2:00PM Water Cooler 8/16/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

The stork is clapping its bill!

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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:

Back up in the South.

50.7% 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 is Texas’s wingman. Meanwhile, Florida staggers ahead.

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

More red to pink and pink to yellow out west, more yellow and green in Texas and Missouri. 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):

A little dip across all age groups, oddly.

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

Yet more red states now, still in the South. Not good.

Deaths (Our World in Data):

Deaths on trend rising, although dipping lately; 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:

Southeast Asia doing better, I presume because little-covered Indonesia is past a peak. US sphere of influence under the Monroe Doctrine not doing so well.

* * *


“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

“Democratic Leaders Are Finger-Wagging Over the IPCC Report. They Should Look To Themselves.” [In These Times]. “The Biden administration has rejected a firm and immediate phaseout of coal and has reversed on his pledge to halt oil and gas drilling on federal land, which is now poised to hit levels not seen since President George W. Bush (while a judge blocked an administration attempt to ban new drilling on these lands, environmentalists say Biden could still use his executive power to stop new drilling). As climate reporter and author Kate Aronoff noted in The New Republic, Biden’s plan to promote electronic cores, which he has emphasized as central to his climate agenda, is threadbare. ​​”So what is the White House doing to make good on its promise of sparking an E.V. revolution?” writes Aronoff. ​“Last week, the White House announced that it had reached a nonbinding deal with the country’s biggest automakers that half their new vehicles would be electric, plug-in hybrid, or hydrogen-electric by 2030.” According to Aronoff, that deal is less ambitious than some of the industry’s own pledges.”

Democrats en Deshabille

“Former Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price named director of New Hampshire Democratic Party” [Des Moines Register]. “Troy Price, the former chair of the Iowa Democratic Party who resigned following the chaotic 2020 Iowa caucuses, has been named executive director of the New Hampshire Democratic Party — which hosts the nation’s first presidential primary election.” • I think this is the best. Isn’t it the best? The payoff was slow in coming, but here it is.

“A Gallery Sells Hunter Bidens. The White House Says It Won’t Know Who’s Buying.” [New York Times]. Host, giving tour: “That’s an authentic Biden.” Guest: “Certainly a first!”


“Still in the game: Will Durham’s report throw a slow curveball at key political players?” [Jonathan Turley, The Hill]. “U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation has been slow in coming, but on Friday, a report surfaced that he is pitching evidence to a grand jury in an investigation started back in May 2019. The Durham investigation is now longer in duration than former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, and many people long forgot that Durham — made a special counsel at the end of the Trump administration — was even still in the game. The report in The Wall Street Journal said Durham is presenting evidence against FBI agents and possibly others in the use of false information or tips at the start of the Russia investigation in 2016. Those “others” could include a virtual who’s who of Washington politics, and even if they are not indicted, Durham could implicate some of the most powerful figures in politics in his final report, expected in the coming months.” • “Could.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

Optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward:

“The Memo: Fall in white population could add fuel to nativist fire” [The Hill]. “The white population declined in absolute terms for the first time in U.S. history over the past decade, census figures showed on Thursday. The total number of non-Hispanic white people was around 191 million last year. A decade earlier, the figure was 196 million. The white share of the population declined from about 64 percent in 2010 to around 58 percent in 2020. Meanwhile, the Hispanic share of the population edged up 2.4 percentage points over the last decade to 18.7 percent, the Black share of the population remained broadly stable at 12.4 percent and — another striking finding — the number of people who identify as belonging to more than one race soared. sxPeople who identify as biracial or multiracial now account for about 10 percent of the U.S. population. Those are welcome changes for the tens of millions of Americans who embrace a more diverse nation.”

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States NY Empire State Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The New York Empire State Manufacturing Index fell to 18.3 in August of 2021 from a record high of 43 in July and well below market forecasts of 29, pointing to a slowdown in factory growth in the NY state. …. Looking ahead, firms remained optimistic that conditions would improve over the next six months, with substantial increases in employment and prices expected.”

Treasuries: “United States Net Treasury International Capital Flows” [Trading Economics]. “The United States recorded a capital and financial account surplus of USD 105.3 billion in May of 2021, up from a revised USD 100.1 billion in the prior month. Foreign investors sold USD 93.4 billion in Treasuries in May, compared with an inflow of USD 49.6 billion the previous month. Meanwhile, foreigners sold USD 30.2 billion of long-term US securities.”

* * *

* * *

Big Pharma: “Moderna Receives FDA Fast Track Designation for Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Vaccine (mRNA-1345)” (press release) [Moderna]. For 60+. “Respiratory syncytial virus is a common respiratory virus that generally causes cold-like symptoms. In the United States and areas with similar climates, RSV infections occur primarily during fall, winter, and spring. Most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can be serious, especially for infants and older adults. RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children younger than one year of age in the United States and can result in pneumonia and respiratory distress in older adults. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the United States, RSV leads each year, on average, to approximately 58,000 hospitalizations among children younger than five years old, 177,000 hospitalizations among adults 65 years and older and 14,000 deaths among adults 65 years and older. There is no approved vaccine available today for RSV.”

