaetz’s alleged misconduct has been amply reported. Jones’ terrible track record of dishonesty, stalking, systematic lies and more has not been covered as widely as Gaetz’s, but voters in that congressional district would be well-advised to take a closer look at her dubious background, starting with her public admission that her tale of falsified Covid data in the Florida state government wasa lie from day one. Everything she alleged was false. Why is it that so many people with sociopathic tendencies, zero integrity, moral lapses and backgrounds amply seeded with lies and misconduct are so determined to get elected?

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > er public admission that her tale of falsified Covid data in the Florida state government wasa lie from day one. Everything she alleged was false.

      Needs a link.

      Reply
        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          NC provided a link sometime in the last week or so that debunked that–she was asked to keep the data quiet and the governor did NOT as claimed use it in developing new guidance. Sorry I don’t remember but I think it was the Miami Herald.

          Reply
        2. LarryB

          Not really from Yahoo: “This article appears in the June 1, 2021, issue of National Review.”. I would like it better if it came from a more disinterested source.

          Reply
        3. jsn

          That’s a June 1, 2021 article from National Review that preceeded the announcement she’d been given whistleblower status, heres the report from the Herald Tribune of the same day. https://www.heraldtribune.com/story/news/2021/06/01/rebekah-jones-fired-covid-data-scientist-whistleblower/5290131001/

          It’s hard to know who to believe, both sources being potential partisans in some way, but the accord of whistleblower status does cloud the National Review claims.

          Reply
          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            It’s really unfortunate that Florida’s data has now become politicized.

            At some point, it would be great to compare and contrast NY, CA, FL, and TX on their approaches to the pandemic. If the data’s corrupted, that’s going to be a problem.

            (Not to blame DeSantis exclusively; IIRC, Cuomo tried to do the same thing with nursing home data.)

            Reply
  5. Howard Beale IV

    There’s an MD up my way who actually doles out ketamine infusions – along with either your own therapist or his. Naturally, it isn’t covered by insurance. Esketamine, however, is a nasal spray approved by the FDA for treatment-resistant depression. Go figure.

    Reply
  6. john sweeney

    Bring Jaguars back to the US. Yes! Magnificent apex predators. I lived in Caracas for 22 years, and used to hike regularly the trails of the Avila mountain range overlooking Venezuela’s capital. On one of those hikes early on a weekend morning I had the amazing experience of seeing a jaguar from about 100 feet away, resting on a branch about 50 feet off the ground directly over the trail ahead of me. I wouldn’t have spotted it at all except it looked my way and flicked its tail slowly, and I noticed the movement. I backed away very slowly until I got around a bend where it couldn’t see me and then I walked rapidly back in the direction I came from.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      John McDonald tells the story about a hunter tracking a jaguar in the jungle, and slowly coming to the chilling realization that the jaguar is now stalking him. Since he hasn’t seen it in awhile…

      Reply
    2. Keith

      They have them in Florida, and as I recall, they are doing well. The are even somewhat tracked as road kill near Naples. Having moved awhile ago, not sure what is going on now, but they did have a vibrant program to reestablish them

      Getting a link was difficult due to the football team and car dealerships of the same name.

      Reply
      1. curlydan

        According to these authors, “jaguars have not been found in Florida since Prehistoric times.”

        https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/uw176

        There are panthers in Florida. The authors do say, “Although the jaguar has been virtually eliminated from the United States, photographs of a jaguar in Arizona were documented during 2002.”

        But by all means, bring them back… hopefully to Arizona again.

        Reply
    3. Lee

      The Jaguar has one of the higher bite force quotients (137) among all critters. Considerably higher than a brown bear or even an African lion but lower than the Northern olingo which eats mainly figs. Paging Charles Darwin.

      Reply
  7. antidlc

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/coinbase-teams-up-with-401-k-provider-to-offer-crypto-11623317402

    Cryptocurrency Comes to Retirement Plans as Coinbase Teams Up With 401(k) Provider

    A small group of workers will find something new in their 401(k) plan starting in July: the option to invest in cryptocurrency.

    ForUsAll Inc., a 401(k) provider, announced earlier this month a deal with the institutional arm of Coinbase Global Inc., a leading cryptocurrency exchange, that will allow workers in plans it administers to invest up to 5% of their 401(k) contributions in bitcoin, ether, litecoin, and others.

    Executives at ForUsAll won’t say how many of the firm’s 400 employer clients have signed up for the cryptocurrency platform so far. Founded in 2012, the company provides automated 401(k) administration, menus of low-cost mutual funds, and access to human advisers.

    Reply
  8. Lee

    “Surprise Jump in U.S. Wages Gives Inflation Debate a New Twist”

    The results of what the Fed is doing are not a surprise and is often responsible for people staying home with more money than if they were working.

