2:00PM Water Cooler 9/17/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, more shortly. –lambert UPDATE All done!

Bird Song of the Day

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At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. I feel I’m engaging in a macabre form of tape-watching….

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:

Down again.

54.2% 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:

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:

Ohio Valley less red. The South mostly yellow or green (cases, not hospitalization). Rockies still under siege. 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:

The South, the leader, steadily dropping.

Hospitalization (CDC):


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

Now Alabama is flat again. Things are picking up in the West.

Deaths (Our World in Data):

We are approaching the same death rate as our first peak last year. 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:

American exceptionalism?

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

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

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

Capitol Seizure

“Trump offers sympathy for those charged with Jan. 6 offenses” [The Hill]. “Former President Trump in a Thursday statement offered sympathy for those charged with participating in the Jan. 6 riot, while not mentioning a controversial rally at the Capitol scheduled for Saturday that is backed by supporters of people arrested in connection with the insurrection.” Riot. More: “‘Our hearts and minds are with the people being persecuted so unfairly relating to the January 6th protest concerning the Rigged Presidential Election,’ Trump said. ‘In addition to everything else, it has proven conclusively that we are a two-tiered system of justice. In the end, however, JUSTICE WILL PREVAIL!'” • Surely if Trump though he wasn’t in the clear, he’d be paying for some defenses?

Biden Administration

““Does Not Present Sufficient Cause”” [David Sirota, Daily Poster]. “President Joe Biden has been touring climate-ravaged areas of America, warning that climate change is a “code red” emergency for the planet. And yet, his administration has continued to boost fossil fuel projects and is now preparing to vastly expand offshore drilling. The White House argues that a court order it opposes and is appealing requires federal officials to lease more than 78 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico for fossil fuel exploration. Environmental groups, however, assert that federal law gives the administration broad discretion over whether or not to hold such sales. In fact, Biden’s officials have instead used that power to officially declare that the warnings in the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reportdoes not present sufficient cause” to reevaluate the drilling plan. With the help of the nonprofit public interest organization Earthjustice, several environmental and Gulf groups have now launched a lawsuit against the administration to stop the Gulf lease sale. The complaint argues that the environmental analysis behind the lease sale is based on outdated and arbitrary science, in violation of federal law.”

UPDATE “Biden sets sights on the meat processing industry while lobbying soars” [Open Secrets]. “The White House took aim last week at meat processing companies for the prices of poultry, beef and pork increasing. The meat processing and products industry has already spent nearly $2.1 million on lobbying in 2021 and is on pace to match or beat its 2020 lobbying spend of $4.1 million. Director of the National Economic Council Brian Deese and other White House officials said just four firms control the majority of the meat processing market, allowing them to push higher prices on consumers while reaping record profits. Since December 2020, the price of beef rose by 14%, pork by 12.1%, and poultry by 6.6%, contributing to over half of the higher costs consumers see at the grocery store, according to the White House. The largest meat processing firms also spend the most on lobbying, according to data compiled by OpenSecrets. A study by the Open Market Institute found that JBS SA, Tyson Foods, Cargill and Smithfield Foods collectively control 53% of the meat processing market. ”

