2:00PM Water Cooler 6/29/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

There is a Red-tailed Ant-Thrush, in addition to the White-tailed Ant-Thrush~

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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:

Now all rising together. Kamala did the trick? Hard to believe.

Vaccination rates wane in California. Did the state do enough to target those in doubt? Los Angeles Times

Yet Newsom rarely mentions that vaccinations have largely stagnated in Black and Latino neighborhoods hardest hit by the coronavirus, and in rural outposts where opposition to vaccines runs rampant. In these communities, deep distrust of government and the U.S. healthcare system has collided with California’s high-stakes effort to finish inoculating its 34 million vaccine-eligible residents.

These are places where state health officials believe they can change a significant number of minds. But the Newsom administration is struggling to do so, public health experts say, hampered by its inconsistent and hastily developed public messaging and outreach campaign that relies too heavily on private advertising firms and companies such as Google and Blue Shield of California.

Surely that’s “politically wired private advertising firms.” Not in the story, which is good otherwise.

Case count by United States regions:

Decline now flattening. Delta? See World, below. (The increase in Delta would still swamped by the decrease in Alpha, etc. For awhile.)

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 and Florida, capital of Latin America, neck and neck.

Covid cases top ten (hat tip, alert reader Lou Anton):

Tourist states disproportionately represented, IMNSHO. Readers? (I’m replacing the big states (NY, FL, TX, CA) with this one.)

Test positivity:

South bounces back.

Hospitalization (CDC):

Continued good news.

Deaths (Our World in Data):

Continued good news.

Covid cases worldwide:

Big jump in Europe. Delta?

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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 Honeymoon With Liberals Fades as Priorities Downplayed” [Bloomberg]. “But this month’s negotiations with Republicans over a bipartisan infrastructure deal have begun to sour the nascent relationship between Biden’s White House and the progressive community. Liberals view Biden and his team’s dalliance with the GOP as a waste of time, a repeat of 2009 when unsuccessful attempts to woo Republicans to support the Affordable Care Act consumed critical legislative time…. On Saturday, Biden was even forced to walk back a pledge not to sign the bipartisan infrastructure deal without accompanying, Democratic-written legislation that would spend trillions more on progressive priorities, after Republicans threatened to abandon the agreement. His promise two days earlier had heartened liberals, but he said Saturday that he did not intend to imply a veto threat against the bipartisan deal. In his statement, he noted progressive opposition to the bipartisan bill. ;Some other Democrats have said they might oppose the infrastructure plan because it omits items they think are important: that is a mistake, in my view,’ he said.” • Dude, you thought they were important too! Once, anyhow.

UPDATE “‘It’s a daydream:’ Questions emerge about financing plans for bipartisan infrastructure deal” [WaPo]. “Republican lawmakers have refused to raise taxes on corporations and the rich, which ruled out the White House’s preferred proposals. The White House, meanwhile, refused to raise taxes on Americans earning less than $400,000 a year, which led them to rule out a gas tax that some of the lawmakers had pursued. The resulting compromise consists of a hodgepodge of measures that are unlikely to create actual revenue that pays for the spending plan, according to a half-dozen experts interviewed by The Washington Post. Instead, a number of the proposals take advantage of budget maneuvers to mostly satisfy budget scorekeepers. Policymakers involved in the deal acknowledged details are sparse for now because key parts of the legislation are still being worked out. The administration has not publicly outlined the expected revenue from any of the financing provisions, stressing savings from higher tax enforcement.” • So we don’t really have a bill, and if “pay for” were important (it isn’t) we wouldn’t have that either. “Report back to me when, uh, I don’t know, when it makes sense.”

UPDATE “Joe Biden’s global virtue signalling campaign” [Unherd]. “The U.S. would be far better served if it abandoned its self-appointed role as a global values hall monitor and instead embraced a narrower, indeed humbler, conception of diplomacy. We might do well to recall the warning of the legendary scholar-diplomat George F. Kennan who once wrote that diplomats should avoid ‘the histrionics of moralism’ by which he meant ‘the projection of attitudes, poses, and rhetoric that cause us to appear noble and altruistic in the mirror of our own vanity but lack substance when related to the realities of international life.'” • I’m sure American expats would feel well served as citizens were the State Department willing and able to get them vaccines, as China and France have done for their citizens. Pride flag? Not so much.

“Dear Kamala Harris: It’s a Trap!” [New York Times]. “Ms. Harris, at this point, can’t seem to win for trying. She is a historic yet inexperienced vice president who is taking on work that can easily backfire as so many people sit in judgment, with critics sniping (especially right-wing commentators) and allies spinning (like with official statements about ‘success’).” • So… It’s not OK she’s President-in-Waiting?

Democrats en Deshabille

This is the least hot vax summer ad I’ve ever seen, DNC, good job:

Republican Funhouse

“Attorney General Ken Paxton rules ERCOT not subject to Texas Public Information Act” [Dallas Morning News]. “Attorney General Ken Paxton finds in a ruling that the Public Information Act would not apply to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, meaning documents, text messages, e-mails, and recorded phone calls about February’s deadly storm will not be released. Following an onslaught of records requests related to the winter storm and the ensuing power grid crisis, ERCOT attempted to limit the amount of information it would have to release. In March, ERCOT claimed it was a public agency, and therefore immune from lawsuits. It also claimed the Public Information Act does not apply because it was not a public entity, which, under Texas law, is required to release records…. Texas’ grid operator is defined as an “independent organization,” certified by the Public Utility Commission of Texas.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “Remembering Mike Gravel With the Kids Who Ran His Campaign” [New York Magazine]. Henry Williams: “The tough thing is that nobody was as ready or as brave as Mike in the end — we were the ones who weren’t ready. He knew he had such a long life and he really was so fearless and open-eyed and unflinching, he wasn’t at any point afraid. He was drifting in and out the last few weeks, but in the moments we got to speak with him, he was telling us, ‘It might be the end for me physically, but not for the things I fought for, not for you, not for everyone else.'” • Henry Kissinger to the Hague!

From Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. Reminds me of the Biden administration. With the French bits edited out:

The period that we have before us comprises the most motley mixture of crying contradictions: constitutionalists who conspire openly against the constitution; revolutionists who are confessedly constitutional; a National Assembly that wants to be omnipotent and always remains parliamentary;…. an executive power that finds its strength in its very weakness and its respectability in the contempt that it calls forth; … alliances whose first proviso is separation; struggles whose first law is indecision; wild, inane agitation in the name of tranquillity, most solemn preaching of tranquillity in the name of revolution – passions without truth, truths without passion; heroes without heroic deeds, history without events; development, whose sole driving force seems to be the calendar, wearying with constant repetition of the same tensions and relaxations; antagonisms that periodically seem to work themselves up to a climax only to lose their sharpness and fall away without being able to resolve themselves; pretentiously paraded exertions and philistine terror at the danger of the world’s coming to an end, and at the same time the pettiest intrigues and court comedies played by the world redeemers;…. the official collective genius of France brought to naught by the artful stupidity of a single individual; the collective will of the nation, as often as it speaks through universal suffrage, seeking its appropriate expression through the inveterate enemies of the interests of the masses, until at length it finds it in the self-will of a filibuster. If any section of history has been painted gray on gray, it is this. Men and events appear as reverse Schlemihls, as shadows that have lost their bodies. The revolution itself paralyzes its own bearers and endows only its adversaries with passionate forcefulness.

Everything old is new again.

UPDATE “Boring news cycle deals blow to partisan media” [Axios]. “In the months since former President Donald Trump left office, media companies’ readership numbers are plunging — and publishers that rely on partisan, ideological warfare have taken an especially big hit. Why it matters: Outlets most dependent on controversy to stir up resentments have struggled to find a foothold in the Biden era, according to an Axios analysis of publishers’ readership and engagement trends.

