2:00PM Water Cooler 6/2/2021

2:00PM Water Cooler 5/28/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day~

Short but very pretty!

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

I feel I’m engaging in a macabre form of tape-watching. All the charts are becoming dull — approaching nominal, if you accept the “new normal” of cases, for example.

Vaccination by region:

Well, scraping the bottom of those diminishing returns. Nevertheless…

“Biden to recruit 1,000 Black-owned barbershops, salons to help the vaccination effort: Latest COVID-19 updates” [USA Today]. “President Joe Biden unveiled plans Wednesday to recruit 1,000 Black-owned barbershops and salons to provide “Shots at the Shop” and promote the nationwide vaccination effort. The administration is teaming up with the Black Coalition Against COVID, the University of Maryland Center for Health Equity and SheaMoisture to engage Black-owned barbershops and beauty salons across the country to support local vaccine education and outreach efforts.” • This is a good idea. I just wonder what it would be like to live in a country that could have a national and universal vaccination program, instead of a series of improvised campaigns for identity verticals, with backhanders to the relevant NGOs. (In other words, Biden conceives of the vaccination effort as a classic Democrat GOTV program. That also means we’ll dismantle everything when the campaign is over, thereby learning nothing.)

“West Virginia to give away guns as vaccine incentive” [The Hill]. • America is back!

Case count by United States regions:

Continued good news, even a little dip in the cases

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

Continued good news.

Test positivity:

More good news.

Hospitalization (CDC):

More good news.

Deaths (Our World in Data):

More good news.

Covid cases worldwide:

Given that Miami is the capital of Latin America, that’s a region worth watching.

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

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

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

Capitol Seizure

“Pelosi rules out having Biden create Jan. 6 commission” [Associated Press]. “[T]he speaker said she believed a commission appointed by Biden — an idea pitched by some in her caucus after Friday’s Senate vote — was ‘not a workable idea in this circumstance’ because Congress would still need to approve money and subpoena authority for the panel.” Oh well, can’t do anything then. And then there’s this: “Pelosi’s comments come as members of both parties have pushed for a deep dive into the insurrection, which was designed to interrupt the presidential electoral count and was the worst attack on Congress in two centuries. ” • I don’t know where this “two centuries” thing came from. The Caning of Sumner was arguably worse, since it involved one legislator assaulting another. And Puerto Rican nationalists opened fire on the House floor in 1954, wounding five Representatives. We have the memory of goldish.

UPDATE “Defense for some Capitol rioters: election misinformation” [Associated Press]. “Falsehoods about the election helped bring insurrectionists [sic] to the Capitol on Jan. 6, and now some who are facing criminal charges for their actions during the riot hope their gullibility might save them or at least engender some sympathy…. At least one of those charged plans to make misinformation a key part of his defense. Albert Watkins, the St. Louis attorney representing Jacob Chansley, the so-called QAnon shaman, likened the process to brainwashing, or falling into the clutches of a cult. Repeated exposure to falsehood and incendiary rhetoric, Watkins said, ultimately overwhelmed his client’s ability to discern reality. ‘He is not crazy,’ Watkins said. ‘The people who fell in love with (cult leader) Jim Jones and went down to Guyana, they had husbands and wives and lives. And then they drank the Kool-Aid.’ Similar legal arguments failed to exonerate Lee Boyd Malvo, who at age 17 joined John Allen Mohammed in a sniper spree that killed 10 people in the Washington, D.C., area in 2002. His lawyers tried to argue that Malvo wasn’t responsible for his actions because he had been deluded by the older Mohammed. Attorneys for newspaper heiress Patty Hearst also argued, unsuccessfully, that their client had been brainwashed into participating in a bank robbery after being kidnapped by the radical Symbionese Liberation Army group. ‘It’s not an argument I’ve seen win,’ said Christopher Slobogin, director of Vanderbilt Law School’s Criminal Justice Program, a psychiatry professor and an expert on mental competency.” • Hmm.

Biden Administration

“Biden administration suspends oil and gas leases in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge” [WaPo]. “The Trump administration auctioned off the right to drill in the refuge’s coastal plain — home to hundreds of thousands of migrating caribou and waterfowl as well as the southern Beaufort Sea’s remaining polar bears — just two weeks before President Biden was inaugurated. Now the Biden administration is taking steps to block those leases, citing problems with the environmental review process. In Tuesday’s Interior Department order, Secretary Deb Haaland said that a review of the Trump administration’s leasing program in the wildlife refuge found ‘multiple legal deficiencies’ including ‘insufficient analysis’ required by environmental laws and a failure to assess other alternatives. Haaland’s order calls for a temporary moratorium on all activities related to those leases in order to conduct “a new, comprehensive analysis of the potential environmental impacts of the oil and gas program.'” • Ha ha, pro-Biden article not paywalled. What a coincidence. Still, this is a good thing! Leave it in the ground.


This is the Democrat Party that the Democrat leadership carefully built. And here we are!

UPDATE “Biden privately tells lawmakers not to expect much on reparations legislation” [Politico]. “As a candidate, Biden said he supported a commission on reparations. But the administration has yet to endorse the actual bill. After his speech Tuesday, the president met with the members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who brought up the need for H.R. 40, which is named after the ’40 acres and a mule’ promise that now symbolizes the lack of support formerly enslaved people received from the federal government. According to those involved in the conversations, Biden let them down gently…. ‘I personally would have liked to hear the word reparations. I think that he was very strategic in the words that he used. He used the word repair,’ said Nehemiah Frank, a descendant and founder of The Black Wall Street Times in Tulsa. ‘If you want to pull the people together, you can’t fully help Black people. That’s how I feel about it. If you want to make Black folks happy, you’re going to piss a lot of Americans off.'”

UPDATE “Biden taps Harris to lead administration’s voting rights efforts” [CBS News]. • So that’s not going anywhere either?

UPDATE “Is Brett Kavanaugh Out For Revenge?” [The Atlantic]. “Kavanaugh’s confirmation cemented a conservative majority on the Court that got even stronger last year when he was joined by Amy Coney Barrett. Kavanaugh now sits at the Court’s ideological center—illustrating how far to the right the center has shifted. Any judicial victory that liberals hope to achieve in the coming years will likely require winning over the justice whose nomination they fought most ferociously to defeat.” • Good job. And gawd forbid liberal Democrats should have fought on ideology. Kavanaugh is, after all, credentialled.