The Bezzle: “It’s Not Just Tesla: All Other Driver-Assist Systems Work without Drivers, Too [Car and Driver (dk)]. The deck: “Driver-assistance systems have become commonplace, and our testing found none of them can sniff out drivers aggressively misusing them.” • And in both airplanes and restaurants, “aggressive misuse” is becoming much more common. I would be surprised if this were not true on the road as well. I wonder how many AI systems treat human behavior as a constant.

The Bezzle: “Drone delivery is bullshit” [Cory Doctorow, Medium]. “Prime Air was the centerpiece of a massive PR push, with school tours of a ‘secret’ facility and showy promotional videos (high-sfx sf movies, really). Execs said drones would arrive ‘within months.’ But after the PR wins, the organization became a do-nothing boondoggle where employees openly drank beer at their desks at 10AM. All of this raises the question: why? Why spend millions on something that was obviously not going to work out? My theory is tech companies promise to deliver impossible things in order to cultivate an air of mystical capability that’s invoked to mask real-world awfulness. Amazon’s automation claims — about drones, warehouse robots, and self-driving delivery vehicles — masks their ghastly labor abuses. This is especially useful when automation is used to make workers’ lives worse.

The more automated an Amazon warehouse is, the more workers it injures. Amazon warehouses injure more workers than any other kind of warehouse. Seen in this light, many of tech’s worst promises become less silly: Uber promises self-driving cars to distract us from its exploitative labor practices. Imaginary self-driving cars are a way to make worker misclassification seem temporary.” • That’s a good theory. And what a miserable exercise in capital misallocation.

Tech: “Excerpt: How Google bought Android—according to folks in the room” [Ars Technica]. “The team continued pitching to VCs, and found some success. Charles River Ventures and Eagle River Holdings were both interested. While they were waiting on paperwork from those firms, Google called them in for a third meeting. This time, there were more people in the room, and Google was ready to talk specifics. Andy and his team had assumed they were coming to give an update on the company’s progress since the last meeting. But in the middle of the presentation, Nick remembered, “They just said, ‘Let us interrupt you there. We just want to buy you.'” • So Californian?

Tech: “I was offered $500k as a thank-you bounty for pilfering $600m from Poly Network, says crypto-thief” [The Register]. “The mysterious miscreant who exploited a software vulnerability in Poly Network to drain $600m in crypto-assets, claims the Chinese blockchain company offered them $500,000 as a reward for discovering the weakness. Most of the digital funds have been returned over several transactions. ‘We appreciate you sharing your experience and believe your action constitutes white hat behaviour … Since, we believe your action is white hat behaviour, we plan to offer you a $500,000 bug bounty after you complete the refund fully,’ the thief wrote in their transaction metadata, seemingly quoting or paraphrasing a message received from Poly Network.”

Manufacturing: “Intel is looking for government help in its bid to take a leading role in reconfigured semiconductor supply chains. Chief Executive Pat Gelsinger and board members have met with Biden administration officials to push a multibillion-dollar chip-investment plan… while also looking for the European Union to help offset a difference of as much as 40% in costs between setting up within the bloc as opposed to Asia” [Wall Street Journal]. “Intel’s efforts are part of a broader bid to reset global semiconductor supply chains in an industrial world growing more dependent on the central role of microprocessors in sophisticated technology. Computer chips have become so critical to national security and economic growth that the U.S. and Europe don’t want to depend on any single foreign supplier, especially China.”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 45 Neutral (previous close: 43 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 35 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 16 at 12:28pm.

Rapture Index: Closes up one on earthquakes. “A powerful magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck southwestern Haiti” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 188 (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so higher is better.)

Health Care

They get letters:

This looks like a business model to me, if some clever developer could create a templating system driven by the codes that would autogenerate letters for clients (though possibly better directed to hospitals not doctors). For upcoding, see NC here, here, and here.

* * *

“Pfizer Gang Is Pfinished” [The Atlantic]. “In April, Nicholas was stoked to have gotten Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, the “status vaccine,” which was also the vaccine for ‘hot people,’ and the vaccine that got a person conditionless admission to the ‘Pfizer Gang.’ He made a new forum on Reddit—r/pfizergang, obviously—where people like him could engage in celebration and memes and funny jokes about how Pfizer was better than Moderna, but not make jokes containing misinformation, because Moderna is actually very good also, and everyone should get vaccinated. There was to be no anti-vaccine discussion whatsoever, and why would there be?… It was an incredible spring: Uptake of the vaccine was on the rise, and the president was dropping hints about a perfect, normal summer…. But actually: By July, hearts [whose?] were getting heavy again. The Delta variant was ripping through an unvaccinated population still numbering in the tens of millions, much of which continued to refuse a shot that was readily available. Resentment had been building [where?] around the vaccine divide; there was frustration from the White House and widespread unease [where?] about the “hot vax summer” that now felt [to whom?] like something else.” • “Hot vax summer” my Sweet Aunt Fanny. The hive mind of non-essential workers gave themselves permission to screw like minks once vaccinated and wrote a lot of stories about it. But the celebration turned out to be, well, premature. Hits you right in the feels.

