2:00PM Water Cooler 7/7/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, sorry to be a bit late; I got caught up in the Nikole Hannah-Jones saga. –lambert UPDATE All done!

Bird Song of the Day

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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:

“White House keeps Covid messaging simple” [Politico]. Biden: “If you’re vaccinated, you’re protected. But if you’re unvaccinated, you’re not.” • If only that were true!

Case count by United States regions:

We should know the impact of travel and all the family gatherings round the BBQ shortly.

Note that one of the narratives seems to be that there will only be pockets of cases in unvaccinated juridictions (i.e., blame the deplorables for a public health messaging, delivery, and performance debacle). Be that as it may, we can see the effects in this aggregate, in the aggregated data for Texas and Florida, and in the Top Ten states (all below). Nothing like the runaway train in the first days and weeks, but the train is rolling. It would certainly be nice if this trend isn’t signaling the changeover from Alpha to Delta.

DC: “I Don’t Think D.C. Will Reach Herd Immunity in Time” [Mike the Mad Biologist]. “Over the last week, very disturbing news came out of Missouri, where hospitals in low vaccination coverage regions of the state had to move patients to other parts of the state because they couldn’t handle the COVID-19 patient load. I expected this, but I really didn’t think it would happen for a few weeks. Like it or not, these low prevalence areas do have consequences for D.C. What happens in Vegas Missouri doesn’t stay in Missouri (though Nevada is having problems too). Eventually, more transmission events will happen in the D.C. area due to visitors from somewhere else (’embers’). My original time frame was things would blow up in low vaccination states starting in late July and ‘expose’ D.C. around late August, early September as people return from vacations, start college, and so on, though recent outbreaks make me wonder if that timeline should be accelerated. Nonetheless, I think the ‘drop dead’ date (pun intended) is August 15, plus or minus a few days. That’s when things are locked in as to vaccination (remember it takes two weeks after the first shot to have even partial protection against the various, erm, variants)….. . Because elderly and middle aged people are getting vaccinated, we likely won’t see too many deaths, but we will see a rise in hospitalizations and ‘long COVID.’ And none of this would happen if people got vaccinated–or were ‘strongly encouraged’ to get vaccinated. I hope I’m wrong. I hope vaccination rates pick up–and the FDA formally approving the vaccines would help.”

Here are the case counts for 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 for the last four weeks (hat tip, alert reader Lou Anton):

On reflection, I don’t see a reason to adjust for population, so I changed the chart, though I could be argued out of it. Florida shows up, but Arkansas is really punching above its weight (higher than California). Also, tourist states still stand out.

Test positivity:

South bounces back.

Hospitalization (CDC):

Continued good news.

Deaths (Our World in Data):

Continued good news.

Covid cases worldwide:

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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

“A Planned Biden Order Aims to Tilt the Job Market Toward Workers” [New York Times]. “According to an increasingly influential school of thought in left-of-center economic circles, corporate mergers and some other common business practices have made American workers worse off. The government, this theory holds, should address it.” What an amazing lead. More: “More broadly, the executive order encourages antitrust regulators to consider how mergers might contribute to so-called monopsony — conditions in which workers have few choices of where to work and therefore lack leverage to negotiate higher wages or better benefits. The order will depend on the ability of regulators to carry out the rules the White House seeks and to write them in ways that survive legal challenges. And many of the policies that labor economists see as problematic, including licensing requirements, are set at the state level, leaving a limited federal role. Still, the planned order is the most concerted effort in recent times to use the power of the federal government to tilt the playing field toward workers. It builds on years of research that has made its way from the intellectual fringes to the mainstream.” • Intellectual fringes… Of course, this is an executive order. It’s not legislation.

Democrats en Deshabille

“Democratic strategist Joe Trippi to join Lincoln Project” [The Hill]. “Veteran Democratic strategist Joe Trippi is joining the Lincoln Project as a senior adviser, the group announced Tuesday…. Trippi is a longtime Democratic strategist and campaign hand who rose to prominence as the campaign manager for former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential bid. He also worked as a consultant for former California Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2010 comeback gubernatorial campaign and was a senior adviser to former Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) in his successful 2017 special election campaign.”

“Hunter Biden wanted prostitutes to unionize because they need ‘more protection’ and were ‘business savvy like strippers” [Daily Mail]. • So Hunter is sound on policy, then?

Republican Funhouse

Yarn diagram:

This is an extremely simple yarn diagram. There’s just one node in the middle!

Our Famously Free Press

Nauseating self-regard:

Trump Legacy

“Trump to sue Facebook, Twitter CEOs over being banned from their platforms” [NBC]. “Former President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he is filing a class-action lawsuit against tech giants Facebook and Twitter — along with their CEOs, Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey — because of bans imposed on him and others. ‘We’re demanding an end to the shadow banning, a stop to the silencing, a stop to the blacklisting, vanishing and canceling,’ Trump said at a news conference in Bedminster, New Jersey, adding that ‘we are asking the court to impose punitive damages.’ He spoke from behind a lectern bedecked with an insignia designed to look like the presidential seal and in front of a backdrop reminiscent of a White House portico. Trump argued that the suspension of his social media accounts amounts to an infringement on the First Amendment’s guarantee that speech won’t be curtailed by the government. Fundamental to that case is his relatively novel contention that the major tech firms function as arms of the federal government rather than as private companies.” • Typical Trump crazy talk. He’s saying corporations have merged with the State!

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Eric Adams wins Democratic primary in NYC’s mayoral race” [Associated Press]. “Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams has won the Democratic primary for mayor of New York City after appealing to the political center and promising to strike the right balance between fighting crime and ending racial injustice in policing. A former police captain, Adams would be the city’s second Black mayor if elected. He triumphed over a large Democratic field in New York’s first major race to use ranked choice voting. Results from the latest tabulations released Tuesday showed him leading former city sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia by 8,426 votes, or a little more than 1 percentage point.”

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Job Openings” [Trading Economics]. “The number of job openings in the US rose to a new record high of 9.209 million in May 2021, from a revised 9.193 million in April and below market expectations of 9.388 million.”

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Retail: “Stretched global supply chain means shortages on summer menus” [Reuters]. “At least nine fast-food chains and restaurant companies surveyed by Reuters said some of their locations have been grappling with changing lists of brief shortages of key ingredients and products, as supply bottlenecks plague eateries. The list of hard-to-find items has included summertime staples such as wieners and chicken wings, and non-food items like plastic packing material and paper bags.”

Retail: “Supermarkets are doing their own hoarding as they brace for price increases. Grocery chains are buying and storing everything from sugar to frozen meat… as they look to keep their shelves full under a strategy that is also driving shortages of some staples” [Wall Street Journal]. “The move is a reversal from last year, when consumers hoarded goods and disrupted the grocery industry at the onset of the pandemic. Now, retailers are stockpiling to keep costs down and protect margins in a sign of how up]heaval over the past year has upended conventional supply-chain strategies. Associated Wholesale Grocers recently stocked up on 15% to 20% more inventory, mainly packaged foods with longer shelf life, and Ahold Delhaize USA is holding more safety stock.”

