2:00PM Water Cooler 6/7/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

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#COVID19

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

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

Vaccination by region:

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

UPDATE OH: “‘I’m still dreaming’: Toledoan wins second Vax-a-Million drawing” [Toledo Blade]. And buried deep in the story: “Governor DeWine credited the lottery enticement for a spike in new vaccinations after his initial announcement, but the numbers show the rate has again leveled off. Even with the fanfare surrounding the lottery, Ohio trails the national average of Americans rolling up their sleeves by a significant margin as well as neighbors Pennsylvania and Michigan. As the governor’s face mask, social distancing, and many other health orders ended as promised on Wednesday, Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, Ohio’s chief medical officer, felt the need — six months into vaccine availability — to again stress with reporters the safety of the vaccines.” • It’s as if elites would rather try manipulative gimmicks, instead of meeting people where they are and adjusting to their needs. As for example:

You’d think mobile vaccine units would be getting some press play, as opposed to lotteries…

UPDATE “J&J vaccine drive stalls out in U.S after safety pause” [Reuters]. “Safety concerns about Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine along with overall flagging demand for vaccinations have slowed its U.S. rollout to a crawl, leaving close to half of the 21 million doses produced for the United States sitting unused.” • Eesh.

Case count by United States regions:

Continued good news, though perhaps the decrease is slowing a little?

UPDATE “Covid cases in U.S. fall to levels not seen since March 2020” [NBC News]. “On Wednesday, the seven-day average was 16,860, the lowest since March 29, 2020…. The winter surge has now receded, and as the calendar turns to June, the country is once again reopening. But the pandemic has changed drastically in the intervening 12 months. Thanks to vaccinations, experts say, the U.S. is unlikely to see a summer surge on a scale similar to last year…. .The big test will come in the fall, when the weather cools and people start to gather indoors, said Dr. Chris Beyrer, a professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The virus [is airborne and –ls] spreads much more easily in indoor, poorly ventilated spaces. Still, Hanage noted, any fall or winter uptick won’t be like the surge the nation saw last winter, because the vaccines have proven to be very effective in preventing severe disease. That means an increase in cases won’t necessarily lead to a large increase in hospitalizations seen in previous surges, he said.”

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

Continued good news.

Test positivity:

Continued good news.

Hospitalization (CDC):

Continued good news.

Deaths (Our World in Data):

Continued good news.

Covid cases worldwide:

India, assuming one trusts the numbers, falls well below Latin America. Given that Miami is the capital of Latin America, that’s a region worth watching.

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Politics

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

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

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

Biden Administration

Molasses for brains:

UPDATE “Kamala Harris Can’t Win” [Frank Bruni, New York Times]. “‘She’s very aware that her being in this position is a threat to many people,’ Valerie Jarrett, who was a senior adviser to Obama during his presidency, told me. ‘They’re terrified of seeing a woman of color in this kind of position of authority and responsibility. But with every position she’s ever had in her career in public service, she’s dealt with the same reaction. So she’s used to this, and part of what will make her successful is her ability to ignore the noise.'” • Gad. Harris couldn’t even win her home state (although she did win the Hamptons). That should terrify Democrats.

Republican Funhouse

“How Q And Trump Deadenders Became Obsessed With Myanmar” [Talking Points Memo]. “The Myanmar coup plotters used claims of voter fraud during their own November 2020 presidential election as a justification for taking power. The Myanmar military’s claims were broad, with one general alleging that 8 million fake votes had been counted. International observers at the election say that there were no major irregularities. When the Myanmar coup first took place on Feb. 1, Q supporters reacted with recognition. ‘QAnon is jealous of Myanmar’s military coup,’ ran one Feb. 4 headline in Vice.” • So I’m not the only one who views Myanmar as a harbinger, though needless to say I’m not in favor of the Tatmadaw’s coup.

Democrats en Deshabille

“The Current Democratic Party Is Unable to Meet the Demands of the Joe Crow Era” [Mike the Mad Biologist]. “To follow up on yesterday’s post about Democratic Senator Joe Manchin’s decision to tank Senate bill S1, making it highly unlikely Democrats will hold either the House or the Senate in 2022, there is one way to still win elections. That is to massively increase voter turnout through organizing. The problem is that the consultants picked by the Democratic Party leadership–and which are forced on Democratic candidates–have no incentive to do this. They don’t want to give ‘their money’ to a bunch of local and state organizers, who are typically unaffiliated with specific candidates or even the Democratic Party. That’s not the business model–the business model is running TV ads (sometimes online ads too) and getting a cut of the expenditure. Meanwhile the people on the ground who bang on doors are shortchanged.”

“Hunter Biden’s laptop keeps damning Joe, but most media just ignore it” [New York Post]. “To put some face-saving cover on the event in the private ‘Garden Room’ at Café Milano, a posh Georgetown eatery (“Where the world’s most powerful people go,” run its promos), Hunter billed it as ‘ostensibly to discuss food security,’ as he emailed one guest, and invited several officials from the World Food Program. But the beards were outnumbered by the likes of corrupt former Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov (hubby of Russian billionaire Yelena Baturina, who’d paid one of Hunter’s firms $3.5 million the year before), Kazakh oligarch Kenes Rakishev, Karim Massimov, a former prime minister of Kazakhstan, and Vadym Pozharskyi, an executive of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma. The photo of the then-veep and Hunter smiling with the two Kazakhs, clearly shot at Café Milano, isn’t the only proof Joe actually attended the dinner: Pozharskyi emailed Hunter the next day, “Dear Hunter, thank you for inviting me to DC and giving an opportunity to meet your father and spent [sic] some time together. … It’s realty [sic] an honor and pleasure.” So much for any claim that Joe never met with Burisma officials even as he was Team Obama’s point man on Ukraine, a role he used to demand the ouster of a prosecutor who was looking into the firm.” • I can’t speak to the detail on this. But the photos alone… Imagine if this had been Jared Kushner. We’d still be reading the headlines. Maddow would be going nuts. And so on.

2022

“Ex-Rep Alan Grayson files paperwork to challenge Marco Rubio in 2022” [Raw Story]. • Good!

Obama Legacy

“Obama: Presidential center will promote Chicago’s South side” [Associated Press]. “Barack Obama continued a push to build support for his presidential center on Chicago’s lakefront on Friday, urging business leaders in the city to get involved with the project. The former president announced his choice of Jackson Park on the city’s South Side in 2016 but construction for the $500 million project had been delayed because of a federal review needed in the historic parkland. The review started in 2017 and recently concluded. Chicago officials announced in April that preliminary work at the property was underway, even as activists filed another lawsuit seeking to force its relocation to protect the surrounding environment.” • A stately pleasure dome…

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of note today.

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Banking: “Goldman Sachs Teams With Visa To Streamline Cross Border Payments For Clients” [PYMNTS.COM]. “A recent PYMNTS/Visa study shows that, on average, 26 percent of a company’s revenue now comes from cross-border buyers; the larger the company, the larger the percentage of sales from outside their domestic market. With those sales also comes the delay in accessing those funds. On average, according to the same study, companies wait as much as a third longer for cross-border payments to post to their accounts. Against that backdrop, Goldman Sachs and Visa announced a strategic partnership Monday (June 7) that will simplify cross-border payments flows for Goldman’s transaction banking clients.”

The Bezzle: “Why Your Uber Ride Is Suddenly Costing a Fortune” [New York Magazine]. “Ride-hailing prices are up — way up, by 50 percent or more over pre-pandemic rates. The shocking incongruity of Uber’s pricing in particular went viral when Sunny Madra, vice-president of Ford’s accelerator program, posted screenshots of a Wednesday morning ride from midtown Manhattan to JFK Airport that cost $248.90 — about as much as his flight to San Francisco. But why now?…. Much like the supply-chain issues that are plaguing virtually every industry now, Uber and Lyft are dealing with a moment of exceptionally high demand, says Harry Campbell, who reports on the industry at the Rideshare Guy…. The labor shortage is not unique to ride-hailing, but the situation is particularly dire right now at Uber and Lyft, where morale among its gig workers is low.” • I can’t imagine why.

The Bezzle:

Where’s the lie?