Stats Watch

Housing: “United States House Price Index MoM Change” [Trading Economics]. “The average prices of single-family houses with mortgages guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the United States advanced 1.8 percent from a month earlier in April of 2021, following an upwardly revised 1.4 percent growth in March. It was the largest monthly gain since comparable records began in 1991 due to strong demand, bolstered by still-low mortgage rates, and too few homes for sale.”

Housing: “United States S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index” [Trading Economics]. “The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index in the US rose 14.9 percent in April 2021, following a revised 13.4 percent growth in the previous month and beating market expectations of 14.5 percent. It was the largest annual price increase since December 2005, as demand for suburban homes remained strong in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic and low interest rates.”

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Commodities: “The commodity roller-coaster is hitting a downhill track but experts say the descent isn’t steep enough to raise concerns. Many commodities have dropped at significant rates from their peak pandemic prices…. including double-digit drops in copper, corn and soybeans and a 54% slide in lumber futures. That would normally signal trouble in industrial markets” [Wall Street Journal].

“But lumber remains twice the typical price for this time of year while copper, row crop and swine prices are still around their highest levels in years. Shipping markets aren’t showing any stress over the commodities downturn, with the Baltic Dry Index measuring prices for bulk ocean transport surging this month to near-record highs. That suggests the recent drop is part of the broader disruption in traditional supply and demand patterns during the pandemic, and that suppliers and buyers are still struggling to adjust.

Retail: “The economics of dollar stores” [The Hustle]. • This is an infographic, hence not quotable, but here is a key point:

The Bezzle: “Amazon Demands One More Thing From Some Vendors: a Piece of Their Company” [Wall Street Journal]. “Suppliers that want to land Amazon.com Inc. as a client for their goods and services can find that its business comes with a catch: the right for Amazon to buy big stakes in their companies at potentially steep discounts to market value. The technology-and-retail giant has struck at least a dozen deals with publicly traded companies in which it gets rights, called warrants, to buy the vendors’ stock in the future at what could be below-market prices, according to corporate filings and interviews with people involved with the deals. Amazon over the past decade also has done more than 75 such deals with privately held companies, according to a person familiar with the matter. In all, the tech titan’s stakes and potential stakes amount to billions of dollars across companies that provide everything from call-center services to natural gas, and in some cases position Amazon among the top shareholders in those businesses. The unusual arrangements offer another window into how Amazon uses its market heft to increase its wealth and clout.” • Unusual arrangements”? What’s unusual about them? From The Sopranos, “Bust Out”:

DAVEY: You told me not to get in the game. Why’d you let me do it?

JEFF TONY: I knew you had this business, Davey. It’s my nature. Frog and the scorpion, you know? Besides, if you would’ve won, I’d be crying the blues. Right?

DAVEY: What’s the end?

TONY: The end? It’s planned bankruptcy.


TONY: You’re not the first guy to get busted out. This is how I make a living. It’s my bread and butter.

When this is over, you’re free to go.

UPDATE The Bezzle: “How Amazon Bullies, Manipulates, and Lies to Reporters” [Mother Jones]. “Almost all of the journalists told me they found that Amazon press relations was either the most or among the most clawing and deceptive corporate communications team that they had dealt with in their work. ‘Amazon is the only company I’ve dealt with that has directly lied to me,” said one tech writer, recalling instances when Amazon boasted of warehouse safety guidelines in ways that journalists who had spoken with rank-and-file employees had found not to be true. ‘They’d often lie about things we had proof of,’ said another reporter, citing times they had visual evidence contradicting the communications teams’ claims. ‘There will be videos of these big walkouts and they’ll say only a few workers participated.'” • Just the kind of corporate culture I want to get off-planet and colonize Mars.

The Bezzle: “Check Out The Drama At This Hip Cookware Company, And Then Confront The Sucking Void At The Heart Of The Global Economy” [Defector]. “In brief: Great Jones is the creation of a pair of insanely rich former summer-camp best pals, Sierra Tishgart (who quickly emerges as the story’s chief or at least most obvious villain) and Maddy Moelis, who shared the entrepreneurial vision “What if Le Creuset enameled cast-iron Dutch ovens were much worse but also cheaper?” and made it reality thanks to millions of dollars in family money…. Great Jones doesn’t make cookware. It was founded by a digital media veteran and a business-school graduate. Great Jones doesn’t make anything. None of its employees make tea towels or Dutch ovens or bakeware. Making cookware and kitchen goods was never even part of Great Jones’s business. What Great Jones does is, it contracts some other, less glamorous company, one likely without a slick social-media presence, to make cookware and other products bearing Great Jones branding. In effect, it buys cheap consumer goods, and then sells them at a markup to people shopping for cookware that will make them feel like they are pals with Alison Roman..,. The absolute most generous true description you can apply to Great Jones is that it conducts arbitrage on cheap pastel-colored cookware with flimsy enamel cladding, made by other companies with less robust brands. But the truest thing you can say is that Great Jones, like so many other companies, is a skimming operation: It launders somebody else’s actual manufacture through its own aggressive branding, and takes a cut of the proceeds.” • Kinda like Boeing? (Defector is where all the Deadspin writers went after those goons at G/O Media told them to “stick to sports.”

The Bezzle: “How Two Start-Ups Reaped Billions in Fees on Small Business Relief Loans” [New York Times]. “Though Congress approved billions in aid for small companies to help them keep paying their employees during the pandemic, there was a big problem: It wasn’t reaching the tiniest and neediest businesses. Then two small companies came out of nowhere and, through an astute mix of technology and advertising — and the dogged pursuit of an opportunity that big banks missed — found a way to help those businesses. They also helped themselves. For their work, the companies stand to collect more than $3 billion in fees, according to a New York Times analysis — far more than any of the 5,200 participating lenders. One of the companies, Blueacorn, didn’t exist before the pandemic. The other, Womply, founded a decade ago, sold marketing software. But this year, they became the breakout stars of the Paycheck Protection Program, the government’s $800 billion relief effort for small businesses. Between them, the two companies processed a third of all P.P.P. loans made this year, the Times analysis found. Blueacorn and Womply aren’t banks, so they couldn’t actually lend any money. Rather, they acted as middlemen, charging into a gap between what big banks wouldn’t do and what small banks couldn’t do. First, they unleashed marketing blitzes encouraging freelancers, gig workers, sole proprietors and other small merchants to apply for loans through their websites. Next, they directed those applications to lenders. In return, they took a hefty cut of the fees that lenders made on each loan.” • I’m sensing a pattern…

The Bezzle: “How Thieves Stole $40 Million of Copper by Spray-Painting Rocks in Turkey” [Bloomberg]. • It’s an effing comic book. I qan’t quote this either.

Supply Chain: “The latest big bottleneck for U.S. apparel importers is coming onshore, at customs checkpoints. Tougher Customs and Border Protection enforcement of import bans on products made from forced labor is tying up goods at ports…. raising complaints about new backups in supply chains that have been buffeted by disruptions and delays over the past year” [Wall Street Journal]. “The disputes follow multiple orders from Washington banning cotton and other products from China’s Xinjiang region. Apparel retailers and other importers have been caught up in the sweep, and have to prove that their often multilayered supply chains are free from forced labor. In one case, Japanese clothing giant Uniqlo had a shipment of men’s shirts held up, said the cotton hadn’t come from China and was told to provide documents such as time cards and pay stubs of workers who picked the cotton used to make the shirts.”

Supply Chain: “This Shipping Dashboard Shows Why You Should Christmas Shop Early” [Bloomberg]. “Throughout the pandemic, blame for global supply-chain disruptions has bounced from Covid-19 outbreaks to container shortages, from spendthrift Americans gorging on garden tools to a massive ship beaching itself across the Suez Canal in March. Those are still causing problems, but there’s a new hiccup that threatens to prolong the pain, maybe even long enough to upset Christmas shopping: The key export hub of Yantian in the heart of China’s factory belt was partially shut down in June to control virus cases, shrinking what little spare capacity existed in an industry that moves more than $4 trillion worth of goods across the global economy each year. ‘The latest one is the worst in terms of the supply-constraint hits,” says Steve Saxon, a McKinsey & Co. partner in Shenzhen, China. He reckons it could be a month before Yantian is fully operational again, with the fallout rippling to other ports.’ That means container shipping rates could stay high and delivery times could get stretched out even more heading into the peak season for inventory rebuilding in August, when retailers like to stuff warehouses with year-end Christmas items.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 43 Fear (previous close: 43 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 32 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 29 at 1:06pm.