Shipping: “Container lines are poised to hit a $100 billion profit jackpot” [American Shipper]. “All the experts said spot ocean rates would pull back in the second half. The second half has now begun. Not only are spot rates not falling, they’re still rising. Much higher H2 spot rates than expected, combined with double-digit gains for contract rates, will equate to liner profits on an unprecedented scale. On Monday, U.K. consultancy Drewry predicted that container shipping lines will post aggregate earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) of $80 billion this year, and ‘if freight rates surpass expectations in the remainder of the year, we would not be surprised to see an annual profit line in the region of $100 billion.’ That’s the mirror opposite of the industry’s prior long-term performance.”

Shipper: “How COVID variants could impact container and tanker shipping” [American Shipper]. “Multiple Asian countries that produce U.S. containerized imports are now seeing high infection rates. Malaysia, a significant player in the furniture sector, has been under a strict lockdown since early June. The lockdown has just been extended. A seven-day nationwide lockdown in Bangladesh begins Thursday. According to Panjiva, a division of S&P Global Market Intelligence, ‘The renewed spread and resulting lockdown will have an impact on industrial supply chains as factories will likely have to close and may suffer reduced productivity.’ Levi Strauss and H&M are among the retailers whose shipments could be affected by the Bangladesh lockdown, said Panjiva. Cases caused by the spread of the Delta variant are also surging across Indonesia, another supplier of U.S. goods. The Red Cross said on Tuesday that Indonesia was ‘on the edge of catastrophe.’ On Thursday, Indonesia announced a strict lockdown from July 3-20 covering the most populous islands of Java and Bali. The situation is also worsening in Thailand, where a record number of daily cases and deaths were reported on Wednesday. In China, restrictions at the Port of Yantian in the first three weeks of June will reverberate across U.S. import supply chains for at least another month. Amazon is particularly exposed to Yantian fallout, according to Panjiva.”

Tech: “The Kaseya Ransomware Attack Is a Really Big Deal” [Lawfare]. “Under normal circumstances, automatic software deployment, especially in the context of software updates, is a good thing. But here this feature was turned on its head. Russian-based criminal gang REvil hacked into Kaseya’s management system and pushed REvil software to all of the systems under Kaseya’s management. From there, the ransomware promptly disabled those computers and demanded a cryptocurrency payment of about $45,000 per system to set the machines free… Supply chain attacks such as these are the proximate technical cause of many of cybersecurity’s “greatest” hits, including NotPetya and SolarWinds. The NotPetya attack in June 2017 did about $10 billion or so of damage globally…. If this is not yet enough to catch your attention, three further observations will. First, supply chain compromises, such as these, are very often indiscriminate; everyone who installs a malicious update gets the malware…. The second, and perhaps scariest, observation is that the software vendors used in malicious update compromises thus far have, in the grand scheme of things, been relatively small. MEDoc, SolarWinds and Kaseya are, of course, important to their respective customers, but none was a household name before their respective incidents. Far bigger software vendors exist. Some are central to the basic functioning of modern computing… The final observation is that defensive remediation of ransomware deployed through automatic updates is pathological to the cybersecurity industry itself in a way that is qualitatively different from other categories of cybersecurity incidents…. In short, software supply chain security breaches don’t look like other categories of breaches. A lot of this comes down to the central conundrum of system security: It’s not possible to defend the edges of a system without centralization so that defensive resources can be pooled. But this same centralization concentrates offensive action against a few single points of failure that, if breached, cause all of the edges to fail at once.”

Tech: “A Deep Dive into Airbnb’s Server-Driven UI System” [Medium]. “Airbnb’s specific SDUI implementation enables our backend to control the data and how that data is displayed across all clients at the same time. Everything from the screen’s layout, how sections are arranged in that layout, the data displayed in each section, and even the actions taken when users interact with sections is controlled by a single backend response across our web, iOS, and Android apps.” • Everything old is new again.

Supply Chain: “The company that pioneered just-in-time manufacturing in the automotive sector is reaping gains from a “just-in-case” strategy. Toyota outsold perennial top dog General Motors by a thin margin in the U.S., a first for a Japanese car maker. [A] decision to stockpile semiconductors and maintain more production over the past year has given the company an edge as demand has rebounded” [Wall Street Journal]. “Building on its experience following Japan’s 2011 earthquake, Toyota eased away from a strict application of its lean just-in-time production system. While other car makers have shut down factories because of chip shortages, research firm LMC Automotive says Toyota’s factories have run at over 90% capacity this year, compared with 50% to 60% for many rivals. Toyota dealers still face shortages of cars on their lots, but the shortfall is deeper for other car makers.”

Legal: “FCA fraudulent inducement claim requires but-for causation – appeals court” [Reuters]. I don’t know what “but-for” causation is, but this is interesting: “Cimino filed his lawsuit in 2013 in Washington federal court under the False Claims Act, which allows whistleblowers to sue companies on the government’s behalf to recover taxpayer money paid out based on fraudulent claims. He alleged that IBM falsified an audit to show that the Internal Revenue Service owed the company $91 million in penalties for overuse under the terms of the agency’s existing software license in order to pressure the IRS to renew the license for $265 million.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 39 Fear (previous close: 39 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 41 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 7 at 2:00pm.

Health Care

“Time to assume that health research is fraudulent until proven otherwise?” [British Medical Journal]. “Health research is based on trust. Health professionals and journal editors reading the results of a clinical trial assume that the trial happened and that the results were honestly reported. But about 20% of the time, said Ben Mol, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Monash Health, they would be wrong…. Research fraud is often viewed as a problem of “bad apples,” but Barbara K Redman, who spoke at the webinar insists that it is not a problem of bad apples but bad barrels if not, she said, of rotten forests or orchards. In her book Research Misconduct Policy in Biomedicine: Beyond the Bad-Apple Approach she argues that research misconduct is a systems problem—the system provides incentives to publish fraudulent research and does not have adequate regulatory processes. Researchers progress by publishing research, and because the publication system is built on trust and peer review is not designed to detect fraud it is easy to publish fraudulent research. The business model of journals and publishers depends on publishing, preferably lots of studies as cheaply as possible. They have little incentive to check for fraud and a positive disincentive to experience reputational damage—and possibly legal risk—from retracting studies. Funders, universities, and other research institutions similarly have incentives to fund and publish studies and disincentives to make a fuss about fraudulent research they may have funded or had undertaken in their institution—perhaps by one of their star researchers. Regulators often lack the legal standing and the resources to respond to what is clearly extensive fraud, recognising that proving a study to be fraudulent (as opposed to suspecting it of being fraudulent) is a skilled, complex, and time consuming process. Another problem is that research is increasingly international with participants from many institutions in many countries: who then takes on the unenviable task of investigating fraud? Science really needs global governance. Everybody gains from the publication game, concluded Roberts, apart from the patients who suffer from being given treatments based on fraudulent data.” • Yikes.

