2:00PM Water Cooler 8/11/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

So all geese don’t sound identical (to human ears). Stretch this out for an hour and it would be a Philip Glass composition.

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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….

Vaccination by region:

50.3% of the US is fully vaccinated, a big moment, breaking the psychological 50% barrier. Every day, a tenth of a percentage point upward.

Case count by United States regions:

As far as reaching the peak of January 8, 2021, with 295,257 cases per day … I’m not that pessimistic (modulo a new variant brought into the country by our ridiculously lax policies on international quarantines). What we might call, after Everest, the “First Step” (November 25, 2019) with 178,466 looks in striking distance, especially if the case count purple line continues go near vertical. When you look at those “rapid riser” counties on the CDC map, you’ve got to think this rise has a way to run. If things go on as they are, we should hit the first step just in time for Labor Day. But what do I know, I’m just a tape-watcher.

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

California slows again. Texas slows now too. A long thread on the Florida data kerfuffle:

If every other state is sending the CDC data daily, and Florida wants to send its data with several days bundled together, of course you’re asking for screw-ups. (Although way back in the beginning of the pandemic, I seem to recall the CDC’s justification for faxed data was that individual CDC data scientists had cultivated relationships with their counterparts at state level. Clearly that wasn’t happening here.)

Also Florida:

Using exemption from a public health measure as a reward… Why have “public health” at all, then? (McKeel is, of course, a charter.)

From CDC: “Community Profile Report August 9, 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties, this release:

California and Nevada got redder again. This map blows the “Blame Bubba” narrative out of the water. Not a banjo to be heard. Previous release:

(Red means getting worse, green means bad but getting better. This chart updates Tuesdays and Fridays, presumbly by end-of-day.)

Test positivity:

South running away with the field. But other regions now playing catch-up.

Hospitalization (CDC):

Here the CDC’s hospitalization visualization, from the source above:

The, er, red states (Florida, Louisiana) are as yet still buried in the aggregated national data. But there’s more red now.

Deaths (Our World in Data):

Deaths definitively rising, although nowhere near meriting an anti-triumphalist black line, being an order of magnitude less than there were at peak. (Adding: I know the data is bad. This is the United States. But according to The Narrative, deaths shouldn’t have been going up at all. Directionally, this is quite concerning.)

Covid cases worldwide:

Every region is trending up. US sphere of influence under the Monroe Doctrine not doing so well.

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

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

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

Capitol Seizure

UPDATE “DHS’ Rigid Security Protocols Contributed to Inadequate Jan. 6 Response, GAO Says” [GovExec]. “No government entity made a request for a National Special Security Event or a Special Event Assessment Rating, two designations that the Government Accountability Office said would have allowed the department to coordinate security in advance of the planned protests and rallies that precipitated the violence…. Homeland Security typically awards NSSE or SEAR designations after a request from a governor or federal official. NSSE events are rare and have included inaugurations, conventions and state of the union addresses. SEARs are more common and include the annual Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington or the Super Bowl. After a request is made, a working group makes a recommendation and the DHS secretary determines whether to grant it. After a designation, the Secret Service coordinates a response. … On Jan. 6, President Trump held a rally at the Ellipse just south of the White House. GAO noted that some, but not all, previous presidential rallies were deemed SEARs. Homeland Security officials faulted the D.C. government for failing to make a request, but city officials said they did not believe they had the authority to request a special event designation on federal land. That confusion contributed to an inadequate response, GAO said…. Homeland Security rejected GAO’s findings, saying it already factored the context of events into its security operations. NSSE designations take months to determine, department officials added. They argued that local officials should have known their ability to make a special request and therefore no policy clarifications were necessary.” • (Here is the report.) Well, the last thing we want — right? — is the DHS donning cowboy hats and riding to the rescue whenever they feel like it. Here is the DHS Fact Sheet on SEAR designation: State, local, and Federal officials “voluntarily submit” SEAR requests to DHS. It is true that the District of Columbia is not a state, local, or Federal government, and so may indeed not have felt they had the right to make a request, and would have had to defer to Federal officials on Federal land. Leaving open the question of why no Democrat official did so.

Biden Administration

“That was me, people!”

UPDATE “Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill could take years to transform U.S.” [WaPo]. “Substantial pots of funding are likely to be quickly disbursed, particularly for updating existing projects, such as repaving the nation’s roads. But major public works projects often have to go through a lengthy process — from federal agency to locality to private builder — and may not result in new usable infrastructure for years…. The long-term nature of the benefits may push completion of many of its projects into the next administration, which could complicate who receives its political payoff. The White House maintains that the package will create both short-term and lasting economic benefits for the nation, and pointed to polls showing it is widely popular among voters of both parties.” • We also haven’t had much luck with big construction projects recently. From Construction Physics: “Universities, hospitals, and airports all have extremely involved project management processes, and huge amounts of government requirements and oversight. As administrative costs rise – the more involved the government is in projects – the worse the US does compared to other countries. This tracks with US performance on infrastructure projects, where US performance is similarly government-involved and similarly poor. This seems to confirm at least in part the administrative overhead theory, and suggests a model: Other western countries have a great deal of government involvement in all aspects of building. This makes much of their construction more expensive on average. But for projects which require a great deal of government involvement (such as hospitals or airports), this changes from a drawback to a benefit, as the higher quality of their civil service leads to lower project costs.” As I read this, the low quality of our civil service is the issue. Readers?

UPDATE “The bipartisan infrastructure bill gives taxpayers a good bang for their buck” [The Hill]. “One of the reasons infrastructure projects cost significantly more in the United States than similar ones in other countries is our byzantine permitting process. The bill directs permitting agencies to cut average approval times to less than two years for major projects and includes several provisions to help make that happen without sacrificing important social and environmental protections… To help steer money toward the most productive and innovative projects, the bill includes over $100 billion for competitive grant programs that use criteria such as benefit-cost analyses to award funds efficiently. Compared to similar programs in the past, the ones in this bill include substantially more funding and flexibility for complex projects, such as those involving multiple modes of transportation. The bill also funds several pilot programs, including some to promote the use of technologies that can improve productivity, and creates an Advanced Research Projects Agency for infrastructure (ARPA-I) to do additional research. These provisions could lead to groundbreaking innovations that help bring U.S. infrastructure costs down to international norms over the long term.” • Maybe. If we don’t have the know-how to manufacture plutonium pits (Links, this morning) cost-benefit analysis won’t help a whole lot.

UPDATE “After 8 Months, Cities And States Are Still Sitting On Rental Aid” [HuffPo] “States, counties and cities with populations of at least 200,000 were eligible for the money, which offers up to 15 months of rental assistance to low-income individuals (12 months of past-due payments and three months for the future). But that money has been incredibly slow in getting to the people who need it the most. Through June, only 15 states and the District of Columbia had spent 10% or more of their Emergency Rental Assistance Program funds, which were initially approved by Congress in December. And in roughly 40 states, counties and cities, not a single cent from ERAP made it out the door during that time, according to an analysis of Treasury Department data by HuffPost. Some of those places were smaller counties, but others were states (New York at $801 million) or territories (Puerto Rico at $325 million) sitting on hundreds of millions of dollars. The problems stem partly from the fact that Congress has never thrown so much money at an anti-eviction program, so officials at lower levels of government have struggled to find their footing. ‘In most cases they couldn’t scale up an already-existing program, or if they could scale up an existing program, that program was tiny compared to the funding available now,’ said Ann Oliva, a housing policy expert at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. ‘That explains some of the lag.'” • Once again, civil service issues.

“Biden’s Climate Plans Are Stunted After Dejected Experts Fled Trump” [New York Times]. Deck: “Hundreds of scientists and policy experts left the government during the Trump administration. The jobs remain unfilled six months into President Biden’s term.” •  And nce again, civil service issues. Just like the FDA Commissioner’s job, in the molasses-brained Biden administration.

Democrats en Deshabille

“The Next Face of the Democratic Party” [Edward-Isaac Dovere, The Atlantic]. “Ask pretty much every Democrat in Congress and beyond is confident that Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York will be the next speaker of the House, if Democrats manage to hold on to their majority next year—or the minority leader if they lose it. Democratic members of Congress won’t talk about any of this publicly, as if Pelosi might suddenly appear and pull their hearts from their chests. Jeffries, carefully, left it at telling me that growing up in a Black church taught him to respect and value his elders. But none of the two dozen Democratic members of Congress and party insiders I spoke with privately could present a serious alternative to Jeffries. He’d have the support of the Congressional Black Caucus, which is stacked with influential members.” • Well, if a cesspit of corruption like the CBC is for Jeffries, he should do very well.

And speaking being reminded of Democrat leadership:

I’ve been averting my eyes from the California referendum (ctlieee):

Well, one California governor was an actor, so why not a talk show host, or a YouTuber? Because the Democrats, despite having turned California into a one-party state, have done so well?