    The pandemic shutdowns have destroyed upwards of 1/3 of the small businesses in the country. Wage hikes, caused by the Fed’s easy money policy, may help destroy another third.

    Corporations love this policy.

    Reply
    1. JTMcPhee

      God forbid that workers should be paid more than a bare meager pittance. Takes away from profits, don’t you know?

      Reply
      1. Michael Fiorillo

        It’s simple: if your business can’t afford to pay a living wage, you don’t have a business.

        Reply
        1. hunkerdown

          That is ordinarily called a hobby. But some classes are allowed the privilege of calling their hobbies services to society.

          Reply
        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > if your business can’t afford to pay a living wage, you don’t have a business.

          The only way the workers would have a duty to keep the business running is if the business were a co-op.

          As far as concessions “until the business is back on its feet,” see Warriot Met for how that plays out.

          Reply
  9. enoughisenough

    Jaguars: YES!!!

    We have to tear down the border walls and fences, they destroy the cats’ habitat.

    All the reasons to create a holistic, open space that benefits nature, rather than militarism.

    Reply
      1. ObjectiveFunction

        I remember this well.

        I believe one of the teenage morons involved was overheard warning the other ‘don’t tell the cops what we did.’ Insufficient evidence to prosecute criminally, but likely why these jackholes’ lawyers could only squeeze a 6 figure settlement from the already financially strapped Zoo.

        Of course, you could always hire one of those squirrel feeding obstacle course guys in the recent Links (
        https://laughingsquid.com/rube-goldberg-squirrel-feeding-machine/) to design a Rube Goldberg for the jags. Imagine the Jagapult!

        Reply
  10. Laura in So Cal

    Re: Teenage Labor Market by Ritholtz.

    I don’t think you can use the National Minimum Wage as any kind of metric. 29 states have minimum wages above the Federal $7.25/hour. Here in CA, Minimum Wage is $14.00/hour, but a lot of employers are paying above that. Our local summer camp program sponsored by the city was paying “teen counselors” $14.40/hour and my kid just got a job at our local amusement park as a ride operator starting at $15.00/hour. These are part-time and/or seasonal jobs and have minimal benefits so they are perfect for a teenager’s 1st job.

    Reply
  11. TMR

    Re: uptick in Texas – it’s A/C season. Buildings have been designed for the past 50 years to have as much recirculating air as possible (to keep electricity costs down). Businesses are certainly not going to retrofit without a mandate, and the state government won’t be doing that any time soon.

    You can see the wave of last summer start at nearly the same time.

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      You’ve just identified the very reason why I still wear a mask when I go into any building that isn’t my house. And, when anyone else is in this house, my mask is on.

      Reply
    2. shinola

      You nailed it TMR;

      My ex father-in-law was a cooling tower* designer. He used to claim that the “V” in commercial HVAC systems was a joke. It was all about cost-efficient btu’s & had little-to-nothing to do with actual ventilation. Remember that thing called “Sick Building Syndrome”? He was of the opinion that it had something to with the lack of actual ventilation.

      *a cooling tower is one of those giant AC units, about the size of a 1-car garage, usually on the roof of a commercial building.

      Reply
    3. IM Doc

      Yes – I just looked at the admittedly scattered data from last summer. Remember the first big surge went through the mid-South states like TX, OK, KS and ARK in the summer.

      The day of the first noticeable uptick in Texas in 2020 – was actually June the 13th – led by Harris County (Houston) and Bexar County (San Antonio). But we must realize the uptick in 2020 was from a much higher baseline of case numbers. I do not know what counties are involved in this uptick now.

      It appears that we are right on time – and it will also be very interesting to see how this goes over the next few weeks. In 2020 – slight upticks in June led to big case numbers in AUG and SEPT in Texas and OK.

      As I have been saying all along – the real test for the vaccines is coming. We should hold our breath and cross our fingers. Another factor is there is absolutely much more natural immunity in the population right now – so there is likely to be much less of explosive parabolic increases in case numbers. It would also be very interesting to note a) if these case increases right now are variants and if so which ones and b) what is the rate of occurrence in vaccinated vs non-vaccinated and c) how symptomatic are the patients if at all – Alas, the CDC and health departments are doing absolutely no surveillance like this at all.

      Only time will tell.

      Reply
      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        I remember well that after having flattened the curve in April and May, some governors got trigger happy and eased restrictions prematurely for the Memorial Day weekend. Give it a couple of weeks for the cases to show up, and there you are at June 13th.

        I would expect that the presence of the vaccinated and the recovered will mitigate any weather-related increase somewhat this year.

