2:00PM Water Cooler 9/15/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

* * *


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….

We already start to an instant rebound from Labor Day, I assume because reporting is returning to normal. Nevertheless, Labor Day, as the end of summer, also signals life changes for Americans, so those changes will affect the numbers too. We shall see!

Vaccination by region:

Interesting little blip. If it persists, credit to Biden. This is Tuesday. Looks like somebody came in Monday and got caught up from last week.

54% of the US is fully vaccinated (mediocre by world standards, being just below Ecuador, and just above Switzerland and Malaysia). We are back to the 0.1% stately rise per day. This is the number that should change if Biden’s mandates “work.” However, as readers point out, every day those vaccinated become less protected, especially the earliest. So we are trying to outrun the virus… (I have also not said, because it’s too obvious, that if by Bubba we mean The South, then Bubba has done pretty well.)

Case count by United States regions:

Big drop, supporting Monday reporting catch-up theory. I’m almost inclined to call the last peak and, as in December and January of last year, worry about the next peak from school re-opening. I dunno. Maybe, again, somebody caught up on the backlog Monday. We could get lucky, as we did with the steep drop after the second week in January. The populations are different, though. This one is more vaccinated, and I would bet — I’ve never seen a study — that many small habits developed over the last year (not just masking). Speculating freely: If the dosage from aerosols drops off by something like the inverse square law, not linearly, even an extra foot of distance could be significant if adopted habitually by a large number of people. And if you believe in fomites, there’s a lot more hand-washing being done. On the other hand, Delta is much more transmissible.

NEW From CDC: “Community Profile Report September 13, 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties, this release:

To my eye, the Ohio Valley looks a little redder. Fascination to see the Sturgis cluster heal, though. Remember, however, that this chart is about acceleration, not absolute numbers, so the case chart still has momentum. This map, too, blows the “Blame Bubba” narrative out of the water. Not a (Deliverance-style) banjo to be heard. Previous release:

(Red means getting worse, green means bad but getting better.)

Test positivity:

Hospitalization (CDC):

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

Deaths (Our World in Data):

We are now well past the peak of last year at this time. Which I am finding more than a little disturbing. (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. Needless to see, this is a public health debacle. It’s the public health establishment to take care of public health, not the health of certain favored political factions.)

Covid cases worldwide:

* * *


“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

“How Gavin Newsom survived the recall” [Politico]. “[P]rincipals involved in the campaign detailed a furious effort by Newsom’s campaign to put the race out of Republicans’ reach. The turning point for the campaign, according to Newsom’s strategists, came in the governor’s adoption of aggressive mask and vaccine mandates — both widely popular in California — and in Newsom’s avalanche of spending depicting his top Republican opponent, Larry Elder, as an anti-science clone of former President Donald Trump…. By Labor Day, Newsom had turned what started as an up-or-down vote on his governorship into a choice between him and Elder, the radio show host Newsom relentlessly tethered to Trump — with a predictable outcome in this staunchly Democratic state. For Newsom, the emergence of Elder as the GOP’s standard bearer was an unexpected gift, so beneficial to the governor that many Republicans came to resent Elder for turning the race into a traditional — and unwinnable — choice election. Within 50 minutes of voting centers closing Tuesday night, Newsom’s defeat of the recall was called by four television networks and the Associated Press, ending a race that began as an almost laughable longshot, became unexpectedly competitive, then settled where it began, with Newsom prevailing in a blowout. Even before the final ballots were cast, Newsom’s advisers were selling his campaign as a template for Democrats nationally in the midterm elections. Mask and vaccine mandates such as those embraced by Newsom are viewed favorably by a majority of Americans, polls show. For Democrats, [Ace Smith, Newsom’s lead strategist] said, ‘there’s a huge thing to take away, which is don’t be timid on Covid. That was the turning point in this campaign, when Newsom came out and took bold action on vaccine mandates. … We go out and we figure out that not only is it really good policy and bold policy, which he was going to do no matter what, but it’s actually really good politics.'” • Does make you wonder when the California oligarchy is going to start quietly walking away from Harris, which seems to be the subtext here. Commentary:

Well, that assumes the Democrats would support the working class over Silicon Valley. Na ga happen.

“Newsom beats California recall” [Politico]. “But a receding virus and rebounding economy put Newsom back on firm footing. After some initial stumbles, California’s mass vaccination program helped to drive down infection rates to the point that Newsom was able to dissolve a system of county-by-county restrictions on June 15. Surging tax revenue defied dire fiscal forecasts and gave California an enormous budget surplus, billions of which Newsom converted to rebates back to taxpayers. By the summer, Newsom had embarked on something of a victory tour. He touted California’s revival at triumphalist press conferences that doubled as campaign events, and he played game show host at glitzy lottery events that offered vaccinated Californians the chance to win prizes. That upward trajectory led Newsom to convince the Legislature to move up the election date to mid-September, believing the electorate would be in high spirits. The Delta variant threw a wrench in that plan, driving up virus rates to the point that counties reimposed mask requirements and Newsom mandated vaccinations or negative tests for state employees, teachers and health care workers. But rather than shy away from the types of restrictions that first propelled the recall, Newsom leaned into them. He made his closing argument a matter of pandemic contrast, posing a choice between California’s stringent rules — which Republican contenders vowed to unravel — and the looser approaches taken by Texas and Florida. ‘The Delta surge was a real inflection moment in this campaign,; Newsom strategist Sean Clegg told reporters the night before the vote.”

“Seven takeaways from California’s recall election” [The Hill]. “‘Gavin Newsom still has Washington, D.C., in his gaze,’ said Thad Kousser, chair of the political science department at the University of California, San Diego. ‘And this recall, rather than tripping up his national ambitions, has elevated his visibility across the country.'” • Meanwhile–

“California Oil Industry Continues to Thwart Climate-Related Bills” [Capital and Main]. “Overall, ten proposed bills that included environmental justice measures, industry accountability and emissions reduction programs never made it to a final chamber in the state Senate or Assembly in the face of opposition from the oil and gas industry. The lobbying was led by the Western States Petroleum Association and the California Independent Petroleum Association. Three other climate-related bills made it to a final chamber, one with significant changes that lessened its potential impact. Many of these bills were also opposed by business and labor groups, but the oil and gas industry was usually the most vocal. Three bills in particular show how the industry still maintains a tight grip on climate policy in California — despite the state’s reputation for being at the forefront of efforts to reduce our use of fossil fuels. Two of them passed one chamber, only to get pulled before a floor vote in the second; one of them passed and now heads to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk but was significantly weakened.”

* * *

“Second senior official leaving DHS in a week” [The Hill]. “David Shahoulian, a senior official at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is leaving his post, making him the second high-ranking official to leave the department this week. A source confirmed to The Hill on Tuesday that Shahoulian, who served as assistant secretary of border and immigration policy, has resigned from his post. Shahoulian is leaving the department for personal reasons, according to CNN, citing a source familiar with the departure. He also served at DHS under the Obama administration and previously spent time as assistant secretary for border security and immigration. The departure comes one day after Karen Olick, who was serving as chief of staff to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, announced that she would be stepping down from her position at the end of the month. She is departing for an undisclosed opportunity,” • Odd.

Democrats en Deshabille

Warren Mosler wins the Internet:

“Big Pharma’s Democrats” [Andrew Perez, David Sirota, Daily Poster]. “The three conservative Democratic lawmakers threatening to kill their party’s drug pricing legislation have raked in more than $1.8 million of campaign cash from pharmaceutical industry donors. One of the lawmakers is the House’s single largest recipient of pharmaceutical campaign cash this election cycle, and another lawmaker’s immediate past chief of staff is now lobbying for drugmakers. The threat from Democratic Reps. Kurt Schrader (Ore.), Scott Peters (Calif.), and Kathleen Rice (N.Y.) comes just as the pharmaceutical industry’s top lobbying group announced a seven-figure ad campaign to vilify the Democratic legislation that aims to lower the cost of medicines for Americans now facing the world’s highest prescription drug prices. At issue is House Democrats’ initiative to let Medicare use its bulk purchasing power to negotiate lower prescription drug prices. That power — which is used by other industrialized countries to protect their citizens from exorbitant prices — has been promised by Democrats for years, and party leaders have been planning to include it as part of their sprawling $3.5 trillion infrastructure reconciliation effort.” • You see, the Democrat Party is a big, beautiful tent…. which was carefully built by “party leaders” to be exactly the party they want it to be.

Republican Funhouse

“Republicans ask FDA for details on any White House pressure on boosters” [The Hill]. Not unreasonable; see (54)[1]-[2] here. That said, it will be interesting to see if the Republicans ever come up with a coherent position on vaccines or indeed on the pandemic. I mean, if vaccines are the mark of the beast, isn’t OK that the FDA is taking its time with them? (To be fair, the one thing that both Republicans and Democrats agree on is that the Trump Administration should be given no credit for developing “the vaccine,” as Biden keeps calling them. Even Pfizer, which didn’t participate in Operation Warp Speed development, was guaranteed a market, without which they could not have proceeded.)

