2:00PM Water Cooler 8/13/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Bane of office parks, magnificent in flight!

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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:

A little dip in the South (and this is a seven-day average, so the dip is real).

50.4% 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:

Still near vertical. 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 and Texas drop again. Waiting on Florida sure is tedious.

NEW From CDC: “Community Profile Report August 11, 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties, this release:

Some red to pink and pink to yellow out west. The rest of the county looks just as red to me. 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:

More red now, still in the South.

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

Biden Administration

“By pushing for more oil production, the US is killing its climate pledges” [Adam Tooze, Guardian]. “Yes, you read that correctly. One of the most senior figures in the Biden administration, the administration that promised climate was ‘everywhere’ in its policy, is declaring that an increase in petrol prices to $3.17 per gallon is a matter of national security and that the US reserves the right to cajole Opec and Russia into flooding the world with more oil. We should not mince words: if this is the stance of the Biden administration then its decarbonisation agenda has been well and truly buried. According to no less an authority than the IEA, if we are to reach net zero by 2050, we need to end fossil fuel capacity expansion now.”

“Democrats Might Create A Tax Break For Union Membership In Budget Bill” [HuffPo]. • Card check? No way. But Democrats love them their tax breaks! (I checked for means-testing. Maybe that will be in the final bill.)

“How Anita Dunn got ‘to the table’ and has helped other women follow” [CNN]. “Dunn is a senior White House adviser, and is one of the few people to be in the inner circle of two presidential campaigns, and two administrations: Barack Obama’s and Joe Biden’s…. Looking back at her 20-year-old self, a college student interning for Carter chief of staff Hamilton Jordan, Dunn said she did actually imagine herself climbing the ranks to the heights of Democratic politics, despite the fact that she had so few female role models back then.” • This puff piece doesn’t mention that former Obama Adviser Anita Dunn helped Harvey Weinstein strategize. What it takes, I guess.

Democrats en Deshabille

“Manchin Bailed Out Plant That Pays Millions to His Family’s Coal Company” [Sludge]. “t was the coal brokerage he co-founded in 1988, Enersystems, that has provided the vast majority of Joe Manchin’s outside income since becoming a U.S. senator: over $4.5 million in total, including nearly half a million dollars last year. While he serves as chair of the Senate Energy Committee, Manchin reports that his stake in his family coal company, which has a fuel agreement with the waste coal-fired power plant in Grant Town, West Virginia, is worth up to $5 million. Enersystems, now run by Joseph Manchin IV, has virtually no online presence and is inaccurately tagged as “permanently closed” in its Google Maps listing.'” • As it still is. I wonder how Manchin got Google to do that?

“Anatomy of an Officer-Involved Explosion: a Post-Mortem on LAPD’s E. 27th Street Fireworks Blast” [StreetsBlog LA]. The Deck: “A year ago, a councilmember co-authored a motion to shift $150mil from LAPD’s budget. A month ago, LAPD called everyone but his office to watch them detonate fireworks in his district.” Crass even for the LAPD.

“Inside Cuomo’s ‘Hotel California’ for Albany Aides: You Can Never Leave” [The City]. “A former staffer described to THE CITY Cuomo’s ‘cycle of abuse, abuse, abuse — then there’s something really unexpected and nice…and then it’s abuse, abuse, abuse. And then he adjusts the cycle when he can see the cycle needs to be adjusted.’… State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, who previously worked for the Cuomo administration and became a vocal critic, acknowledged the same people were often subjected to and the perpetrators of the ‘culture of toxicity.’ ‘It really also is kind of like a mind game because sometimes the same people are told, ‘You did a great job,’ and then they’ll be yelled at in the next hour. So it makes you feel very destabilized,’ she said. ‘You’re constantly seeking their approval, but also want to run away from them.'” • Sounds a little like… Trump?

Republican Funhouse

“Brett Kavanaugh Without Tears” [Washington Monthly]. • I had no idea Kavanaugh worked the Vince Foster investigation for Ken Starr — and milked it for three years. Starr went to work in 1994, so Kavanaugh has been a made man for a long, long time.


“Trump Hires Iowa Political Veterans, Signaling Interest in 2024” [Bloomberg]. “Donald Trump’s fundraising committee has hired two political operatives familiar with campaigns in Iowa, the state that typically kicks off the race for the White House, signaling his interest in running in 2024. An aide with Save America, the leadership political action committee that Trump began after losing the 2020 election, told staff and advisers in a memo Thursday that Eric Branstad and Alex Latcham are joining as senior advisers. A Save America spokesman, Taylor Budowich, confirmed the hires and said Latcham and Branstad will help on ‘many political matters.’ Trump has been hinting about another presidential bid, even as he has tried to steer clear of activities that would trigger federal election laws that would require him to register as a candidate — and limit spending. Some Republicans had been hoping that Trump would fade away, as he continues to falsely claim he won last year’s election. ‘We are going to make you very happy,’ Trump said in May on ‘The Dan Bongino Show’ when asked about his 2024 plans. ‘And we’re going to do what’s right.'”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Public health” going the way of “public schools” and “the public interest” (and “the public” too, I suppose):

(The author knows about the typo.)

“The Sunrise Movement’s Members Of Color Say The Group ‘Tokenized’ And ‘Used’ Them For Years” [Buzzfeed]. “As the youth-led Sunrise Movement helped catapult racial justice to the center of the national conversation on climate change, many of its members of color repeatedly charged over the last three years that they felt ‘tokenized,’ ‘used,’ ‘ignored,’ and ‘dismissed.’ That’s according to a series of internal memos and letters, signed by at least 100 young climate activists and obtained by BuzzFeed News. The activists said they were overworked and underpaid; warned that the group was unable to attract or retain members of color, especially Black ones; bemoaned the lack of diversity among Sunrise leaders; and demanded resources to build up support in communities of color. ‘Staff and movement leaders have poured hundreds of hours into trying to convince top leadership to truly live out our slogan to ‘build a multi-racial cross-class movement,’ a group of four longtime Sunrise members wrote in a March 23 letter detailing concerns from members of color. ‘Top leadership’s results are wholly inadequate.'” • A “cross-class” movement sounds like a recipe for internal contradictions to me. Not everything can be intersectional.

“Texas Senate Passes Republican Voting Bill, Overcoming Dem Obstruction” [National Review]. “The Texas Senate voted to advance a major Republican voting bill on Thursday in an 18-11 vote, along party lines. Senate Bill 1 passed after state Senator Carol Alvarado finished a 15-hour talking filibuster in an attempt to delay the vote. Filibuster rules prohibited Albarado from eating, sitting down, leaning on her desk, taking a bathroom break or speaking about subjects unrelated to the bill. The all-night filibuster came one day after Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, a Republican, signed arrest warrants for 52 Democrats who did not return during the fourth day of the House’s second special session. The Democrats’ absence left the chamber eight members short of a quorum. As Republicans hold the majority in both chambers, Democrats do not have the votes to stop the bill from passing. Instead, they have been working to delay the vote since June, when Democrats walked out of a legislative session to deny a quorum for Republicans to advance the bill. Last month, 57 Texas House Democrats traveled to Washington, D.C., on private chartered jets, using their physical absence to deny Republicans of their needed quorum. They planned to hide out in the Capitol and fight for federal voting legislation until the Texas special legislative session expired.”

“Inside the Texas Democratic Legislators’ Hectic Month in Washington, D.C.” [Texas Monthly]. “Many Texas Democrats felt emboldened. They were getting lots of attention. But nobody knew how to convert that publicity into tangible progress. Federal legislation could easily pass the Democratic-controlled U.S. House. But in the Senate, it would face a Republican-led filibuster. The only way to overcome that obstacle would be to change the rules regarding filibusters—a move opposed by two Senate Democrats, Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, and Kyrsten Sinema, of Arizona, as well as Biden. But Texas Democrats weren’t certain how long they could hold out in D.C. waiting for Biden and Congress to act.” • They flew to Washington on the assumption the Democrats would get rid of the filibuster? Am I reading this right?

Stats Watch

Inflation: “July 2021 Import Year-over-Year Inflation ‘Declines’ To +10.2%” [Econintersect]. “Year-over-year import price indices inflation marginally declined from +11.3 % to +10.2 %… Inflation continues to be hot.”

Rails: “Rail Week Ending 07 August 2021 – Positive Growth Continues But Year-over-Year Growth Is Being Compared To Shutdown Period Last Year” [Econintersect]. “Week 31 of 2021 shows the same week total rail traffic (from the same week one year ago) improved according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR) traffic data.”

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Commodities: “Any rebound in the crude tanker market will have to wait. The International Energy Agency is downgrading its near-term outlook for global oil demand… saying in a report that the worsening impact of the Covid-19 Delta variant is cutting into economic growth prospects” [Wall Street Journal]. “The IEA now sees crude orders expanding in 2022, when the group expects the world’s thirst for oil to return to pre-pandemic highs in the second half of next year. That’s a poor sign for tanker operators that have been looking for a rebound since business turned downward at the onset of the pandemic in 2020. Shipping analyst group Bimco said in a report this week that daily rates for tankers are hovering below break-even levels.”

Commodities: “The U.S. natural-gas industry is trying to clean up its production in an effort with important implications for the shipping sector. Investors, policy makers and buyers of liquefied natural gas are rethinking the fuel’s role in their energy mix because of worries over methane emissions” [Wall Street Journal]. “[T]he concerns are particularly pronounced in Europe and increasingly arising in Asia, creating problems for LNG shippers like Cheniere Energy as they look to tap overseas markets…. Much of natural gas’s carbon-intensity comes in the production stage, and Cheniere is working with U.S. producers to figure out the best way to monitor and quantify methane emissions, and to deliver a cleaner product.”

Retail: “Amazon’s Power Will Only Keep Expanding in the Near Future” [Jacobin]. “The landscape is being sorted into what you could call three different kinds of cities. There’s the headquarters cities, like Seattle and now Washington, DC, where the company chooses a city that’s already the wealthiest metro area in the country for a second headquarters, even though it’s going to make that city even more expensive and congested. You’d think they wouldn’t want to be there, but they do, because it has the workforce they want. With DC, it’s the seat of federal power, so they want to be close to that, now that federal intervention is a threat…. Then you have the warehouse towns, in places like Baltimore, where you now have four warehouses. I can’t keep up with it: in the book, I described there being two, with a third one coming in Baltimore, and now we’re about to get a fourth. Three of them are going to be at Sparrows Point, at the former steel mill outside Baltimore. In Ohio, you have something similar. When Amazon first came to Ohio a few years ago, they put the warehouses in the center of the state, but at the southern edge of the Columbus beltway, because that makes those warehouses barely accessible to the poorest parts of the state. Southern and southeastern Ohio are struggling, and the company knows that if it puts its warehouses at that edge of the beltway, it’s about an hour drive for a lot of people. A lot of people are desperate enough in those parts of the state to make that commute every day, whereas the data centers end up in the wealthier exurbs….. So, you’ve ended up with headquarters cities, warehouse towns, and then the data-center exurbs in Northern Virginia and in Severn, Maryland, in Columbus, and in a few other places around the country. Amazon is now so powerful that its decisions about where to put stuff reshapes our economic landscape. A single decision by this one company about where to put a second headquarters has an incredibly outsize effect on our economy.”