Tech: “An Attractive Cheap Organic Material for New Generation of Batteries” [SciTechDaily]. “While the modern world relies on energy storage devices more and more heavily, it is becoming increasingly important to implement sustainable battery technologies that are friendlier to the environment, are easy to dispose, rely on abundant elements only, and are cheap. Organic batteries are desirable candidates for such purposes. However, organic cathode materials that store a lot of energy per mass unit can be charged quickly, are durable, and can be easily produced on a large scale at the same time, remain underdeveloped. To address this problem, researchers from Skoltech proposed a simple….” • They lost me there. Perhaps chemists in the readership can expand on this,

Travel: “Royal Caribbean changes policy to make vaccines optional for cruise ship passengers” [The Hill]. “Royal Caribbean International on Friday announced a change in its policy, saying vaccinations against the coronavirus will be optional for cruise ship passengers. ‘Guests are strongly recommended to set sail fully vaccinated, if they are eligible. Those who are unvaccinated or unable to verify vaccination will be required to undergo testing and follow other protocols, which will be announced at a later date,’ the company said in its announcement. The move comes after Florida passed a law that will fine companies $5,000 each time they ask customers if they are vaccinated against the coronavirus, the Miami Herald reported.” • Another natural experiment…

The Economy: “Plywood boards, fencing are still protecting downtown Portland property. Will they harm the area’s rebound?” [The Oregonian]. “[V]irtually every block in the heart of the city continues to have boarded-up buildings and windows, a jarring juxtaposition to the budding vibrancy…. As city officials seek to appease retailers and employers and encourage residents to work, shop, dine and attend cultural events downtown, the patchwork of boards and barriers remains an intractable hurdle.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 48 Neutral (previous close: 48 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 38 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 7 at 12:16pm.

Rapture Index: Closes down one on global turmoil. “The lack of activity has downgraded this category.” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 186 (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so high is better.)

The Biosphere

“Climate tipping points could topple like dominoes, warn scientists” [Guardian]. “The new research examined the interactions between ice sheets in West Antarctica, Greenland, the warm Atlantic Gulf Stream and the Amazon rainforest. The scientists carried out 3m computer simulations and found domino effects in a third of them, even when temperature rises were below 2C, the upper limit of the Paris agreement. The study showed that the interactions between these climate systems can lower the critical temperature thresholds at which each tipping point is passed. It found that ice sheets are potential starting points for tipping cascades, with the Atlantic currents acting as a transmitter and eventually affecting the Amazon. ‘We provide a risk analysis, not a prediction, but our findings still raise concern,’ said Prof Ricarda Winkelmann, at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany. ‘[Our findings] might mean we have less time to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and still prevent tipping processes.'”

“Opponents take stand against Enbridge Line 3” [Indian Country Today]. “The Mississippi River, or Great River in the Ojibwe language, is barely three feet in width near its headwaters in northern Minnesota. Tender and vulnerable, it meanders across the landscape with no hint at its greatness farther south. It’s here near the river’s headwaters that Enbridge is completing construction on the Line 3 pipeline and its numerous crossings under the river. And it’s here that hundreds of water protectors and supporters are making a stand Monday opposing the project. Numerous environmental, faith and Indigenous groups organized the Treaty People Gathering this weekend, describing it as the largest act of resistance so far to the pipeline. Attendees are encouraged to ‘put their bodies on the line to stop construction and tell the world that the days of tar sands are over,’ according to the Treaty People Gathering website,” • Leave it in the ground!

“Airborne transmission pathway for coastal water pollution” [Environmental Science]. Yikes:

Each year, over one hundred million people become ill and tens of thousands die from exposure to viruses and bacteria from sewage transported to the ocean by rivers, estuaries, stormwater, and other coastal discharges. Water activities and seafood consumption have been emphasized as the major exposure pathways to coastal water pollution. In contrast, relatively little is known about the potential for airborne exposure to pollutants and pathogens from contaminated seawater. The Cross Surfzone/Inner-shelf Dye Exchange (CSIDE) study was a large-scale experiment designed to investigate the transport pathways of water pollution along the coast by releasing dye into the surfzone in Imperial Beach, CA. Additionally, we leveraged this ocean-focused study to investigate potential airborne transmission of coastal water pollution by collecting complementary air samples along the coast and inland. Aerial measurements tracked sea surface dye concentrations along 5+ km of coast at 2 m × 2 m resolution. Dye was detected in the air over land for the first 2 days during two of the three dye releases, as far as 668 m inland and 720 m downwind of the ocean. These coordinated water/air measurements, comparing dye concentrations in the air and upwind source waters, provide insights into the factors that lead to the water-to-air transfer of pollutants. These findings show that coastal water pollution can reach people through an airborne pathway and this needs to be taken into account when assessing the full impact of coastal ocean pollution on public health.

“A hallucinogenic toad in peril” [High Country News]. “Late on a Thursday evening in July 2018, three intruders were caught on a wildlife camera at the Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area, a park north of Phoenix. Holding flashlights, they scoured a Mexican lily-filled pond near a popular hiking trail, on the hunt for Sonoran Desert toads. One girl squealed as she held up a fat one — both hands wrapped around its belly — and dropped it into a plastic bag. Later, a young man wearing a tattered cowboy hat and a tank top came into view, his face and hand looming large in the camera frame as he clenched a grocery bag. A jumble of legs pressed frantically into the thin plastic, captive amphibians trying to escape their new prison. “That is like the last thing I expected to see,” Kevin Smith, Spur Cross Ranch’s sole park ranger, said. He estimates, from the footage, that the thieves grabbed at least a dozen toads. Though the recordings — and the story’s peculiar nature —made local and national news, briefly causing a stir, the culprits were never caught. What happened to the creatures isn’t hard to guess, however: In recent years, psychedelic enthusiasts have been rounding up Sonoran Desert toads in order to obtain their secretions, which contain a powerful hallucinogenic substance called 5-MeO-DMT.” • Jerks.

“Mass Murder in the Late Neolithic” [Patrick Wyman, Perspectives]. “Whoever the killers were, they weren’t trying to frighten or run off their adversaries. Viewed in cross-cultural perspective, raiders often capture children and women, taking them as slaves. That wasn’t the case here; the attackers were trying to exterminate their adversaries. Were they rivals for resources? Was there a cultural barrier or set of taboos marking the two groups off from one another? What process of dehumanization was necessary to make this act possible? We’ll never know the answers. The dead have their story to tell, but on these questions, they remain silent.” • Genesis 4:8….

Health Care

UPDATE “A Truly Revolting Treatment Is Having a Renaissance” [The Atlantic]. “By 2008, maggot therapy was being administered about 50,000 times annually worldwide, as a growing body of research continued to demonstrate why the stomach-turning approach was worth tolerating. In a three-year randomized clinical trial, for example, University of York scientists found that larvae debrided leg ulcers significantly faster than standard wound-healing gels did. In another study of foot-ulcer treatments, researchers at Trafford College, near Manchester, concluded that maggot therapy was significantly better than gels at reducing the area of a wound. Individual case studies have also described the effectiveness of maggot therapy for severe electrical burns or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections. A 2012 study conducted at two French hospitals found that maggots could outperform scalpels when it came to quickly clearing dead tissue from nonhealing wounds. During the COVID-19 pandemic, University of Southern California surgeons demonstrated that maggot therapy could even be conducted via telemedicine.”

“IDseq—An open source cloud-based pipeline and analysis service for metagenomic pathogen detection and monitoring” [Giga Science]. “Metagenomic next-generation sequencing (mNGS) has enabled the rapid, unbiased detection and identification of microbes without pathogen-specific reagents, culturing, or a priori knowledge of the microbial landscape. mNGS data analysis requires a series of computationally intensive processing steps to accurately determine the microbial composition of a sample…. We present IDseq, an open source cloud-based metagenomics pipeline and service for global pathogen detection and monitoring (https://idseq.net)…. IDseq was designed with the specific intent of detecting novel pathogens…. The IDseq Portal reduces the barrier to entry for mNGS data analysis and enables bench scientists, clinicians, and bioinformaticians to gain insight from mNGS datasets for both known and novel pathogens.” • Sounds like if you are the kind of person who needs to know about this, you really need to know about this (modulo, well, does it work…).

Our Famously Free Press

“Cable News Network Viewership Continued To Drop In April Vs. 2020; Fox News Tops Primetime And Total Day” [Deadline]. “Fox News averaged 2.24 million viewers in primetime, down 39% from a year earlier, while MSNBC had 1.58 million, down 22%, and CNN was at 1.03 million, down 47%. In the 25-54 demo, Fox News topped with 368,000, down 45%, compared to 276,000 for CNN, down 52%, and 227,000 for MSNBC, a drop of 32%.” • They all need Trump back in the game.