Our Famously Free Press

“New York Times Quietly Retracts Claim That Hunter Biden Laptop Story Is ‘Unsubstantiated’” [National Review]. “The New York Times has revised its coverage of the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story to reflect that it is not “unsubstantiated.” In reporting on Monday about the Federal Election Commission’s (FEC) ruling that Twitter did not make an unlawful campaign contribution to Joe Biden by censoring the story last October, the Times used the “unsubstantiated” descriptor in spite of the wealth of evidence supporting, and dearth of evidence contradicting, the Post’s claims…. On Tuesday, a day after the Times broke the news about the FEC’s decision, and disparaged the Post’s reporting, it removed the “unsubstantiated” label. Notably, the change was not accompanied by an editor’s note or other acknowledgment of the original error.” • Could be an error. Ever since the Times fired the copy editors, its quality at the word and sentence level has gone straight down the tubes.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“George Packer’s Center Cannot Hold” [The New Republic]. “Liberalism is not, in fact, in disarray. Indeed, in many senses it’s a thumping success. Only three decades after the fall of the Iron Curtain, neoliberalism, which preserves the classical doctrine’s package of liberties and rights while installing the market, rather than government, as the ultimate arbiter of wealth distribution, has established itself as a political state of nature throughout much of the developed world…. Who exactly is this book for? Occasionally, through use of the second person, the answer slips through: Last Best Hope is for people who needed the shock of the pandemic to “realize that the miraculous price and speed of a delivery of organic microgreens from Amazon Fresh to your doorstep depends on the fact that the people who grow, sort, pack, and deliver it have to work while sick.” In other words, it’s for people like George Packer: comfortable, middle-class professionals who have come to a belated understanding of the American economy’s brutalities, but don’t want things to change so much that they lose the country that has made them a success and brings them their microgreens.” • Ouch.

“Census experts find no political influence in state totals” [Associated Press]. “Outside experts found no evidence of political interference in the state-by-state population totals from the 2020 census used for divvying up congressional seats, but their limited review didn’t include demographic data or places smaller than states, according to a task force report released Tuesday. The task force was established by the American Statistical Association last year during the most difficult U.S. head count in recent memory due to the pandemic, natural disasters and attempted political interference from the Trump administration, which unsuccessfully tried to add a citizenship question to the census form and attempted to end field operations early. The Trump administration also named political appointees to the Census Bureau who statisticians and Democratic lawmakers feared would politicize the once-a-decade head count of every U.S. resident, and pushed to have the apportionment numbers released before President Donald Trump left the White House in January. he Census Bureau made the correct call by delaying the release of the apportionment data until April so that it could have more time reviewing and crunching the numbers, the report concluded.”

“Democrats’ House targets vanish as GOP redraws new maps” [Politico]. “House Democrats spent the past two elections crowing about ousting Republicans from longtime red districts that had suddenly grown competitive. Now, Republicans are about to make many of those targets disappear from the battlefield entirely. GOP mapmakers are readying to shore up more than a dozen of the most hotly contested House battlegrounds from the past four years, narrowing Democrats’ path to maintain control of the House, as they prepare for midterm elections that are historically tough for the party in power.” • Since the Democrat leadership doesn’t seem to be worried about this, why should I be?

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States NY Empire State Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The New York Empire State Manufacturing Index jumped to 34.3 in September of 2021 from 18.3 in August and well above market forecasts of 18, pointing to a strong factory growth in the NY state. New orders, shipments, and unfilled orders all increased substantially. Labor market indicators pointed to strong growth in employment and the average workweek.”

Manufacturing: “United States Industrial Production” [Trading Economics]. “Industrial production in the United States increased 5.90 percent in August of 2021 over the same month in the previous year. Industrial output growth slowed for a fourth month after growing 17.8 percent in April due to low base effects from last year.”

Manufacturing: “United States Capacity Utilization” [Trading Economics]. “Capacity Utilization in the United States increased to 76.40 percent in August from 76.20 percent in July of 2021. It is the highest reading since December of 2019, in line with market forecasts.”

* * *

Commodities: “Miners race for nickel as electric car revolution looms” [Financial Times]. “Demand for nickel, which is used in more powerful electric-car batteries and will be key to bigger vehicles such as electric trucks, is set to grow 19-fold by 2040 if the world meets the Paris climate goals, according to the International Energy Agency. Yet most of the increase in supply this decade is set to come from Indonesia, a market overwhelmingly powered by coal-fired electricity where Chinese companies are building nickel processing projects. That has prompted a race to secure new sources of supply as companies in rich nations are forced to drastically reduce their carbon footprints.”

The Bezzle: “The Revolt Against the 30% Mafia” [Moe Tkacik, The Marker]. “Starting in San Francisco, American cities and later whole states began enacting extremely simple regulations designed to soften the financial blow of a malign force choking America’s most vulnerable businesses with extreme commissions…. they were such obvious no-brainers that copycat bills eventually passed in some 73 municipalities, in the end saving probably thousands of merchants from financial ruin… The laws were the delivery app fee caps, which for the most part placed 15% limits on the commissions DoorDash, Uber, and Grubhub could charge restaurants during the pandemic. These laws cut restaurants’ delivery app bills in half in the cities that passed them… But the caps also represented the start of a grassroots revolt against the 30% Mafia, an unimaginative label I’ll use for the increasingly unimaginative syndicate of Silicon Valley gatekeepers who’ve made a business model of charging businesses from booksellers to hotels 30% of their top-line revenues for the privilege of existing on the internet…. I can’t find many examples of middlemen that commanded that kind of take during the 20th century; Sotheby’s is an exception, as was the actual Mafia, at least according to Rudy Giuliani, who told the producers of the Netflix mob series Fear City he grew up hearing stories about how Mafia thugs arrived at his grandfather’s barbershop one day demanding 30% cut of his income…. Alas, Steve Jobs raised no such flags when he founded the 30% Mafia upon debuting the iPhone, when he elected to round the 27% he used to charge record labels for selling iTunes up to an even 30% for developers who wanted to sell iPhone software applications in the official App Store. At the time, he euphemistically referred to it as the ‘agency model’ — which might have been accurate if his cut had been 15%. More evocatively, a Dallas restaurateur named Omar Yeefoon last fall likened the 30% commission to the revenue sharing arrangement enjoyed by ‘pimps,’ writing on Facebook that his vegan restaurant was ‘being trafficked.'” • Tkacik is always worth a read, and this is worth reading in full.

The Bezzle: “Uber Eats, Grubhub, DoorDash sue NYC for limiting fees the apps can charge restaurants” [Tech Crunch]. “Food ordering and delivery platforms DoorDash, Caviar, Grubhub, Seamless, Postmates and Uber Eats have banded together to sue the City of New York over a law that would permanently limit the amount of commissions the apps can charge restaurants to use their services…. effort to help ease the strain on an industry struggling from pandemic lockdowns. The companies filing suit against the city claim the limit on fees, which was made permanent last month under a bill sponsored in June by Queens Councilman Francisco Moya, has already cost them hundreds of millions of dollars.” • Which is bad why? (One thing the city might do is allow local and co-op delivery platforms to charge a slightly higher rate. Say, 15%. The Silicon Valley oligarchs would have to content themselves with 12%. Or 10%.

The Bezzle: “$500 Million of SPAC Cash Vanishes Under the Sea” [Bloomberg]. “A controversial project to mine the Pacific ocean floor has suffered a rocky start after investors withheld almost $500 million in funding. TMC The Metals Company Inc., formerly known as DeepGreen Inc., went public last week, after merging with Sustainable Opportunities Acquisition Corporation, a special purpose acquisition company. But it was an underwhelming debut. The shares sank 11% on Friday. Despite having no revenues and around two dozen employees, the start-up was valued at more than $2 billion by its blank-check partner. It plans to exploit a rich deposit of battery metals located on the seafloor in between Hawaii and Mexico. It says these minerals are sufficient to electrify 280 million vehicles. However, the Canadian start-up has had an early cash disappointment. The SPAC merger ended up delivering only $137 million of fresh money, as investors asked for their money back or failed to deliver promised funding. The company estimates that $7 billion is needed for large-scale commercial production. The cash struggles encapsulate the current ructions in the SPAC market, where neophyte companies — many in the electric vehicles space — are starting to meet investor skepticism and heightened regulatory scrutiny.”

The Bezzle:

Outright theft, simple as that. Of course, it is crypto.

The Bezzle: “OpenSea confirms executive used insider knowledge when buying NFTs” [The Block]. “One of the non-fungible token (NFT) space’s biggest marketplaces has admitted that a senior employee has been getting the drop on its most popular drops.” • Of course, it is crypto.