“Scientists unlock clues to determining how safe vaccinated people are from Covid-19” [STAT]. “scientists who are still trying to understand what immunity to the coronavirus looks like, how robustly vaccines protect us over time, and how protected people are who’ve had and recovered from Covid-19. Now, a year and a half into the pandemic, researchers are starting to flesh out exactly what these ‘correlates of protection look like, a step that could help track the durability of immunity and speed the development of additional vaccines. In a preprint paper last week, a group of researchers from both academia and U.S. health agencies reported their findings of the immune correlates for Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine. The study demonstrated the link between the level of antibodies in a person’s system and how protected they are against Covid-19, validating the hypothesis that antibodies could be used as a measure that signifies overall protection. ‘We saw a very clear correlation that the higher the level of antibody produced by vaccines, the less likely you were to become sick with Covid-19,’ said Christopher Houchens, one of the authors of the paper and a biologist at the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. The team is working on similar studies for the other vaccines that received support from Operation Warp Speed, including Johnson & Johnson’s and AstraZeneca’s, while other research groups are investigating other vaccines used around the world.:

Community movement during the pandemic (Our World in Data):

“Physicians Turning to Side Gigs for Extra Pay: From Insurance Reviewer to Real Estate Agent” [MedScape]. “The side gig, also known as ‘side hustle,’ has become a popular way for physicians to create additional income or pursue a passion project. COVID-19–related income loss has inspired more doctors to take up side gigs, but the trend predates 2020. To gauge the prevalence of side gigs among physicians, Medscape surveyed more than 2500 practicing doctors in the United States about their side gigs ― what they do, what they earn, and what they hope to gain. Thirty-seven percent of doctors currently have a side gig. Physicians who have had a side gig for at least a year answered that they’ve sought additional income for an average of 10 years. ‘I have seen physicians pursue side gigs more and more in recent years,’ says David Beran, DO, emergency physician and writer. ‘Sometimes they are clinical jobs, sometimes they’re not clinical but medical, and sometimes they’re neither.’ Men (two thirds) are more likely to have a side gig than women (one third), according to the survey.” • Certainly an encouraging indicator….

The Biosphere

“Some of the world’s biggest oil companies are turning to startups to help plot a low-carbon future. Energy giants including BP, Royal Dutch Shell and France’s TotalEnergies are bolstering their venture capital arms by increasing their budgets, hiring more staff and doing more deals… as they try to future-proof their profits while investors and governments raise the pressure to cut emissions” [Wall Street Journal]. “PitchBook estimates that a handful of oil companies are now among the most active clean-tech investors by number of deals closed, with activity ramping up amid the shift to technologies like electric vehicles and solar and wind power.” • We’re sure they’re not buying the startups to kill them?

There should be a bridge in DC like this:

“Hear the ‘Sound’ of a Spacecraft Flying Past Venus” [Gizmodo]. “BepiColombo is a joint mission to Mercury by the Japanese space agency JAXA and the European Space Agency… BepiColombo’s first image of Venus came to Earth a few days ago. The Italian Spring Accelerometer (ISA) aboard the spacecraft recorded the craft’s acceleration as it Venus whipped it around. The research team working on that instrument has since translated the acceleration data into audible frequencies, so we can actually hear BepiColombo’s transit of Venus, in a sense.” • Here is is:

And the Venusian solar wind:

Under the Influence

“University of Alabama sorority rush has taken over TikTok. Users can’t look away.” [NBC]. “When Greg George first saw TikTok videos of young women at the University of Alabama going through the sorority recruitment process, also known as “rush,” he was confused….. But soon, he said, he was completely invested in the lives of students more than 1,200 miles away — and more similar videos began to appear on his For You page, TikTok’s infinite scrolling homepage. George is among the roughly 19.6 million people in the last week who have viewed TikTok videos that include the hashtag #AlabamaRush and among the 55.6 million who have seen videos with the hashtag #BamaRush.” But reading all the way to the end: “[TikTok user Jenn Ficarra, 29, of Los Angeles] who made her own TikTok videos showing off how invested she is in the lives of the future sorority sisters, said she thinks the other reason so many people are so invested in following the recruitment efforts is that the issues facing our world, such as climate change and the coronavirus, are so heavy and hard to face. #BamaRush TikTok, she said, is a nice distraction, albeit a temporary one. ‘It’s been kind of nice to forget a minute at a time that the world is ending,’ Ficarra said.” • Oh.

Zeitgeist Watch

Skyscrapers made of data:

Pre-Matrix, too.

Where’s the loyalty:

Guillotine Watch

“The Polo Lounge at the Dorchester Hotel: ‘Dismal food at inexplicable prices’ – restaurant review” [Guardian]. “A few years ago, my less than positive review of the Parisian gastro palace Le Cinq was dismissed by the management as ‘rich bashing’. Here, it’s the restaurant that seems to be bashing the rich, flogging them dismal food at inexplicable prices. At the end, a perky waiter asks me how it all was and in my gruesome passive-aggressive way I say, ‘Fine’. She replies, ‘Amazing.’ I think: ‘Yeah, let’s go with that.’ I have a bill for over £370 for a meal that included a dreadful salad, terrible crab cakes, mediocre pasta, and a grossly overpriced rosé. If that isn’t amazing, I really don’t know what is.”