Apparel: “Shein Launches Eco Campaign Amid Copycat Accusations” [Jing Daily]. “According to industry watchdog Diet Prada, Shein has been increasingly ripping off indie designers, otherwise described as ‘those who haven’t had the chance to break out on a bigger scale.’ Among its latest victims are knitwear designer Bailey Prado, Black-owned fashion brand Elexiay, and earring maker Kikay…. Shein’s knockoffs also have ethical and environmental repercussions. By recreating trendy clothing, the company has been able to churn out products quickly, cheaply, and at a lower quality level. In fact, Shein’s production pace is every speedier than other “ultra-fast” sites like Fashion Nova, as it reportedly can churn out the same amount of styles in one day (about 1,000) that its competitors put out in a week. Although this theoretically limits overproduction as the company can send smaller orders to factories, there is no word on what this means for its carbon footprint or work conditions…. [But] as long as consumers continue to buy, the king of fast fashion is unlikely to relinquish its throne anytime soon.”

Tech: “Exclusive: Apple’s child protection features spark concern within its own ranks -sources” [Reuters]. “Apple employees have flooded an Apple internal Slack channel with more than 800 messages on the plan announced a week ago, workers who asked not to be identified told Reuters. Many expressed worries that the feature could be exploited by repressive governments looking to find other material for censorship or arrests, according to workers who saw the days-long thread…. A fundamental problem with Apple’s new plan on scanning child abuse images, critics said, is that the company is making cautious policy decisions that it can be forced to change, now that the capability is there, in exactly the same way it warned would happen if it broke into the terrorism suspect’s phone.”

Manufacturing: “Machine Tool Orders +40% Higher at Midyear” [American Machinist]. “U.S. manufacturers’ new orders of machine tools rose to $490.3 million during June, up 8.9% from May and 41.7% from June 2020. Even more encouraging, the year-to-date total for new manufacturing technology orders increased to $2.509 billion, a rise of 48.6% over the January-June 2020 total.” • Now if only we made machine tools in this country….

Supply Chain: “There Is A Tennis Ball Shortage Too Now” [Vice (Re Silc)]. “There are two dominant players in the tennis ball scene: Head (which owns Penn) and Wilson, which was recently bought by a Chinese conglomerate. But, ironically, it is Head that manufactures its tennis balls in China, while Wilson makes them in Thailand. Either way, both brands have to get their balls across the Pacific—Penn closed its Arizona factory in 2009—which, like all other products from China, is subjecting them to delays at port facilities on the west coast as more ships with more containers come to understaffed ports. It’s not clear when the tennis ball shortage will ease.”

Mr. Market: “Mystery Hedge Fund Bolsters 500% Return on Curious Nasdaq Stock” [Bloomberg]. “Six thousand miles from Wall Street, in the ancient Silk Road city of Almaty, lies the private redoubt of a little-known financial empire…. Few can explain exactly what’s going on here — how an obscure brokerage in Kazakhstan, of all places, has outrun Wall Street firms…. How? The young billionaire with the answers, Timur Turlov, is sitting at the table over there. Wearing a tailored blue suit and sipping a Red Bull, Turlov, 33, sketches out a grand vision for the broker. ‘We remain one of the few floodgates to the Western market for customers from our region,’ Turlov says in his native Russian, while detailing the unique arrangement he says has helped secure Freedom access to newly listed U.S. stocks. There’s a mysterious hedge fund with deep connections across Wall Street; a trading conduit through Belize that Turlov personally controls; an obscure New York brokerage with a troubled past…. According to Freedom marketing materials, clients have gotten in on more than 100 U.S. IPOs since 2020,… Turlov says his firm’s way in is an affiliate of a hedge fund that buys the shares from underwriters and passes them along. Its identity is confidential, he says, and no mention of it appears in U.S. filings. Even inside Freedom, the name is closely guarded, according to current and former employees…. The arrangement is unusual, to say the least. Reena Aggarwal, director of Georgetown University’s Center for Financial Markets & Policy, says she’s never seen anything like it.”

Mr. Market: “Inside The Coronavirus Haul Of A Wall Street Whiz Kid” [Forbes]. “‘Buying value really works in a crisis because it is about mean reversion. The stocks that are cheap going into a crisis tend to be cyclical and they tend to be companies driven by gross domestic product,’ [Daniel Rasmussen] says. ‘Not only are you buying the cheapest companies, you’re actually buying the companies that grow the fastest when the economy recovers.””

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 46 Neutral (previous close: 42 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 36 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 13 at 12:00pm. Finally we arrive at neutral.

Health Care

“Effectiveness of favipiravir in COVID-19: a live systematic review” [European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases]. A meta-study. “There is no significant difference in fatality rate and mechanical ventilation requirement between Favipiravir treatment and the standard of care in moderate and severe COVID-19 patients.”

“How The Pandemic Now Ends” [Ed Yong, The Atlantic]. “Here, then, is the current pandemic dilemma: Vaccines remain the best way for individuals to protect themselves, but societies cannot treat vaccines as their only defense. And for now, unvaccinated pockets are still large enough to sustain Delta surges, which can overwhelm hospitals, shut down schools, and create more chances for even worse variants to emerge. To prevent those outcomes, “we need to take advantage of every single tool we have at our disposal,” [Shweta Bansal, an infectious-disease ecologist at Georgetown University] said. These should include better ventilation to reduce the spread of the virus, rapid tests to catch early infections, and forms of social support such as paid sick leave, eviction moratoriums, and free isolation sites that allow infected people to stay away from others. In states where cases are lower, such as Maine or Massachusetts, masks—the simplest, cheapest, and least disruptive of all the anti-COVID measures—might be enough.” • But there’s no such thing as society. There is only freedom. Therefore, we don’t need to worry about ventilation, testing, paid sick leave, evictions, or free quarantine sites And all those things cost money. More: “If endemicity is the future, then masks, distancing, and other precautions merely delay exposure to the virus—and to what end? “There’s still so much for us to buy time for,” Bansal told me. Suppressing the virus gives schools the best chance of staying open. It reduces the risk that even worse variants will evolve. It gives researchers time to better understand the long-term consequences of breakthrough infections. And much like last year, it protects the health-care system.”

The Biosphere

“Iowa wildflower Wednesday: A lawn-to-native plant garden conversion” [Bleeding Heartland]. From 2020, still germane: “The more I learned about native plants, the more I thought they might be a good fit for me. Native plants, once established, really sort of know how to take care of themselves. Being indigenous to our climate, they don’t generally require any sort of regular watering or chemicals. They spread–some more than others–when given the space to do so and will quickly fill in to become lush and colorful. Environmentally speaking, they help retain water in the land because of their deep roots, and they lessen the wastewater that makes it to our sewers, creeks and rivers, especially important in Davenport because we are prone to flooding. Native plants are incredibly crucial to our local bird, bee and insect populations as well. Many types of caterpillars can only eat specific leaves of specific plants. Without those plants, we will have no caterpillars and without those caterpillars, we will have no butterflies. Caterpillars make up a big part of the diet of baby birds, so if we don’t have caterpillars, bird populations suffer as well. After learning of some of the benefits, I decided to take on the project of adding some more native plant beds to my yard. I decided to start in my front yard, which is a bit of an unusual choice because in my neighborhood, most front yards are very grass-focused…large expanses of green, with maybe a few shrubs or lilies thrown in here and there. I decided to start on my front yard mainly because I see it more than I see my backyard. I wanted to see a sea of beautiful flowers when I pulled into my driveway, or while sitting near my living room and bedroom picture windows. First step: killing off the grass.” • Indeed! Well worth reading in full if this is your situation.

“Extreme Weather Makes Everything Harder, Except Climate-Risk Analysis” [Bloomberg]. “A new feature of this year’s IPCC report was the discussion of “compound events.” These include concurrent heatwaves and droughts, or floods from multiple sources such as a storm surge that combines with river flooding. They are the kinds of tragedies that break the systems that humans rely upon, with devastating effects…. Compound events weren’t mentioned in the last IPCC science summary even though we now know they were likely already occurring. A 2018 paper cited in this year’s report traces three events in 2010 that researchers found “strong evidence” of being linked by atmospheric dynamics. A heatwave in Russia led the country to restrict wheat exports, which may have contributed to instability and uprising in Egypt. It hit at the same time as Pakistan suffered record-breaking floods. Knowing such calamities are linked to common climate change drivers is useful, of course, but this example illustrates how hard it will be to ever confidently predict how the effects of extremes will unfold.” • The headline seems a little off?


“Droughts shrink hydropower, pose risk to global push to clean energy” [Reuters]. “The emerging problems with hydropower production in places like the United States, China and Brazil represent what scientists and energy experts say is going to be a long-term issue for the industry as climate change triggers more erratic weather and makes water access less reliable. They also could pose a threat to international ambitions to fight global warming by hindering one of the leading forms of existing clean power. Hydropower is the world’s top source of clean energy and makes up close to 16% of world electricity generation, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). This year, climate-driven droughts have triggered the biggest disruptions in hydropower generation in decades in places like the western United States and Brazil. China is still recovering from the effects of last year’s severe drought on hydro production in Yunnan province in the southwestern part of the country.”

“Remembering John Wesley Powell in a Dry Year” [Counterpunch (ctlieee)]. “[Powell’s] root idea, well researched, was brutally simple: the West is an arid land, which can only support a limited number of people and a limited irrigation agriculture. It is an area that has no normal climate, although it tends toward drought interspersed with times of flood. Therefore, development must respect the limitations of the natural resources and not exceed the carrying capacity of the different regions…. [W]hat you are not hearing this hot, dry summer in the Western public dialogue is a strategy for reducing the load on the natural resources, permanently fallowing land which now holds permanent crops like the export-led industries of almonds, grapes and dairies. Golf courses should be forbidden in California except where we learn to play on sand and dirt…. Some cities should be given back to the Indians.”