The Bezzle: “NFTs Are the Revenue Model for Metaverse, Crypto Veteran Says” [Bloomberg]. “When we are able to have a digital overlay of our reality, it’s going to be a massive change in business models, a massive change in the way we interact with each other and the world. When it happens, it really is hard to imagine and hard to overstate the impact. I’m betting that the revenue model for the metaverse is going to be NFTs. In video gaming the revenue model now is virtual items, and that’s a $175 billion business annually. I think the metaverse should be orders of magnitude more than that because it’s everything, it’s not just gaming.”

Tech: “Integrity, Facebook-Style” [The Ad Contrarian]. “Facebook’s VP of Integrity (yes, they actually have one) says they have undertaken “a long journey’ to become ‘by far the most transparent platform on the internet.’ As regular readers know, any time you see the word ‘journey’ you know you’re in for some massive bullshit. … To demonstrate their commitment to truth and transparency Facebook decided to prepare a report that ostensibly would show us that contrary to the published lies about how they spread misinformation and hate, what really happens on Facebook is innocent and harmless — mostly posts about baking cupcakes and cute pictures of the grandkids. Except it didn’t. What the VP of Integrity forgot to tell us was that the report to demonstrate their transparency was scheduled to be released after the first quarter of 2021. When the report was completed it showed that the most shared post on Facebook for the first quarter of 2021 was a lie suggesting that a healthy doctor had died from the COVID vaccine. What did Facebook do when they discovered this? They did what they always do. They covered up the report. They did not release their ‘transparency’ report . They buried it. Months later when the Times discovered what they had done and wrote an exposé about it, they suddenly discovered it and released it.” • Vice-President of Integrity, I love it. Never eat at a place called Mom’s…..

Tech: “Facebook sure looks like it’s getting into the debt collection business” [Mashable]. “Dubbed Facebook Invoice Fast Track, the program works by buying up a company’s outstanding invoices and quickly forking over the owed cash. When payment comes due, the customer with the outstanding bill then must pay Facebook directly. ‘The program provides affordable, immediate cash for pay that your customers owe you,’ the announcement explained. Facebook said it will take a ‘one-time low fee’ of one percent of the invoice value. Notably, Facebook intends for the program to focus on businesses that are ‘majority-owned, operated and controlled by racial or ethnic minorities, women, U.S. military veterans, LGBTQ+ people or individuals with disabilities.’ We asked Facebook if it intends collects any fees other than the stated one percent. We also asked who, exactly, will be doing the collecting — is it a Facebook team, or a third party? — and what happens when a bill inevitably goes unpaid. We received no immediate response.” • I’m sure there are leg-breakers somewhere in Facebook’s corporate structure. I guess Mark wants them working all the time.

Manufacturing: “Bjorn’s Corner: The challenges of airliner development. Part 20. Production site and facilities” [Leeham News and Analysis]. “Last week, we looked at the Rig design and manufacture for ground and flight testing. We are now at the stage in our program (Figure 1) where we shall have scouted and deliberated over our Final Assembly production site (Violet bars). We now need to decide on the site and what facilities we need to build and/or hire.” • Impossible to extract, but aircraft nerds should love it. (Also explains what any country goes through to get an aircraft industry off the ground.)

Manufacturing: “A Deeper Dive into Semiconductor Foundries” [Deep into the Forest]. “In last week’s issue, we learned about the core machines that populate a semiconductor foundry. In this week’s issue, we will dive deeper into the construction of a foundry and learn about the actual physical edifice itself. Semiconductor foundries are large factories that place considerable burden on the surrounding community and infrastructure. We will learn more about locations that can support a foundry, the noise and architectural considerations needed, and analyze some trends for the future of semiconductor manufacturing.” • As above, but for chips!

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 34 Fear (previous close: 31 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 49 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 15 at 12:37pm..

Our Famously Free Press

“The Defector Model Works” [Ross Barkan, Political Currents]. “In its heyday, Deadspin was the louche insurgent striking fear into ESPN and the staid sports sections of newspapers, breaking open major stories while ridiculing the sanctimony of the sports world. It was Deadspin that revealed quarterback Brett Favre was sending pictures of his genitalia to a Jets sideline reporter. It was Deadspin that exposed Manti Te’o had a fake girlfriend. Anti-establishment to its core, Deadspin was a cheekier, lower-brow version of what the Chipmunks had been up to in the 1960s and 70s—a band of young writers exposing professional sports for what it really was. There was no hustling for access, no soft-focus features, no myth-making…. Eventually, a private equity company bought Deadspin and demanded the staff stop writing about anything other than sports…. Meanwhile, the ex-Deadspin staff came together to launch a new media venture called Defector…. Instead, Defector would depend on subscribers paying to read the site. The writers themselves would co-own the company and pay themselves with the subscription revenue generated. No private equity goblins could tell them what to do. In a year, the site now has 23 staffers and brings in more than $3 million, enough to comfortably sustain the project. More than 40,000 subscribe. Absent federal subsidies, this is the future media organizations must pursue.”

Police State Watch

Never trust heart-tugging baby photos:

It never fails.


“How to Persuade Americans to Give Up Their Guns:” [The Atlantic]. “The weapon Americans most often buy is the modern semiautomatic handgun—affordable, light, and easy to use. This is the weapon people stash in their nightstand and the glove compartment of their car. This is the weapon they tuck into their purse and shove into their waistband. Why? Two-thirds of American gun buyers explain that they bought their gun to protect themselves and their families. And here is both the terrible tragedy of America’s gun habit and the best hope to end it. In virtually every way that can be measured, owning a firearm makes the owner, the owner’s family, and the people around them less safe. The hard-core gun owner will never accept this truth. But the 36 percent in the middle—they may be open to it, if they can be helped to perceive it…. The way to reduce gun violence is by convincing ordinary, “responsible” handgun owners that their weapons make them, their families, and those around them less safe.” • Hmm.

Feral Hog Watch

“How do wild pigs affect riparian systems” [Soils Matter, Get the Scoop!] “If you live in the southeastern United States, there’s a good chance you’ve encountered wild pigs or their damage. They can live along stream beds and dig in fields or along roadsides. In the U.S., wild pigs are an invasive species and don’t have many predators. They can affect water quality, compete with native species for resources, and spread disease. This can have significant impacts on other wildlife, the environment, and to humans and domestic animals…. Wild pigs can cause changes at multiple “zones” of a watershed. Besides digging (“rooting”), they also roll around in the mud (“wallowing”). Both disturb the soil which can negatively impact plants, soil invertebrates, and ground-dwelling animals. This soil disturbance can also affect nutrient cycling by disrupting natural soil processes. Pig traffic across or up and down the stream bank can impact bank stability, leading to soil erosion. It can damage vegetation along the stream that create an important buffer between water and land. Wild pigs may also use the stream channel itself, which can increase erosion and sediment in the water and affect nutrient cycling…. Our research showed that wild pigs can be a threat to water quality in riparian areas by introducing fecal material and disease-causing organisms. This indicates that it may be important to control wild pig populations upstream of major drinking water sources and recreational areas to protect public health.”

Book Nook

Payment by the word:

Philip K. Dick worked under similar conditions, which I contend was one source of his greatness.

“Ebooks Are an Abomination” [The Atlantic]. “Two thousand years after the codex and 500 after the Gutenberg press, the book persists. If something better were to come along, you’d expect it to have done so by now. In other words, as far as technologies go, the book endures for very good reason. Books work. Given the entrenched history of bookiness, a book is less a specific thing than an echo of the long saga of bookmaking—and an homage to the idea of a book bouncing around in our heads, individual and collective. That makes books different from other human technologies. People have always needed to eat, but methods of agriculture, preservation, and distribution have evolved. People have always wanted to get around, but transportation has unlocked faster and more specialized means of doing so. Ideas and information have also enjoyed technological change—cinema, television, and computing, to name a few, have altered expression. But when it comes to the gathering of words and images pressed first to pages and then between covers, the book has remained largely the same. That puts books on par with other super-inventions of human civilization, including roads, mills, cement, turbines, glass, and the mathematical concept of zero…. Putting all of this back together: Ebook devices are extremely compatible with an idea of bookiness that values holding and carrying a potentially large number of books at once; that prefers direct flow from start to finish over random access; that reads for the meaning and force of the words as text first, if not primarily; and that isn’t concerned with the use of books as stores of reader-added information or as memory palaces. Some of the reading that corresponds particularly well with this conception of bookiness includes fiction in general and genre fiction—such as mysteries, sci-fi, young-adult fiction, and romance—in particular. As it happens, these are exactly the kinds of books that have thrived on Amazon’s Kindle platform.”

Class Warfare

Well, not everyone:

But Scarry is directionally correct.