“Editor’s Note: Contributors Wanted” [Matt Taibbi, TK News (maryann)]. “I would like this site to be a place where subscribers can get reporting and analysis they can’t get from mainstream commercial press sources. Therefore, I’d be especially interested in [outside contributors who have] experience in a certain field and is frustrated by how their sphere is covered. It could be any area: medicine, law, policing, education, real estate, lobbying, finance, lion-taming, dentistry, whatever… The kicker is that contributors must also have a sense of style or an innovative presentation. In an effort to avoid inundating subscribers with material, contributions have to be unique/unusual and in the spirit of the site…. Anything that’s good or funny or informative will be considered, and we don’t discriminate against the eccentric.” • 

Zeitgeist Watch

Trainspotting: The Midwest Sequel

“Match CEO: ‘We’re going to see the biggest cuffing season ever'” [Yahoo Finance]. “Americans are emerging from the pandemic eager to reconnect with friends and family — and strangers. That last part is great news for dating apps. And while the summer is generally a time for casual dating, Match (MTCH) CEO Hesam Hosseini thinks the fall of 2021 looks to be particularly auspicious for more serious relationships to blossom. ‘Our role is really to help you find the one, find a meaningful connection,’ Hosseini said in an interview with Yahoo Finance (video above). ‘We are actually doubling down on that. You know, this summer is a mixed bag. We actually predict that come the fall we’re going to see the biggest cuffing season ever.'” And because you are wondering, just as I was wondering: “‘Cuffing season’— defined as the time of year when ‘single people begin looking for short term partnerships to pass the colder months of the year’ — was challenged by society largely shuttering in 2020, and Match sees pent up demand for people looking to make deeper connections.” • So, “cuffing season” is “deeper connections.” To be fair, “deeper connections” aren’t that easy, and economics make them even harder for persons who date.

Under the Influence

“The Anxiety of Influencers” [Harpers]. “Also known as content houses or TikTok mansions, collab houses are grotesquely lavish abodes where teens and early twentysomethings live and work together, trying to achieve viral fame on a variety of media platforms. Sometime last spring, when most of us were making bread or watching videos of singing Italians, the houses began to proliferate in impressive if not mind-boggling numbers, to the point where it became difficult for a casual observer even to keep track of them. There was Hype House and Drip House and a house called Girls in the Valley. There was FaZe House (for gamers) and Alt Haus (for outcasts) and one called Byte House, the first of its kind in the U.K. Perhaps the most recognizable was the Sway House, tenanted by a cohort of shaggy-haired bros whose content consisted mostly of lifting weights and pretending to have sex with their smartphone cameras. Essentially, they were the Brat Pack of Gen Z, replete with bad-boy antics and dangling, cross-bearing earrings. For the past twenty-four hours, I’ve been dwelling among the influencers at Clubhouse FTB, enduring bouts of dick jokes and long glugs of White Claw, the sort of chaffing male camaraderie you’re apt to find in frat houses or hunting lodges. Among the various House Rules, which are enumerated on a whiteboard in the dining room of this mansion, are boldfaced injunctions to wake up by 10 am, to refrain from drinking Sunday through Thursday, to hold house meetings every morning at 11:30, and to ‘finish brand deliverables before inviting guests.’ Unlike some other houses, the Clubhouse isn’t owned and operated by the influencers themselves but is overseen by outside investors. In exchange for posting three to five videos per week to the Clubhouse social-media accounts, the boys receive free room and board, plus whatever brand deals they can get based upon their ‘relevance.’ ‘When coronavirus hit,’ Baron Scho tells me during a break in the action, ‘I was like, all right, I’m gonna get TikTok famous.'” • America is back!

“The Emerging Beef Between the Texas Bee Lady and the Beekeeping Critic Who Argues She’s an Influencer Hoax” [Jexebel]. “The online beekeeping community is buzzing over a much-beloved beekeeper, Erika Thompson (@texasbeeworks, pictured above), who was accused of staging her bee rescue missions in favor of a more Instagram-friendly aesthetic. Fellow beekeeper Friday Chamberlain (@lahoneybeerescue) posted a video accusing Thompson of smearing the craft by misrepresenting the work of bee swarm removal, thus staining the good name of women beekeepers. Thompson, for the most part, appears to be unscathed by the accusation and is still ‘following the bees.’ The video, which has been removed from TikTok after Thompson’s fans reported it, is one of the best takedowns of the wholesome beekeeping profession I have ever seen, as it is the only one I have ever seen…. Chamberlain, seen in the video above, wastes no time laying into Thompson with the real nitty-gritty shit that internet rivalries are made of: hair and clothes. Chamberlain argues that Thompson’s videos, which show her approaching swarms of bees dressed in a standard all-black mall walking outfit and her hair flowing free, are pretty to look at but ultimately unsafe. Thompson’s videos, which show her removing different sized swarms from various locations, which is her full-time job, come off as staged bee-fluencer propaganda, because the audience doesn’t see protective gear and the correct bee-saving hairstyle, key components of the craft.” • No protective gear? Really?

Guillotine Watch

“New Rolls-Royce Boat Tail Is a Coachbuilt Cruiser With a High-Tech Picnic Basket in the Trunk” [The Drive]. “Keeping with the theme of “cartoonishly cliche rich person shit,” the Boat Tail also comes with two dashboard timepieces—one for her, one for him—crafted by Bovet 1822 (Google it, you pleb) that can be taken out and worn as watches. Rolls-Royce says the clients are also really big into collecting pens because of course they are and have therefore placed a “particularly cherished” Montblanc pen inside a hand-crafted, aluminum and leather case inside this car’s glove box…. More notable than the Boat Tail itself perhaps, Rolls-Royce is also announcing that its Coachbuild program will become a permanent offering for the company going forward, meaning more bespoke and unnecessary creations like this one are very likely in the pipeline. The first tech bro to commission a Dogecoin-themed Rolls-Royce or anyone with enough gall to ask for a Sea-Doo-branded version of the Boat Tail complete with a chilled two-four of PBR in the back receives all of my admiration and respect.

“Who is Mark Bezos? Brother of Jeff Bezos to join Amazon founder on Blue Origin trip to space” {USA Today]. • Revised headline: “Lucky Sperm Club Winner Blasts Off!” With deck: “They sent one billionaire into space. Why can’t they send all of them?”

Class Warfare

“California moves to make abortion cheaper, as other states work to restrict it” [Los Angeles Times]. “State lawmakers are debating a bill to eliminate out-of-pocket expenses such as co-pays and payments toward deductibles for abortions and related services, including counseling.” • But eliminate co-pays and deductibles universal health care? Lol, no.

News of the Wired

“The real threat to the empire of English” [Janan Ganesh, Financial Times]. “At the time of writing, I have no clear idea what “gaslighting” means. Nor ‘“benching”, “mirroring”, “sealioning” or — an asset-management boutique? — ‘grey rock’. ‘Performative’, I do, but the world seemed to live without the word, the use of which has itself become performative, until five minutes ago. None of this even gets into the Anthony Burgess-grade neologisms of identity politics. And not to ‘both-sides’ this — why is it always a verb? — but conservatives are hardly above an in-phrase or two. What did ‘virtue-signalling’ add to ‘sanctimony’? Who didn’t prefer ‘snowflake’ in the hands of a poet like Longfellow? But I wonder if English has ever been as restlessly protean as it is now. If the changes stayed at the level of slang or subculture, they would be of merely academic interest. What we have instead is constant seepage into the mainstream.” • I’m a bit of a fuddy-duddy, Colonel Blimpish type myself, but I have to ask: Is this article cheugy?

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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 (TH):

TH writes: “This one is from a previous April.”

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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.

117 comments

  1. tegnost

    Re uber,
    I always used super shuttle and never had a problem…
    In washington there’s regular shuttle service to the airport that I regularly use for regional travel…
    Prices posted in advance!

    Reply
    1. Robert Hahl

      If this keeps up we will all need to buy uber insurance. Though some people will continue to self-insure, I expect this will become a popular benefit in corporate pay schemes.

      Reply
      1. tegnost

        I can think of a great way for oober to screw the drivers!
        A monthly subscription so you avoid surge pricing!
        Where’s my patent!
        and you’re correct enoughisenough
        it’s shuttle express now, and they’re still open and along with van pick up they’re competing with the platforms with their Black Car service….
        see, anyone can do it…

        Reply
    2. enoughisenough

      Supershuttle got eaten by uber in many cities. As of a couple of years ago, there is no Supershuttle in my town, and it’s not only here.

