2:00PM Water Cooler 7/9/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Common Cuckoos, from the Jarvis Cocker lyric. And the lovely sounds of a summer afternoon. ‘Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.’ –Henry James

“What’s That Bird Song? Merlin Bird ID Can Tell You” [The Cornell Lab (GF)]. “It’s an almost universal feeling: the thrill of hearing a mysterious new bird song. And it’s usually followed up by the question: What was that bird? Today, the question got much easier: the Cornell Lab’s Merlin Bird ID app can now identify bird sounds. At the time of the initial launch, Merlin can recognize the sounds of 400+ species from the U.S. and Canada, with that number set to expand rapidly in future updates. Automatic song ID has been a dream for decades, but analyzing sound has always been extremely difficult. The breakthrough came when researchers, including Merlin lead researcher Grant Van Horn, began treating the sounds as images and applying new and powerful image classification algorithms like the ones that power Merlin’s Photo ID feature. ‘Each sound recording a user makes gets converted from a waveform to a spectrogram—a way to visualize the amplitude [volume], frequency [pitch], and duration of the sound,’ Van Horn says. ‘So just like Merlin can identify a picture of a bird, it can now use this picture of a bird’s sound to make an ID,’ Van Horn says.”

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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:

Oof. And the curves aren’t down because there’s nobody left to vaccinate, either.

“Live free and die: Inside the bizarre political philosophy of America’s unvaccinated” [Will Bunch, Philadelphia Inquirer]. “Instead of political propaganda and promoting a way of life that rejects modern science, just imagine an America in which Fox News aired the testimonial of a Springfield, Mo., COVID-19 patient, 42-year-old Russell Taylor. ‘I was one of those Americans who was like, skeptical, not knowing who to trust,’ he said in a video for Cox Health. ‘So I just kind of pulled back, that if God allows this, then it must be.” In June, he was rushed to the hospital by ambulance and placed on a ventilator, with double pneumonia. He was still hospitalized after three weeks. “Somewhere in July,” he now said, “I think it would be wise to get the whole family vaccinated, because my stance on that is … God made medicine, too.'” • Good messaging. But why should FOX News be the only source for it?

“They didn’t want to get Covid-19 shots. This is what convinced them.” [NBC]. “In interviews with NBC News, individuals who were initially reluctant to get their vaccinations said nudging from family members, fears about emerging variants and having the ability to shrug off rumors about the shot were among the reasons they finally decided to roll up their sleeves, months after the shot became available. Erin, 47, a cook and part-time translator in Sheffield, Alabama, who asked to be identified by her first name only for fear of job reprisal, decided this past week to get vaccinated. She had been too nervous that side effects would cause her to miss work at her restaurant, which she was certain would result in her boss giving her fewer shifts in the future. That would put a financial strain on the mother of three, who is on food stamps and gets no paid sick leave. Once she read about the highly transmissible new delta variant — which Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases doctor, has declared the ‘greatest threat’ to eliminating the coronavirus — she decided to get vaccinated. She urged others in her financial [class] position to do the same. ‘Suck it up.’ ‘Suck it up,” she said. ‘You’re going to lose your money for the short term, but you’ll have your life and your family will have you.‘” • More good messaging. Funny thing, bribing Erin with lottery tickets didn’t work.

Cheerful and jaunty:

Case count by United States regions:

Oof. Now a definite upward trend. The slope is nothing like it was 476 days ago, but upward it is. We should know the impact of travel and all the family gatherings round the BBQ shortly. And of course summer camp, Bible School, etc.

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.

CO: “Delta Variant Surges in Colorado as the Bands Play On” [Kaiser Health News]. “A few yards away from LaCount and her son on the playground, a man fished in a still pond with his 10-month-old daughter in a backpack. Garrett Whiting, who works in construction, said he believes covid is still being ‘blown out of proportion’ especially by the news media. ‘They got everybody scared really, really fast,’ said Whiting, slowly reeling in a sparkly blue lure from the water. “There’s no reason to stop living your life just because you’re scared of something.’ Whiting tested positive for covid about three months earlier. He said he doesn’t plan to get vaccinated, nor does his wife. As for the baby on his back, he said he’s not sure whether they’ll have her vaccinated when regulators approve the shot for young children.” • This “living your life” phrase — I can’t imagine myself using it, and I don’t even know what it means. Yet apparently it is deeply meaningful to some; one hears it over and over.

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):

Florida, capital of Latin America, pulling away from Texas, good job. (Clearly, there are more factors involved than air conditioning; the entire South is air conditioned, but only Texas and Florida are pulling away.)

Covid cases top ten for the last four weeks (hat tip, alert reader Lou Anton):

California catches up with Texas, hoo boy.

Test positivity:

South bounces back.

Hospitalization (CDC):

No bad news yet.

Deaths (Our World in Data):

No bad news yet.

Covid cases worldwide:

Every region is trending up.

* * *


“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

“FACT SHEET: Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy” [The White House]. “Barriers to competition are also driving down wages for workers. When there are only a few employers in town, workers have less opportunity to bargain for a higher wage and to demand dignity and respect in the workplace. In fact, research shows that industry consolidation is decreasing advertised wages by as much as 17%. Tens of millions of Americans—including those working in construction and retail—are required to sign non-compete agreements as a condition of getting a job, which makes it harder for them to switch to better-paying options. In total, higher prices and lower wages caused by lack of competition are now estimated to cost the median American household $5,000 per year.” • I’m surprised it’s that little, given what health care has become. With this order, Biden proves — if proof were needed — that he’s a better President than Obama ever was. Nevertheless. given that this is an Executive Order, with nothing embodied in legislation, it’s likely that Obama was and is closer to the center of gravity of his Party than Biden is; it’s likely that Biden couldn’t get his caucus behind him on this, leaving open the question of how rapidly all this will become unravelled with a new administration (or gamed in the agencies). It’s also nice to be talking political economy again, instead of all that “successor ideology” bushwa (see below). Also, Stoller must be in his glory (a good thing).

UPDATE “Biden to sign sweeping order aimed at curbing power of big companies” [Financial Times]. “The White House on Friday unveiled 72 measures in Biden’s order, which include a ban on non-compete clauses for workers and span industries from technology and transportation to healthcare and banking. The US president also called for stronger enforcement of existing US antitrust laws, which could trigger greater scrutiny of mergers and acquisitions activity…. The order also encourages [??] the Federal Communications Commission to restore so-called “net neutrality” rules to stop broadband companies from favouring certain types of internet traffic over others, which the agency repealed during the Trump administration…. It is unclear, however, how much of Biden’s plan will actually be implemented in the manner the White House hopes. Many of the provisions are encouraged but not mandated, and would be more powerful if enacted into law.” • It will be interesting to see if the Administration puts Kamala Harris on this. If they don’t, that will mean they are serious.

UPDATE “Biden launches assault on monopolies” [Politico]. “The executive order builds off one that former President Barack Obama issued in 2016, which encouraged agencies to consider competition in their decisions and rulemakings. That order — largely the work of Jason Furman, chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers — came near the end of Obama’s presidency. Few agencies followed through on the White House’s prodding, and those that did saw their actions largely overturned by former President Donald Trump’s appointees. Biden’s order goes a step beyond Obama’s by offering pointed suggestions for steps to take, rather than leaving implementation entirely to the agencies.” • Well, I suppose a “pointed suggestion” is better than a “sternly worded letter.”

UPDATE “Biden’s latest executive order empowers workers in 3 key ways” [Yahoo Finance]. “The president’s order asks the Federal Trade Commission to limit or ban noncompete agreements, address unnecessary occupational license requirements, and revise guidance for sharing wage information between HR professionals…. Limiting noncompete agreements or making them unenforceable — as Biden’s order sets out to do — may not be enough, according to [Heidi Shierholz, senior economist and director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute]. Banning them instead would give workers more leverage, she said. For instance, noncompete agreements are unenforceable in California, but some research has found that they still suppress wages because workers often don’t know they can’t be sued by their employers, according to a 2020 paper by the Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization…. “As a package, [it’s] clearly a coordinated effort to try and shift the labor market functions to give more power to workers,” [Alexander Colvin, a labor relations law professor at Cornell University.] said. ‘It’s clearly a pro-wage growth agenda that the administration is trying to push here.'”

UPDATE “Joe Biden To Sign Executive Order Calling For Greater Scrutiny Of Mergers, Restoration Of Net Neutrality And Restrictions On Non-Compete Agreements” [Deadline]. “More immediate may be action at the agency level, as Biden signals a desire to step up antitrust enforcement. Biden has in place a champion for rigorous antitrust enforcement on the FTC — Lina Khan, confirmed last month as a commissioner and quickly appointed as chair — but he has yet to nominate someone to lead the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. Biden’s EO will not only call on the agencies to enforce antitrust laws more vigorously, but remind them that the law allows them to challenge past mergers. The White House will establish a Competition Council to monitor the progress on the administration’s proposal.”

Republican Funhouse

This is such a good thread I’m going to quote several tweets from it. Read the whole thing. (There are details wrong, but in the main, especially on RussiaGate, the details are right, to be best of my recollection.)


Correct so far. And:

Skipping ahead:

Nut graf:

As with public health, an absolutely catastrophic loss of trust. (Here is the Time magazine article mentioned several times. If you’re not reading it through the glasses of a triumphalist liberal Democrat, it’s pretty sinister: “The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election.”) Of course, I don’t want to idealize “Boomer-tier Trump supporters” voters; after all, I don’t idealize liberal Democrats much. But the sense of disorientation rings true. (Perhaps it’s similar to the disorientation liberal Democrats felt when Trump won, when they too went absolutely cray cray; and RussiaGate, involving as it did the national security state, ratcheting up tension with a nuclear power, and a new McCarthyism, was and is far more dangerous than Q-Anon.)