UPDATE “The Real Question Is Why Andrew Cuomo Took So Long to Fall” [Zephyr Teachout, The Nation]. “Cuomo himself was a disaster, but New York hasn’t had a governor leave in dignity in years—and that is not a fluke; it is a flaw in the office. The governor’s control over appointments and over the budget creates such a gross concentration of power that the executive branch can promise enormous rewards—and threaten terrible retribution—based on loyalty. When I ran against him in 2014, I met several lawmakers who secretly cheered me on—but socially distanced themselves from me in public because they were so scared Cuomo would punish them by hurting their careers or their constituents. One lawmaker said every time he talked to me he’d get a phone call from Joe Percoco—the governor’s right-hand man, now in prison for corruption—asking what the problem was. The power New York’s Constitution gives governors makes them feel invincible—and stop being responsive to the needs of the public. Recent research proves what observers of human behavior have said for thousands of years: Powerful people are more likely to interrupt others, not look at people when they are speaking, and to be rude, hostile, and humiliating. They are more self-centered, losing the capacity to even guess what others feel or want; power seems to take away not only compassion but the ability to even see other people’s needs. Not to put too fine a point on it, but people who are given power in psychology experiments are more likely to touch others inappropriately. New York’s current constitutional structure, in other words, sets up the state for abuse, and while we need to celebrate the outstanding work by Tish James and the incredible bravery of survivors—and of lawmakers who didn’t keep quiet when the governor asked them to—we also need to reflect: How can we avoid this in the future? New York needs some constitutional restructuring, as a matter of both culture and law. The Legislature, not the executive branch, should be leading on the budget.”

“Who Said It: Cuomo or Your Ex?” [New York Magazine]. “Let’s give this man the send-off he deserves: a dumb little quiz about which quotes are from his resignation speech and which are something your ex probably said while you were breaking up.”

President Handsy on Governor Handsy:

You know what make me sad? The corpses.

Realignment and Legitimacy

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of interest today.

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Real Estate: “How Condo Buildings End” [Slate]. “Making condos is easy. Unmaking condos is hard. When River City became a “deconversion” target in 2016, Chicago required 75 percent of owners to vote for a sale. (It’s now 85 percent.) Once that happened, everyone else was compelled to sell at the agreed-upon rate. Chicago-based developer Marc Realty made three offers over two years for River City. After owners agreed to sell for $100 million, Marc canceled the sale and dropped the offer by $10 million. While owners pondered the lower bid, Marc pitched additional deals to the holdouts—a process some owners on both sides of the vote later categorized in a lawsuit as bribery. Even after Marc’s hard bargaining, the sale was Chicago’s priciest deconversion recorded and its largest by unit count. River City is a rental building again… Stories like this make Chicago the perfect place to understand how condos usually meet their end—not in a pile of rubble, but in a buyout that leaves some owners feeling lucky and others feeling betrayed.”

Concentration: “Canada’s two big railroads are racing each other in a bid to consolidate the North American freight rail sector. Federal regulators plan to issue a key ruling by the end of the month that would potentially clear the way for Canadian National Railway $30 billion acquisition of Kansas City Southern… even as Canadian Pacific Railway is trying to get back into the picture with an increased offer to acquire the U.S. carrier” [Wall Street Journal]. “The Surface Transportation Board is considering Canadian National’s bid to create a voting trust for its purchase, a critical step in the acquisition process. The STB’s timeline means Kansas City Southern shareholders may vote next week without clear indication of whether the STB will bless the deal.

Commodities: “Billionaire-backed mining firm to seek electric vehicle metals in Greenland” [Reuters]. “Mineral exploration company KoBold Metals, backed by billionaires including Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates, has signed an agreement with London-listed Bluejay Mining (JAY.L) to search in Greenland for critical materials used in electric vehicles. KoBold, which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to hunt for raw materials, will pay $15 million in exploration funding for the Disko-Nuussuaq project on Greenland’s west coast in exchange for a 51% stake in the project, Bluejay said in a statement.” • So it’s a scam, then?

Shipping: “Ports face biggest crisis since start of container shipping” [Financial Times]. “There are currently 353 container ships stuck outside ports around the world, more than double the number from earlier in the year, according to real-time data from logistics company Kuehne+Nagel. In some cases, such as the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in the US where there are currently 22 ships waiting for a berth, it will be up to 12 days before the ships can drop anchor and unload their containers, ready to be distributed to factories, warehouses, shops and homes across the US. The logjam has caused stock shortages and delays to deliveries, raising prices and frustrating consumers at a time when a pandemic-led boom in online shopping has increased demand for next-day delivery.” • ZOMG twelve days. “Everything is amazing and nobody is happy.”

The Bezzle:

Doctorow is also highly complimentary to Hubert Horan and NC:

OTOH, perhaps Uber is and was always a straw: Unprofitable as a firm, Uber could — I don’t know how to do the math on this — be profitable for the capitalist class taken as a whole; destroying public transportation but more importantly legalizing new forms of exploitation by creating the new class of gig workers (which we should all be, right?)

Tech: “Apple’s New ‘Child Safety’ Initiatives, and the Slippery Slope” [John Gruber, Daring Fireball]. Although independent, Gruber is an Apple insider, so this article veers between bemusement and a case for the defense. Here is one technical nugget: “A big source of confusion seems to be what fingerprinting entails. Fingerprinting is not content analysis. It’s not determining what is in a photo. It’s just a way of assigning unique identifiers — essentially long numbers — to photos, in a way that will generate the same fingerprint identifier if the same image is cropped, resized, or even changed from color to grayscale. It’s not a way of determining whether two photos (the user’s local photo, and an image in the CSAM database from NCMEC) are of the same subject — it’s a way of determining whether they are two versions of the same image. If I take a photo of, say, my car, and you take a photo of my car, the images should not produce the same fingerprint even though they’re photos of the same car in the same location. And, in the same way that real-world fingerprints can’t be backwards engineered to determine what the person they belong to looks like, these fingerprints cannot be backwards engineered to determine anything at all about the subject matter of the photographs.” • That’s helpful on the technical side, but the central issue is that Apple is rummaging through your photos, after marketing itself as a privacy company. Apple says it’s only if you keep your photos in the Cloud, but that’s what they say now. Apple says they’re doing it for a good purpose, but a good purpose will soon be replaced by a bad one. More commentary:

Manufacturing: “What in the Hell Is Going on With Boeing’s Starliner?” [Gizmodo]. “New details are emerging about a technical problem that prevented NASA and Boeing from conducting a test launch of a CST-100 Starliner spacecraft last week. The problem appears to be more severe than previously believed, casting doubt on plans to launch the spacecraft later this month…. Specialists are working to “restore functionality” to 13 valves in the spacecraft’s propulsion system, as NASA explained in a recent statement. These valves, as NASA says, “connect to thrusters that enable abort and in-orbit maneuvering,” and they failed to open during the countdown on August 3, resulting in the scrub.” Thirteen? IIRC, initial coverage mentioned a “valve,” singular. More: “Keith Cowing, a former NASA employee and editor of the site NASA Watch, made his opinion known yesterday in a painfully brief post: ‘How—why—did this spacecraft—one that is supposed to eventually fly humans—ever make it to the launch pad without fully operational propulsion valves in the first place? Just wondering.'” • Magical thinking?

Supply Chain: “Food supply chains are getting whipsawed by the changing direction of the pandemic recovery. U.S. restaurants are seeing the early-summer return by customers start to turn downward…. as the Delta variant of the coronavirus triggers new outbreaks around the country and sends many Americans back to eating at home” [Wall Street Journal]. “Black Box Intelligence says national restaurant same-store sales in the week ending July 25 were the worst weekly performance in the last five weeks, although they remained higher compared to the same period in 2019. Some states and cities seeking to tamp down the variant spread are restoring some restrictions and some restaurant operators are trying to assess emerging requirements to check vaccination status of customers. For foodservice suppliers, that could mean a revival of the disruptions of 2020, including operations tailored more for supermarket sales and to-go options for restaurants.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 38 Fear (previous close: 36 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 26 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 11 at 12:08pm.

The Biosphere

Slowdown of Earth’s spin caused an oxygen surge Live Science (Furzy Mouse).

Health Care

A long and excellent thread on Covid vaccines and the immunocompromised:

“No, the Unvaccinated Aren’t All Just Being Difficult” [New York Times]. “Vaccinations have risen lately in response to the spread of the Delta variant, but rather than keeping its foot on the gas and throwing every idea, every resource at the problem, the White House has started to shift the blame onto those who still haven’t gotten a shot. President Biden grumbled that he has struck a ‘brick wall’ in persuading more Americans to get the shot. Last week, taking aim at those he called ‘unvaccinated, unbothered and unconvinced,’ he said, ‘If you’re out there unvaccinated, you don’t have to die. Read the news.’… The current approach is to argue that access has increased and it’s everyone’s individual responsibility to get a shot — and if you don’t, it’s on you… Those who aren’t yet vaccinated are much more likely to be food insecure, have children at home and earn little. About three-quarters of unvaccinated adults live in a household that makes less than $75,000 a year. They are nearly three times as likely as the vaccinated to have had insufficient food recently. Many of them have pressing concerns they can’t just put aside because they need to get a vaccination…. Those who are unvaccinated are also likely to work in essential jobs like agriculture and manufacturing that don’t allow them to step away from work. They work long hours and may prioritize time with their families or communities when they finally get a break. People who have multiple jobs may find it impossible to schedule a shot in between all of their shifts. And yet 43 percent of the unvaccinated say they definitely or probably would get it or are unsure, according to Julia Raifman, an assistant professor at the Boston University School of Public Health.” • Lol, so last year we were all thanking essential workers, especially those who worked from home and depended on deliveries. Now, we’re all blaming them. Especially those who work from home and depend on deliveries.