UPDATE “Justice Breyer’s new warning for Democrats couldn’t have come at a worse time” [Vox]. “With respect to the idea of putting additional justices on the Court, Breyer realistically has little to fear from Democrats. Though a handful of Democratic lawmakers did introduce legislation that would add four seats to the Supreme Court and give Democratic appointees a 7-6 majority, the bill landed with a thud in Congress. In April, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she had ‘no plans‘ to bring the bill to the floor for a vote. And, while President Joe Biden formed a commission to study Supreme Court reforms, no outspoken proponents of reform were appointed to it.” • so, if I have this right, Democrats plan to pack the Supreme Court to disempower the judges they cheerfully waved through when they were nominated to lower courts?

Obama Legacy

“No, Obama Wasn’t Mad About Bailing Out His Wall Street Donors” [David Sirota, Daily Poster]. “Obama’s comments came in a new interview with the New York Times’ Ezra Klein. ‘When we came into office, the economy was in a free fall,’ the former president said. “We had to scramble and do a bunch of stuff, some of which was inherited, some of which we initiated to stabilize the financial system. People hated it. It’s hard to just underscore how much the bank bailouts just angered everyone, including me.” • Lol. Obama, to bankers: “My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.” Poor Obama!

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Poll Shows Nina Turner with Commanding Lead in OH-11 Congressional Race” [Cleveland Scene]. “Fully 50% of likely Democratic voters in Ohio’s District 11 Congressional election support Nina Turner, a new poll has found. The poll clarifies Turner’s frontrunner status two months before the Aug. 3 special election for the seat formerly occupied by Marcia Fudge. Shontel Brown, the Chair of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party, trailed far behind in the poll, with 15% of likely voters saying they would support her. No other candidate topped 4%, with 21% saying they were sill undecided. Turner’s commanding leads were for both Black voters and White voters, according to the poll by the Tulchin Group. It was conducted by phone and text message May 20 through May 26.” • The DNC seems to be slow in deploying its oppo researchers.

“Was there a Wuhan lab leak? An inquiry won’t dig out the truth. It will deepen the deception” [Jonathan Cook]. • An interesting read. If and only if you buy the Watchmaker Hypothesis the gain of function theory — which I do not — then the old adage “follow the money” takes on new force. More: “[T]he WHO appointed Peter Daszak, the president of the EcoHealth Alliance, the very group that reportedly funded gain-of-function research at Wuhan on behalf of the US, to investigate the lab-leak theory and effectively become the WHO’s spokesman on the matter. To say that Daszak had a conflict of interest is to massively understate the problem.” A conflict like that is, to say the least, not a good look. One wonders what the intelligence community will make of it, when it completes its report.

Stats Watch

There are no official stats of interest today.

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UPDATE Shipping: “Weary Seafarers Come Ashore in U.S. for J&J One-Dose Shots” [Bloomberg]. “Ports around the U.S. are rolling out vaccines for seafarers, extending a lifeline to thousands of mostly foreign workers who’ve spent the pandemic isolated aboard ships ensuring goods kept trading across a battered global economy. From Boston to Houston and Los Angeles, and even in smaller trade gateways like Gulfport, Mississippi, local health officials and nonprofits are boarding container ships, tankers and other cargo carriers to administer Covid-19 shots or, when possible, shuttling crews to nearby pharmacies and clinics. The preferred vaccine for maritime workers: the one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot because they’re often docked for just a day or two.” • Maybe I missed it, but this is the only story I can think of that focused vaccination efforts on the workplace.

The Bezzle: “Apple Loses Multiple Top Managers From Self-Driving Car Division” [Bloomberg]. Gee, I wonder why? “Since the project’s beginning around 2014, Apple’s work on a car has been rebooted several times and has seen multiple management changes. The Cupertino, California-based company initially set out to build a full car to rival Tesla, but pared back its ambitions around 2016 to focus on the underlying self-driving car system. Several months ago, it set out again to build a car, placing a portion of the division’s engineers on that effort. If Apple ends up releasing a car, it’s unlikely to launch until later this decade at the earliest. The group of departures this year could add additional complexity to the company’s ability to make the project a reality. Still, the iPhone maker has been actively recruiting car industry experts to fill out the division’s leadership team.”

Labor Market: “U.S. labor market worse than it appears, Fed paper suggests” [Reuters]. “U.S. labor market signals are conflicting to an ‘unprecedented’ degree, but those suggesting labor market slack should be given more weight than those pointing to tightness, according a paper published Monday by the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank. The paper looked at 26 labor market measures that typically move in tandem and found that during the current recovery they are giving wildly divergent signals about the health of the job market. The job openings rate, for instance, suggests the job market is much tighter than the unemployment rate; the labor force participation rate points to much more slack than detected in the unemployment rate. Because the pandemic has forced so many people out of the workforce, ‘negative signals such as the low labor force participation rate provide a better read than do the positive signals,’ the researchers argued. ‘Overall, our findings reveal that the labor market situation is worse than some headline numbers suggest.’ U.S. central bankers are debating how tight the U.S. labor market has become amid widespread reports from employers about hiring difficulties even as the economy still has 8 million fewer people working than before the pandemic.”

Supply Chain: “The nation’s largest meat processor has been hit with a cyberattack. What does that mean for the food supply chain?” [The Counter]. “JBS USA, a subsidiary of JBS, the largest meat supplier in the world, announced on Monday that it had been hit by an “organized cybersecurity attack” over the holiday weekend. The attack affected servers in North America and Australia, and the company canceled Tuesday shifts at several plants across the country. The attack also halted slaughter operations in Australia. It’s not yet clear how the JBS shutdowns and shift cancellations—which have impacted some of the largest pork- and beef-processing plants in the nation—may affect the U.S. meat market. The company controls about 20 percent of the beef sold nationwide. Because the company’s operations are so expansive, any disruptions in JBS processing capacity could ripple across the supply chain. On Tuesday, the Department of Agriculture delayed the issuance of its daily beef sales report, citing “packer submission issues.'”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 47 Neutral (previous close: 40 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 35 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 2 at 12:14pm.

Health Care

Fauci on masks in February 2020:

Fauci was wrong on masks being ineffective, as we now know; even “drugstore masks” can reduce risk. What is really curious is Fauci’s theory of transmission. He clearly doesn’t believe in fomites or droplets, because he seems to envisage free-floating virus penetrating the mask fabric (carefully erasing the fact that N95 masks are from non-woven polypropylene fiber, not “fabric”). That means that Fauci, from the beginning, believed in airborne transmission. However, the virus is not free-floating, as I understand it, but wrapped in tiny gobbets of liquid emitted as respiration. Odd.