“The delta variant is spiking in these four US states” [The Hill]. “According to data from Scripps Research’s Outbreak.info, the delta variant of the coronavirus is surging in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Connecticut, where it is responsible for a majority of new cases. Ninety-six percent of Missouri’s new COVID-19 cases have been traced to the delta variant — the highest percentage of new cases caused by this strain for any U.S. state… According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average vaccination rate is 47.5 percent. Missouri’s vaccination rate is 36.8 percent, Arkansas is 32 percent, and Kansas is just below 40 percent, as reported by the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Tracker.”

“More than 125 Covid-19 cases tied to South Texas church camp, pastor says” [CNN]. “More than 125 campers and adults who attended a summer camp run by a South Texas church have tested positive for coronavirus, according to a statement from Clear Creek Community Church Lead Pastor Bruce Wesley. The outbreak stems from a late June Student Ministry Camp for sixth through 12th graders that was attended by more than 450 people, county health officials said. ‘Unfortunately, upon return from camp, 125+ campers and adults reported to us that they tested positive for COVID-19. Additionally, hundreds more were exposed to COVID-19 at camp,’ Wesley said. ‘And hundreds of others were likely exposed when infected people returned home from camp.’ Clear Creek Community Church is an interdenominational church based in League City, with five campuses south of Houston. The Galveston County Health District said it was notified of the first positive case tied to the church camp — held at the Tejas Camp & Retreat in Giddings, outside the county — on June 27. At least three samples from the outbreak were confirmed to be the Delta coronavirus variant, which is more transmissible to others, according to the district. More samples are being tested.”

“Clinical and Virological Features of SARS-CoV-2 Variants of Concern: A Retrospective Cohort Study Comparing B.1.1.7 (Alpha), B.1.315 (Beta), and B.1.617.2 (Delta)” [The Lancet]. The Interpretation: “There was a signal toward increased severity associated with B.1.617.2. The association of B.1.617.2 with lower Ct value and longer viral shedding provides a potential mechanism for increased transmissibility. These findings provide a strong impetus for the rapid implementation of vaccination programmes.” • Singapore, n = 838.

“Your Guide to Masks” [CDC]. “Do not choose masks that… Are prioritized for healthcare workers, including N95 respirators.” Updated June 29, 2021.” • A year in…

The Biosphere

“How freezing changed the green pea” [BBC (Re Silc)]. “A turning point in the frozen food industry’s history came when Clarence Birdseye, a naturalist employed by the US government, moved to Labrador – which is today part of Canada – in 1912. There, he consumed animals from lynx to gulls with gusto, taking copious notes (whale meat was much like beef, he argued). The Inuit in the area habitually froze food during the winter months. Birdseye learned what everyone else there already knew, that the very coldest months produced the food that tasted best after being defrosted.” • What an interesting true fact!

“The Beasts That Keep the Beat” [Quanta]. “Musical rhythm, [Aniruddh Patel] argued, is a byproduct of ‘vocal learning; — the ability to reproduce sounds one has never heard before. Humans, parrots and elephants are all vocal learners. Elephants have been documented imitating the sounds of trucks and other animals, and parrots are literally synonymous with mimicry. Monkeys, on the other hand, are stuck with an inborn set of hoots and screams. Patel’s notion was that the evolution of vocal learning in select species strengthened the links between brain regions in charge of hearing and movement, which made musical rhythm possible. In the years following its introduction, the vocal learning hypothesis seemed to fit all the relevant data. Iversen and Patel’s study of Snowball turned out to be just the prelude to a new concerto of research on musicality in the animal kingdom. In recent years, scientists have tested various species and found evidence that nonvocal learners such as sea lions and bonobos have rhythm too. In parallel, pioneering studies have begun to elucidate how the brain tracks a beat, work that may help corroborate that rhythm is not restricted to the planet’s most loquacious creatures. The new findings suggest that rhythm has a more ancient and universal evolutionary origin than was originally thought. ‘I don’t think the vocal learning hypothesis has much to teach us anymore,’ said Peter Cook, a comparative psychologist at Emory University. ‘Beat keeping might be rooted in a really old, widely conserved mechanism, which is basically how brains communicate.'”

Groves of Academe

“Nikole Hannah-Jones will join Howard University instead of the University of North Carolina” [New York Times]. “The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones said on Tuesday that she would join the faculty of Howard University, a surprise announcement less than a week after the University of North Carolina’s board of trustees voted to grant her tenure, reversing its earlier decision.” • My position on this is that poor scholarship should not be rewarded with tenue; see the WSWS site, they being the only publication with the stones to take this on, especially here and here, but the whole section, which includes posts from many historians. Oddly, the Times coverage is too genteel to mention the money, but the NGO Industrial complex really came through—

“Nikole Hannah-Jones rejects UNC tenure offer to take position at Howard University, backed by millions in foundation funding” [WSWS]. “Hannah-Jones will join writer Ta-Nehisi Coates (who wrote We Were Eight Years in Power about the Obama administration) in founding the Center for Journalism and Democracy at Howard. The center will be financed with $20 million from the Knight Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, the Ford Foundation and an anonymous donor. According to a university press release, the new center “will focus on training and supporting aspiring journalists in acquiring the investigative skills and historical and analytical expertise needed to cover the crisis our democracy is facing.” The 1619 Project was published by the New York Times in August 2019 and has been promoted with millions of dollars in funding and a school curriculum developed by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. It falsely roots American history in an enduring racial conflict between blacks and whites…. In its own way, it sums up a central purpose of the racialist narrative that the Times ’ 1619 Project promotes, namely, to advance the aspirations of privileged sections of the upper middle-class for positions of power and wealth, which has absolutely nothing to do with the interests of workers of any race.” • While Hannah-Jones is most definitely a “voice,” as Adolph Reed defines the term (here; here), I don’t think this is correct; I think the agenda is to advance the cause of reparations (where Coates is a key figure). Hilariously, Howard has recently been in the news for closing its Classics, department, and for Dean Phylicia Rashad’s support of Bill Cosby, a Howard donor.

UPDATE “The Struggle for Power at UNC” [The Assembly]. “‘It’s not my job to heal the University of North Carolina,’ said Hannah-Jones. ‘That’s the job of the people in power who created the situation in the first place.'” • Speculating freely, I’m a little dubious that Hannah-Jones ever intended to work at UNC; surely she could not have been ignorant of the $20 million in grant money that magically appeared at Howard immediately after her decision?