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Is “Critical Race Theory” the Wrong Term?” (interview) [Wesley Yang, TK News]. Taibbi introduces: “Two years ago, writer Wesley Yang penned a series of tweets about the ‘new language of power throughout the non-profit sphere,’ giving it a name: the ‘Successor Ideology.’ The author of The Souls of Yellow Folk created an umbrella term to explain everything from whatever the hideous moniker ‘cancel culture’ means to purges of classics and STEM disciplines in universities, to the new move toward segregated “affinity spaces,” to ‘intent doesn’t matter,’ to the spread of workforce training sessions that ask white employees in both the public and private sectors to focus on things like ‘undoing your own whiteness,’ to a dozen other things’…. The movement Yang describes is strategically brilliant and substantively moronic, a perfect intellectual killing machine. The Successor Ideology has blown through institutional America with great speed, coming to dominate everything from academia to the news media to Silicon Valley almost overnight.” Now Yang: “[W]e have an authoritarian utopianism that’s emerging on the left, and we need a name for it. There’s a range of different words people use to describe different parts of the elephant. Identitarianism; social justice politics; cancel culture; wokeness; postmodern neo-Marxism, which is the Jordan Peterson version of it; cultural Marxism…. Today, we have a professional activist class that sees itself similarly [to the Abolitionists]. So when I say the successor ideology, I see it as a vocational group that has an entrepreneurial project to advance a certain vision of the world as a matrix of oppression. They define themselves and what they fight against as this construct, this hyperobject. A hyperobject is like climate change: so large and pervasive that it structures everything else. So the hyperobject that we speak of here is this thing called white cisheteronormative patriarchy, the idea that there’s a unitary structure of domination that pervades our world, and that’s woven into every aspect of it… Well, what happened? Schools produced graduates, and those graduates went into social work, and eventually they went into journalism, they went into law, they went into all sorts of professions. They have a class, the class that has an interest as a class in an entrepreneurial project in making themselves necessary and producing a demand for their services…. We institutionalized a class of people whose job is to identify great moral emergencies that other people don’t recognize, and then expand their moral horizons to begin to see these things as things that have to be eradicated. So you have a people whose raisons d’être depend upon there being a demand for their resources. It’s a bureaucratic professional endeavor…. All of these things, they’re in the process of being introduced at scale, and we don’t know what the ultimate outcome of that is going to be. We know what they’re trying to do. They’re trying to produce a world where they’re on top. It’s amazing how far they’ve gone, because if you’ve been paying attention to them for the last 20 years, you mostly just saw them as this buzzing irritants, and you still have all these people insisting that that’s all they are, when, clearly, they have burst the bonds of anything that any serious person would have thought was possible already in their ability to change core policies, like giving vaccines by race. We’re not talking about it, and we’re not criticizing it, and the only people who criticize it are people who then end up vindicating the argument. It’s a paradox.” • The sweet smell of succession:

Lambert here: See Adolph Reed here for some of the contradictions implicit in the above view. I’m not sure I like the “Successor Ideology” much as a name; it doesn’t seem to capture either the virulence or the class basis that Yang describes. (Although it does remind me of “secondary succession,” which, at least in its early phases, is the scrub you get after an old-growth forest burns down.) Do note in the catalog of opportunities for, well, succession (I was about to say “grievance”), there’s nothing about wage work whatever; that’s taken as immutable, a given; “white cisheteronormative patriarchy” doesn’t recognize it as a category. Perhaps if you can’t make bank — or be used to make bank — in servicing human resources departments, you don’t count. Hence, “trying to produce a world where they’re on top,” is delusional: Capitalists control the world, not these “bureaucratic professionals.” And you can see why capitalists would be totally fine with these “successors”: What capitalists care about, exploitation and amassing wealth, is left untouched. Another way of looking at this is that liberal Democrats, as the party of the PMC, are trying to control the country from far too narrow a political base, as usual. (Although I like Yang’s analysis, I will continue to insist the “successor ideologues” are liberals, not the left as he would have it: Only the left puts the working class first. In ten years, all these identity goons will have freezers full of ice cream just like Nancy Pelosi’s (though possibly with more diverse flavors and colors).

No quid pro quo, but corrupt to the bone:

Stats Watch

UPDATE Wholesale Sales: “May 2021 Headline Wholesale Sales Improved and Inventories Grow” [Econintersect]. “The headlines say wholesale sales were up month-over-month with inventory levels growing. Our analysis shows improvement in the rate of growth for the rolling averages… Our view is that this data set is better than last month. The high rate of growth this month is due to comparisons to the lockdown period one year ago. Still, the numbers are considered strong.”

* * *

Trade: “TC Energy commences NAFTA claim following revocation of Keystone XL Presidential Permit” [TC Energy (Ranger Rick)]. “TC Energy Corporation (TSX, NYSE: TRP) (TC Energy or the Company) announced today it has filed a Notice of Intent to initiate a legacy North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) claim under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement to recover economic damages resulting from the revocation of the Keystone XL Project’s Presidential Permit. TC Energy will be seeking to recover more than US$15 billion in damages that it has suffered as a result of the U.S. Government’s breach of its NAFTA obligations. The Notice of Intent was filed with the U.S. Department of State, Office of the Legal Adviser.” • ISDS strikes again.

Real Estate: “Real estate investors try to exploit South LA firework explosion and buy damaged homes, says official” [KCRW (DCBlogger)]. “When a stockpile of illegal fireworks was destroyed in a South LA neighborhood, it was meant to be a contained detonation. But after the blast, triggered by the LAPD bomb squad, windows were shattered for blocks, cars were overturned, 17 people were injured, and numerous residents were displaced. Now allowed back in the neighborhood to assess the damage to their homes, questions are being raised about why authorities allowed the detonation in the middle of a residential street in the first place… If the explosion and the subsequent threat of the wrecking ball weren’t challenging enough, [Martha] Sanchez says the blast has put the neighborhood squarely in the sights of real estate speculators. ‘There [are] tons of speculators coming already, trying to buy our properties,’ she says. ‘We receive at least three or four calls every day asking us to sell our properties. If they condemn those properties, they’re going to displace more poor people that have no idea how to pay their rent. That’s unbelievable.'” • Sounds like Ankh-Morpork.

Shipping: “Container Shipping’s Record Year is One for the History Books” [Hellenic Shipping News]. “The container ship segment has had an astonishing year thus far. In its latest weekly report, shipbroker Allied commented that ‘the remarkable exuberance that seems to have emerged within consumer behavior globally since late 2020 has stretched supply lines to their absolute limits. At the same time, during the later half of 2020 and first half of 2021 we were still amidst major production disruptions, especially in most of the major developed economies, causing most supply chains to outstretch far beyond their consumer base. Pushing things further has also been the fact that we saw a fair amount of pent-up demand for consumer products fairly quickly as looser monetary policy started to become the ‘order of the day’ for most major economies…. During the end of 1Q21 we were already seeing a more than 40% gain in average asset prices across all size segments and age groups, while by the end of 2Q21 this had skyrocketed to 140% and these are only the average figures, with the gains in some cases being as high as three times as much. There is a sense that there is almost a ‘gold rush’ under way now, as this sector has now outperformed all other shipping sectors included some very good performers such as dry bulkers.”

The Bezzle: “All the Ways You Can Get Defrauded” [Barry Ritholtz, The Big Picture]. “If you think you know all of the scams out there just waiting to defraud you, think again. There were 4.8 million reports in 2020, a 43% increase from 2019. And forged government benefits applications, including unemployment insurance, were up 30-fold year over year.” • With handy chart.

The Bezzle: “EU fines Volkswagen, BMW $1 bln for emissions cartel” [Reuters]. “The European Commission fined German carmakers Volkswagen and BMW a total of 875 million euros ($1 billion) on Thursday for colluding to curb the use of emissions cleaning technology they had developed.”

The Bezzle: “More states agree to settlement plan with opioid maker Purdue Pharma” [Los Angeles Times] • Yes, but have the Sacklers been stripped of all their assets and then jailed?\

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 35 Fear (previous close: 32 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 45 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 9 at 12:51pm.

The Biosphere

“The Smoke Comes Every Year. Sugar Companies Say the Air Is Safe” [ProPublica]. “Nearly every day during the winter and spring, sugar companies set fire to dozens of cane fields across western Palm Beach County. These burns are a harvesting method that rids the plant of its outer leaves but releases harmful smoke. Locals call the resulting ash that blankets their community ‘black snow.’… Each burn lasted less than an hour, but an average of 25 fields were burned every day in the four months analyzed by The Palm Beach Post and ProPublica. The practice disproportionately affects residents in Pahokee, Belle Glade and South Bay, where about a third of the population lives in poverty. The smoke rarely reaches wealthier, whiter cities like West Palm Beach.”

The 420

“More than $1 billion in pot seized in Los Angeles-area bust” [NBC]. “Los Angeles-area authorities seized more than 370,000 marijuana plants and harvested product with an estimated street value of $1 billion, officials said Wednesday. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said 131 people were arrested and 33 guns were taken in the 10-day operation in Antelope Valley, north of Los Angeles. In addition to the marijuana plants, more than 33,480 pounds of harvested marijuana, or more than 16 tons, were also seized, it said. As big as the effort involving hundreds of law enforcement officers was, authorities reached only about 40 percent of the illegal grows officials identified, which highlights the scope of the problem that officials said was linked to organized drug trafficking groups.” • Behind the cactus curtain…

“Cannabis reform? It’s the right time for full federal legalization to help economy and people” [USA Today]. “‘I’m a big fighter for racial justice, and the marijuana laws have been one of the biggest examples of racial injustice, and so to change them makes sense,’ said Schumer. ‘And that fits in with all of the movement now to bring equality in the policing, in economics and in everything else. Our bill is, in a certain sense, at the nexus of racial justice, individual freedom, and states’ rights.'”