Class Warfare

A little too on the nose:

News of the Wired

“How social learning amplifies moral outrage expression in online social networks” (abstract only) [Science] (press release). “[W]e find that positive social feedback for outrage expressions increases the likelihood of future outrage expressions, consistent with principles of reinforcement learning. In addition, users conform their outrage expressions to the expressive norms of their social networks, suggesting norm learning also guides online outrage expressions. Norm learning overshadows reinforcement learning when normative information is readily observable: in ideologically extreme networks, where outrage expression is more common, users are less sensitive to social feedback when deciding whether to express outrage. Our findings highlight how platform design interacts with human learning mechanisms to affect moral discourse in digital public spaces.”

“How naughty was the past? The hidden depths of the medieval church” [History Extra]. “Animals in medieval art need to be seen within their wider context, instead of ascribing each single motif with a meaning. Not only in stained glass, but more commonly in manuscripts, borders were decorated with exotic animals, grotesque hybrids, animals mimicking humans, humans in animal form, and mythical creatures performing lewd and humorous antics. In fact, animals are used throughout medieval art as iconographical representations or portraying allegorical qualities.” • We should have animals in addition to emojis.

Grateful Dead and model railroads. What the Venn Diagram on this one?

Fun group (hat tip alert reader Geo):

I can’t hear the jug. What the heck is it supposed to be? The bass?

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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 (SV):

SV writes: “Bumbler on Bergamot.”

* * *

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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. Carolinian

      Sounds true given Blunt’s taste in roles since becoming a USian. I’m still trying to wipe her Mary Poppins out of my mind.

    2. Pat

      Industry news of film sale to distributor. They rarely care about content, quality or even absurd prices in those stories.

  1. Louis Fyne

    pro tip for any Martians or Alpha Cenaturi reading and want to take over the Earth….invade us in the middle of August.

    All our leaders are always on holiday, no one is in charge, and the underlings who show up to the office are too afraid of their bosses to make any decision of consequence

    1. Isotope_C14


      Perhaps the best plan is to make all months August?

      I will support in every way shape and form.

      1. Stephen V.

        Our small NW AR burg always buries their Sales Tax increase votes in mid-August. The Church peeps and banker / development types are good for a thumbs up any time.

    2. The Rev Kev

      If the Martians or Alpha Centurians offered us good governance with the impartiality of Vulcans, the people of earth would go over to them like the Afghans went over to the Taliban.

    3. Michaelmas

      Louis Fyne wrote: (Aliens) invade us in the middle of August. All our leaders are always on holiday, no one is in charge, and the underlings who show up to the office are too afraid of their bosses to make any decision of consequence

      This is in fact the basic concept in “The Silly Season,” a short story from 1950 by C.M Kornbluth, who also wrote the classic SF story, ‘The Marching Morons’ (ripped off by the film Idiocracy) and co-wrote the novels The Space Merchants and Gladiator-At-Law with Frederik Pohl.


  2. diptherio

    Yes, the jug is the bass. He’s buzzing/blowing into it from the sound, which comes through fine on my speakers.

    1. HotFlash

      I can hear it fine, too. In fact I as so impressed that I dug out and rinsed off an unreturned growler (brewery went out o’biz) and have been practicing. With my current skills on washboard, kazoo, paper towel roll, and spoons, I am will soon be ready to accept gigs as a one person band (pronouns, they, them).

      PS check your speakers, Lambert.

      1. LawnDart

        Watching via smartphone, no jug audible.

        App running more basic audio than what’s available to laptop or desktop?

        1. YankeeFrank

          Yeah I had to plug in my headphones to really hear the jug. Its like bass and pounding rhythm together. Nice.

  3. Carolinian

    Re Amazon robot warehouses–Walmart has announced that it will build regional distribution warehouses run entirely by robots thus eliminating the pesky humans with their breakable arms and legs. Unlike Jeff they do at least have a coherent reason: they say they need more accurate distribution due to the company’s shelf stocking problem.

    And Biden to address the nation at 3:45 pm on the Afghanistan bugout. One should say, if memory serves, that Biden was reportedly against Obama’s Afghan surge back in 2009 so now being president he finally gets his way. That the blob is outraged suggests the rightness of his decision.

  4. AE90

    re $20,000 impregnable trash cans–it looks to me like rats, mice and cats can still avail themselves of the “spoils.” I guess they weren’t the issue.

      1. jsn

        So they only design to keep out people?

        I think our betters identify with the rats, like I do with my cat!

    1. The Rev Kev

      Further down that guy also adds his-

      ‘This is Nancy Pelosi‘s district by the way. Millionaire landlord politician with probably the worst homeless crisis in the country. Absolute ghoul.’

      If the wealthy hate the poor so much, you think that they would stop trying to make more of them.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        The wealthy love the suffering of the poor. The more poor, the more suffering for the wealthy to enjoy.

  5. Samuel Conner

    In 2022 ‘gonna grow Monarda fistulosa , aka Mintleaf Bee Balm, aka Wild Bergamot (again; and this time I won’t forget to water the starts tray).

    Its essential oil is reputed to have anti-inflammatory properties. A sibling who has bad reactions to mosquito bites rubs its leaves on the injuries and they heal faster. In cooking, it can substitute for oregano; perhaps a good decorative for edible landscapes.

    It’s really easy to grow from seed.

    1. Stephen V.

      Really appreciate this info Samuel. Friends are asking me and I was going to try root cuttings. Seeds are less nerve wracking.

    2. Val

      Awesome sauce hummingbird moths, Hemaris spp. love love love the bee balm too.