Institutional barriers to the aerosol paradigm shift, a thread:

Stoller should file this away, since in addition to being dominant in the field of “infection control,” hospitals are also monopolistic.

UPDATE “A Hidden Opportunity — Medicaid’s Role in Supporting Equitable Access to Clinical Trials” [NEJM]. “Hidden deep within the $2.3 trillion omnibus spending and relief package passed by Congress in December 2020 lies a little-known but powerful provision intended to promote equitable access to clinical trials. Beginning in January 2022, coverage of the “routine costs” associated with clinical trial participation will be guaranteed for all Medicaid beneficiaries for the first time in the program’s history. The absence of federal policy in this area until now has most likely suppressed the representation of low-income and minority populations in the clinical research that underlies therapeutic advances, thereby limiting equitable access to potentially state-of-the-art therapies and compromising the generalizability of research findings.” • I suppose this is good. But, sadly, my first thought was “they need more bodies.”

The Biosphere

This is a great, great thread on trees:

Take this to the next town council meeting that involves trees, highway median strips, “planning,” etc.

UPDATE World Peat Day:

“Tomorrow” in the tweet is today! On peat, see NC here, here, and here.

“Mapping the local cosmic web: Dark matter map reveals hidden bridges between galaxies” [Phys.org]. “A new map of dark matter in the local universe reveals several previously undiscovered filamentary structures connecting galaxies. The map, developed using machine learning by an international team including a Penn State astrophysicist, could enable studies about the nature of dark matter as well as about the history and future of our local universe.” • Perhaps each galaxy is a neuron in a giant brain…

“1,000 Arrests Expected Over Enbridge Line 3 Tar Sands Pipeline” [Clean Technica]. “The coming month will be critical for the controversial Enbridge Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline, currently under construction in Northern Minnesota, AP reports. “Due to the urgency of the climate crisis and the fact that Indigenous leaders have not consented to the Line 3 project,” organizers from 300 groups warned President Biden in a letter last week, “large-scale non-violent civil disobedience is now being organized for early June along the Line 3 pipeline route.” Organizers are calling on Biden to halt the pipeline, and will convene a “Treaty People Gathering” June 5th through 8th. Construction on the project to dramatically increase the amount of oil the pipeline can carry is scheduled to resume soon and Gov. Tim Walz (D) is waiting for a Minnesota Court of Appeals ruling expected by June 21 — the state Department of Commerce, two tribes, and other opponents argue that the company’s demand projections failed to meet the legal requirements. The majority of a state environmental justice advisory panel also “collective[ly] and public[ly]” resigned last November after the state Pollution Control Agency approved a key water permit. Like the Keystone XL pipeline Biden canceled on his first day in office, Line 3 would also carry ultra-polluting tar sands oil. The pipeline is owned by Enbridge, which is also defying a Michigan order by continuing to operate its Line 5 pipeline under the environmentally sensitive Straits of Mackinac, risking both environmental disaster and all its profits since May 12.”

“Enbridge pipeline showdown looms in Michigan” [Indian Country]. “After winning reaffirmation of treaty rights in federal court during the 1970s and 1980s, Michigan tribes have been actively exerting and protecting their rights to hunt and fish in unpolluted ceded territory as guaranteed by the Treaty of 1836. Now a showdown is looming over Enbridge’s continued operation of Line 5 as well as its plans to build a tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac to house a segment of the pipeline. Enbridge officials say they have tried repeatedly to open dialogue with Michigan tribal governments and insist the company supports the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. ‘We always strive to establish good faith engagement processes in line with the concept of free, prior and informed consent,’ Enbridge spokesperson Michael Barnes wrote in an email to Indian Country Today. Tribal leaders, however, say otherwise. ‘All of the tribal nations here in Michigan know that Enbridge’s efforts at consultation are disingenuous,’ said Whitney Gravelle, president of the Bay Mills Indian Community. ‘When they reach out to us it is only to try to convince us that what Enbridge wants is what the tribes should want; they’ve never made a good faith effort to listen to tribal nations and ask what we want.'”

“Modern theories of human evolution foreshadowed by Darwin’s Descent of Man” [Science]. “Since Darwin, a long series of unbridgeable gaps have been proposed between humans and other animals. They focused on tool-making, cultural learning and imitation, empathy, prosociality and cooperation, planning and foresight, episodic memory, metacognition, and theory of mind. However, new insights from neurobiology, genetics, primatology, and behavioral biology only reinforce Darwin’s view that most differences between humans and higher animals are “of degree and not of kind.” What makes us different is that our ancestors evolved greatly enhanced abilities for (and reliance on) cooperation, social learning, and cumulative culture—traits emphasized already by Darwin. Cooperation allowed for environmental risk buffering, cost reduction, and the access to new resources and benefits through the “economy of scale.” Learning and cumulative culture allowed for the accumulation and rapid spread of beneficial innovations between individuals and groups. The enhanced abilities to learn from and cooperate with others became a universal tool, removing the need to evolve specific biological organs for specific environmental challenges. These human traits likely evolved as a response to increasing high-frequency climate changes on the millennial and submillennial scales during the Pleistocene.” • So this round of climate change might make us wise, as opposed to merely clever?

Our Famously Free Press

“The Most Spectacular Corrections From the New York Times’ Weddings Column” [Slate]. “The New York Times recently announced it is hiring a weddings editor to cover topics related to ‘how we meet, date, marry and separate.’ In addition to other requirements, the job description says that the editor needs to be ‘highly skilled at hard fact editing.’ That might sound a bit odd, but Vows, the much-loved and much-hated Times column about ‘How couples got from dating to ‘I do,’ ‘ has had to issue some notorious corrections over the years. Many times, the corrections are relatively small: misspelling the name of a restaurant where the couple met, or mixing up the year they began dating, or stating the wrong religious affiliation of the officiant. But sometimes, they are doozies. As the Times’ new job description reads, ‘If you think that the D.C. bureau or the politics desk deals with people lying to them or hiding facts, wait till you start asking someone about their dating history.'” • The home of RussiaGate, the 1619 Project, and Judy Miller preens itself on its “hard fact checking.” But ok: “My second favorite. In an article from 2020, two names—that of the actress who introduced the couple and the wedding officiant—were misspelled. But that’s nothing. The column also mentioned that the bride was ‘currently starring in her own adaptation of Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula,’ an Off Broadway production running at the Classic Stage Company, that she described as ‘a feminist revenge fantasy.” I am from Romania, and I am used to having foreigners immediately mention Dracula upon meeting me. So I laughed when I read the final correction on this one: ‘Also, the author of ‘Dracula’ was incorrect. He is Bram Stoker, not Jane Austen.'”