“A gunmaker was ordered to hand over documents to Sandy Hook families. The materials included thousands of ‘random cartoons'” [Connecticut Post]. “In the volume of pretrial data turned over by bankrupted Remington to nine Sandy Hook families suing for wrongful marketing, lawyers said they found 18,000 random cartoons and 15,000 irrelevant pictures of people go-karting and dirt-biking. ‘Having repeatedly represented to the (families) and this court that it was devoting extensive resources to making what it described as ‘substantial’ document productions … Remington has instead made the plaintiffs wait years to receive cartoon images, gender reveal videos, and duplicate copies of catalogues,’ reads a complaint filed by the families’ lawyers in state Superior Court last week. ‘There is no possible reasonable explanation for this conduct.'”

Class Warfare

“Opinion: The Vanishing Union Label” [Strikewave]. “We should push the union label—but do it in entirely different terms. We can’t wholly reverse the reality of a changing economy, global supply chains, and increasingly offshored manufacturing, and we can’t continue the soft nativism of ‘buy American,’ whether implied or explicit. But the union label can contain much more than that. It could serve as a mark of and political demand for worker dignity and power, disconnected from nativism and the notion of labor-management partnership. It could be internationalist, explicitly acknowledging the importance of independent trade unions and worker organizations overseas. It could be synonymous with hard scrutiny of service and manufacturing businesses and their labor practices. It could be a source of corporate fear, with rich executives fearing—as they fear Scabby—of being tarred as anti-labor. And it could be a call to organize: if it isn’t union, we’ll make it union. ‘Looking for the union label’ should carry an implicit threat: Lord help the boss if we don’t find it. Failing to pass muster should entail threat of boycott, pressure, organizing, and unrelenting scrutiny for employers who abuse and exploit their workers…. Consumer oriented campaigns still have limited strategic potential, and we need far more than carefully crafted advertising gimmicks put together by consultants. A catchy jingle didn’t stop ILGWU jobs from being moved overseas by the bosses. But consumption—like everything—is political, and we shouldn’t miss an opportunity to push worker politics into the political consciousness.”

“Tucker Carlson’s Populism Is for the Small-Time Rich” [Eric Levitz, New York Magazine]. “The Trump presidency yielded real change in the class composition of the Republican electorate; red America has grown more blue collar. But as of yet, there is little evidence that Trump has effected any major change in the GOP’s class allegiances. And this is not merely because the ‘Tucker Carlson wing’ of the party has yet to oust the old Establishment. It’s also because that populist wing is itself hostile to the working class. Carlson and Vance aren’t doctrinaire free marketeers. And this makes them ideologically distinct from their Reaganite forebears (not to mention their own previous personae). Nevertheless, their brand of populism doesn’t serve the little guy so much as the small-time rich — a contingent that extends all the way from the highest ranks of the labor aristocracy (six-figure-earning skilled tradesmen with paid-off mortgages) to the lower tier of the plutocracy (provincial multimillionaires whose cultural mores alienate them from the cosmopolitan Über-elite). It is a politics of cultural animus of, by, and for reactionaries in the top 20 percent of wealth distribution (but primarily for those in the top one percent). Thus, in its class loyalties, the ‘Tucker Carlson right’ is largely indistinct from the pre-Trump GOP. ” • American gentry.

News of the Wired

“Self-publishing” [Cory Doctorow]. “Put simply, you need to figure out why anyone, anywhere should give a shit that you wrote a book. This is a very hard problem. Indeed, it’s the hard problem of religion, advertising and politics: getting someone else to care about something you want them to care about…. Here’s where publishers have an advantage: they have a longitudinal view of how books and audiences find one another. They publish lots of books. They try variations on their marketing, sales and publicity with each book, see which tactics show the most promise, and refine them. They can iterate. That’s the single largest disadvantage faced by self-publishers. You go into your marketing and publicity plan without any precedents to have learned hard lessons from. You are a data-set of one.” • Readers, have any of you self-published? Successfully? Profitably?

“My Old Friend Natty Light” [The Bitter Southerner]. Lovely and atmospheric. Grabbing a paragraph that will stand alone; “I drank that first beer quickly, and had another, then another. It is possible to get drunk on Natural Light, but thanks to the low ABV, it’s harder to do than with most beers; your evening can be long and relatively put together if you stick with Natty. It’s perfect for talking long and late into the night, which is what I did that first night after work that summer and most after at that pub’s lacquered bar, sitting under neon signs with a mix of waitresses, bartenders, chefs, and Hispanic line cooks, shooting the service-life shit. People tend to leave their manners at home when they go on vacation, and beach-town service folk spend our nights gabbing about the hellish demands that come from middle-American families enjoying their one week off a summer. Every night, we looked forward to that first beer. We were bone-tired, hadn’t sat down in hours, and when that first brush of bubbles hit our lips we could suddenly, finally, relax.” • Summer evening, summer evening…

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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 (KD):

KD writes: “I would love to contribute, please advise! Attached is a Tulip Tree – Liriodendron tulipifera blossom to get things started.”

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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. enoughisenough

    re. workers reluctant to get shots because they will miss work:

    Seems to me that if the government wants to be serious about getting people vaccinated, they will create an easy program that will allow workers to claim missing work for the amount of time they get sick from the shot, and reimburse them.

    1. Arizona Slim

      And take care of the people who suffer vaccine side effects. I know one local guy who was sick for three weeks.

      1. enoughisenough

        Yes, why can’t we take care of them and allow them to be vaccinated with protections, since this govmt has arbitrarily decided that vaccinations are the only thing we will do at all,

        then……..they don’t even take that silver bullet measure seriously enough to make it happen?

        I suppose any protective measure would mean contract tracing, but shouldn’t they be doing that anyway? The total abdication of duty of it all…. it’s mind-boggling.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          If the secret long range goal is really to stealth-reduce population by increasing the number and reach of lifespan/healthspan reducing diseases and conditions, then the way the government is handling the coronavid response would advance that secret long range goal.
          And that could explain the reason for the government’s actions and strategies.

    2. rowlf

      The FAA in the US restricts pilots from flying for two days after being vaccinated.

    3. QuicksilverMessenger

      This was issued by OSHA re the changes in the Emergency Paid Sick Leave back in March: “You may take up to 80 hours (10 work days) to get vaccinated and to recover from any related side effects at 100% of regular pay, up to $511 per day”

  2. Anon

    Re: Twitter Thread

    I’ve seen it pop up in about a few different places with a lot of quote tweets. Maybe it’s formatting, but you’re quoting the 3rd tweet in the thread three times.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > you’re quoting the 3rd tweet in the thread three times.

      Thanks, fixed. There’s something about that dang Twitter Copy button that flummoxes me. I think my touch is too light.

  3. Carolinian

    Today, we have a professional activist class that sees itself similarly [to the Abolitionists]

    Abolitionist re-enactors?

    Morality is important, but some of us have a simpler view–that we humans are a lot more alike than we are different and should waste less energy “judging,” particularly when it serves more as a power play than any real attempt to change behavior.

    Btw Taibbi says Yang is about to start a Substack (there’s a page but no posts so far).

    1. hunkerdown

      I wonder if he’d considered the Temperance movement as a nearer equivalent, due to the clear distancing between themselves and the unwashed. “Lips that touch liquor aren’t vaxxed won’t touch mine!”

      1. flora

        I thought about the Temperance movement also. One big thing that differentiates the early Abolition of Slavery and the Temperance movements from this new “Successor” movement: nobody got rich or tried to get rich by joining those earlier movements. No one made bank on it. Unlike this modern academic social studies creation of… whatever it is. My 2 cents.

        an aside: The Temperance movement was driven in large part by the absolute poverty women and children were left in if the husband/father drank away all his wages on a Friday or Saturday night (married women could not own property and mostly could not get a decent paying job.) Or the women and children would get beaten by a drunk angry husband/father. (no recourse for wives and children. suffer in silence.)

        So… it wasn’t about stopping the fun of having a drink with the buddies so much as about ending the misery of so many silenced wives and children, mostly working class wives and children.

        1. Another Scott

          I wrote my senior thesis about the Temperance movement, and one of the key things that I learned was how much they viewed temperance as increasing freedom rather than restricting it. The drunk was viewed as not free as his actions were driven by demon rum, and his actions further hurt the freedom as his family. By eliminating the consumption of alcohol, the overall freedom of society would increase. This was the same logic that they used to support abolitionism.

          1. hunkerdown

            Then again, (ingenerosity warning) their culture fetishized domination of humankind by their imaginary frenemy, so their idea of “freedom” being dependent on yoking someone else is a normal one for bourgeois political movements. No sympathy for people who seek to usurp power from their equals rather than destroy their superiors.

        2. Nikkikat

          Flora, thanks for your post here. As you state alcoholics abounded. Leaving women and children without any money or ability for women to feed their children. Patent medicines were every where with very high alcohol content.
          Which also contributed to even women and children becoming addicted to alcohol.
          Businesses were unable to find workers because they were usually drunk by noon and would disappear from the job in the middle of the day. Alcohol was made to be socially unacceptable like cigarettes are today.

      2. begob

        Perhaps the evangelical movement in Britain throughout the 19thC – think William Gladstone. That encompasses abolition and temperance, poor laws and holding back the tide of suffrage, empire and missionary work, free markets and the undeserving poor, plus a losing struggle to adapt to the new science.

        Insights in The age of atonement: the influence of evangelicalism on social and economic thought, 1795-1865: https://archive.org/details/ageofatonementin0000hilt/page/n9/mode/1up

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Abolitionist re-enactors?

      I think here Yang might be being too kind. The Abolitionists set out to right one great wrong, and did so. We don’t see that in the Successor Ideology, and I would urge that’s because the structure of NGO funding prevents it (and the grant-making efforts of the academic sector).

    1. marym

      Maybe the Dems can hire some consultants to tell them what’s actually in the laws being passed before they decide how pretend to address them.

      The League of Women Voters of Kansas and other nonprofits are suspending voter registration drives for fear of criminal prosecution under a new state law.

      One of the provisions makes it a crime to engage in activity that “gives the appearance of being an election official.”