        Reply
    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > uptick in Texas – it’s A/C season. Buildings have been designed for the past 50 years to have as much recirculating air as possible (to keep electricity costs down).

      Brilliancy Prize for the day!

      (Although now we see an interesting tradeoff between climate safety and pandemic safety.)

      Reply
  12. Sub-Boreal

    Addendum to Groves of Academe:

    “Hundreds of gibberish papers still lurk in the scientific literature”

    https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-01436-7?WT.ec_id=NATURE-20210610

    “Nonsensical research papers generated by a computer program are still popping up in the scientific literature many years after the problem was first seen, a study has revealed. Some publishers have told Nature they will take down the papers, which could result in more than 200 retractions.

    The issue began in 2005, when three PhD students created paper-generating software called SCIgen for “maximum amusement”, and to show that some conferences would accept meaningless papers. The program cobbles together words to generate research articles with random titles, text and charts, easily spotted as gibberish by a human reader. It is free to download, and anyone can use it.

    Most of the latest batch of SCIgen papers were authored by researchers from China (64%) or India (22%), although Labbé notes that the manuscripts could have been submitted in anyone’s name without their knowledge. One author of several of the papers told Labbé and Cabanac that he’d submitted them as hoaxes. But other manuscripts appear to have been edited with genuine reference lists, suggesting that they might have been generated to inflate scientists’ citation counts. “I think the vast majority are created to pad CVs in order to fulfil a need to publish papers,” says Labbé.”

    Reply
    1. doug

      thanks for the link to the notice. It is easy to follow. The bar lays it out so any eleven folks could understand…

      Reply
    2. hunkerdown

      The IBA isn’t the central organization of the profession as the name might imply. The about blurb from their site, “an association of lawyers who are united in the cause of bringing in transparency and accountability in Indian judiciary,” suggests an activist professional organization similar to the National Lawyers Guild.

      Reply
  13. HJR

    Groves of Academe

    Lambert asked: “Gender identity” isn’t the same as gender? Is this a dumb question?”

    I don’t think it’s a dumb question.

    I participated in a university research project last month (Zoom, of course).
    The researcher asked me my “gender identity”; and, as a senior that was a phraseology I wasn’t used to.

    I looked it up afterwards.

    I found Ontario’s Human Right’s Commission definitions helped to clarify it for me:

    Gender identity is each person’s internal and individual experience of gender. It is a person’s sense of being a woman, a man, both, neither, or anywhere along the gender spectrum. A person’s gender identity may be the same as or different from their birth-assigned sex.

    Gender expression is how a person publicly expresses or presents their gender. This can include behaviour and outward appearance such as dress, hair, make-up, body language and voice. A person’s chosen name and pronoun are also common ways of expressing gender. Others perceive a person’s gender through these attributes.
    A person’s gender identity is fundamentally different from and not related to their sexual orientation.

    Reply
    1. JTMcPhee

      I guess that’s why there is such a vast and varied assortment of sex toys and “sexual experience enhancements,” eh? So many, many ways to diddle the limbic system, and then one can go forth and be a Gender Identity Warrior, as master/mistress/mumph of neolingo and dudgeon and outrage…

      Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Gender identity is each person’s internal and individual experience of gender. It is a person’s sense of being a woman, a man, both, neither, or anywhere along the gender spectrum. A person’s gender identity may be the same as or different from their birth-assigned sex.

      Back in the day, in the 1970s, there was an enormous “national conversation” that ended up distinguishing sex and gender (correctly, in my view).

      I remain unconvinced that this sentence:

      My gender is [pick one]

      is meaningfully different from

      My gender identity is [pick one]

      Both sex and gender have “an internal and individual experience” by definition, and so “identity” is redundant.

      The fact that no equivalent term has evolved for “sex,” like “sex identity” — surely the biological characteristics of being [pick one] affect one’s subjective experience? — suggests to me that there’s something non-neutral going on.

      I suggest that “gender identity” provides what I will call a “parsing opportunity.” The endless differentiation and parsing of identities, and the endless layering of complexity, suggests to me that the non-neutral purpose, consciously or not, is, this being our capitalist system, to sell us stuff (“dress, hair, make-up”), as well as to disempower us by fragmenting us into an endless diversity of consumer-product verticals.

      > A person’s gender identity is fundamentally different from and not related to their sexual orientation.

      Oh well, fine.