      It is really sad. I used it all the time, and depended on it.

      Reply
  2. Wukchumni

    “Ex-Rep Alan Grayson files paperwork to challenge Marco Rubio in 2022” [Raw Story]. • Good!

    Watch this devastating 5 minute takedown of Bernanke by Grayson a dozen years ago…

    Alan Grayson: “Which Foreigners Got the Fed’s $500,000,000,000?” Bernanke: “I Don’t Know.”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0NYBTkE1yQ

    Reply
    1. JTMcPhee

      Imagine Grayson teaming up with Katie Porter (who I hope fervently will not turn into another Patty “walking shoes” Murray…)

      Reply
    2. Geo

      The news about Grayson is one of the few bright spots in our politics right now. Could use a real fighter on the left.

      Reply
    1. Mark Sanders

      Weinstein’s essay is a little over the top. He says that all neighborhoods are being attacked. But in reality the vulnerable areas of Portland are downtown (and not all of downtown) and a few outlying places containing ICE offices and police buildings. You do NOT see plywood outside those areas. And no, no one is coming into my neighborhood threatening us or destroying our property. I’m not a fan of the vandals causing destruction downtown, but this guy is totally overstating what is going on.

      And actually, one of the pluses is that when I go downtown to do something, I get a parking space practically in front of the store I’m visiting, whereas normally I have to park 5 blocks away.

      Reply
  3. Wukchumni

    The Economy: “Plywood boards, fencing are still protecting downtown Portland property. Will they harm the area’s rebound?” [The Oregonian]. “[V]irtually every block in the heart of the city continues to have boarded-up buildings and windows, a jarring juxtaposition to the budding vibrancy…. As city officials seek to appease retailers and employers and encourage residents to work, shop, dine and attend cultural events downtown, the patchwork of boards and barriers remains an intractable hurdle.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    The cost of plywood has tripled since the boards were erected a year ago, wouldn’t it behoove Portlandia to make ‘a small but useful profit’* selling them, because markets?

    * an English numismatist I knew was a master of understatement, when he uttered these words it was code for making a killing on aged round metal discs.

    Reply
  4. flora

    adding: adjusting foil bonnet/ That’s some pricey downtown Portland real estate. Who benefits if the property value falls due to economic distress? / foil bonnet off. / ;)

    Reply
  5. marym

    Re: “…there is one way to still win elections. That is to massively increase voter turnout through organizing.”

    There’s no question that the long history of the refusal of the Democrats to put money and effort into voter registration and gotv has been instrumental in their electoral losses.

    However bills moving forward across the country have provisions that can’t just be overcome with increased turnout. Shorter in-person voting hours and fewer polling places aren’t resolved by increasing turnout, especially when considered with limitations on mail/drop-box voting. Other provisions enable voter intimidation at the polls, expedite voter roll purges (yes, yes I know…), and empower state legislators and courts to override local officials and overthrow the results.

    Reply
    1. Henry Moon Pie

      I saw some of Manchin’s statement about the reasons for his opposition, and he may not be entirely wrong. If Senate Democrats were to pass this bill passed by the House by dropping the filibuster, how would Governors DeSantis and Abbott react? Whose laws would be enforced in the 2022 elections in Florida and Texas (to name two) and by whom, federal troops?

      Both parties can view this bill as existential. High stakes and maybe fuel for civil war? Democrats do have a more-or-less legal (seems some red states have almost criminalized registering voters) option to organize in order to overcome the effects of these state laws. About all Republicans could do is show up at “hostile” polls with ball bats and worse.

      Reply
      1. marym

        If I understand the status of the bills and what he’s said about them I think he’s right as far as substance.

        The John Lewis Voting Rights bill written last year and not updated for this session reinstates the Voting Rights Act requirement for pre-clearance for changes to election laws in states with a history of discrimination. He wants it applied to every state. He wants to split the 800 page all-encompassing HR1* into separate bills

        Whether he’s also right about what can and can’t pass the Senate, how it would be implemented, his motives, his character, etc. is another discussion, but he’s the only one making sense about what’s in those bills.

        * See Lambert’s write-up here for some of the issues. Though Democrats invoke as if it were sacred text it’s unimaginable to me that this is a well-crafted serious bill.

        Reply
      2. John

        Federal law is superior to state law if I read the constitution correctly. That DeSantis and Abbott might do a “George Wallace” would not be a surprise and given the cheer leading by a certain former president, yes, it might take troops and after that all bets are off.

        The drive to suppress voting so that only “your ” voters can easily cast a ballot is a more polite for of mobs with baseball bats but in spirit it is just the same and we all know where it leads. Who will be pleased with the Duce or Fuhrer or Dear Leader or whatever you want to call him.

        I do not understand the lethargy of Democratic Party. Paraphrasing the line from The Untouchables, the Democrats persisi in bring a knife to a gunfight. poor tactic.

        Reply
        1. JTMcPhee

          They do what their bribers pay them to do, and what their “brand” has actually become, as discussed in NC at length.

          Reply
    2. synoia

      There’s no question that the long history of the refusal of the Democrats to put money and effort into voter registration and gotv has been instrumental in their electoral losses.

      Well, if one does not have a good majority, one cannot be blamed for not passing legislation.

      AKA “we tried, but…”

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        The Donkey Show is one hell of a cash cow, day in-day out it’s good for a dozen million-of which it manages to waste $13 million, and not only does it lose elections-it loses money.

        The only way for it to compete with the GOPhova Witlesses is to stoop to their level, and yes I am talking massed meringue pie fights in Congress carried live on C Span, with the occasional pecan thrown in for good measure.

        Reply
  6. diptherio

    When the internet was young and wild, in the late 90s, you could buy 5-meo from “research chemical” companies, completely legally, along with a bunch of other oddball psychedelics. Everything produced in a lab, no toads harmed, college kids’ minds blown, and chemistry grads guaranteed a source of income. All was right with the world. Then the feds went and scheduled everything Alexander Shulgin ever wrote about, and ruined it all.

    Reply
  7. Ranger Rick

    Re: problems with language

    A while back here on Naked Capitalism it was observed that the PMC and their betters were sending their kids to universities to learn the new language of social justice. The jargon was necessary, it was opined, in order to better identify who was in the out-group when the lower classes agitated for social and economic reforms. Other terms rapidly began to proliferate on social media and social-media-adjacent op-eds in an apparent attempt to do the same. “Chuds” and “incels” needed to “touch grass”. The online conversation is starting to evolve beyond the offline population’s ability to understand the discussion.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      When we’re dealing with political speech, “in group dialects” are a definite anti-populist strategy.
      If one is to resort to a dialect that “ordinary” people have difficulty understanding, it can be suggested that the “in groups” deploying such dialects have renounced popular sufferage as a core concept.
      I’ll opine that “Conservatives” limit the franchise through quasi-legal curbs to the voting franchise while “Wokesters” do the same through limiting the ability of “ordinary” people to understand what is going on in the political sphere, thus depressing turnout.

      Reply
      1. km

        I figured that out when deconstruction was all the rage in the humanities.

        The jargon was nigh impenetrable, but once you cut through it, there really wasn’t that much there.

        Reply
        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I disagree about the not much there. I think the techniques of deconstruction sans bizarro vocabulary might be extremely useful in deconstructing advertising and Government “Official Narratives”. Unfortunately, it is not quite all — not the rage — as you suggest, which is unfortunate for reasons other than pure utility. My son’s high school English teacher, later released to discover new opportunities somewhere else, long after my son’s time under her tutelage, seemed quite intent on deconstructing Dickens’ “Great Expectations”, a novel which I do not appreciate. She deconstructed Dickens sentence by sentence. Imagine how much that helped my son’s appreciation of Dickens, of reading, and his general appreciation for 19th Century English literature.

          Reply
          1. Doc Octagon

            Deconstruction holds the meaning of language is determined by context alone, refuting the existence of Platonic Ideals. Exemplified on one end by the existence of contronyms: a word with a single etymologic origin but two simultaneous opposite meanings. (ex. Dust: to add fine particles, or to remove them. Skinned: covered with skin, or with the skin removed. Rent: to purchase use of something, or to sell use). Exemplified on the other end by what Jacques Derrida referred to as “Archive Fever”: the knowledge base is the sum of every written record ever **PLUS** any knowledge which is absent, lost, or repressed.