Democrats en Deshabille

UPDATE “The Democratic party’s double standards on wealth inequality” [Financial Times]. “It is better, they say, to have half a loaf than none at all. That is the case for this week’s tax proposals from congressional Democrats, which have watered down Joe Biden’s campaign plan. But the metaphor underplays the good fortune of America’s billionaires, who, at worst, would have to yield a few crumbs. For a moment it looked like the Democratic party would confront US inequality head-on. It has already passed. Barring a dramatic shift in partisan arithmetic, the super-rich seem to have bought themselves several more years’ reprieve. It cannot all be put down to Democratic “moderates”, such as West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, whose 50th Senate vote gives him great leverage over the contents of Biden’s $3.5tn bill. Manchin will surely shrink its size… [T]he loudest trumpet in this retreat belongs to mainstream party liberals from Democratic strongholds such as New York and California. They are hoping to repeal the $10,000 annual cap on the state and local tax deduction (Salt), which enables residents of high tax states to offset what they pay locally against their federal income taxes. Almost all the beneficiaries of scrapping the cap would be rich. The cost to the taxpayer would amount to $91bn a year, which would more than wipe out the income tax increases the wealthy would have to pay under the Democratic plan. The wealthiest 0.1 per cent would get an average $145,000 tax cut. For the middle 60 per cent of households, it would be $27 a year. This is not just bad economics — it is hard to find a single economist on the left or right who thinks it would be a good idea. It is also terrible politics. In 2017 Democrats found a popular echo in attacking the inequities of Donald Trump’s $1.5tn tax cut. But the repeal of the Salt tax cap would be far more regressive than Trump’s tax cut. It does not help that Democrats are presenting their Salt plans as “relief for the middle classes” — and now “pandemic relief”. It was Republicans who substituted ‘tax relief’ for ‘tax cut’ to make it sound better. Democrats are picking it up verbatim. ‘When Democrats say this is relief for the middle classes, what exactly is their definition of ‘middle’?’ asks Richard Reeves, a Brookings fellow and scholar of US meritocracy. ‘Do words have no meaning any more?” • Lol no.

“Democrats suffer blow on drug pricing as 3 moderates buck party” [The Hill]. “Democrats’ signature legislation to lower drug prices was defeated in a House committee on Wednesday as three moderate Democrats voted against their party. Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), Scott Peters (D-Calif.), and Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) voted against the measure to allow the secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower drug prices, a long-held goal of Democrats. The vote is a striking setback for Democrats’ $3.5 trillion package. Drug pricing is intended to be a key way to pay for the package. Leadership can still add a version of the provision back later in the process, but the move shows the depth of some moderate concerns. The three moderates said they worried the measure would harm innovation from drug companies and pushed a scaled-back rival measure. The pharmaceutical industry has also attacked Democratic leaders’ measure, known as H.R. 3, as harming innovation.” • This is the party the Democrat leadership carefully built. And if you really want to innovation, fund the NIH.

UPDATE No war but the class war:

“Bernie has three houses!” “Engels has a factory!” This is the difficult with the concept of “the rich”: It’s income-based, and so social relations are erased.

Our Famously Free Press

“GOP online donation platform tweaks fees, sending millions more to midterm campaigns” [Politico]. “Republicans are making a small change to their online fundraising program that could have a big impact on the party’s finances heading into the 2022 midterm election. WinRed, the GOP’s principal small-dollar donation processor, is lowering the fees it charges candidates and committees for each contribution they receive through the platform. The shift — which follows months of behind-the-scenes deliberations involving the party’s most senior officials — could result in millions of dollars more being funneled into campaign coffers next year. Under the new plan, which WinRed President Gerrit Lansing outlined in a memo sent to senior Republicans this week, the platform will charge a flat 3.94 percent fee per donation. Until this point, the for-profit outfit had been charging 3.8 percent per contribution, plus another 30 cents. The change is set to go into effect Jan. 1. Given the large number of contributions made through WinRed, candidates are likely to see a payoff.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

We are looking at the remains of some more advanced civilization or a race of alien beings:

Clearly such things are beyond our powers.

“Pro-Sanders group rebranding into ‘pragmatic progressives'” [Associated Press]. “Our Revolution is focusing on the more modest alternatives endorsed by President Joe Biden…. ‘Coming out of Bernie’s 2016 campaign, in some ways the organization was probably more of a bridge organization between the two electoral cycles,” Joseph Geevarghese, Our Revolution’s executive director, said in an interview. ‘What we’re trying to build is something that is longer term’ and ‘part of the overall ecosystem of the progressive movement.’ ‘I think we are rooted in a bold, progressive vision, but we’re also pragmatic progressives,; Geevarghese said.” • From July. Good thing I missed then, or I would have stroked out.

“What the Never Trumpers Want Now” {David Frum, The Atlantic]. Says the Never Trump Whisperer: “Once, Republicans and conservatives filled hours of cable-TV time and sold millions of books to argue the supreme importance of truthfulness [like George W. Bush], sexual fidelity [like Denny Hastert], and financial integrity [Newt Gingrich] in a national leader. Then their party nominated and elected a president who gleefully transgressed every one of those human decencies.” • It’s clear that Frum is completely delusional, and so he and his will fit in very well with the liberal Democrats.