Police State Watch

““A Horror Movie in Reverse”: How I Investigated Decades of Untested Rape Kits” [Pro Publica]. “By then, I had obtained a list of men arrested as a result of Baltimore County’s cold-case DNA efforts, and I had started building a database tracking their criminal histories…. Every morning before the soccer games, I sat at a cafe and typed arrestees’ names into the Maryland Judiciary case search and recorded their criminal cases in an Excel spreadsheet. I thought it would take a week. It ended up taking months. I was horrified as the pieces came together. The criminal histories were far more extensive than I anticipated. The rape from which Dr. B collected evidence was often the beginning of a long criminal career of other rapes, assaults and even murders. It was like watching a horror movie in reverse. It left me feeling nauseated. After each criminal history search, I would run out my frustration. Could some of these have been prevented? I ran a lot during that time. At the time, academic researchers were publishing their findings from processing tens of thousands of untested rape kits across the county. Their revelations were similarly jolting. They had also found serial rapists and murderers, but on a much greater scale.”

Groves of Academe

“Don’t Let It End” [The Flying Letter Blog]. “And of course analytic philosophers succumbed to all the same myopic temptations faced by other academic departments. Professors negotiated for higher salaries, lighter teaching loads, bigger research budgets, more graduate assistants and more course releases, all the while pushing more and more teaching and departmental responsibilities on low-paid, low-status contingent faculty, who increasingly made up more and more of the discipline. Eventually analytic philosophy worked itself pure: a cohort of charismatic but somewhat abrasive professors debated arcane topics with one another, isolated from most of the greater academic community, their leisure and keynote travel supported by an ever expanding cast of adjuncts, visiting professors and graduate assistants whose career prospects were vanishing before their eyes. Obviously this equilibrium could not last, as internal and external pressures began to loosen the grip of the old gatekeepers who kept the party going.” • Surely not philosophy departments only? And where are the administrators in this picture? (Note the lack of agency in “negotiated for.”)

Book Nook

“Malfunctioning Sex Robot” [London Review of Books]. The opening line: “I was hired​ as an assassin. You don’t bring in a 37-year-old woman to review John Updike in the year of our Lord 2019 unless you’re hoping to see blood on the ceiling.” • I was never an Updike reader, for some reason; I’m bad on American literature generally. The review, I think, goes on a little too long…

UPDATE “What forms of art, activism, and literature can speak authentically today?” [Book Forum]. A collection of posts. I liked this one: “I wish that future novelists would reject the pressure to write for the betterment of society. Art is not media. A novel is not an “afternoon special” or fodder for the Twittersphere or material for journalists to make neat generalizations about culture. A novel is not BuzzFeed or NPR or Instagram or even Hollywood. Let’s get clear about that. A novel is a literary work of art meant to expand consciousness. We need novels that live in an amoral universe, past the political agenda described on social media. We have imaginations for a reason. Novels like American Psycho and Lolita did not poison culture. Murderous corporations and exploitive industries did. We need characters in novels to be free to range into the dark and wrong. How else will we understand ourselves? —OTTESSA MOSHFEGH.”

Class Warfare

“A Worker-Owned Cooperative Tries to Compete With Uber and Lyft” [New York Times]. “The cooperative has recruited around 2,500 drivers so far and intends to take a smaller commission than Uber or Lyft and charge riders a lower fare. It is an ambitious plan to challenge the ride-hailing giants, and it faces the same hurdles that tend to block other emerging players in the industry: Few have the technical prowess, the venture capital dollars or the supply of readily available drivers to subvert an established company like Uber. Still, drivers who joined the effort said even a small cooperative could make a big difference in their work, allowing them to earn more money and have a say in the way the company was run. The Drivers Cooperative said it planned to pay 10 percent above the wage minimums set by the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission, and return profits to drivers in the form of dividends. In normal times, the higher wage might attract drivers to the cooperative. But these are not normal times. Many drivers have been hesitant to return to the road given the pandemic, creating a national shortage.”

News of the Wired

“If You See a Dryer Sheet in Your Mailbox, This Is What It Means” [Family Handyman]. “According to Reddit user u/istrx13, it’s well-known in the postal world that dryer sheets help keep nasty pests from opening up shop in cozy places like mailboxes. Being stung by a wasp hiding in a mailbox sounds like the worst possible situation! The dryer sheet in your mailbox is used mostly used for preventative measures, though, so if you see a nest forming, do your postal worker a favor and get rid of the wasps ASAP.” • Readers, can this possibly be true? Do we have any mail carriers in the readership who can confirm?

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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 (Alfred):

And since I seem not to have run a plant yesterday, here is a second one for today (Carla):

Carla writes: “Rhody swallows NE Ohio century home – May 2021.” Feed me!

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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. Carolinian

    Re trees–I love my many trees but my neighbors don’t necessarily agree. And when a tornado passed through the neighborhood some months ago (a very rare event here) considerable damage was done.

    Meanwhile the outskirts of town dotted with clearcuts but for houses rather than timber harvesting. The tree lobby is no match for the real estate lobby.

    1. curlydan

      I think anyone who spends time in the country or near a forest gets the sensation that “hey, why is it a few degrees cooler here than in the city?”–even when you go south of the city. Or camping: I always am pleasantly surprised that it’s not _that_ bad to camp in July or August if you’re surrounded by trees while backyard camping in the city can get uncomfortable (and annoying with the AC units noisily clicking on).

      1. fresno dan

        June 2, 2021 at 3:46 pm
        I remember the Fresno zoo when I was a child – concrete as far as the eye could see, interrupted only by the iron bars that contained the animals. This in a city where it is frequently over 100 degrees, and occasionally over 110 degrees. Nobody in Fresno could figure out that shade might be nice???
        I left Fresno for about 3 decades to work on the east coast, and when I came back, the zoo was a veritable Amazonia where one was always in the shade due to all the trees.
        Now, if only the people in charge of the mall parking lots could figure out that cars parked in the sun get hot…

      2. Yves Smith

        You can feel the temperature drop as you get closer to Central Park in the summer. I am told it’s 5 degrees cooler than the concrete/limestone blocks, which seem to retain heat and radiate it when you get a succession of horrid hot days.

