2:00PM Water Cooler 6/21/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, this Water Cooler will be shorter than it should be, because I have to finish up a post. I’ll do better tomorrow! –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

A blue jay, whose song (to me) actually sounds blue; perhaps some of the notes that bend like water droplets?

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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. I’ve been thinking of new charts to monitor to alert us to the next outbreak, assuming there is one, but for now, the data from the South means I’ll stick to the status quo.

Vaccination by region:

Up and down, up and down, with a rising trendline.

Case count by United States regions:

Decline has resumed.

Here are the case counts for the last four weeks in the South (as defined by the US Census: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia):

Texas seems to be fizzling out, but Florida, capital of Latin America, is not.

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

Worth noting that New York has 289 cases…. as opposed to 20, 472 days ago.

Test positivity:

South still fallen off its cliff.

Hospitalization (CDC):

Continued good news.

Deaths (Our World in Data):

Continued good news.

Covid cases worldwide:

It looks to me like al the regions have had three peaks, although of different heights and at different times. Except Southeast Asia, which has had two. Hmm…

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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

Biden Administration

“Biden risks break with progressives on infrastructure” [The Hill]. “Jim Manley, a strategist and former Senate Democratic leadership aide, said Biden could unify the party behind a bipartisan package, despite progressives’ complaints with the $974 bipartisan framework. He predicted, however, that won’t stop Democrats in the party’s liberal wing from complaining. ‘The bottom line here is that no matter how all this plays out, and I’m referring to a bipartisan bill versus a reconciliation process, a whole lot of Democratic priorities are going to be left on the cutting room floor. The question is how the left responds,’ he said. ‘For a majority of Americans, they just want to see success. They just want to get something done,’ he added. He said progressives are likely ‘to be disappointed no matter what.’ It’s likely to be a comedown for many progressives who earlier this year praised Biden for exceeding their expectations with his $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan and $1.8 trillion American Families Plan.” • Biden’s not “exceeding expectations”?

“Opinion: The U.S. needs to learn from its TPP mistake — and get its seat back at the table” [WaPo]. “Ideally, U.S. reengagement in the Asia-Pacific means negotiating a way to reenter the TPP, a move that would be a boon for job growth, increase U.S. regional influence and signal our willingness to once again act as a serious trading partner. But if, instead, China beats us to the punch by joining this pact, it would almost surely mean a degrading of environmental and labor standards on both sides of the Pacific. U.S. trade leadership in the Asia-Pacific is an imperative for our country’s economy, national security and broader diplomatic efforts. We intend to use our positions atop the Senate’s trade panel, as a Delaware Democrat and a Texas Republican, to speak with one voice on the need to reengage in this region.” • Not a word on ISDS. Naturally.

“Fiona Hill: Summit with Biden was ‘a very important’ symbolic win for Putin” [The Hill]. “Fiona Hill said on Sunday that last week’s summit with President Biden was a ‘very important win’ For Russian President Vladimir Putin in terms of symbolism.” • She’s still at it. Why don’t we go ahead and impeach Biden, too?

“Biden to revive presidential portrait tradition Trump skipped” [NBC]. “A modern presidential tradition is poised to return to the White House — at least in part. President Joe Biden plans to host a White House ceremony this year for the unveiling of former President Barack Obama’s official portrait, according to people familiar with the discussions. And former President Donald Trump has already begun participating in the customary process so his official portrait can eventually hang alongside his predecessors, according to an aide and others familiar with the discussions. It’s unlikely Trump would follow the tradition of having his portrait unveiled at an East Room event hosted by his successor, given his false claims that Biden didn’t legitimately win the 2020 election, people familiar with the matter said. But a formal event with Obama and his wife, Michelle, is expected to take place at the White House — likely this fall — after coronavirus restrictions have been lifted to allow for such a large gathering, these people said.” • And what a great President Obama was, to be sure…

Stats Watch

Coincident Indicators: “United States Chicago Fed National Activity Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Chicago Fed National Activity Index increased to 0.29 in May of 2021 from a downwardly revised -0.09 in April, pointing to a pick up in economic growth, led by improvements in production-related indicators.”

* * *

Shipping: “Get Ready for Years of Chaos in Container Shipping” [Bloomberg]. “Covid dealt a hammer-blow to global merchandise volumes, but the slowdown had been going on for some time before that, thanks to former President Donald Trump’s trade wars on the rest of the world. Traffic had been trending downward ever since late 2018, and only regained its previous levels at the start of this year. As a result, the freight industry has been cutting back on investment in anticipation of a global economy in which trade would be playing a smaller role. Since March 2019, Maersk’s capital investment has come to just $2.9 billion, not much more than it invested in a single quarter during 2014. That’s a problem that will take years of building new ships, berths and port loading cranes to fix.

The Bezzle: “Airbnb Is Spending Millions of Dollars to Make Nightmares Go Away” [Bloomberg]. This: “A former deputy chief of staff at the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Council adviser in the Obama White House, Shapiro was two weeks into a new job as a crisis manager at Airbnb Inc.” Moving on: “Airbnb says that fewer than 0.1% of stays result in a reported safety issue, but with more than 200 million bookings a year, that’s still a lot of trips with bad endings. Only the most serious problems are transferred to the internal safety team. That team is made up of about 100 agents in Dublin, Montreal, Singapore, and other cities. Some have emergency-services or military backgrounds. Team members have the autonomy to spend whatever it takes to make a victim feel supported, including paying for flights, accommodation, food, counseling, health costs, and sexually transmitted disease testing for rape survivors. A former agent who was at Airbnb for five years describes the approach as shooting ‘the money cannon.’ The team has relocated guests to hotel rooms at 10 times the cost of their booking, paid for round-the-world vacations, and even signed checks for dog-counseling sessions. ‘We go the extra mile to ensure anyone impacted on our platform is taken care of,’ Bunch says. ‘We don’t really worry about the brand and image component. That stuff will take care of itself as long as you do the right thing.’ Former agents recall cases where they had to counsel guests hiding in wardrobes or running from secluded cabins after being assaulted by hosts. Sometimes the guests were the perpetrators, as with an incident when one was found in bed, naked, with his host’s 7-year-old daughter. Agents have had to hire body-fluid crews to clean blood off carpets, arrange for contractors to cover bullet holes in walls, and deal with hosts who discover dismembered human remains. The work can be so stressful that agents have access to cool-down rooms with dimmed lighting to create a soothing atmosphere for answering harrowing calls.” • Sounds like moderation, but in RL.