News of the Wired

“Nothing but Sheer Racket” [Lapham’s Quarterly]. Here is the explanation of the title: “In 1839 the German composer Robert Schumann dedicated his wonderful Fantasy in C Major, op. 17, to Liszt. Liszt wanted to return the favor but had nothing he felt was worthy. Eventually in 1853 he completed his one piano sonata, which he dedicated to Schumann. Sadly, in 1854 a copy arrived at the Schumann household shortly after Robert had been committed to the mental asylum in Endenich. The pianist and composer Clara Schumann—Robert’s wife—received the score and had her friend Johannes Brahms play it to her. She found ‘nothing but sheer racket—not a single healthy idea, everything confused…And now I’ve got to thank him for it!’ Her opinion was shared by Brahms and by quite a few leading German musicians. Despite this rocky start, Liszt’s sonata soon began to gather admirers and has never been out of the limelight.” • Well worth a read.

* * *

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 (RH):

RH writes: “Brought to a dinner party instead of wine.”

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the recently concluded and — thank you! — successful annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:

Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated.

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

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Water Cooler on by .

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. flora

    re: “How to Persuade Americans to Give Up Their Guns:” [The Atlantic]

    Good luck with that after USians have seen what’s happened to OZ and NZ citizens this past year and a half.

    1. Wukchumni

      NZ has a lot of guns per capita, nothing like the USA, but about 1 for every 3 citizens, the trick being that there aren’t any handguns.

      When that Aussie fellow mowed down the mosque in ChCh, they acted swiftly in getting rid of assault rifles, whereas when the terrorist in Vegas hit 1,000 people killing 60, it only made our gun nuts hornier for them.

      1. Conrad Schumacher

        I married into a hunting family here in New Zealand. Father and Brother in law both own rifles and shotguns and enthusiastically hunt deer, ducks and pigs. Firearms can only be owned by licensed individuals and the licensing process requires a police inspection of the secured storage where the guns will be kept and interviews of family members.

        Interestingly the preferred method of pig hunting here involves a pack of dogs and big knives, with a rifle along as a backup only.

    2. ambrit

      I’ll add that “Rugged Individualism” seems to be a touchstone for the Neoliberal Movement. To that, nothing says “Rugged Individualism” better than Gunz.
      Now, watch me shoot that self licking ice cream cone out of the Oligarch’s hand, at twenty paces. Piece of cake!

      1. Wukchumni

        Guns won, look @ Texas when they outlawed abortions after 6 weeks, but on the same day allowed unfettered open and concealed carry. They don’t want a sperm to not come into the world, but are cool with really late term abortions when the Glock strikes twelve .

        1. rowlf

          Texas joined Vermont for unfettered open and concealed carry? What’s next, trading in pick-up trucks for Subarus and Volvos?

      1. Tom Doak

        There have been a couple of Arab terrorist incidents in recent months, almost as big as what happens routinely at US public schools.

        Better arm everyone. /s

      2. ChrisPacific

        I’m guessing flora was referring to the lockdowns, which have been portrayed in overseas media as the act of a dystopian police state, to the bemusement of the locals (search ‘NZ hellhole’ for some of our responses).

        It is true that our individual rights to spread Covid in the community as we see fit have been severely infringed at times. Curiously most of the locals don’t seem to see this as a problem – possibly more evidence that we have been brainwashed by an oppressive regime.

        1. The Rev Kev

          And here is a film clip that brought tears to the eyes of the NRA back in 1997-

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ri7rZq2lFo (9:52 mins)

          The Prime Minister at the time, who was well thought of by American Republicans (that says a lot), was in America a few years afterwards in a talk at a Republican Conference. A member of the audience asked him what he thought that his major accomplishment to which he answered “Gun control!” You could have heard a pin drop.

          1. ChrisPacific

            Ah yes, Jim Bolger, who later headed up a state-owned bank competing against the private sector, and is on record as saying that neoliberalism has failed and that unions should have a stronger role in society. (It would have been nice if he’d come up with some of those ideas while he was in power, but better late than never I guess). I’m guessing he’s not on as many Republican Christmas card lists as he used to be.

    3. Pelham

      It’s not too surprising that owning a gun would raise the overall threat to the owner and family, since actual defensive use is rare but the gun is ever present. But much the same could be said for owning a car and the chances of being injured in a traffic accident.

      I suspect there’s some merit to the Atlantic’s argument but perhaps not as much as we think. Choosing to own a gun is something like choosing to avoid airline flights. It’s 99% irrational as air travel is safer than any other form. But there’s that 1% consideration that if something goes fatally wrong in midair, a passenger has absolutely zero ability to do anything to save himself. With a gun in the right kind of situation, you have just a sliver of a chance of doing something to save your skin. Of course, it could go terribly wrong. But that element of agency is the precious part that gun owners and would-be owners (like myself, a well-practiced former owner) find hard to resist.

      1. Objective Ace

        There’s also tail risk to consider. Averages are meaningless when that black swan event occurs. I’m sure those who stayed behind in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina could say something about this

    4. anEnt

      The tail risk of banning guns is tyranny, which can’t (and won’t) be modeled by epidemiologists, especially those working for the unitary executive.

        1. chris

          This is why we’ll be much more successful with the near shoring project of domestic terrorism! The only reason we lost to the Taliban and their small arms is because that happened in Afghanistan. But in the US, we have all those roads and open fields to fight people! Clearly our home grown enemies won’t use guerrilla tactics to take advantage of small arms and ambushes…

        2. anEnt


          Respectfully, the Taliban have just proven otherwise.

          And that before we consider the proportion of numbers of each sort of weapon and people on each side, let alone whether the armed forces might fragment and who would end up with what. Keep in mind that our ponderous military supply chains are spread throughout the country for political reasons. It’s hard to fly a broken down helicopter.

          Also, I am confident that American ingenuity is comparable to the Kiwis’ almost 20 years ago.


          One imagines that one could replace the control electronics with any number of <$100 embedded computers running Linux like the Beagle Bone Black, which many hobbyists have lying around their home.


          1. Yves Smith

            Not even remotely germane. The Taliban were dispersed over large portions of the countryside. They did not seek until late in the game to target meaningful population centers.

            By contrast, most gun owners are suburban. They are not giving up their homes and lifestyles to retreat to rural/exurban areas to harass their former neighbors.

        3. ex_zakly

          I’m in general agreement with yves on this. @anEnt, the decisive factor in the Taliban victory, and indeed it seems insurgencies in general, is the presence of substantial outside support. Pakistan and the ISI had as much to do with the Taliban’s reconquest as their stockpile of small arms. Perhaps some kind of low-intensity guerilla campaign could be sustained solely by American actors in certain counties and municipalities (something like the PKK and affiliated groups in Turkey, and that’s also a project that stretches across borders), but I have a hard time imagining their success at capturing and holding territory, let waging a sustained high intensity war, without some level of international intrigue….or transnational parastate support (cartels, private military companies, corporate conglomerates etc.).

          1. anEnt

            I think you underestimate the impact of denial of the military’s widespread domestic supply chain. As is commonly said on this site:

            The Hamptons are not a defensible position.

            Why it was only a couple of months ago that Yves herself wrote:

            Have they not worked out that liberals and the PMC dominate in only a few concentrated geographic area, nearly all on the coasts, and not contiguous to each other? What happens if say the right wing Central Valley decides to send food only to flyover? What happens if enough truckers decide not to take routes that take them to cities like New York and San Francisco? The Mark Blyth observation, “The Hamptons are not a defensible position” applies to their situation generally.


            Work stoppages and withholding food shipments on any scale will provoke a military response. And as Clausewitz said,

            war is nothing but the continuation of politics by other means

            So which is it? Or shall we engage in cakeism?

              1. ambrit

                But then, someone will have to shoot up the convoys of food etc. to the ‘loyal’ enclaves that will be staffed with and run by loyal military and ‘contractors’ to replace the “striking” truckers.
                I have read, and, to the extent of my understanding agree with, that the most feared component of the insurgencies in Irak, Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere are IEDs.
                I have read that most police cases are solved with the help of snitches, so also goes counterinsurgency. Alienate enough of the population such that there is a ground state of sullen noncooperation for the insurgents proper to sink into and hide in and you have the essence of guerrilla war. The entire disaffected population need not rise up. It will be sufficient that a large part of the population refuse to cooperate with the ‘Proper Authorities’ in neutralizing the core combatant cohorts.
                America is a very large country. That is both it’s strength and it’s weakness.
                Anyway, here’s hoping this does not come to pass.

          2. Duke of Prunes

            Do you really think a war over guns will involve capturing and holding territory and/or devolve into a high intensity war?

            I don’t foresee militias and battles, but disgruntled ex-military and other skilled marksmen taking out targets of opportunity (elements of TPTB).

            I just don’t think the US has the stomach for an all out war over guns. When the politicians realize they could be in harm’s way (unlike foreign wars where the violence is safely far away), I think a compromise path will be found.

            1. Yves Smith

              That was not the premise of the original comment. It was that gun owners were capable of leading an insurgency. I don’t see it. No organization, strategy, tactics, or most important, willingness to take losses, even of property.