“Under Water” [Texas Observer]. “For years, community organizers in colonias have fought for better drainage, housing improvements, and basic infrastructure. In makeshift homes relegated to the outskirts of cities, colonia residents have long been left to fend for themselves. As climate change intensifies storms and flooding, advocates in colonias are grappling with a particularly acute version of a question that poor communities around the country are facing: how, or whether, to keep rebuilding in a place that won’t stop flooding.” • No houses on stilts?

Film Strip

“New Zealand loses its precious ‘Rings’ series to Britain” [Associated Press]. “In a major blow to the nation’s small but vibrant screen industry, Amazon Studios announced Friday it would film the second season of its original series, inspired by the books of J.R.R. Tolkien, to Britain. ‘The shift from New Zealand to the U.K. aligns with the studio’s strategy of expanding its production footprint and investing in studio space across the U.K., with many of Amazon Studios’ tentpole series and films already calling the U.K. home,’ the company said in a statement. The move came as a blow to many in New Zealand. The production is one of the most expensive in history, with Amazon spending at least $465 million on the first season, which just finished filming in New Zealand, according to government figures. The series employed 1,200 people in New Zealand directly and another 700 indirectly, according to the figures.” • Oh, Amazon’s Ring series. I thought they meant the real one. Have any readers seen the Amazon Rings? Do the hobbits work in happy warehouses?

Zeitgeist Watch

“Britney Spears’s Dad Jamie Agrees to Step Down From Conservatorship” [Teen Vogue]. The deck: “Though the decision isn’t effective immediately.” Spears’ lawyer: ” I look forward to taking Mr. Spears’s sworn deposition in the near future,” • The story is by no means finished…

Class Warfare

“Passion Projects” [Columbia Journalism Review]. “Freelance workers occupy a vexed position within labor law. Should they be understood as having the capacity to engage in price-fixing, they must first be understood as small-business owners who control the means of production and therefore maintain a share of the market’s surplus value. But, as Nicole S. Cohen, a scholar of communication, points out in Writers’ Rights, most freelancers are in a ‘position of disguised or misclassified dependent employment.’ Unlike traditional businesses that sell a service (e.g., internet providers), freelance media workers sell labor that might otherwise be completed by full-time––and sometimes unionized––employees. Like shop owners, they are said to experience a high degree of self-control, arranging their work environment, hours, and clients as they please. But as artists engaged in a creative process, they’re also presumed happy being compensated in units of personal growth. As the economist Fritz Machlup wrote in 1962, the ‘psychic income’ experienced by artists is ‘so large that [the artist] continues to supply his services at earnings rates far below what persons of similar qualifications could obtain in other occupations.’ In the past three years, however, a growing body of freelance journalists have been attempting to renegotiate their place within the industry. In the spring of 2018, following a wave of unionization among staff writers in digital newsrooms, a group of around twenty media workers—many of them former staff employees who had recently been laid off—began discussing how the principles of collective bargaining could benefit freelancers. They subsequently formed the Freelance Solidarity Project, a division of the [National Writers Union (NWU)] that has injected new life into the organization’s long-lost publishing agreements.” • ”Psychic income.” As if Shakespeare or Rembrandt didn’t expect (or deserve) to be paid!

Community land trusts:

News of the Wired

“Introducing the New and Improved Biff-TEK” [The Baffler]. “Biff-TEK’s signature line of meat-based protein powders will help you develop muscle, improve your cognitive function, and facilitate key personal development growth metrics. It’s made with real beef and a proprietary blend of neuro-enhancers. Just one scoop of Biff-TEK in your morning hydration workflow will up your game—as a pre-workout or pre-workday boost.”

“Brains Might Sync As People Interact — and That Could Upend Consciousness Research” [Discover]. Very interesting, and hard to extract: “People synchronize in various ways when we interact with one another. We subconsciously match our footsteps when we walk. During conversations, we mirror each other’s postures and gestures. To that end, studies have shown that people synchronize heart rates and breathing when watching emotional films together. The same happens when romantic partners share a bed. Some scientists think we do this to build trust and perceive people as similar to ourselves, which encourages us to behave compassionately. …. Surprisingly, people synchronize their neural rhythms, too. … Functional links appeared across people’s brains when they cooperated during certain tasks. In other words, different people’s neural oscillations aligned when they cooperated… Functional links across brains increase when people work together, but not for those who are competing or taking on identical tasks simultaneously.” • Hmm.

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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 (Expat2Uruguay):

Expat2Uruguay writes:

So I’m taking the winter off from Uruguay with some travel in the US. I’m currently dog sitting for my brother in San Francisco and this Pond is in the Golden Gate Park. The picture looks like a black and white because it’s taken from an odd camera angle with odd lighting.

After walking around this beautiful area for the last couple of days I’ve gained a better appreciation for how the PMC see the world with such Blissful ignorance of how the other 90% live.

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

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. fresno dan

    Supply Chain: “There Is A Tennis Ball Shortage Too Now” [Vice (Re Silc)].
    But, ironically, it is Head that manufactures its tennis balls in China, while Wilson makes them in Thailand. Either way, both brands have to get their balls across the Pacific
    don’t we all, don’t we all….

    1. Jen

      I’m hiding the news from my golden retriever. If he doesn’t have a supply of the mystical green globes of happiness, he’s going to have a meltdown.

    2. Louis Fyne

      So how much would tennis balls cost if they were made in Tijuana or baltimore?

      it is insane that no one is bothering to ask why, as a society, USAers can’t make more stuff at least in the Western hemisphere.

    1. Pate

      Bird Song of the Day (speaking of birds). I’m more than 70 years in Tulsa. Never had Canada Geese here to my knowledge until maybe 20 years ago. Now these honkers are everywhere in large numbers year-round, including along the Arkansas River and even in small neighborhood ponds throughout the city. Can anyone explain this?

      1. Val

        If these are not small-bodied geese, then my surmise would be the “giant” subspecies, which also have an interesting history. Google, or better, DuckDuckGo: “giant Canadian geese”, there should be a decent write-up.
        Your local state and federal waterfowl people will know what’s up, the conservation genetics of Canadian geese was hammered out a couple decades ago. I hope you are enjoying your local honkers.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          That fits with what I remembered reading once. That it is the “giant” subspecies of Canada goose which approached extinction, and targeted conservation efforts have allowed it to rebound to where it is common in many cities and beyond.

  2. Wukchumni

    Supply Chain: “There Is A Tennis Ball Shortage Too Now”
    Aside from pros on the telly, I never see any regular joes playing tennis all that much anymore. It isn’t uncommon to pass by a dozen courts and maybe 1 of them has action.

    A fellow cabin owner was a tennis instructor for about 30 years, and I asked her what happened?

    She told me it was on account of all the repetitive injuries from sudden stops and starts that came with the racket, and when gyms became popular in the 1980’s, people gave up on tennis and did that instead.

    1. Socal Rhino

      Courts around my neighborhood get constant use. Those at parks used for classes for youngsters. A lot of less youthful play pickelball. Sort of a regional culture thing I think, like lots of young parents jogging along with stroller and dog.

      1. RMO

        The packaging of tennis balls in cans confused me as a child – I wondered why all tennis players seemed to be so inordinately fond of Pringle’s Potato Chips.

      2. Stillfeelinthebern

        Most in my area are converting to pickleball. On Tuesday, passed by the one local park where about half are converted and all the pickle ball courts were in use, the tennis courts were empty.

        1. Joe Renter

          Pickle ball, I am hooked. Fastest growing sport in the world so they say. I lived in Seattle for sometime where it was invented near by (Bainbridge Island). I recommend you give a try.

      1. griffen

        At least during golf, a cold (adult) beverage can help to direct one’s frustrations at not being the next iteration of a Nicklaus, Watson or Woods.

        Mulligan will also help as well !

  3. Louis Fyne

    Blink an eye and the situation in Afghanistan falls apart even more….Taliban only a Westchester County, NY commuter’s distance away from Kabul.

    Heck of a job, Bush, Obama, Trump, Biden (and D-R congressional oversight) But of course the media will find a way to pin the blame solely on Trump. Cuz no DC careerist is ever wrong, nor held account for incompetence.

    1. saywhat?

      Perhaps it’s simply that, as sick as Taliban culture is, it’s preferable in Afghan eyes to US culture?

      1. JTMcPhee

        Love the condescension,”as sick as Taliban culture is…” Like, as you imply, maybe there is something very wrong with the consumer=oligarchy-planet-destroying “culture” of the Empire and the “West” generally? Not that China is any great shakes, as the Chinese “modernize.”

        Basic problem is that humans in “modern” life are collectively the worst kind of locust plague. Anyone have a fi for that, since the end game of the West may very well be something as “bad” or maybe even worse than what we hold in our so well tutored mind’s eye as “Taliban culture.”

    2. ChrisFromGeorgia

      I think from an optics angle Biden owns this moment, because he could have continued the war for another 4-8 years simply by keeping a few thousand troops in-country. For cover he could have used the same neo-cons that owned W, bewitched Obama and fought Trump like he was Beezelbub himself.

      I give Biden credit for not taking the easy route. At least this nightmare is just about over. Cue “The End” by The Doors.

      But yeah, this is a team effort, 4 presidents, a few hundred MIC captured DC stooges, 20 years and gawd knows how many trillions spent, and nothing to show for it except dead bodies and beltway fat cats even fatter.

      1. Deuce Traveler

        This is less of Biden’s personal decision-making and more of a decision being forced by reality. The easy route would have been President Biden calling for an immediate withdrawal on Day 1, but he drug his feet. We should have been out by May, but Biden wanted to set-up some sort of extended withdrawal that was supposed to end in pomp and ceremony on Sep 11. Now the US may be forced out sooner, ruining Biden’s planned photo op. Also, remember we were never really leaving Afghanistan under Biden, as the plan was to keep 650-950 US troops and an unknown amount of allied soldiers, contractors, and mercenaries at the Kabul embassy and nearby airport. It was going to be called a withdrawal in name only as it was really just more of a downsizing from last year’s numbers. Now that plan to have a large Kabul force stick around may have to be scrapped, too. If we end up with a complete withdrawal, the Biden administration will try to play along as if this was always the plan, but statements of the last few months will show that to be false. Those 3000 troops we are sending in will be a good idea if this is truly an attempt at a fast and organized withdrawal of all US forces, however I could see mission creep happening as we support an Afghan government city-state of Kabul; an oasis protected by US air power surrounded by a sea of Taliban territory. How will you see Biden owning this moment if US forces refuse to withdraw from Kabul?

        1. The Rev Kev

          If they tried that they would have to organize a Berlin Airlift to bring in food, fuel and everything else that Kabul needs to survive. Kabul is already being isolated from the rest of Afghanistan and all its resources and will soon be starved out.