The Bezzle: “Why we lose track of spending in a cashless society” [Financial Times]. “Consider the scam-adjacent website: the principal service it provides is to solve a problem it has paid to create — namely that the official website isn’t as prominent in web searches as it might be. The near-valueless service, however, is described unambiguously and the website states plainly that it is not an official site. So who would knowingly use such a service? My wife recently did. And it is self-evident that my wife is a person of the most refined wisdom and discernment. So how did this calamity occur? My wife handed over about £100 for nothing of value because her technology made it so easy. She didn’t notice the disclaimer because she was distracted and multitasking. She applied via a mobile phone, her browser preloaded with credit card details. On such a tiny screen, hints of trouble pass unseen. We’re warned to be careful of the small print, but on a mobile phone, all the print is small print.”

The Bezzle: “FedEx to test package deliveries with self-driving startup Nuro” [Reuters]. “Nuro vehicles are already making deliveries for U.S. supermarket operator Kroger Co (KR.N) and Domino’s Pizza Inc (DPZ.N) in the Houston area. Nuro continues to test its technology in Arizona…. In a separate project, FedEx is using DEKA Research & Development Corp’s smaller robot, dubbed “Roxo,” for on-demand, same-day deliveries in Plano, Texas. Rival United Parcel Service Inc (UPS.N) is centering its unmanned delivery efforts on drones… Transporting people via self-driving taxis is proving more difficult and expensive than delivering packages and food. As a result, freight and logistics companies are exploring ways to roll out the technology on predictable and simple routes, including on highways.”

The Bezzle: “How scientists are embracing NFTs” [Nature]. “From cat memes and music tracks to all manner of digital art, the bizarre, often quirky market for non-fungible tokens (NFTs) is booming. And now, science is hopping on the bandwagon for these receipts of ownership of digital files that are bought and sold online…. From 23 to 30 June, computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the World Wide Web, is auctioning an NFT featuring the source code of the original web browser, along with a silent video of the code being typed out. Meanwhile, biology pioneer George Church and a company he co-founded, Nebula Genomics in San Francisco, California, have advertised their intention to sell an NFT of Church’s genome. Church, a geneticist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who helped to launch the Human Genome Project, is well known for controversial proposals, including resurrecting the woolly mammoth and creating a dating app based on DNA.”

Tech: “Google searches for new measure of skin tones to curb bias in products” [Reuters]. “At issue is a six-color scale known as Fitzpatrick Skin Type (FST), which dermatologists have used since the 1970s. Tech companies now rely on it to categorize people and measure whether products such as facial recognition systems or smartwatch heart-rate sensors perform equally well across skin tones. … Critics say FST, which includes four categories for ‘white’ skin and one apiece for ‘black’ and ‘brown,’ disregards diversity among people of color. Researchers at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, during a federal technology standards conference last October, recommended abandoning FST for evaluating facial recognition because it poorly represents color range in diverse populations. In response to Reuters’ questions about FST, Google, for the first time and ahead of peers, said that it has been quietly pursuing better measures.” • Interesting that DHS is driving this. I wonder why?

Tech: This is so touching:

Manufacturing: “Largest Boeing 737 MAX model takes off on maiden flight” {Reuters]. ” Boeing Co’s 737 MAX 10, the largest member of its best-selling single-aisle airplane family, took off on its maiden flight on Friday, in a further step toward recovering from the safety grounding of a smaller model..,. The flight, watched by dozens of employees but virtually no visitors as Boeing sought to downplay the event, showcased a revamped landing gear system illustrating an industry battle to squeeze as much mileage as possible out of the current generation of single-aisles. It raises the landing gear’s height during take-off and landing, a design needed to compensate for the MAX 10′s extra length and prevent the tail scraping the runway on take-off.” • What a kludge, especially given that the 737 being low to the ground was a selling point in the days before jetways.

Travel: “American Airlines cancels hundreds of flights due to staffing crunch, maintenance issues” [NBC]. “About 6 percent of the airline’s mainline schedule, or 180 flights, were canceled on Sunday, according to flight-tracking site FlightAware. The airline said that equaled about three percent of its total flights, including those operated by regional carriers. About half of those were because of unavailable flight crews, showed a company list, which was viewed by CNBC. On Saturday, about four percent, or 123 flights, were canceled, the site showed. American said it is trimming its overall schedule by about one percent through mid-July to help ease some of the disruptions, some of which it said resulted from bad weather at its Charlotte and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport hubs during the first half of June.”

Travel: “Travelers care deeply about sustainability – until it inconveniences them” [CNBC]. “In a separate study by travel site The Vacationer, a similar majority (83%) said sustainable travel was somewhat or very important to them. Yet, almost half (48%) of respondents said they would opt for such trips only if it did not inconvenience them…. Good intentions aside, cost remains the primary consideration for most travelers (62%) when planning a holiday, the study from The Vacationer found. Sustainability and carbon footprint, on the other hand, pales at 4%. Seven in 10 (71%) said they would pay more to lower their carbon footprint, but the extent to which they’re willing — or able — to do so varies greatly. Just over a quarter (27%) of respondents said they would pay less than $50 to counter their emissions, while one-third (33%) said they would contribute $50 to $250. Only 3% said they would be willing to pay over $500, and 29% would pay nothing.”

The Economy: “Alice’s Adventures in Equilibrium” [Hussman Funds]. “Much of what passes for economic and financial analysis is incoherent. I’ve chosen that word carefully. The problem is not that the beliefs of investors are “less true” than they think. It’s that many of the most commonly repeated phrases don’t mean anything close to what investors think they mean. It’s that many of these belief systems are inconsistent, confused, or rooted in false premises. They are incoherent in the same way that it’s incoherent to debate how many pine trees are planted at the edge of the earth, how many aardvarks you need to start a thunderstorm, or how the gold coins in the pot at the end of the rainbow are invested. That’s not to say that incoherent beliefs have no impact on the markets. But it does mean that the speculative market impact is entirely the product of what Buddhists might call ‘mental formations’ that may not, and need not, have anything to do with reality, and leave investors vulnerable because of it.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 32 Fear (previous close: 30 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 54 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 21 at 12:18pm. No longer stuck in neutral!

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

The Biosphere

“Crowds swarm the public lands” [High Country News]. “By midsummer, even as temperatures climbed to unbearable heights, forests burned and the air filled with smoke, people began traveling again, mostly by car and generally closer to home. They inundated the public lands, from the big, heavily developed national parks like Zion and the humbler state parks, to dispersed campsites on Bureau of Land Management and national forest lands. It was more than just a return of the same old crowds. Millions of outdoor-recreation rookies apparently turned to the public lands to escape the pandemic. Nearly every national park in the West had relatively few visitors from March until July. But then numbers surged to record-breaking levels during the latter part of 2020 — a trend that was reflected and then some on the surrounding non-park land…. If nature did manage a little healing in the spring, by summer the wounds were ripped open again in the form of overuse, torn-up alpine tundra, litter, noise, car exhaust and crowd-stressed wildlife. Human waste and toilet paper were scattered alongside photogenic lakes and streams. Search and rescue teams, most of which are volunteer, were overwhelmed, with some being called out three or more times a week. Meanwhile, the agencies charged with overseeing the lands have long been underfunded and understaffed — a situation exacerbated by the global pandemic. They were simply unable to get a handle on all of the use — and increased abuse.”