    2. Lee

      I once served as a volunteer for an urban tree planting project in a poor, treeless neighborhood in east Oakland, CA. Groups involved were from U.C. Berkeley, a City of Oakland youth jobs program, federal, state, and local funding sources, a neighborhood association, and probably some others I don’t recall. The plan had been in the works for some considerable amount of time before I joined up and continued faffing along during the months I was involved until I became fed up and left, during which time not a single goddamned tree was put in the ground. That was a decade or so ago and I haven’t driven down that street since. I will make a point of doing so soon and report back.

      1. Milton

        I have to say, after looking on Streetview along some of the neighborhoods near McCymonds, there is a difference in the number of trees on the street from the latest camera pass vs. 2008. So it looks like the group you were involved with finally got their ‘S together.

    3. IMOR

      And yet stopping watering them is first thing on every CA city’s deferred maintenance checklist. For thirty years. Even when the counterproductive nature of it is pointed out to them.

      1. grateful dude

        living in a desert climate, one should be happy with desert flora. I see people using hundreds of gallons a day watering big leafy maples where we get 20″ a year lately. That’s just wrong, and contributes to our insane walk-into-the-fire suicide pact

    1. Lee

      Neither a reader of Updike, nor much of a fan of professional baseball (unless the local team is in the world series), I found the piece a good read indeed. Thanks for the link.

    2. chuck roast

      Hah! Ted hit a homer in his last at bat, and it was at Fenway. Official stats say there were around 10K fans there that day. Anyway, way below capacity. Odd that half of the guys east of the Connecticut River claim to have been there that day.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        10,000 were still there. April and September were his targeted times to go to games. My dad’s two greatest disappointments were tasting Moxie and being devastated Ted Williams could be bought. His greatest disappointment was learning Williams actually liked Moxie.

  2. DJG, Reality Czar

    The link about the Enbridge showdown in MIchigan goes to an article in Indian Country Today. (Not High Country News.) Small matter.

    The bigger matter is that Enbridge is abusing the Straits of Mackinac, which are to the Great Lakes what the Bosporus is to Istanbul. Further, the Straits of Mackinac are central to Ojibwe identity. So the article is about how fossil-fuel companies are allowed to do what they want, and the U.S. government makes feeble gestures to control them. (Did Obama talk about DAPL in his latest NYTimes self-promotion?)

    Yet Enbridge has formidable adversaries. From the article, a list mainly of Ojibwe groups, and I wouldn’t want to go up against them: “The Bay Mills Indian Community, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi have signed friends-of-the-court briefs supporting the state’s notice of revocation and termination of the 1953 easement for Line 5.”

    These peoples are the masters of the Great Lakes, for centuries. Here in Chicago, before there was the oh-so-sophisticated city that brought you Rahm Emanuel, there were Odawa and Potawatomi villages.

    I am also harmonizing here with Henry Moon Pie’s comments this morning on nature and on our obligations to the communion of the landscape and the other inhabitants. So the thread continues.

      1. Tom Stone

        That pipeline is a disaster waiting to happen.
        The very fact that is already being built says a great deal about how insane (Literally) and corrupt our Country has become.
        Only a sociopath could like the Enbridge pipeline.

    1. JTMcPhee

      “Sophisticated” used to mean “spoiled, debased” as in “The vintner sophisticated his vintage with sugar of lead to sweeten a poor wine.”

      I guess I can see how the morphing of meaning took place…

  3. Nikkikat

    Say YES to street trees! Not only will the temperature around you drop several degrees during the hottest part of the day. Please look for trees indigenous to your area. These trees will support bird life. I have a California Pepper tree in my yard. The birds love it. Food, safety and tree branches that support nesting.
    Thanks for including that photo of a beautiful tree lined street.

    1. The Rev Kev

      If people oppose street trees, it should be pointed out to them that a street full of trees raises the value of their properties. That makes them stop and think. I have seen places where they feature prominently and you ask yourself why is this not a standard thing.

  4. Utah

    Re wasps in mailboxes. My ex husband is a letter carrier. He would spray his dog spray (which is just a pepper spray) on the wasp nests. Also worked for ants. I haven’t heard of dryer sheets, but it sounds like a decent/ cheap thing to try. Also, maybe safer than dog spray.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Dryer sheets ain’t “safe” at all — besides screwing up the works at the sewage plant, the stew of chemicals in them is bad juju: https://dailyhealthpost.com/dryer-sheets-dangers/

      Same is true of the “sanitizing wipes” and “baby wipes” that people “throw away” (there is no more “away”) which, like all the discarded single use masks, are adding to the choking of the planet.

    2. Glen

      I tried dryer sheets under the hood of our car to keep the rats out. The rats ate the dryer sheet.

      1. Nce

        Yeah, I was told that dryer sheets work on mice and pack rats, but they didn’t bother a regular rat that the technician who smogged my vehicle discovered. The poor guy screamed and told me that he wouldn’t complete the test until the rat was gone. I had to pressure wash my engine area to force the furry squatter out.

  5. petal

    Fauci and masks Feb 2020: Maybe Fauci was setting the stage for some drama and tension in his Disney documentary. This’ll make it more exciting to watch, you know? It’ll be like James Bond but real life!

      1. petal

        Yes, when you make a list and add up the potential payoffs(documentary, book, goosing stocks?), he may have done fairly well this past year and a half. Then there’s the speaker circuit, tv, and seats on boards/consulting if he ever retires. Not to mention the thirstiness and benefits to one’s ego. Priceless.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Where can one look up Fauci’s curve of rising net worth over the past several years? Does he have to report this information anywhere? Not that such “transparency” moves do a damn thing to deter looting behavior — more like brag sheets for the privileged. See what I got away with?”

    1. The Rev Kev

      Fauci and Obama should really get together for a documentary special. Two birds of a feather here.

  6. Carla

    This link to a fascinating interview with Pierre Kory, M.D. has been posted on NC already. Since it’s a 2-1/2 hour video, for those who don’t have time to watch the whole thing, I repeat the link here to call attention to a portion of it starting just after the 59 minute mark in which Kory describes the test-and-treat protocol using ivermectin in Mexico. Truly impressive:

    1. IM Doc

      I have just finished listening to this entire presentation.

      It reminded me of what the science of medicine was when I was younger. I really long for those days. When medicine was not controlled by desk jockeys in Boston and DC – but was under the command of the shock troops on the ground.

      I think this is very important for us all to llsten to. I would especially recommend the first 30 miinutes or so. A very piercing discussion of the entire concept of “evidence-based” medicine and how the use of that “science” is largely responsible for the mess we are in today.