UPDATE “Lessons from Nikole Hannah-Jones’s tenure battle” [Columbia Journalism Review]. “Joe Killian, the reporter at NC Policy Watch who broke the story about the board’s tenure rejection and interviewed both Hannah-Jones and Hussman, wrote an extended Twitter thread on the power differentials rendered invisible in too much discussion about Hussman and Hannah-Jones. Hussman, who is white, inherited significant power in the journalism industry; Hannah-Jones earned it in the face of considerable obstacles, Killian wrote. ‘Whatever you may think of her, it’s impossible to credibly argue Hannah-Jones hasn’t put in the work,’ he concluded.” • Her shoddy scholarship aside, it’s totally possible: She published a grand total of 23 articles for the New York Times. That wouldn’t earn an adjunct tenure. What earned Hannah-Jones tenure was her enormous network of fellow media professionals. The class power of the PMC was the “power imbalance” here. And professionals aren’t her only powerful backers. Note the logo:

Guillotine Watch

Pigs in space:

Great thread. The same is true, on a lesser scale, for bunkers and compounds.

Class Warfare

“Varieties of Black Political Philosophy” [The Sooty Empiric]. ” I decided to categorise some of the tendencies of black political thought that I often encounter, and share that here. Each group is not much more than a loose affinity group, united by a theme. But I tend to think I can recognise instances of members of these groups when I see them – by what they stress, how they argue, what sort of things they think possible or impossible, or relevant or irrelevant. So I have tried to briefly summarise the thematic links I am picking up on, and then link some examples of each tendency to give the reader an idea of the sort of work or theorising I would expect from each group.” • Afropessimism, Liberalism, Black feminism, Conservatism, Culturalism, and Socialism. More: “These then are the strands I most often encounter. My sense is that black liberalism is very much dominant in the academy, but there are pockets where it would be highly unwelcome. The strand I have labelled conservative, on the other hand, is by and large unpopular in both the academy and broader black life – but it is an old and very well established vein of thought in black political thought, and the persistence of its base of support suggests it is not going anywhere. I would have thought the socialist tradition is moribund, but perhaps the Corbyn and Sanders campaigns will in the long run breathe more life into it. The culturalists will always have their place, given what I mentioned about black arts. But vim, such as it is, belongs to the black feminists and the Afropessimists. That’s where youth energy is found right now, and they are the ones shaking up the wider cultural dialogue.” • This is a useful synthesis and well worth reading in full.

“The Future Dystopic Hellscape Is Upon Us” [The Intercept]. “Sovereign Deed was to be a privatized state within the state for the rich, with a fleet of planes, boats, armored vehicles, and trained rescue personnel, all coordinating through a ‘national network including satellite phones, land lines, cellular towers, fiber optic cable and radio frequency bands providing redundant systems for both verbal and textual communication.’ For the boardroom barons and law firm partners Sovereign Deed envisioned as its bread-and-butter clientele, the company would offer an array of tantalizing toys: While the rest of their employees withered under clouds of radiation, an executive customer would be armed with a ‘Communications Pack (ComPak), a waist pack containing communications equipment, including a satellite telephone, GPS and other devices, to connect with and receive information from Sovereign Deed.” • Lovely.

“Workers Are Funding The War On Themselves” [The Daily Poster]. “[A] series of new reports remind us that there is another person behind the monocled, mustache-twirling oligarch running the Emerald City’s secret control panel — and that person isn’t a billionaire. It is the faceless pension official in a state capital or city hall who is using workers’ retirement savings to finance the Wall Street takeover of Oz. In the process, teachers, firefighters, sanitation workers, and other government employees are being fleeced. Their retirement savings are being skimmed by finance industry executives, who are using the cash to lobby for self-enriching tax breaks while waging a class war on everyone else. All that money could end up bankrolling a new round of housing profiteering and infrastructure privatization, using workers’ money to wage a war on workers themselves.” • Amazingly, CalPERS not mentioned!

News of the Wired

“Danish children struggle to learn their vowel-filled language – and this changes how adult Danes interact” [The Conversation]. “Through our research, we have found that the uniquely peculiar way that Danes speak seems to make it difficult for Danish children to learn their native language – and this challenges some central tenets of the science of language….. There are three main reasons why Danish is so complicated. First, with about 40 different vowel sounds – compared to between 13 and 15 vowels in English depending on dialect – Danish has one of the largest vowel inventories in the world. On top of that, Danes often turn consonants into vowel-like sounds when they speak. And finally, Danes also like to “swallow” the ends of words and omit, on average, about a quarter of all syllables. They do this not only in casual speech but also when reading aloud from written text…. [B]ecause Danish speech is so ambiguous, Danes rely much more on context – including what was said in the conversation before, what people know about each other and general background knowledge – to figure out what somebody is saying compared to adult Norwegians. Together, these results indicate that the way people interpret language is not static, but dynamically adapts to the challenges posed by the specific language or languages they speak.”

“Reading Like a Roman” [Public Domain Review]. The material culture of Roman books. One fragment: “The manuscript known as Vergilius Vaticanus is one of only three manuscripts from Graeco-Roman antiquity which preserve illustrations in more than a few scraps. … In the Vaticanus illustrations, the entire surface circumscribed by the red frame is filled in. The minimalistic backgrounds, which represent little more than the basic outlines of the landscape and the sky, are nevertheless carefully painted, soft pink shading into pastel blue. The heavy frames and coloured backgrounds could only be executed in the codex format. In a roll, such large surfaces of paint would lead to the pigments flaking off. If the Vaticanus is the first codex in the tradition of illustrations it belongs to, it is likely that the frames and the backgrounds were added by the Vaticanus painters, with only the figures inherited from earlier models. In these earlier rolls, small illustrations would be inserted at the appropriate point in the columns of text.”

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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 (pq):

pq writes: “Invasion of the Columbines! The large plant to the left is the ‘mother,’ nearly lost last year to leafminers. This is a white variety that turns an exquisite pale pink as it ages. The stick coming out of the dark spot toward top right was my marker for a native red Columbine, which was infected even worse. Because I identified the pest too late to kill it, the only alternative was daily pulling off infected leaves, which, in the case of the wild Columbine, was the entire plant. It’s hardy, so I’m hopeful it will come up eventually. In the meantime, looks like I’m going to have a delightfully unplanned Columbine border.” I don’t think there’s any other kind of Columbine border!

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

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


      1. ambrit

        Don’t sweat it. One of Dad’s early American jobs was with a company that had the contract to design and build Miami’s East West freeway. He soon found out that no one in the original company had ever worked on a road project before. Though one could rationalize that the company was thinking that they could hire the needed experts from outside, they didn’t know enough to properly evaluate the prospective hires. Dad spent months boning up on highway design and construction manuals at night at home while trying to do the job at work during the day. His somewhat amazed take on all that was that he wasn’t fired for incompetence. (He was a high pressure and temperature piping specialist by training. His usual work was in sugar mill refits and construction.)
        So, not childcare specialists? No sweat! We really didn’t want them here in the first place! /s
        Classic “Government Job.”