“A dangerous distraction: Increasing climate risk with solar geoengineering” [The Hill]. “Solar geoengineering is a misnomer used to describe efforts to reduce the amount of solar energy reaching the lower atmosphere and thereby counteract the greenhouse effect that has led to rapid climate change…. perhaps the most convincing argument against such research is a description of a society that grows dependent upon solar geoengineering to persist. In such a world the existential fear of a rapidly changing climate is replaced by the existential fear of a disruption in massive solar geoengineering efforts, whether they be internationally sanctioned or not. The risk of the geoengineering Band-Aid falling off would grow each year, as emissions continue and masking the effects grows more difficult. Fear of “termination shock,” the rapid and accumulated return of warming due to a disruption in geoengineering efforts, would ensure increasing investments in masking global warming. Global inequities would likely increase as poorer countries lose control over investments in these methods and therefore the scope or intent.”

Naked Capitalism Cooking Community™


More reactionary than the global supply chain? And what about potatoes or hot peppers? “History” is doing a lot of work, there.

Sports Desk

“Supreme Court rules against NCAA, opening door to significant increase in compensation for student athletes” [CNN]. “A unanimous Supreme Court said on Monday that student athletes could receive education-related payments, in a case that could reshape college sports by allowing more money from a billion-dollar industry to go to the players.” • I agree that the so-called student athletes should be compensated like the professionals they are (which the decision does not allow). But then we have pro football teams with universities attached, which makes no sense. Why not split the two institutions off from each other entirely? And have the football team pay a licensing fee for the name….

Like the tweet says: Watch ’til the end:

Imperial Collapse Watch

For the Cubbies?!

The Conservatory

“Springsteen’s back on Broadway – but no AstraZeneca vaccine recipients allowed” [Guardian]. “The Boss has laid down strict rules for attendees of Springsteen on Broadway, which reopens on 26 June at the St James theatre. For admission, ticketholders must be able to prove they have received one of the three Covid-19 vaccinations with emergency use authorisation from the US Food and Drug Administration: the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson. This means those who have had doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford jab, which is not approved for use in the US but is popular in Canada, the UK and other countries, will not be allowed in….”

“‘This sounds like a human synthesiser’: the evolution of rap, one verse at a time” [Guardian]. This is fascination musically, and I hope rap fans will comment; I can’t really excerpt it. On the business aspect: “[W]hat’s happening in the world of rap, as with so much culture, is we’re becoming a decentralised content structure; a lot of niche fame as opposed to popular fame. You can be a rapper with only 100,000 fans, but still make a bag of money because of how social media works. This means it’s harder and harder to say ‘rap is like this’. You have your Drakes of the world, but for every one of them there’s someone unique who doesn’t have Top 20 hits but still makes a good living.” • I’m not sure this is how the “long tail” works in rock or folk, but perhaps the economics of each genre are different, with rap being more popular.

Zeitgeist Watch

“Towards a Unified Theory of Peloton” [Culture Study]. “But for now, I want to talk about the stars. Without them, there is no Peloton. They are tremendously valuable and, at least within the Peloton universal, meticulously individualized. Jess King is a rave kid. Alex Toussaint is the drill sergeant. Robin Arzón gives you type-A tough love. Ben Alldis is a Ken Doll. Emma Lovewell just wants to chill. Ally Love is giving the youth sermon. Sam Yo is the buff ex-Buddhist monk. Christine D’Ercole is the Gen-Xer who wants to release you from your own bullshit. Cody is the gay friend. Denis is the Silver Fox. Jenn Sherman is Mom…. If those sound reductive, they’re meant to be. They’re not full-fledged personalities, they’re image foundations, carefully cultivated by Peloton and the instructor themselves…. When someone says “I really need a Cody ride” or “I really need an Alex ride,” they are communicating a craving for a mode of address. Do you want someone with a very normy vibe to give you vaguely Dad-ish platitudes about endurance fitness? Take a Matt class. Do you want to curse at your tiny instructor? Choose Olivia. Do you want to want just broadly feel good about your life choices? Take Jess Sims. Some of what Mandy Harris Williams calls “athletic blackface”? You’ve got, well, options. Many instructors come from the fitness world, and many were poached from places like SoulCycle, where a cult of personality had already formed around their particular teaching style and image. The forgettable fitness instructor you kinda like has no place at Peloton. They sought out charisma.” • Yikes.

Class Warfare

“The Delta Variant Could Create “Two Americas” Of COVID, Experts Warn” [Buzzfeed]. “Experts say we may be about to see the emergence of “two Americas” of COVID: One with high rates of vaccination where the Delta coronavirus variant poses little threat, and the other with low levels of vaccination that will be vulnerable to renewed deadly surges. That divide is driven in large part by partisan politics, with vaccination rates highest in liberal cities and lowest in conservative strongholds across the Deep South and in rural areas across the nation. ‘I call it two COVID nations,’ Peter Hotez, a vaccine researcher at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, told BuzzFeed News. Wherever there are low rates of vaccination, the virus will continue to circulate and mutate, increasing the risk that new, more dangerous variants will emerge. With vaccination across most of the world lagging far behind the US, the Delta variant is likely to be followed by others.”

Most often, yes:

Preparing children for the labor market:

News of the Wired

“Turn Your Old, Cracked Android Phone Into a Backup Server! (UrBackup/Linux Deploy Tutorial Part I)” [Hannah Tech]. “Today, I’m going to show you how to run a full-fledged backup server on a rooted Android phone with UrBackup and Linux Deploy! Plastic waste isn’t going away, but the next big pollution problem to compound our anxieties is e-waste. So why toss out a perfectly good, albeit cracked and worn, phone? Besides, that old phone of yours: 1. Probably isn’t even that old (do you get a new computer every 1-2 years????) 2. Probably has 4-8 processors and ~4 GB of RAM- and definitely has a built-in UPS. Slap an external hard drive on it, and it looks like the perfect candidate to back up your entire home network!” • I definitely won’t be doing this, but the idea is brilliant, and some readers might try it out.