“A giant trial of COVID-19 treatments is restarting. Here are the drugs it’s betting on” [Science]. “After months in the doldrums, one of the world’s largest trials of COVID-19 treatments is finally restarting. Solidarity, a global study led by the World Health Organization (WHO), will test three new drugs in hospitalized COVID-19 patients: the cancer drug imatinib, an antibody named infliximab that is used to treat autoimmune diseases, and artesunate, an antimalarial. The medicines have been shipped to Finland, the first country to have all approvals in place, says John-Arne Røttingen of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, who chairs the study’s executive group. “I expect that the first patients will probably be recruited there any day,” he says. Other countries could soon join SolidarityPlus, as the new phase has been dubbed; more than 40 are in the process of getting ethical and regulatory approvals. When the original Solidarity trial started in March 2020 it was a first: an effort to test drugs in dozens of countries simultaneously in the middle of a pandemic. By late in the year it had delivered verdicts on four treatments—none showed a benefit—but then became mired in negotiations with pharmaceutical companies and regulatory delays” • So, months too late, treatment becomes a priority once more.

“What are the obligations of pharmaceutical companies in a global health emergency?” [Ezekiel Emanuel, et al., The Lancet]. “Pharmaceutical companies have special obligations in this emergency, which follow from their indispensable capacity to help to end the pandemic by developing, manufacturing, and distributing COVID-19 vaccines. However, the capacity to help alone does not fully specify companies’ obligations. Additionally, market-based arrangements, with patents, marketing exclusivity, and confidentiality clauses, give pharmaceutical companies the freedom to choose what treatments to research and develop, how to price and distribute their products, and whom to furnish with products through bilateral agreements. Indeed, companies need not produce vaccines or infectious disease therapies at all. Patents and exclusivity, alongside the absence of price controls or requirements for technology transfer, also permit companies to charge higher prices than they otherwise could. Governments adopt intellectual property rights, limited pricing regulations (ie, each country has its own pricing, with no one country controlling the pricing, at most being able to set limits on the prices that can be charged), trade agreements, and other limited interventions (eg, manufacturing, inspections of facilities, etc) in the hope of incentivising the development, manufacturing, and distribution of socially valuable products. Everyone—including pharmaceutical companies—agrees that business as usual is unacceptable in a pandemic.” • Why isn’t it an ethical obligation for governments to make Big Pharma dispensable?

“EXCLUSIVE: VA decides against adding Biogen’s Aduhelm to its formulary as PBM shuns controversial Alzheimer’s drug” [Endpoints News]. “The Department of Veterans Affairs has decided to not include Biogen’s pricey new Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm on its formulary, and its PBM even went so far as to recommend against offering it, noting ‘the lack of evidence of a robust and meaningful clinical benefit and the known safety signal.'” • Ouch.

“China’s Covid-Zero Strategy Risks Leaving It Isolated for Years” [Bloomberg]. • “Fog in Channel: Continent Cut Off”.


“The World Of Warcraft Community Is In Shambles At The Moment” [Kotaku]. “World of Warcraft has been bleeding players since the start of the year. Add to that the drama swirling around a big-time streamer and the general toxicity that festers in just about every online gaming community and you have a recipe for bad stuff to happen. Simply put: It’s tough to look at certain corners of WoW and not feel like Community’s Donald Glover carrying pizzas into a room that’s on fire. Even before Activision Blizzard became the center of a California lawsuit alleging widespread sexual harassment and discrimination, the active player population of Blizzard’s flagship MMO had been falling year after year. A lot of players have been unhappy with recent expansions, and some have even tried to piggyback general complaints about the state of the game onto larger discussion of what’s wrong with Blizzard’s work culture. The exodus appeared to fly into overdrive in early July, however, when the massively popular WoW streamer Asmongold decided to start streaming Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn instead. If community frustration over a lackluster Chains of Domination update and generous free trials for the competing MMO supplied the tinder, Asmongold was the match, and recently he and his fans have been taking direct aim at WoW’s developers.”

Our Famously Free Press

“The Covid States Project: A 50-State Covid-19 Survey Report #60: Vaccine Misinformation, From Uncertainty To Resistance” (PDF) [The Covid States Project]. This bullet point jumped out: “People aged 25 to 44, those with high socioeconomic status, and Republicans are most likely to hold vaccine misperceptions, with over 25% in each group marking at least one misinformation statement as true.” • Wait. You’re telling me it’s not Bubba? (IIRC, although I’m too lazy to find the link, a lot of anti-vax activism in California was also high socioeconomic status; parents who would afford to send their kids to a hospital with no problems.)

“How anti-vaxxers weaponized Ivermectin, a horse de-wormer drug, as a COVID-19 treatment” [Salon]. • The headline is, in fact, outright disinformation. Ivermection is approved for some human uses by the FDA, and has a very long and unproblematic history. Outside the FDA’s jurisdiction, it is widely used on humans in tropical medicine (“More than 2.5 billion doses of the drugs have been used by humans in the last 30 years to treat malaria, dengue fever and even the Zika virus besides it main role as an anti-parasitic drug”). To call it “horse medicine” is simply a lie, sadly picked up and amplified even by fine scientists on the side of the angels:

Class Warfare

“Your first job could significantly impact your heart’s health later in life, a new study suggests” [CNBC]. “Last Friday, researchers from the University of Cambridge, Bristol, and the University College London’s Social Research Institute published a health and socioeconomic study of more than 12,000 British study participants over the span of several decades. Their findings, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health: Participants who were more educated and held managerial positions in their first few jobs had healthier hearts 20 years later than those who didn’t.” • I’m guessing there are confounders.

“Evidence for multiple sources of inductive potential: Occupations and their relations to social institutions” (preprint) [PsyArXiv]. From the Abstract: “Several current theories have essences as primary drivers of inductive potential: e.g., people infer dogs share properties because they share essences. We investigated the possibility that people take occupational roles as having robust inductive potential because of a different source: their position in stable social institutions. In Studies 1-4, participants learned a novel property about a target, and then decided whether two new individuals had the property (one with the same occupation, one without). Participants used occupational roles to robustly generalize rights and obligations, functional behaviors, personality traits, and skills. In Studies 5-6, we contrasted occupational roles (via label) with race/gender (via visual face cues). Participants reliably favored occupational roles over gender for generalizing rights and obligations, functional behaviors, personality traits, and skills (they favored race/gender for inferring leisure behaviors and physiological properties). Occupational roles supported inferences to the same extent as animal categories (Studies 4 and 6). In Study 7, we examined why members of occupational roles share properties. Participants did not attribute the inductive potential of occupational roles to essences, they attributed it to social institutions. In combination, these seven studies demonstrate that any theory of inductive potential must pluralistically allow for both essences and social institutions to form the basis of inductive potential.” • In other words, identity politics is a pile of [family blog]. One can only wonder why it is so heavily promoted.

News of the Wired

“What’s the visual symbol for ‘pasture-raised’ meat? There isn’t one—yet” [The Counter]. “In recent years, especially among professionals concerned with sustainability, the food industry has been awash in discussions about how best to communicate to consumers the (often complex) value of certain agricultural practices, from pasture-raised meat to regenerative farming to holistic managed grazing. Many of these terms have precise definitions and don’t exactly lend themselves well to clean visuals. The Foodicons Challenge, which has sourced judges and designers from 80 countries, also aims to be international in scope: Each sketch that a designer proposes should be legible to more than just the population of a small handful of countries. … Eventually, Shedroff hopes that the Foodicons symbols will be added to restaurant menus, buffet signage, retail food packaging, and to the boxes that are shipped from suppliers—farmers, fishermen, and so on—to their corporate buyers. Once the judges finish their critiques later this summer, all of the final icons will be posted to the Noun Project, a database of icons and logos popular among graphic designers. The group will also present them at the United Nations 2021 Food Systems Summit in September and to the World Food Forum in October.”

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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 (SC):

SC writes:

“The attached photo shows 4 blossom clusters at various stages on the most mature of the (I hope) Purple Milkweed starts that I set in soil a few weeks ago, hoping to get some blossoms and seed for the sake of 2022 starts.

As noted in a prior plantidote, I have been waiting for these plants to produce blossoms so that I could verify that the seed vendor sent Purple MW (and not Common, which happened from a different seller in a prior attempt some years ago). These are definitely more purplish than the blossoms on the colony of Common MW that resulted from that prior attempt, but the hue is not as intense as the images of Purple MW that come up in searches. So I remain a bit in doubt. Perhaps NC readers may recognize this variety better than I am able to.

I feel confident that this is not Swamp MW, as the leaves are large and wide (a feature of both Common and Purple); Swamp MW leaves are narrower. Perhaps the shape of the seed pods will be decisive — Common MW has fat prickly seed pods, while Purple MW pods are slimmer and smooth. If this is Common again, I may call it quits on the “grow Purple MW from seed” agenda; two failures over several years would be a bit disheartening. These are much prettier than my Common MW colony and perhaps are worth propagating for distribution, whatever they are; I think they would find takers if offered gratis and that might help a little to improve the local Monarch habitat.

I’ll know what the seed pods are like in a few weeks. There does seem to be range of hues in Google image results on “Purple Milkweed” searches; the palest that I have found are still a bit more vivid than mine. Perhaps the less vividly hued images get selected against for upload because they aren’t as eye-pleasing, so that search results are not a fair sample of what the population of plants actually looks like.

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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. curlydan

      I’ve actually liked some of Laurie Garrett’s reporting in the past. It seemed like she was fairly good on a number of Democracy Now! episodes. But that Twitter thread (parts 1 and 2) was weak… basically, calling into question Ivermectin due to the removal of 1 out of 20+ studies in a meta-analysis.

      I guess this link below is a fuller picture of what she thinks–basically advocating for immediate booster shots for all. But why just advocate for that when important things like mucosal sterilizing vaccines or anti-virals actually might help some people, too?