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of note today.

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UPDATE Capital: “Machine Tool Demand Slows to Start Q3” [American Machinist]. “U.S. manufacturers and machine shops ordered $472.6 million worth of new capital equipment during July, -5.6% less than the June total but only the second decrease in monthly orders this year. The July result also represents a 41.5% increase over the July 2020 total, as manufacturers continue to invest in reaction to building industrial demand…. Monthly order totals for metal-cutting equipment fell less than 10% in the Northeast, Southeast, North Central-West, and West regions, and each of these regions has reported solid increase for the year-over-year and YTD tallies.”

UPDATE Commodities: “Tech industry braces for skyrocketing rare earth prices” [Nikkei Asia]. “Electronic hardware manufacturers are sweating as prices for rare-earth metals surge amid soaring demand and simmering tensions between the U.S. and China, the world’s most important source of these vital materials…. Demand for rare earths has risen sharply due to their increasing use in cutting-edge technologies, including the booming electric vehicle industry, while the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic has fueled demand for electronics. Geopolitics are only making matters worse. China is the only country that has a complete supply chain for rare earths from mining, to refining, to processing. As of last year, it controlled 55% of global production capacity and 85% of refining output for rare-earth elements, according to commodity research specialist Roskill. … Rare earths such as neodymium oxide — a key input for motors and wind turbines — have jumped 21.1% since the beginning of the year, while holmium, which is also used in magnets and magnetostrictive alloys for sensors and actuators, have surged nearly 50% so far this year, according to Shanghai Metals Markets.”

UPDATE Shipping: “Jump in container moves per port visit causes further congestion: Over 40% of ships at key North American West Coast ports require to anchor before loading or unloading” [Hellenic Shipping News]. “The average number of containers requiring loading and unloading per ship call at major global gateway ports has jumped during the pandemic, causing further delay and congestion at an already stretched supply chain. According to the latest Port Performance Data by IHS Markit, container call sizes are up between 10% and 70% (vs H1 2019) across major US, Northern European and Asian ports. The average vessel now requires more than 3000 container moves per single call as global trade volume bounces back.

At the Port of Long Beach, United States, average call sizes are now more than 70% higher than before the pandemic with terminals dealing with an average of more than 7,000 container moves per call on large ocean-going vessels. In Singapore and Yangshan (Shanghai), the call size increased by 27% and 23% percent respectively over the last two years. …. “The severe operational strain is caused by the surge in cargo volumes coming in much more concentrated loads. This spike in demand is placing heavy stress on ocean and landside operations, increasing yard congestion and cargo dwell times, with knock-on effects on equipment repositioning and intermodal links further fuelling the problem and resulting in sustained congestion at key global gateways.” Turloch Mooney Associate Director, Maritime and Trade at IHS Markit.” •

UPDATE Shipping: “Record 60 Cargo Ships Wait to Unload at Los Angeles, Long Beach” [Maritime Logistic Professional]. “A record 60 container vessels are at anchor or adrift in the San Pedro Bay, waiting to be unloaded at the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach seaports and another 20 are due to arrive in coming days, a port executive said on Wednesday. With the pandemic still raging around the world, U.S. consumers have not fully resumed previous spending on restaurants and travel, yet they continue to splurge on goods ranging from appliances and home exercise equipment to sweatpants and toys. Volume at the Port of Los Angeles – the busiest U.S. gateway for trade with Asia – is up 30.3% so far this calendar year. The global supply chain has been reeling due to overwhelming demand for cargo;, temporary COVID-19 closures of ports and factories in Asia; shortages of shipping containers and key products like resin and computer chips; and severe weather. Transportation costs have spiked, exacerbating delays and fueling product shortages. ‘Disruptions continue at every node in the supply chain,’ said Gene Seroka, executive director at the Port of Los Angeles. Containers are waiting on Port of Los Angeles docks a peak of six days for truck pickup, Seroka said. Containers on chassis are waiting 8.5 days ‘on the street’ for warehouse space or to be returned empty to the port. There are nearly 8,000 containers ready to be whisked away by train, with the wait clocking in at 11.7 days, Seroka said.”