“Learning to Say ‘Cat’” [London Review of Books]. The final paragraph: “Communication, McGregor suggests, is less about putting the right words in the right order than about context, tone and active interpretation. It’s an idea I’ve come to accept. I’m no longer inclined to view relationships as primarily verbal, defined by the things we say, or fail to say, to one another. Two years on from his stroke, my father’s speech is far from perfect. He takes time to find words. He makes mistakes. But in all the most important ways – his intellect, his temperament, his sense of humour – he’s much the same as ever. These days I’m grateful for the things about him that used to wind me up. Perhaps this won’t last. The website of the Stroke Association warns that although aphasics may not recover the ability to speak in full sentences, ‘it’s usually possible for other people to understand what they mean. This can be very frustrating.’”

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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 (WB):

WB writes: “Neighbor’s yard – old cones and new cones.”

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If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!2:00PM Water Cooler 6/8/2021

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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. Mantid

      Toshiro, anybody out there remember “Pooh Bah” records in Pasadena, Ca? It was tops. Toshiro, I’m sorry for your loss.

      1. JBird4049

        The loss of a good shop is important especially now. I have got to visit Amoeba Music again and soon….

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Those Republicans who are smart enough to agree with this might try delaying and denying the IFTC effort to bring America into TPP long enough for Trump or another Trump-figure to run against TPP all over again in 2024.

      ( IFTC stands for International Free Trade Conspiracy).

  1. Jason Boxman

    Speaking of euthanizing the NGOs… from How a single new Alzheimer’s drug could blow up the federal budget, we have:

    The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review, a nonprofit that independently evaluates drug prices, concluded that Aduhelm justified an annual price of $2,500 to $8,300 based on current evidence. But if the more optimistic claims around the drug proved accurate, the price could be as high as $23,100. And a drug that truly halted the progression of Alzheimer’s, without curing it, would be worth roughly Aduhelm’s asking price, in part because it would save money by reducing existing treatment costs.

    And what’s their funding model? I’m so glad you asked!

    Funded by grants from non-profit foundations and by people like you, ICER’s value assessments are free from financial conflicts of interest from life science companies and insurers. Given this unique position as an independent and unbiased source of information, ICER has become known as the nation’s drug pricing watchdog.

    ICER is a unique solution to a uniquely American health system. Where other countries fund government agencies to ensure patients have access to high-value care, the US health system increasingly turns to ICER – an independent, non-partisan, non-government, non-profit. ICER reviews all available evidence to help determine what a fair price would be for a treatment, based on how well it works. In short, our evidence-based assessments help level-set prices, so Americans pay fairly for good care and don’t overpay for treatments with only a small benefit.

    Life science companies and commercial payers participate in ICER’s Policy Leadership Forum, and their dues contribute to ICER’s annual Policy Summit, which convenes leaders from both industries to discuss broad initiatives that could help deliver fair pricing and fair access across the US pharmaceutical supply chain. In total, contributions from ICER’s Policy Leadership Forum represent less than 20% of ICER’s annual revenue.

    Longer term, we anticipate that we will continue to diversify our funding through a mix of philanthropy, as well as research grants and contracts from foundations, federal and state governments, and public health systems.

    I’ve helpfully highlighted the conflicts of interest and neoliberalism approved delegation of public decision making to private, unaccountable, corruptible actors.

    It isn’t clear why the bolded parts are not in conflict with this text from above as well: ICER’s value assessments are free from financial conflicts of interest from life science companies and insurers..

    Or are they just 80% free of conflicts of interest?

    Needless to say, this kind of analysis ought to be conducted as a government function, as in civilized countries. But grifers gotta grift, eh? I haven’t looked up the LinkedIn bios for any of the employees, because I can’t stomach it. They’re located in Boston, so I’m sure there’s some cross-pollination with pharmaceutical alley in Cambridge, MA.

    (I didn’t notice any working class advocates as employees or as part of the leadership team, for any perspective on what might constitute a fair price for drugs.)

    Happy Monday!

    1. ZacP

      Very interesting this drug Aduhelm, placed on some kind of FDA accelerated approval pathway with no actual demonstrated improvement in a clinical endpoint. The independent advisory panel near unanimously recommended against this action. In other words, the FDA approved a drug that literally Does Nothing?? They are going to sell a fairytale to desperate families and charge them tens of thousands of dollars a year for the privilege.

      Also what a great time to begin further diluting the value of FDA approval, what with the pending inevitable approval of the vaccines.


      1. John

        What is the evidence that this stuff actually does anything other than generate profits?

  2. ambrit

    Per Nature. Ressurrecting the Wooly Mammoth is controversial??? Why? Siberia and the Canadian Artic will need a big food beast for the coming “Starvation Times.”

      1. ambrit

        There’s a certain “joie de mort” involved with the hunting of the giants. Plus, in the “Starvation Times,” it will help in re-centreing the hunting societies spiritually if the prey beast can also be a worthy opponent. (Hunting javelina on foot with spears comes close.)

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Perhaps we should focus on breeding javelinas with thick wool and able to live in the Arctic/Subarctic.

          The Great Wooly Javelina might be just what you are calling for.

          1. ambrit

            With global warming being more extreme in the higher lattitudes, the wooly part might not be needed. Short hair Mammoths?
            Still, pigs are omnivores, and mean little buggers. Russian boars can get up to 1000 pounds weight.
            See: https://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/70843.html
            Wooly Boar. Hmmm…. Definitely to be hunted from a tree stand.

      1. ambrit

        I think thast there was also a giant wooly rhino. To go along with the Wooly Mammoth and Great Wooly Javelina. Perhaps the Sasquatch and his cousins were the hominid equivalent of the wooly megafauna. That or the Sasquatch really is one of the Lost Tribes of Israel.

    1. Darius

      They should select Asian elephants for furryness. Over several generations, hypothetically, they’d be furry enough to withstand colder temperatures. Over centuries, they could adapt to tundra conditions. Asian elephants are closely related to mammoths. No need for genetic engineering.

      1. Michaelmas

        Asian elephants are closely related to mammoths.

        In fact, Church’s mammoth will have an Asian elephant genome with about fifty-six mammoth genetic circuits cut-and-pasted in. That’s if he ever delivers and reads his ‘mammoth’ genome out to a real phenotype — he’s been talking about this for ten years or so now.

          1. ambrit

            Why, the Mamser of course. (We’ll have to keep it “in the family,” if you catch my drift.)

    2. deplorado

      There was an article somewhere (maybe even here) about a scientist in the 1980ies who had a sample of a mammoth or some other frozen megafauna, entrusted to him to study, and while studying it came up with the brilliant idea to host a dinner party serving parts of the meat. Which was ~30,000 years old. I found that appallingly brutish, egotistical, shallow and artless. Of all the things in the world he could do with the sample he decided to put it a chunk of it in his digestive tract and entertain guests with his barbarity…. No doubt his contribution to science was probably as good as what came out of it.