        2. Milton

          If the Taliban had any sort of PR acuity, they would time the takeover of Kabul for 9/11. A real punch in the gut for all the NFL opening games with the requisite military flyovers that are to be held the day after.

      2. TMoney

        They have company.

        Graveyard of Empires
        <a href="https://bantarleton.tumblr.com/image/623089234706874368″>Last stand of the 66th Foot

        On Feb. 15, 1989, the last Soviet commanding general in Afghanistan, Boris V. Gromov, walked alone behind the last armored column as it rumbled across a bridge out of the country, and declared that Russia was done here. “That’s it,” General Gromov told a television crew. “Not one Soviet soldier is behind my back.”

        et al…

        Talk about not learning from history…..

      3. Louis Fyne

        for the record, Biden voted yes to invading Iraq in ’02 (along with Schumer, kerry, Clinton, Feinstein,) and of course was VP

        Biden is as much the father of this debacle as W Bush (IMO)

      4. JohnnyGL

        I’ve already dubbed Biden as ‘America’s least awful president of the 21st Century’.

        He is showing a certain kind of toughness by being willing to endure all the bad headlines and news coverage.

        Even if critics rightly point out that we’re not complety leaving, evacuating Kabul is a major move.

      5. JTMcPhee

        “Bewitched Obama?” I call serious bullsh!t there. “Turns out I’m really good at killing people. Who knew?” Ask Libyans what they might think of Obama, or Syrians, or Iraqis… Obama was the one doing the bewitching, and so many of the special people still think of him as some kind of royalty, excusing his horrors. Reminds me of a poem by Auden:

        Time that is intolerant
        Of the brave and the innocent,
        And indifferent in a week
        To a beautiful physique,

        Worships language and forgives
        Everyone by whom it lives;
        Pardons cowardice, conceit,
        Lays its honours at their feet.

        Time that with this strange excuse
        Pardoned Kipling and his views,
        And will pardon Paul Claudel,
        Pardons him for writing well….

        Pardons Obama for speaking and looking well…

    3. allan

      “But of course the media will find a way to pin the blame solely on Trump.”

      Not quite. The WSJ, NYPost and DailyMail are all trying to pin it on Biden.
      Apparently history began on January 20, 2021.

    4. Pelham

      My initial thought was that the Afghan adventure needs its own Pentagon Papers. But the next thought was that such disclosures would be entirely unsurprising at this stage. I think we’re pretty used to the notion that our military and institutional leaders are vain, incompetent and willfully self-deluding to the point that they’ll throw away thousands of human lives to avoid any degree of personal or political embarrassment. Politics ain’t beanbag, after all. Sometimes it’s murder.

      1. Wukchumni

        What is needed now is clever word spin, and an Afghan is a cookie in NZ, or an Afghan throw is a blanket. We need to soften up meanings.

      2. JohnnyGL

        But we got exactly that from the Wa Po when they published the Afghanistan Papers within the past couple of years.

      3. HotFlash

        My initial thought was that the Afghan adventure needs its own Pentagon Papers.

        We’ve had that in spades and quite literally for decades. Public opinion voiced loud starting here to just not go there, then specific info, eg: Abu Graib, Guantanamo photos, Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, Cindy Sheehan, Medea Benjamin, Danny Sjursen, Danny Hale, — the list goes on and on and on. Response was crickets at best, jail time at worst.

        What more should/could have been done, and by whom?

    5. TBellT

      My father had on MSNBC (insert vomiting noise here) and Nicole Wallace was certainly taking Biden to task for it. Finally coming to the realization that they’ve lost the public debate the new argument from the War Hawks were will be that there was a right way to leave.

      Because they operate as indirectly paid employees of the defense industry there will be no acknowledgement on cable news that the Taliban offered us a better deal 20 years ago that Bush/Rumsfeld turned down and we sunk trillions of dollars and thousands of lives into this whole pointless exercise.

      I don’t really know how much juice is left in the ” ‘Member Saigon” and ” ‘Member Rwanda” cans, but it’s just so disgusting to see. At this point my rage just quickly turns to gloom, when I realize people who I thought were immune to this bullshit are turned.

      1. Wukchumni

        You don’t send 3,000 semper fi types half way around the world if you think the Taliban is going to allow you to be in ‘your’ embassy till the cows comes home.

        Suggested reading:

        Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan, 1839-42, by William Dalrymple

    6. K.k

      I just came across a tweet from Marianne Williamson in which she responds to Bill Kristol. She reveals she agrees with the need for continued occupation by U.S military to protect the women of Afghanistan. Someone should explain to her the situation for the vast, vast majority of women outside of Kabul and couple other cities has not changed from the feudal state in which this nation has been trapped. Maybe someone should ask Williamson what she thinks the mothers of dead children TARGETED in schools by the cia death merchants feel about American military occupation…….


      Worth reading for those that may have missed this article from the Intercept last year.

      1. RMO

        “We had to destroy the women in order to save them.”

        Let’s not forget that one of the prime motivations for the Taliban to form and rebel against the Afghan government in the first place was that the government had started educating females – and the U.S. armed and funded them with the intention of provoking the U.S.S.R. into an unwinnable guerilla war. Then dropped them (and other groups) off a cliff when the U.S.S.R. withdrew and soon after disintegrated. “What’s more important, the destruction of a nuclear armed existential threat to the U.S. or a few riled up Muslims?” Thanks Z.B.!

        1. Verifyfirst

          It sounds like there will be/already are thousands or tens or hundreds of thousands of displaced people–who are so afraid of what will happen to them they are willing to basically flee with the clothes on their back.

          What do you armchair experts in your comfortable, safe homes say to them?

          1. K.k

            Displaced people are a consequence of a war launched nearly 20 years ago by the us. Are you really surprised that there is going to more bloodletting before there is some sort of political solution? The sooner the us gets out the sooner the afghans can settle this amongst themselves and hopefully reach a political solution. The other Eurasian countries have been putting pressure on the taliban to reach a political settlement and participate in sort of power sharing arrangement. The US has to get out first but their pathetic, corrupt , sorta puppet regime is so weak they wont even be able to put up enough of a fight to hope to take part in some power sharing arrangement. How long to you propose the us stays there? Another 10years, or maybe 20? The way in which the US is executing its exit further reveals they do not give two @#$&’”” for the displaced people you are rightly concerned for.
            I hope that with or without a power sharing arrangement, the next afghan government, especially if its just the Taliban will be open to integrating itself into Eurasia. That will open it up to some actual meaningful development which will raise the material conditions of the afghan people, half of which are female. My concern now is that the Taliban will be so drunk with power and emboldened by there swift victories that they may be much more reluctant to work with other countries in the region in the near term.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > What do you armchair experts in your comfortable, safe homes say to them?

            Your armchair seems pretty comfortable too. Are you advocating escalating the Afghan war again to protect women? (And which women? NGO women in Kabul, or women in the countryside?)

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          My memory is that the people we aided in Afghanistan were a pre-Taliban set of mujahideen.
          Whereas the Taliban were a younger group of people descended from Afghan refugees in Pakistan, educated in Pakistani-style madrassas, and taken under the wing of Pakistan’s ISI.
          Is my memory wrong?

          1. Soredemos

            No, you’re not wrong. Taliban came after the Mujaheddin. I’m sure there was in practice lots of crossover in the membership between the two, but they weren’t the same thing.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > the people we aided in Afghanistan were a pre-Taliban set of mujahideen

            Yes, we gave the mujahideen Stingers to shoot down Russsian helicopters, good job. I forget whether we called them “Freedom Fighters” or not, but when the Russians left, what the mujahideen wanted had very little to do with what we wanted.

    7. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Blink an eye and the situation in Afghanistan falls apart even more

      It should come as no surprise that a puppet collapses when you cut its strings.

      Once again, Biden proves himself a better President than Obama. (I give Trump credit for wanting to withdraw, and that the military disobeyed him, and obeyed Biden, is a little unsettling. If a competent Trump gets in, look for a lot if changes to the chain of command….)

  4. Henry Moon Pie

    Native plants–

    “Native plants, once established, really sort of know how to take care of themselves.”

    I solved a drainage problem four years ago by creating a rain garden in a 250 sq. ft area that had previously been bare dirt, dog feces and goose grass. After forming a channel down the center, I covered everything in 6-8 inches of compost and planted a seed packet from a local company that specializes in native grasses and wildflowers. The primary component was Virginia wildrye which is also native to Ohio. Included were some more or less native wildflowers like echinacea, butterfly bush and marshmallow.

    Plenty of goose grass and other invasives were the first things up, and I let them go until the rye was beginning to appear. Then I pulled what I didn’t want one more time, and from then on, the rye flourished. Over the past two years, it’s the wildflowers that are spreading, though the ryegrass has moved a little east as well.

    One thing that has struck me as curious. I have butterfly bush in another spot 60 feet away from the patch in the rye grass. It’s in an open sunny spot, but in a rainy year like this one, powdery mildew is an annoyance. The butterfly bush in the rain garden is immersed in the rye grass, gets much less sun than the other spot, but I have never seen powdery mildew on it. As Arte Johnson used to say, “Very interesting.”

    My front yard is not native, though much of it consists of perennial herbs. I planted a large portion this year as the Three Sisters: sweet corn; pole beans and squash (actually, pie pumpkin). Along with the steadily blooming herbs, it attracts quite a bit of attention from passersby.

  5. zagonostra

    “Brett Kavanaugh Without Tears” [Washington Monthly].

    The “conspiracy-mongers” that the author, Jackie Calmes, alludes to, will learn nothing of the particularities of the Foster Suicide that would make them change their views in this article.

    Starr, in a memoir published 21 years later, as the Senate considered Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination, hailed the Foster report as “the definitive word on the cause of death,” though he added the caveat that “we couldn’t lay entirely to rest far-fetched theories.”

    1. CloverBee

      I always found the most offensive thing about Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court Justice was his lack of experience. He had never tried a case, or represented a client. He was always a lawyer working in a political capacity. When I mentioned this to *many* conservatives who supported him through the sexual harassment show, they were shocked, and agreed that he probably didn’t belong on the Supreme Court since he had no experience before becoming a Federal Judge under George W. Bush. But I guess that is why the discussion focused on many and old sexual harassment claims. Better to wind up the culture wars and get a bunch of donations than to keep a political hack from the Supreme Court.

  6. Wukchumni

    W]hat you are not hearing this hot, dry summer in the Western public dialogue is a strategy for reducing the load on the natural resources, permanently fallowing land which now holds permanent crops like the export-led industries of almonds, grapes and dairies.
    There have been a few stories about almond farmers pulling out a few hundred or thousand trees, but it means nothing in the scheme of things, when the other 200 to 300 million almond trees are considered, all of which are solely surviving thanks to deep wells, but they’re hardly profitable compared to 6 years ago when almonds were $4.37 a pound. The going rate now is $1.47.