Health Care

“Confronting a legacy of scarcity: a plan for reinvesting in U.S. public health” [STAT]. “Decades of chronic underfunding and a failure to invest in the public health workforce, the physical infrastructure of state and local health departments, and critical data systems have left Americans vulnerable to calamities like Covid-19 and other pathogens that lie just around the corner. In the last two decades, funding for public health has been progressively chipped away.” A handy chart:

More: “This overall decrease in funding for public health is emblematic of an American willingness to pay more later than invest upfront — of the 18% of the federal budget spent on health care, only 3% goes towards prevention and mitigating disease…. Our plan for sustainable public health funding centers around a new, statutorily protected, mandatory funding stream that is shielded against bureaucratic attempts to shift funding away from public health initiatives.” • Ah, the PMC dream: Placing their P above politics (bad, bad). Paradoxically, if they could sell their mandatory funding stream politically, they wouldn’t need it in the first place. Unfortunately, the whole piece treats “public health” as a given. For the “medical freedom” crowd, it isn’t.

“Biogen met with key FDA official, launched Project Onyx to gain Aduhelm approval – STAT” [Seeking Alpha]. “In a detailed expose, journalists at STAT [paywalled, sadly] have uncovered the methods Biogen used in gaining approval of Aduhelm (aducanumab) — a drug that was once shelved in 2019 — including an off-the-books meeting with a key FDA official. That official is Billy Dunn, director of the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (‘CDER’) Office of Neuroscience, which oversees Alzheimer’s drugs. In May 2019, Alfred Sandrock, Jr., Biogen’s head of R&D, sat down ‘off the books’ with Dunn at a neurology conference. He told Dunn there were indications aducanumab might slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s, and if he would be willing to help find a way to get the drug approved, STAT reported, citing a source who was privy to what was discussed at the meeting.” • Odd grammatical construct. I would have written “whether he would be willing to help,” given that there’s no “then” clause.

“Why Uruguay lost control of COVID” [Nature]. “Uruguayan scientists say a mix of complacency — fuelled by the country’s early success at controlling the virus — and the challenges posed by a particularly transmissible SARS-CoV-2 variant are to blame. ‘We were a model in 2020,’ says Rafael Radi, a biochemist at the University of the Republic in Montevideo. ‘Unfortunately, things are not following the same path in 2021.’ For all of last year, the 3.5-million-person country recorded only about 19,100 cases of COVID-19 and 180 deaths from the disease. But it has already reported more than 341,000 infections and 5,100 deaths this year… nOn several occasions in May and June, it recorded the world’s highest number of COVID-19 deaths per capita…. In the past week, however, new infections and deaths have dropped, thanks to the country’s swift vaccine roll-out, says Radi — giving hope that the country can rein in the virus once more.” • Well worth a read for the detail.

“An ancient viral epidemic involving host coronavirus interacting genes more than 20,000 years ago in East Asia” [Cell]. “We identified a set of 42 CoV-VIPs [Covid Virus-Interacting Proteins[ exhibiting a coordinated adaptive response that likely emerged more than 20,000 years ago…. This pattern was unique to East Asian populations (as classified by the 1000 Genomes Project). We show that this selection pressure produced a strong response across the 42 CoV-VIP genes that gradually waned and resulted in the selected loci plateauing at intermediate frequencies. Further, we demonstrate that this adaptive response is likely the outcome of a viral epidemic, as attested by the clustering of putatively selected loci around variants that regulate tissues known to exhibit COVID-19-related pathologies, and the enrichment of variants associated with SARS-CoV-2 susceptibility and severity, as well as anti- and proviral functions, among the 42 CoV-VIP genes selected starting around 900 generations ago…. A particularly salient feature of the adaptive response observed for the 42 CoV-VIPs is that selection appears to be acting continuously over an ∼20,000 years period. The profile of selection in the host East Asian populations is consistent with a new viral pressure that ancestral populations had never experienced previously but that subsequently remained present for a very long period of time.” • Oh, great.

The Biosphere

“Analysis: When do electric vehicles become cleaner than gasoline cars?” [Reuters]. “You glide silently out of the Tesla showroom in your sleek new electric Model 3, satisfied you’re looking great and doing your bit for the planet. nBut keep going – you’ll have to drive another 13,500 miles (21,725 km) before you’re doing less harm to the environment than a gas-guzzling saloon. That’s the result of a Reuters analysis of data from a model that calculates the lifetime emissions of vehicles, a hotly debated issue that’s taking center stage as governments around the world push for greener transport to meet climate targets. The model was developed by the Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago and includes thousands of parameters from the type metals in an electric vehicle (EV) battery to the amount of aluminium or plastic in a car.”

“Corn Belt farming boosts the global carbon cycle” [KBIA]. “Scientists have noticed a change in the atmosphere. Plants are taking in more carbon dioxide during the growing season and giving off more carbon in the fall and winter. Recent research shows the massive corn crop in the Corn Belt may be contributing to that deeper breath. It comes down to the Carbon Cycle. Over the winter when corn fields lay dormant, corn stalks and roots break down, sending CO2 into the air. Then in the summer when a new crop is growing, it takes up carbon from the atmosphere…. About 20 years ago, scientists realized the peaks and valleys of the carbon cycle are reaching higher – and lower – levels. In fact, the concentrations are up to 50 percent higher in the northern hemisphere. Most of the increase is due to a longer growing season brought on by a warming climate. But in a recent article in the journal Nature, Gray and his colleagues uncovered another human impact on the carbon cycle: farming. Gray says scientists overlooked farming before. It only covers 6 percent of the land in the area he studied. But he found it accounts for a quarter of the increase to the carbon cycle…. The fact that farming feeds the carbon cycle does not mean it’s making climate change worse. But, when it comes to reversing climate change, Gray says growing wheat or corn does less to sequester carbon in the ground than growing a forest or grassland.”


“The Panama Canal is trying to do something about a worsening water problem disrupting operations at the key passageway for global trade. Canal officials say they face a creeping threat from climate change… including droughts so intense that ships sometimes reduce their cargo to keep from running aground, and giant storms that almost overwhelm its dams and locks” [Wall Street Journal]. “The biggest problem is a decline in rainwater needed to operate the 50-mile waterway, through which 4% of global trade passes. Canal authorities are working on a $2 billion plan to build infrastructure to manage and preserve freshwater reserves, one of the biggest projects so far around the world at maritime facilities facing environmental challenges. Authorities will choose from among 30 proposed solutions likely to include a combination of new dams and reservoirs, and seek bids in about two years, with completion targeted in 2028.”

The 420

“Clarence Thomas says federal laws against marijuana may no longer be necessary” [NBC]. “Clarence Thomas, one of the Supreme Court’s most conservative justices, said Monday that because of the hodgepodge of federal policies on marijuana, federal laws against its use or cultivation may no longer make sense. Thomas said the Supreme Court’s ruling in 2005 upholding federal laws making marijuana possession illegal may now be out of date. ‘Federal policies of the past 16 years have greatly undermined its reasoning,’ he said. ‘The federal government’s current approach is a half-in, half-out regime that simultaneously tolerates and forbids local use of marijuana.'”

Our Famously Free Press


See here for the full exchange, which I must censor, since this is a family blog.