UPDATE Shipping: “Investor scores a fortune selling container ships named after Patriots” [Freight Waves]. “It’s a time-honored tradition among old-timers to consider a commercial vessel a ‘she’ and christen it with a female or non-gender-specific name. [New York-based Mangrove Partners] opted for testosterone instead. Once Mangrove purchased its ships, it renamed them after former or current members of the New England Patriots… Ship brokerage Compass Maritime called it “one of the most remarkable asset plays in recent memory.” According to information from U.K.-based data provider VesselsValue and Compass (which cited other reports), the six Mangrove container ships were bought for an aggregate price of around $62 million and sold for $348 million to $358 million-plus. Assuming all six sales go through, this implies a return of almost $300 million.” • Not clear from the story whether the names drove the prices. Nevertheless.

UPDATE Shipping: “The Lloyd’s List Podcast: Why the container crunch is going to get worse before it gets better” (podcast) [The Shipping Podcast]. “Spoiler alert – the container crunch is going to get worse before it gets better. With the seasonal surge in demand only adding to the existing chaos there is no immediate end in sight to the supply chain disruption that has generated one of the most extraordinary container markets ever witnessed.” • Since the Lloyd’s List site is brutally paywalled, this is a useful alternative.

UPDATE Manufacturing: “Why an Electric Car Battery Is So Expensive, For Now” [Bloomberg]. “Largely because of what goes in them. An EV uses the same rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that are in your laptop or mobile phone, they’re just much bigger — cells grouped in packs resembling big suitcases — to enable them to deliver far more energy. The priciest component in each battery cell is the cathode, one of the two electrodes that store and release electricity. The materials needed in cathodes to pack in more energy are often expensive: metals like cobalt, nickel, lithium and manganese. They need to be mined, processed and converted into high-purity chemical compounds. At current rates and pack sizes, the average battery cost for a typical EV works out to about $6,300. Battery pack prices have come down a lot — 89% over the past decade, according to BloombergNEF. But the industry average price of $137 per kilowatt hour (from about $1,191 in 2010) is still above the $100 threshold at which the cost should match a car with an internal-combustion engine. Costs aren’t expected to keep falling as quickly, and rising raw materials prices haven’t helped.” • Hmm.

UPDATE Concentration: This video is worth watching, at a minute-and-a-half:

Impressive for railfans. Amazing trains! But also consider that each one of those containers represents a condensed piece of the manufacturing capabilities that our elites moved away from this country, mostly to China.

UPDATE Labor Market: “Uber drivers are employees, not contractors, says Dutch court” [Reuters]. “Uber (UBER.N) drivers are employees, not contractors, and so entitled to greater workers’ rights under local labour laws, a Dutch court ruled on Monday, handing a setback to the U.S. company’s European business model. It was another court victory for unions fighting for better pay and benefits for those employed in the gig economy and followed a similar decision this year about Uber in Britain. The Amsterdam District Court sided with the Federation of Dutch Trade Unions (FNV), which had argued that Uber’s roughly 4,000 drivers in the capital are employees of a taxi company and should be granted benefits in line with the taxi sector.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 37 Fear (previous close: 39 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 34 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 17 at 12:35pm.

The Biosphere

“World weather groups forecast a year of global warming of 1.5C before 2025” [Financial Times]. “The world is likely to temporarily exceed 1.5C of warming since pre-industrial times within the next five years, according to a major report by leading weather organisations and scientists that supports alarming conclusions drawn by the recent UN landmark study. The findings published on Thursday follow the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report last month that detailed the science behind the urgent need to limit global warming. The 1.5C threshold has become a rallying point for policymakers. In May the G7 group of nations pledged to aim for a maximum rise of 1.5C, in a shift from the 2015 Paris accord headline goal of keeping temperatures at ‘well below 2C’. In its August report, the IPCC said that even in a best-case scenario of deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, long-term average temperatures — rather than warming in any given year — were likely to reach 1.5C within 20 years.”