    All that overplanting did in a place where 80% of all almonds (mostly all for export) in the world are grown was lower the wholesale value, it they’d kept the number of trees regulated, they could’ve planted 2/3rds less and got the same money probably, but no. Instead we’ll empty our aquifers on the cheap.

    I asked my buddy who is an 18 wheel truck driver if he’s still making the runs from the dairies in the CVBB to the Port of LA, his rig full of milk powder, and he related that if anything the exports were increasing.

    1. Stillfeelinthebern

      Reading this made me think of the dairy industry here in Wisconsin. All that has been accomplished is to drive out the small producers and use up our precious water (high capacity well regulation by the DNR was stopped by the Walker administration) while at the same time polluting the groundwater because of the increased quantity of manure going on fields. And the prices continue to go down. The thoughtful farmers all want production control, they love what they do, are not greedy, just want a decent living. Watching the decimation of small farms over the past 5 years has been heartbreaking.

  7. Deuce Traveler

    Your Hated Libertarian Lurker here

    As for the Hobbit movies and New Zealand, Lindsay Ellis did a great job on a three-part YouTube series covering the negative effects the production of those films had on New Zealand politics and labor rights. Ms. Ellis is a huge fan of Tolkien and pop culture films, but she records an oral history from actors and citizens that lived in the local area of the production site. I highly recommend it as it is a piece of better journalism than the Associated Press piece due to Ms. Ellis interviewing workers and residents as opposed to public relations officials. I would guess that the working people of New Zealand are probably happy to let Amazon film its series in England.

    The YouTube segments are called:
    The Hobbit: A Long-Expected Autopsy (Part 1 / 2)
    The Hobbit: Battle of Five Studios (2 / 2)
    The Hobbit: The Desolation of the Warners (Part 3 / 2)

    1. Another Scott

      Unfortunately, the damage done by The Hobbit to labor rights will be difficult to reverse. It’s enshrined in law and now has a powerful financial interest to preserve it.

    2. Wukchumni

      NZ is gorgeous, and I was a bit dumbfounded by people who had traveled halfway around the world to see where a fantasy movie was filmed, and boy did the Kiwis push it hard, LOTR locations.

      For me it was a big turn off…

    3. Josef K

      The titles provide a nice little twist of the blade, and the part 3 of 2 is a nice cherry on top. Reminds me a little of The Fugs Final CD: Part 1.

    4. Louis Fyne

      as an aside, libertarians and many on the left (IMO) should have a natural alliance (or at least mutual respect) as both groups are leery of the concentration of power, and misuse of such power….even if their solutions to such problems may be different

      always makes me chuckle when Adam Curtis clips go viral among “leftie” circles when Curtis abundantly makes clear in interviews that he is not a leftie (he isn’t an American libertarian either)

      unfortunately the two sides seemingly never can work together on discrete issues. Much like contemporary identity politics prevents the bottom 80% from coming together.

      1. urblintz

        Curtis is a perfect foil to deflate, if not defang, the left. Lots of unsettling info delivered with precise and fierce rhetoric… but he always gets the end wrong.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        The only power libertarians object to is government power . . . elected public power. They support private property power totally. They fully support a frackmaster’s private property right to put all the cancer juice he wants into the public water supply. They say the citizen has a perfect right to take the frackmaster to court about it. As if a citizen has the lawyers a frackmaster has.

        Libertarians are about the money, the whole money, and nothing but the money. They have no point of contact with me.

        1. Michaelmas

          Libertarians are about the money, the whole money, and nothing but the money.

          See, what you’re saying demonstrates your US-centric cultural blinders. Because it’s definitely true of libertarians in America, yes. That eminent American libertarian, Charles Koch, member of the Mont Pelerin society, comes to mind.

          Libertarians in Europe and the UK are often more like anarcho-syndicalists, a la Chomsky. Or they used to be, anyway — like identity politics, American libertarianism has become another ghastly US ‘cultural’ export.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Well, since I live in America, the American libertarians are what is relevant to me. The “near enemy” , as it were.

            If I have so much time and money in my retirement that I can travel around in non-America, I will try very earnestly to take my US-centric cultural blinders off, and admit the possibility that there are “libertarians” in Europe who are not brain-children of Friedrich von Hayek, an early Doctor Frankenstein of the Libertarian Monster, who was himself European.

            So who is to say that von Hayek the European inventor of Libertarianism and other Europeans like Rothbard and von Mises, do not consider the American Libertarians to be the True Libertarians, and their greatest success story and bequest to a grateful world?

    5. HotFlash

      The YouTube segments are called:
      The Hobbit: A Long-Expected Autopsy (Part 1 / 2)
      The Hobbit: Battle of Five Studios (2 / 2)
      The Hobbit: The Desolation of the Warners (Part 3 / 2)

      If that’s snark, it’s awesome.

    6. The Rev Kev

      The Critical Drinker has bad reservations about this upcoming series for several reasons. A big one is that it will be a Jeff Bezos effort who has said that we wants it to be the next Game of Thrones so yes, it will have sex and nudity and they already have a coordinator for that. The writers have not much background behind them and the source material is a bit thin. As well, having production in a country still dealing with pandemic problems in contrast to New Zealand where they could have freedom of movement will add to the costs. I expect a total s*** show-

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BT_RrIobJvo (10:34 mins) – swearing alert.

  8. Questa Nota

    Brain sync: how many have had the sense of someone watching?
    What might explain such sensation(s) to exclude purely random events?
    It happens often enough to me, as watcher and watchee, to think that there is more research needed.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      Depersonalization and Derealization are natural states of the brain. Paranoia too. It just happens more often and acutely to those who dissociate or have a thought disorder.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      all my adult life.
      because for a long time, back home, they were.

      and perhaps ‘dissociate’ could also mean ‘stand way back’.
      detachment would be better, but also harder to achieve.

      out here, it’s just the Rumor Mill…but that’s easy: just lay low for a day or two, someone else will put their foot in it, and all attention will go over there.

      and Questa, ya might also consider if you, yerself, are drawing attention.
      I do, fer sure, the more Me i become.
      in dress, general appearance and manner.
      i’m pretty sure they’re used to me, by now…and that makes a lot of difference…but it took 25 years and marrying into an old mexican familia.
      but for the first few years, these clannish, isolated folk were quite suspicious of me.
      and my Vibe Antennae would bristle.
      not necessarily pathological.

    3. Hiroyuki

      well what if consciousness is not an individual property but the creation of interrelationship?.

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      Given that the brain is known to create brain waves inside the brain, one wonders if the brain can broadcast brainwaves outside of and beyond the brain. One wonders if other brains can receive these waves. Perhaps we should call them brainio waves.

  9. Earl Erland

    Bane of office parks, magnificent in flight and providing all the evidence needed to refute Intelligent Design, with every “landing” made, we survived.

  10. Earl Erland

    Bane of office parks, magnificent in flight and providing all the evidence needed to refute Intelligent Design, with every “landing” made, er, survived.

  11. ChiGal in Carolina

    >But there’s no such thing as society. There is only freedom.

    Beautifully and concisely put. A time to come together, a time to fall apart. Death is a part of life: RIP to the American Empire.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      has anybody but randian libtarians, neoreaganites(maybe niskassen to american compass?) and various and sundry pseudofascist formulations (and moldbug) ….given any thought to what comes after?

      i see “the left” in total chaos(mostly due to shoehorning “dems” into a “left” shaped hole)
      the neoreaganites i can at least get along with…also with the sort of benedict option types(i’m a left benedict option guy).
      i grew up arguing genially with russel kirk-reading old men.
      “front porch republic” and all…but with FDR, added liberally..
      i doubt that can happen, though.
      i expect a Wile E. Coyote standing over the abyss-phase, and then a period of warlordism…opposed by ineffective urban regimes, waiting for the light to come back on, so they can do a powerpoint and get started on the plan.
      even in this far place, we have the potential for that scenario…and i think it scales.

      1. Wukchumni

        i expect a Wile E. Coyote standing over the abyss-phase, and then a period of warlordism…opposed by ineffective urban regimes, waiting for the light to come back on, so they can do a powerpoint and get started on the plan.

        Those 400 million hand cannons we’ve acquired to stop an insatiable foe* will be used unsparingly, and seeing as we’re already used to people dying by the dozen in murder sprees the past few decades, we’re ok with the concept.

        Where it gets tricky with the gun set is you can’t be armed & dangerous all the time, one needs to sleep occasionally. This defeats the rugged individualist as a lone wolf defender, and it won’t take long before warlordism combines somewhat like minds into de-facto armies. It’ll look somewhat similar to what went down in China a century ago.


        * us, of course

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          my model has always been post-roman britain…a biased stance, because that’s what i know best.
          see: Michael Lind, too…much of the South’s mores and folkways and weirdness flows from a Scots-Irish civilisational root.
          when bullets are impossible to find*, i expect a return to swords.
          (*alredy there,lol)
          i’ll hafta knuckle down on the forge work(all i want for xmas is the means of production).
          being Cassandra sucks, man.
          good thing: blacksmiths were national security icons…had to be maimed in order to prevent them from running off.(see: hamstrung/lamed fire/manufacturer gods and heroes..often as an initiation ritual)

          1. AndrewJ

            I’ll be honest, I really want to hear about your forge.
            I hadn’t computed the laming of metalworking gods, but that makes far too much sense.
            As far as the original theme in this thread… hard to see how it’s any more than a roll of the dice who gets to die of old age and/or have surviving progeny post-collapse. There will be warlords first, while the bullets last, and if you’re not working for your local warlord, you’re toast. Isolated preppers will be taken out by gangs for their supplies. Then comes the tricky question of food. Even if you live near an area well suited to agriculture (like the Willamette, for a local example), switching it over to humancarbohydrate and protein production will not happen quickly. So a hell of a lot of people will just starve.
            Roll of the dice. I guess we’ll see firsthand what it was like when Mitochondrial Adam and Eve were living.

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              also to Rev, below:

              i intend to be the coolest warlord.
              and i’ll give away what i know(a lot) to whomever, including my colleagues…other warlords.
              i am very useful in whatever disaster scenario you care to dream up…short of unfortunate asteroids, an such.
              geeks take over the world eventually.
              i’m just a luddite geek.

              1. The Rev Kev

                I have no doubt that if things start to fall apart on a local level, then it will be quickly realized who has the skills needed to adapt. And people like that tend to get listened to when things go south. The dancers and the prancers who figure so large in our present lives then get pushed to the side – or are run over. If you have ever read the novel “Day of the Triffids”, I would figure you as a Coker sort of character. Take that as a compliment.