      The endurance champ here is a big fennel plant that looks cool and has been feeding a diverse and enthusiastic crowd of pollinators for about 2 months.

      1. Carla

        I just got fennel in my CSA share and am attempting to cook and eat it for the first time in my life — will let you know if there’s anything worth telling!

        1. newcatty

          Look forward to a culinary report. I enjoy perusing recipes and am amused at the ingredients that are hot at the moment. Fennel is in! I recall that it tastes like licorice or something. Happy cooking!

  6. Alexei McDonald

    I can hear Don Flemons playing the jug load and clear throughout, except when he has to leave off to sing. It’s the deep buzzing bass note.

  7. poopinator

    Emily Blunt as the first girlboss Pinkerton agent isn’t much of a surprise. Her husband John Krasinski is pretty much a fluffer for the CIA.

  8. Mikel

    “It’s Not Just Tesla: All Other Driver-Assist Systems Work without Drivers, Too”

    “I wonder how many AI systems treat human behavior as a constant.”

    I wonder how many also treat road conditions as a constant. A flash food, big rig wreck, or other disaster can change them quickly – in the blink of an eye.

    1. cnchal

      Even though I don’t want to mess with digital driving assistants doesn’t mean digital driving assistants won’t mess with me.

      I was passed by an Audi SUV and he pulled right in front of me going a bit faster and then the next guy in line did the same to the Audi and then that Audi got big fast in the windsheild after it’s adaptive cruise control slowed it down a lot without warning. A new driving wrinkle to me, having to figure out digital crapola in action. The Audi system only cares that it not run into the car in front, it doesn’t care if the car behind runs into it.

      1. eg

        Yeah, that added wrinkle of monitoring the distance from vehicles behind you is a crucial aspect of motorcycle driving 101 — you need to leave enough space in front of you not solely dependent upon your own stopping power/distance, but also taking into account that of the vehicle BEHIND you.

  9. hemeantwell

    Re the social learning and moral outrage study, there should be a foundation to support research that would take results such as this and, instead of quickly throwing into a “conversation” with other researchers and hyping science reporters, talk with the research subjects about it and publish those results. Unlike the case with rat subjects, social science investigation can be used to promote reflection on the part of those studied. I wouldn’t expect reports of a wave of face-palming and people swearing to be more thoughtful online. But any orientation to promoting behavioral self-awareness would be better than another research report that dribbles out into the world and encourages us to bemoan 21st c. mass psychology, simultaneously indulging smugness and hopelessness.

    1. AE90

      I didn’t need any “reinforcement” to wonder who paid for this Psych 100 crap.

      Ooh, time-out time for me, have a great afternoon and evening, everyone!

    2. hunkerdown

      The middle-class has a defined relation to the working class, and moral dispensation (in our particular time, the reproduction of capitalist relations) is a mandatory part of it. That function is highly conserved among middle classes through time and place. Liberalism, being another undistinguished elite ideology, depends on middle-class moral arrogance to effect its own reproduction and will not ‘solve’ what it does not deem a ‘problem’. In effect, by calling the PMC to self-awareness, you are assuming they have not already rationalized their abuse as a necessary act of liberal social reproduction, for which they are being compensated by their station. Which, objectively, it is, they are, and they have. At best you might get them to understand their role as a tragedy rather than a reason to get out of bed, and have them morally exploiting you for extra compensation for being “forced” to do it.

      “Liberalism cannot fail, only be failed.”

  10. zagonostra

    >The intersection of CV19 and banking

    John Titus of “Best Evidence” has a very interesting take on how the corona virus has created:

    a massive theatrical edifice intended to distract popular attention away from the fact that criminal bankers running the monetary system are making a concerted push toward full-on totalitarianism through monetary and financial control.

    It would be very interesting to hear from commentators who have a better handle on the Fed and the banking system works than I do.


  11. zagonostra

    It’s more than a little madding to see Twitter censor the former POTUS and yet allow Zabihullah Mujahid, the official Spokesman of Islamic Emirate of Afghanista, free reign. I think Trump is a charlatan, for the most part, but WTF?

    1. Ryuuoh

      “Mr. President, some Vietnamese veterans see echoes of their experience in this withdrawal in Afghanistan.”
      Didn’t realize my dad was a Vietnamese Vet. I’ll have to update my Facebook.

  12. Jason Boxman

    It’s interesting that, given what a debacle the Census process was under Trump, we aren’t hearing at all about the accuracy of the work product as we did endlessly during Trump’s presidency, perhaps because however good the quality of the Census data, the result is one liberal Democrats embrace? It furthers the demographics as destiny narrative that just won’t die.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Elite Team Blue types are also extraordinarily lazy. Assessing census data and preparing for a redo is hard work. Its not the kind of thing that gets an invite to a tent next to the Obama house on Martha’s Vineyard.

  13. Tom Doak

    Re: Troy Price: talk about failing upward! And what a coincidence for him to move to a small, critically important state.

    1. Big River Bandido

      Well, I’d take issue with the “critically-important” bit. People make so much of IA and NH but the 2020 “winner” lost both.

      1. hunkerdown

        It is critically important to make sure that conditions are such that “wrong” narratives have no foundation. Maybe decision-making has never been the point of elections.