Health Care

“Trouble with the new normal” [Helen Salisbury, British Medical Journal]. “We’re being encouraged to accept that 130 deaths a day from a preventable infectious disease is unremarkable and the “new normal.” I beg to differ, and I see trouble ahead.” • Yep.

Naked Capitalism Cooking Community™

“Elizabeth Bruenig Is Already in Fall Mode” [Grub Street, New York Magazine]. “Around nine, I broke for breakfast. There’s a habit I’ve had since I was a teenager, and I’ve honored it every place I’ve ever lived, every continent and country I’ve ever visited: The day begins with a frosty Coca Cola Zero, or a Diet Coke if I must. It’s the combination of caffeine, carbonation, and icy cold that really gets the day going for me.” • Holy moley!

The Agony Column

“Daphne Franks: the woman who lost her much-loved mother to a predatory marriage” [Guardian]. • Eesh, what a story.

Screening Room

America’s industrial policy:

Bible Corner

“This pastor will sign a religious exemption for vaccines if you donate to his church” [WaPo]. • Just a little too on the nose. (But to be fair: “How televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker became an unlikely ally in the AIDS crisis” NBC.)

Our Famously Free Press

“The New Yorker Archivist Erin Overbey on Her Byline-Diversity Project” (interview) [New York Magazine]. “Erin Overbey has worked at The New Yorker since 1994. As archive editor, she publishes a twice-weekly newsletter, excavates work from the magazine’s history, and serves as an internal resource about it. Today, she published [on Twitter] the results of just some of her research into 30 years of The New Yorker. Her data so far (which we have not, and could not, independently confirm) shows that: In 30 years, 2.5 percent of movie reviews were written by women; in 15 years, less than 0.01 percent of print feature and critics pieces were edited by a Black editor; in 30 years, 3.6 percent of book reviews were written by Black writers. When you have conversations about race or diversity with a fellow liberal at a media organization, it almost inevitably turns out with them saying, ‘Are you saying I’m a bad person? Are you saying I’m racist?’ You never really get anywhere. You never get to the heart of what you want to talk about…. There’s always a wall up. But what about data? Numbers don’t really lie, and numbers don’t have an emotional attachment to them. I started in 2019 looking at our tables of contents. It really was a lengthy project… I haven’t received any institutional feedback as of yet.” • Interesting. NOTE * Important to know, since you could be dogpiled and/or fired if you are seen to be. Not exactly a conversation starter. Nor are HR consultants conversation starters. Perhaps a data-driven approach will be more effective…

“The Guardian proclaims Anthony Fauci as ‘sexiest man alive’” [New York Post]. ““At the core of Tony’s popularity is that people intuit that this is a man who is speaking the truth and will not let anything stand in the way,” [“Fauci” documentary co-director John] Hoffman told The Guardian. ‘Tony is the signal amid the noise. People are able to sense that there’s a lot of noise and their ears are trying to find the signal and Tony is the signal.'” • Oy.

Who needs the classics?

Groves of Academe

“Down with the Thought Police!” [Academe Blog]. “1984 meets Professor Umbridge. That’s what came to my mind when I heard of two bills currently being debated in the Ohio legislature, HB 322 and 327. Seeking to define a category of ‘divisive concepts’ that Ohio children and adult students in college need to be protected from, these bills legitimize the policing of thought by the state government. With punishments that can include the firing of staff and withholding of state dollars from classes and institutions that teach ‘divisive concepts,’ these bills will effectively take control away from teachers, administrators, boards of education at the K-12 level and departments and administrators at the university level.” • ”Divisive concepts.”

Guillotine Watch

“The Elizabeth Holmes Trial Is a Wake-Up Call for Sexism in Tech” [Ellen Pao, New York Times]. “as Ms. Holmes’s trial for fraud continues in San Jose, Calif., it’s clear that two things can be true. She should be held accountable for her actions as chief executive of Theranos. And it can be sexist to hold her accountable for alleged serious wrongdoing and not hold an array of men accountable for reports of wrongdoing or bad judgment.” • It’s true that Elon Musk is still on the streets….

Class Warfare

Players who all shared a stake in projecting an appearance of the anointed’s racial authenticity“:

One does wonder what the royalty arrangements are.