                1. Amfortas the hippie

                  wife and kids laugh and say i look like Radagast.
                  But I’d rather be Gandalf…fading into Tom Bombadil in my off-time.
                  i know i have Power.
                  but i rarely use it.

                  as in the recent shitfountain incident(2.0)

                  Madam Mayor will eventually come to me.

            2. Amfortas the hippie

              I really want to hear about your forge.

              simple pan forge, made from a disk harrow disk, with both an inadequate electric blower, and an 100 year old hand cranked deal.
              i’m so far terrible at it.
              i’ve made a functional froe, a passable drawknife, and a short sword.
              and then wife’s cancer ,and put it aside.
              but it’s all there, and much more,
              i possess the means of production.
              there’s just no market for what i can, conceivably, produce.

              (thankfully, my place is NOT market oriented,lol: i make what i need, if i can)

        2. The Rev Kev

          I hope that those rugged individualists know how to garden when the rations run out. John Michael Greer has given the visual image of a skeleton festooned with weapons atop a failed garden plot in the years to come.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Their plan is to raid all the gardeners in their area, and keep on raiding them as long as the gardeners keep on gardening.

            I remember once decades ago a Teaching Fellow in a botany class telling us that tobacco and tomato plants are related enough to eachother that the skillful grafter can graft a tomato plant onto tobacco roots. And since tobacco makes nicotine in its roots and ships it up to the leaves, if you have a tomato plant sitting on the tobacco roots, the tobacco roots ship their nicotine into the tomato plant. meaning you can get a lethal-within-minutes dose of nicotine in a tomato from such a grafted plant.

            True? Apocryphal? I don’t know. Perhaps trying in our coming age of the warlords.

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              both are of the Family Solonacae
              i doubt all that, however.
              i can, however, report that barbado sheep will happily consume pepper plants(also solanacae), but will leave tomatoes alone(also solonacae)
              solonacae=nightshades=deadly poison

              1. ghoda

                Looks like only the poisonous bit of the comment is unfounded.

                “RESULTS: Tobacco grafting had a positive effect on the tomato plant cultivation performance; the onset of flowering was almost 15 days earlier and the tomato flower and fruit yields increased in both tomato cultivars. Tobacco grafting resulted in 5.0% and 30.1% increase in total fruit weight for cv. Sweet and cv. Elazig, respectively. Because the level of nicotine was within acceptable ranges, tobacco-grafted tomato fruits were considered to be safe for consumption. Self-grafted tomato cultivars also had flowering time onsets almost 11 days earlier. However, self-grafting caused 6.0% and 7.6% less total fruit yield per cv. Sweet and cv. Elazig, respectively.”

      2. jr

        Or what comes after a rusty nail goes through their shoe. Then they can savor their freedom from hospitals. The freedom to have their foot sawed off.

  12. Mikel

    “I kinda of hate how the shift to focus on individuals (not) getting vaccinated feels like letting the government off the hook for gross mishandling of the pandemic.”

    — Hurt Vonnegut (@TrulyTafakari) August 11, 2021

    From the thread. These posters have their pics up and they are Black:

    Donald O. Jones
    Aug 10
    Replying to
    If you recall, when the virus first started, the media said it seemed to be effecting blacks more then whites. Thus, the foot dragging
    Aug 11
    As soon as that was put out there, the protests to get haircuts and go to baseball games began
    Aug 11
    Maaan y’all hit the nail on the head I forgot about that. It was right after that fr


    It was all about blacks and hispanics getting sick. The government put the focus on race and not work place environments. I screamed about that for months.
    But the overall, as soon as it was established that it was the elderly at most risk, I think many of all races wanted to let their guard down.

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      From the disproportional impact on minorities and the poor to deflecting government responsibility to the individual, same as it ever was.

      1. Skip Intro

        The quote from the Atlantic was masterful in appearing to admit the new reality, while hewing to the old strictures:

        Vaccines remain the best way for individuals to protect themselves, but societies cannot treat vaccines as their only defense. And for now, unvaccinated pockets are still large enough to sustain Delta surges

        So although we now know that the vaccines don’t prevent infection or delta, the unvaccinated are still to blame.

    2. ChrisRUEcon

      ” … gross mishandling of the pandemic.”

      From Ian Welsh’s “Only Zero Covid Worked and Everyone Knows It” (via ianwelsh.net*):

      “You can avoid mass lockdowns ONLY if you track and trace furiously at the start, with immediate traveler quarantine, and local quarantines as necessary, along with a mask mandate and other such policies. (See, Taiwan.) Never let Covid get out of control, and no widespread lockdown is necessary.
      This works.
      Taiwan, population 23 million, 10 deaths
      New Zealand, population 5 million, 26 deaths.
      Sweden, population 10 million, 13.5K deaths.
      So, any government which had the capacity to do this and did not, after the first wave proved it worked, essentially chose to kill a huge number of people who didn’t need to die. Mass negligent homicide, at best.

      (emphasis mine)

      Shades of R.E.M.’s “Can’t Get There From Here”. The Covid-as-world-is-a-monster needed to have the clay-that-holds-its-teeth-in kicked, but our two-headed kakistocracy was never gonna have any of that … #becauseCapitalism. Mass negligent homicide against the poor and brown was a small price to pay if the rest of folks got to get haircuts, go to baseball games and ditch masks! I too noticed the early tropes, and you could see the talking points seeping into the various online fora – “I don’t have to worry. I’m not old, black and overweight”, for example, was the kind of churlish response you could readily expect to see on #Twitter.

      And now, here we are … in fourth wave Delta … utterly ridiculous.

      * – a certain social network *cough*cough* prevented me from sharing that Ian Welsh article btw … funny that, eh?

  13. Amfortas the hippie

    “….and is inaccurately tagged as “permanently closed” in its Google Maps listing.’” • As it still is. I wonder how Manchin got Google to do that?”

    will they do that for me, too?
    i kinda like the blur/crosshatching over parts of nevada, too.
    is there a menu?

    1. GF

      And Google Earth didn’t just remove the company name completely. The only businesses that have names in Google Earth are paid for by the companies named. It seems Joe wants the company name to exist in the ether even though he doesn’t want attention paid to it. Vanity I guess.

      1. FreeMarketApologist

        It’s an element of a disinformation campaign: Make sure people find what you want them to find. A curious person googles it, finds that it says closed, thinks ‘huh, guess that’s old news’, and doesn’t do any more digging.

  14. Amfortas the hippie

    and this:
    ” A “cross-class” movement sounds like a recipe for internal contradictions to me. Not everything can be intersectional.”
    on the sunrise crew faction reckoning words mean stuff.

    when we’re talking about class, we’re talking about wealth, right?
    i mean i’ll hang out with all kinds of folks…drawing the line at violent assholes, of course.
    rich deerhunters who’s gate is right outside my bar…we get along pretty well, even though i feel like the last years of sitting bull, working for the circus–class is right there in our midst….but if they want to join the cause, i figure i’d like to see skin in the game.
    jesus did(“sell all you have”, etc)
    lets go get us a little tractor with a loader.
    i know a guy.

  15. Amfortas the hippie

    “They flew to Washington on the assumption the Democrats would get rid of the filibuster? Am I reading this right?”
    Texas Monthly
    i haven’t cooked breakfast for those people in 26 years…so i don’t know their hearts…but i feel kinda proud of them anyway.
    last time, during Thom Delay’s Shenanigans, they caved pretty quickly, and reverted to carpet.
    (this is, by the way, very high praise…given my utter disdain for the Texas Democratic Party( “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.”)

    benefit of the doubt, perhaps they wanted to force the hand of sinema and manchin…
    one can hope that fortitude was located, somewhere behind all the piles of dry, but inert, powder.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      They maybe hoped the DC Democrats would be able to do something about something about this. Maybe their hopes were not any more specific than that.

      The Texas State Democrats are trying the only thing that can possibly work in their context. Delay the process in Texas long enough for the DC Democrats to legislate some Federal level voting rights in DC.
      If the DC Democrats don’t care enough to actually do that, that is the DC Democrats’s fault. Not the Texas Democrats’s fault.

  16. Amfortas the hippie

    and look at that picture in the Jacobin amazon article, of the warehouse…is that cgi?
    did they mean to make it look that way?
    is it an artifact of the drone camera?
    it looks….it feels….totally artificial and constructed.
    visceral reaction, here.

    1. Acacia

      Yep, looks like CGI from the architect. There are specialized illustrators who take the 3D plans from the architect and use Photoshop to swizzle them together with real photographs. The environment is real, but the building is a 3D model. These renderings help get the client to sign off on the project. I have a friend who did this professionally for years, and when I asked him what the architects want most, he said: “space”. Thus, the use of (in this case simulated) wide-angle optics, visible from the curving horizon line. It’s similar to what you see in the photos that realtors take of interiors, with an ultra-wide-angle lens to make the home look more spacious.

    1. Shonde

      Too bad it is only for subscribers but Taibbi put out the best overall take down of Obama I have read as only Taibbi is able to do.

      I hope he decides to open it to the public since the comments I have read so far are fantastic. Does anyone adore Obama anymore? Looks like fewer and fewer.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Black America still adores Obama. And the more that nonBlack America criticizes Obama, the harder Black America will adore Obama. Black Agenda Report excepted, of course.

        1. Yves Smith

          That is not my perception here in Alabama. Middle and lower income black appear to understand very well that he never represented them. But white criticism of Obama is not welcome.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Interesting, and hopeful. I hope it spreads.

            I haven’t detected anything like that up here as yet.

      2. Basil Pesto

        in the canon of “Obama is bad actually” essays (of which Yves and Lambert have some excellent contributions of their own), it is a doozy. Formidable stuff.

    2. Badbisco

      Just learned this afternoon that my investment consulting firm employer will announce on Monday a vaccine mandate. Plan was a post-labor day opening with unvaccinated required to mask, but now will be a 11/1 opening with vaccination required or be terminated.

      With the entire firm working well remotely for 18 months, they could easily allow the ~25 out of ~130 unvaccinated employees continue to work remotely but they want to bully us into using a vaccine that doesn’t stop transmission.

      Now I have to weigh the possibility of vaccine generated clots, my own vaccinated mother in law recently had an unexplained positive d-dimer with neg covid, as well as ADE against losing my job and the possibility that it breaks up my marriage.

      Their COVID vaccine religion and the chance to announce their fervent faith in it, simply outweighs my personal medical choice, my ten years of hard work for them, the evidence that it doesn’t protect others from infection, and basic reason.

    3. Acacia

      From the Daily Mail article about Obama’s super-spreader event:

      Of the 48 people who tested positive last week, more than half were vaccinated, according to health officials.