      I think we need to brace ourselves for the coming of a lot more stories like that in the near future.

        1. Wukchumni

          I’m one of a select few to have eaten Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep, with no guilty pangs or mint jelly whatsoever.

          There’s a hunting guide here in tiny town that after you’ve paid hundreds of thousands of $’s to Fish & Game to be able to take one down, had his client only want the head as a trophy, and left him the meat.

          We were at a potluck a decade ago and had some and despite being marinaded nine ways to Sunday, it was powerfully gamy still.

          Those hundreds of thousands the hunter pays for the right to dispatch 1 of say 600 existent sheep, allows a dozen or more to be relocated away from the main herd, so as repopulate the Sierra Nevada with its namesake.

          1. ambrit

            I do get your ‘excitement’ about that. What is “funny” about the big game big license fee is that the Feds have decided to bump off an endangered critter, even though they don’t need the ‘outside’ money. Something other than the ‘gamy’ protein smells funny here.

  3. Grant

    “Opinion: The U.S. needs to learn from its TPP mistake — and get its seat back at the table”

    Sure would be nice in this “democracy” of ours to have a discussion on deals like this, since they impact intellectual property, government procurement, regulations, among countless other things. But, we wouldn’t have an honest discussion on these things because the deal would almost certainly be a non-starter. This system is amazingly undemocratic and corrupt, with people really denied the capacity to have any say in decisions that impact them. When Obama was negotiating the TPP he barred elected reps from reading the deal, then when they threatened him he allowed them to read the deal but they couldn’t take nates, pictures and couldn’t discuss the contents with the public. However, hundreds of corporate advisers had full access to the agreement. Did the dominant media care? Nope.

    When the WTO was created, NAFTA was negotiated, who was at the table? With NAFTA, Clinton showed utter contempt for organized labor, environmental and consumer rights groups on many levels. He even violated the law in regards to disclosing the deal, dropping it at the last second on the public and organized labor. He also signed side agreements after the deal on labor and environmental issues that were of course non-binding and were jokes, little more than for show. There was a reason why the world split open in Seattle in 1999 and it is amazing how many of the debates then have completely fallen off the table among the left. Talk to younger leftists over debates on globalization, and most of them don’t know tons. Radically different 20 years ago. That is not a good thing, cause this system isn’t sustainable and there are clear limits of changing much if you just focus on the local. Politics is not at all local, even those that support municipal socialism have realized the limits of what they can address and change.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Well, at least this op-ed is bi-Partisan. After NAFTA and our other trade deals worked so ‘well’ for Populace, who could oppose learning from our TPP mistakes. I learned to save my anti-TPP letters; I learned a little about how to find the addresses for my Congressmen and Senators; and I learned how little they cared what I thought and proved it with their inane responses to my letters. I learned how little respect or regard the supposed representatives of the American people have for the American people they represent. I learned how hard it is to kill zombies.

    2. Pelham

      The point you make reminds me of something Daniel Ellsberg says in his book “Secrets” about the deep state he was part of back in the early ’60s. The general feeling among the secret keepers was that elected officials and the people at large were dolts who had no right to the truth of matters because they would only insist on screwing things up. Therefore literally any expedient was justified to keep the dolts in the dark, including outright lies.

      Incidentally, speaking from more than three decades of experience as a journalist at major publications, I can attest that much the same attitude predominates at this level of the profession. Not that I ever tried to do anything about it.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Always keep in mind the words of former CIA nasty chief William Casey:

        “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.”

        And since the Empire is embroiled by choice in a Forever War for universal hegemony and domination, remember the words of that pious and vicious old fraud, Winston Churchill:

        “In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.”

    3. curlydan

      I love the language of that headline… “Get its seat back at the table.” Classic FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). What? I don’t have a seat at the table? NOOOO!!

    4. Alfred

      Is this what that new definition about domestic terrorists including people who are against global corporatism or some such thing is all about? You can be arrested if you oppose TPP?

      1. ambrit

        Once the Authoratarian State reaches equilibrium, the list of “offences” will change weekly, with no descernable rhyme or reason.
        That is optimal Police State.

    5. The Rev Kev

      ‘When Obama was negotiating the TPP he barred elected reps from reading the deal, then when they threatened him he allowed them to read the deal but they couldn’t take nates, pictures and couldn’t discuss the contents with the public.’

      The room where they were allowed to read it was normally a room used for reading highly classified state secrets. The TPP was really about the corporations deciding what the new rules for international trade were going to be and putting their interests ahead of any member countries, even the US. At the time, Obama was saying that ‘we will decide the rules of the road’ which was really his corporate buddies that he was talking about. It was also aimed at isolating China trade-wise and at the time it was called the Everybody-But-China treaty. Having Trump as President for four years was a cheap price to pay for the US avoiding going into this thing as it stood. After Trump pulled out, it still went ahead but I think that they yanked out the ISDSs as well as a lot of other onerous Obama demands.

  4. fresno dan

    The Bezzle: “Airbnb Is Spending Millions of Dollars to Make Nightmares Go Away” [Bloomberg]
    …and deal with hosts who discover dismembered human remains.
    • Sounds like moderation, but in RL.
    • Sounds like moderation, but in RL. Kinda makes me wanna see the comments that got away…

  5. Toshiro_Mifune

    Preparing children for the labor market

    The original Japanese show, Sasuke was awesome when it was on G4. The American version is ok… just not as good as the original. If I remember right the thing ran for 7 seasons before anyone won anything which I can’t imagine American TV producers allowing.

    1. Katiebird

      I love the adult version of the show. (And liked the original Japanese version too). This is the first time I’ve seen the kids version. I don’t like the racing format as much.

    1. zagonostra

      I was done with BS when he never got the memo that Obama sold out the people. Maybe he and his friend, the former President, have stock in a particular vaccine maker.

      It pains me to see an artist who played such a role in my adolescent life suborned like this, going to a BS concert was thrilling, now he is shilling.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Are you done with Black America too? Because Black America also never got the memo that Obama sold out the people. And Black America never will get the memo that Obama sold out the people.

        Never ever.

        1. Michael Ismoe

          They know it. They just can’t admit it.

          Obama will always be the Joe Louis of politicians. Being first has it’s advantages.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            But do they know it? Can they bring themselves to know it? Can the bear the pain of utter suckerhood?

            I think the Obamacynics at Black Agenda Report would be the people to ask about whether Mainstream Black America even knows it at all. Or ever even CAN ever know it, ever , at all , ever.