      2. Keith

        Good work to the Procurement Department and to the Contracting Officer ensuring the government’s requirements are met. After all, in theory the feds are supposed to monitor the contract and ensure compliance, in practice, usual .gov silliness.

        On the plus side, orange man gone, so who cares.

        1. ambrit

          Gone but not forgotten. (I did notice your snark, kudos.)
          The more the Bidens accomplish “nothing will fundamentally change” as the policy objective, the better the chances of “The Orange Man” or his duly anointed successor winning in 2024.
          Our political system has undergone a sea change. Now, we are not dealing with politicians, but with ideologues. Politicians worthy of the name ‘get things done’ for their public constituents. Ideologues ‘get things done’ for themselves and their donors.
          The resulting Venn Diagrams can get quite messy.

          1. Keith

            You forget the bureaucracy, which tends to do what it has always done, regardless of who is in charge at the top. Presidents get up to eight years to put their stamp on something, but the lower level employees and managers don’t ever see it, nor do they really care. You may have a higher up from DC transfer in, but they leave in short time only performing in a superficial way to get their “field time.”.

            As for as procurement and contract compliance, good luck.

  1. Carolinian

    Isn’t Trump correct that it is outrageous to censor an ex president’s political speech?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I would like to see Trump’s brief. I don’t see how he has standing if he’s suing for what was done while he was President. If he’s suing as a private person, well…

    2. dcblogger

      no, he is not. Twitter is well within its rights, and I would suggest responsibility to boot anyone actively inciting violence. News Corp should lose its FCC license for the same reason.

      1. hunkerdown

        Does that mean we can shut the neocons and Atlanticists down and cancel and erase them? Can we shut down whole schools of international relations next? That would be great. But there’s no point in fantasizing about making new rules for people whose very cosmological role in society is to impose debts, not submit to them.

      2. IM Doc

        Then they should immediately shut down Obama as well – I can think of no other definition than bombing civilian weddings and killing dozens in Yemen as not just inciting violence but actual violence.

        I am not a Trump supporter – but at some point this is getting totally ridiculous.

      3. Gareth

        Do you know of any cases that would address whether censorship/oppression occurs when a group of private companies act as agents for the federal government or at the behest of the federal government? That is what Trump is alleging, and it is an issue worth examining. I don’t think he has a strong case, but I doubt that winning is the point here; discovery is. “Please produce records of all emails and phone calls between employees or owners of Facebook/Google/Twitter and any elected officials or any present or former employees of federal agencies during the last six years.” I imagine there might be some interesting material in there.

        Additionally, no matter what confidentiality requirements might be placed on those documents, you need only tell someone else that agency X has some interesting emails on date Y that they might want to file a FOIA request for. The rest takes care of itself since these are federal agencies. Think of it as civilian parallel construction. And if a representative of a security agency that is FOIA exempt happens to have had a very interesting exchange with Jack, then Trump’s team has that email and public interest takes over from there.

        By making it a class action suit, Trump doesn’t bear the costs by himself, and you can bet there are plenty of angry people ejected from those services that will be happy to join in. Lastly, their cases might be what actually does a company in. For example, “Hi Lisa, I spoke with X at the CDC, and she said we should remove all posts on X since they are disinformation. I’ve banned this group of users in accordance with her recommendation.” They might have crossed all their t’s and dotted their i’s when dealing with Trump, but were they as careful when dealing with the little people?

        1. hunkerdown

          If he’s not looking directly at the NGOs with a 20cc syringe of barbiturates ready to fence, he’s simply performing for the crowd. Same goes for every pol.

      4. Lambert Strether Post author

        I think the answer is to scale back social media companies so that human moderation is possible. Facebook can’t possibly do it. And it sets up an enormous quid pro quo possibility where Facebook trades censorship for continued monopoly

        1. hunkerdown

          But how is that the answer to Facebook’s conceits of existence? Censorship in the name of private property isn’t worth paying for, as far as the unpropertied are concerned.

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      As “reported” by abc nightly “news” tonight, and I quote:

      “A legal ‘expert’ says that private businesses are not bound by the first amendment.”

      Alrighty then.

    4. Chromex

      While I do not support a ban on Trump’s speech, in order for there to be “censorship” that is an unconstitutional free speech violation, or otherwise “against the law”, there must be “state action” , not present here.

      1. Some Chud

        And to think, this whole time all we needed to do in order to abolish censorship was to privatize everything. Great work, you really knocked it out of the park.

  2. Pat

    There seems to be a tacit assumption on Mike the Mad Biologist’s part that vaccines protect from long Covid. Not saying that isn’t the case, especially when they do actually stop infection. But our limited collection of data both regarding breakthrough infection and the prevalence of long Covid quarantee we are all guessing.

      1. Hopelb

        Why is that confusing? Vaccinated people can still get Covid, and the vaccines themselves can produce an inflammatory response.

  3. Carolinian

    From the WSWS story

    In an ironic twist, the history of Hannah-Jones’ chosen perch, Howard University, flies in the face of her claim in the 1619 Project that African Americans have fought alone to advance democratic rights in the United States.

    The school’s white namesake, founder and president from 1867 to 1873, General Oliver Otis Howard, was a commander for the Union Army during the Civil War. He participated in multiple bloody battles against Confederate forces, including the First Battle of Bull Run, Antietam and Gettysburg. Howard led forces in Sherman’s March to the Sea from Atlanta to Savannah in 1864, a campaign which saw thousands of slaves liberated.

    Let’s just say though that it was the power of the NY Times that was promoting this. And I’m not sure they have any interest in reparations. They do have an interest in political distraction, being owned by billionaires.

    1. griffen

      I’m catching up here. UNC is a known bastion for the Koch Brothers and right wing nut jobs. \sarc

      Before someone stops me, yes I write the above in jest. Are the levers of power in state politics and in the selection process of the BOG pulled by Art Pope, Phil Berger and similar acolytes? Yes indeed they are.

      But to describe the backlash as being all racist vitriol is missing the bigger issue. She, Jones, conveyed fiction as fact; by most accounts I’ve read she has not backed away from those assertions. She was also called out after doing so, by quite a handful of known, and celebrated, historians.

      But hey failing upward is American after all. No one really looks good in this.

  4. Mr.Cogswell

    ProfitStasi Nextdoor.
    As of today, you too can invest your money in Nextdoor. A SPAC is buying them up before seeking Greater Fools.

    “How problematic are you? Enough to be on Nextdoor? The bar may be lower than you think. After spending a few weeks on Nextdoor, I have a few new concerns about how much surveillance we’re under. Not from the NSA, but from the person borrowing sugar down the street.

    I joined Nextdoor when I moved to Los Angeles—Los Feliz specifically. I was hoping to get the word out about my videography business, but was quickly greeted with an online “gated community.” In order to prove I was a member of my neighborhood, I had to enter a code that they mailed directly to my address. Google Places has a verification step similar to this, but in this context, it was more the equivalent of a secret handshake.