      Reply
    3. Dorie

      It is just good manners to use the pronoun that is compatible with the person’s sexual (gender) identity. I was born trans and I did not choose to be trans. Deliberately ignoring the appropriate pronoun is the same as deliberately ignoring a person’s titles and honorifics and is the mark of an uncouth bumpkin.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        My initial reply to your comment has been eaten by the Internet Dragons, alas.
        So, secundus; “Deliberately ignoring the appropriate pronoun is the same as deliberately ignoring a person’s titles and honorifics…” is the essence of idpol as practiced in America today. Both “ignorings” are affronts meant to break down the individual’s self-posession and allow a ‘renovation’ of the personality along “desired lines.”
        Both are examples of socio-political power plays.

        Reply
  14. ChiGal in Carolina

    I guess it’s not a surprise that the hardest hit and poorest workers will be afforded the least protection, but it is so shocking it takes my breath away. One after another, the blows keep coming…and Trump drools in anticipation of 2024.

    Reply
    1. neo-realist

      Considering the slurring Trump did at the NC speech, any further progression and he may be doing nothing much more than slurring and drooling through 2024.

      Reply
  15. DJG, Reality Czar

    Politico: The Joemance.

    I note this folktale from a member of the Daley family: “You don’t need somebody trashing a politician. [Biden] would be incensed if that happened,” said Daley. “Other politicians may do that, but you have not seen one hint of White House staff disgruntled, mad at Manchin, pissing on him.”

    Because that’s how the Daleys and Rahm have run Chicago, y’know. And the main chronicler of city-hall follies in Chicago, Ben Joravsky, recently noted Lightfoot’s tendencies.

    Bipartisanship is an excuse for the Democrats not to do anything. Obama and Susan Collins. The sudden rise of the infallible parliamentarian. The endless reign of Nancy Pelosi, who timed out at least a decade ago, now being held in her position by gelato and inertia. Manchin as the excuse for inaction–because he is somehow the inscrutable koan of U.S. politicians: What is the sound of one Joe clapping?

    LBJ would have thought of a discreet way of pissing on Manchin’s leg, and Manchin would have gotten the message. But then LBJ, for all his faults, was a politician of an era when it mattered that the government accomplish things.

    Reply
  16. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Amazon Sidewalk Shares Your Internet With Neighbors: How to Opt Out

    That’s easy and no technical expertise required. Echo, meet sledgehammer.

    I would be happy to perform the service gratis for anyone who requires it.

    Reply
  17. ChiGal in Carolina

    I just happened to be watching the Japan channel and although I am generally not a fan of robots or AI, this little guy is adorable. It’s called a Lovot, and it just wants a hug. The designer spoke about everything that went into it, especially the eyes, to generate responsiveness and connection. Apparently at one old folks home, after spending time with it one of the residents spoke for the first time since arriving.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YreI9fzGvJk

    Reply
    1. zagonostra

      That’s a really creepy video. My mind immediately juxtaposed Italian grandparents interacting with their grandchildren.

      Reply
  18. JohnnySacks

    Well, if Biden appointed Manchin’s wife, Gayle, to the Appalachian Regional Commission, can’t he just ‘un-appoint’ her if Manchin doesn’t play ball? The Dem party is so painfully pathetic – no repercussions whatsoever for even the most heinous betrayals. But release an old photo of some stupid prank – immediate dismissal!

    Reply
    1. dcblogger

      the fact that Biden appointed her before Manchin voted for Biden’s agenda tells us how unserious Biden is about passing anything.

      Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      ‘The Dem party is so painfully pathetic – no repercussions whatsoever for even the most heinous betrayals.’

      Like that time Joe Biden gave a speech in support of a Republican running against a Democrat in Michigan – for $200,000. Most places, that sort of betrayal would have them thrown out of their party. And if that had happened, old Joe would not be President today. I guess that that was just old Joe trying to be bipartisan-

      https://www.vice.com/en/article/yw8zy7/of-course-joe-biden-supported-a-republican-in-a-dollar200k-speech

      Reply
  19. Nce

    “…More problematic is Verizon, which got caught forcing users to sign up for even more expensive tiers if they wanted to apply to the program, resulting in some users being forced to pay more for broadband than if they’d never signed up for government help in the first place.”
    Yep. I had to get Verizon last winter if I wanted any reception at all, and the “cheapest” way was prepaid. I learned about the EBB fairly recently, and it was a real hassle getting Verizon to process this (I’m still waiting to see if and when the EBB will take effect.) To be eligible I had to change to a more expensive postpaid account, but I’m also waiting on a $450 “gift” from Verizon that can be applied to bills, but you had to sign up before 6/1. So, if these come through my phone bills for the next year will be less, but I can’t tell you how many hours I waited on speakerphone attempting to straighten this all out, usually with people who didn’t know much of anything. Who knows if this will work out in the end.