      It would be nice if some people could end their maniacal focus on Plan A only (e.g. mRna vaccines will save us if we only all do it). Everybody needs a Plan B.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > It would be nice if some people could end their maniacal focus on Plan A only (e.g. mRna vaccines will save us if we only all do it). Everybody needs a Plan B.

        I don’t understand this mentality either; it seems almost religious in character (“We have no Plan but Plan A!”) Perhaps they believe that having a Plan B undermines commitment to Plan A? Or undermines commitment to the charismatic leaders (E.g., Fauci) who support Plan A?

        A functional elite would, I think, recognize that in a Federal, continental, imperial, multi-national, multi-lingual political economy there has to be more than one plan (“It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.” –FDR).

        Then again a political economy (oligarchy) driven by profit maximizers would settle on a single plan, wouldn’t it? And the servants of the oligarchs would sing in chorus….

  1. allan

    Dow flirts with 35,500. Sure, 22 years late, but whatev. Good enough for government AEI work.
    Where do Glassman and Hassett go for their apology?

  2. Jen

    Overheard today that the undergrads who are on campus for the summer term are refusing to wear masks in the library and ripping down the “mask required signs.”

    This bodes well for the full return to campus in less than a month /s

    Opinions in the college newspaper:

    “Dartmouth’s decision to reinstate a mask mandate sends the wrong message. One of the supposed advantages of getting the vaccine was the promise of a “return to normal.” There is no reason why vaccinated individuals should be taking precautions — sacrificing “normalcy” — to protect others who have willingly chosen not to receive the vaccine. I’m afraid that unvaccinated individuals would see the return to universal masking as a reason not to get vaccinated…continuing to live in fear of a virus — against which the College is requiring vaccination — defeats the purpose of getting vaccinated.”

    “Students are what make the Dartmouth community, yet it feels as though we are perpetually excluded from the conversation. I urge the administration to give students a voice regarding its decisions. We can have a safe community without being burdened by superfluous restrictions.”

    and one voice of reason:

    “masking indoors is low on the list of pandemic hardships, so long as we can avoid returning to social isolation and reduced in-person interaction. Let me try to be optimistic — perhaps this mask mandate is just what’s needed to help head off a Delta wave and avoid more drastic measures.”

    Yup. This is going to go swimmingly.

    1. farragut

      Small world. My eldest son is entering Dartmouth as a freshman this fall. Give him a few weeks to find his footing and he’ll have the first year students sorted. :-)

    2. PHLDenizen

      And they have a medical school. Then again, so does Harvard and they gave us Walensky.

      Yale is a trade school for white collar criminals in the CIA. And Harvard, particularly HBS, is a trade school for white collar criminals on Wall Street and at white shoe law firms.

      Ivy League is appropriate, as unchecked Ivy is basically a noxious weed that clings to everything, suffocating or otherwise destroying it.

          1. Pate

            It seems obvious to me now, but it was not until I read “The American Slave Coast- A History Of The Slave-Breeding Industry” that I learned the origin of the term “mother family blogger”. We have much to be proud of.

          2. Yves Smith


            Sometimes these schools do manage to put out class traitors.

            I am not in their league, but I must point out Daniel Ellsberg went to Harvard, and Ralph Nader, Princeton and then Harvard Law.

    3. Mikel

      What part of waning protection from vaccines over a matter of months don’t they understand?
      Do they not understand how to do a quick search of “non-sterilizing vaccines” and what that means?

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        What part of it were they ever even told about?

        How would they understand how to do a quick search of “non-sterilizing vaccines” if they have never even heard the word?

    4. Verifyfirst

      Can’t really fault the aspiring PMC for believing Walensky, who was speaking for and to the current PMC, when she (and others) said what she said about vaccination and safety circa two months ago. It was an answer the whole class liked very much, and the end of the discussion for them!

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      > continuing to live in fear of a virus… defeats the purpose of getting vaccinated

      I imagine this is the Dartmouth Review? “Live in fear” is a Republican trope, which accurately takes the measure of their liberal opponents, but is orthogonal to questions of public health (assuming anybody believes in that any more).

      I like to think that I am not “living in fear.” I’m taking rational precautions to protect myself and others through “doing my own research.” As a result, I support both masking, and in the midst of a pandemic, universal masking requirements.

      Is it “living in fear” to wait for the lights to change before driving through an intersection? Apparently so; ignoring the warning is a manly statement of bold individuality and serves the cause of “freedom,” when when you crash your car into another driver. They too are serving the cause!

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Perhaps a counterphrase to “living in fear” could be ” living in telligence”.

        I live in telligence. Get it?

  3. Samuel Conner

    > So, months too late, treatment becomes a priority once more.

    Just today, I wrote a friend who, like me, is a bit shell-shocked at the never-ending sh!tshow, that I thought that by some time in 2022, when the reality of “forever COVID” has been sufficiently widely admitted, there would be a mass demand from below for prophylaxes and therapies, and perhaps progress on both.

    It’s nice to be overly pessimistic, for once.

    What a shame that this wasn’t near the top of the agenda when the Federal purse was opened for rapid vaccine development.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Operation Warp Speed did have a treatment arm. I’m not sure what went wrong, if indeed anything did. It certainly does seem that the public health establishment, not just OWS, is hostile to the notion of treatment generally, and placed a single large bet on vaccines.

      1. Pat

        Just a thought, but vaccines meant going back to normal. Treatment meant living with the disease and thus continued mitigation efforts outside of treatment.
        And 2! There was a lot of government requiring insurance cover Covid, and stepping in when there was no coverage. There would be a whole lot of ” we don’t want to pay for X” from both entities which would also push an all vaccination policy.

        I find a lot of medical decisions by accountants feel on the part of both public health and our political hoo-ha’s. Schools and offices must open because of the bottom line. This would be no different.

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          The billionaires must have return on their capital. That’s why the universe exists. Our lives are nothing in comparison. Hell, the Earth as a living planet is nothing in comparison. To complain is to mess with the primal forces destroying Nature itself.

        2. Earl Erland

          Try taking that to all sectors of the economy, and indeed to all aspects of life. Without a parachute. I look forward . . ..

  4. Pate

    “Well, one California governor was an actor, so why not a talk show host“
    Actually two were Hollywood actors. The rest just “actors “. All of it theater, eh?

    1. Mayacreedmore

      Just relax folks. Feinstein has so much embalming fluid in her system that she’ll run again in 2024 as she has said.

      That and the wig glue assure her permanence.

      1. Mikel

        There are a probably lot of old money bags whose wealth she’s been protecting that won’t let her retire. They stick to what they know for as long as they can.

    2. Milton

      I just received my Recall ballot in the mail today. This vote does not have the frivolity and festivity that the Grey (ay?) Davis vote had, with the subsequent Arnold win. Three pages of candidates with nary a C-lister; the exceptions being Caitlin Jenner and Angelyne. Wouldn’t it be easier to have a Yay or Nay for a Newsom recall and if it passes have the Lt. Gov take over?

  5. TBellT

    Close family in admin role at a medium sized college went full time office this week. Amid the growing delta concerns college president sent an email saying “We are recommending masks all time indoors”. However, no rethinking of the full time office plans. There was some hope among the staff that at least they would go back to hybrid model but no such luck, even though with full time students they’re going to be re-experiencing the parking capacity issue they had before the pandemic. This is also an older workforce so obviously at more risk.

    This is a president who in addition to a nice mid 6 figure salary is also getting a housing allowance. Must be nice to be one of the MBAs that run our hospitals and colleges.

      1. TBellT

        Never got an answer on the particulars but it’s a 90+ year old building with some renovations 40 years ago. Their offices are in the basement so no sunlight. No upgrades were made to anything in the time ppl were away.

    1. Verifyfirst

      I hope your family members take it upon themselves to protect themselves as much as they can–free standing HEPA air filters next to every desk!! And of course minimum N95 type masks that fit snuggly.

      I was just researching masks a little again, and I found a couple interesting things. One is called Fix The Mask, you put it on around the edges of your mask and it seals your mask much better. I’ve been trying it a little–I do like how it seals, I can tell the difference hugely, even with a KN 95.

      I also came across a site I will link to below that seems to review a variety of mask options–the one I like is the elastomeric mask, which it seems you can get half face or full face. It is what the doctors and nurses use at the only tuberculosis hospital left in the US–and they have not had a case of in-hospital TB transmission ever-in 15 years since they started using the elastomeric masks (link also below). They say it is easy to talk with, so that’s a plus, and they wear them for full shifts, year round.

      Why we don’t all use these I don’t know–aside from cost–but they are actually cheaper in the long run. Seems if you are going to wear a mask, you should ask yourself WHY are you wearing a mask–if the answer is to avoid Covid, then why wouldn’t you wear the best mask you can find??



      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > you put it on around the edges of your mask and it seals your mask much better

        “Fix the mask” sounds a lot like the Badger mask (see here and here), which we Linked to. I believe Yves bought some.

        Thanks for these links.

  6. urblintz

    So… one of the new drugs to be tested is “artesunate – an antimalarial”

    hydroxychloroquine is an anti-malarial and was ridiculed for just that reason, yes?

    at least it’s not used to “worm horses” as the fine scientists might have responded.

  7. Tom Doak

    Perhaps we need a new phrase: “access to vaccines”

    If you had access to vaccines, and you didn’t get one, everything afterward will be deemed your fault and cost you $$$$$. Perhaps your health insurer is even looking for a way to negate your coverage. They know all about the scam of “access”

    1. Mikel

      If you have access to a vaccine and did get one, and get sick, (even if you didn’t get admitted to a hospital) imagine long Covid getting labeled as a pre-existing condition? What does that do to insurance costs overall?
      They lump the whole of the country in a pool when they are determining insurance costs, but don’t want that same pool of the entire country to be able to negotiate prices down.