  14. Wukchumni

    If given a map of the world with delineated borders, what percentage of
    Americans could correctly place Afghanistan on said map…

    Maybe 2%?

    When looked back from afar in 2458 on a Tuesday in March, future historians will be at a loss as to why the American Empire threw it all away on a place that was so far away from them as to be really non threatening.

    1. Creedmore

      Perfect timing;

      President Joe Biden on Thursday urged Californians to vote no in the upcoming election to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom in a show of support for the Democratic governor.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Well obviously there was the severe threat of the warships of the Taliban Navy that threatened shipping routes. They had to be stopped, hence the invasion.

      1. Michaelmas

        Wukchuini: When looked back from afar in 2458 on a Tuesday in March, future historians will be at a loss as to why the American Empire threw it all away on a place that was so far away from them as to be really non threatening.

        Nah. Future historians will look back at 2008, not 2021, as the dividing line — the point when the American Empire threw it all away.

        Because 2008 was the year that a mindlessly rapacious and kleptocratic elite in Washington and Wall Street thought they could screw and immiserate the vast mass of Americans with no effective consequence.

        Future historians will also debate: was the American empire the stupidest empire in human history? Sure, there’s plenty of competition, but was there ever another other imperial elite so stupidly greedy as to actually give away its technology and manufacturing to its replacement, China, so as to enrich themselves temporarily.

  15. Amfortas the hippie

    re: the bipartisan handwringing over fewer white folks thing in the Hill:

    ““Among people under 18, we are a minority-majority country already,” Tyler said. “So that’s the future right there. We don’t have to wonder about it. It’s there. Now, the question [for the Republican Party] is, what are you going to do about it? We are just appealing to white voters who will never again be in the majority.””

    this has been the gop’s problem for a long time…i remember one of it’s spawnings, when i was a wee lad, north of houston in the 70’s.
    and that was before right wing radio, let alone internet.
    of course, now “both sides” are fundraising on either side of the same idea…and this “development”(few white folks…and more people putting down “mutt”) is gonna make both their jobs harder.
    both rely on racial essentialism…which isnt really a thing in the world, merely in some minds.
    “what are they gonna do, now?” could be said both of the Klan, as well as of the Wokesters.

    but it’s long looked to me like that whole concept was just organically fading out…too many “mixed race” couples and kids for it to continue.
    like i tell my boys(both “half-breeds”…mexican, 2 kinds of native american, czech, irish, scotsirish and even a little hugenot tossed in there)…we’ll all be a lovely brown one day.

    it is to be noted, that my boys…as well as the vast majority of their peers…even way out here in supposedly deep red racist texas…pay little mind to race.
    there are a few in that cohort(jr high-> college age) who are racist-leaning…and a tiny few who are outright overt racist.
    it should be further noted that these latter two categories are pretty well dismissed and disliked by the majority of kids around here.
    I, for one, will be happy to finally put all that nonsense to bed, and find something better to argue about…let alone base our political economy around.

    1. Pelham

      The Hill story casts this development in predominantly grim terms. For instance, they quote Tucker Carlson: “I know that the left and all the gatekeepers on Twitter become literally hysterical if you use the term replacement, if you suggest that the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots, with new people, more obedient voters, from the third world. But, they become hysterical because that’s what’s happening, actually. Let’s just say it: That’s true.”

      More tellingly, Carlson later in that broadcast played video of several openly Democrats boasting of the prospect of a majority-minority nation with poorly concealed contempt for the shrinking white majority. How can anyone think this is an unalloyed positive development? A few years ago the liberal Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam did a broad study of cultural and ethnic “diversity” and found that far from being the strength it’s so often touted to be, it actually tended to generate distrust and hostility in the many communities he studied. In fact, the longer a community was diverse, the more dysfunctional it tended to be, with high levels of distrust extending even to people within the same ethnic or racial group.

    2. Nikkikat

      Amfortas, I have also noticed that in the “what race are you”question on just about every form we fill out; now includes a “prefer not to state” or something else along that line. I say good! There is no reason to have racial questions. All humans have the same DNA, there is no need to have race as any indication of anything that matters. I prefer not to state or I leave it blank.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        if i’m given the choice, i put “mutt”.
        or, if i’m feeling piqued, “human”.

        and i think the way the Machine arrived at “hispanic” and nonwhite hispanic” as supposed categories referring to the same spectrum or something, sort of gives the game away.
        my wife is “mexican american”…with enough Yaqui in there to impart brown skin, dark hair and dark eyes.
        but those are ethnocultural distinctions.
        her brothers have both taken to beards and longish hair…and the running joke is they both appear rather talibanish….at which point, the younger, more rascally one, wrapped a bedsheet around himself and stood on the porch with a broom held like a rifle.
        because it’s all meaningless bullshit.
        there’s no such thing as a mexican subspecies of homo sapiens…nor an african, asian, etc.
        the pigmentation spectrum…as well as variety of hair color and eye color…in my own family, in my lifetime…was pretty darned diverse.
        mom even had a near albino 3rd cousin.

        all of this is pushed and pulled by the two sides of the boss party to keep us from noticing our commonalities…especially our common enemy.

        if your delicate sensibilities require that you only encounter people who look and talk and think just the way you do….well…you are poor, indeed.
        i recommend hermithood on some windswept rock.
        (and i grew up in klan country, so i’ve known quite a few such creatures in my time….and found them odious in their crosseyed superiority)

          1. Curly

            “Race cards for humanity” That’s nice, but your less likely to get hired versus checking off black, or Native American.