          3. DZhMM

            Are you assuming that an insurgency in the US would lack outside support? Why? The list of entities who might be expected to engage in some low-cost, low-risk ‘what goes around, comes around’ has got to be pretty long.

        4. drsteve0

          Hmmm. Wonder what the Taliban would say about that. Lightly armed, they done alright against tanks, gunships – not to mention air strikes, MOAB’s, etc…

          1. JTMcPhee

            Taliban had a nice deal — Empire paid them to drive the trucks and provide security and promise not to ambush the endless convoys needed to bring those high-tech weapons and petro fuels at $400 a gallon delivered to the air courant Battlespace of the Week. CIA involved in bringing simple weapons to the “insurgents” as part of their idiot playbook.

            US military supply chains were about 7,000 miles long. Sun Tzu predicted what would happen in this logistics nightmare fraught with corruption and stoopidness, where Heaven was clearly not on the side of the d#ckhead generals and Sneaky Petes who drove the stoopidness for 20+ years…

      1. Robert Hahl

        Friends who keep guns handy tell me it is because they don’t trust other people to behave themselves in hard times. It’s not about resisting government tyrants, but neighboring tyrants. One friend took me to a shooting range and saw that I could hit the same soda can twice with a pistol. The first thing he said to his wife when we got back was, “Bob can protect his family.”

    5. Tom Stone

      Mexico had extremely restrictive firearms laws since the 1930’s and banned the private ownership of firearms at the end of the 20th Century.
      I can’t find the link but watched a Utube videao early this year of Cartel operated craft produced armored vehicles traveling down a gravel road in Sonora at @ 15 MPH. it lasted 7 Minutes and 38 seconds.
      Many of these Monstruo had cupola mounted belt fed machine guns.

  2. Another Scott

    Sean Wilentz eviscerates the 1619 Project and ensuing controversy, including the involvement of the World Socialist Website. Note that this is not published by an American organization.


    The entire thing is worth a read, but I think this is the money quote:

    “It required no advanced knowledge of American history to understand the perversity of The 1619 Project’s lead essay’s treatment of the Revolution. If it were a high school history paper, that discussion alone would have been grounds for failure. It’s rare, after all, to read a student get every single stated fact perfectly wrong, in support of a proposition for which there is no other evidence cited, on two of the most important topics in all of U.S. history, indeed, all of modern history, the causes of the American Revolution and the origins of antislavery.”

    1. blep

      I loved this, until it veered near the end pointing the blame at “cancel culture” or whatever, also conflating “defund the police” activists–the very activists he describes beforehand as being part of bottom-up history, as somehow in bed with Hannah-Jones and in the same vain as literally falsifying historical evidence. It correctly diagnoses the problem: Hannah-Jones did a hatchet job to prove that racism was an original sin, and the Times backed it up. But it eschews (like the whole Project itself, or the culture war broadly) the actual, materialist reasons for why this debate exists. The 1776 folks are there to promote hierarchy, status quo, and conservatism (like a lot of Right projects, not complicated in their capitalist aims), and the 1619 folks exist to funnel that bottom-up activist fervor after Ferguson into a flattened view of reality, parceling people off into sub-groups who can’t organize horizontally, but can only exist as protagonists for their own group and their own group alone. Class is non-existent, and cross-racial cooperation (which he nods to) is removed. This is beneficial for an institution like the Times that is no more confirming of our capitalist structure than 1776 folks, but who have to pitch views to a liberal audience who aren’t going to eat the medicine of just straight-up revanchist hierarchy. Viewing it at-face-value, like he does, removes the element of “why,” which is that culture war is an effective tool for the ruling class to give you a busy-box while also squeezing out the actual Left from any cultural (or god forbid political) power.

    2. Ian Perkins

      including the involvement of the World Socialist Website

      I thought the WSWS had been very critical of the project from the beginning. Can you summarise Wilentz’s criticism of their involvement?

      1. Darthbobber

        He doesn’t criticize them for their involvement, he pats them on the back for their stance. He does see it as telling that several reputable historians could initially find no more “mainstream” venue than WSWS to carry their criticisms.

    3. Lee

      Thanks for the link. A good read but I was surprised that the author “was surprised that the New York Times would lend its name and credibility to such a crude and falsified account of American history.”

      1. rowlf

        A lot of people feel very awkward when they realize what has been fed to them isn’t chocolate. /s

        Before the silly Matrix films came out there was a 1971 book by Polish author Stanisław Lem titled The Futurological Congress where the protagonist escapes illusion.

    4. Martin Oline

      I have done much research into my families genealogy and as a result have gained much understanding of American history. The thesis of the 1619 project has seemed to be a conclusion that was searching for factual basis to support it. The colony was not the first instance of settlement in North America, but it served the purpose of the 1619 project to cast America as an evil nation. The earliest successful colony was the Spanish in Saint Augustine, Florida. The Spanish conquest can only be described as inhumane, documented many times, but the trilogy Memory of Fire by Eduardo Galeano is a very readable source. The English colony of Roanoke is also igmored because it did not agree with the idealogical fantasies of the author. The early English explorer Drake actually freed Spanish slaves, transporting some of them to North America.
      The book Marooned by Joseph Kelly led me to one of his main sources David B. Quinn, an authority on the early history of the colonization of America. Quinn, in an 8 page paper found in Explorers and Colonies America 1500-1625, outlines a voyage made by Drake in 1585, where he sacked Santiago on the Cape Verde Islands, and on Dominica they met their first Native Americans. While they were friendly, the natives did not welcome English rule. The Spanish had made them wary of all Europeans. In January he landed 1,000 men on Hispaniola and captured Cartagena (Columbia) in February. While there he found that the Symerons in Panama had made peace with the Spanish, a non-aggression pact. Drake did not despair of turning them against the Spanish, but this cruise would not do it and Panama would have to wait “for another occasion.” April saw them in Cuba, in May they harassed Florida, and in June they anchored off the outer banks of North Carolina, where they conferred with the Roanoke colonists. He took many freed slave, transporting them to Roanoke. but what became of them is unknown. In Marooned, Kelly writes “He must have put them ashore someplace between Saint Helena in S. Carolina and Roanoke in N. Carolina . . they vanish from the historical record, which is quite extensive. Historians try to solve the mystery of the hundred or so English settlers lost at Roanoke the next year seem unconcerned the greatest portion of the English settlement, hundreds upon hundreds of liberated slaves, have just disappeared.”

      1. ambrit

        Something to confound some of the 1619 hysteria.
        Cherokee versus Melungeon ancestry.
        Melungeon is a commonly used word from two hundred years ago in America to describe a group of people of incredibly mixed racial heritage who just happened to live right beside the aboriginal Cherokee tribes in the Appalachias back from roughly 1700 to 1820 or so. They were rolled up into the Cherokee Trail of Tears event. Thus, many of Melungeon descent think that they are Cherokee.
        A good primer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOnWcdBamTM (12 minutes.)

  3. ambrit

    Regarding writing for pay, I will mention Dashiell Hammett, author of “The Maltese Falcon” and “Red Harvest,” among others. (Both mentioned books became films later. The Maltese Falcon became, “The Maltese Falcon” and “The Devil Met A Lady.” Red Harvest became “Yojimbo,” and the later Spaghetti Westerns.)
    Hammett said that he wrote best under pressure, usually rent being due and no money, and similar situations. After he became ‘well off,’ his output slacked off considerably.
    I don’t know whether it is pertinent, but Dick, Hammett, and even Chandler worked under conditions best described as ‘Under the Influence.”
    Dick: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_K._Dick
    Even better: https://medium.com/@ozerskytv/the-need-for-speed-6c135c3255db
    Chandler’s connection between drink and literature is explicitly described in the “Blue Dalhia” script process. Put under a severe deadline by the studio, Chandler made a deal with the film’s director to finish the script quickly, only if he could get drunk and stay drunk the whole time. It took Chandler eight days to finish the script for the film, approximately half of the work, roaring drunk the entire time. He was given glucose injections by a ‘tame’ doctor during the event to avoid dehydration. The things we do for Art.
    Read: https://litkicks.com/BlueDahlia/
    Stay safe! Stay sane!

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Drink strangles the internal critic who stifles the flow of creativity, and looses the flows of subconscious thoughts. But after a flow of creativity, some critic and editor must be found to shape the creativity into greater coherence. I suspect good editors are as rare as the creatives you have mentioned. It is most difficult to edit one’s own work — if for no other reason than the mysterious blindness that hides typos, misspelled homophones, bad punctuation, and gaps in reasoning or motivations. I believe writing well is a work of many, and too many of the editors and critics deserve much more credit and acclaim than they receive compared with the creatives.

    2. Martin Oline

      I had a friend in west Marin County, CA who knew Dick’s widow. She claimed the widow said of her late husband, “It wasn’t fiction for Philip. It was real.”