            Every argument will reach something that cannot be found within the record, something the origins of which there is only a trace or gap. The unreproducible. (Un-re-producible? “un-re-” as in “to not do again” something that was not done in the first place. Language is entirely inadequate to the task of communicating!) This is essential to the idea of progress for the better. Ideas acceptable to authority are limited by what has already been demanded. Authority relies on ideas which have already failed. At the heart of every ideology is a failure of logic. Economies rely on dysfunction to self-perpetuate, for if the economy functioned perfectly, it would mean complete stasis. Self-sufficiency negates all economic activity.

            Reply
            1. Count Zero

              I am not sure I understand your explanation of deconstruction. I think I do understand the work of Paul de Man who was probably the key figure in bringing deconstruction into American academia in the 1970s.

              A literary text had generally been envisaged as some kind of coherent and organic whole. For de Man the critical task of deconstruction was to demonstrate how every literary work was stitched together from bits and bobs. Deconstruction revealed the joins — and so the work disintegrated into its incoherent components. Meaning dissolved.

              Deconstruction could therefore point in all kinds of different directions. At its best it was a sophisticated method for demystifying dominant ideologies. But it quickly became an academic machine and then merely a slogan.

              Reply
            2. Rageon

              Dr. Octagon…Nice handle!
              All respect due to Kool Keith!

              For those who don’t know Kool Keith check him out. Perhaps not for everyone, the subjectivity of musical taste and all that…Though you’ve probably already heard the song Blue Flowers (creepy beats!) from the Dr. Octagon album Dr. Octagonecologyst somewhere.

              Reply
  8. lyman alpha blob

    RE: vaccination policies

    I very reluctantly got vaccinated last week. I have an extreme aversion to needles plus I haven’t been a big fan of the way any of this has been handled. Case in point – the article above about about “health concerns” with the J&J vaccine. Still waiting for any reliable evidence that the J&J vaccine is in any way more dangerous than the very experimental mRNA vaccines, but that doesn’t stop the articles from being pumped out. Also, the CDC website I checked gave a list of places that had the J&J vaccine, but when I stopped by the pharmacy nearest me at the mall, they said they were out and wouldn’t be getting any more. Bad info from the CDC made me waste my time – I’d rather floss my nether regions with barbed wire and take a lemon juice bath than make a trip to the mall.

    Here’s why I decided to finally get vaccinated –

    https://bangordailynews.com/2021/05/27/news/portland/beckys-diner-will-host-covid-19-vaccine-clinic-next-week/
    https://www.pressherald.com/2021/06/02/at-beckys-diner-a-covid-19-shot-and-an-egg-sandwich/

    Becky’s has been a working class diner catering to fishermen for decades (although it’s gotten somewhat more touristy now that Portland has been completely given over to developers trying to attract the rich people from away) and it’s 5 minutes from my house. So I didn’t have to go to a medical establishment, which I dislike more than the mall. And they had the one shot J&J which is great for the needle-phobic (and a time saver for anyone with only one dose required). There was no pre-scheduled appointment necessary and no wait. And the clincher was reading the 2nd link and hearing about the fisherman who was a regular there and had gotten his shot the day before. If it was OK with that guy, presumably not a PMC liberal goodthinker, then it was OK for me too.

    I trust the nice nurse who grew up in the town I live in and gave me the shot. The governor, Fauci, WHO, CDC, and all their conflicting and often economically motivated dictates, not so much. If they hadn’t met me where I was as Lambert says, I would still be unvaccinated and not at all likely to get one.

    Reply
    1. Utah

      I have massive anxiety. There isn’t a clinic that I can go to and wait out the fifteen minutes or more while having a panic attack, and I really hate taking benzos to deal with panic attacks because it just makes them worse in the long run. I think maybe if there were a space where I could go and hang out a while I’d be likely to get the vaccine. I’m glad you were able to go to a place that met you where you were.

      I do plan to get the vaccine at some point. I’m in the age range and gender where the Johnson and Johnson probably isn’t the safest for me. I wish there was data on any points of more commonality than just age and gender, though, because I’d also prefer that shot. As it is, I’ll probably just do one shot of an mRNA and call it good, even though logically I know better.

      Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          My 65 year old cuz in Calgary got her first shot of Moderna a month ago, and can expect the next one 3 months from now.

          Reply
          1. marieann

            I got my first shot April 1st and will be getting my second on Saturday. I think it depends on where one lives and age, I am in the over 70 group

            My area was initially designated as a covid hot spot and so got the vaccine earlier that other areas in Canada.

            Reply
            1. wilroncanada

              We (my wife and I) live on Vancouver Island–the opposite of a hot spot, for the most part. We got our first dose of Pfizer on Good Friday (the calendar one) and getting our second this coming Friday.

              Reply
        2. eg

          I’m one of the AZ orphans (April 9) and am scheduled for Pfizer as my second dose July 2nd — my immune system is apparently a carnival ride …

          Reply
    2. Nikkikat

      My husband and I also chose the J and J vaccine. It was hard to find and we waited weeks. Finally convinced family members after we got it. Two weeks of searching and finally yesterday, two family members found it at Kroger and went immediately to be vaccinated.
      People were trickling in without appts, but being told to wait and they would be given their shot. Most everyone I have spoken with also would be willing to get the j and j if it’s available. The two shot MNRA is scary to a lot of people as well as the side effects. I probably would have chosen just the first shot and would have left it at that if not for the J and J. It seems like the government is pushing the MNRA at the expense of more people getting vaccinated. Makes no sense.

      Reply
    3. DJG, Reality Czar

      lyman alpha blob: You were out there with your pick ax and brush, liberating skulls in archeological digs in Greece, dealing with flies, tackling grave robbers who wanted to steal your ancient amphorai and lekythoi, drinking retsina by the liter, and?

      You didn’t want a shot that takes all of three seconds??

      Little did I know: I’m detecting that you are on the other side of Stesichorus’ balance from me:

      The fox knows many things, the hedgehog, one big thing (and it’s that needle!)

      Reply
      1. lyman alpha blob

        The mind is a funny thing. I can tell myself that the shot is good for me and won’t really hurt, but when the nurse pulls out the needle all reason goes right out the window. Probably it’s the reminder of my own mortality, something most people ponder and I don’t mind thinking about under normal circumstances. In conjunction with the needle though, peaceful contemplation turns to panic. On a side note, that’s likely why true AI is a long way away – try programming those screwed up thought patterns into a robot.

        Funny anecdote from Greece – one kid on the dig had never really traveled much and was kind of on the hypochondriac side. About the only medication most people brought was sunscreen – I brought some SPF 4 (back when they still made that low of a protection, I wanted a tan!) – but this kid brought the whole medical kit. He was also the only one who got sick – he caught cat scratch fever from petting the feral cats that flocked to the tavernas looking for table scraps. Until then I’d thought that particular affliction was just a Ted Nugent song…

        Reply
    4. Fern

      Re: “Still waiting for any reliable evidence that the J&J vaccine is in any way more dangerous than the very experimental mRNA vaccines”.

      I’ve been trying for many months, to no avail, to explain to people that the J&J vaccine is very experimental too, and it appears to be much less effective as measured by the imperfect but best available hard evidence they have, which is the quantity neutralizing antibody production.

      There’s a widespread belief that the J&J vaccine is a traditional, established technology, and that it doesn’t involve the hijacking of the cells by man-created genetic instructions. This is false.

      BOTH the viral-vector vaccines and the mRNA vaccines involve delivering genetically-engineered instructions into our cells and using the cell’s own machinery to produce antigens, which in this case are proteins analogous to the spike protein of covid-19. This is new. The J&J vaccine genetically engineers an adenovirus so that it can’t replicate, but delivers genetic instructions for the production of the covid-19 spike protein. The genetically-engineered virus enters the cell, then enters the cell’s nucleus, then the mRNA uses the cell’s machinery to make the spike proteins in the cytoplasm of the cell. The mRNA vaccines don’t use a viral trojan horse, but instead package the mRNA instructions directly in a lipid envelop that can gain entry into the cell’s cytoplasm, where it does the same thing that the viral-vector vaccines do.