Naked Capitalism Cooking Community™

“‘Were You in Veggie Nirvana?’ An amateur vegan and a professional food critic on Eleven Madison Park’s all-plant menu.” [New York Magazine]. • There are a lot of worse ways to throw away extravagant amounts of money than fancy meals, to be sure. Nevertheless…. And what’s with all the umami? Sounds like they’ve got a shaker of it in the kitchen, as with MSG….

Poetry Nook

I’m breaking my family blog rule for the moment, I am large, I contain multitudes:

Class Warfare

“Amazon warehouses in Kent remain in operation, despite lack of climate control” [Seattle Times]. “At one warehouse in Amazon’s complex in Kent, workers on Sunday were handed iced neck scarves and drinking water. The facility is normally cooled by giant rotating ceiling fans. This weekend, Amazon added “massive” fans on the floor, said a worker on duty at the facility Sunday…. Heat precautions were less evident at another of Amazon’s Kent facilities, where interior temperatures neared 90 degrees by midday, a second worker estimated. Not every workstation had functioning fans, that worker said. And some departments were running “power hours,” in which workers are asked to move as quickly as they can for an hour to boost productivity.”

“Faced With Worker Shortage at Kansas Facility, Russell Stover Turns to Prison Labor” [Eoin Higgins, The Flashpoint]. “Candy maker Russell Stover has faced labor shortage issues at its facility in Iola, Kansas for years. In 2021, the company turned to prison workers to make up the difference. Today, 150 inmates from the Topeka Correctional Facility, a nearby women’s prison, work at the store…. The Russell Stover program began in April after employee shortages cut production so far that lines were being shut down at the plant… The deductions left the inmate worker with $453.35, less than half what they earned in total for over 77 hours of work—about $5.89 an hour.”

Like a “Green Book” for the working class:

“Beware of Brands That Love Queer People’s Dollars More Than Queer People” [Eater]. • Nobody could have predicted…

News of the Wired

I stan for the USGS

“The role of the arts and humanities in thinking about artificial intelligence (AI)” [Ada Lovelace Institute]. “This is important because AI, and digital technology generally, has become the latest focus of the historicist myth that social evolution is preordained, that our social world is determined by independent variables over which we, as individuals or societies, are able to exert little control. So we either go with the flow, or go under. As Aristotle put it: ‘No one deliberates about things that are invariable, nor about things that it is impossible for him to do.’… The humanities are vital to combatting this historicist tendency, which is profoundly disempowering for individuals and democratic publics alike. They can do so by reminding us, for example, of other technological developments that arose the day before yesterday – such as the harnessing of nuclear power – and how their development and deployment were always contingent on human choices, and therefore hostage to systems of value and to power structures that could have been otherwise.”

“George R.R. Martin says ‘Game of Thrones’ book series will end differently than TV show” [Good Morning America]. • Thank heavens. Now get on with it!

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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 (ChiGal):

ChiGal writes: “Started seeing fully vaccinated patients in the office this week. As I left yesterday I noticed even the shrubbery has pandemic hair—I just say no to topiary myself but if it’s gonna be there, time for a trim…” That’s quite some sky

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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. jo6pac

    Is this another we commentors are on our own. I don’t see anything beside the opening

      1. Carolinian

        Looks like Water Cooler on overdrive to me but I just got here.

        Re lumber–I checked Home Depot the other day and two by fours are over 8 dollars so about two and a half times last year’s price. Two by sixes are $15.

        1. Nikkikat

          I just got a 150.00 increase on my property insurance, with a letter saying that if the place burned down it would be more expensive for rebuilding materials. So that was quick!

          1. fresno dan

            June 29, 2021 at 5:16 pm
            So did I
            But its not inflationary…because its transient…because, its only gone up once…

  2. jr

    Taps mic…

    A string walks into a bar and orders a beer. The bartender says “Hey, no string allowed!” The string grabs his hat, storms outside, twists himself around himself, rubs up against the brick wall, and walks back in. The bartender says “Hey, aren’t you the string I just kicked out!?”

    “Nope, ‘fraid not.”

      1. JacobiteInTraining

        A Buddhist Monk walks the streets of NYC, politely accosting hot dog stands with the comment “make me one with everything!”

          1. jr

            One last one!

            “Did you hear about the guy they found in the Bronx last night?


            Drowned in a bathtub full of milk and bananas scattered all over the bathroom floor!


            Yes, cops said it’s a cereal killer!”

            1. ChiGal in Carolina

              and another!

              A mushroom walks into a bar and the bartender scowls, “We don’t serve your kind here.”

              Undaunted, the mushroom says, “Why not? I’m a fungi!”

      2. jhg

        Why the long face?

        I say that to my horses all the time, they just look at me like they’ve heard that one before….

    1. urblintz

      The past, present and future walk into a bar and the bartender asks: “What will it have been?”

    2. wol

      Guy walks into a bar, beautiful woman sidles next to him, puts her hand on his leg and says, “I’ll do anything you want for $500.” Without hesitation the guy says, “Paint my house.”

    3. Peerke

      A guy walks into a Glasgow bakery and asks “is that a donut or a meringue?”. The baker replies “no, you’re right. It’s a donut”.

      1. Josef K

        A cop, a priest, and a camel walk into a bar, and the bartender says “what’s this, some kind of joke?”

            1. BillS

              A neutron finishes his beer and asks the bartender how much he owes. The bartender says “for you, no charge!”

              1. BillS

                A mathematician walks into a bar and asks for a beer.
                A second mathematician walks into the bar and asks for 1/2 a beer
                A third mathematician walks into the bar and asks for 1/4 of a beer
                and so on…

                Exasperated, the bartender puts two beers on the bar.

    4. ambrit

      Professor Shrodinger walks into a bar with a box.
      “What’ll it be?” asks the bartender.
      “I haven’t found out yet” replies the Prof.

    5. Peerke

      A Lancashire one: owd fella 1:”wife will be on a plain now!”
      Owd fella 2: “she gone on oliday?”
      Owd fella 1: “give over! She’s angin’ a door!”
      Thank you and good night

  3. Questa Nota

    The NYT, re Harris, runs interference, manages expectations and foams the runway all without breaking a sweat. The Grande Dame of Fourth Estate, (can we still say that?) is in need of a public editor, ombudsman (can we still say that?) or other mechanism to supplement the comments.

    1. cocomaan

      That op-ed was just awful.

      This country has yet to have an honest conversation and reflection on the ways in which race and gender play out in electoral politics.

      How can anyone say something like this unironically? Every workplace has hours and hours of diversity training. There’s questions of race discussed every day in the media. We have numerous civil rights leaders who died for their causes over hundreds of years. But there’s yet to be an honest conversation? Are we living in the same country?

          1. lambert strether

            To justify voting for an otherwise subpar candidate based on their identity. As it turns out, we did that once with Obama, so being a liberal Democrat, the author is doubling down on fail.

            1. neo-realist

              Some of us did cause the Republican candidate represented a bunch of anti-choice, anti-civil rights, and anti-voting rights cro-mags.

              1. ambrit

                Yeah, but those “cro-mags” are roughly a half or more of the population. We have to deal with them, and make deals with them. Otherwise, we are opting for a true authoritarianism.
                Also, when viewed through the lens of actual policy implementation, where’s the difference between the legacy party candidates? When Biden’s “handlers” promote policies that confuse FDR with Reagan, it becomes inescapable to realize that today’s Democrat Party has sold out.

              2. Dr. John Carpenter

                And what did the Democrat represent? So far they’ve further eroded civil rights, haven’t lifted a finger for defending voting rights and I haven’t heard a word about abortion rights. Seems we’re looking at a difference without a distinction here.

            2. drumlin woodchuckles

              I voted “for” Obama as being the only realistic way I had to prevent McCain from becoming President.

              In the same spirit, I voted “for” Trump 8 years later as being the only realistic way I had to prevent Clinton from becoming President.