  8. antidlc


    Anti-mask Tennessee parents caught on video screaming threats at fellow parents who support masks in schools

    Anti-mask parents in Franklin harassed and threatened other parents outside a school board meeting.
    The Williamson County board approved a temporary mask mandate for elementary school students and staff.
    “We know who you are,” one man screamed at a masked parent. “We will find you.”

    Be sure to watch the video: https://twitter.com/i/status/1425449438202548224

    So this is where we are at in this country.

    1. Billy

      Hey, the powers that be wanted to divide us, fractionalize any resistance to the real goal, which is a few TRillion more dollars stolen from the future of the children and to consolidate power and curtail civil liberties.

      Now your upset at their handiwork?

      Coming soon, South African Passbook style RFID chipped internal passports, just like the Soviet Union. Now, if they can just figure out how to get all the guns and eliminate cash for total surveillance, they’ll have it made.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Let us hope the masked parents all keep a round in the chamber for when the anti-mask parents come to their homes to pay them a visit.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Can you call a hysterical man a Karen?

        Yes. “Karen” is a spectrum.

        Adding, I don’t know if Mr. Karen was hysterical. There seemed to be a group of at least two similarly-aged young men dressed in black shirts with good haircuts plus an older bald guy acting as the voice of reason (“The police are on our side”). It looked organized to me, and I’m not sure by parents.

    3. Mikel

      Like little mini-civil wars are going to make people want to come out and go shopping or to any event…

  9. Brunches with Cats

    “You know what make me sad? The corpses.”

    Granted, there’s Biden, but isn’t it a bit premature to predict when Cuomo will be wearing cement shoes?

  10. Carla

    [Charter school] “Using exemption from a public health measure as a reward… Why have “public health” at all, then?”

    Isn’t that what the Vaccine Passports are? Particularly since we now know that vaccinated people not only contract Covid-19, but also transmit the virus when they are asymptomatic and don’t even know they are doing so.

    Lambert, I’m afraid the answer to your question “Why have public health at all then?” is: We don’t have public health.

    1. Anon

      ” Deck: “Hundreds of scientists and policy experts left the government during the Trump administration. The jobs remain unfilled six months into President Biden’s term.” • And nce again, civil service issues. Just like the FDA Commissioner’s job, in the molasses-brained Biden administration. ”

      Months to figure out how to distribute checks? Make the stay of any and ALL evictions predicated on filing via the UI system or some such should have taken no more than the many months already spent adjusting UI to accomodate the PUA, etc…

      Many mistake these various perpetually useless but well paid grifters and parasites for utilitarian bureaucrats. Few aspire to anything but to perpetuate various legally formalized bezzle..

      The bureaucracy has grown too large, indolent, corrupt and useless..

      We need to stop accepting the ever escalating costs and endless failures: reorganize and streamline the mess!

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        We need to purge and burn the Reagan-era-and-beyond Republican moles, gladios, left-behinds, embeds, and other such filth from the ranks of the civil service.

      2. Lost in OR

        Well, yes. But it’s just like remodeling a house. Where do you start and where do you stop? Or do you just donate it to the fire department for training and then rebuild?

    2. Verifyfirst

      No worries regarding the McKeel Academy masking breaks for students–it is well established in the infectious disease community that the virus DOES NOT transmit between students during masking breaks.

      It’s a bit like telling people to lock up their guns and keep the ammunition separate, but for half an hour a day, load the guns and leave them on the kitchen table.

      What could go wrong….

  11. Laughingsong

    “ I’ll know what the seed pods are like in a few weeks”

    They will be ovoid, pointy at the ends like a narrow American football, then they will start to dry and crack open. The seeds have fluff for traveling on the wind.

    1. Samuel Conner

      Those four blossom clusters produced exactly one seed pod. And now baby caterpillars are munching the leaves of that plant; they’ll need to be moved before they do too much damage.

      I should have transplanted some other blossoming plants into the MW bed to make the area more appealing to pollinators — a pollination “network effect.” At present it’s just a field of leaf mulch with the MW plants.

      The Common colony is in a wilder part of the yard, and the plants have multiple seed pods per blossom cluster.

      I suppose I can take some consolation in the thought that I’m a “lifelong learner.”

      1. JohnnyGL

        My experience with milkweed, the common kind, has been interesting. It popped up in the corner of my yard where it seemed to be the only thing that could compete, and vigorously, with heritage raspberries for height and speed of growth. Both get to about 6ft at best. My comfrey and blueberry bushes got clobbered.

        As far as monarchs, we don’t get a ton in eastern MA, but when i see them in my yard, they don’t show interest in the milkweed. They do seem to like speedwell and bee balm, both of which are perennials that don’t require much maintenance if they are in a good spot.

        As far as insects that like the milkweed…it’s been all various types of bees that like it.

        1. Brunches with Cats

          Johnny, monarchs like nectar from a variety of flowering plants, but lay eggs only on milkweed. The few you’ve seen might have laid their eggs somewhere else, or maybe they didn’t like your milkweeds, for some reason. According to monarch researchers, they will pass over plants if the leaves are damaged by other insects or if there are other eggs on the plant already, whether monarchs’ or others. When they do lay eggs, they prefer to lay one egg per plant. Another possible explanation is that you’re seeing them on their return trip from Canada, as they head south for the winter. They don’t lay eggs on the return and don’t need milkweed for any other reason. They do need lots of flower nectar to fuel their 3,000-mile flight to Mexico, though, which is why it’s beneficial to plant several late-blooming varieties.

      2. Brunches with Cats

        Well, Mr. Conner, your plants are definitely not common milkweed, so you’ve had at least some degree of success. It’s possible that the color will intensify as the flowers mature.

        Whether they are pure purpurascens or a hybrid, I doubt anyone could tell from a photo. The SUNY Cortland study that I linked to in a thread on your previous plantidote provides minute detail on how to tell the difference and shows that even the top researchers on A. purpurascens misidentified them in their field study. That said, the paper has side-by-side photos comparing individual flowers of common milkweed, purple milkweed, and a hybrid of the two, so perhaps examining a flower as shown could answer whether you got the real thing? If you didn’t, I wouldn’t be too hard on the seed provider. They easily could make an honest mistake.

        If you are able to confirm that you do indeed have unhybridized purple milkweed, you will need to protect it from your common MW colony. As much as I hate to encourage it, you might have to dig out the root system of your common milkweed and plant something “weedy and aggressive” in its place to suppress regrowth. In my garden, a mix of thyme and creeping jenny has done the job, but you might want a taller sun-loving perennial.

        BTW, I found an article earlier today about a research project at U of Georgia designed specifically to create “prettier” and “more well-behaved” milkweed hybrids to profit off home gardeners’ fear and loathing of common milkweed — exactly what I was concerned about. The research does answer your question, however, about what you could replace your common milkweed plants with that wouldn’t cross pollinate with A. purpurascens. Link here:

        Anyway, congratulations. Don’t give up yet!

        1. Samuel Conner

          Thanks! I’ll examine that reference.

          I’m becoming increasingly confident that I don’t have a hybrid. The seller is aware of the hybridization problem and gets its seeds from some wild colonies that it believes are not contaminated.

          I haven’t yet done the minute inspection based on the Broyles hybridization paper; not sure my eyesight is even up to that, but I’ll try to get a load of close up photos using the “macro” setting on my old point-and-shoot. I might need a reference book for milkweed anatomy to understand the terms in that paper.

          There are some other reasons to think that these plants are not hybrids. The leaves have noticeably higher aspect ratio than the Common colony. The branching pattern resembles Purple more than my Common colony, which is all isolated stalks. And these plants went from seed to bloom in about 6 months, which is not the growth pattern of Common. Broyles reported that hybrids resemble Common in terms of vegetation; if that holds for growth pattern, it would be another hopeful sign.

          Yes, I’m planning to eradicate the Common colony; the only question is whether to save some of the rhizomes for local growers who want this plant. Thankfully, all the Common blooms were spent and seed pods forming before the (probably) Purple began to bloom, so no contamination this year.

          Thanks for your original reference to the Broyles paper. I think I also ought to get the book on Monarchs and Milkweed that you mentioned.

          Again, thanks!

          1. Brunches with Cats

            If I’m not mistaken, the parts that Broyles and his team examined in order to categorize the differences between purple milkweed and the hybrid were collected in the field and brought back to the lab for close examination. The comparison photos are of individual flowers (as opposed to the entire globe). If your eyesight allows, you could pick off a few flowers with tweezers, lay them flat on a well-lighted surface indoors, and use a magnifying glass.

            I agree that the paper is difficult reading. I skipped the stuff that was over my head and looked for the summations and conclusions. The above-mentioned photos at least have some parts labeled and corresponding captions. One of the most wonderful things about Agrawal’s book is that he’s able to explain highly technical subject matter for lay readers, and he makes it fascinating, to boot.

  12. farragut

    Our host Lambert recently expressed revulsion at the current World Gold Council ad, while another poster wondered (as did I) what the storyline was. So I asked them:

    “Settle a bet between a friend & I? What’s the story line behind this ad? What roles do the man & woman play? Thanks!”

    “Thanks for your interest! The man represents the economy and the woman, an investor. Our investor is building a portfolio and using gold to secure it. Hope that helps settle it!”