      Again, BOTH technologies are new. The first viral-vector vaccine (the J&J technology) was only approved for general use in 2019 for the ebola vaccine. The ebola vaccine, however, didn’t get very broad distribution because ebola didn’t have very broad distribution, and I suspect that it would be impossible to do high-quality safety reporting on it because it was mostly administered in very underserved areas — remote regions of the Congo.

      Personally, I favor the mRNA vaccines because they appear to be much more effective. Additionally, I mentioned here months ago that to me, the mRNA vaccines have less of an “ick” factor because the genetic instructions don’t ever enter the cell’s nucleus the way the J&J vaccine does.

      To my astonishment, recent research on the cause of the low-incidence blood-clotting side effect of the viral vector vaccines does in fact appear to be related to a unique phenomenon involving the fact that these particular genetic instructions enter the nucleus, so my “ick” radar seems to either well-honed or more probably lucky.

      I have to get to work right now, but I’ll try to get a slew of links on this for you later today or tomorrow.

      Reply
      1. Duke of Prunes

        After reading a few articles (too long ago to have any links), I came the same conclusion. J&J was *almost* as experimental as the mRNA shots. I recall another vaccine other than ebola, but, again, nothing widely distributed. I still was holding out for J&J on the “one and done” principle, but my daughter convinced me that Pfizer was the way to go because there were so many more “guinea pigs” ahead of me. It was already ~6 mos old when I took it while the J&J was still new (and suffering low uptake from bad publicity). The 2nd shot knocked both me and my wife out of sorts for a couple weeks, but probably better than getting covid.

        Reply
  9. wsa

    Is the plant borage? I’ve planted some from seed for the first time this year, but none has bloomed yet—though the largest is clearly thinking about it. My initial interest in borage is how often it shows up in old recipes, only learning about it as a bee attractant later. Normally the young borage leaves are eaten, but in the Aragón region of Spain, the stalks are braised with potatoes to make a soup: Borrajas de Aragón, which I will definitely be trying when I have stalks to spare.

    Reply
    1. Henry Moon Pie

      It’s quite capable of seeding itself each year, though my original planting decided it wanted a sunnier spot and moved around the corner of the house where it has happily resided, reseeding the last two years.

      Reply
    2. Laughingsong

      It is indeed borage, I love the way the bloom fall whole instead of petal-by-petal. And yeah, the bees love it. I have put the blooms in salads before, once.

      Reply
    3. Jeremy Grimm

      Watch “I Claudius”. Claudius’ Greek doctor [later episodes … after he is emporer] is very big on borage and repeated the wisdom of Shrek — better out than in.

      Reply
  10. Hepativore

    Joe Manchin is serving a valuable role as the “bad cop” in the “good cop/bad cop” game that Joe Biden has set up to avoid making good on any of the hot air that he was blowing during his presidential campaign. Normally, the Congressional Republicans would fill this role, but as the Democrats are in control, they have to find somebody else to serve as the reason why they cannot do anything.

    The fact that the DNC consultants are shooting a hole in the Democrats’ chances during the Congressional midterms is a feature for Biden and the Democratic Party, not a bug. After all, this will further strengthen the kayfabe illusion that their hands are really tied.

    It was never that the Democrats “can’t” do what they supposedly campaigned on or promised, but that they really do not want to, and would rather go down with the sinking ship that is their political viability as a party than back away from neoliberalism even slightly.

    After all, if Republican corporate donors give their favored candidates money to increase their chances of winning, Democrats are paid by their donors to basically preemptively throw the fight and take a fall

    Reply
    1. hunkerdown

      The FTPA introduced ballot access barriers that enshrined the existing two-party establishment. My impression is that Manchin’s blocking what would be a wall against the entire establishment’s left flank not because he doesn’t want it, but because a heel is needed and his “price” will earn the whole Party good commissions.

      Reply
    2. Nikkikat

      Hepativore, yes, we already saw this tired act with Joe Lieberman. They pulled the same stunt when they chose their candidate to take on McConnell in Kentucky. She actually ran on the right of McConnell claiming he didn’t work with Trump enough. Democrats are paid to lose.

      Reply
    3. Charger01

      Boom.

      It was never that the Democrats “can’t” do what they supposedly campaigned on or promised, but that they really do not want to, and would rather go down with the sinking ship

      Great point, this.
      They would rather destory themselves maintaining the status quo instead of changing.

      Reply
  11. synoia

    Organic Batteries…

    which is using aromatic molecules with amino groups in meta positions as building blocks.

    There are two groups of Carbon based compounds (of which we, and our environment, are made of one group, the aliphatic group – the long chain group). The second group is the aromatic group, the Benzene ring group, of which most, if not all, are poisonous to life as we know it.

    Which raises the question about the “batteries” described, especially the disposal of spent batteries, reusable batteries that cannot be recharged, because they are at their end of life.

    We humans are clever at inventing things. We are careless about waste disposal and containing poisons.

    Many of the long chain group are also unhealthy for us.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I believe in the powers of small things. The future of Humankind will hinge on our ability to learn and master the ways of small things — like molecules. Heat and light are all around us and heat is a growing quantity. Far too little is known of how to exploit heat at levels below the boiling point of water.

      Reply
    2. c_heale

      This is not correct. Aromatic rings are not poisonous per se. For example the proteins which make up our DNA contain aromatic rings. Benzene itself is a toxic chemical but benzoic acid (which contains a benzene ring) is not toxic and is found in many plants. Many (if not all) chlorinated alkanes (an aliphatic group of chemicals) have carcinogenic properties. (I have a Chemistry BSc.)

      Batteries can also be recycled.

      It’s true humans are careless imo.

      Reply
      1. R

        Lambert, the battery article is proposing to make cathodes (electron sources for the current to flow to the anode) from a substance other than metal, specifically a conducting organic polymer. For polymer, think plastic, which is usually an insulator.
        Conducting polymers can be made, the same way metals work, by enabling electrons to flow along them.

        Metals are a sea of metal atoms in all directions and each atom’s outer electrons are only loosely bound and, over many atoms, the electrons can form a kind of commune and “delocalise”. Electrons can therefore flow, in aggregate, from one end to the other if a voltage difference is applied across a wire.

        Conducting plastics look rather different, comprising many strands, each a very long polymer molecule. The monomers that polymerise have been carefully chosen to contain delocalised electrons in their structure. When snapped together like Lego, the delocalised electrons can slosh along the length of the polymer ” wire”. Gather enough of these wires together and you create a conductor (although possibly only conducting along one axis, unlike a metal which conducts in all directions).

        The article is not about that startling piece of material science but about a much smaller breakthrough. It is discussing how an existing well characterised pair of monomers that can clip together into a conducting polymer. In one of the monomers, the delocalised structure is a phenyl group, aka a benzene ring (benzene causes leukaemia by intercalating between similar aromatic rings in DNA and causing mutations in dividing cells like bone marrow – the prologue of Robin Cook’s ” Fever” haunted me as a child!). The article is announcing the brilliant / surprising / incremental discovery that a one monomer which traditionally contains its “Lego connectors” at opposite sides of a six-sided phenyl ring (giving the most linear, ‘wire’-like polymer) can be counter-intuitively improved by putting the connectors at adjacent positions on the phenyl group, giving a zip-zag wire presumably at small scales although maybe a better structure at larger scales (through some other electronic interactions presumably).

        There, you weren’t missing much! Never pull back the curtain….

        Reply
        1. R

          PS: on the maggots, this is not yuck, this is the wheel turning full circle. This was historically the go-to method of debridement. Surgical debridement of a wound is painful and partial. Maggots do it precisely, eating only dead tissue, and painlessly thanks to secretions in their saliva. Medical maggots Re big business in Europe. A former fund I worked at had an investment in a major maggot supplier which then merged with a European rival to consolidate the market. Private equity has no boundaries! Although you might say they were on home turf with this one. :-)

          A story in the same vein but for another time is how another VC I know ended up milk snake venom in the Welsh mountains for a living.

          Reply
  12. Toshiro_Mifune

    The Anxiety of Influencers …. There was FaZe House (for gamers) and Alt Haus (for outcasts) and one called Byte House…. Essentially, they were the Brat Pack of Gen Z….

    We had Dischord House when I was younger. This is…. much much lamer. They’re boy bands without the music.

    Reply
    1. Isotope_C14

      Ahhh Fugazi. I saw them in Chicago many, many times growing up. Nothing like the $5 ticket prices!