          2. JBird4049

            (Sigh… after re-reading this comment, I think the real cause of my anger is realizing how the Oligarchy expects Americans to act like a crazed, lobotomized horde of gerbils on crack, and they might be right. They are also thinking that most Americans are ignorant of American history and are unwilling to actually read a book on the subject. And they might be right, too.)

            It is too bad that I can not tell you want I really feel buy using more appropriate language.

            However, that… op-ed requires a strong, even harsh, description, is a propagandistic farrago of mis-characterizations, obfuscations, misleading statements, and just plain steaming heaps of BS makes me want to violently hurl my lunch.

            But I digress. The goals of the op-ed are several.

            First, to protect Kamala Harris, the charming, neoliberal, carceral state serving, disloyal, Janus-faced, shallow, opportunistic grift of a human being from the criticism she will be receiving for being all that. By saying she has limited experience, yet has a vast portfolio, but a good team, this protect her from charges of incompetence. It does this in several ways: it downgrades her experience, which makes any mistakes she makes more forgivable; it sets up using her own people as disposable blame-shifters; the charges against of racism and sexism past, current, and future critics protects her from any white or male person; it also gives a battle plan to the True Believers who will be fending off her opponents and critics. Somehow, having a Black president and women in almost every position of the cabinet has been forgotten.

            Secondly, TPTB want us all to think that we must be just a violent, racist and sexist nation that has never struggled with these issues. It ignores the four centuries of American debate and conflict of both people and in places like Robert Carter III, John Dickinson, Bloody Kansas, John Brown, Malvern Hill, Antietam, Gettysburg, Cold Harbor, Vicksburg, American Communists and Socialist Parties, MLK, Malcolm X, and the Civil Rights Movement it gives support to Identity Politics and Critical Race Theory (or more fairly and accurately to racialists), it allows them to (sorry) whitewash history, to put it all down the memory hole. I could also write an almost equally long, run-on sentence on the 180 years of the feminism movement.

            Finally, it gives cover to President Biden. If any of his actions and plans go wrong, they can say Vice President Harris was handling them and had bungled.

        1. Nikkikat

          Thanks Lambert, I live in California, Harris is one of the most sub par politicians, I have seen in my lifetime. This person is just plain terrible at everything. And people thought Hillary had a grating cackle!

      1. a different chris

        No it’s exactly correct – when you realize (usually at a young age) that “honest conversation” means that you nod and uncritically accept what you are being told by Your Better(s) and, if asked, regurgitate it back perfectly and always act accordingly.

        Yes, I know that it’s the opposite of “conversation” but it’s the old “military intelligence” trick, where the first word not only negates but completely reverses the meaning of the second.

  4. Another Scott

    Kamala Harris? inexperienced? Really? She served as senator from the largest state in the country after serving six years as that state’s Attorney General. That’s more experience than Trump, Obama, or Bush. I find it hard to believe that the New York Times would have called her inexperienced when she was running for president. They probably would have called such claims sexist and racist. But now that they benefit her, it’s no big deal.

    1. IMOR

      One could write a Fortran program to easily yoke the second senator from California’s vote to that of its first and with about three meaningful exceptions it would cover 1992-present. That ‘experience’ is content-free.
      However, I had forgotten how long she was DA for the city and county of San Francisco. Because we’re fair and balanced here, I think we should ask both Speaker Brown and Jeff Adachi how that worked out. Oh, wait.

  5. Charlene

    Kamala Harris is an opportunistic fraud and a tool, of the elite, pure and simple, and the more she is paraded about in public, the more likely it is that Trump, or a Trump Lite will get elected in 2024.

    That is not a commentary from the right either, but rather from the authentic progressive left.

    1. ambrit

      Continuing the beer analogy, if the virus resurges this winter, I expect a Trump Dark to prevail in 2024.

    2. a different chris

      Yes – the weird thing is you’d think she’d be better at this.

      If Biden’s body (brain doesn’t really matter, have you actually looked at our average President?) doesn’t hold out thru the 2024 elections we know it will now be Her Turn — and she couldn’t beat the creepy guy on your block for dog catcher.

      Which means we get Trump or more likely the much worse (yes he is also a moron, but he hides it better and that makes him so much more dangerous) DeSantis. Yipes. Thanks, Dems.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        All part of the plan. The SDS ( Subhuman Democrat Subhumans) long since decided they prefer a President Trump 2.0 over the threat of having a President Sanders or a Sanders 2.0.

      2. Kurtismayfield

        He will survive to get his 2 years plus in so that Kamala can run twice. I’ll bet my families student debt loans on it

        1. ambrit

          My generally conservative Missouri brother-in-law thinks the same thing. The theory does have merit. There is that 25th Amendment waiting to be used.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > the much worse (yes he is also a moron, but he hides it better and that makes him so much more dangerous) DeSantis

        We’ll see how DeSantis works out on the national stage. Scott Walker did a lot of damage in Wisconsin, and gutted the state Democrat Party, but he didn’t make it. At all.

        DeSantis has also only faced Florida Democrats, who are notoriously ineffective. Yes, the national Democrats are bad, but not nearly as bad as Florida Democrats.

        I agree with you that DeSantis is a distinct possibility, but I don’t think it’s time to annoint him just yet.

        Query to Floridians: Can DeSantis throw red meat as well as Trump did?

        1. Procopius

          The Florida Democratic Party is weird. With the exception of Alan Grayson, they openly support Republican candidates because “they’re my friends.”

    3. Nikkikat

      “Harris is an opportunistic fraud and a tool of the elite.”
      In other words a female Obama.

    4. IMOR

      You’re in ‘Democratic’ politics that long- and you marry THAT guy so late in life? It’s like if Obama’s Secy of Education had married Erik Prince.
      Wait. Are we sure that didn’t happen?

  6. allan

    SEC Names N.J. Attorney General as Enforcement Director [Bloomberg]

    New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal will lead the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s enforcement division, putting a well-known former prosecutor in charge of the unit that polices Wall Street.

    SEC Chair Gary Gensler announced the pick on Tuesday, touting his experience at state and federal levels. Gensler’s first pick, Alex Oh, resigned within days of taking the job after a federal judge questioned her conduct in a case she was working on in private practice.

    As New Jersey’s attorney general since 2018, Grewal, 48, has worked on a range of issues including gun violence and the opioid epidemic. During his tenure, the state also proposed tougher rules for investment advisers and joined other states in suing financial firms. Earlier in his career, Grewal served as a federal prosecutor leading a unit that investigated white-collar crime. …

    Gensler, who took the helm of the SEC in April, is expected to take a much harder line in pursuing misconduct than his predecessors did during the Trump administration. …

    Big if true.

  7. DJG, Reality Czar

    Maybe I should come up with a new abbreviation to replace the rather louche TL; dr.

    SQ; dr. Signaled Quality; didn’t read.

    This: “a historic yet inexperienced vice president”

    I detect a signal: An article trying to apologize for still another inept person put on the throne: Why did I start thinking of Shah Reza Pahlavi?

    The NYTimes used to like Shah Reza Pahlavi, too.

    1. ambrit

      The Shah was liked in certain quarters. Alas, he ran afoul of the religeous conservatives in his country. The same could happen to a President Harris.

      1. JBird4049

        His SAVAK was a less murderous NKVD, which also made him unlike by other Iranians and not just the conservatives.

        1. ambrit

          Heaven help us when the Department of Homeland Security becomes a “less murderous than the SAVAK” organization.

  8. FriarTuck

    This was meant as a response to Charlene above:

    I get the sense that she is an unprincipled amoral partisan hack, in the most textbook definition of the word; where she has no trouble altering her performance to fit what the situation requires to try to make her team win – or whatever she is told will make her team win.

    I don’t know if that makes her a fraud as much as a desirable tool from the party apparatus’ standpoint, which is why her poor showing during the last election cycle got her the VP nod.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I think her giving immunity and impunity to Steve Mnuchin after his role in the 2008 crash and swindles was what got Wall Street to instruct Biden to pick Harris.