      2. Nikkikat

        We used to go see Bruce when he was here in calif. Every tour, every night he was in town. We played his Night at the Roxy tapes and treated it like gold. One night after many nights, we got seats in the second row. We waited in line to get those tickets for 2 days. We were diehards. Then we realized that Bruce had lost his working man mojo. Sold out, living in his mansion, just another phony celebrity rich guy. Haven’t bought any music from him in recent years.
        It didn’t surprise me at all that he had hung out with awful horrid Chris Christie and now hangs out with Obama. He even recently got off on a DUI rap. You or I of course would have gone to jail. After his hanging out with Obama, I’ll donate his Music to the local library.

  6. fresno dan

    Preparing children for the labor market:
    Thought the kid in the black was gonna win by a mile, but he couldn’t do that part at the end very well.

    1. Katiebird

      I’m glad to hear this. I guess — I’m not really in the Let’s Open Everything Up camp. But if they are then they should accept any vaccine that is officially given to people.

      1. Katiebird

        This was meant for Pat’s comment about the Bruce Springsteen show — I have no idea how it got here.

        1. wilroncanada

          It isn’t surprising that the show’s organizers specified only US-approved vaccines as acceptable. After all, the show was going to be “Boring in the USA.”

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I was disappointed not seeing a bloody fight to the death to determine the ultimate winner. What a wimpy preparation for the U.S. job market.

      1. ambrit

        Bloody fights to the death are so, inefficient. In the “real” world of work, the knife in the back is the preferred method.

  7. William Hunter Duncan

    Opinion: The U.S. needs to learn from its TPP mistake — and get its seat back at the table” [WaPo].

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

    When I read the first half of the headline, I thought it might be an acknowledgement that TPP was vaguely traitorous and one of the primary reasons Hillary lost, and needed to be rewritten. Silly me. Speaking of their only weapon left being treachery?

    1. Michael Ismoe

      Sleepy Joe accidently won Wisconsin and Michigan. The Dems want to make sure that doesn’t happen in 2024.

      1. JBird4049

        Because they might have to, I don’t know… govern? But then, neither party seems to actually want to. One wants to play act and the other wants to burn it all down.

        By losing again, they can blame the Deplorables and say that they can’t do any except to say give us more donations!

  8. Glen

    Looks like Bernie has put Medicare at 60 in the Reconciliation Bill. And this is Medicare which includes vision, dental, hearing, etc.

    But other than that the bill is too small and structured to give the money to mega corporations.

    Yippee! More money for Wall St, mega corporations, and billionaires because the trillions we gave them last year were not enough to buy everything.

    1. Lou Anton

      That’s a pretty big “other than that”, no? Something to be said for Bernie showing that it can easily be done (if it happens of course). I don’t know if we’ve really processed it yet, but it’s been clearly demonstrated to people, through the free COVID testing and vaccines, that we can have healthcare that’s truly free. I don’t know if that genie ever gets put back in the bottle. And now, maybe we also get more comprehensive Medicare and a lower age threshold with the snap of a finger.

      My hope is that we’re at the top of the mountain, watching the snowball start to roll downhill. Yes, the incremental nature of it is maddening, as are the inconsistencies. But that snowball is rolling.

  9. dave

    Not sure what exactly it is, but, there’s something especially moving about seeing lost loved ones on Google Maps street view.

  10. km

    Biden could push The Button today and Fiona Hill would insist that it was a Big Win for Putin that Biden didn’t push it bigger and sooner.

  11. CShookhoff

    NCAA athletes should be authentic scholar-athletes, with the same rights and responsibilities as mainstream students.
    They should be admitted to an NCAA university only if their high school GPA and SAT scores are on a par with the scores of admitted non-athletes (e.g., no lower than 10%-to-15% of the median of non-athletes). Their athletic scholarships should hold for five years from the time of a student’s matriculation and be revocable only if that student’s GPA drops below satisfactory (as defined by the rules governing scholarships of non-athlete students). They should be able to earn whatever they can (like other non-athletes), and be able to transfer and play immediately. Any tutors and academic help available to athletes should also be available to all students.

  12. DJG, Reality Czar

    Official portraits. There is plenty of confusion, it seems: “‘They’re virtually done,” a person familiar with the process said of the Obamas’ portraits.”

    In fact, the portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama are on tour. They are now at the Art Institute of Chicago: Jun 18–Aug 15, 2021. From Art Institute’s site: “Chicago is the first stop for the Obama portraits as part of a five-city tour organized by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.”

    So: The official unveiling and ceremony are not likely to happen this fall, not if each city has a five-week exhibition.

    I’m not a fan of the Kehinde Wiley portrait of Obama–too much overreaching for symbolism. But isn’t that Barack?

    Amy Sherald did the best she could with Michelle Obama. If you want to see warmth, style, and insight–check out Amy Sherald’s other paintings via a DuckDuckGo search. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.


    Meanwhile, I am betting the Donald Trump will call on Jeff Koons. Largely to annoy the Smithsonian and also to have the highest-priced portrait. Melania? Who knows? Probably not Jeff Koons.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I think it is a great shame Goya is unavailable for painting Presidential portraits, and if he were available I hope someone would remember to ask for a portrait of the Presidential families. Goya had such a wonderful way of capturing the true character of the subjects in his portraits. I think he should paint large wall murals for the bedrooms of some of our super wealthy. I can think of one of Goya’s murals that should appear wherever Jeffe Bezos goes.

      Is there any chance Georg Gross might be available? In any case I believe Mr. Fish is available.

        1. ambrit

          I dunno. Cezanne would do wonderful Fractured Presidents. Bracque would be too intellectual. However, I can see it now, “Melania Descending a Staircase.”
          Of course now, anything with Biden in it would automatically be considered a ‘Still Life.’ “Biden with Bowl of Fruit.” See if you can tell which is which. I dare you.

    2. Judith

      I just looked at the Obama painting on the Art Institute of Chicago web site. Maybe I’ve been spending too much time in the woods, but those green leaves remind me of the poison ivy that is rampant right now where I walk/bird watch.

    3. Acacia

      Margaret Keane would do a fine portrait of Melania. It’s a pity Francis Bacon is not available, but perhaps Robert Crumb could be coaxed out of the French countryside to handle Donald.

    4. ambrit

      I’m thinking that the last few Presidents would best be portrayed by cartoonists.
      Doonesbury did a spot on “Shrub” Bush. Indeed, Bush 43 was a cartoonists dream.
      See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fictionalized_portrayals_of_George_W._Bush
      Somehow, I see Obama as best done by Berkley Breathed, of ‘Bloom County’ fame.
      For Michelle, definitely Tom of Finland. She just fits.
      For Trump, I would applaud him picking Koons. It would be a definite Message to the Establishment.
      Melania? I’m not sure. An Anime version of her?
      As for a portrait of America. Definitely pointillism. That “Thousand Points of Light.”