    Reply
    1. Brunches with Cats

      Nce, EBB went live on May 12, if I’m not mistaken. More than 2.3 million households have enrolled as of June 6, although I’m not sure whether that means they’ve actually signed up with an Internet provider. I applied through the “official” FCC website, administered by a third-party NGO (of course). I was directed there by Spectrum, long story, but in any case, I’ve received my approval number, with instructions to use it before Sept. 3.

      As for those hours on the phone … I spent six-plus hours on the phone with Spectrum, three calls over two days. Last one, to tell them to forget it and cancel the whole thing, was three hours; 45+ minutes on hold for the cancelation agent and another 45+ while said agent regaled me with “personal” stories that in fact were thinly veiled arguments against canceling. Triggered a full-blown episode of PTSD.

      The only other Internet provider in my forsaken rural region is Frontier, with over-priced plans on unreliable service. I’ve been with them nearly 4 years, during which the price on my blazing 6-Mbps plan has more than doubled and is about to go up another $5/month. They also participate in EBB, so I called to see what they could offer, spent more than an hour on the phone with billing getting lectured about what a great deal I’ve been getting. If I want to upgrade to their “fast” 9 Mbps plan, I’ll still owe the tax and surcharges after the EBB subsidy. Or I can go for the speed-of-light 25 Mbps plan, have a much lower bill for as long as the EBB subsidy lasts, and then pay more than three times what I signed up for when I moved here.

      The Techdirt article in above links was totally right on about the subsidy being helpful for many people (and there is at least one bill in Congress to extend it) but doing nothing to address customer service abuse issues. Not to mention inflationary pricing.

      ANYWAY, good luck with Verizon. I hope you get some relief.

      Reply
  20. Jeff N

    the “core inflation rate” is only at 3%. I wonder why they started reporting this rate that doesn’t exclude energy and food?

    Reply
  21. Josef K

    “Well, every time I see a photo of Biden at some podium, there’s Harris in the background, as if they’re getting us used to it. Will that practice stop, at some point?”

    Good point. If she gets disinvited from future video ops, perhaps next she’ll get digitally removed from earlier videos, 21st century Soviet-style.

    Reply
      1. Nikkikat

        No one would miss Harris. Huge unwarranted ego, giving out those cookies with her face on them. Wow. It’s the unserious and inappropriate giggling too. I cringe.

        Reply
    1. Brunches with Cats

      ” … there’s Harris in the background, as if they’re getting us used to it. Will that practice stop, at some point?”

      Unless I misinterpreted the comment/question, it answers itself: It will stop when she’s in the foreground. Adding, I’m pretty sure there won’t be anyone else in the photo.

      Reply
      1. John

        We had four years of Trump up front and Pence bringing up the rear. It was creepy then and Biden and Harris in the same formation is creepy now.

        Reply
  22. FriarTuck

    Re: I Was Paralyzed by Severe Depression. Then Came Ketamine.

    OOooh! The government can come out with a branded Ketamine called “Soma”!

    The causes of depression are still not really clear to science. We have a diagnosis based on symptoms, but we don’t know where it originates from. The complexity of the mind, along with the variability between people, prevents us from being able to make a definitive conclusion.

    I wonder if it isn’t an adaptive process within ourselves that goes wrong. A predictive system that starts going wrong and spirals out of control, especially exacerbated by the sociothapy of modern hyperindividualistic society.

    Reply
  23. Pelham

    Re the Great Replacement: Immigration doors were flung open with Hart-Celler in 1965 amid assurances that nothing much would change in terms of US demography. But it did. And Democrats were thrilled. We’re all supposed to be thrilled. In fact, if we’re not, we’re a problem.

    One question: If immigration is supposed to be such a boon to the economy and diversity such a glorious thing, after 40-plus years of stupendous growth in immigration, shouldn’t we all be happy as clams and swimming in pearls?

    Reply
  24. Lambert Strether Post author

    Ha ha ha, three hours to reinstall macOS, and my cursor is still in the middle of the screen.

    On the bright side, I have a shell available, and so presumably can kill off whatever process is freezing my mouse from the command line.

    I think, again, that my computer is missing the Magic Mouse that I did not bring with me. Which is insane, it should just know it’s not within reach and do the right thing. But here we are.

    Do any Mac mavens have hints for a starting point at the command line?

    NOTE Adding, my cunning plan was to run down the Mac’s battery, but unfortunately Apple really improved battery life on the new MacBooks, so that would have taken more days than I wanted to take.

    Reply
    1. flora

      Someone else probably knows a better way to do this. Here’s my suggestion without knowing the MacOS version your Mac is running.

      Try opening system preference using the keyboard.

      On your keyboard use ALT + F2, which opens up the Display system pane. Then use CMD + L, which will change from the Display system pane to the main System Preferences.