            Race, like gender, is a social construct and you have the right to change yours if so you so feel. It is not illegal, nor is it any more immoral than affirmative action.

        1. Objective Ace

          > i think the way the Machine arrived at “hispanic” and nonwhite hispanic” as supposed categories referring to the same spectrum or something, sort of gives the game away.

          Census tracks race and ethnicity. Hispanic is not a race, it is an ethnicity. Hence you have white hispanics and non-white hispanics (and black hispanics and bi-racial hispanics)

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            yeah…wife and i explored that when she was in college, during one of the latin american culture classes…but i guess i’m talking more about how it’s used, like in the press coverage and in the horserace side of politics.
            it’s a gloss, and is clearly meant to denote a racial category in that usage….but many latin americans are shaded towards the lighter side, due to the influence of the pasty white spanish….so what’s a would be divider to do? no clear lines to be found…

            i’m also reminded of the recent shock among the woke when so many more brown people voted for trump….expecting them to be all in on team blue due to the color of their skin, while ignoring cultural things that lend themselves to conservatism…lol.

            i maintain a sort of pinkish-brown, because i’m outside all the time…but i’ve never seen a box to check for that.
            so, human race, it is.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Amfortas, I am betting that sex has a lot to do with these changes that you talked about. Imagine that you were young and healthy but a white racist. But what that means is that if you were a white racist, your pool of possible dates has shrunk enormously. You may be reduced to taking matters into your own hands! The same applies if you were a black racist or a Latino racist. But if you did not give a goddamn about race, suddenly the Venn diagram of who you can go out on a date with expands to half your age cohort – more so if you are AC/DC.

  16. YPG

    The Bezzle: “Drone delivery is bullshit”

    “My theory is tech companies promise to deliver impossible things in order to cultivate an air of mystical capability that’s invoked to mask real-world awfulness.”

    This is so interesting. I just got done with David Graeber’s book “Utopia of Rules.” It’s an analysis and critique of bureaucracy but in typical Graeber fashion he touches on a ton of things along the way.
    He elaborates a theory about what he calls “Poetic Technology” vs. “Bureaucratic Technology.”

    Simplifying things a bit, Poetic technologies are the grand visions (e.g. flying cars, moon bases, interesting new power sources, etc.) and Bureaucratic technologies are those which are used to keep humanity in line. He argues that starting in the early seventies we’ve seen a dearth of the Poetic and a huge deluge of the bureaucratic. As a result we’re living in the most bureaucratized society ever produced- I, personally, don’t have the historical acumen to argue for or against that last statement but it intuitively resonates with me.

    In any case, there’s a footnote in the book that claims that Peter Thiel was swayed by Graeber’s argument- which had been released earlier in essay form- but ultimately Thiel came to conclude that INCREASED bureaucratization is the way to go because it would accelerate technological improvement. It’s an interesting coincidence that the companies promise us Poetic Tech and deliver Bureaucratic Tech in the end. Welcome to techofeudalism!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > INCREASED bureaucratization is the way to go

      The Mac and later Windows use a “desktop” as their central organizing metaphor for a reason. Documents, file folders, file cabinets: It’s all there.

      1. YPG

        Another component of the theory is that it all becomes so transparent to the bulk of us that we stop thinking of it in terms or bureaucracy. Your example showcases something so obvious that- to my great embarrassment- I had not considered.

        Does anyone know of any alternate modalities for GUI design?

        1. Acacia

          When windows and pop-up menus first appeared on a computer screen (Smalltalk-76), everything was built up on the distinction between classes and objects. So, there could be a class “Text” with innumerable instances of styled text. Behind the scenes, there was an OS that had files, but they were not used much. No directories, no icons, no desktop, etc. were shown in the environment. Instead, there was an object memory, viewed via windows (e.g., a browser on all classes) that could be organized into projects. Alan Kay called all of this “personal dynamic media”. (This was the part that Steve Jobs didn’t grok when given the infamous demo at Xerox PARC.) How this might have been built out to manage the amount of data we have on our PCs today (e-mail messages, music, movies, photos, etc.), and the visual metaphors employed (i.e., not an office) — this is an interesting question.

  17. skippy

    Platforms alter perspective you say … sorta like the studies done on early econ students and lower altruism vs other studies …. naw~~~~~

    That might make one consider the push to expose more too it and ramp up MBA ***Production*** …

    Anywho from Lars blog:

    I overheard a conversation between two high school students this morning.

    The first person was asking about which classes the second was going to take next. One of those mentioned was microeconomics.

    “Oh, that’s easy” said the first, “You just have to remember that it’s all rubbish — they want you to believe that people are rational, and that there’s all this perfection in the world.”

    “Really?” responded the second, “That’s really dumb. I wonder why they do that?”

    “It doesn’t matter, it’s economics”

    “Well maybe I’ll take history instead, at least I might learn something useful.”

    Peter Radford

  18. Geo

    “If that isn’t amazing, I really don’t know what is.”