  9. fjallstrom

    The bounce in Europe is mostly noise from France adjusting data, that will revert when 7 days has passed. There is however an increase in UK, Portugal and Cyrprus which is at least in the UK indeed Delta. But the noise is right now larger then the signal in the 7-day graph.

    1. begob

      I read Marx’s last line – “The revolution itself paralyzes its own bearers and endows only its adversaries with passionate forcefulness.” – and wondered if Yeats had that Brumaire in mind when writing the Second Coming – “The best lack all conviction, while the worst
      Are full of passionate intensity.” Possible, but on looking in to it I found no confirmation. I did find that Yeats’s pregnant wife was gravely ill with influenza when he wrote it, during the 1919 pandemic – 70% mortality rate for that cohort.

  10. kurtismayfield

    George R.R. Martin says ‘Game of Thrones’ book series will end differently than TV show

    So it’s going to be 900 pages of blank paper, since he really was never going to finish this anyway (but he loves the attention).

    1. Carolinian

      Sounds confusing so good thing he’s not going to do it (??)

      He is cooking up some prequels for HBO.

      And [shielding myself from brickbats] I like the Thrones tv show better than the books. It’s material that cries out to be visualized and they did it well.

      1. Kurtismayfield

        The first three books is what I usually recommend to people. After that I tell them only continue if you really, really want to. The red wedding is a perfect ending of the trilogy, and *if* he stuck to a trilogy showing how the shattered Stark family put itself back together, I would have been happy. But he isn’t doing that.

        1. Carolinian

          I think I have read them all and toward the end there he seemed to have written himself into a corner.

          So good thing HBO came along to rescue him (and make him a fortune). It’s a bit ungrateful to now be giving them a subtle diss.

          1. Riverboat Grambler

            Not as much of a diss as the showrunners half-a$$ing the final season so they could run off and do Star Wars. How’d that turn out?

              1. The Rev Kev

                I found an interesting parallel in two love stories in that final episode. That of Jon Snow/Daenerys Targaryen & Jamie Lannister/Cersei Lannister. Even though the later relationship was incestuous, Jamie decided to die by Cersei’s side whereas Jon knifed Daenerys. So who had the ‘better’ relationship?

                1. Carolinian

                  They had to come up with some kind of ending since Martin declined to supply one. I think they did pretty well. Clearly though a no win situation for the writers.

                  Believe they didn’t work out at Disney so some consolation for the bitter.

              2. Basil Pesto

                yeah I don’t really understand the backlash. ‘tits and dragons’, as Ian McShane put it. An entertaining and very well made second-rate show that stayed entertaining through its run, the consummate guilty pleasure. It seems like maybe people secretly wanted a Red Wedding style turnabout in the final season rather than the relatively conventional ending because that’s what they came to expect from the show?

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > I think I have read them all and toward the end there he seemed to have written himself into a corner.

            I think of both Tolkien and Martin as travel writers for imaginary worlds. At that, both are brilliant.

            1. Carolinian

              I agree, actually, although I’m a lot less keen on the more serious minded Tolkien. Martin adds the ingredient Tolkien leaves out: sex.

              But Martin’s rather anarchic approach to storytelling doesn’t lend itself to a tidy conclusion which HBO felt they owed their audience after all those seasons.

    2. griffen

      Spoiler alert! Avert your gaze from this specific thread if you are only familiar with the show by reference. Must be one of a very few, never watched.

  11. Lee

    As mentioned before, I’ve been giving serious consideration to moving from the SF east bay area shoreline northward along the coast, further from the equator so as to be less subject to the effects of global weather weirding. I had been thinking of the Portland area, not only because I figured, wrongly as it turns out, that it would remain cooler but also because it offers the advantage of regular rioting in the streets, which has for me a certain nostalgic appeal dating back to my misspent youth in Berkeley in the 60s and 70s.

    But given that it’s 110 degrees in Portland while only 70 degrees here, I’ll have to give my plan a rethink. Meanwhile, I shall never again complain of the clammy chill of many of our summer mornings resulting from the high fog that shrouds us for a good part of most days. OTOH, we have fire season ahead of us and yesterday the Hayward fault twitched and gave us a bit of shake.

    1. michael99

      I had been thinking of that too – moving from Sacramento to the Pacific Northwest for cooler, wetter weather. The fires in Oregon last year showed the PNW is also feeling the effects of climate change.

      Lately I’ve been daydreaming of Vermont. But the winters…

      1. IMOR

        The winters, as to snow, anyway, won’t last. They aren’t in Montana. Precip wise, there must be places besides eastern Ohio, western PA, and New Jersy that will initially keep seeing MORE precip. But as to temperature, I think we’re all screwed much worse and earler than anyone had hoped.

        1. Procopius

          … earler than anyone had hoped.

          Ahyup. I think by 1910 it was already too late to avert disaster. If we use the analogy of turning an ocean liner, the captain still hasn’t given an order and the helmsman is kind of daydreaming anyway.

      2. Socal Rhino

        My friend took an early June vacation at his cabin in northern Vermont. Was in 90’s, longer streak of heat than anything he’s seen in 12 Augusts.

        They’ve seen 100 degree above the arctic circle this week.

      3. petal

        We’re(northern NH/VT) having our second official heat wave of the summer and it’s not even July yet. The humidity is horrible. The summers here have been worse than when I lived in Boston. If you’re thinking of escaping the heat here, you won’t. It’s hot and we don’t get regular rain. The grass is already crunchy. The winters are becoming more and more icy. Maybe check out western NY or northern MI instead, but please be cognizant of pushing out the locals. It’s been horrendous for that here, and in western NY, and southern MI. Sorry-hits a nerve.

        1. petal

          The heat index has been 98-99F the last couple days, and we’ve been in a moderate drought for more than a year if that helps.

        2. michael99

          Yes, I will be cognizant to not push out the locals, if I do move. I know this has been an issue in Oregon with Californians moving in with bundles of cash from the sale of their homes and driving prices up.

          I really enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking and observing wildlife and Vermont seems to have a lot to offer in that regard. But apparently like many areas of the country housing keeps getting more and more expensive and supply is tight.

          The heat here is bad and getting worse but the drought is what really has me spooked. The water district I’m in has not imposed any restrictions and says their supply is adequate for 2021. It is mainly from wells and apparently the aquifers they are tapping into are in good shape for now.

          Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. I hope the coming winter is wet.

          1. JBird4049

            Careful there with the wishing. Remember the last few times the droughts ended? Unusually heavy rains that removed all those dead plants (like whole trees) and topsoil from the hills. Then there are the mud slides, overflowing rivers, and floods. Going from begging for the rain to begging for it to stop is not something I want to repeat.

            1. michael99

              You’re right. I should have said ‘but not too wet’. There were floods in 2017-18 when atmospheric rivers of warm storms battered the state.

              As the climate continues to warm the snowpack in the Sierra is predicted to dwindle to nothing by the end of the century. Losing the water storage capacity of the snowpack will hurt and flood risk from runoff will increase.

    2. Nce

      Hah, I need to leave this Sierran resort town for a real community. Old websites claim that Berkeley is one of the top 10 best towns for houseless folks… I might head up behind the redwood curtain again, I don’t know. I hated the northcoast gloom and mold but I dislike wildfire smoke even more.

    3. Tom Stone

      Lee, it’s going to be a mess when the Hayward Fault goes and it is past due.
      I wasn’t prepared the first time ( Of Four) that I had to evacuate and I strongly recommend a “Go Bag” that you can lay your hands on and be out the door with in 30 seconds.
      Take a look at packing material on hand and make the 30 second list, 30 minute list and so on.
      You may have a day of warning or only moments, spending a few hours finding out what you need and organizing what you have is going to maker life a lot easier in the event you do have to flee the flames.

      1. The Rev Kev

        And don’t forget a portable hard drive that has a copy of all your computer files, photos, scanned documents, etc.