      Basically, the use of algorithms that are now required by the corporate overlords vs. the experience that comes from a lifetime of medicine. I would call it the art vs. the science of medicine. But, as this discussion demonstrates – there is often not a lot of science in what we call “evidence-based” medicine these days.

      “Evidence-based” medicine sounds wonderful. In real-life experience, it is anything but. It has become a system of manipulated data and evidence used so practitioners can be more easily turned into drones by Big Hospital, Big Pharma, and Big Medicine.

      1. Robert Hahl

        A friend in NYC who showed symptoms and tested positive for covid-19 was told only to go home to his wife and daughter, and let nobody leave the apartment for two weeks. That was it for medical advice, except (I suppose) that if he couldn’t breath, go to the ER. I sent a pulse oximeter.

        As for the resistance to ivermectin, my impression is that our “owners” don’t want to be bothered with sick people until they need hospitalization, and they certainly don’t want people with symptoms going to doctor’s offices for prescriptions.

        1. The Rev Kev

          I don’t suppose that your friend was also instructed to paint a big red cross on his door and told to write on it ‘Lord Have Mercy Upon Us’ as well. Good on you for sending him that pulse oximeter.

    2. Arizona Slim

      Since I first heard about Dr. Kory and ivermectin back in December 2020 (hat tip, Naked Capitalism commentariat), I have been telling people what I’ve heard. Just simple face-to-face conversations, nothing more.

      The most common reaction? People ask, “Why don’t I know about this?”

  7. Amateur Socialist

    Saw a lovely note from our mail carrier today “Left mailbox open to try to get the ants to leave” (looking in there is a rather large nest/swarm gathering in the back end). So I tried putting a dryer sheet in there to see if it helps them decide to leave.

    1. fresno dan

      Amateur Socialist
      June 2, 2021 at 2:57 pm
      at the very least, it will make them soft and wrinkle free…

    2. Mantid

      Amateur, Mint leaves or mint oil. Also cucumber peal shavings. When/if you have ants in your kitchen – which can happen with all the nice food, sugar, etc., plant some mint outside the kitchen wall. Most kitchens have an exterior wall. No ants. “Grandma’s Hands” left these facts for us to learn. But….. attention, mint plants spread like wildfire and make a great addition to any mixed grass yard.

  8. cocomaan

    UPDATE “Biden taps Harris to lead administration’s voting rights efforts” [CBS News]. • So that’s not going anywhere either?

    Wife and I were talking about how Harris is weirdly absent. Or may not weirdly: the VP spot is notoriously useless.

    But my wife recalled that Harris was in charge of the border, which has been a humanitarian disaster. It seems like Joe, who is more conniving than we give him credit for, might be putting her in charge of impossible situations.

    Let’s be honest: what is Harris possibly going to do about the border or voting access in the next year? She has almost no tools to work with.

    Joe is sabotaging her before she even started. He hasn’t forgotten getting called out on stage for being a racist.

    1. hunkerdown

      Voting rights = she’ll make sure the leftist, anti-Beto counties don’t have enough ballots again.

      They might also predict that she’ll mix her missions and get right-wing dictators elected in northern Central America so that the “proper” order of exploitation can be restored to the Lacandon jungle. Finance feels they’ve been mocked for long enough, I imagine.

    2. JTMcPhee

      No sympathy at all for Harris. Knowing the games she played to advance herself through the years, the sh!t she dumped on others both retail and wholesale, the arrogance and self-serving. If she fails at these tasks, just shows she can’t play the game at this level, can’t avoid the sandbagging she has pulled so often on others. Great smile, though, and stuff, much improved as she spruced up for the political races.

      The “balanced” version of her life/career: https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/08/11/kamala-harris-vp-background-bio-biden-running-mate-2020-393885

      1. KnowHerTooWell

        The “Actual” version of her life/career:

        Twenty Things You Probably Didn’t Know about Kamala Harris

        1.Harris pushed for a new statewide law that lets prosecutors charge parents with misdemeanors if their children are chronically truant.
        2.Harris strongly supports “familial DNA searching–California allows the collection and preservation of DNA samples from anyone who is arrested, even if they’re not charged with a crime.
        3. Harris also has been a strong advocate of civil asset forfeiture.
        4.As San Francisco district attorney, Harris created “Back on Track,” an anti-recidivism program that she expanded as state attorney general.–illegal immigrant Alexander Izaguirre, who had pleaded guilty to selling drugs, was selected and graduated, only to later grab a woman’s purse and run her down in an SUV, severely injuring her.
        5.the Los Angeles Times put it, “Harris’ office had been allowing Izaguirre and other illegal immigrants to stay out of prison by training them for jobs they cannot legally hold.”
        6. In 2012, she submitted a brief supporting an illegal immigrant’s application for a law license.
        7. In her first speech on the Senate floor, Harris declared, “An undocumented immigrant is not a criminal.” –reentry without permission after deportation is a crime, as is, in most cases, working in the United States without legal residency, since it almost always involves some falsification of documents or lying on work forms under penalty of perjury.
        8. The review found that in 2009, San Francisco prosecutors “won a lower percentage of their felony jury trials than their counterparts at district attorneys’ offices covering the 10 largest cities in California”
        See far more here:


        Trump reelection supporters are praying the Democrats are dumb enough to nominate her.

          1. ambrit

            Brown was probably trying to do Harris a favour. Obama was trying to do himself a favour.
            I have finally twigged to the fact that everything that Obama has ever done was all about him first, the public last.

            1. The Rev Kev

              Brown was only being fair what with all the “favours” that Harris did for him.

    3. Jason Boxman

      One can only hope; Maybe it won’t be Harris after all in 2024 or 2028. Not that liberal Democrats won’t sabotage any worthwhile candidate that might run under the D banner in a primary.

    4. Tom Stone

      Cocoman, I suspect Jill Biden had more to do with the Border assignment than anyone else.
      Definitely a poisoned chalice and Jill Biden was quite open about her feelings when Kamala Harris attacked Joe’s record during the debates.
      Jill is not known for a forgiving nature….
      As to “Voting Rights” doing anything substantive would offend the elites, we know how that works.
      Don’t forget we’re looking at East Coast VS Willie Brown West coast factions as well, there are subtleties here.

    1. Carla

      Well, with West Virginia giving away guns as an incentive to get vaccinated, children initiating shoot-outs with the police is only to be expected, isn’t it? I mean, what the hell else do we expect?

      1. fresno dan

        June 2, 2021 at 4:42 pm
        it takes a good kid with a gun to stop a bad kid with a gun…

  9. Greg

    ‘It’s not an argument I’ve seen win,’ said Christopher Slobogin, director of Vanderbilt Law School’s Criminal Justice Program, a psychiatry professor and an expert on mental competency.” • Hmm.