      Without clarity from the court, the organizations argue in court filings, there is a “serious risk” that someone will mistake people who are knowledgeable about voter registration as election officials.

      [Attoreys for the groups] said there is significant overlap between the work of advocates and election officials who both actively encourage Kansans to vote and help them understand the voting process.

      Plaintiffs can’t be sure they will never be perceived as election officials, they argue, and past experiences indicate this mistaken identity will happen no matter what they do to make it clear they are not election officials.


      1. flora

        The Kansas League of Women Voters is a serious, non-partisan, good government organization with an honorable history of encouraging civic participation and voter education without regard to party affiliation. They are asking for clarity on the issue. What exactly is “giving the appearance of an elected official” ? What legally recognized steps are necessary to avoid giving the appearance? This is vague enough to be a mine field, imo.

        The KS lege has some explaining to do.

        1. marym

          The Dems, sorry if it wasn’t clear. I agree with what you said about the League of Women Voters, and tried to include the essential point about the dangerous vagueness of the law.

          The Common Dreams link has the DNC saying they’ll address emerging voter suppression issues with gotv (which is doubtful anyway as far as the Dem establishment) but the scope of the laws being passed can’t be countered in that way, even with some additional gotv work. The Kansas law would impede those efforts directly. Other laws present other kinds of obstacles.

          1. flora

            Thanks for your reply. I agree. The estab Dem idea that better PR and a gotv program will fix the problem is a lame and limp response, imo. Sometimes I think the Dem estab wants to keep losing in the Midwestern rural states… for what reasons I can’t imagine… but if they *want* to lose in these states, if they want to make it harder for Dems to win in these states they’re doing a bang up job. sigh….

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              The DemParty establishment supports Free Trade. Most Midwestern people oppose Free Trade. The DemParty establishment has decided to lose the MidWest in order to be able to keep supporting Free Trade.

              That’s why the DemParty establishment seeks to prevent the MidWest from regaining any power within the DemParty demographic base. To prevent that threat to the DemParty’s support for Free Trade.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > The Kansas League of Women Voters is a serious, non-partisan, good government organization with an honorable history of encouraging civic participation and voter education without regard to party affiliation.

          I don’t want to trash the League of Women Voters (I’ve often said they should run the Presidential debates again) but is this really such a hard problem?

          Why not print up T-shirts that read “I AM NOT AN ELECTION OFFICIAL” in big letters, with “I am here to help you register to vote” in smaller? Then go out and register (having revised the script they presumably use accordingly).

          I think if the Republicans, bless their hearts, were faced with a similar situation, they’d take action (and set themselves up for winning in the courts) and not pause and ask for a judgment.

  4. Questa Nota

    With all those sternly worded pointy suggestions about monopolies, who are the Top Men, er, Top People, or their interns, doing the wording and suggesting? Have they been vetted? Was social distancing invoked?

    On a less serious note, what is the over/under on who will win the great space derby between Bezos and that other guy? Which one gets the consolation prize of having fewer people wanting said launchee to remain in orbit and stay off the planet, forever?

  5. Sutter Cane

    From “Live free and die: Inside the bizarre political philosophy of America’s unvaccinated” [Will Bunch, Philadelphia Inquirer]:

    experts who’ve studied vaccine skeptics say they frequently espouse a couple of worldviews. One is around the concept of purity, which means that many express concerns about putting a seemingly unnatural foreign substance — like the new COVID-19 vaccines — into their bodies.

    The sanctity of our precious bodily fluids!

    1. c_heale

      The current Covid vaccines are completely artificial so the skeptics do have a point.

      1. Count Zero

        Presumably anti-vaxxers eat and drink? Does that not involve putting unnatural foreign substances in their body? Not to mention other foreign substances…

        Two interesting adjectives there — “unnatural” and “foreign”.

    2. The Rev Kev

      US military veterans have, over the decades, had many dubious vaccines injected into their systems with threats made against them if they do not. I am going with the idea that when they eventually got out, most went back home and in this case it would be back to rural regions. From there, they would be giving their family, friends and neighbours chapter and verse about all the side effects that they had gotten from these vaccines, particularly the Gulf war veterans. Can you imagine the multi-decade effect of all this? This refusal to vaccinate may be the blowback from this.

        1. The Rev Kev

          No, but stories do not really die. Gulf War syndrome was actually a thing and a random 5 second search turned this paper up-


          Remember how support for Trump was strongest in those regions that had lost soldiers killed in action because he said that he was against sending troops to all these far flung regions? The stories of those soldier’s deaths actually had an effect on the 2016 election. The unwillingness to inject dodgy vaccines may be anther effect of stories being passed down.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Gulf War syndrome was actually a thing and a random 5 second search turned this paper up-

            That is a great, great link and argument (and after fifteen minutes of searching, I can’t find the post with the evidence for “Trump was strongest in those regions that had lost soldiers killed in action”).

      1. skippy

        Six at a time delivered between three stations with one in each arm at a time [double tap]. Distance between stations is calculated by body count allowing for rapid reaction events – before next inoculation occurs. Then an hour wait sitting down for any others that might fall off their chair … good times ;}

        1. John

          I have my army shot record, vintage 1959, someplace or other and I well remember getting shots in both arms at the same time. What shots did I get? Except for flu, I do not remember. As I recall there was no sit and wait for an hour, but right back to duty. There were many fewer vaccinations available back then.

          1. skippy

            This was in the late 70s and in a unit that was fast response with deployment globally in 24 hr or less, so basically we needed vax for the lot, not that something might have been slipped in …

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The sanctity of our precious bodily fluids!

      Well…. As so often, the winger loons derive directionally correct conclusions from bad premises and a simple-minded view of who their enemies are.

      I don’t know what one would call PFAS or endocrine disruptors other than substances that “sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids,” for example.

      For those of you who came in late, this is the (marvellous) clip:

  6. jo6pac

    Then with demodogs like this who needs repugs. Then again demodogs like this so they have some one blame other than themselves

    GOP lawmakers caught on video telling activists to thank Manchin and Sinema for not blowing up the filibuster: ‘Without that we would be dead meat’ (yahoo.com)

    I feel a nap coming on ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

    Sorry the link didn’t work

  7. Lambert Strether Post author

    If you can read this, you will see that I have added more material on Biden’s anti-trust executive order (plus corrected a butchered tweetstorm).

  8. ?‍♂️

    from Live Free & Die article: “many express concerns about putting a seemingly unnatural foreign substance — like the new COVID-19 vaccines — into their bodies.”

    seems like a pretty flimsy argument in a part of the country that loves its mt dew, Doritos and McDonalds

    1. fresno dan

      doritos, cheetos, fritos (at first, I spelled them doritoes, cheetoes, and fritoes – but than I remember Dan Quail and potatoes…)
      meat free haggis. hmmm….I didn’t think haggis was meat. but on the other hand, to say haggis isn’t meat is kinda like the sound of one hand clapping…
      And some of the imitation ice creams are an affront to the dairy industry – I’m surprised there aren’t cow riots.

    2. jsn

      In fairness, many are already suffering from the American Diabetes Diet, brought to you by exactly those foods you mention to which they’ve let themselves be habituated.

      At least they know how that will kill them.

      The mRNA thing, which I got, adds new worlds of unknowability to the “Risk Society” and the average schlub already bears more risk than they can. And knows it.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > In fairness, many are already suffering from the American Diabetes Diet, brought to you by exactly those foods you mention to which they’ve let themselves be habituated.

        Good thing “they” only consume products based on High Fructose Corn Syrup in one part of the country, eh?

        How on earth did we arrive at food-shaming from a reluctance to have substances that our regulatory bodies say are experimental into one’s body?

        It’s an argument that I don’t agree with, but how about we treat the “vaccine hesitant” as having agency, instead of inverting the Twinkie Defense and applying it to them?

        1. jsn

          I should have written, “to which Madison Avenue habituated them in an earlier betrayal of trust.”

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > ?‍♂️

      I’m not sure I’m enthusiastic about using emojis as handles

      > a part of the country that loves its mt dew, Doritos and McDonalds

      Drag a dollar through a trailer park, and that’s all the food you can buy, eh?

      1. ambrit

        Check out the “impulse buy” endcaps and checkout line displays and you will now find that there is almost nothing available any more for less than a dollar and change.
        My favourite is the glass fronted drinks coolers “conveniently’ set up at the point of sale. They vend single drinks at now approaching two dollars per unit while a six-pack of the same drinks from the back aisles costs the same. Who knew that refrigeration was so expensive?

  9. bassmule

    MartyrMade is Darryl Cooper? Alas, the only information I can find is on reddit, so I don’t know what to make of claims that he’s some Alt/Right guy. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! I did find this piece of his on Dominion. How you say? “Seems legit?”

    The Extremist at Dominion Voting Systems

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > MartyrMade

      I think the strength of that Tweetstorm is that he comes from that world. If I want amazed bewilderment plus denial that 46.9% of the American people are fully human moral agents, I can read Will Bunch or listen to Rachel Maddow.

      1. FluffytheObeseCat

        I read most of this MartyrMade tweet thread. It always chaps me badly how heartbroken his fellow ‘patriots’ are about just one flavor of media lies. Always just one flavor, and always when just one type of regular guy is hounded. For instance, an immense, coordinated media slander push against a few NFL players occurred during the same time period. But that one, they lapped up with vigor. He even alluded to it with his aside about “hate people who don’t stand for the national anthem”. But he didn’t say jack about how artificial that recently super-stoked “hate” happens to be. I suspect he feels slandering young black men is just normal, wholesome fun.

        The link further down the page about the gentry/local notable class that most loves and supports Trump is way more honest. It better shows the character of people who feel so betrayed….. when they finally get lied about in ways, and to an extent, many of their less notable compatriots just plain grew up knowing to expect.