          1. Procopius

            CDs/DVDs have a pretty short life-span. A nephew-in-law asked if I had copies of the videos of his wedding, seven years ago. The dye on his DVDs had faded and nobody had copied them to a hard drive. Don’t rely on CD/DVD for more than ten years. In fact all computer memories are ephemeral. there are hard drives from the 1970s that we can’t read any more because the software for that particular type of file no longer exists. Historians a hundred years from now are going to bewail our failure to inscribe anything but legal documents on parchment, or even paper, which has a pretty short lifetime, too.

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      Here’s a story about how it reached a real true measured 115 degrees in a town in British Columbia, which is well north of Oregon.

      I believe this shows that it could be hard to predict where the weirdest of weather weirding can strike and what form it may take.

      I wonder if it might be better to think about what places will be most survivable for the most-of-the-time between the outbursts of weirding. And then just hope to survive whatever surprise weirding happens to happen where you are living.

    5. Librarian Guy

      I live just north of Hayward, in San Leandro. I am currently in Duluth, Minnesota, looking for a place to retire here in the northern part of the state where it is wet and green. The past 4 years of NorCal summer-fall fire seasons were a message to me to get out while the getting is still good . . . On topic: Yesterday’s Chapo Trap House episode’s 2nd segment was on the Miami building collapse, & the US refusal to invest in any infrastructure for the future. (See the chart on Obama and Trump Health Care (sic) investment in today’s water cooler.) Basically, the neolib model now is everything must generate a profit quarter by quarter, or not gonna be funded or happen. The 3 Chapos made a joke about how you will be safer in Minnesota, but not safe anywhere in the U.S. I personally think the US in 10 years will look like one of the horrible Soviet “republics” of the early 1980s before the collapse. I’m trying personally to go somewhere with basic natural resources that will be less grim, gloomy and miserable than the rest of this failed, dying empire. At least food is still grown up here and there are open spaces and fresh (relatively) air and water.

  12. albrt

    The copper theft comic is illustrated by Dorothy Gambrell, author of Cat and Girl.

    Good to see she is getting work – hope its paid.

    1. flora

      adding from the link:

      The recognition of a conspiracy — again, whether true or false — entails accepting that not only are things other than what they seem, but they are systematized, regulated, intentional, and even logical. It’s only by treating conspiracies not as “plans” or “schemes” but as mechanisms for ordering the disordered that we can hope to understand how they have so radically displaced the concepts of “rights” and “freedoms” as the fundamental signifiers of democratic citizenship.

  13. jax

    “Faced With Worker Shortage at Kansas Facility, Russell Stover Turns to Prison Labor”

    Though it was made in 2012, I just watched the PBS documentary “Slavery by Another Name.” I totally recommend it.

    1. Nikkikat

      At least candy making is better than fighting fires in California for 2.00 dollars a day. I will never eat a piece of Russell Stover again!

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Someone suggested we need a ” Green Book” for union-made things and union-performed services.

        We may also need an ongoing ” Black Book Tip Sheet” to keep track of all the slave and semi-slave labor-inputted goods and services by name to know what they are. Forced prisoner-labor would certainly count as semi-slave labor.

        1. Count Zero

          I can’t remember who it was that said that prisons exist so that everybody else thinks they were free. Slavery for modern liberals serves a similar purpose — to make other forms of labour look “free”.

          There’s quite a literature now on the many different forms of unfree labour in the recent past and in the present. Alongside forced prison labour, there’s indentured labour, apprenticeship, and all manner of contract labour and servitude. Readers of NC could come up with many other variants. Wage labour is never free.

  14. enoughisenough

    Thanks for that defense of the Humanities (The role of the arts and humanities in thinking about artificial intelligence (AI))!!

    We really are endangering ourselves with our short-term/only as far as the end of the financial quarter-style thinking, while at the same time, devaluing the Humanities as elitist and not necessary.

    It’s not elitist to think and read and write and explain and think critically at a deeper level than our trite society right now thinks is sufficient. Everyone needs to be able to. Some may have more natural ability for critical thinking and analysis than others, but no matter who you are, it’s a learned, acquired skill that is necessary to practice. I liked the attention to *process* in the article. AI, ZB., cannot critically think, and suss out all possible ramifications. For pete’s sake, police depts are using “facial recognition”, which is apparently based on the magical-thinking premise that no 2 faces are alike? What scientific study even says that? Or was the entire premise underpants-gnomed? Even fingerprints are turning out to not be as reliably unique as previously assumed.

    We need real plans, thought out and implemented without being co-opted: no more “underpants gnoming”!!! (A great expression that one of the commenters here hipped me to last week, forget who, but thank you!)

    And we can’t do that, if people only study business, which is full of magical and conspiratorial fake logic.

    Last night’s Chapo Trap House had a good discussion of this short-sightedness putting us into double-binds, re. the Miami condo collapse
    536 – In The Bunker (6/28/21).

  15. allan

    An ugly thread about the Daily Mail ripping off a writer/researcher’s work, including photographs:

    Summer Brennan Rainbow @summerbrennan

    Soooo, this is interesting. As you know I started this series, Book of the Courtesans. Now Daily Mail has written about it, but not about the fact that I’m the one doing this all new research? I am not just “translating” the entries. This is MY research. …

    Caveat linktor.

  16. flora

    “Biden Honeymoon With Liberals Fades as Priorities Downplayed” [Bloomberg].

    Um… note to said liberals… arguing for your “technical”virginity after a romp is a tough sell if your argument is based on a claim to a virtuous moral grounds respect. (And I’m sorry if you were fooled. We’ve all been fooled at some time.) / ;)

    1. Geo

      I’m old enough to remember a time – I think it was two months ago – when Dems and the media were triumphantly touting how Biden and his team had learned from the Obama years and weren’t gonna make those mistakes of seeking bipartisanship from an overtly non-cooperative opposition party again.

      Did the GOP buy them flowers and make sad puppy-dog eyes while promising they’ve changed and they only did all that past stuff because they love the Dems so much?

      “The lesson that this team learned, beginning with President Biden, from that experience is that there is a cost to waiting too long,” said Jay Carney, who worked for Biden before becoming Obama White House press secretary, and is now an executive at Amazon. “I think everyone is much more realistic about whether bipartisan cooperation is possible.”

      Seriously though, each day I become more convinced the only good stuff they do is purely to give people the bare minimum to keep them placated while they continue to pawn off as much of the wealth, resources, and infrastructure as they can. Behind closed doors they’re having a “going out of business” sale for our democracy.

      In the early days of the pandemic a friend of mine – a Harvard alum with many friends in the Davos set – was panicked about impending collapse. Similarly, a colleagues friend who is very successful in the investment world was panicking too. Both were sending us regular warnings with “insider” talks of uprisings and revolt, telling us to seek ways of escaping to rural places or overseas. Then, the minuscule “stimulus” checks went out and the dire warnings from them slowed and went away.

      My tinfoil hat covered brain wonders if that was the reason, unlike in 2009, they actually stepped up and helped us a bit? And, now that they’ve placated us they’re going back to the looting?

      There’s no way Dems are too stupid to realize they’re being played by Republicans. It’s obvious they are looking for every excuse they can avoid doing anything more that benefits us and finding ways to privatize as much of our country as they can. Anything good we get is merely self-preservation for them.

  17. drumlin woodchuckles

    From the “beware companies which like gay money better than gay people” article, I saw a sentence which uses the word ” ally” in its new false-and-fake disdefined sense. When “Whatever” Justice Woke Warriors say “ally”, what they mean is “loyal servant”. They expect you to serve their interests loyally and faithfully and in return for your service, and in return for your servile support, they will award you the pet name ” ally “.

    Here is that sentence.
    “And if it’s about finding allyship in non-queer spaces, then businesses should be coming through for queer people every day of the year. That is allyship.”

    The correct word for “allyship'” the way this sentence intends it . . . . is “servitude”. Eager servitude.