      Keyboard cursor should be in the spotlight search bar top-right in the open Preferences window. Type “mouse” (without quote marks). A menu list will appear. Use keyboard up/down arrows to highlight “mouse”. Hit return. See if your computer sees your mouse. If not, see if Bluetooth is turned on. Make sure the mouse is turned on. If the computer doesn’t see the mouse open Bluetooth devices (may have to enter “bluetooth” in the search bar for a bluetooth menu as with “mouse”), select the bluetooth devices, and see if it will pair with new mouse.

      Reply
      1. flora

        adding: if the mouse is ok but not the trackpad, then use the above to open the trackpad sys pref and check settings. Could still be paired with magic mouse.

        Reply
      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        Thank you! Truly the NC commentariat is the best commentariat.

        I’ve used the Mac for years, and never knew this. And why? Because the Human Interface Guidelines (HIG) for the original Mac said that every Menu with a Key Command had to have that command to the right of the menu item. I look at Apple -> System Preferences. Is there an Alt+F2 there? No! This is one example of the slow crapification of the Mac, where iOS design principles — if any; there is no HIG — encourage hiding functionality, not making it transparent.

        Reply
    2. Acacia

      I believe the process that handles bluetooth is /usr/sbin/bluetoothd (at least on the version of macOS I’ve got). I’m not sure what happens if you kill that from the command line, and I’ve read that in earlier versions of macOS it could have unwanted side effects.

      Tried booting into Safe mode? Or, into the Recovery partition, then run Disk Utility, then restart?

      FWIW, I googled “stuck cursor M1” and it seems you’re not alone.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Tried booting into Safe mode? Or, into the Recovery partition, then run Disk Utility, then restart?

        I tried all that, yes. What I think I want from the command is a list of Bluetooth devices. Then I can kill the missing mouse, assuming that is the problem, similar to kill -9 for processes

        > I googled “stuck cursor M1” and it seems you’re not alone.

        I don’t want company…. I want the problem to go away!

        Reply
        1. Acacia

          (1) For a complete report on bluetooth devices, try this:

          system_profiler SPBluetoothDataType

          (2) Dunno if you can open the bluetooth menu, but there’s a secret debug menu (more human-interface guidelines fun), detailed here:

          https://www.macrumors.com/how-to/reset-mac-bluetooth-module/

          (3) A number of people mention an add-on called blueutil that you can invoke from the command line, but you’ll have to install it with brew.

          (4) Alternately, you can apparently delete com.apple.Bluetooth.plist from /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/ or /Library/Preferences/ and restart.

          HTH

          Reply
          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Thank you. Ultimately I installed blueutil and turned bluetooth off. Then I rebooted and turned it on again. That did the trick.

            Thank you all. This was extremely frustrating!

            (Older versions of the Magic Mouse did not interfere with the TrackPad. The newest version freezes the TrackPad, which I think is a bad idea, for obvious reasons.)

            Reply
            1. flora

              The newest version freezes the TrackPad, which I think is a bad idea, for obvious reasons.

              Apple hardware silo-ing of external devices? If this is an Apple security feature, I understand. Apple’s always been good about security. But maybe they could reformulate this bit.

              Reply
  25. petal

    Swung by the store on the way home tonight and the price of some cuts of beef are up 45% in the last few days. Couldn’t believe it. I didn’t check the other meats but will look next time I go.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      I’m afraid we ain’t seen nothin’ yet from an inflation standpoint. I remember going into stores in Mexico as the Peso went from 12.5 to the $ to 3,300 to the $ over a dozen years from 1980 to 1992, and prices had to be adjusted all the time in order to keep up with the new normal, an added task.

      That’s one of the main reasons so many Mexicans came here, btw.
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      As any economist will tell you, printing gobs of money over a short period (which is what the Federal Reserve has done during the pandemic) is a key inflation ingredient.

      We have seen this happen many times over the past century. From Weimar Germany to present-day Venezuela, massive money printing never works and always spurs out-of-control inflation.

      The Deutsche Bank report concludes with this dire warning, “We worry that inflation will make a comeback. Few still remember how our societies and economies were threatened by high inflation 50 years ago. The most basic laws of economics, the ones that have stood the test of time over a millennium, have not been suspended. An explosive growth in debt financed largely by central banks is likely to lead to higher inflation. … Rising prices will touch everyone. The effects could be devastating, particularly for the most vulnerable in society. Sadly, when central banks do act at this stage, they will be forced into abrupt policy change which will only make it harder for policymakers to achieve the social goals that our societies need.”

      https://thehill.com/opinion/finance/557743-deutsche-bank-issues-dire-economic-warning-for-america

      Reply
      1. Pat

        Funny how inflation returns now that wages are rising. Pretty sure there are at least a dozen reasons, none of which depends on wages, and if one of them gets even a passing mention in the coming media frenzy I will eat my hat.