    Once I got in, my self-promotion fell on completely deaf ears. I later learned that the website has a classified section and sells promoted posts and paid placements for businesses like mine. Those didn’t work much better. The people of Nextdoor weren’t interested in video, unless it was security video.
    The Nextdoor Population By Monetization

    I’ve heard it said that if you want to know the demographic of a particular social media platform, look at who advertises on it. One promoted post that kept coming up last week on Nextdoor was for the Ring doorbell camera. It takes a picture of anyone who comes to your door. As I learned from helpful commenters, that’s how burglars “case the joint.” Do you think any actual burglars still say “case the joint?”


    1. Adam Eran

      FYI, I joined, and even promoted Nextdoor…then got kicked out for bringing up local public policy (in a civil manner, although some who replied did not maintain the civility).

      Nextdoor is strictly a platform for consumers, not citizens.

  5. Lou Anton

    >Biden: “If you’re vaccinated, you’re protected. But if you’re unvaccinated, you’re not.” Lambert: If only that were true!

    Is ‘protected’ one of the lawyerly weasel words/phrases now? Right up there with fight for, stand with, and $2000 checks.

    I mean, sure, it’ll protect you from death (not nothing, don’t get me wrong!). But does it mean you can go back to mask-free close talking at the meat processing plant like the good old days? Well, Dr. Fauci didn’t say that, but he didn’t NOT say it either.

    1. Objective Ace

      Except it wont even protect you from death. By the CDC’s own count approximately 1000 individuals who recieved both shots have died.

      Relatively speaking, thats not a lot–but its just a blatant lie to make a definitive statement you are protected.

      1. Phillip Cross

        On average, 7,000 Americans die per day. 150,000,000 vaccinated adults is half the population, so at least 3500 vaccinated people die every day. Probably more like 6,500 because the 150m includes all the old people.

        How many of the deceased had family members (whipped into a tizzy by facebook rumors) that made a report to VAERS?

  6. R

    “but-for” causation means that the claimant has to show that, but for the actions of the defendant, the wrong would not have happened and/or a counterfactual boon would have happened. But for the Russians, Hilary Clinton would have won the election / would not have lost her e-mails.

  7. johnf

    “Your Guide to Masks” [CDC]. “DO NOT choose masks that… Are prioritized for healthcare workers, including N95 respirators.”

    The guideline before it is also fraught: “DO NOT choose masks that … Have exhalation valves or vents which allow virus particles to escape.”

    See the CDC(!) technical report Filtering Facepiece Respirators with an Exhalation Valve (December 2020). Entrenched prejudices are hard to shake.

  8. Isotope_C14

    “Researchers progress by publishing research, and because the publication system is built on trust and peer review is not designed to detect fraud it is easy to publish fraudulent research.”

    This is true of any research regarding primary cardiac myocytes using the Seahorse XF series of bio-analyzers. I have been trying to get this to work for years, as many publications over time have stated it does. (Agilent themselves I think know that it doesn’t, though they do have something to sell). I was able to show my colleagues, multiple PhD’s, and a few other cardiac folk, that anyone claiming valid data from this are fraudulent. Only one way can work, and that is using a special capture plate to force the cells into the bottom of the plate with a little plastic screen. This hasn’t been published, nor would it be, because it isn’t “novel” or “positive” results.

  9. Phillip Cross

    “The Kaseya Ransomware Attack ”

    Just shut down all the bridges (payment providers and exchanges) from the crypto universe from the ‘real’ financial system.

    Game over for ransomware.

  10. KLG

    Regarding the photograph in the Greenwald tweet, I cannot be the only person of a certain age who thought of this when Mr. Bull Headdress had his 15 minutes of fame. And yes, I am aware that one is a movie and one is very serious real life, but the insurrectionists seemed to have more in common with Delta House than not. And unlike D-Day, whereabouts known exactly in the Smart Phone Era.

    1. marym

      There’s plenty of video now of protesters fighting with cops using bear spray, opportunistic weapons (cops’ shields, metal barriers), stuff they had in hand (flag poles). Some press were also attacked. It’s not a given that there wouldn’t have been similar fighting with staff or congresspersons if the protesters had encountered them. It’s not machine guns, but it wasn’t just people in silly costumes. Also, per the article linked in the tweet:

      “Wasson said he’d had guns drawn on him by Cambodian soldiers when he was working overseas. Desjardins has covered a war, earthquakes, and hurricanes. Ginger Gibson, a politics editor at NBC News, has covered natural disasters and murder scenes.”

  11. Nce

    I’m surprised that the roadrunner was recorded in Orange. I grew up nearby in another OC city when there still were strawberry and cow fields, but I never saw one (maybe that says something about the chemicals used on strawberries?) This roadrunner didn’t sound like the ones that are common on the University of NM grounds, but the mourning doves are very familiar.

  12. Keith

    Regarding the n95 masks, they are back at the home improvement stores. I picked up a 15 pack for $30, not too shabby. The five packs were $15, so going big was the better deal (I got the last 15 pack although a bunch of five packs were still available).

    1. grayslady

      I purchased 250 blue surgical masks for $25 a couple of months ago. Having just come back from an appointment at the hospital a little while ago, everyone there was wearing the same mask, so If it’s good enough for them it’s good enough for me.

      1. Keith

        I am sticking up for some rehab work that I didn’t get to last winter. Stocking up now while I can.

        That being said, I wouldn’t necessarily use the hospital as the epitome of what to do. IMHO, they often reflect their community. A good test would be to visit on the weekends to see what the people are really doing there.

        All that said, for folks in the service industries that may have concerns about the Delta and summer and fall, now is a time to stock up while the stocking is good.

      2. ChiGal in Carolina

        Surgical or procedure masks are not effective against airborne virus because of the poor fit. They are to prevent droplet transmission.

        That is the reason for the double masking recommendation: the cloth mask can be tightened to eliminate the gaps. Better yet is a silicone mask that seals, like the Gata mask.

  13. Pelham

    Re: A Planned Biden Order Aims to Tilt the Job Market Toward Workers: Sounds good. Let’s see what materializes in a major way that favors workers. This is the same Biden who during the campaign promised to propose $5 trillion for infrastructure and climate change then in office proposed less than half that and is now negotiating for less than $1 trillion with scarcely any climate measures.

    Also, it’s the same guy who owes Lambert and me a $600 check.