      I also got some not so family stories about this, but there was this one time where someone had made a ton of non-Fugazi stickers that said “Repeater” and someone tossed some on the stage, and Ian just went mid-song directly into “Merchandise”. It sounded flawless.

      I’ve never seen a more-tight band in my life.

      1991: This is how I remember them:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhjxQoO3W1c

      Reply
      1. Geo

        Fugazi was the ideal of what art and music could have been in terms of their approach to the business. I miss that era when “selling out” was considered a bad thing and not the goal. Now, for an indie band to survive they need as many licensing and mercy deals as they possibly can get because no one buys music anymore.

        Reply
    2. Mikel

      “…trying to achieve viral fame on a variety of media platforms…”

      Instead of “Making the Band” more like “Making The Plantations”, excuse me, “platforms”.
      The sharecropping economy.

      Reply
    1. Toshiro_Mifune

      There is a Gen Z-Millennial war?

      There has been for sometime now… at least judging by online sources.

      Also- For those Gen-Xers not wanting to read the article; “cheugy” is analogous to “poser”.

      Reply
  13. John A

    cheugy, that’s a new word for me. And one I will definitely add to my vocabulary. Thanks Lambert. And having googled what it means, I think that article is definitely cheugy.

    Reply
  14. XXYY

    Harris couldn’t even win her home state.

    I have no particular dislike for Harris, but she will be the worst possible democratic candidate in 2024. Whether her opponent is Trump, or someone like Trump, it will be easy to demolish a liberal woman of color from an elite coastal state who came in fifth in her own state in the Democratic primary. She reportedly ran a pretty poor campaign in 2020, and developed a reputation as a wooden speaker and someone who frequently spoke off-the-cuff and then walked her comments back the next day, making her seem shifty.

    I have no idea how she talked her way onto the ticket, but the outcome is not going to be good.

    Reply
    1. Loretta

      She didn’t talk her way up onto the ticket. Kamala Harris is a sex worker who became a politician. Monica Lewinsky with a law degree.

      There are so many reputable sources that chronicle her disgraceful first few years in San Francisco, that it’s astounding she had gotten as far as she did.

      What a role model for our daughters; sleeping her way into appointed positions, playing off her choice of parents as a pedigree, ascending from position to position up the ladder of politically correct mediocrity.

      Worst of all, guaranteeing a reversion into the two party duopoly instead of real progressive politics.

      Reply
    2. Riverboat Grambler

      My personal impression at the time was that Biden wanted Klobuchar for VP but after the summer protests that was seen as a no-no. Harris was plucked from the bottom of the Dem primary pile because she was the brownest woman who would never lift a finger against Wall Street, private healthcare and friends. The way she ditched M4A at the start of the primary after being for it for years was no doubt inspiring to Biden’s people.

      Reply
      1. Marva

        Harris’ husband is a corporate lawyer at D.L. Piper, who represents big pharma against any threats from potential M4A.
        “During his decade as a lawyer at the corporate firm Venable, Mr. Emhoff represented the pharmaceutical giant Merck in lawsuits tied to its drug Fosamax; the arms dealer Dolarian Capital in a case related to its sale of AK-47s for use in Afghanistan; and a nightclub owner accused of sexual harassment and sexual battery, including spraying an employee’s hair and body “with a foreign substance” that he removed with “his mouth, lips and tongue.” The case was settled out of court.”
        https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/08/us/politics/doug-emhoff-kamala-harris-law.html

        Barclays SFO trial: Is corporate criminal liability dead?
        DLA Piper thinks so!
        https://www.dlapiper.com/en/netherlands/insights/publications/2020/03/barclays-sfo-trial/

        Reply
    3. christofay

      This is easily checked but I won’t. I thought she dropped out in December, 2019 so why refer to the canceled coronation march as 2020?

      Reply
  15. nippersmom

    “At the time of writing, I have no clear idea what “gaslighting” means. Nor ‘“benching”, “mirroring”, “sealioning” or — an asset-management boutique? — ‘grey rock’.

    The term “gaslighting” is a reference to the 1944 film “Gaslight” starring Ingrid Bergman. It is hardly a recent coinage.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      “At the time of writing, I have no clear idea what “gaslighting” means.

      And yet, the author has access to the internets….I mean I suppose its an attempt to gaslight the rest of us who have been around or can use the internet tubes to learn what the kids are saying.

      Reply
    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I tried to add the 1944 version of “Gaslight” to my queue on Netflix but oddly, only the 1940 original was available in DVD.

      Reply
    3. R

      Hardly – it is a coinage from the novel “Fanny by Gaslight”, the unfortunately named tragic protagonist being manipulated by her husband tinkering with the gas regulator to the house and raising / dimming the lights. I thought it was Victorian but a cautious check shows that the 1940 novel only preceded the film by a few years although it was set in the 1880’s

      Reply
  16. enoughisenough

    RE. English:
    English isn’t going anywhere, if anything, all other languages are in peril to the mono-culture of English. English supremacy.

    Foreign languages are being cut from university curricula, and now even Princeton Classics won’t require learning Greek and Latin.

    (a classics degree from Princeton will now be an appropriation of those ancient cultures. Imagine an ethnographer not learning the language of the culture they’re studying)

    English über alles. Our present perspective is the only one that matters, I guess.

    Reply
    1. jsn

      Okay, but we may split up into our Italian, Spanish, Portugese and French analogues at the speed of digital catabolism rather than the feudal monetary catabolism of Rome.

      Reply
      1. enoughisenough

        haha!!

        well, the separate dialects would have to develop a lot further first. I’m less concerned about annoying new vocab, unless it’s corporate-speak, which is INDEED fascist in intention – it’s neuro-linguistic programming that doesn’t get enough resistance. Scary stuff.

        Well, the demise of other languages and the linguistic-cognitive skills that comes with learning a foreign languages is a big problem/tragedy. The hubris, you know? :(

        Reply
    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I believe that simplified English and a simplified spelling could be a very good thing for the world. English orthography is abysmal but need not be. The orthography of American Literacy Council could make English many times easier for foreign speakers and users. If a Chinese, a Korean, and a Japanese meet — how do they communicate? Often English serves as the intermediary language … although seldom is the English that which we know in the US. Unlike many languages English is malleable beyond other languages. I will guess the reasons are complex but I hope English will retain its malleability. Business demands that.

      Reply
      1. c_heale

        A Chinese, Korean, or Japanese person might also be able to speak another of these three languages. People do study foreign languages other than English in these countries.

        Reply
        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I suppose you are hinting that Americans are remarkably unwilling to learn another language. All right. But be that as it may, I believe English is something of a de facto lingua franca. As such, there should be simplifications to English spellings, grammar, vocabulary, and meanings when it is used as a lingua franca.

          Yes it is very nice that a Chinese, Korean, or Japanese might also be able to speak another of the Oriental languages. I imagine many Japanese might learn Korean and vice versa. Indeed the Japanese compelled Koreans to learn Japanese not so very long ago. I wonder though how many Japanese or Koreans master basic Mandarin or Cantonese, and wonder further why they would bother if there were a decent world lingua franca.

          Reply
  17. Nikkikat

    Re: Kamala Harris Can’t win.
    Harris is just unserious. I do not appreciate her giggling, inane nonsense. Those ILL fitting ugly pant suits do not make her look serious. Although they could possibly get her some of those Rick Perry fake glasses. That might work if she never ever opens her mouth.

    Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Her statewide ascendancy was the result of an epic collapse by the state AG. Prior to this, she was first among a pack at a distant 2nd in the primary. She didn’t even make noise in the race until then. Its a safe state, and state AG is a high profile to run for Cali Senate which is a huge undertaking. Cali has Reps and leading state legislators to last for years, so no would be opponent would emerge in the primary because a GOPer isn’t taking it. A Republican winning Cali is pretty impressive, but its like a Republican winning in Texas.

        Biden even tried to jettison her at the last minute, and he hands her projects he doesn’t care about or expect to fix.

        Reply
        1. jsn

          I was with you up to the last line.

          If that were true, he would just stand down and hand over the job: he obviously doesn’t intend to “fix” anything and, like Obama his only project is to prop up the status quo for another few years.

          He dumps on her problems where that is no longer viable and his advisers have given up on the Obama better PR methodolgoy for missdirection.