“Curated Tolerance: the aesthetics of gentrification” [Scalawag]. “The specific imagery associated with gentrification varies from location to location, yet some consistent markers remain: newly built cubed houses, at least one restaurant that serves acai bowls, microbreweries, yoga studios, and, of course, the ever popular Bird scooters. These amenities intentionally mark the bounds of the gentrified environment, specifically welcoming those with disposable income to enjoy their new pristine city. Every system of political and social thought is accompanied by a symbolic system, an iconography that expresses and visually promotes the values of the political project. And gentrification—or revitalization, or urban renewal, or “negro removal”—is no different. The slow creep of gray cubes towards east Durham is not only unsettling to me as a person of color living in a predominantly low income Black and latinx neighborhood, it also looks absurd and blatantly out of place. I recall a Black coworker and friend of mine telling me: ‘When you see the bright colored houses, you know those aren’t for us.’ I believe she meant that not only in terms of affordability, but also in terms of safety.”

“The effects of remote work on collaboration among information workers” [Nature Human Behavior]. “Here, we use rich data on the emails, calendars, instant messages, video/audio calls and workweek hours of 61,182 US Microsoft employees over the first six months of 2020 to estimate the causal effects of firm-wide remote work on collaboration and communication. Our results show that firm-wide remote work caused the collaboration network of workers to become more static and siloed, with fewer bridges between disparate parts. Furthermore, there was a decrease in synchronous communication and an increase in asynchronous communication. Together, these effects may make it harder for employees to acquire and share new information across the network.”

“The Fatal Elitism of the Time’s Up Charity” [The New Republic]. “The type of elite professional women who drove Time’s Up’s mission often shared the same vested interest in their industries’ status quo as their male counterparts. High-powered men are able to abuse those below them with relative impunity for largely material reasons: Their victims are pressured into silence by credible fears of blacklisting or job loss, and their abettors benefit more from their proximity to power—and the exclusive resources, invitations, and perks it provides—than they would from confronting it. For Tchen—Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff—it wasn’t worth blowing up her cozy relationships with allies of the Cuomo administration over a few rumors of sexual harassment that could be more conveniently swept under the rug. Kaplan surely made a similar calculation when she opted to continue doing lucrative outside legal work representing well-heeled clients accused of complicity in sexual harassment, including Cuomo’s top aide…. In 2020, the nonprofit’s kid-gloves handling of President Joe Biden’s accusations of inappropriate touching raised eyebrows, with some observers wondering whether Time’s Up’s mild response was related to the fact that several board members served on the Biden campaign.” • Chalk up another win for bourgeois feminism. Not direct commentary, but alliied:

Euthanize the NGOs, say I. Whatever work they do is dependent on the whims of donors, and should be done either by the state, or by a party.

News of the Wired

“How wildlife sightings create community” [High Country News]. “I’d forgotten how wildlife sightings create community. A few years ago, I came upon a wild turkey running between four-foot-high snow berms. Except we don’t have wild turkeys. I told the story shyly at a dinner party. I saw it too, my neighbor cried. I saw it, too! Once, midsummer, I came upon a mountain goat walking the same stretch of road. Mountain goats don’t visit the valley floor when the temperature’s over 90. Not usually. Not ever. I pulled my Tercel next to a Dodge Ram and rolled down the window. Did you see? I asked. Did you? the driver asked. We shook our heads, grinning. One winter, trumpeter swans showed up on the lake. In the post office, ever since, swans dominate every conversation: How many did you see today? This early summer, we saw more fawns than usual, more rattlesnakes, more bears: a blond with black haunches, a cinnamon yearling, a big black male sitting mid-road in the dark. River otters on a dock. Ermine in the woods. Harlequin ducks riding rapids. Some we learn about secondhand. Four new fisher kits somewhere in the county. Cougar, bobcat, elk and wolverine: camera-caught and ghostly. Why so many? Maybe the pandemic gave nonhumans silence and space, a chance to reproduce? I doubt that’s true. What’s new is we’re out of the house. We’re talking again. There aren’t more animals, just more sightings, more casual conversations, more connections. I am relieved.” • Well worth a read. A bit of a sting in the tail….