  14. fresno dan

    “Trump to sue Facebook, Twitter CEOs over being banned from their platforms” [NBC]. “
    But here’s the thing. As president and leader of the party with majority control of Congress, he had plenty of levers at his disposal to try and target Big Tech. He could have gone after them by issuing new regulations or pushing for an anti-trust case against them. To be clear, I do not believe it is the proper role of government to police bias among tech and social-media companies. But plenty of supporters who share his anger toward Big Tech were begging him to do something while he had the chance. But he didn’t.
    That’s a theme with Trump. When the FBI harrassed Carter Page, Trump was totally indifferent. Mostly laziness, although I suspect Trump understands that real action would antagonise the national security crowd, just as real action against tech would raise the hackles of the free marketers business can never be interferred with fanatics. It is an interesting turn of events – pay no attention to what people fail to do, but only what they say….

    1. Keith

      Keeps him in the news. He needs the attention and was dependent on Twitter for it. This is an ingenious way to get his Twitter fix.

    1. The Rev Kev

      That could be an interesting experiment that. Have a ship with 2,000 passengers and 1,000 crew members and make sure that they are double vaccinated. Then send them out to sea after introducing the Delta variant and see what happens. And to make it more relevant, they could use the ocean cruiser Diamond Princess too.

  15. Mikel

    “Fundamental to that case is his relatively novel contention that the major tech firms function as arms of the federal government rather than as private companies.” • Typical Trump crazy talk. He’s saying corporations have merged with the State!”

    Like it or not, he was a head of state for 4 years. And that’s what he experienced, watched, and heard. Anybody paying attention would notice.

    1. John

      Perhaps that is what he “experienced, watched, and heard” and perhaps not. Donald has a long history of saying and doing what is in his interest in the moment.

    2. Acacia

      I took the note about corporations merging with the state as a bit of Lambertian irony.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > a bit of Lambertian irony.

        Trump urging that the United States meets the popular litmus test for being a fascist regime* as one of his claims in a lawsuit engages my sense of irony, yes indeed. As usual, Trump says the unsayable.

        NOTE * Not mine. See here and here. Gramsci urges that the State and Civil Society should be distinguished only as objects of study — the two faces of one elite, one might say — and while people and institutions in both have their own relative autonomy, I agree with him at the 30,000 foot-level.

  16. Mikel

    “The delta variant is spiking in these four US states” [The Hill]. “

    The Hill…a politcal rag.

    Bet they are only doing the most tracing where fewer people are taking the gene therapy shots.

    Now that we’re in the twighlight zone of walking around sick, but not in the hospital is some kind of jack- – – “immunity”.

  17. dcblogger

    I really do not get the need to minimize and seer at other people’s suffering. For reporter on Capitol Hill January 6 it would have been a terrifying experience.

    1. ambrit

      I’ll go a bit off the reservation here and assert that reporters are not guaranteed complete peace and security doing their job.
      For a ‘real’ reporter on Capitol Hill January 6, it would have been the story of a lifetime.
      Adding, if this had been a thought out in advance ‘plot,’ then there would have been ‘friendly’ journalists embedded in the crowd from the beginning. I have yet to see any really comprehensive on the spot piece of journalism from the riot.
      One major point I have not seen commented on about is the fact that there is a “locked and loaded” population segment that is up for ‘action’ against the status quo. The second aspect of this population segment is that it is not, strictly speaking, the part of the “underclass” that is so prominently paraded about as the potential perpetrators of “anti-social” activities. Reading my history, I notice that the crowd that participated in the Capitol Riot was from precisely that demographic that traditionally peoples past successful revolutions: the petit bourgeois and small rentier classes. As this class becomes increasingly immiserated, expect more and larger examples like the January 6 riot.
      Stay safe.

      1. chris

        Yes. There really is a large part of the country that is ripe for an explosion. But for whatever reason, no one has found the right fuse to light yet?

        I’m astounded by how peaceful things have been. No riots, despite multiple instances of police violence. No demonstrations despite increasing rates of homelessness and many people not yet back to work. No marches despite increasing threats of evicting millions of people. And multiple failures of critical infrastructure showing how incompetent our leaders are??? We’re all of us just sitting here and taking it in.

        Perhaps when the evictions really start rolling we’ll see some changes? Otherwise, I’m starting to believe that most of what happened to rile the US over the last 2 years was entirely due to forces trying to oust Trump.

        1. lanikai

          But would we even know if those things were happening…read about the march in London anywhere?

      2. marym

        The rioters may – like many demographic groups in many ways – be immiserated, but in this case the only misery from which they sought relief was that of having lost an election.

    2. The Rev Kev

      ‘Man, you don’t know what it was like. You don’t know what it was like! Everywhere you looked there were men with beer-bellies taking selfies.They had me in some of their selfies as well. It was horrible. Once I turned around and I had a Confederate flag in my face – the horror. The disrespect of sacred spaces…these people had no respect for my democracy at all. I still wake up yelling: ‘The horns! The horns!’ It’s OK for people like Aaron Maté, Venessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett to say that they went to places like war-torn Syria but I’ve been to DC! The humanity. It’s a reversal of the natural order I tell you. It is the people that are supposed to be scared and suffering – not the politicians and us their servants. Thank god we have the CIA and FBI that can go punish them now.’

    3. chris

      In my experience, sneering at other people’s pain is what most of the glitteratti and PMC and reporters in DC do.

      They sneered at the reasons people wanted Bernie. They sneered at the people affected by the opioid crisis. They sneered at the people whose “jobs were never coming back.” They sneered at the people who wanted to hold bankers accountable for their many failures prior to and after 2008. They sneered at people who wanted some kind of control over where they lived instead of being told by outsiders and corporations what they’re allowed to do. They sneered at people who wanted to live with family in parts of America that aren’t shiny and new. They sneered at the families who lost children to our forever wars. They sneered when people wanted help during the shutdowns from the pandemic. They sneered at parents who were struggling because the schools were shut down. And they’re still sneering at the working people who don’t have control over the schedules or time off to get vaccainted!

      I’d have sympathy for these fools if they could give me and mine any sympathy. If all they’re saying is that they have endured trauma in the course of doing their jobs these past few years… then they can get to back of a very long line and wait for someone to care, just like the rest of us.

      1. rowlf

        Nice summary. These are the folks that said not to vote for Donald Trump, you can’t vote for Donald Trump, and a lot of common people replied: Is that where your goat is tied up at?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Is that where your goat is tied up at?

          I love this saying, but I’m not sure I understand it. Is the concept that if I know where your goat is, I can “get” it?

          1. PlutoniumKun

            From what I can vaguely remember, its connected with the tradition in horse racing circles of keeping a goat with horses that are easily disturbed. For some reasons, the presence of a goat can calm a horse. So it means hiding your negative emotions. Or something like that.

          2. Anon

            I think the expression comes from not letting people “get your goat” (meaning irritate you by knowing what upsets you). So if people don’t know where “your goat” is, so to speak, they can’t upset you.

            1. rowlf

              Winner. Working around mechanics from around the country who had horses or had been around horses made this an easy phrase, as usually when mechanics get bored they harass each other to see if they can get a rise. (Mechanics were like a pack of dogs. Now they are technicians and are expected to follow HR guidelines.)