      And these numbers are apparently just for Martha’s Vineyard. Who knows how many spread the virus elsewhere via their private jets, entourage of private servants, etc.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        At least they’re spreading it to the right class of people ( entourages of private servants excepted).

  17. Lost in OR

    “The Sunrise Movement’s Members Of Color…”

    I’ve been involved in three local groups that faced challenges enlisting any non-white people.
    The first, was the NICU at the hospital where my son was born. They sent invites to all recent parents. Only whites showed up.
    The second was Transition Towns. Open invitations published in the local newspaper. Not one non-white ever attended.
    The third was my only DSA meeting. About 30 in attendance, all white. Some wanted to stop all progress until non-whites could be properly represented. The shakers and movers (white men) volunteered to write the charter and then recuse themselves so others (non-white men) could lead. The meeting was about 80% male.
    Not sure where this is leading. Crazy times.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      ya hafta build relationships before you form(or get folks to join) a movement.
      it takes time, tolerance, and much, much patience.
      you can still disagree on a whole lot of stuff, but you must finally arrive at agreement on a few central things.
      and those things have to be felt to matter, personally, by the person in question.
      with the tribes i’ve been embedded in, i’ll say that they first have to trust you…know you…or think they know you.
      and you can never let them down,lol.
      we’re prolly outmatched…what with the great wurlitzer of confusion and acrimony, and all….but we still must try.
      all that’s left to us, currently, is outside our individual doorsteps.
      evangelism for a better way of doing things.
      forget, altogether, about race as a frame.
      gloss over it when the barbs/bait is tossed in front of you.
      Why is that so important?
      ask these questions of your hypothetical teabilly neighbor.
      (i find the Socratic Method works well with my own subject population…mixed with jesusspeak)

  18. Sub-Boreal

    This is the coolest thing that I’ve read this week:


    “The bears and Indigenous humans of coastal British Columbia have more in common than meets the eye. The two have lived side by side for millennia in this densely forested region on the west coast of Canada. But it’s the DNA that really stands out: A new analysis has found that the grizzlies here form three distinct genetic groups, and these groups align closely with the region’s three Indigenous language families.”

    1. Judith

      Really interesting. This seems like just the beginning of possible fruitful exploration in so many different directions, cultural and biological. Lots to think about. I like the non-invasive data collection technique.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Its really cool, but not all that surprising – people and animals tend to mate on the basis of regular interactions, and physical geography is a major factor in this. Many years ago a friend did a study on marriages in County Donegal, an area characterised by high mountains and deep bays, with most people living along lowland valleys. Unsurprisingly, he found that marriages were closely predicated on whether the couple lived in a valley or not. It was very hard to find marriages in ‘parallel’ valleys separated by ridges. There are no bears (well, the ursine variety) in Donegal, but I’m pretty sure that if there was, they’d follow a very similar pattern of mating to the humans.

  19. kareninca

    I live in CA. We have been told that “Starting Wednesday (August 11th), (visitors will) need to present proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result in order to enter acute general hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and intermediate care facilities”. This has appeared in the media as a firm and severe rule.

    My 96 y.o. father-in-law lives with us. He is vaccinated. I am not, and don’t intend to be in the foreseeable future (I am exceptionally cautious about exposure and use what I consider to be good prophylactics). I take him to his appointments. This new edict really annoyed me. What am I supposed to do, bring him to the relevant clinic, and drop him at the front door, for them to tote around? He is extraordinarily fragile and very hard of hearing, even with his fancy earpieces (as he calls them). His clinic (which I will not name) doesn’t have the staff for that. But I do think they have a legal obligation under the ADA to provide such assistance. They’ve been saving money forever on this kind of thing by relying on relatives; what will they do now?

    So I emailed a specific clinic he goes to, to ask. A doctor replied; he told me that when we get there I should call the department and they would do their best to help me get in with him. He told me that they considered their “medical building” to be different from a hospital and that in any case “exceptions can always be made.”

    I also emailed his GP. His assistant checked with the facilities manager, who let her know that their building wasn’t a “hospital,” so no problem, I could bring him in. You know, if you stood outside this gigantic building and looked at it you’d sure think it was a hospital.

    I also contacted a truly enormous medical complex that I will not name that many very old (mostly) men go to for things like hearing aids. I asked if someone would be there to tote him around when I bring him in next week for a (much needed) optometry visit. I was expecting them to say yes, since they are well staffed. And there is no way that it is not a hospital; it is a hospital!!!!! But I was told that actually they were not yet enforcing the edict.

    So this is a just a bunch of hooey so far. Just real enough to be threatening, but not so real that they want to spend the money.

    Yes, an accompanying-relative/friend has the option of getting a covid test within 72 hours of going in, per the edict. However I don’t want to drive 40 minutes each way to have a giant q-tip far, far up my nose four times a month, when I don’t have any symptoms!!!! What a waste of resources; forget it. I am happy to be tested if I have symptoms, but I am not going to use gasoline and my time and medical material pointlessly.

  20. JBird4049

    >>>Crass even for the LAPD.

    Well, yes, triggering a load several times bigger than your average World War II heavy bomber’s bomb load would be that. Reading about the butt covering by the police afterwards was entertaining. That it happened in a neighborhood of poor and minority residents is absolutely unsurprising.

  21. Jason Boxman

    I’m surprised infrastructure didn’t come up today, as conservative Democrats have declared that they won’t support the reconciliation magic pony unless the bipartisan bill passes and is signed first. Apparently it’s such a small deal that the NY Times doesn’t have the story about it up on their digital front page anymore, wow. Found this:

    9 House moderates say they won’t back budget vote until infrastructure bill passes

    Nine moderate House Democrats told Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday that they will not vote for a budget resolution meant to pave the way for the passage of a $3.5 trillion social policy package later this year until a Senate-approved infrastructure bill passes the House and is signed into law.

    I expect the Democrat Left to ultimately fold on this. There will be no 3.5T bill, and there never was going to be. It’s all a show, just like with climate change as mentioned today.

    Happy Friday!

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I suspect those moderate House Democrats are lying to try tricking Pelosi into getting the bipartisan bill passed first and ready for signing.

      Once it is signed, the moderate House Democrats will make their excuses for voting against the Reconciliation Package in the House. I hope Pelosi rejects their demands and tells them that if they want to kill the bipartisan bill by demanding it be passed first through the House, then they can go ahead and kill it and take the blame for it.

  22. a fax machine

    re: three types of cities

    This model is inefficient. As technology grows better, all will be merged into a single operation. Data-centers will become increasingly automated (or, more likely, design staffs fired for being largely useless and replacable with outsourced labor) while semi-automation of warehouses (I’d argue a normal level of automation, but whatever) will demand more computers inside the building. It’s also easier to have one big building than many multiple buildings, so to speak. In the end the big worker building can be managed remotely by the owner building, which will be some small investment office in some nice suburb. Silicon Valley was built this way.

    This model has been dominant for all of American industrial history. San Francisco’s factory district was safely across the Bay, far away from the admin quarters. Southern Pacific is perhaps the largest example: despite owning 1 Market St they never built a downtown train station, and the majority of their rail operations (& profits) happened far away in depots and terminals that executives rarely, if ever, visited. And now, many decades later, consolidation & improved automation (specifically computerized signalling and scheduling) have allowed lower Bay Area’s railyards to consolidate into fewer, but larger, operations.

    On efficiency: the Soviets saw this model and disregarded it which was how they industrialized so quickly and why Russia went from a backwards peasant fiefdom to Sputnik in 40 years. Trotsky especially had a lot to say about this in regards to electric power systems development, and our own tech commentators have much to say about America’s telecom development (split between AT&T in Manhattan, Westinghouse/Wabtec in Pttisburgh and Bell in Holmdel). Note how San Francisco’s divestment from their local power plants can occur because they can afford to import power from designated dirty cities (Newark) now, and how Americans don’t even think electricity is worthwhile as a thing to think about.

    1. Acacia

      Good points. Much more to say about this, but to add one small thing: it’s said that Oakland became the main port on the San Francisco bay because of a push to automate. S.F. lagged and lost out. I suspect there might have been some interaction with longshoreman’s strikes, too, though I’ll have to defer to somebody genuinely knowledgeable about the history of organized labor in NoCal.

      Regarding the data centers, indeed their operations for Amazon’s delivery of “stuff” could likely be merged with the warehouses or even outsourced entirely. Bear in mind though that Amazon has built up a vast cloud services infrastructure – AWS — with big clients like the CIA. This might(?) be considered almost a separate business unit and can grow independently of the warehouses delivering stuff.

      1. a fax machine

        True about Oakland, and is especially relevant as Oakland leaders, port owners & other movers all convene in SF next month to talk about full automation. Just as an aside, there’s actually a bigger problem with Oakland port automation than most realize. It comes down to two factors:

        1. Automation, as planned for the US, requires extensive expansion of RR equipment and intermodal facilities. Union Pacific is not necessarily interested in doing this (see the “asset-stripping” article from a few days ago) while BNSF’s bridge to the port was removed for the current iteration of the MacArthur Maze by Oakland. Something’s gotta give here.

        2. Oakland wants to replace the waterfront steel mill with a new ballpark to turn the waterfront into a pleasant, gentrified place as SF did with Mission Bay. The local team is against this (they want the community college’s site instead), and the steel plant is against it too as it would prompt them to leave for Martinez (currently hosting US Steel) or Stockton (where AB&I is relocating).

        Either way Oakland looses: either they move the stadium and industry finds somewhere else (probably Richmond, Vallejo or Martinez as they have existing ports that could be used) or they don’t get a new stadium and the A’s leave for Las Vegas. Says a lot about how the local sports market is shrinking.

        Also true about AWS, it’ll probably evolve into something huge, alien and evil within our lifetimes. Notice how Southern Pacific’s internal telephony system became SPRINT (Southern Pacific Railroad Internal Network Telecommunications) and now T-Mobile (also known as Metro PCS for poor people in poor people markets).

      2. JBird4049

        I would say that this is too simple. Much of this is going by very early memory and reading, but with that… The City of South San Francisco is/was nicknamed The Industrial City. I have seen manhole covers with labels of foundry from there that made them. IIRC, the southern and eastern parts of San Francisco itself had light industry including canning, ship repair, and foundries, not to mention that SoMa (South of Market Street) was full of warehouses. Lots of warehouses.

        There was some push back from the labor union against containerization, and the state, which was responsible for the maintenance of the Port of San Francisco back then, had apparently skipped on maintaining it for a few decades. Add that the then powerful, politically influential, and still socialist unions ruled the port, then the ruling families like the Pelosis, and Feinsteins, had reason to get rid of them. No port, no union with plenty of bonus business opportunities.