    1. Laughingsong

      Haha! I read it at first as “DeSatanized”. I guess it’s a 6-of-1 kinda thing either way…. :-D

  13. Lemmy Caution

    Re “The Covid States Project: A 50-State Covid-19 Survey Report #60: Vaccine Misinformation, From Uncertainty To Resistance”

    I was curious about the false statements used for the survey. Here they are:

    In COVID States project surveys, we ask respondents to evaluate four popular vaccine misinformation items. The false statements we ask about include:
    ● The COVID-19 vaccines will alter people’s DNA.
    ● The COVID-19 vaccines contain microchips that could track people.
    ● The COVID-19 vaccines contain the lung tissue of aborted fetuses.
    ● The COVID-19 vaccines can cause infertility, making it more difficult to get pregnant.

    The first three are a bit loony tunes. Number four caught my eye. Is this really a false statement? Searching the VAERS database for infertility related to Covid vaccines comes up with four reports of infertility. Two of the infertility cases were noted as a “permanent disability.”

    While VAERS has its limitations, surely these reports indicate the jury is still out on whether the vaccines cause infertility.

    At best, I think you could say that it’s unknown if the Covid vaccines can cause infertility. To say it is false statement is unsupported.

    And maybe women who are considering pregnancy or are pregnant are right to be extra careful when deciding whether to get vaccinated. Consider the VEARS reports on other adverse events related to reproductive health and the mRNA vaccines:

    Spontaneous abortions: 668 events
    Vaginal hemorrhaging: 788 events
    Irregular menstruation: 1,589 events
    Delayed menstruation: 541 events
    Premature babies: 19 events

    1. Pat

      And on our local evening report, pregnant women were being urged to get vaccinated.

      I wanted to vomit at the time and I still really want to hurt someone.

      1. JeffC

        A handful of unverified reports of vaccine-caused infertility?

        The US alone has had perhaps a hundred thousand cases of infertility from Covid: you are not fertile if you are dead.

        Pick your poison, but pick carefully.

        1. Pat

          Since my comment was about pregnant women let me clarify something for you.

          Women who are already pregnant are not vaccine adverse because of possible future fertility issues. The spontaneous abortion figures would be more pertinent. And there there are the unknown effects on a developing fetus.

          Just consider, women limit caffeine during pregnancy due to the possible effects on the fetus, you know that drug that most people ingest daily without thought. These vaccines are largely to entirely untested in regards to fetal contraindications. Hell, they are largely untested in general, think about the growing indications of trouble with heart complications in teenage and young men. Do you honestly believe that either Pfizer or Moderna would certify the safety of their vaccines for pregnant women if they were not immune from the consequences of being wrong. That immunity is not there to protect the public.

          Everyone has to weigh the possible advantages vs disadvantages of vaccination. And despite the PR campaign inflating the effectiveness and downplaying the side effects of our available vaccines, there ARE circumstances where they are not going to be the answer.

    2. NZeg

      Is it possible to provide any links reporting this data on adverse events related to reproductive health.
      I’m not confident that I can download and create a report from the VAERS data set myself.
      Many thanks

      1. Yves Smith

        This is what the CDC says. And more important, if you’d had any bad cases you could trace to the vaccines, the right wing press would have been all over it to the degree that you’d have seen specific responses (“XYZ was reported but we investigated and blah blah blah”)

        Evidence about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy, although limited, has been growing. These data suggest that the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any known or potential risks of vaccination during pregnancy.

        No safety concerns were found in animal studies: Studies in animals receiving a Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, or Johnson & Johnson (J&J)/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine before or during pregnancy found no safety concerns in pregnant animals or their babies.
        No adverse pregnancy-related outcomes occurred in previous clinical trials that used the same vaccine platform as the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine: Vaccines that use the same viral vector have been given to pregnant people in all trimesters of pregnancy, including in a large-scale Ebola vaccination trial. No adverse pregnancy-related outcomes, including adverse outcomes affecting the baby, were associated with vaccination in these trials. Learn more about how viral vector vaccines work.
        COVID-19 vaccines do not cause infection, including in pregnant people or their babies: None of the COVID-19 vaccines contain the live virus that causes COVID-19 so a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make anyone sick with COVID-19, including pregnant people or their babies.
        Early data on the safety of receiving an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech) during pregnancy are reassuring:
        CDC released the first U.S. data on the safety of receiving an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy. The report analyzed data from three safety monitoring systems in place to gather information about COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy. These early data did not find any safety concerns for pregnant people who were vaccinated or their babies.1
        Another report looked at pregnant people enrolled in the v-safe pregnancy registry who were vaccinated before 20 weeks of pregnancy. Scientists did not find an increased risk for miscarriage among people who received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy.2
        Many pregnancies reported in these safety monitoring systems are ongoing. CDC will continue to follow people vaccinated during all trimesters of pregnancy to better understand effects on pregnancy and babies.
        Early data suggest receiving an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy reduces the risk for infection: A recent study from Israel compared pregnant people who received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine with those who did not. Scientists found that vaccination lowered the risk of infection from the virus that causes COVID-19.3
        Vaccination of pregnant people builds antibodies that might protect their baby: When pregnant people receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy, their bodies build antibodies against COVID-19, similar to non-pregnant people. Antibodies made after a pregnant person received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine were found in umbilical cord blood. This means COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy might help protect babies against COVID-19. More data are needed to determine how these antibodies, similar to those produced with other vaccines, may provide protection to the baby.4


    3. Even keel

      I’d like to see a survey that checked people for belief in false statements/arguments in favor of the vaccine.

      Do you believe:
      -if you take the vaccine you are protected
      -vaccinated people cannot contract the virus
      -vaccinated people cannot spread the virus
      -there is clear data that supports an inference that vaccine induced immunity boosts endure longer than six months
      -virus mutations occur only in unvaccinated people.
      -if we get enough people vaccinated, we will reach herd immunity and the pandemic will be over.

      They said 10% agreed with each of their statements? I’d bet the agreement rate would be much higher for these.

      1. Basil Pesto

        I’ve been of the opinion for a few weeks now that anti-vaxx-no-matter-whatters and only-vax-can-save-us proselytisers are guilty of the same intellectual laziness, just in opposite directions. But they are both guilty.

  14. Judith

    Further to the David Lidstone saga:


    Lidstone, 81, said even if he could rebuild his cabin, which burned down last week, “I would have people coming every weekend, so I just can’t get out of society anymore. I’ve hidden too many years and I’ve built relationships, and those relationships have continued to expand.”

    Lidstone, a logger by trade who chopped his firewood and grew his food in the woods along the Merrimack River in the town of Canterbury, said he’s not grieving the loss of his life in isolation.

    “Maybe the things I’ve been trying to avoid are the things that I really need in life,” said Lidstone, who drifted apart from his family. “I grew up never being hugged or kissed, or any close contact.


    One proposal under consideration is for him to live on property belonging to the Concord Friends Meeting, a Quaker meeting in Canterbury that’s not far from the cabin site. Lidstone worked on the meetinghouse as it was being constructed in 2010. The congregation would have to agree on the matter.

    The property overlooks the Merrimack.

    “It has certainly occurred to us that here is a neighbor in need,” said Richard Kleinschmidt, co-clerk of the Quaker meeting, “and how can we help him?”

    1. Pate

      I feel like I’m being yanked to and fro. First the Tennessee “we know who you are” school mask video (antidlc above @ 2:51) and now the Quaker kindness to Mr. Lidstone. I’d say interesting times we live in, but guess has always been thus.

  15. Wukchumni

    If we’re gonna have a nutty conservative talk radio host for Governor, look no further than Fresno and Ray Appleton, who leans so far right-a stiff wind might push him over.

    FRESNO, California (KSEE/KGPE) — In a statement from Cumulus Media, parent company of KMJ, it was announced Friday that Ray Appleton has been suspended after saying that “certain news editors should be hanged” Thursday on his radio broadcast.

  16. Michael

    Re: California Governor recall
    I’m from San Diego and think our former Mayor Falconer could be a dark horse candidate since highest vote total wins. He served with a predominantly Dem City Council and knows the players.
    Now he is running against the State Leg’s 2 Bad bills, SB 9& 10, seeking to end single family zoning in CA. Pledged to veto any attack on SFD if elected. Currently 3 out of 4 residents are against these Bad bills originated by Weiner-SF and Atkins-SD (Pro Tem).
    Still a long way to go.

  17. Eduardo

    Tech: “Apple’s New ‘Child Safety’ Initiatives, and the Slippery Slope” [John Gruber, Daring Fireball]. … It’s just a way of assigning unique identifiers — essentially long numbers — to photos, in a way that will generate the same fingerprint identifier if the same image is cropped, resized, or even changed from color to grayscale.

    Cropped? Just a minor technical quibble but …

    From Apple : “The main purpose of the hash is to ensure that identical and visually similar images result in the same hash, and images that are different from one another result in different hashes. For example, an image that has been slightly cropped or resized should be considered identical to its original and have the same hash.”
    Apple: CSAM Detection Technical Summary (pdf).

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Cropped v slightly cropped

      Good point! (That’s the old production manager’s trick to fake being an artist by deadline: Take whatever photo you’ve got and crop it into a graphic. So indeed the source work and the cropped version should have a different hash.)

  18. Mikel

    “Ports face biggest crisis since start of container shipping” [Financial Times].

    “…The logjam has caused stock shortages and delays to deliveries, raising prices and frustrating consumers at a time when a pandemic-led boom in online shopping has increased demand for next-day delivery…”

    I wonder if ALL of that increased demand for next-day is coming from customers and not often just company demands on workers.