  4. EGrise

    Re: “How to Persuade Americans to Give Up Their Guns”

    This reminds me of the initial approach to getting the reluctant to vaccinate. Just persuade them! The facts are on our side. Trust the science. Etc. etc.

    I can’t determine if this is just gross naivete or the beginning of something else. In any event, good luck with that.

    1. JBird4049

      I have had to listen for those public service announcements pushing the flu shoot. They were extremely irritating being extremely unctuous and insulting to both the average person’s intelligence and commonsense, but familiar somehow.

      And I just realized why they are all so familiar.

      Did you every have the fun and excitement of watching the “training” films that new employees have often had to watch in retail, or worse, be one of the trainers having to watch said film before completing the training of new employees? Me: Yes, before I train you, you get to watch this training film! Later: me: Any questions? Them: WTF was that? Me:…

      Yes, the subject was the extremely fascinating use of cash registers, dealing with the public, and the minutiae of company policies and rules, but as one of my supervisors said “You have got to see this. There’s a grown man acting like a clown!”

      I guess the idea of treating people like adults, respectfully given them useful, factually accurate, and hopefully convincing reasons as to why flu shoots, or gun control, or climate change, or anything hasn’t occurred to the well paid, educated “experts” doing all this? Did they not think about how they would most likely be convinced of something? Or were they fixated on the idea of half of the country being uneducated,not particularly bright, children?

    2. jr

      I’m going to go way out on a historical limb here and propose that the gunz/sport hunting culture in the US is a relic of medieval European culture in that the peasants finally are allowed to bear swords and hunt the King’s lands.

      1. JBird4049

        From colonial times until after the Spanish-American War, the state militias were expected to handle any wars with the skeletal regular army being made into a full size one if needed, or when part of the British Empire, the British Army was often not available.

        Then there is the three centuries long series of wars with the original inhabitants. With any regular military often not around, it was up to the American militias to do most of the fighting. IIRC, it was only after 1800 that regular army units began to supplant them in real way, but still not entirely.

        And yes, hunting for survival, and later sport, has been a reality since the first colonists arrived. For some, it is still necessary, or at least very helpful, to hunt for food.

        But all this means is that American society has been heavily armed for over four centuries. Saying to the 1/3 of the population that is armed that needed to disarm because reasons… which often consist of finger waving, shaming, and contempt is not going to work.

      2. Wotan

        Some of my ancestors walked into Tennessee with rifles and lived off wild animals they killed with the rifles and used the flintlock rifles to defend themselves from other people, including native Americans, while they built their homes and planted vegetables to eat. Rifles and guns were handy in the early 1700s.

    1. Stephen V.

      I’m going to say Nasturtiums –which grow wild in the canyons of San Diego.
      Now in Arkansas, after years of trying, I find they need to be stratified to germinate.

      1. Milton

        Yes, they’re all over the coastal canyons by my house in SD. Invasive, they strangle the Hell out of our native species in riparian areas. Young Sycamores are unable to establish themseves resulting in ever aging stands that are gradually dying off. So, I’m not a fan, to say the least.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      They look like amaryllis to me too. The color is close to the color of nasturtiums but the shape … not quite. The stems seem narrow for amaryllis and my amaryllis like to grow a few to a stem. I have never seen nasturtiums with stems so long and strong. If the plantidote is a nasturtium I want to know what kind so I can try to grow some. The bouquet is most beautiful. If nasturtium I suppose it is also edible. Dinner should follow the main course with a salad.

  5. diptherio

    Climate Change and Citizen Science: https://indiancountrytoday.com/news/drastic-changes-sea-ice-levels-affecting-seal-hunting

    The findings were part of the Ikaagvik Sikukun project, a collaborative effort between University of Alaska in Fairbanks scientists, Inupiat elders, and Kotzebue hunters. Over the course of one and a half years, the team used state of the art satellite imagery, local observations, and traditional Indigenous knowledge to quantify shifts in the surrounding environment.

    The combined data determined that sea ice breaks up approximately 22 days earlier than it did in the first years of the study, leading to a shortened hunting season.

    It’s a noteworthy development in a region known for its frozen coasts and wintery climate. Like many systems in the area, ugruk hunting is closely linked to a season’s ice conditions. In spring, ugruk follow the melting Chukchi Sea ice edge north towards the Kotzebue Sound. Once there, they rest on floating ice chunks, known as floes, and feed off the area’s abundant fish, shrimp and clams. This is when those in Kotzebue begin their annual hunt.

    “We learned from our Kotzebue research partners that hunting ugruk is actually like hunting the right kind of ice,” said Donna Hauser, a marine mammal biologist at the university’s International Arctic Research Center and co-leader of the research project.

  6. Ignacio

    Vireo philadelphicus: A pattern can be seen if you identify silabes that end in lower tone repeated once or twice and then followed with 1 or 2 silabes ending in higher tone. That must mean something, musn’t it?

  7. Lee

    “But according to The Narrative, deaths shouldn’t have been going up at all. Directionally, this is quite concerning.”

    Between the vaccinated and known cases about 2/3 of the population have significant disease resistance to Covid-19. Some unknown but probably not insignificant number of persons have achieved natural immunity by being infected but were asymptomatic and therefore probably went uncounted. And yet the death rate continues to climb. Yes, this is quite concerning and rather puzzling. Just guessing here, but I suppose it can be explained by the highly contagious nature of the Delta virus, which is quite concerning indeed for those of us who may not have had a robust immune response to the vaccine and might therefore catch the disease even from the vaccinated.

    Autumn is coming. In today’s 30 minute video by Dr. Campbell scenarios are discussed assuming 3 different rates of transmission in the U.K. (also applicable to a large degree to the U.S.) in the coming months. Peaks in October and November projected, with a drop off beginning after the first of the year. The reason being that by then enough people will have been fully vaccinated, have received boosters, or have been infected such that the number of susceptible hosts will be precious few. But as we all know well, “There’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip.”

    1. Carla

      Dr. Campbell takes (as seems to be characteristic of him) an optimistic view that no new variants will come along in the meantime to ruin the schedule…

      I really like him, but he does seem upbeat in a way I’m not sure is called for.

    1. psv

      Click to see the picture – there’s a text on the dress which is not the one which has been reported widely elsewhere : )

      1. Milton

        Mosler knows that taxing policy can be used as a tool to more equally balance wealth distributions (as well as other policy issues). It’s not all about “generating revenue” for spending purposes.

        1. dcblogger

          just so, the oligarchs are using their wealth to start wars and destroy democracy, so we need to tax their wealth.

          1. Milton

            Not disagreeing at all. I’m actually giving AOC the benefit of the doubt that she is informed regarding MMT.

            1. The Rev Kev

              She was, but them promptly forgot it as being ‘inconvenient’ knowledge. And it is not like that she is going to turn up in a gown saying ‘Healthcare 4 All’ or ‘Force the Vote’, will she?

        2. skippy

          Pigovian taxation is the only tax required under the currant MMT system at a Fed level, Federal expenditure can be directly spent on common goods like health, education, critical instructor, et al.

          Trying to tax wealth away to sort inequality at this juncture is impossible after decades of shell corps/tax havens, require complete international cooperation, not happening. Better to put a floor under the 90% and then look at ending all the subsidies for the top 10%.

  8. Thistlebreath

    Re: ‘The Bezzle’ today.

    Shooting in Echo Park last late winter for a shall-not-be-named TV series, the local malditos casually let it be known that the fee for using a park bench is $20/month.

    It’s a public park.

    No, the shoot didn’t cough up. Prodco’s have their own muscle, including off duty law enforcement for location work.

    But the 30% mafia sure didn’t have to look very far to find a model for monetizing deliveries, did they?

    Good call.

  9. Henry Moon Pie

    “Miners race for nickel as electric car revolution looms””

    Richard Heinberg makes an interesting point about our leaders’ dilemma when trying to convert to electric cars and a much greater reliance on electricity generally:

    If we take energy and money away from those activities [bars, restaurants, our reasons to live] in order to fund a rapid energy transition on an unprecedented scale, then the economy will contract, people will be thrown out of work, and many folks will be miserable. On the other hand, if we keep doing all those things at the current scale while also rapidly building a massive alternative infrastructure of solar panels, wind turbines, battery banks, super grids, electric cars and trucks, electrified industrial equipment, and synthetic fuel factories, the result will be a big pulse of energy usage that will significantly increase carbon emissions over the short term (10 to 20 years), since the great majority of the energy currently available for the project must be derived from fossil fuels.

    The point about how the conversion will front-load carbon emissions was novel to me and seems important. Essentially, we would be opening up the faucet full blast and overflowing the tub before we even have a chance to increase the drain size

    So what’s the solution to the dilemma?

    1. Tim

      The first nickel (pun intended) goes to electrifying the mining and processing equipment.

      That won’t happen though, because it’s going to make the electric car conversion even more expensive.