        The port as a working port was dead by 1970. Going from what I have read, The Freeway to Nowhere had been built right over the Embarcadero during the 1960s, then those things, I’d call Mid Century Ugly, of tall combination office and shopping stores between Clay and Sacramento (I think) were built sometime then. I walked through them for years and still wonder what, besides making money, what they were thinking. Ugly, ugly and impractical. Then there was that rebuilding of Market Street that seems to have taken my entire childhood to do. Although Market happened after the port died. And this all interfered with what was left of the port while making money for someone besides the average worker.

        I’m sure that the financiers, ruling families, and real estate developers all made bank during the thirty or forty years it took to destroy the factories, warehouses, Financial District, stock exchange, port and various businesses of two entire cities leaving us with Santa Clara, excuse me, Silicon Valley’s money to wiz on us for our daily pennies.

  23. LaRuse

    Anecdotal COVID news – my boss’s boss sent out her weekly update to our team that included a comment about safety. She shared in her email that a colleague of hers (which means an upper level manager or VP in our Company) had a family gathering last weekend – and they did almost everything “right.” All outdoors, nearly everyone vaxxed except some kids (no mention of masks but no one has said a word about outdoor masking – vaxxed or otherwise – so I can’t imagine they opted to mask up).
    Now, a week later, every single attendee vaxxed or not, including the kids, has COVID. Her vaccinated colleague says he is okay but quite miserable with symptoms.
    I know anecdotes are not science but I am hearing more and more rumblings about outdoor transmission. I have to admit the one thing I thought would stay safe was exercising outdoors – I am signed up to run 3 different races between October and December, including a half marathon. None of those races have plans for social distancing because it has never been needed (I ran 4 races last Fall/Winter too, no masks, no known transmission at any of those events). I have a friend training for another half marathon with a local training team – running in largish groups from now until November (I am training completely solo) – and I am going to bug him regularly to hear if he learns of any transmission among the training teams.

    1. urblintz


      Pearl River High School Quarantines 40% Of Students In First Week, District Going Virtual

      “An entire Mississippi school district is going virtual after Pearl River Central High School ordered 40% of its student body to quarantine after just one week of school. Classes began at the Carriere, Miss., school on Aug. 5 with no mask mandates. Since then, the high school has quarantined 394 members of its roughly 1,000-member student body.”

    2. Mikel

      People had to use the bathroom. They weren’t always outside.
      And from your report, it’s doubtful they wore masks.
      And some had probably have been going around unmasked many other places with crowds, also unmasked, before the family met.
      I think viral load is important in how people spread it – vaxed or unvaxed.

      1. Yves Smith

        In Sydney, about a month back, researchers documented a case of transmission from one woman walking by another in a mall. They sequenced the virus and also had security cam coverage of how long they were within range of each other. One writeup (author William Heseltine is a former Harvard Med prof, so don’t be put off by this running in Forbes):

        The increased transmissibility of the Delta variant is a dire concern. In Sydney, Australia, several people were infected in “fleeting” non-physical contact in a cafe and a shopping mall. CCTV footage revealed two people walking past each other while at a mall transmitting the virus. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney that “We also need to recognize that this Delta variant… is actually a gold medallist when it comes to jumping from one person to another,”.


        In other words, this wasn’t Delta that had just been hanging around in stale air. This was traced transmission from the most casual of exposure.

        Delta is also so contagious that procedure masks don’t do enough to reduce transmission. A typical procedure mask reduces transmission by speaking at best by 90%; I’ve seen other studies estimate a mere 40-60%. But even assuming 90%, the viral load for Delta patients has been found to be as high as 1260 times that of wild type Covid. And that most assuredly is 1260 times, not 1260 percent.

        So let’s charitably assume 1000X and further charitably assume that that 1000X translates only into 100X as much virus getting into the air from an infected person.

        100x times only 10% as many particles spread due to procedure mask = 10X as bad as wild type Covid with no mask.

        As you can see, even if for various reasons this transmission estimate has to be haircut a lot more, it looks pretty likely that masking with Delta still get you to at best in similar and probably higher levels of transmission as with wild type with no mask.

        In other words, you are kidding yourself about what you are up against.

        Please don’t mislead readers by suggesting Delta can’t be transmitted outdoors.

    1. johnnyme

      At the same time the StarTribune was running that story (which is still their #1 Most Read story) they also ran University of Minnesota regents approve COVID vaccination requirement for students containing this quote:

      “This delta virus can be prevented by our current vaccines,” said Regent Ruth Johnson, a doctor at the Mayo Clinic. “The only way we can hope to have our community on campus, in classrooms, in dorms … is for us to preserve the masking mandate and to strive for near universal vaccination among our students and other constituencies as quickly as we can.”


  24. Jeff W

    “Brains Might Sync As People Interact — and That Could Upend Consciousness Research” [Discover]

    Really, I think there’s a bit less here than what’s being touted.

    Yes, it’s definitely interesting that “different people’s neural oscillations [align] when they cooperated.”

    That said, referring to this alignment as “functional links” or “inter-brain ‘connectivity’” assumes the very mechanism that we should be trying to explain. The article gives this “explanation”: “Functional links across brains increase when people work together, but not for those who are competing or taking on identical tasks simultaneously”—which is, of course, merely a description—muddied up by the phrase “functional links”—of what the researchers observed.

    It’s entirely possible, and the findings seem to indicate, that when two people cooperate, their brain waves align into phase. If people are cooperating, they’re necessarily acting in concert so the neural activity could reflect that. The close alignment of the phases could arise from a very subtle, even unconscious, interaction between the two individuals, say, some eye contact between them or the rhythm or tempo of the responses of each one in turn or any of a myriad of cues—after all, these people are engaging in cooperation and, presumably, they can tell that somehow.

    And, if the participants “believe they are ‘part of the same team’” (as the article the Discover piece appears to be based on says), that might reinforce what is going on at the neural level—in other words, feedback that they are, in fact, cooperating helps reinforce cooperation and gives rise to “subjective feelings of engagement, affinity, empathy and social connection.” Meanwhile, we have to put up with speculation from the researchers about “an extended conscious mind in social interaction” which is really quite meaningless in describing, much less explaining, what is going on.

  25. VietnamVet

    The end is in sight in Afghanistan. How it plays out will be very similar to the defeat in Vietnam. But the obvious difference today is that the USA is facing multiple challenges. Not the least is China shutting its ports due to COVID. Containers are also stalled in US ports and yards due to worker shortage. But even worse is the Establishment’s not seeing the perils ahead. The economy won’t rebound ever until the fear is gone. Yet, Washington DC plows ahead with Plan A injecting every American with mRNA that is incapable of preventing viral transmission. They don’t get it but to survive the Coronavirus Plague; masking, social distancing, ventilation, testing, paid sick leave, no evictions, free quarantine sites are all required. This single truth is why American confidence in the future is plummeting.

  26. drumlin woodchuckles

    I have begun reading the Buzzfeed article on minority-staffer dissatisfaction with the sincerity of the racial reachout within the Sunrise leadership.

    My first preliminary thought is . . . perhaps the young Sunrisers of color may very well want to start their own climate justice organization. They could call it Color of Sunrise, or some equally evocative name. If they decide to do that, it might be interesting to see where it would go.

  27. drumlin woodchuckles

    One of the interesting programs I listen to on N! P! R! is . . . . “1A”. Some of their episodes are good jumping off points for further deeper thinking about one thing or another.

    The articles above about Chinese fast fashion company Shein made me remember a 1A episode I heard a while ago, about fast fashion, ultra-fast fashion, and Shein. They went into industry conditions, environmental and carbon skyflooding implications, etc. And they even touched on the social and economic decay which has created a market niche for fast fashion among people too underpaid to afford real clothes at all. Here is the link.

  28. drumlin woodchuckles

    The Canada goose audio has some other bird-songs in it. At 6 seconds in and at 20 seconds in the tape has a warbling vereo singing. At 28 seconds in the tape has a red eyed vereo singing.

  29. Pat

    I have a soft spot for Marianne Williamson. I have nothing but sympathy for the crash she will face when she realizes how her empathy for other women has been weaponized in order to support actions that are in no way supportive of the women she is worried about.

    Yes, I do believe that life in Afghanistan will be a different form of hell for many if not most of the women there under the Taliban. I just don’t happen to think it has been much of a picnic during our occupation either.

    I may still be naive, but I have always felt that if America had really been interested in a Democratic and modern Afghanistan we would have arranged all the forces we had including those from other countries to come in from all directions and would have targeted the Northern Alliance, the war lords as well as the Taliban. And immediately following those forces would have been convoys of agricultural supplies and equipment, educational material and people who would help rebuild the farms and the schools and the libraries and the… all with the goal of making Afghanistan the Garden of the Middle East and the cultural center of it as well within a decade. But it was an afterthought to those with their sights on Iraq and the poppy fields were too important for our drug running intelligence agencies for anything like this to be allowed.

    But I learnt first hand how my concern for women could be turned against mein the immediate aftermath of the disaster that was Afghanistan during a discussion about going into Iraq with a former elected official and future Presidential candidate. After my pointing out that Afghanistan was not actually going well and entering a new country under false premises was not going to help, I admit he flabbergasted me by going but women no longer have to wear a burkha. I was both so astonished that he went there and so insulted that he either didn’t know OR thought I didn’t know that that was essentially PR because woman might not face prosecution for not covering from head to toe but had learned to do it anyway as they would still be attacked if they didn’t. It was enough of a disruption that he was able to change the subject and move on. This was someone who was still connected enough he knew of various military operations before they got reported. And yet I honestly couldn’t be sure he knew the burkha line was bull pucky because I knew from other conversations that conditions of average people in any circumstances were of little concern to him. In a couple of months there would be a major series of articles in Newsday about the not so good conditions on the ground in Afghanistan, that included a whole section on how any advancement for women was attacked with little blowback by occupying forces including the continued and dangerous actions against schools that had female students. I made sure he got a copy. It was never acknowledged.

    Yes I was embarrassed. But it was as I watched and experienced how often that same tactic of using those small and largely illusory advances were brought up to bring questioning or even critical female rights advocates in line on attacking Iraq and later how little concern was evidenced about their worsened conditions after we attacked that I got it was a weapon. Now well over a decade and a half later, with little to show for all the lives lost or destroyed and all the money wasted, once again we must think of the women.

    There are no easy answers here. Williamson is probably right that it is a little better if we stay. Hell widows with children can possibly work to support them and not just beg in order to feed them as they will need to under the Taliban. But I know that anyone who would have any say over what our troops and occupation are really supporting don’t even concern themselves that much. Choosing to support them may be ne of the worst lesser of two evils choices we can make.

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