    The “Allies” in World War II fought for eachOTHER and helped eachOTHER equally to the best of their abilities. Helping someone who helps you in an averagely-reciprocal-manner over time is “allyship”. One-way servitude is one-way servitude. And disnomering it as “allyship” will not change the all-benefits-to-me/ zero-benefits-to-you nature of the relationship being demanded.

    I may eventually have to start informing people who demand my “allyship” that ” I am not woke, and I am not your ally.”

    1. Geo

      When James Baldwin wrote about allies to Civil Rights he cautioned that allies may stand beside you in the fight but when the heat gets too hot they can go home but we must fight because we live in this fire. (Quoting from memory so not his exact words).

      This is something it seems that has been forgotten. My whole life I’ve been a lot to the LGBTQ, to people of all races, to women, to those in countries we bomb, to environmental activists, workers rights activists, and many other movements. But, like anyone, my focus often is drawn toward those issues that impact my life the most. Some fires I live in and many I do not.

      It seems the rights movements have made a dramatic shift in goals over the past 20 years. There used to be a focus on equality but that has changed to being about identity and recognition. Each identity has a flag (literally – there was a recent online skirmish about what colors to add to the rainbow flag with various groups feeling left out and others being criticized as over-represented) and each wants to plant that flag and claim ownership of a small parcel of turf. Gone are the days of erasing lines and unity and now it’s all about building little fortresses of safe spaces. The Bernie campaign of “Not me, us” and “Fight for someone you don’t know” was like a last hurrah for a bygone era and now the left is fixated on fracturing into smaller and more useless factions until they are all so insignificant to the wider population that they can revel in their superiority and cry about how no one listens to them.

      From the M4A/FTV fights to TYT/Dore fights to IdPol/Populist fights (all of which have valid issues but have become hysterical) to some that are outright lunacy. Much of it is obviously fed by how online popularity is driven by hate ( https://www.inquiremore.com/p/social-media-success-is-driven-by/comments ) and too many activists think online “engagement” means progress (or, more likely, means $). It seems much of the left would watch The Empire Strikes Back and see Yoda as the main villain: “Why didn’t Yoda defeat the empire!? He’s just sitting in his cave when he should be going after Darth Vader!”

      As for being an ally? Sadly, I’m with you now too. I’m not much of an ally to many of these groups anymore. Sure, I hope their groups can achieve equality and acceptance. But, in the end, I have my own fires to fight and have no interest in getting burned while helping others fight theirs.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        The thing is . . . is that “ally” used to mean someone who will help me put out my fire even as I help them put out their fire. It used to mean a reciprocal back-and-forth co-assistance relationship between self-and-co-perceived co-equals. A fancier word for what “ally” used to mean would be “solidarity”.

        Now the definition of “ally” has been corrupted and falsified to mean ” provider of support and service and validation in return for nothing at all and no expectation of anything more than nothing at all”.

        So I suppose it might make sense to update and expand my planned statement to cover the old-timey definition of what “ally” used to mean.

        I am not woke. I am not an ally. I am a strict reciprocal transactor. If you want a strictly reciprocal transactional relationship wherein we each equally support eachothers’ concerns, then we can have a strictly pragmatic negotiation about the terms of the strictly reciprocal transactional relationship you would like us to have.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Each identity has a flag

        Warlords and sovereigns have flags. To me, an ally is something states or political entities have. So the whole concept is very problematic to me, reminiscent of “sovereign citizens” but with different selection criteria.

        Designed, of course, to destroy solidarity, prevent collective action that scales, suck off and co-opt the “voices”, etc., etc., etc.

    2. Darthbobber

      As far as I can see, the present version of “allyship” is just a variant of noblesse oblige.

      It has nothing to do with the forming of actual alliances between different groups to pursue mutually advantageous objectives.

      The US and USSR were allies, but they would have found allyship ridiculous.

  18. Samuel Conner

    Lambert, thank you for that “I contain multitudes” quote; I needed a good laugh today.

    > Decline now flattening. Delta? See World, below. (The increase in Delta would still swamped by the decrease in Alpha, etc. For awhile.)

    The 7 day smoothed data, of course, lags current events.

    The daily US numbers at the JHU CSSE dashboard (one can examine them by selecting US at left, expanding the charts at right and then zooming the time frame, using the sliders above each chart, to focus on recent weeks)


    look to me like they are discernibly higher day by day, in the last week than in the prior week, with the exception of one or two days. I suspect that we are seeing the “bottom.” of the last wave and the beginnings of the next.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Lambert, thank you for that “I contain multitudes” quote; I needed a good laugh today.

      [lambert blushes modestly]

      I deliberately avoid the day to day. When the 7 day smoothed data moves, you know the train is really rolling.

  19. The Rev Kev

    ‘USGS Store
    It’s #FreeMapMonday! Retweet and follow us for a chance to win the Geologic Map of the United States!’

    Back in the 19th century you had these paintings being done that would tell a story. But to understand it, you would have to look at the details in that painting for clues as to what was going on and why things were actually happening. It was almost like a who-done-it. An example would be the painting ‘The Last Day in the Old Home’.

    It is kinda the same with that geological map of the United States. There is a story in all those colours and lines that only a geologist could talk about. A story about massive changes, regions being uplifted and then eroded down, sweeping changes and long periods of stability. The story is all there but it is in a language that we do not know. Here is a part of what that image is talking about-


  20. Darthbobber

    Thanks for the 18th Brumaire quote. Another I find eerily descriptive of our present is this, from the Poverty of Philosophy.

    “Finally, there came a time when everything that men had considered as inalienable became an object of exchange, of traffic and could be alienated. This is the time when the very things which till then had been communicated, but never exchanged; given, but never sold; acquired, but never bought – virtue, love, conviction, knowledge, conscience, etc. – when everything, in short, passed into commerce. It is the time of general corruption, of universal venality, or, to speak in terms of political economy, the time when everything, moral or physical, having become a marketable value, is brought to the market to be assessed at its truest value.”

  21. VietnamVet

    The coronavirus pandemic, the heat dome over PNW/BC and Kamala Harris are prime cases of seeing what you want to see. I admit I do it. It is one of the burdens of my old age.

    This is compounded in the USA by divide and rule tribalism generated by PsyOp marketing of different viewpoints of the world to each so that they can’t talk to each other. Steve Bannon is correct. The USA is a horseshoe with the left and right next to each other. The force that keeps them from coming together is the Imperial Western Empire.

    It is striking how the Washington Post, the CIA newspaper of record, is pulling out all stops to remain in Afghanistan. No doubt due with the military contractors gone, the spooks won’t have air support for their Ops there. But Joe Biden has one advantage over Dick Nixon in the aftermath of the withdrawal of forces. Kamala Harris is no Jerry Ford.

    Empires like to empower minorities because they need the Imperial Legionnaires to remain in charge. Joe Biden maybe starting the withdrawal back to North America. The Balkan, Middle East, and Asia experts won’t like that. It is their rice bowls. He was a Senator in 1974. I wonder if he is still aware of the parallels.

    The ending of masking and social distancing in the USA, on the brink of a likely delta variant outbreak, is all the proof needed to show that planning for the future is impossible in today’s neoliberal political economy; let alone, mitigating the West Coast’s drought, heat wave and the inevitable climate refugees that are being discussed today.

  22. r. clayton

    They also helped themselves. For their work, the companies stand to collect more than $3 billion in fees, according to a New York Times analysis — far more than any of the 5,200 participating lenders.

    This is questionable. $3b is less than half a percent of $800b. I’m sure the two companies didn’t handle the whole $800b, but how much did they handle? It may well be the companies gouged everyone in sight, but this reads like somebody trying to scare us with big numbers.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Well, $3 billion, in absolute terms, going to two individuals and their “start-ups,” is large, considering that it’s pure looting, in that they stepped in as middlepersons to perform a function the State is so degraded it can no longer perform (and degraded by people of their class, and, I would bet, ideology too).

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