        1. marym

          One difference between Russiagate propaganda and electiongate propaganda is that the former was directed at discrediting and disempowering a rich, famous guy in a powerful political position and the latter was directed at discrediting and disempowering voters and election workers.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > One difference between Russiagate propaganda and electiongate propaganda is that the former was directed at discrediting and disempowering a rich, famous guy in a powerful political position and the latter was directed at discrediting and disempowering voters and election workers.

            A second difference is that RussiaGate was organized and directed by a large cabal of powerful Democrat officials, law firm cutouts, high intelligence officials, and 99.9% of the press over a period of four years, whereas ElectionGate was organized and directed, to the extent it was either of those things, by a small cabal of a single defeated Republican plus a few more on the make, some clownish lawyers and vendors, some state parties, and a bunch of winger YouTubers over a period of months. Let’s ask ourselves where the power really lies, shall we?

            Neither gang could shoot especially straight, as it turns out, but given that RussiaGate threatened, indeed seemed designed to induce, at a minimum great tension with a nuclear power and in the worst case war, I know which one I think is more crazed and dangerous.

            > discrediting and disempowering voters and election workers.

            Iowa 2020. Come on.

            1. marym

              > Come on.
              Come on! I wasn’t passing global judgement about which was worse than the other or than something else, just pointing out one difference.

              Both “sides” have disdain for their own and each other’s voters, of course. As far as power, to the extent that elections still matter and domestic power to define the electorate rests with state legislatures, by turning a propaganda effort into action Republicans are winning this round.

            2. drumlin woodchuckles

              The Trump and Republican Electiongate operation is the start of an ongoing Republican effort to achieve a ” Redemption 2.0″ to stop and reverse what they see as a ” Reconstruction 2.0″. If my feeling about that is correct, then they will foster more violent outbursts leading up to armed violence and intimidation at polling places designed to prevent possible Democrats from possibly voting. They may also go beyond death-threats against poll-workers to actual assassination of poll-workers as in ” Redemption 1.0″ if they think they can get away with it.

              Just because Russiagate is important and was a real ongoing Psy Op does not mean that Electiongate is not also important and a real ongoing Psy Op just getting under way for real.

              So again, I predict massive and violent Republican efforts to conquer the 2024 election by whatever mob violence, assassination and civil strife they think they can get away with. I am not predicting they will win. I have predicting they will try very sincerely and for real.

              By 2025, we will all know whether my feeling and hence my prediction was right or wrong. If events prove me wrong, the blog and the commentariat can laugh at me all they want.

          2. Alex Cox

            Russiagate was also about increasing the power of the intel agencies, funding the military industrial complex, demonizing Julian Assange, and courting nuclear war.

  10. Wukchumni

    I wade through miniature forests of green algae blooms much thicker and earlier forming than any summer heretofore in our swimming hole, the only area unaffected is the tight channel where water still flows, a 2-3 foot section. All the action up top is springs playing out, snowpack having run out eons ago.

    The only constant is 2 to 3 inch trout fingerlings feasting on my legs, although you’d hardly know it.

    1. Carolinian

      The trout empire strikes back?

      I hiked our state park the other day and was astounded at the explosion of growth compared to most recent trip. It was like some Irish fantasy land you’d see on the cover of a New Age album. It helps that green is my favorite color.

      1. Wukchumni

        Our aforementioned hole is surrounded by greenery, and today the green smurf underbellty had the look of a green felt painting of dogs cheating @ poker if you didn’t know any better.

        The outside temp is close to 110, and thanks to tree shade and a very out of place incense cedar pine which blocks the Sun in entirety after 2 pm, if you go into the water every 15 minutes and repeat the process it feels closer to 80 and pleasant.

        In other news, it was something akin to a WW1 dogfight in the skies overhead with butterflies occupying the upper canopy and dragonflies skittering about closer to the water.

        I wonder what they call one another?

  11. fresno dan

    Tyler Conway
    Jul 7
    Juvenile turning “Back That Azz Up” into a pro vax anthem is….I truly don’t even know I’m speechless
    Azz – it there anything it can’t sell?

  12. drumlin woodchuckles

    Rectification of terms and the language is important.

    My personal feeling is that referring to the Social Justice Woke Warriors as ” liberals” and “not the left” because the “left” cares about “class issues” . . . is wishful thinking.

    The Political-Economy Left is a few lonely Sanders Figures. Today’s Left IS the Social Justice Leftard WokeNazis infecting and infesting all the Universities, for example. That’s the Left today.

    The Social Justice Leftard WokeNazi movement began many years ago. Just because we have lots of PMCs who have learned how to work the Social Justice rackets does not mean that the Combahee Collective ( or whatever that thing called itself) was a money-seeking pack of PMC hustlers.

    Sorry about that.

    1. jsn

      If you allow the Newspeak to coopt all the language, you lose sight of where real possibilities lie.

      Right now, most people have elided Liberal and Left, look at the space that leaves us to work in: elimination of class collapses all issues into Yang’s “hyperobjects” where there’s nothing to be done but hire Liberal consultants, the core Democrat function of containing dissent.

      Look at Payday Report and you’ll see there’s plenty of class consciousness out there, there’s just no media for it, making it important for media like this one to cling to the meaning of words.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the Combahee Collective ( or whatever that thing called itself) was a money-seeking pack of PMC hustlers.

      Most people (well, not Pete Buttigeig) don’t start out that way.

  13. jr

    Re: a bigger, better Yang

    “strategically brilliant and substantively moronic”

    Well said. It panders to the worst in us in terms of divisiveness, feeding on rage and bigotry, and adorns itself in a caricature of intellectual sturdiness…precisely by denying any notion of sturdiness. Everything is relative to one’s in-group…which leaves one wondering why they bother to write anything at all since their own theory ultimately dismisses the notion of communicating coherently with anyone outside that in-group. Maybe they like the fact they are only talking to themselves. It’s a solipsism so big it’s hard to see the outlines of it.

    “we need a name for it.”

    Rainbow fascism.

    “we have a professional activist class that sees itself similarly [to the Abolitionists”

    This reminded me of that tweet the other day from Nicole Hannah-Jones about how it’s not her job to “heal” UNC or some such absurdity. Nauseating to think of them thinking of themselves as moral arbiters. Her job is to sow dissension, it does the work of her masters and it’s fodder for her clawing ascent up the meat ladder. This is the “Left”. These people are deranged. I would bet a dollar that there was a Trotskyite influence present at Critical Race Theory’s inception.

    And they are wasting precious time and opportunities as well. Chris Hedges said in an interview I watched recently that the gains of the queerfolk and people of color can and quite likely will be rolled back at some point. It’s not hard to imagine that when the inevitable reaction to this breaks and the troglodyte-chimp hybrids of the Right get the upper hand. It’s already started. Probably fires up in ’22. Picks up steam as the climate crisis and the pandemic further polarize/antagonize people. Lot’s of work for Nicole Harriet Tubman-Jones though.

    1. cocomaan

      It’s a religion. It has tenets and beliefs that hang together along with moral certainty and the promise of damnation if you don’t believe in the tenets.

      Heck, the idea of inherent privilege based on race is pretty much the same as St Augustine’s original sin. Jon McWhorter uses the religious framing to criticize this same “movement.”

      That said, having worked in academia, I find it acts like an autoimmune disease. Because it’s essentially a conspiracy theory that puts individuals into the bind of “everything you do is useless against the power structure,” the practitioners become nihilistic and stop doing work. An academic institution I know that has been going on the woke train for years, for instance, has come apart, dropped in rankings, and faces real financial trouble.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        gotta be careful…not immanent eternal privilege based on race, no, but there is at this time in history in fact systemic racism in the US of A

        CRT is NOT idpol though both the center and the right mistake it for such.

        1. jsn

          Yes, I agree. But good faith can’t be assumed in the use to which it’s put.

          IM Doc had a great rant yesterday about the abuse of process by Pharma in scientific papers, the use CRT gets put to politically is the same kind of thing: highly specific language used out of context to generalize from specific truths to gigantic untruths for profit.

          Operationalizing it politically weaponizes it and it is most effective against alies, not the right, which is why corporate America is fully onboard with it.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Also used for psychological domination and thought-suppression, as well as self-preening moral-superiority stuff-strutting.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > CRT is NOT idpol

          True. Yang uses the term “successor ideology,” and I think he is right that there needs to be an umbrella term for individuals and institutions who are members of the Democrat-aligned professional activist class, drawn primarily from and serving the PMC, and often parked in NGOs.

          Steve Randy Waldman’s Predatory Precarity describes the existential (i.e. class) position of today’s PMC very well. It is not a coincidence that getting on — or having been gotten on — the wrong side of the “successor ideology” is so often a career-ending offense.

          Maybe the term “successor ideology” will stick and maybe not. Yang, to me, describes a class-hased tendency rather than an ideology. Of course, I make the assumption that ideologies must be internally consistent. Perhaps that is wrong.

      2. jr

        I see it everywhere. A friend of my sister overheard me singing a Who song the other day that mentions teenage prostitutes. She scolded me for the language; identitarians always ignore the content because that’s where the real meaning lies. She seemed confused when I explained the song was being critical of the conditions that lead to teenage prostitution.

        A humorous anecdote: years ago I went on a date with a professor, a person who I now can categorize as a Woke PMC. We got to talking naughty and she explained she wanted to introduce me to what turned her on. I eagerly went to the website to see what she was on about and couldn’t stop laughing when I got there.

        Everyone was dressed in what looked like ninja suits. Except these ninja suits had convenient velcro flaps that pulled away to reveal one’s intimate parts. The idea was to erase one’s gender, I think, and allow for a freer expression of one’s sexual self. Which is fine with me, go for it, but they looked like goofballs. I mentioned this and that was the end of that.

      3. Phillip Cross

        “It’s a religion. It has tenets and beliefs that hang together along with moral certainty and the promise of damnation if you don’t believe in the tenets.”

        That sounds rather like it’s nemesis, “American Exceptionalism” to me.

      4. Lambert Strether Post author

        > It’s a religion. It has tenets and beliefs that hang together along with moral certainty and the promise of damnation if you don’t believe in the tenets.