          Reply
      2. Nikkikat

        I live in California. She was on the ballot with Joe Biden, Warren and the rest of the candidates. Not just Bernie. As to her Senate runs, I again believe she ran mostly unopposed. She was arguably a worse Senator than Feinstein. The phones were NEVER answered by a real person, in DC as well as her California office. Emails were NEVER answered either. At least with Feinstein there was a response even if you didn’t like the response. She was terrible and remains terrible. Everyone on the Presidential ballot garnered more votes than her including Bloomberg.

        Reply
      3. km

        Wow, winning statewide office in a state where her party wins every statewide election.

        What an accomplishment.

        Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      Harris polls show her in the lead to become President, and no offence to Oakland, but there is no there, there. An empty pantsuit.

      Reply
      1. Yves Smith

        Polls this far out are not reliable, thank God. There’s no one else at this point who has a hat in the ring.

        Remember Jeb? And conversely, Sanders polled at 1% in fall of 2015. He didn’t win but he sure didn’t finish anywhere near 1%.

        Reply
    2. Duke of Prunes

      Her giggle is a tell that she’s lying. Bill Gates does the same thing. Listen for when they giggle inappropriately (i.e. there’s no joke being told, often a deathly serious topic is being discussed), and you’ll know when they’re telling a whopper.

      Reply
  18. dcblogger

    Behind drug distributors’ efforts to derail WV opioid reporting
    In 2015, with opioid-related overdose deaths at a record high in West Virginia, the trade group for the country’s largest drug distributors hatched a plan to “turn the tide.”

    The plan was not to reverse that trend, which for years had been allegedly driven by a flood of prescription painkillers shipped to the state by the trade group’s members.

    Instead, they wanted reporters to stop writing about it.

    The plan was detailed in a memo, sent to a senior executive at that trade group, the Healthcare Distribution Alliance, that bemoaned “imbalanced” coverage by reporters at local papers, including the Charleston Gazette, and offered strategies to “inoculate the industry” by shifting the blame to pharmacists, doctors and their patients.
    https://mountainstatespotlight.org/2021/06/03/behind-efforts-to-derail-wv-opioid-reporting/

    Reply
  19. fresno dan

    “The Emerging Beef Between the Texas Bee Lady and the Beekeeping Critic Who Argues She’s an Influencer Hoax” [Jexebel].
    I think the critique would have carried more weight if it hadn’t been so stinging.
    AND you attract more of everything with honey … than with vitriol.
    Finally, it does raise that existential question: to bee or not to bee

    Reply
    1. Geo

      That she doesn’t wear protective gear reminded me of a political cartoon from last year that had two bee-keepers in protective gear watching a third without getting swarmed and one saying “She says masks don’t work and infringe on her freedoms.”

      Reply
  20. TheMog

    Regarding the bee keeping protective gear – swarms are generally very mellow, so you don’t really need protective gear. Those photos of people covered in bees are usually swarms as the swarm will just hang out somewhere while some bees scout for new dwellings. That’s why a pro can usually rehome a swarm by just dumping them into their new dwellings as long as they manage to get the queen.

    Once they’re in the new hive with the queen, they’ll immediately start redecorating like a bunch of HGTV worker bees.

    Black outfits (or worse, black with stripes) usually aren’t advised when going near bees as they might mistake your for a really large wasp or hornet and at least the European honeybees will attack. Found that out the hard way when my step dad was keeping bees. But again swarms are so mellow they usually don’t care.

    Reply
    1. HotFlash

      A friend had some bees on her property, not her bees, they were ‘owned’ and looked after by a proper beekeeper who came to tend them and harvest the honey once or twice a month. He wore the protective gear but left his dog, a big black beast, in the truck. All his bees *hated* that dog, he figured it was they took it for a bear.

      Reply
      1. Geo

        But, now that Trump is against it I imagine Maddow will be devoting her show to promoting Bitcoin and Dems will make it our official currency. /s

        Reply
    1. JohnnyGL

      If limited supply is your thing, you’ve got many more options among various commodities.

      And, unlike bitcoin, you can find practical use for things like precious metals or petroleum products.

      Reply
  21. FreeMarketApologist

    Re: the mobile vaccination lab / drop-off in rates

    While I appreciate that the lab comes to those who may not be able to get to the lab, where are the ‘non-working’ hours? So many places are not available to those who need to work full time. How about hours from 5pm-10pm?

    How much of the dropoff in rates is because people can’t get a vaccine at a time that is outside their working hours?

    Reply
    1. HotFlash

      Toronto has been plagued with shortages of vaccine, appts made can’t be kept b/c no vaccine in that pharmacy or supermarket, and they didn’t always notify. Apparently some large amt came into town recently and the city health dept has set up pop-up vax clinics in various handy places. Mr HotFlash got his on Friday afternoon at the local high school (three blocks away), walked in and no waiting, even had time to chat with the Doc about (ahem) Ivermectin. That clinic was 10 to 8 for three days only, but there is a semi-permanent one at the local YMCA, which is no far, and others in similar places around the city. The volunteers there agree with you, FMA, that days are pretty quiet, but it gets pretty busy after 5.

      Reply
  22. DJG, Reality Czar

    QAnon, the Tatmadaw, and the new all-purpose excuse that the elections are frauds:

    And here’ssssss Netanyahu, right on schedule:

    https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/israels-netanyahu-alleges-election-fraud-accuses-rival-duplicity-2021-06-06/

    Next up? Salvini and Meloni in Italy. I blame this kind of stuff squarely on social media. Salvini is a prime example: Trump used to tweet something on Monday, and by Tuesday morning, Salvini was purveying his Italian version of the same tweet.

    The other day, I had a kind of daydream: What would it take to eliminate social media like Twitter, FBk, and Pinterest, sending us all back to e-mail (and its flame wars) and listservs?

    Did we gain anything with the demise of listservs? (Or even the dreaded GoogleGroups?)

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      When Netanyahu says stuff like that, he sounds so much like Trump. At least Trump did not have his supporters besiege the homes of lawmakers demanding that they support him.

      Reply
  23. Geo

    The influencer homes are like a bizarro version of company towns. Could easily see an American-style UBI that is privatized and Americans seek out corporate sponsors (like in Idiocracy) sorta like how Alaska funds it’s statewide pseudo-UBI with oil money.

    Very dystopian story.

    Reply
  24. marym

    Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II @RevDrBarber
    The #PoorPeoplesCampaign is announcing today that on Monday, June 14, we will hold a Moral March on Manchin in West Virginia, led by West Virginians of all colors, creeds, etc. from the hood to the hollers.

    Then West Virginians and Kentuckians will lead a Moral March and nonviolent direct action on Manchin and McConnell on Wednesday, June 23, in Washington, DC.

    https://twitter.com/RevDrBarber/status/1401920178171138048
    https://twitter.com/RevDrBarber/status/1401920177105772545

    Reply
  25. jr

    re: gender and pronouns

    Confused about the whole pronoun discussion? The good folks at NPR are here to help:

    https://www.npr.org/2021/06/02/996319297/gender-identity-pronouns-expression-guide-lgbtq

    I think this “guide” captures the problems with IDpol in a nutshell. Gender identity issues are real and I am perfectly happy to respect someone else’s preferred title. But the condescension, the chirpy, childlike tone of the writing, the cartoon illustrations better suited to the walls of a pediatrician’s office have nothing to do with elevating non-binary folks. It’s porn for PMC’s. . .

    Reply
    1. c_heale

      It’s not much of a guide. A few definitions which could come out of any dictionary. Seems like filler.

      Reply
  26. The Rev Kev

    “A Truly Revolting Treatment Is Having a Renaissance”

    This seems to have a history behind it. In the book “The Making of a Surgeon” by William Nolen, which came out in the 60s, said that when he began his apprenticeship at Bellevue Hospital in New York that there were plenty of people from the Bowery who came in that had infected legs and arms. He almost threw up when one such guy’s bandage was removed revealing a crawling mass of maggots on three inches of bare bone but when the Irish nurse go rid of them with some ether noted, as that nurse pointed out, that all the dead flesh was gone leaving just healthy skin behind.

    Reply
  27. Mikel

    Re: “Mass Murder in the Late Neolithic” [Patrick Wyman, Perspectives

    A thousands of years old murder mystery.
    Let’s see…they are so quick to make want to point to “war” or others, but let’s use today’s murder investigations technique:

    Look at the people closest to them first.
    Assuming war? No mention of other bones found nearby.
    15 people found. What if the women were trying to leave with the children? How do they know these were the only women and children in the village? What about bizarre spiritual beliefs?
    Genesis…indeed…

    Reply

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