      1. Alex Cox

        What about the late Thomas Kinkaide? He could have done ’em all justice, in a Christmas village snowscape.

          1. ambrit

            Yeah. I always have wondered who wears the crotchless leather chaps in that family.
            (I do have empathy for the girls. What sort of role models have they had to deal with?)

      2. ObjectiveFunction

        Trudeau copped out by drawing GHWB as an ‘invisible man’ for most of his presidency, long after that (pretty much unsuccessful) Dem 1988 ‘one line zinger’ had long passed its sell-by date.

        Caricatures aren’t Garry’s strong suit, fair enough, but that was just lazy IMHO.

  13. XXYY

    A dangerous distraction: Increasing climate risk with solar geoengineering”

    The “risk” outlined here, that we will become vulnerable to the interruption of geoengineering efforts, is silly and naively assumes these efforts are going to work and have the desired effect.

    The real risk with geoengineering is the hubris that you can make deliberate changes to a chaotic system like the Earth’s climate and have the slightest idea of what’s going to happen as a result, or when. We have no idea what the mechanics and interdependencies of our planet’s geosystems are, so “geoengineering” is just ignorant and dangerous tinkering with a powerful system you know nothing about. It’s like a chimp trying to work on a car (while it’s running!).

    The long timescales of Earth’s climate also mean that by the time you find out how misguided these efforts were, it will be way too late to undo them.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well, if the ChinaGov becomes disatisfied with the pace of International Global DeWarming and thinks its own EthnoHan Homeland is at physical risk from any further delay, the ChinaGov Regime will do geoengineering all on its own and dare anyone to try stopping it.

      So get ready for it.

      1. Jessica

        Good thing that the Han Chinese are the only large nation that thinks it is special. If there were a nation with a huge military budget and bases all over the world and corrupt science and corrupt media to cover it all up, there is no telling what a country like that might do.

  14. DJG, Reality Czar

    With regard to the tweet thread about the cops with the multi-bullet blunderbusses outside Wrigley Field, those cops are the least dystopic thing about what has happened to the Lakeview neighborhood that surrounds Cubs Park. [Somehow, the Nisei Lounge and Matsuya Restaurant have survived amid the squalor of endless binge-drinking hangars passing themselves off as bars.]

    It’s now Rickettsville, gang o’ mine. And when the Rickettses are playing nice, they trot out the Lesbian Sister so as to show us that they haven’t lobotomized her yet. But they may, if they don’t get that tax break.

  15. fresno dan

    During months of interviews for this project, NPR found a growing consensus across the political spectrum — including among some in law enforcement — that the drug war simply didn’t work.

    “We have been involved in the failed War on Drugs for so very long,” said retired Maj. Neill Franklin, a veteran with the Baltimore City Police and the Maryland State Police who led drug task forces for years.

    He now believes the response to drugs should be handled by doctors and therapists, not cops and prison guards. “It does not belong in our wheelhouse,” Franklin said during a press conference this week.
    only took 50 years to figure it out…
    and just to be clear – I am talking about the contrived, “war on drugs” – not all drug laws

    1. Karl "Mad" Marx

      Except they’re lying. The war on drugs worked exceedingly well and accomplished exactly what it was intended to accomplish, which is why it’s been going on for fifty friggin years.

        1. ambrit

          Meth is pretty easy to synthesize. Just don’t blow yourself up doing it.
          Opiates? Afghanistan pops to mind. If the Taliban have their way and shut that source down, expect the return of the Golden Triangle to prominence.
          Indeed, opium poppies can be grown here in America, out West.

          1. ObjectiveFunction

            Back in the 1960s heyday of heroin, the bottleneck wasn’t finding farmers willing to grow and harvest opium (nor is it today); it was finding trained chemists to live in remote-but-not-too remote labs who could refine the morphine base into heroin. While just as in Breaking Bad, these guys often ended up as virtual slaves, they also tended to die of malaria etc. if you moved them too far into the sticks. Plus getting other ingredients was a hassle.

            That’s why the refineries were typically in rugged, porous frontier areas (Thai Burma-Laos, Lebanon-Kurdish Turkey, Colombia-Bolivia, Af-Pak borderlands) not too far from a ‘developed’ city. The labs were sponsored by the forces of warlords, insurgents or paramilitaries (the latter generally armed by the CIA, being nominally anticommunist), who paid off the regular armies and cops to turn a blind eye. The opium had to be collected from the farmers in caravans and shipped south, which resulted in wars for control of the routes.

            Today however, an ‘enterprise’ can put a lab pretty much anywhere and refine high quality junk in bulk.

  16. Alfred

    Oh, FFS. Yeah, Americans say THROW US A BONE, ANY BONE, GIT THAT BONE THROWN, GIT ‘ER DUN! And them progressives be like, disappointed.

    ‘For a majority of Americans, they just want to see success. They just want to get something done,’ he added. He said progressives are likely ‘to be disappointed no matter what.’

    Disappointed is not the word.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Any bone is food to a starving dog.

      Old Jerry Clauer joke . . .

      ” What do you feed your dog?”

      ” I feed my dog turnip greens.”

      “Turnip greens? Why, my dog wouldn’t eat turnip greens.”

      ” My dog wouldn’t eat them either . . . for a month.”

    2. Riverboat Grambler

      Yeah just get “something” done, doesn’t matter if it’s a mere shadow of what was promised, much less what actually needs to be done. The entire Dem apparatus exists to manage people’s expectations downward, and Dem voters have been trained for decades to smugly chide anyone who would expect more from the pols who claim to represent them.

  17. Wukchumni

    I got a really bad feeling in regards to the Big Dry descending on the Southwest with the lengthy heat waves having the effect of a convection oven, and in this day & age of being able to manipulate anything financially you damn well please on this contraption, water refuses to play along digitally, a poor sport in that regard. It is what it isn’t rules don’t apply.

    Should this just be the harbinger of our doom in coming times, there will be a war of sorts in Cali… Food vs Humans

    Watching an aged orchard of a thousand trees be ripped asunder, burned in pyres and new hires in the ground-all in a fortnight has always astounded me, as there’s a ruthless capitalistic streak in Big Ag and its all about turnover in one way or another. They’re using our lifeboat in digging to China with their deep wells depleting any chance of that water being utilized for the greater good of Californians.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Do the people that own and run the Big Ag companies even live in California? You would think that California would tell those corporations that their right to make a profit does not mean that they get to turn California into a future-dried out Forbidden Zone but I guess that it is the IBGYBG principal at work here.

      1. Wukchumni

        You would think that California would tell those corporations that their right to make a profit does not mean that they get to turn California into a future-dried out Forbidden Zone

        Planet of the Apps?