        The “successor ideology” is not ideologically coherent; its beliefs do not hang together*; see here by Adolph Reed. It’s institutionally coherent, in that it serves class interests, but not ideologically coherent, which makes it an interesting creature., a chimera of sorts.

        NOTE * Politically, that gives “the successor ideology” great suppleness. It’s a neat trick to fan the flames with Christine Blasey Ford and douse them for Tara Reade, even though Tara Reade’s case was stronger in every way. I have given up being stunned by liberal hypocrisy, but Yang is helpful in showing that intellectual or moral consistency was never the axis along which to evaluate the emergent class consciousness of the PMC anyhow. How could it be, given the variety of situations in which professional skills must be engaged?

    2. enoughisenough

      “it’s not her job to “heal” UNC or some such absurdity. Nauseating to think of them thinking of themselves as moral arbiters.”

      The arrogance of that made me ill as well.

      “An academic institution I know that has been going on the woke train for years, for instance, has come apart, dropped in rankings, and faces real financial trouble.”
      ^ so predictable, and yet they focus on this, to our detriment, rather than doing some solidarity in gaining support for public academic institutions.
      So few of these “wokesters” EVER talk about loan forgiveness and free college. If they really wanted accessibility THAT would be the way.

      So it puts the lie to any of their stated goals, imo.

      1. cocomaan

        Absolutely! This is a place charging kids $65,000 a year to go to school. Possibly more, I haven’t looked at the chart lately. The tuition alone is an immense injustice that is somehow justified.

        1. Darthbobber

          You may be thinking of Duke. UNC tuition and fees are about 9,000 per year for state residents and 34,000 for out of states.

      2. Harold

        The difference between a liberal and a leftist is that liberals believe in equality of access and opportunity for people to develop their natural gifts and talents, whereas the left understands that the aforesaid equality of access and opportunity can only be made possible by large-scale economic and educational redistribution

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > So few of these “wokesters” EVER talk about loan forgiveness and free college. If they really wanted accessibility THAT would be the way.

        Let alone unions. Let alone “collective ownership of the means of production,” something that is obviously within our technical capacity today (by contrast).

    3. B flat

      Labelling everyone who disagrees or questions the agenda as troglodyte chimp hybrids obscures the fact that many liberal, center left and left also have serious reservations about aspects of wokism. Especially suppression of free speech and threats to life and limb for pointing out, for example, that social gender does not literally change biological sex…

      1. John

        I am re-reading Albert Camus’s The Rebel and the discussion of “Wokism” etc. is in line with his assertion that suppression of speech and threats are but way stations on the road to totalitarianism. He reiterates that all such movements carried to their logical end result in violence and murder. Is that what we are talking about here?

      2. jr

        I wasn’t labeling everyone who questions Wokism as a trog-chimp on the right, I was pointing specifically to the GOP using it to their advantage in ‘22 and on.

  14. enoughisenough

    “Hence, “trying to produce a world where they’re on top,” is delusional: Capitalists control the world, not these “bureaucratic professionals.” And you can see why capitalists would be totally fine with the “successor””.

    ^This, 100%.

    The PMC and academics are in charge of NOTHING. Re. that discussion the other day here in the comments on whether UNC is a “white institution”: it’s all a smokescreen. The institution is full of beleagured faculty and students trying to do their best before the whole uni is defunded and shut down, being ruled by this unaccountable, non-academic, politically appointed board of governors who do not represent them, or the cause of education.

    A lot of triumphalist professors are waiving their degrees around and fronting about how they’re changing the world with their Twitter discourse, but they are delusional. As I’ve said before, they are simply raising ire, that will make the backlash swift and decisive.

    N-H Jones is a token that will be used as a wedge. She’ll relish in it, because she doesn’t care about the mission of education, she’s just exploiting her fame and universities’ desperation to sound “relevant” at a time when no one even cares about education anymore.

    So the triumphalism is a house of cards. Too bad Taibbi and Yang can’t see that. None of this is progressive, there is no progress. It’s just ratcheting up culture war, that leads to no lasting policy whatsoever.

    Taibbi is right about how destructive it is, but there is no point saying any of these people have power in any way. It’s just all puffery.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well . . . if they have the power to call in air strikes from the rest of society against the universities they infect, then they do have that nihilistic destructive power to destroy the universities. And the rest-of-society’s-backlash is merely the weapon they themselves use to destroy the universities they seek to destroy.

      1. enoughisenough

        it’s no more power than any 14 year old girl on social media, organizing a “canceling” gang. The power is illusory and entirely short-term, moment to moment. The real power is workplaces able to fire at will for things (the canceling offense) that have nothing to do with the job they’re firing someone from.

        And I do think think that the nihilism of this pessimistic ideology, whatever we’re gonna call it IS an “own goal”, but the illusion is that academics are the ones in power.
        They’re not. It is uni admins, run by neoliberal MBAs, and these unaccountable Boards of governors. The situation is, the admins are LOOKING to cut departments and eliminate faculty positions.

        These particular professors are simply their useful idiots, they’d rather focus on culture wars than actually unionizing and getting public support. But the power is state leges and uni admins. Until we get public funding streaming back to higher ed and k-12, all this culture war stuff, on the part of the actual instructors, is overreach. We simply don’t have the power to back this up.

        The should know better, but Dems are experts at never knowing better. They’re too convinced they’re right.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > They’re not. It is uni admins, run by neoliberal MBAs, and these unaccountable Boards of governors. The situation is, the admins are LOOKING to cut departments and eliminate faculty positions.

          Excellent point.

  15. cocomaan

    Good article by Doctorow. Self publishing only seems to work if you already have a platform.

    You more or less need to have your voice out there before you pull the trigger or your book will go nowhere.

    Dan Carlin and other podcasters gave out free shit first in the form of their podcast. THEN they sold their book. In their cases, it was through a publisher, but if they self published they’d get hits because they have put out a quality product ahead of time.

    Without a platform in self and in traditional publishing, you’re pretty out of luck. I have heard of traditionally published folks having their book released with zero marketing help from the publisher!

    1. Jen

      Our “advancement” office now has standard language in new endowments that basically says if after accepting your gift, we discover you are flat out evil, we will keep your money and remove your name from any building, endowed professorship, gift, etc.

      Because that’ll teach them.

      1. John

        Advancement? Oh yeah, the euphemism for fund raising. I am an old guy so I get not only the annual dunning letters, but the remember-us-in-your-will variety as well. We badly need a Confucian rectification of names.

      2. petal

        Been wondering about them renaming the Black Family Visual Arts Center? (Leon Black). Hideous building anyway that is not aging well. Figures.

  16. fresno dan

    does anybody know the actual melting temperature of human beings?
    If you never see a posting from me after Sunday (predicted temperature 115 degrees in Fresno) I will be a gooey puddle on the floor…
    my thermometer says its 107 now, so I am currently feeling kind of liquidy

      1. Lost in OR

        Actually, as his sensible heat increased, he just might melt. That would be followed by the latent heat of vaporization until he is half the man he currently is. And then, as sensible heat kicked in again, ignition.

        1. c_heale

          Interesting that the idea of spontaneous human combustion hasn’t made a comeback…

    1. Wukchumni

      I’ve been waiting for Alex Jones to spontaneously combust, but he’s apparently ire-proof.

      1. John

        The take off point of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Ministry of the Future is a mass casualty caued by a wet-bulb temperature of 95 degrees IIRC

  17. maria gostrey

    oh! i love that HJ quote & for many yrs used as a screen saver until the PowersThatBe no longer allowed us to use text, but seeing those words drift across my computer screen always reminded me of the rustle & murmur, the singing & sighing, of leaves in a summer breeze.

    & for summer evenings, i think of gloriani’s garden in “the ambassadors” with its “bird-haunted trees.”

  18. drumlin woodchuckles

    Wokeism and Wokery didn’t start as a bureaucratic-class self-advancement project. It began as a chiliastic and nihilistic religious movement on college campuses and maybe elsewhere. It may have been a cult of ethno-racial hatred and vengeance against the EuroWestern Enemy and a desire to destroy EuroWestern Civilization wherever it exists.

    The little I have read and seen makes it resemble Mao’s Great Cultural Revolution. So perhaps we should call it Cultural Maoism.

    Certain clever PMCist hustlers johnny-came-lately to the World of Wokeness when they smelled a business opportunity. But Wokeness didn’t start out as a PMC money-hustle. It started as a pure expression of Cultural Leftist hatred for civilization and a nihilistic instinct to destroy everything that exists. That’s where its energy comes from.

    1. enoughisenough

      you’re going to have to cite an article or book or something for this:

      “It started as a pure expression of Cultural Leftist hatred for civilization and a nihilistic instinct to destroy everything that exists.”

      It reads as poo-flinging, and doesn’t even make sense.

      1. Aumua

        Poo flinging and outrage at the “woke”, “wokesters” and their “wokeism” and “wokeness” is 70% of the entire comments section on today’s Water Cooler, and a growing percentage of every day’s comments. I’ve been pushing back against what I see as this lumping together of valid truths about social injustice and cherry picked examples of the most pants-on-head crazy extremes that the right can dredge up. But lately I just can’t find the will to bother any more. We’re all entitled to our opinions of course.

    2. Massinissa

      I agree with Enoughisenough. Sounds too much like Cultural Marxism, which is more of a conspiracy theory than a real thing.

      1. John

        But piling on individuals for a word, an attitude, or a thought is a close cousin of the “struggle session”, which was a feature of the Cultural Revolution, and embedded in the tactic of the CPC from, I believe the Yannan period in the 1930s.