      Why are humans in organizational structures so adept at losing the plot?

    2. lordkoos

      Unfortunately, the “solution” will likely end up being mass deaths and extinctions. No one is talking about conserving and using far less energy.

  10. Wukchumni

    …on the breech
    Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is set to announce his country’s submarine programme will “go nuclear” under a new defence pact with the US and the UK that has been described as “China’s worst nightmare”.

    The new grouping to be known as AUUKUS will advise Australia on how to identify the best way to acquire nuclear-powered submarine capability and share advanced technologies involving artificial intelligence.

    There would be a “nuclear element to the pact in which the US and UK share their knowledge of how to maintain nuclear-defense infrastructure”.

    Senior ministers were rushing back to Canberra on Wednesday night for national security meetings ahead of the major announcement.


    1. The Rev Kev

      Just woke up earlier to hear the news. He wants us to be a nuclear power as well as a major weapons exporter. Do we buy the nuclear fuel from the US or build a reactor here for a home brew? But wait, there more. We are now in an anti-China pact with the US and the UK. So an Anglo-Saxon Alliance. Why doesn’t Scotty jut declare war on China and be done with it. China must be quaking in their boots over the mighty regional power of Oz coming against them.

      1. Wukchumni

        Oh Marketeer from Australia
        Marketeer from the Limestone Plains
        He gave the Yankees shooting pains
        Hinky-dinky parlez-vous

  11. Wukchumni

    The Bezzle: “OpenSea confirms executive used insider knowledge when buying NFTs” [The Block]. “One of the non-fungible token (NFT) space’s biggest marketplaces has admitted that a senior employee has been getting the drop on its most popular drops.” • Of course, it is crypto.
    I’m more of a Bitcoin camp follower, can’t get into the NFT craze, which is completely different in that there is only 1 of a kind-unique with the latter, whereas there are 21 million Bitcoins-all worth the same. Sort of opposite field running, a yin & yang bezzle.

  12. Wukchumni

    Raida Bitar is at breaking point, and so is the Beirut hospital she works in. The chief pharmacist’s eyes fill with tears as she opens cupboards normally filled with lifesaving medicines but which now sit empty.

    “It’s like a nightmare,” Bitar says. “I have worked here for 16 years and this is by far the toughest time we have faced.

    “Every day, you are depleted of your energy, depleted of your soul and depleted of hope. This is the first time in my life I have lost hope.”

    A crippling medicine shortage is the latest symptom of a complex illness killing a once-great country. The crisis in Lebanon is so grave the World Bank believes it may rank as one of the top three economic calamities to strike any nation for the past 170 years, beaten only by Chile’s Great Depression in the 1920s and the onset of civil war in Spain in the 1930s.

    Drivers sit in baking summer heat for hours in the hope of finding scarce fuel, citizens are banned from withdrawing their savings from the banks, the electricity system has stopped working, the currency has lost almost all its value and hyperinflation has sent the price of some foods soaring by 1000 per cent. If the price rises in Lebanon were replicated in Australia, a one-kilogram packet of sugar would cost about $15.

    While anger at Lebanon’s leaders is palpable, one man also bears a heavy responsibility for the meltdown.

    Riad Salameh has been governor of Lebanon’s central bank for an extraordinary 28 years and is the architect of the country’s financial mess. His most disastrous policy was to encourage more US dollars into the country by urging Lebanese citizens to deposit cash in banks on the promise of unrealistic double-digit interest rates. The Ponzi scheme collapsed in 2019 and the Lebanese are now banned from accessing their life savings.

    On Salameh’s watch, the value of the Lebanese pound (£LB) has plummeted. Only a few years ago, £LB1500 could be exchanged for $US1, but the rate is now a whopping £LB20,000 to the dollar.


  13. Joe Well

    Povidone iodine is the new Ivermectin, apparently.

    A media freakout got the manufacturer of Betadine to warn against it, not because of reports of accidental ingestion, but because of the theoretical possibility.

    It’s an “event” on Twitter.

    Snorting and Gargling Iodine to Fight Covid-19 Is a Really Bad Idea
    Subheading: “It’s the latest anti-vaxxer tactic you should avoid at all costs.”

    I’m still gonna use it, and be careful as always not to swallow any.

    1. ambrit

      The pattern is clear. Any treatment that is generic and shows any effectiveness in alleviating and diminishing the symptoms of Covid is verboten.
      This looks like a clear cut case of profit trumping the public health. As a result, I’ll venture to say that the days of this medical system are numbered. Collapse is built in. From the inside, looting and profiteering will cause the system to collapse from being hollowed out. From the outside, the gradual loss of public confidence in the system will lead to mass abandonment of the “official” system for alternatives. The demonization of “alternative medicine” now comes to make sense.

        1. Basil Pesto

          the problem with regularly using chlorhexadine as mentioned in that article is that regular use of most chlorhex products will stain the teeth.

          (full disclosure: I occasionally work for a company that distributes a chlorhex mouthwash that is far less likely to stain than any other, and is very popular among dentists etc for that reason. I don’t use it for covid prophylaxis – sticking with the PVP-I for the moment.)

    2. Pelham

      Same here. Since when are people ingesting Betadine? The article I’ve read seemed to purposely muddy the distinction between using the mouthwash as directed and chugging it down.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Show of hands: Has anyone ever swallowed mouthwash by accident? I know I have. It’s not the sort of thing I would do twice.

        As for gargling with Betadine, everyone knows that the stuff isn’t for gargling, right? Amirite?

          1. jr

            Cepacol is for lightweights. I used to watch the hardcore drunkards sit outside the Circle-K’s in Orlando and slug Listerine back like it was an ice cold brew:

            “Notable brand Listerine is approximately 26.9% (!) alcohol, with many of the mint variety mouthwashes coming in around 22%. Cepacol® is a brand that has a lower alcohol content, coming in at 14%, but this percentage is still very high compared to drinks like wine or beer.”

            I believe soldiers deployed in places where booze isn’t available would have their families mail them Listerine although I wouldn’t be surprised if someone cracked down on that. I knew one soldier who would have his dad or someone mail him green-tinted vodka in a Scope bottle.

            And then there is my high school fave, Rush:


            or amyl nitrate. But I never sank this low:


            1. ambrit

              We used to call amyl nitrate “poppers” back in the disco days. A fixture at the discos in New Orleans back in the day was the dealer hanging out in the bathroom.

              1. The Rev Kev

                I’ve got a brother who was in the police decades ago that talked about the drunks on “white ladies” he saw sprawled in parks. This was just methylated spirits mixed with water but he said that they were so off their face, that they did not blink when they had a fly crawl on their eyeballs. I think that this stuff is called denatured alcohol in the States.

    3. lordkoos

      Much safer than iodine are everyday alcohol-free mouthwashes that are commercially available and they will provide similar protection from what I understand.

      1. petal

        Ceytlpyridinium chloride (CPC). That’s the magic ingredient, according to studies. You can get mouthwashes with it in it that are alcohol-free. That is what I have.

      2. Yves Smith

        The Japanese do use povidone iodine in mouthwashes. 0.45% concentration. A manufacturer tested its effectiveness v. Covid in already positive patients. The results (75% reduction in hospitalization) is what led to the idea of povidone iodine as a treatment/prophylactic. Kills Covid in a petri dish in 15 seconds, faster than isopropyl alcohol.

        All the talk about Betadine seems almost designed to get people to use it at topical strength (10%) which is a seriously bad idea! You need to dilute it to gargle strength (0.5% to 1..0%)

        More detail here:


        1. Acacia

          I can confirm that Japanese drug stores sell several different povidone mouthwash products. E.g., Isodine:


          This contains 70 mg of povidone iodine per ml. You pour 2 to 4 ml of the solution into a small cup, add 60 ml of water, and gargle. The manufacturer says it can be used several times a day.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Snorting and Gargling Iodine to Fight Covid-19 Is a Really Bad Idea

      I couldn’t get to this; I will get to it today.

      It’s [family blogging] appalling, is what it is. The PMC seems determined to discredit treatment of any kind. Yves and I looked at Povidone quite early on, the studies were good, there’s a mechanism of action, it’s low cost/low risk.

      It does make you entertain the hypothesis that the media is desperate for clicks, and moral panics about treatment seem to fill the bill. With the Administatration’s performance looking increasingly sloppy and Trump-like, we might recall that one blessing of his administration was that the media were hysterical about him, and not other things. As long as Trump didn’t endorse Povidone, we Povidone users would have been left to ourselves.

      Incidentally, n=1, but Yves’s mother is high risk, for her age, her fragility, and the constant traffic of aides. So far, she has escaped covid. Yves’ protocol for her mother includes Povidone. Is she going to change that protocol because some PMC get their knickers in a twist? I think not.