    Earlier this summer I ordered 4 stemless wine glasses on a Sat. Plenty of wine glasses still on hand, so this was no emergency and I was fine with the regular delivery time of a few days that I was given after the order.
    Imagine my surprise on Sunday getting a next day delivery.
    Poor guy could have had the weekend off as far as I was concerned.

    1. QuicksilverMessenger

      We can’t get our inbound containers out of customs in any kind of reasonable time. They are beyond backed up. I’m at a major West Coast port. And every day a container sits either at the port, a dray yard, a customs exam site, you are paying daily demurrage/ detention charges. We’re paying an average of $11,000 PER container just for the detentions fees, on top of ‘normal’ import and delivery charges. Multiply this by how many thousands of other inbound containers and you see why prices are rising. No company will eat those fees. They will for the most part be passed on.
      I can’t count the number of letters from suppliers announcing price increases effective immediately. I’ve never seen anything like this and I have been in the specialty food business for twenty years.

  19. Wukchumni

    I’ve decided to lose 10 pounds on the $2,000 diet using my Covidividends, i’m pushing 60 and have always been able to shoulder a 35-45 pound backpack, but am going towards the light in that there are a number of small manufacturers of gear that weighs a pittance compared to a Coleman tent, albeit @ a price.

    My hammock & rainfly (proud member of the great hammockracy-have about 500 nights between trees) weighed nearly 4 pounds, my new 2 person tent weighs 23 ounces.


    My Osprey 65 liter backpack purchased during the ‘ssshrubery Presidency weighed around 5 pounds, my new 60 liter backpack weighs 2.

    My old 15 degree down bag weighs 2 1/2 pounds, my new 25 degree down quilt weighs a pound.

    I have a few more items to switch out for lighter ones, and it’ll really help drooping my pack weight by 30%.

    High tech hasn’t come up with anything to allow a machine to do your walk for you, but the advances in gear are amazing compared to the early 1980’s when I first shouldered an external Jansport backpack, and everything was so heavy in comparison to today.

    1. The Rev Kev

      When I was backpacking around Europe in my salad days, I got so sick of all the weight of my pack that I cut down any excess weight with a vengeance. I got to the point that I cut off half the handle of my toothbrush – but it worked. I worked on the idea with weight that if I took care of the ounces, that the pounds would take care of themselves.

      Good to see that you are going for lighter gear by taking advantage of all the new materials coming online. At our age, there is no need to still go heroic lugging dead weights into a park. You have long paid your dues.

  20. chuck roast

    From The Hill: “One of the reasons infrastructure projects cost significantly more in the United States than similar ones in other countries is our byzantine permitting process.”

    I went to work in DC in 2002 doing environmental review (NEPA). The first issue on the agenda of my first agency meeting was a study we were doing on “why the environmental process took so long.” Congress was fingering my agency for delaying approval on their badly needed projects. Anyway, when the intra-agency review of “why the environmental process took so long” was completed it was determined that the problem wasn’t the environmental review process. The problem was local agencies continually changing the parameters of their projects and thus requiring environmental back-tracking.

    So, when you see the term “streamlining” as it pertains to project reviews, know that what it really means is jettisoning environmental review over the transom. I’m guessing that showing “flexibility” and “streamlining” the production of plutonium pits will be the ticket to a brighter more efficient future.

  21. Larry Y

    SC, Seek (a smartphone app) identifies the plant as Purple Milkweed. Seek and the associated iNaturalist are what I use to identify and track plants when doing my volunteer invasive plant surveys.

    iNaturalist (https://www.inaturalist.org/) is citizen science sponsored by the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society. Observations are assisted by image recognition technology, and are peer reviewed for quality.

  22. Verifyfirst

    Re: “What’s the visual symbol for ‘pasture-raised’ meat? There isn’t one—yet”

    This is a very good example of how far behind we are in making changes that would impact climate change…..does it make any difference now what we label meat? 30 years ago that might have been a useful project. Today the only hope of having an actual impact is to STOP eating all meat, full stop, right now.

    As I drive around Ann Arbor and see all the new developments being built, they are all the same old same old constructions as ever–nothing has changed. Nothing.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I will make a special point of finding and eating carbon-capture pasture-and-range raised beef, to make clear my rejection of the false statements and false goals and propaganda emanating from the vegan militant community.

  23. Industrial Culture Handbook

    Malaria is a parasite. Dengue and Zika are viruses and there are no medications that directly treat either, or COVID, for that matter. Any efficacy is attributable to better general health by taking care of your concurrent worms while they got you on the butcher paper. Metronidazole doses, which treats a variety of infections, are also 3% of the cost of ivermectin in the US, which explains why ivermectin is commercially limited to veterinary applications, notwithstanding the influence of pharmacy benefit management programs.

    More compellingly, ivermectin is proof that beliefs really are determined by group-motivated reasoning. Because ivermectin comes out of leftfield, the idea is easily communicable. Because unless you live in the tropics, you probably have never heard of ivermectin. One can integrate ivermectin into one’s class conflicts, evidence the needs of larger social competitions supersede personal health and survival. Which is the obsolescence of the material benefits as indispensable to social policy. Government carries on by negotiating the needs of competing technological orders, ever since, oh…the Virginia Charter of 1606 divvied up the English colonies between two companies.

    It is the group, not the individual, which benefits by shibboleths, reducing communication, impeding growth, and negating self-autonomy. — Without judgments, without endorsements, just a radical commitment to observable truth.

  24. Carla

    Construction Physics article: “As I read this, the low quality of our civil service is the issue.”

    I think it’s the low quality of our purchased political leadership, the low quality (or non-existence) of our civics education, and the financial crapification of frigging everything. When “govt is sh*t” is the dominant narrative for 40-50 years, you’re pretty much guaranteed a basement-level, bare-boned civil service. NOT the civil servants’ fault — everybody else’s!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’m not blaming the civil servants personally (and I couldn’t figure out quite how to word this).

      It seems to me that the appropriator think all they have to do is approve spending, because the recipients of the spending, and the channels through which the spending will be delivered, are all smoothly functional, when in fact they’re sclerotic (although to be fair, sometimes the sclerosis is built in, as with ObamaCare). Congress did appropriate some money to attack this problem but I am afraid that, as with corruption in any other Third World country, it is deeply rooted. Now let’s to construction!

  25. drumlin woodchuckles

    About declining quality of civil service and civil servants . . . it is the civil service parts of government which Norquist Republicans work to shrink to “drown in the bathtub ” size. And part of how they try to make that happen is to pollute the agencies, departments and bureaus with anti-civil anti-servants, to degrade those government institutions into being harmful and therefor hateful and therefor hated. And ripe for defunding in tax revolts.

    The Norquist Republicans have been filling the departments, bureaus and agencies with their gladios, left-behinds, embeds, moles, etc. ever since Reagan. If we have a civil service quality problem, that shows how well the Norquist Republican plan has worked.

    it would take years for thousands of teach-ins to reach millions of people about that and other anti-New Deal initiatives taken over the years. But without such information-spreading, how will a New Deal Revival Movement ever even be startable?

  26. Reader_In_Cali

    Re: California recall

    IMO, coin flip as to whether or not Newsom beats this thing. Why? I [family blog] you not, he just now kinda sorta started campaigning! And when I say kinda sorta, I mean there is one digital ad currently running with Elizabeth Warren on some streaming apps. No mailers, no door knocking. A tiny trickle of phone calls. And the yard signs only have the silhouette of a bear with the word “No!” on them FFS! For an election that is happening in a month!

    IF the recall is successful it will be because of the following:

    -low voter awareness, from regular people who aren’t plugged in and preoccupied with state politics, which will result in –

    -miserably low voter turnout which favors the opposition

    Such a comedy of errors…

    1. a fax machine

      My view as well, although I will add that further Covid lockdowns, PG&E fires and general chaos could destroy it for him. But this is also tempered by his ability to do window dressing against PG&E and give everyone more helicopter money (or at least more leeway on evictions and increased EDD). 50/50 shot, and to be clear this does not confer an endorsement of Newsom as I have always disliked him.

  27. The Rev Kev

    ‘Rick Klein
    Biden says Cuomo has “done a helluva job” as governor. “That’s why it’s so sad,” he adds.’

    When Biden said that, I had a flashback to Bush saying ‘Heckuva job, Brownie.’ Anyway, I was watching Cuomo give his apology/non-apology and wondered what his deal was. I mean the guy is as ugly as a hat full of a******* but because he is wealthy & famous, women want him. So basically the guy does not have a real problem going after women if he wants which he obviously does. Hell, if he got desperate, New York would have an abundance of knocking-shops at his disposal. And yet he could not help himself but going after women who did not welcome his advances. There is one possible reason why that I can think of. I suspect that he wants to live out a 1970s “Dirk Diggler” pron fantasy. That he wants to live out those 70s film fantasies of hitting on random women and them just giving into them. He did grow up in that era and maybe he never forgot them. And that explanation makes more sense as how he came to kill people by the thousands and to this day has never been held to account for that.

    1. Brunches with Cats

      Women want him — only in his delusions! If women wanted him, why does he have to steal physical contact, and why is the only steady companion he has at nearly 64 years old a dog?

      1. The Rev Kev

        It’s like with Prince Andrew, Bill Clinton, Jeffrey Epstein, etc. They can have many women through their wealth and position but they can’t help themselves but go after ‘forbidden fruits.’ At least with Cuomo, it is grown women he is going after. And as for his pet, they have a saying that if you want a friend in Washington, you should go get a dog so I would expect the same to be true for New York.