    3. QuicksilverMessenger

      I don’t know a whole lot about this but I believe it came out Critical Legal Studies and has been around for a long time. Questions about what ‘law’ actually is, whether it is in fact political and not just an unsullied, stand alone entity, and probably most of all, who it serves and who it protects. What’s the quote about ‘law, in its majesty, forbids the rich and the poor both sleep under a bridge at night’…? I have heard one metaphor regarding critical legal theory as one could think of it in terms of boxing: no one puts a bantam weight in the ring with a heavy weight.
      From Irmami Osei-Frimpong: “Critical Boxing theory would introduce the argument for weight classes in boxing because the ‘formal’ method of setting any contenders at each other, regardless of their weight differential, actually confuses any evaluation of their boxing skill. Thus the ‘formal’ equality promised by the law universally prohibits begging, stealing, or sleeping under bridges, yet this legal equality calcifies real inequality in life insofar as the law disproportionally punishes those whose circumstances do not afford anywhere else to sleep, earn money or eat.”

      Seems to make sense. Of course, what if that metaphor doesn’t work (what if it’s like the NFL or golf or something??) Where it has landed today, I don’t really know. It has obviously broken free from those origins. Whatever it has become it sure seems intent on provoking a backlash

  19. fresno dan

    S Food and Drug Administration Acting Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock on Friday requested an investigation by the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General into the controversial approval of the Alzheimer’s disease drug Aduhelm.

    In a letter posted on Twitter, Woodcock said an independent review and assessment should consider interactions between Biogen, the company that makes Aduhelm, and the FDA during the process that led to the June approval of the drug.

  20. Laura in So Cal

    About the “There’s no reason to stop living your life just because you’re scared of something.” phase in the Kaiser Health News article. You mentioned that you couldn’t imagine using it.

    I use this phrase all the time, but maybe only those of use who deal with chronic anxiety use it? Basically it is the philosophy that you don’t let fear rule your life. You don’t do stuff because you are afraid AND you don’t not do stuff because you are afraid. Part of it is also an acknowledgement that we don’t have total control of what happens to us so maybe there is an an element of fatalism in its use.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      It reminds me of a saying I heard when I lived in Vermont:
      “You can’t let the weather decide what you’re gonna do or you won’t get anything done.”

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I use this phrase all the time, but maybe only those of use who deal with chronic anxiety use it? Basically it is the philosophy that you don’t let fear rule your life.

      I don’t and it doesn’t. I resent extremely, for example, being told that by masking I am “living in fear.” I’ve made a rational calculation and am doing what it takes to prevent myself from getting sick, and others from getting sick. I worked out my routine based on the best information I could find, I’m sticking to it, and so far it has served me well. It’s like telling a diabetic that by following a diet regimen and injecting themselves regularly that they are “living in fear.” Or like waiting for the green light to cross a busy street is “living in fear.”

      Of course, if I fail (hypothetically) to take my insulin, or crossed the street against the light and got killed by a car because I decided that I would not allow fear of getting hit by cars rule my life, I am the main person who suffers (assuming I’m without dependents). That’s not the case if because I “refused to live in fear” or “led my life” I decided not to mask up and was the index case in a superspreader event.

    3. CanCyn

      “What you risk shows what you value” – sorry, I am not sure of the source but think I may have seen it quoted here on NC recently. No mask and no vaccination means you don’t value your family, friends or fellow humans.
      Have to agree with LS, protecting yourself is not living in fear. It is just as easy to turn that argument around and say that I am wearing a mask so that I can go on living my life and that I got vaccinated so that I could live my life. I am damn leery of the vaccine and it’s longterm consequences, but, in being part of a community that I value, it felt like the right thing to do in spite of the risks.

      1. CanCyn

        Adding the perhaps obvious, masking and vaccinating are twofers – you protect yourself and others, unlike winter clothes or sunscreen

  21. Pelham

    Re Tucker Carlson populism: Levitz pretty much nails it, I think. But let’s keep in mind the contrast with a Democratic Party that’s beholden to global mega-corporations and the PMC/idpol crowd. Given a choice between empowering local car dealership oligarchs and the Democrats, many of us will choose the former. Unless maybe the Dems manage to deliver real material benefits of some sort — and Biden delivers that $600 check he owes me.

    1. Gulag

      Levitz states “Nevertheless, their brand of populism doesn’t serve the little guy so much as the small time rich.”

      “So much” does a lot of work in that sentence.

      My best guess is that it is an open question as to how far the radicalization of Tucker Carlson will go. Certainly his recent NSA revelations indicate that our most powerful intelligence agency appears to view him as a potential political mobilization threat, at this point, perhaps primarily in the area of generating a possible populist right-left critique of American foreign policy.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > perhaps primarily in the area of generating a possible populist right-left critique of American foreign policy

        Wake me when JD Vance goes down to Warrior Met, picks up a bullhorn, and walks the picket line.

  22. ambrit

    Thank you for this link. A Prophet speaks.
    Vidal was a clear eyed observer of his native soil and not afraid to speak out.
    Today, people who do similar are placed in prisons of the body as well as of the mind.
    Vidal expected the American people to reach a breaking point. He underestimated the allure and glamours of “popular culture” and a complascent middle class. The “allures” remain, the complasience wanes, the anger rises. Like so many prophets before him, Vidal was premature, but not wrong.
    We had such hopes for this country.

      1. ambrit

        Now, this is confusing and interesting at the same time.
        I was responding to a comment filed under links.
        July 9, 2021 at 11:38 am
        I was on the “Reply” function of that comment. When I tried to post a comment, the screen stuttered and fell silent. I clicked “Post Comment” a second time and ended up here.
        The original comment holds a link to a speech by Gore Vidal before the National Press Club from 1991.
        The ways of Skynet are mysterious and ineffable.

  23. genezip

    “So when I say the successor ideology, I see it as a vocational group that has an entrepreneurial project to advance a certain vision of the world as a matrix of oppression. They define themselves and what they fight against as this construct, this hyperobject”

    How many more hoary Substack posts (or Unherd/Quillette articles) do we need when they’re all just trying to conceptualize “wokeness” in the same way, just using slight variations in their word salad? Do people still enjoy reading this stuff? At least Deleuze and Guattari were occasionally fun to read…

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > How many more hoary Substack posts (or Unherd/Quillette articles)

      I think Yang and Taibbi get the class angle, which Quillette and the Twitterati do not. Surely you’re not confusing Taibbi with Quillette?

  24. Joe Well

    Re: Merlin.

    I love this app, it adds an extra dimension to walks in the woods and I’ve learned so much about bird species that I didn’t know existed.

    One of the few (only?) apps on my phone that unequivocally adds to my happiness.

    1. rowlf

      I just loaded it and am looking forward to using it. There are a lot of loud birds where I live. Thanks for letting us know about it.

  25. vw

    “This “living your life” phrase — I can’t imagine myself using it, and I don’t even know what it means. Yet apparently it is deeply meaningful to some; one hears it over and over.”

    I… am surprised in turn, that you don’t get it? :(

    Leaving aside the scientific aspect, and looking only at the sociological and psychological – for over a year, most people in America have been in some state of terror (or very, very loudly advised to be in terror by media/politicians/acquaintances) about a completely invisible threat. Though 600,000+ have perished from COVID, that doesn’t translate to everyone in America seeing the issue firsthand – for example, I know zero people who have died and only one distant relative of a friend that was ever ill. Even those who did experience the loss of a community member, the majority of those victims were either very old or overweight, or having other obvious comorbidities, that could make, say, a young couple with a baby discount it as a personal threat. And absolutely EVERYONE has been affected by a mask mandate in one sense or another – a visual cue whenever you left your house, that reminded everyone to fear and enforced both physical and social/emotional distance between people, as intended. Things like visiting grandparents, hosting BBQs in the backyard, or even going shopping in a physical store have been immensely stigmatized, even called “murder”. In short, normal life in America–arguably, normal human behavior itself–has been impossible since March of 2020. And we don’t have anything so obvious as an invading army, or a yet-overcrowded hospital, or sepia skies or similar to keep people in the same state of fear.

    And… some people are tired of living under these conditions? Is this… weird??

    Again, this is putting the science aside. This is about human nature. I think one blind spot at NC – and seriously, you guys do the Lord’s work, take this as a side comment – is that you guys focus so much on the cutting-edge news, of all types, and the type of news that takes a broad education and understanding of statistics and context and etc to grasp the significance of, that you forget that most people just can’t keep this up. I consider myself fairly educated, read nonfiction for fun etc etc and I can’t keep up with all the topics you guys post on! I have to skip whole sections, just to keep myself reasonably fresh for the ones I care most about.

    I predict, for better or worse, that one of the major outcomes of the COVID epidemic is going to be… people paying even less attention to the news. Honestly, NC is the closest thing to “mainstream news” that I even follow these days – I have a reaction like an allergy nowadays to everything else that might fall in that category. After last year’s election-and-everything-else coverage, it’s no exaggeration to say that I will never, ever forgive the news media for how much fear and misery they forced us all to experience. I’ve banished over a dozen sites from my reading list permanently. And seeing the charts on NC day after day that basically say, my sincere apologies Lambert, “there’s basically no COVID! And… still basically no COVID! And… still basically no COVID! But WATCH OUT!!” even I, who has the scientific background to know better!, face an overwhelming instinct to just… shut the laptop. Go out into my garden. Read a book on something pleasant. Set up a trip to see the grandparents. Because… life is so short, Lambert. It’s so short. And if vaccination isn’t enough to return our lives to us – if not even mass vaccination (as much as the US is able to provide at this point, for whatever reasons) can prevent COVID from ravaging our society – if vaccination isn’t enough to keep us “safe” without masks and isolation and fear forever and ever and ever – then what is “safety” costing us? At what point does that tip over the cost/benefit analysis–especially for the populations who are at particularly low COVID risk?

    I propose that what you’re seeing is the tip of the spear, of people who are just… done. They’re going to go and “live their lives” and not listen to ‘experts’ any more, because the ‘experts’ aren’t helping them get what they most need psychologically, which is normalcy. And tragically (or not, depends on your view) COVID-19 isn’t severe enough, frequently enough, to keep those individuals from making that decision. If COVID-19 doesn’t dramatically spike again–“if” doing a lot of work there–I think what you’re seeing is the effective end of the pandemic. I doubt the people using it will ever support a lock-down or a mask mandate ever again, for anything less than a spike at the level of last winter. And if I’m being honest… I’m working hard to keep my mind open and to keep intaking data… but I’m about 90% of the way to “living my life”, too.