    Seems like as soon as one judge allows that argument, it’s a slippery slope to holding leaders (partially) accountable for the actions of the troops. Can’t have that!

    1. Procopius

      Under the UCMJ, holding “leaders” responsible for the actions of their troops is supposed to happen. How did that work out at My Lai and Abu Ghraib? In the 18th (?) Century there was a case of a British warship losing in its engagement with an enemy ship. Early in the engagement, enemy cannon fire had killed all the officers on the quarterdeck. The only survivor was a twelve-year-old midshipman on his first voyage. The Court Martial held that (a) he was an officer (even though an apprentice), (b) as the only surviving officer he had become the captain of the vessel, (c) that he had fought the engagement incompetently, and (d) therefore, he should be hanged. Military justice ain’t what it used to be.

      *I can’t remember the name of the vessel, so don’t know how to look the case up. Read about it many years ago.

  10. Geo

    “some who are facing criminal charges for their actions during the riot hope their gullibility might save them or at least engender some sympathy”

    If being stupid is a legal defense I should be immune to all legal consequences for my actions.

  11. synoia

    I feel I’m engaging in a macabre form of tape-watching. All the charts are becoming dull — approaching nominal, if you accept the “new normal” of cases, for example.

    It is summer, when diseases historically retreated. More outdoor activity, open windows, and much more virus killing sunlight.

    Let’s see what the next flu season brings, which is after we have demolished all the safeguards. There is still much Covid virulence in other parts of the world to come blowing back in the wind.

    April/May 2022 with no recurrence is the time to relax and celebrate. IMHO it is way too early to relax safeguards and celebrate.

    1. ambrit

      As you say, people who are bringing some independent thinking to the subject know that it is not time to relax.
      Unfortunately, as I am seeing out on the street, most people are following the lead of the elite sponsored narrative. “Ding Dong the Covid is Dead! Done in by the Vaccine Gods!”
      Next fall and winter are going to be harsh. Public trust in any elite sponsored institution, not just governmental ones, will fade away.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Me? If I’m in an enclosed space, I’m going to keep on wearing my [family blogging] mask.

        If I’m outdoors and not getting close to anyone else, say, if I’m riding my bicycle, no mask on. But it will be around my neck. Y’know, just in case I stop and visit one of those enclosed spaces like a store.

        1. ambrit

          The same here. And we have an air cleaner machine running 24/7 in our living room.
          [That reminds me, time to clean the filter. Thankfully, it has the ultraviolet light feature too.]
          When out driving, I keep the windows wide open. Since we are getting 90 degree days with mid to high humidity already, many people are running their automobile air conditioners when out and about. I am resisting that urge. {As the Devil said to the new arrival ‘Down Below,’ “You’ll be all right. It’s a dry heat.”}

  12. Mikel

    RE: “Apple Loses Multiple Top Managers From Self-Driving Car Division” [Bloomberg]. Gee, I wonder why?

    Engineers waiting to see if they can get people off the road first and/or infrastructure especially designed for handicapped self-driving cars.

  13. Cat Burglar

    Biden’s suspension of oil leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a good thing, but it does not come without a tradeoff: drilling in the National Petroleum Reserve, on the west end of the north slope. An NYT story points out that Secretary Haaland informed Murkowski that Conoco/Phillips would get a 30-year lease to pump 100,000 barrels a day from the Reserve.

    While wildlife in the NPR does not have the protection of refuge status, it is home to the Western Arctic Caribou Herd, the largest one in the US arctic (the population has varied between about 400,000 and 200,000 animals during the last 20 years). My understanding is that plans to drill in the reserve began under Obama as a trade for his protection of ANWR, and Trump increased the acreage available for drilling. I have not seen any word on rollback of NPR drilling acreage under Biden.

    About ten years ago, a friend and I paddled down the Kukpowruk River on the North Slope, during caribou migration. We only saw a couple thousand during the two weeks we spent on the river. The first evening 30 crossed below our camp, followed by a very determined brown bear (aka grizzly, to outsiders), who became a very perplexed bear when he ran smack into us. Some days later, taking out of the river chilled and tired at a good landing, we were surprised when the thousand caribou on the hill moved toward us — we had pulled the canoe out at the best ford for a few miles! Hilarity ensued as my friend and I and the caribou ran around through the willows trying to avoid each other.

    My friend had sat on a National Academy of Sciences panel studying the impact of development on the NPR lands and animals. He had been down the river before, and wanted to see it again: “The tragedy is that the oil is in the wildlife refuge, and the caribou are in the petroleum reserve.”

  14. Matthew G. Saroff

    The most epic NY Times correction of all time was about a relationship, but not from the marriage column, it was about two college students on the spectrum dating:

    An article on Monday about Jack Robison and Kirsten Lindsmith, two college students with Asperger syndrome who are navigating the perils of an intimate relationship, misidentified the character from the animated children’s TV show “My Little Pony” that Ms. Lindsmith said she visualized to cheer herself up. It is Twilight Sparkle, the nerdy intellectual, not Fluttershy, the kind animal lover.

    Oddly enough, I know Jack, barely. I met him when I was an infant.

  15. Matthew G. Saroff

    Regarding the article on the Gypsy cab cooperative, the line, “Few have the technical prowess,” is flat out wrong.

    Ride hailing and rating of drivers and passengers is not hard at all, unless you screw it up by attempting to use blockchain.

    The real problem is that Uber and Lyft are likely to use their vast bank accounts to drive you out of business.

  16. Michael Ismoe

    If they really wanted to get rid of the dead wood on the Supremes, couldn’t they just pass a mandatory retirement age of say 75. It would be all the more ludicrous coming with a signature of the 78-year-old president. Hell make it apply to anyone in federal service.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      Didn’t one of those Emanuel boys say we are all useless after 75 anyway?

    2. flora

      Well, at least in the current system none of them have one eye on their next job while on the bench. No revolving door.

    3. Gareth

      No, that would require a constitutional amendment in order for it to apply to federal judges. I don’t see Democrats swinging 2/3 of Congress and 38 State legislatures any time soon.

      1. Michael Ismoe

        I don’t think so. There’s a precedent. Of course if I am wrong, they could always take it to the Supreme Court

        For federally appointed judges, retirement is mandatory at age 75. In some provincial and territorial jurisdictions, the retirement age is 70.