        1. Brunches with Cats

          If you want a friend in Albany, you shouldn’t be in politics. You’d be better off in, oh, maybe breeding pit vipers.

          As far as I can tell, Cuomo wasn’t “going after” any of these women in the sense of wanting a relationship with them, even if loosely defined to include a quick [rhymes with “yuck”]. I was groped plenty in the Army in the late 70s, before “sexual harassment” was in the national vocabulary, and I can tell you that except for a couple of outright propositions, the behavior was more like exercising a privilege of rank — a perk for the powerful, as Zephyr Teachout described at the above link (very good article, BTW). In any case, groping isn’t exactly a good pickup strategy. Nor are lewd, suggestive, or otherwise cringe-worthy comments.

          I just don’t see evidence of “could have any woman he wanted.” He couldn’t even hang on to the two trophies he managed to win. Of the crazed groupies — the so-called Cuomosexuals — besotted with his pandemic briefings, I’ll hazard a guess that few, if any, of those women still want to be in his briefs, now that he has been exposed.

  28. Jason Boxman

    In a peak-stupid sighting yesterday, in a Times article on breakthrough cases, the author suggested that given the mild symptoms, it isn’t actually a big deal and that contracting COVID might just boost your immune system.

    Thats sounds almost like an endorsement of COVID parties for the vaccinated.

    How bizarre and dangerous. The reporter ought to stick to stenography. It would be safer for everyone.

    1. Yves Smith

      Particularly since we have multiple reports of people who have gotten multiple cases of Covid, that each is worse. There are infections like dengue fever that behave that way.

      Of course, all we have is anectdata, since until recently no one even admitted reinfections occurred (despite that being a bloomin’ obvious likely outcome for a coronavirus and there being articles about reinfections, where they sequenced the virus and the second one was different than the first) and no one it tracking cases.

  29. a fax machine

    re: construction physics and civil service

    It largely comes down to mettle and the actual drive to achieve a project. A determined, serious city government that wants something done and which makes plans for it across all levels of government (local utility districts, city councils, county transit authorities, state legislative offices, Washington) will get things done within a tolerable amount of grifting. It’s when cities don’t have this drive, do things go awry.

    Ask yourself: why does San Francisco have a new Eastern Span and Transbay Terminal but the downtown train station promised in 1984 is still absent? It’s because the City government wanted a new car bridge and more cars, not more trains. And thus is why SF still owes San Mateo Co around ~$187 million for conservation of the train route, while plans to connect the existing track to the new Terminal are ill-formed and lukewarm. Ultimately the City government doesn’t want trains, and just sees it all as this big costly thing against buses which are cheap carry little expectations. Of course they all drive new Teslas, which they consider the future and will eventually eliminate all mass transit entirely. End result: their transit projects are constantly thwarted from the inside with stupid, costly decisions and inaction that has no clear end goal.

    By comparison other cities do adhere to a plan. A good example is San Jose, while imperfect they at least know they want a high-quality (preferably electric) train connections to Oakland, Stockton, Salinas and Fresno by 2030. A specific plan is created and the city government is mobilized, which allows for further mobilization of legislators in support of that goal. When construction projects are proposed, approved and built everyone knows what the end stage is at the start. It’s this thing called “vision” which most politicians lack because they view their job as mangerial and not as building a future for people younger than them. This certainly influences climate policy as well.

    1. Acacia

      Back in the 1990s, as I was stuck in usual San Francisco bumper to bumper traffic feeding an on ramp to the Bay Bridge, I spotted a little handmade cardboard sign on the roadside that read:

      Think this is bad? Imagine your commute in five years!

      Since then, I moved out of the state, and every time I return to visit, it looks a little bit more like the developing world.

  30. Soredemos

    >“The World Of Warcraft Community Is In Shambles At The Moment” [Kotaku]

    This of course doesn’t really matter at all in the grand scheme of things, there are much more important things going on in the world, but the Decline and Fall of the Blizzard Empire has been pretty stunning to watch. World of Warcraft was the dominant MMO for 15 years or more, and the company also helmed other franchises that consistently printed gobs of money. The company has been slipping for years; many people would pinpoint the real decline as starting with StarCraft II ever a decade ago.

    These days the company simply doesn’t seem capable of putting out a properly functioning product, and the recent revelations about the workplace culture inside the company seem to explain why. The place is apparently some frat house nightmare, and in addition to being especially terrible for the women employees, it’s not a conducive environment to putting out good code. When half your workers are drunk and not working and the other half are crawling through the cubicles harassing the female employees, your output suffers. These revelations really help explain the state of so much of what Blizzard puts out.

    1. RMO

      Don’t worry, I’m sure Bobby Kotick will finish his contract and 2021 with $30 million in salary and maybe a couple hundred million bonus bucks. That’s what’s really important right? The CEO’s bank account, not the workers, customers or even the shareholders really.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > This of course doesn’t really matter at all in the grand scheme of things

      Seems like a good metaphor, though. And apparently, it took many years to destroy the company (unlike Uber, which was like this from the beginning).

    3. Kurtismayfield

      The problem with Blizzard’s model of video gaming is that Candy crush or another addictive mobile game makes way more money for their masters. So their time was coming to an end no matter what.

      1. Soredemos

        Nah, that’s not true. Activision Blizzard also pumps out a new hundred million dollar Call of Duty game every single year. They’re fully committed to the big budget AAA video game model.

        ‘Casual games will overtake more legacy style video games’ was a serious strain of thought in the early 2010s. Microsoft bet pretty heavily on traditional video gaming going into a steep decline with their underpowered Xbox One. The name came from their vision of it being an All-in-One media box that people would mostly use to stream stuff on. Meanwhile Sony went all in on a pure gaming machine and put a lot of money into robust first-party support to make the games, and they crushed Microsoft that generation.

        Ultimately mobile and casual gaming carved out profitable niches but people very much still want their bigger budget ‘real’ games (meanwhile TVs themselves came to have all the streaming capabilities built in to them, leaving the Xbox One with little to do other than play a handful of exclusive titles and generally worse versions of games also available on Sony’s Playstation). Mobile and casual games can indeed be dirt cheap to slap together, but they’re also incredibly oversaturated markets at this point. They’ve also developed a well deserved reputation for being shallow and always wanting your credit card info. Some are huge hits, but there have also been huge failures as well. The recent Sakura Wars mobile game was a massive failure for Sega and has already been shut down (its failure has also probably brought the recent fairly successful reboot of the parent franchise to a screeching halt. No more fighting demons in a hopeful alternate world where the Taisho democracy era never ended).

  31. Mikel

    The California mandate for Covid testing in the schools is a big deal. It will probably be one of the larger samples of tests on the vaccinated, which the CDC tried so hard to skip over. And it will be happening at the 8 month or so mark since the first shots started. Thus a gauge in the real world about the waning protection of the non-sterilizing vaccines.

    1. Mikel

      Correction…not. I read a headline that said all teachers and staff to get tested and a story that said “California will become the first state in the nation to require all teachers and school staff to get vaccinated OR undergo weekly COVID-19 testing

  32. Mikel

    A couple of stories to think about this eve:

    WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand, which has completely stamped out the coronavirus, plans to cautiously reopen its borders to international travelers early next year, the government said Thursday.
    Officials also said they would delay second shots of the Pfizer PFE, -3.90% vaccine in order to speed up first shots to protect more people as the threat of the delta variant grows.
    New Zealand’s success in erasing the coronavirus has allowed life to return almost to normal. The South Pacific nation of 5 million people has reported just 26 deaths since the pandemic began….”

    And remember this:
    “Wealthy Americans buying property in New Zealand see the country as a “bolthole” in the event of a catastrophe, a Queenstown real estate executive says.
    Bayleys Queenstown executive director Stacy Coburn says Silicon Valley bosses and US hedge fund managers are buying property in the South Island as a safe place to hide in the event of a major terror attack.
    “Queenstown is seen as a bolthole for the future if things do turn to the worse in the world,” he said.
    That’s been achieved in part by closing borders to those who aren’t residents or citizens…”
    But many question whether its feasible for New Zealand to maintain a zero-tolerance approach to the virus once international travel resumes.
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the government planned to follow the advice of experts and maintain the elimination strategy….”

  33. Lambert Strether Post author

    > Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the government planned to follow the advice of experts and maintain the elimination strategy

    No doubt some billionaire and their entourage will buy their way in an infect everybody….

    1. skippy

      Hay mate ….

      How does one undo decades of what neoliberalism has wrought after “Free Market Economic Liberalism” strode across the orb … spreading Freedom and Liberty for Legacy Anglophone Capital[tm]. Wellie in the case of NZ one can reference the old Richard Smith posts, just for a good time. Not to mention the whole PM Key era and the anglophone ME terror war machinations that goosed the NZ RE market and no one looked back on that payday evermore …

      But then again the sick man that is NSW in OZ just borrowed a cool 10B to gamble on ***future expectations*** after getting everything else wrong with this covid event because after everyone has run into the neoliberal church and awaiting its Cecil B. DeMille moment.

  34. Lambert Strether Post author

    > How does one undo decades of what neoliberalism has wrought after “Free Market Economic Liberalism” strode across the orb … spreading Freedom and Liberty for Legacy Anglophone

    I wish I knew. Hysteresis is a thing.

  35. Raymond Sim

    The last time I looked into this topic (two months ago?) my amateur take-away was that this seemed only likely to happen in the context of a severe inflammatory response, making it another of those areas where “Hey! Still not as bad as the disease itself.” is what we have to content ourselves with.

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