    1. synoia

      “Oof. Now a definite upward trend.”

      In summer – where sunshine kills the microbes!

      With flu in the UK, Lent was the bad period. Lent, as I recall, is the 40 Days before Easter, the first Sunday full moon after the Spring equinox.

      1. vw

        And… for better or worse, I think reading this comment finally put me at 100%.

        I’m sure if deaths actually start to happen again, the news will reach me, even out in my garden. But I just don’t have the energy to care this much anymore about tiny little fluctuations in case data, which even our utterly corrupt medical system can easily manage without a flutter. I guess I admire those who do? But – I don’t. And I can’t fool myself anymore that closely tracking this stuff is going to change one single thing about policy in America, or increase my personal “safety” in any way. I think I’ll be taking an indefinite break from NC.

        I wouldn’t bother to post this comment, either, except that I think it provides a perfect case study of the “living my life” phenomenon for reference. So… hopefully in that small way, that can be my last contribution. I appreciate all the work the NC hosts put into their work, and wish them the best.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > still basically no COVID

      “Basically” is doing a lot of work, there, given that our (normalized and rising, but let’s not worry) case count is about half what it was in the first wave in the United States. And did you check the world chart?

      * * *

      One of my issues with “living my life” is the implicit teleology of it all; it reminds me of equilibrium in macroeconomics, If we believe there was a normal to begin with that needs to returned to going forward, I think we’re kidding ourselves (especially since many Americans are one serious illness away from bankruptcy or worse). Na ga happen, and that’s before we get to climate. You may not be interested in the news, but the news — or rather, the real events that “news” attempts to conceal — is interested in you.

      The other issue I have is the sense in which my life is ‘mine,” as if it were property. For exmaple, if I’m a carrier, some of the lives that I bear may infect others, presumably not part of “my life,” but maybe so, for an animist. I think a serious Christian would also have trouble with the concept of “my life.”

      > I doubt the people using it will ever support a lock-down or a mask mandate ever again, for anything less than a spike at the level of last winter.

      I think you are right, which is a consequence of the complete butchery of public health by the 10% (and that’s being extremely charitable). Sadly, I don’t think the destruction of public health as a policy alternative (as opposed to “medical freedom”) will have results that are anything other than dystopian — vaccines by subscription, say.

  26. jr


    “Useful Idiots” featuring Adolf Reed on Robin D’Angelo, he starts at 46 minutes. Taibbi notes that in her new book D’Angelo claims that the silent, “nice” racism of the Woke white is even more dangerous than the “in your face” racism of the deplorables. Which is of course a built-in hook baited with an irresistible hunk of guilt….and therefore the promise of the extirpation of sin for her PMC readership. And thereby a providing a justification for their position on the meat ladder.

    Reed talks about the origins of racialist theory and it’s goal of sidelining concrete advances for working people. He points out that it was around since the 1970’s in the form of Peggy McIntosh. He also compares the fight against racism to the fight against terrorism in that both are eternal quests against an abstract foe. There is money to be made in peddling racism, there is an arc in racial sensitivity training history from seminars for unions to seminars for corporations (and now the military).

    At 59 minutes we are treated to a clip of a fawning interview with D’Angelo. What a con artist, empty assertions that racism is the “norm” and that even well intentioned people like her “collude with the system”, the system being of course racism. It’s everything to these people, you can slap it anywhere on anything and the true believers lap it up. She chastises her mob that “out-Woking” one another isn’t truly progressive, of course you have to point the finger inside at yourself. Always more work to do on one’s “soul”. But then hard work is it’s own reward. A cracked china doll mask of psycho-pseudo-rationalizations atop a rotting cadaver of Puritan absolution by suffering. The thing that Matt and Katie don’t seem to think about is that this stuff is intentionally divisive. That’s my theory anyway, it’s too perfectly fitted to the task.

    1. rowlf

      Thanks jr and Flora for the links. Until Sun Ra swings back by to pick me up from Monkey Planet Adolph Reed Jr does a great job of letting me know my compass is pointing in the right direction. Watching the segment made for a great evening.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Reed talks about the origins of racialist theory and it’s goal of sidelining concrete advances for working people. He points out that it was around since the 1970’s in the form of Peggy McIntosh.

      See Outis Philalithopoulos, The Victory of Privilege, first of a serious. From 2018, a fine example of calling one’s shot.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Matt and Katie don’t seem to think about is that this stuff is intentionally divisive.

      I don’t think that “divisive” is necessarily a bad thing, depending on what is being divided from what.

  27. Wukchumni

    You can’t flee a pending earthquake, but hurricanes back east?

    People do it all the time…

    Will we see something along the same lines with incoming heatwaves in the west, the sizzler we’re in the throes of was well advertised a week out, no mystery as to when it would appear and how long it will last.

    Avila Beach on the coast shows a high of 69 degrees on Sunday, while we’re looking @ 112 in the Central Valley, that sort of thing-a 5 hour drive away.

  28. none

    I’ve done the grunt work of putting out a few self-published software manuals for a nonprofit. I’m sure they turned a profit (if that’s the right term), but that’s because the software itself (also from the nonprofit) was popular. The software and manuals were free to download, but enough people were willing to pay for printed copies that selling them generated some funds. This was quite a few years back. I don’t know if that setup would still work.

    1. Procopius

      There was a guy named Phil Katz, who ported the Zip archiving tool from Unix to DOS. IIRC he distributed it for free, but requested a donation after 30 days. Hardly anybody ever did donate, and he never complained about it (Bill Gates was notorious for his rants about people pirating his BASIC interpreter), but enough people did send donations, and his program was so widely used, that he became modestly rich. I was sorry when I saw news of his death. He seemed to be a man who understood “enough.”

  29. The Rev Kev

    “Real estate investors try to exploit South LA firework explosion and buy damaged homes, says official”

    The LAPD set off that explosion in the middle of a residential street instead of an open field so it is up to the City and the LAPD to pay repairs to all those damaged properties. You don’t need an investigation to establish that fact.

  30. rowlf

    Too bad John Clarke is no longer with us. I think Clarke and Dawe would have a target rich environment now…

    BRYAN DAWE: Tony Fauci, thanks for your time again.
    JOHN CLARKE: It’s good to be with you, Bryan, and good evening.
    BRYAN DAWE: How have you enjoyed your run as director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases?
    JOHN CLARKE: Well, I found it very enjoyable. You know, great fun, great challenge, great team.
    BRYAN DAWE: Yeah, what’s the story with Rochelle Walensky, though?
    JOHN CLARKE: Rochelle Walensky is doing a quite fantastic job, Bryan, quite fantastic.
    BRYAN DAWE: She’s under pressure though, isn’t she?
    JOHN CLARKE: Well, you know, I don’t want to be critical, Bryan, but every now and again the people, frankly, in your racket demand a ritual sacrifice and somebody gets named.
    BRYAN DAWE: Yeah, in this case Rochelle Walensky.
    JOHN CLARKE: In this case Rochelle Walensky. And they demand her head on a plate. I can tell you it’s not gonna happen, Bryan. It will not happen.
    BRYAN DAWE: Yeah, but Mr Fauci, she has made mistakes in media, hasn’t she?

    (some of this stuff writes itself if you get the format correct)

  31. VietnamVet

    The response of the US and UK which were said to be the best prepared nations for a pandemic is incomprehensible. Political, economic and educational systems are at the point of collapse. Yet the US is reopening without masks and social distancing.

    If Lambert’s hospital admissions and number of deaths graphs start to climb significantly because of the Delta Variant, the split up the United States will start next year. Likewise, in Western North America, if the drought, regional wildfires, and polar vortex heat domes continue; migration to habitable areas will be necessary. Potable water and clean air are requirements for life.

    The response of the Trump and Biden Administrations have been identical; inject mRNA vaccines and ignore climate change. Enrich the few at the expense of the many.

    It has been almost half a century since I was part of higher education. But there is no better example of the insider craziness than “divide and cancel”. The whole college system is now based on indebting the young for a mostly worthless credentials and ignoring that it funds the professional 5% who argue over who is the most misfit in thriving college towns in midst of rural decline and on big city campuses. Until COVID-19 pandemic stopped classroom education dead in its tracks.

    An ethnic color revolution is underway in the USA. Like Haiti, the question is who is funding the mercenaries?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the split up the United States will start next year

      I really don’t see how this is possible. Where is today’s equivalent of the Mason-Dixon line? What does the United States break up into? Both “Red” and “Blue” states presume a homogeneity within states that does not exist.

      > An ethnic color revolution is underway in the USA.

      This is just wildly over-stated and I’m not even sure it’s a good analogy. The US is a country of enormous scale compared to Ukraine or Egypt or whatever.

    1. The Rev Kev

      And you just know that if it was not Manchin and Synema preserving the filibuster, that two other Democrats would step up and do so in their place. Just enough people are always found to cross the aisles. Not necessarily the same ones but just enough to pass or cause a bill to fail nonetheless.

  32. Jack Parsons

    “American gentry.”

    In the 1920s, when the Klan was at its height, it had four enemies: Blacks, Jews, Catholics, and chain stores. Chain stores were the new financial technology for sucking money out of a downtown. They were the advance guard of a kind of monopoly. Small-time shopkeepers rightly considered them the devil.

    1. saywhat?

      I suspect the chain stores were financed by the same method as for small businesses: via loans from the government-privileged private-credit-for-usury cartel which loots us all, one way or another.

      Ya can’t cheat an honest (Klan’s) man?

  33. saywhat?

    Oof. And the curves aren’t down because there’s nobody left to vaccinate, either. lambert

    Aren’t you ignoring those who have had Covid and recovered? Why should they take a risk with vaccine side effects?

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