        Reply
        1. tegnost

          Could it be that the private equity types are using their pricing power to increase costs such that they get the money first and and labor can suck eggs? Sorry your construction project is sooooo expensive now (well not really…) imagine how bad it would be if you had to pay the workers
          adding…left side of the scale zero, right side 200 billion…
          why is all the focus on the left side?

          Reply
    2. Nikkikat

      Saw the same thing last night at the store. Ground steak was up about 50%. How does the “shortage” happen so fast?

      Reply
  26. Wukchumni

    There is a burgeoning literature in defending bubbles as a by-product of healthy excitement over investing in new technologies — but it’s impossible to support a true ‘bubble’ like the South Sea Bubble or tulipmania. Defending investment fads or epidemics makes far more sense.”
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    In one way, Bitcoin does bear resemblance to the South Sea Bubble, Mississippi Bubble (er, not your much celebrated carbonated moonshine, ambrit) & Darien Scheme, as virtually none of the punters in England, France or Scotland ever saw what they were investing in, thank goodness for mania kind.

    Reply
  27. Mikel

    RE: So putting ketamine in the water supply would solve a lot of problems, wouldn’t it?

    The main priority with water should be keeping it clean and safe to drink.

    Screw all this trying to control people! Get off our backs!

    Reply
    1. Phillip Allen

      I think you misread Mr. Strether. His comment was sardonic, meant as satire, and not in any way an endorsement of mass application of psychopharmaceuticals.

      Reply
  28. Wukchumni

    I reacted to the shortage of canned provisions just as any slave to their masters would, and effected a purchase online from the majordomo in such matters currently, Chewy.

    I’m glad to say there was no shortage of vittles, and the Catiphate had indicated the need for furniture-but nothing Louis XIVth, more of something heavily carpeted, with a sleeping perch to greatly lessen the potential of being stepped on.

    Its funny, they offer free shipping and it looks as if 4 different shipments will be coming my way, for if they were to ship everything in say a week’s time, they’d lose out to some other competitor looking to lose money, quicker.

    Reply
    1. jr

      Only slightly less creepy is the guy tasked with selling these things in the video. I got a chill when he asks it if he can see how it smiles in this almost wheedling voice. Will anyone’s spirits be lifted when “Grace” rolls into the COVID ward and starts running through her algorithms? Other than the demented? Think of the fun hackers would have with this: “Grace” spinning out of control through the hospice ward screeching demonic gibberish, head jerking wildly side to side, arms clawing and grasping at IVs and power cables, mouth contorted, ramming into the staff at full tilt…

      Reply
      1. ObjectiveFunction

        …while spitting milk, like Ashe from ‘Alien.’

        More human than human is our motto….

        I believe you’re both referencing the “Uncanny Valley” reaction where images that are ‘too lifelike’ start coming across instead as creepy and malevolent.

        Reminding me of which, one of the few reasonably intelligent films of the last half decade is “Deus Ex”. Complete with sociopathic tech billionaire whose agenda is basically what Scott Adams predicts (elaborating on that further would be a spoiler).

        Deus Ex is, BTW, a far better (albeit imperfect) sequel to ‘Blade Runner’ than the actual sequel 2049 IMHO.

        Reply
        1. Acacia

          You mean Ex Machina (2014), I assume, and I’ll second the recommendation. It struck me as a sci-fi view inside the fantasies of a tech billionaire like Sergey Brin. Definitely worth seeking out.

          Reply
        2. jr

          2049 was worthless. Friends begged me to go see it in the theatre and I refused. When I finally did see it, I enjoyed the visuals for about five minutes and stopped caring immediately afterward. The stupid, gratuitous violence; famous faces everywhere; bunk-o writing; crudely obvious foreshadowing of possible sequels, ugh.

          Now, if you want a really insightful cinematic examination of artificial consciousness, you must see:

          The Strange Case of Señor Computer

          https://youtu.be/1BH3UdHLbn0

          Reply
        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          I thought Blade Runner 2049 was better than the original, because the imagined world was less grandiose and more realistic (and chilling). The first scene is absolutely terrific.

          Reply
          1. skippy

            Concur and would add the aspect of creating false memories to facilitate a predetermined social construct that is beneficial to the uber capitalist machinations of what is social or human advancement is highlighted by the end scene … the fight for who is better …

            Reply
          2. ObjectiveFunction

            I didn’t entirely dislike 2049, but setting aside the wooden, even smug (‘I’m too sexy for my skinjob’) acting of Ryan Gosling, which I guess we are supposed to write down as ‘in character’, I felt it could have been a far better film than it was.