        1. Gareth

          No, you are confusing the administrative judges (non Article 3) with the article 3 judges. Article 3 federal judges never have to retire. They may retire if they wish, or they can assume senior status if they wish to be able to return to service. An article 3 judge who can no longer perform his or her duties but refuses to retire is dealt with by appointing a new judge to the court and designating the older judge as the backup judge. Then they wait for that judge to pass. In effect, they are put on senior status without their consent. However, they are not retired, which is an entirely different status in terms of rights.

    4. Jack Parsons

      The Air Force turfed out my dad (civilian chem eng) at 70.

      Fauci is 80. There’s gotta be people younger and cheaper who can do his job :)

  17. Edward

    “It’s hard to just underscore how much the bank bailouts just angered everyone, including me.”

    Obama was so angry, he signed the Dodd-Frank legislation, which included such provisions as not restoring Glass-Stiegal. As I recall, Bill Black described this legislation as “appalling”. His anger was also reflected in the number of Wall Street crooks not prosecuted. More “looking forward, not backwards”, except for whistleblowers.

  18. a fax machine

    re: street trees

    Trees are also incredibly dangerous when not carefully trimmed and managed, a problem climate change will greatly aggravate. This can already be seen in the growing fire crisis here in California. I suspect this summer will (tragically) break all known records – bigger fires, more homeless, less available housing, longer power shutoffs, all on top of the Eviction Moratorium ending. The K12 system unraveling is the icing, along with the general breakdown of all public services due to Covid.

    This is the sort of problem that gives me pause for thought. Given how bad this summer is going to be and given how incompetent Governor Newsom is, I have little hope that everyone will make it through unharmed. Lo, I expect some sort of major [family blog]-storm around this time next year as the state gov’t finds itself unable to adequately respond to the newly homeless masses. Related to this has been the massive growth in home generators, spawned by PG&E shutting off peoples’ solar panels during their shutdowns. CARB has sought to regulate this, but it’s not going to happen (especially when new model hybrids offer generator functions, and mobile ones cannot be effectively regulated).

    ..as for myself, I’ve been preemptively giving out donuts to the homeless people near my workplace. Management also (reluctantly) agreed to mobile portable toilets and showers and pay them to pick up the trash every Monday – because when they didn’t truckers would refuse to drop loads.

    1. freebird

      TRUCKERS???? Those guys who strew litter debris fields all over the West wherever there is a parking area for them or they need to pull off the road for any reason??

      1. a fax machine

        She pulled up in the early morning after the bars closed, and one of the “residents” wouldn’t stop doing something unmentionable with his pants off. Police called and said nobody would be sent unless he was violent, which nobody wanted to test. She then reported it in the Trip Computer. The fleet ultimately sided with her because this was during the middle of the Floyd protests and thus became very anal-retentive about (*citizen*) driver safety. Notably, she is a legal US citizen – she is able to fully utilize labor protections afforded to her, as opposed to intra-state drivers with AB60 cards.

        Most of this is based around TCs. Phone pics are one thing – TCs go to all the fleet drivers who know instantly and react accordingly. Arraigning intra-state drivers for all the freight costs more than daily septic/water/trash pickup. Owner-operators are considered a risk because due to potentially explosive mix guns, drugs and vice vs the homeless.

        To be clear: the homeless in this are people too. We see that especially when their numbers have grown from just random drifters and mentally ill people to couples and families. The RV crowd has slowly merged with this, which causes weirder encounters at local camping stores (which have turned out to be more essential than any other non-food store). That’s the concerning part… it’s not just 50 people anymore. It’s 500. What happens if it’s suddenly 5,000? A good reason to be a trucker.. company-provided shelter. Even the mexicans getting screwed by their company leases still have a bed and some savings.

    2. Tom Stone

      Fax Machine, I live in West Sonoma County and I reviewed my preparations and made sure I had what I needed to evacuate quickly in the right places.
      In mid March.
      The only California County I can think of that is not at serious risk of a big UWI fire is San Francisco.
      My nightmare is a 6.8 Earthquake on the Hayward/Rogers Creek Fault at the end of Summer when the winds are gusting to 55MPH.
      Everyone who breathed the smoke from the Tubbs fire and the subsequent fires has permanent damage much of which won’t show up in the short term.
      It is very nasty stuff, everything people have in their houses burns.
      It’s a good idea to have N95 masks on hand early and extra filters for the air purifier.
      Enjoy the show, it’s likely to be spectacular.

      1. a fax machine

        It’s really something: I remember when “only” the area between the casino and the walmart was the wasteland and when the only big camp was adjacent the power substation (now since cleared for the present train station). Now half of SR is gone. I recall driving through Vallejo and seeing the lines of homeless families wait for free masks while the NG came through and I didn’t know if they were for the fires or for the riots/car sideshow (note: the riots were separate from the protesters, especially as many lawful, peaceful protesters were attacked by the violent thugs who just wanted to indiscriminately hurt people). Now it’s spreading EVERYWHERE – the big camp under I-80 is back, the huge camp under the BART tracks are back (the one whose fires intermittently halt BART service) and it’s on the peninsula too.

        The average person can hack it a day, maybe two with no power. 3 days and they’re reliant on PG&E charging centers for phone power. 4 days and there’s no gas. 5 days and the only food left is canned. At 10 days the only gas left is at the RR fuel stop in Petaluma and at 14 the only food left is provided by FEMA. Non-phone people might as well not exist… useful for looters.

        Southerners go through this every hurricane season. But even now the damage from Katrina is still there – Amtrak still has not restored Sunset Limited service east of New Orleans because of Katrina washouts. I have the fear that it can happen here in California. Not just the North Bay but anywhere.

        1. ambrit

          One quick tip from a Katrina survivor. When things get bad, get to know your local National Guard units. (They will generally be from out of town. Then, pour on the charm.) Unless it is a nation wide collapse, they will have what is needed for day to day survival.
          Also, it gets ‘fun’ when you start having MRE mix and match parties.

  19. The Rev Kev

    Something for the end of the day. People may remember the ‘Explaining the Pandemic to my Past Self’ series by Canadian comedian Julie Nolke. A coupla weeks ago she dropped another one in the series called ‘Explaining the Pandemic to my Past Self – 1 Year Later’-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqlPsAAsZss (4:51 mins)

  20. juliania

    I’m late, lambert, sorry – but I went hunting for a better bellbird recording. This is better if you just listen to the high notes – the bird is aptly named. You’d have to be out in the bush with none of the modern frazzle, a distance from the undertones so the bell quality is what you hear, as it carries there — maybe back in the old days — I do remember hearing it then.


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