              Where I live it is common to see goats or miniature horses with horses in fields.

      2. Dandelion

        Well, and also, in contrast with these suffering PMC journalists, Greenwald is in Brazil under constant threat; his husband was detained by MI6 at Heathrow; his work is central to freeing Lula from imprisonment; and he, his husband, and his children were victims of home invasion during which they were tied up and threatened with death, held for ransom.

        So it’s not like he doesn’t know the risks and costs of actual journalism or political threat, but he doesn’t ever speak of any trauma of his own.

        I’m old enough to remember when journalists were supposed to COVER the story, not MAKE THEMSELVES the story.

        1. Late Introvert

          I love an epic takedown of dcblogger, and she (?) never bothers to respond, just like the PMC she advocates for.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      I think the vehemence and prolonged character of their suffering is part of the problem. Which, I might add, is mostly about symbols, and not material. As it would be.

  18. lovevt

    Sirota’s post an interesting read. I’ve known about the fraud in Ohio and have a 2016 article about Ohio taking a reckless gamble with pension funds. ” …Ohio paying 40 times more than they would need to pay for an S&P 500 index fund that has delivered three times the return of hedge funds since 2008.
    In 2015 Ohio’s five public pensions paid outside fund managers a staggering $734.8 million. These management fees are extraordinarily high because Ohio relies on secretive alternative investments more than any state in America..
    The results are embarrassing. In 2015 the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, the state’s largest pension fund, spent $428.2 million in external management fees for investment results that fell 99.8 percent from 2014, a year when PERS also failed to match what a low-cost index fund would have returned.”

  19. Rainlover

    That Sovereign Deed story is quite the tale. It reminded me of Cory Doctorow’s story in his 2019 book Radicalized titled appropriately The Masque of Red Death in which a similar experiment goes terribly wrong when put into action.

  20. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Amazingly, CalPERS not mentioned!

    Actually there was this –

    In California, one pension fund alone has shelled out more than $3.4 billion on fees to these firms.

    – and the hyperlink url: https://www.wsj.com/articles/calpers-discloses-performance-fees-paid-to-private-equity-managers-1448386229

    The WSJ article is from 2015 and behind a paywall so I can’t see their conclusion, but in the first few graphs they seem to be leaning towards the excessive fees being justified. Quelle surprise –

    The California Public Employees’ Retirement System, known as Calpers, disclosed the performance-related expenses for the first time Tuesday. Calpers said those performance fees were based on profits of $24.2 billion earned in hundreds of private-equity funds over the past 17 years.

    “We have been rewarded for the risk we took in the [private-equity] program, and the costs we incurred,” said Ted Eliopoulos, Calpers’ investment chief, in a conference call with reporters.

    NC doesn’t let Eliopoulos off so lightly: https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/08/calpers-cio-ted-eliopoulos-handing-off-most-of-his-job-duties-so-why-isnt-he-taking-a-500000-pay-cut.html

  21. The Rev Kev

    “Nikole Hannah-Jones rejects UNC tenure offer to take position at Howard University, backed by millions in foundation funding”

    I think that the students at UNC have just dodged a very large bullet. Hannah-Jones declaring that she would not accept the post without being granted tenure really sounds like a case of PMC entitlement here. Maybe she would have settled for a mansion if offered. But now Nikole Hannah-Jones is going to be at Howard University. Can you imagine what it will be like in one of her classes? Everything that you say and do will be under intense scrutiny to see if you pass a series of ever-evolving purity tests. It will be like living through China’s Cultural revolution and you would have to justify yourself daily. Tough luck if you were born the wrong colour as I suspect that for Hannah-Jones, all people are not created equal. I wonder how long it will be before Hannah-Jones demands that Howard University change its name as General Oliver Otis Howard was, after all, part of the white patriarchy. I would not be surprised if that ever happened. And I am imagining what sort of journalists that she wants to train. For them it will be all about the narrative and any idea of reporting the news will not be a consideration at all. So naturally they will be able to get jobs at the New York Times and the Washington Post. We have not heard the last of Nikole Hannah-Jones.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I think that the students at UNC have just dodged a very large bullet.

      I think UNC dodged a bullet. Hannah-Jones was obviously a walking lawsuit.

      > We have not heard the last of Nikole Hannah-Jones

      “Voices,” as Reed says. (Everybody who has not read those links should do so.) It will be interesting to see if Hannah-Jones and Coates have anything to say about, for example, the destruction of a generation of Black wealth from Obama’s foreclosure policies. And so forth.

    1. Pat

      Sadly those who believe in public education had little to be excited about among the numerous candidates in the primary.

      Even sadder, this is just one of the numerous areas Adams is scarily wrong on both policy and facts.

      NYC is deeply screwed.

      1. Brunches with Cats

        Maybe it’s better to go in with low expectations than being all excited and hopeful that the “progressive” won, only to end up feeling deeply screwed? If nothing else, how he interacts with da guv should be entertaining. From the bit I read yesterday, he already has thrown down the gauntlet.

  22. enoughisenough

    Lambert, thank you so much for that Hill link on the closure of Howard’s Classics dept. It’s very good.
    I really fear this is going to be the way of anything even referred to as “higher ed”, it’s all very depressing. Some things should not be reduced to utilitarianism, but we are nothing if not reductive these days, guided by neoliberalism to our own detriment and destruction.

    “The second misconception relates to the instrumentalization of education. As a Black academic, Lovinggood was deeply opposed to those who would deny Black students a classical education in favor of what he termed “industrial education.” He highlighted the obvious prejudice of a two-tier system in which Black people could only aspire to functional, pragmatic forms of learning, while liberal education was reserved exclusively for white people. Even today the distinction between professional and liberal education is often framed as a matter of practicality, with liberal arts degrees seen as an unaffordable luxury. In fact, research shows that liberal education provides skills valued by employers and leads to well-remunerated careers.”

  23. VietnamVet

    You could be fooled in suburbia, that the West’s collapse is nonsense, except the three day July 4th weekend fireworks continues here through the 7th. It has to be a noisy way to say “We are still here, notice us”. A lot of the ongoing Derangement Syndromes are based on the belief that there are people with power to blame. But, if all the West is now is just a huge grift to swindle money, no one has agency.

    The withdrawal from Afghanistan is traumatic. More so, if the Imperialists trigger Watergate II. But, a fourth coronavirus variant spike and flooding of hospitals again, will make clear that there is no government. No public health system, no regulations, non-stop propaganda, food banks, evictions, shortages, catastrophic weather events, collapsing infrastructure, and a plague across the land; all ultimately mean chaos.

  24. fumo

    Columbines randomly hybridize as they self-sow. You never really know what the flowers of the new plants will look like until they open. Like many ornamentals that self-sow, they do tend towards atavistic reversion to the specie. It’s like opening Christmas presents in early summer.

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