    There’s a reason magicians used to be called “The Amazing SoAndSo!” The original of the word meant to befuddle or perplex through spectacle and grandeur. So, that restaurant did amaze the reviewer. :)

  19. Wukchumni

    Header for a story from the paywalled Pavlovegas fish wrap:

    Nevada adds 2.5K COVID cases, 30 deaths, down from week-ago record

    …and yet the casinos are all open for superspreading

    Wonder if you could place a bet on whether you’ll get Covid during your stay in sin city?

  20. newcatty

    Thanks Geo. It helps to explain why one reason the love song with the lyrics:

    Baby I’m amazed at the way you love me all the time. McCartney

    Is so evocative: Love can be “befuddling and perplexing” and have “spectacle and grandeur”.

  21. Wukchumni

    The Donkey Show needs a counterpart to the My Pillow guy, and i’m thinking Joe would make a perfect My Sham guy, even if ‘ssshrubbery really gets credit for it, maybe he can do a watercolor of desperate Afghanis falling off a C-130 up in the air?

  22. Wukchumni

    National Park Service officials on Monday directed that all visitors, employees, and contractors entering NPS buildings and in crowded areas of parks must wear a face mask, regardless of their vaccination status.

    Deputy Director Shawn Benge cited the latest science and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in issuing the directive.

    “Visitors to national parks are coming from locations across the country, if not across the world.  Because of this, and recognizing that the majority of the United States is currently in substantial or high transmission categories, we are implementing a service-wide mask requirement to ensure our staff and visitors’ safety,” Benge said in a release.

    This requirement will be in effect until further notice, and applies to all NPS buildings and public transportation systems, the release said. It also applies to outdoor spaces where physical distancing cannot be maintained, such as narrow or busy trails and overlooks.


  23. Cas

    For Carla: A super easy fennel recipe is shaved fennel (use a mandolin), lemon zest, and parsley in an olive oil/lemon juice vinaigrette. I add garlic, but I add garlic to just about everything. After mixing, grate a hard cheese, e.g., parmesan, over it (or not). Everything in 2s: 2 fennel bulbs, 2 cups parsley, 2 tbspns lemon zest. It’s a perfect summer salad–so refreshing

  24. The Rev Kev

    “A Gallery Sells Hunter Bidens. The White House Says It Won’t Know Who’s Buying.”

    I suppose that if you were a Washington insider, that you would have a Hunter Biden painting on one wall and a George Bush on the other.

    1. LawnDart

      Scraping together all my pennies and hoping to buy a few shares into a H. Biden original NFT when available on the market. Hopefully it’ll make up for the recient bite I suffered on Chinese ADR’s.

    2. RMO

      Rev: You may be joking but it’s pretty likely that’s exactly what’s going to happen.

      It reminds me of the Dilbert where the Pointy Haired Boss mentions to the employees that his niece is selling Girl Scout cookies and he can take orders for them on her behalf – and buying is totally, totally optional and would never have any influence whatsoever on their upcoming performance reviews.

  25. VietnamVet

    Saving Intel is like saving Boeing — impossible in the current system. Intel desktop CPUs are stuck at 14nm. Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft has been taken off the Atlas rocket to repair 13 malfunctioning thruster valves. Getting almost ready for launch undetected indicates how corrupt and incompetent things are. Grifting never works for the good only the bad. Either honest government by and for the people is restored, or the corporate state will crash and burn. It could be in the terminal fall right now with the Kabul debacle, supply shortages, pandemic failures, and climate change disasters.

  26. Half Bankrupt

    “The Memo: Fall in white population could add fuel to nativist fire” [The Hill].

    The nativists have been worried about this for a long time.
    Episode 248 of “The History of the Twentieth Century” does a great job of covering the worries and terrors of The White Race in the 1920s – noting such best sellers as “The Threat Against White World Supremacy – The Rising Tide of Color”.

    I despair at how little we’ve progressed since the 1920s.

    1. eg

      It’s only all the weirder when you think of how slippery the category of “whiteness” has been over the years. I mean, the Irish were depicted as apes and monkeys in political cartoons not so very long ago in historical terms, and you’re hard pressed to find a paler lot.

      In any event, all the forms of “essentialism” where humans are concerned require a special kind of stupidity allied with an appalling ignorance of basic biology.

  27. Jason Boxman

    Fun times. This just in:

    U.S. to Advise Boosters for Most Americans 8 Months After Vaccination

    Nursing home residents and health care workers will most likely be the first to get booster shots, as soon as September, followed by other older people who were vaccinated last winter.

    The decision comes as the Biden administration is struggling to regain control of a pandemic that it had claimed to have tamed little more than a month ago. President Biden had declared the nation reopened for normal life for the July 4 holiday, but the wildfire spread of the Delta variant has thwarted that. Covid-19 patients are again overwhelming hospitals in some states, and federal officials are worried about an increase in the number of children hospitalized just as the school year is set to begin.

    Wait, the Biden administration ever “had control”? I think nature has control here.

  28. Conrad Schumacher

    One community case and New Zealand has gone back onto lockdown. My kids are excited to have no school for the rest of the week. So that’s nice I guess.

    1. Greg

      One community case that is not linked to the border. Important aspect that, because that means at least one other case. With an R0 over 4, that means probably 4-5 cases, which with delta contagion and having been five days in the wild, could be hundreds by now.

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