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        I have zero knowledge of California, but I suspect that at least a lot of the Vegetable Plantation Lords do indeed live in California, and have the same basic ethic that the Cotton Plantation Lords had in the Antebellum South. If so, why would they live anywhere else?

        Now, mere Corporate shells with faceless owners might well have faceless owners who live anywhere at all. But that isn’t all the farming in California.

        1. The Rev Kev

          You might have a point there about the old South. The plantation owners knew that the cotton crops were slowly destroying the fertility of the soil but could not stop because of the profits involved. That is why the leading figures were setting their eyes on expanding to Cuba and if the Confederacy had survived, Cuba would have been occupied by them. Come to think of it, the insistence of the South to spread slavery to the new States before the war. I wonder now if that was a matter of having political equivalence of representation in Congress or was it more a matter of having new farmlands.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “EXCLUSIVE Google searches for new measure of skin tones to curb bias in products”

    ‘Critics say FST, which includes four categories for “white” skin and one apiece for “black” and “brown,” disregards diversity among people of color. ‘

    I’ll bet. Years ago I met this black guy named ‘Woody’ in Germany who was in the 7th Army and stationed there. He was telling me that he was once in a room full of black people back home and not one person had the same skin colour. Not one. Having seen many US soldiers in Germany I saw what he meant. Then again, in improving a computer’s ability to pick out skin tones, that really makes it easier for those in facial identity software so is that really a win?

    1. Mikel

      The abject ignorance of one category for “black” and one for “brown” skin tones is astounding. Jaw-dropping.
      All those alleged high IQs at Google and they didn’t even question it? Thought it was good enough to sell? Frightening and tells alot about the metrics being used to measure things all around.

  19. Deschain

    My wife convinced skeptic my to get a Peloton back at the beginning of the pandemic. Now I use it more than she does. It is a very slickly put together product, and I mean that in a good way.

    The article is hilarious in part because she absolutely NAILS the personas of the instructors. ‘Christine gets to wear a tank top’ spot on. But as a fellow Gen Xer, Christine also picks some of the best music of all the instructors (IMO). That’s one thing not covered in the article – the importance of the music and the relationship with Spotify. I hope she gets into that.

  20. Objective Ace

    Alice’s Adventures in Equilibrium is missing one key thing. It gets so so close to the driving factor of todays stock marker, but misses it by confusing increases in the monetary base with increases in the monetary reserve. When you realize QE isn’t just increasing the base (MM1) but rather the monetary reserve (true printing of money) suddenly everything around us makes sense. Seemingly crazy stock valuations make sense when you take into account the future streams of money the stock produces will be correspondingly higher due to the increased printed money in the system.

    The comparison to Japan’s situation (which the author seems to think we’ll repeat) drives this home. Japan increased their monetary reserve by 14x over 30 years. The US increased its monetary reserve by 100x in a little over a decade and is showing no signs of stopping. When you take into account that Japans stock market P/E was over 100 in 1989, the situations are not compareable

    1. Objective Ace

      It also strangely doesn’t consider the possibility of the government to pay for budge shortfalls by printing money rather than crowding out the private sector

    2. Acacia

      Thanks for these figures. The we-will-follow-Japan or we’re-all-Japanese-now scenarios have always struck me as exceedingly rosy. Japan has a national health care system and many other features that will never materialize in the US. Meanwhile, there is a uniquely special Mad Max-esque future that awaits USians if the corrupt duopoly isn’t booted out of Washington (and we all know that prolly won’t happen).

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Single Payer Health Care didn’t happen in all of Canada all at once at the same time. It happened one Province at a time for a while, and also with only some things covered and then more things covered.

        Perhaps the same approach should be tried in particular US states that seem possible and ready for it. Also, some states and zones might be organizable and stealth-separatable as to avoid a Mad Max future.

      2. JBird4049

        >>>Meanwhile, there is a uniquely special Mad Max-esque future that awaits USians if the corrupt duopoly isn’t booted out of Washington (and we all know that prolly won’t happen).

        It will probably happen, but only after violence, blood, and death. The big questions for me is whether it will be a dictator or President for Life, an oligarchy, or a functioning democracy as well as whether it will be one country or several.

        If we do get that unified democracy, the question becomes just how long will the rebuilding take; it has been a fifty year process of tearing down what the country had been built during the past two centuries, the the education, infrastructure, societies, institutions, factories and so. Fifty years to undo what it took two centuries to do. If we do get that dream of a functioning democracy with the whole nation again, none of us we see the possible, successful re-creation or rebuilding of the nation.

        Dramatic to say it, but real enough.

        1. Acacia

          Yes, that’s a better summary of what’s to come. There’s already so much rage, though — and many players in the media have found it’s very profitable to create more of it —, that I wonder what’s to curb the inevitable violence, blood, and death (leading to “Fury Road”). Secession movements leading to a breakup of the union might end it, though it’s hard for me to imagine the rest of the country just saying “good riddance” if big chunks really took steps to exit. A dictator or President for Life would mean smoking ruins in place of our putatively Madisonian institutions, an oligarchy/plutocracy is what we’ve already got now, and the US was never intended to be a unified democracy, so that option appears in some ways the most remote.

  21. Wukchumni

    My wife got me Bootiton for xmas and yeah you’d hope there was virtual lacing and that the pair would be internet ready, and I must say it was negligent in both regards, and absolutely no support system to faux cheer you on when you go take a hike.

  22. allan

    Bernie Sanders @SenSanders

    If you paid $12.99 a month for an Amazon Prime membership,
    you paid more to Amazon than it paid in federal income taxes over the past 3 years combined.

    On this #PrimeDay, let us stand with Amazon workers.
    Let us demand that billionaires pay their fair share.
    7:42 PM · Jun 21, 2021

    Jay Carney was unavailable for comment.

    1. ambrit

      Yes, but, on a more sinister level, Bernie Sanders Bobble Heads suddenly started getting a lot of One Star Reviews.
      The Lord of Amazon was heard to mutter; “Now they’ll find out just who the Our in Our Revolution really is!”

  23. drumlin woodchuckles

    Here is a funny caption picture about the state of electro-grid in Texas today and tomorrow.


    If the other 47 lesser Contiguous States are so stupid as to permit the Texas Grid to make any contact with the National Grids, then it won’t be funny anymore.

    Because if that is allowed to happen, then we all ” Ich bin ein Texan” from that day forth, as far as grid integrity is concerned.

    1. JBird4049

      Maybe, but then the Lone Star State will have to follow all those pesky federal laws, rules, and regulations, which would be a big shame.

      Of course, I live under Pacific Gas & Electric’s high prices, greed, incompetence, and corruption, so it might not change that much for Texans

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