            While I generally avoid the YouTube ‘instant review’ genre (and video in general), this one was urged upon me by a fanatical Blade Runner purist, and I found its points intelligent and compelling.

            Warts and all, Ridley Scott’s epic stands alone, IMHO

            Reply
  29. fresno dan

    https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/22524608/new-alzheimers-drug-cost-fda-approval-biogen
    But the evidence on whether Biogen’s treatment, called aducanumab, is effective is, at best, mixed; the FDA approved it this week over the objections of its own advisory committee. And with a preliminary announced price of nearly $60,000 annually per patient, covering the treatment could cost upward of $100 billion a year, mostly to Medicare, which would almost double the program’s drug spending. Patients themselves could be on the hook for thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs.
    =====================================================
    You know, what gets me is the incessant yammering about the market. But “free marketers” show their true colors when it comes to prohibiting the government from bargaining. There is no way a market would support such a dubious price. This is government by bribery – irrational, expensive, ineffective.
    The thing that is astounding is that Americans put up with it…

    Reply
    1. pck

      I’ve been wondering whether this would show up on NC – but it sounds like a very busy time so certainly not being critical. Links below – Public citizen wrote a long letter urging an investigation into the approval process – some highlights:

      The FDA biostatistician wrote a strongly worded recommendation against approval based on the weirdness of ignoring the results of one clinical trial but not another, when both were performed very similarly. Also calls to attention the sketchiness of post-hoc analysis

      The (allegedly) independent panel of academic physicians/neuroscientists called to evaluate the drug were similarly skeptical of the outrageous cost, lack of benefit, and potential for side effects, and also specifically called out the FDA for appearing to be *very* cozy with biogen, in part because…

      The FDA briefing documents were written by Biogen

      Link to the public citizen letter

      Link to an NYT editorial published before the approval was announced

      PS: Hope Yves is doing well!!

      Reply
    2. ambrit

      Well, to be “fair and evenhanded” about it, when ‘people’ do complain about governmental corruption, they get shut down PDQ. (See Occupy for an example.)

      Reply
  30. Jason Boxman

    Re-reading this from today/earlier this week, in context with the Biden administration having since decided that workers deserve no workplace protections at all, is particularly galling:

    In late February, the Labor Department followed through, releasing guidance allowing workers to receive pandemic unemployment benefits if they refused a job in a workplace that is “not in compliance with local, state, or national health and safety standards directly related to COVID-19.”

    Under the Trump administration, however, there were no enforceable national standards related to workplace COVID-19 precautions. OSHA issued limited guidance on the matter — something candidate Biden made a point of blasting on the campaign trail.

    And now there never will be.

    Great bunch of humans, these liberal Democrats.

    So get back to work already!

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      There once was a lawyer on Zoom
      Who revealed too little in his room
      An open & shut prima facie case
      All sadly evidence based

      Reply
  31. ObjectiveFunction

    > finding a tenured academic anywhere in the United States who wanted to be seen as the face of that opposition in a high profile trial was impossible.

    Very interesting. Consider the analogs to today, where nobody not already tagged with the ‘racist fascist’ brush is willing to speak out against Idpol Stalinism. Or in Europe (alluding to a recent NC topic), against massive immigration.

    On gay marriage, I believe it was Archdruid Greer who noted that one factor explaining its swift victory (beyond the courage of so many individuals in coming out, which meant very few Americans didn’t personally know someone in that group) was that the Equality movement, hardened by its life-or-death 1980s struggle to get AIDS taken seriously by Officialdom (ahem, Dr. Anthony Fauci….), *point blank refused* to allow its goals to be deflected or diluted to embrace a broader ‘rights’ agenda. Which meant that there were no (other) divisive red herrings for ‘phobes’ to seize upon in order to derail the entire project. Lessons learned!

    Consider also the writings of Taleb on how a vocal, dedicated ‘intolerant minority’ can get its agenda adopted (e.g. (U) pareve on food products) in spite of being a minority, often quite a small one.

    Reply
  32. drumlin woodchuckles

    About that woodpecker ” song ” . . . technically it is the woodpecker drumming on something super fast. But it serves the same purpose as a song for other birds, so one could call it a ” song ” .

    I remember reading once about how red headed woodpeckers learned that the metal downspouts emptying the rainwater out of eaves and gutters could make a wonderful noise when you wood peckerhammered on them.

    Here is a different kind of woodpecker demonstrating this drumming on good sounding metal.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uf6T80LIUfI

    If one could make a huge South Sea Islands style hollow log drum and haul it up into the trees for the woodpeckers to find it, I wonder if they would appreciate the sound they could make on it?

    Reply

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