      1. skippy

        Its an over the counter sore throat gargle here in Oz and available in supermarkets under the brand name Betadine Povidone-Iodine 1%w/v, no dilution needed. Directions clearly state repeat every 3 to 4 hours if necessary.

        Scary stuff … eh …

  14. Jeremy Grimm

    Artificial Intelligence [AI] is often a topic at Naked Capitalism, though I do not recall any AI links in today’s offerings. Similarly the qualities of non-human intelligence and consciousness are often, though less often a topic. Today’s links considered “What animals think of death”. Today’s link resonates with other past links which I believe are strongly suggestive of animal consciousness — in animals we regard as of lower ‘order’ than great apes.

    I have never been able to regard AI as intelligence. The only AI I am aware of is some form of pattern recognition usually composed of some amalgam of brute force optimizations of various sorts. In stark contrast with AI — based on reading past links describing animal behaviors and the intelligence they suggest — animal intelligence seems to always couple with some form of what I cannot regard or call other than consciousness. Perhaps the efforts to reach AI “Singularity” are singularly missing a critical component — consciousness.

    1. jr

      “Perhaps the efforts to reach AI “Singularity” are singularly missing a critical component — consciousness.”

      This is exactly right and AI will never have it. I’m willing to extend AI the notion of intelligence, understood as the ability to detect and organize information. A “smart” washing machine can do that. Awareness? No. No washing machine will ever have a bad day, or a good day, or really any kind of a day at all. Nor will any AI. You cannot construct consciousness. You cannot program it. This is because consciousness, awareness, is not a component of anything, rather everything is a component of it. It’s akin to saying that because one has built a house, one has built the bricks that compose it.

      For a chuckle, watch this ding-dong AI researcher confuse consciousness and intelligence time and again:


      Physicalist drivel. Robots will never debate, there is no intent behind those hideous masks, it’s all just pattern recognition and no matter how complex that gets they will never care. They will never be inspired. They will never make a careless mistake because they were ticked off at their spouse. They will never experience anything.

      A bon-mot, at one point the fem-bot declares that science is the best way we have to understand the world and the researcher comments “That’s profound!”, failing to realize that it was relaying an erroneous philosophical point. You cannot use science to measure science. A mirror cannot see itself. A ruler cannot measure itself. All such inquiries ultimately collapse into the hierarchy of reflection, one’s awareness and one’s awareness of that awareness. which is the ur-philosophy, irreducible.

      Speaking of things never experienced, how many times do you think the fem-bot has shot down that professional dork?

    2. Acacia

      Already in the 1970s, the claim that AI is “intelligent” was thoroughly critiqued by the philosopher Hubert Dreyfus. His arguments were and remain highly inconvenient for AI researchers and marketing droids seeking venture capital (in the old days, it was DARPA money), so they have been studiously ignored.

      The “Singularity” is wishful thinking that somehow, someday, machines will truly become intelligent. It does not account for the dismal track record of AI to develop said intelligence. It ignores the very clear warnings from countless SF novels and films about the ethical problems involved (geeks are not known for being able to get irony or allegory, even when thrown in their face by an author like Gibson), and so here we are.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I have never been able to regard AI as intelligence.

      Because it isn’t. It’s Silicon Valley hype, or to put it less politely, fraud. For any given AI, (a) nobody know how it works, (b) it is unmaintainable, and (c) its results are driven by its training data, which is likely to be as bad/biased as any other data.

    1. saywhat?

      While protection against severe disease is holding strong in the U.S., immunity against milder infection wanes somewhere around six to eight months after the second dose.

      So it appears lasting immunity against severe Covid is possible – presumably from a previous infection as well as vaccination.

      So much then for the necessity of boosters to prevent severe Covid?

      Best news I’ve read in a while…

      1. Yves Smith

        This is shameless. Data from Israel showed as of July (5-6 months after vaccination) that infections were proportional between vaxxed and unvaxxed, even when stratified by age. That meant the vaccines conferred no effective protection v. Delta, due to a combo of waning protection and Delta partly escaping infection. Why is Israel in the midst of a big spike and its officials talking about a fourth shot if the immunity from Jan-Feb shots were still any good?

        We also see a big spike in heavily vaccinated Iceland.

        1. saywhat?

          Well, the qualifier ”severe” is used so break-through infections among the vaccinated (and I presume those who’ve recovered from a previous infection) are typically not severe is the message I get.

          And that makes sense to me since even if antibodies in the blood have waned, the virus still needs time to cause severe disease – time that allows the memory b-cells to create sufficient replacement antibodies to forestall serious disease, I suppose.

          So boosters, in theory at least, would (typically) only serve to prevent mild infections by keeping a ready force of antibodies in the blood at all times.

          Just a hypothesis but it seems to fit the facts of decreased serious disease even as the number of cases rises.

        2. Acacia

          Indeed, and since July it looks kind of worse. Israel has apparently vaccinated around 80% of the population, but they just hit their all time high of Covid cases on September 5th. E.g., of the reported new cases on 09/03, 40% were fully vaccinated.

          It seems the policy in Israel is now that the first booster shots should be given at five months. The US, by contrast, is saying boosters should begin at eight months. Israel only started booster shots in late July. It really feels like we are venturing further and further into unknown territory.

          The strangest part for me is that when I mention the data from Israel to very pro-vax friends/colleagues, they just robotically repeat that the problem is not enough people have been vaccinated yet. In an odd way, it feels like the prior experience of talking with people addled by TDS was preparation for this state of affairs.

  15. Tom Stone

    The causes of violent crime are well known, and have been for decades.
    Alcohol use and abuse tops the list, particularly when it comes to domestic violence.
    And that abuse is, like most of the known causes of violence linked to poverty, injustice an d lack of opportunity.
    If you are poor in the USA you are less likely to recieve prenatal care and your mother is less likely to recieve proper nutrition as the fetus develops.
    The same problem occurs during a child’s formative years.
    Your Mother and you are also much more likely to be exposed to pollution, and much more likely to use and abuse alcohol and other harmful drugs because you damn well know you do not have a chance at a decent life.
    If you are born with a dark skin or just in the wrong place you are screwed.
    You will probably end up in a school that is physically unsafe and you will associate with your peers, who also have almost no chance at a decent life.
    If you manage to stay out of jail your only chance to get ahead is the Military unless you are a phenomenal athlete.
    And if you grew up eating cheap fast food because that’s all you could get you likely aren’t fit enough to “Be all you can be”
    Otherwise it’s a dead end job at an abusive workplace, probably two such jobs just to keep a not too leaky roof over your head and enough “Food” to keep you alive.
    You are screwed and you know it.
    Despair and rage are a rational response, deadening the pain of knowing that not only you but any kids you might have are screwed from the gitgo, so Dope and booze are what many choose.
    If you want to decrease violent crime start with single payer healthcare and a genuinely living wage, then ensure that kids have enough food to eat and schools that are physically safe.
    A little social mobility is also in order.
    The USA is run by a lawless oligarchy ( Jimmy Carter’s words) who do not give a drizzly shit about the lives of 95% plus of the populace.
    Want less violence?
    Create a more just society.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The lower 90% ( or at least that part of the lower 90% which cares about such things) will have to force a just culture and a just society into existence in the teeth of upper 10% obstruction and prevention.

      Also, members of the legal-enforcement-industrial complex and the prisondustrial complex will form special centers of opposition and obstruction against a more just society, because their job opportunities and employment opportunities and promotion opportunities depend on a steady supply of violent crime to be able to lock people up for . . . in order to harvest the annual government-funded annually re-upping dowry that each convict comes with. The police, prison workers, etc. won’t give up that money voluntarily. Their opposition will have to be crushed and pressed flat.

    2. Robert Gray

      > The causes of violent crime are well known, and have been for decades.

      I’ve always liked a line from Les Misérables :

      ‘Destroy the cave Ignorance, and you destroy the mole Crime.’

      Unfortunately, nowadays education itself is a major problem area.

  16. drumlin woodchuckles

    Here is an example of personal scale social niceness, in this case cross-racial niceness; done both as its own reward and also to be a visible inspiration. Enough of this sort of thing diffused all over everywhere can slow down the push to civil strife and culture war being engineered by the Republican Party and the Conservative Movement in particular. Perhaps moderate it like graphite thrown in among uranium.


  17. The Rev Kev

    Joe Biden may find himself being cancelled soon. A new book is coming out that says that not only does he have two ancestors that owned slaves but – Gasp! – he has family ties to the wife of Confederate President Jefferson Davis which makes old Joe as good as a Reb-


    Yeah, Obama & Kamala had ancestors that were slave owners too but you are not supposed to talk about that.

  18. DJG, Reality Czar

    Amazon signs agreement with unions in Italy. The agreement seems to cover the warehouses, and it doesn’t extend to the delivery companies, which, of course, aren’t part of Amazon. Subcontractors as an anti-union tactic, eh.

    LaStampa claims this is a first in the world.


    Time for more agitation in the US of A?

Comments are closed.