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (ChiGal):

Looks like hummingbirds and beneficial insects have had their way with that bee balm….

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Calvin

    “Daphne Franks: the woman who lost her much-loved mother to a predatory marriage” [Guardian].

    No Link

    ‘Tony is the signal amid the noise. People are able to sense that there’s a lot of noise and their ears are trying to find the signal and Tony is the signal.’” Pharmaganda at its best.

  2. antidlc

    ‘“We’re being encouraged to accept that 130 deaths a day from a preventable infectious disease is unremarkable and the “new normal.”

    Didn’t you get the memo? The pandemic is over.

    Restaurants are packed. Theatres and opera companies are holding auditions and performances. Broadway re-opened!!! Sporting events are at full capacity.

      1. Randy

        The USA averages 8200 deaths/day in a normal year, many “preventable”. Why must everything stop for covid?
        Net population growth is still positive. I thought we needed to take urgent action to heal the planet and “stop climate change”? Make up your mind!!

        1. John k

          Problem is, Gaia is confused. Gotta go after the young ‘uns, before they breed. Doesn’t do that much good to crop old codgers like me, my breeding years are long gone anyway.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Net population growth is still positive.

          If indeed the parsimonious explanation that our elites are genocidal turns out to be correct, reversing that unhappy condition will be their rationale/rationalization, yes. “Fundamentally, nothing will change.”

  3. Wukchumni

    On that chart showing positivity, all you’d need to do is insert the grim reaper to left of the South’s scythe and it’d look perfect.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I am here for nasal sprays. See “A Round-Up of Anti-Covid Nasal Spray Research” at NC. Here is the key point at your link:

      “When the virus infects someone it usually gets in through the nose,” said researcher Nathalie Mielcarek who is working with the Lille Pasteur Institute to develop a nasal spray vaccine against whooping cough.

      “The idea is to shut the door.”

      An article published in Scientific American in March urged developing nasal spray vaccines because they have an immediate effect on the virus in an infected person’s mucus.

      There they trigger production of an antibody known as immunoglobulin A, which can block infection.

      “This overwhelming response, called sterilising immunity, reduces the chance that people will pass on the virus,” said the article.

      The vaccines currently available offer strong protection against severe forms of Covid-19 but are less reliable at preventing the spread of the virus.

      Stimulating immunity directly in the nose “lowers the risk of infecting other people”, said Mielcarek.

      1. Cuibono

        not coming soon to a theatre near you.
        what is the matter: mRNA not good enough for y’all? taste buds spoiled on that dewormer paste washed down with iodine?

          1. Big River Bandido

            It’s dark and heavy, but it definitely struck me as irony. I immediately imagined the voice coming from the caricature of the hectoring, finger-wagging, shaming, shunning, scolding, PMC liberal elitist.

            Resubmitted this after a glitch, hope this didn’t overpost.

          2. ambrit

            Er, “I assume this is heavy irony, rather than being completely deplorable. Could you obfuscate?”
            There, if that don’t peg the snark-o-meter, nothing will.

    2. curlydan

      “The most advanced effort so far by China’s Xiamen University, the University of Hong Kong and Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy has completed phase-2 trials.”

      So we’re losing the vaccine race that might matter more. I’m sure the Chinese will be very generous if we come hat in hand if it turns out to work really well.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > So we’re losing the vaccine race that might matter more.

        There are several efforts, some in the West.

        Amazingly, the mucosal immune system is entirely separate from the immune systems that the mRNA and killed-virus vaccines use. I don’t know the medicalese for these, but the nose is also a tricky environment, being at the interface of the atmosphere and the body, mucus is mucus-y, etc. Injection with a syringe has far few variable to control (at least where syringes are plentiful).

        So the next year should be very interesting!

  4. Henry Moon Pie

    “In its August report, the IPCC said that even in a best-case scenario of deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, long-term average temperatures — rather than warming in any given year — were likely to reach 1.5C within 20 years.”

    This is the bathtub problem. Right now, the Earth’s “tub” has more CO2 flowing into the atmosphere from anthropogenic and other sources than is flowing out of it by means of carbon removal by trees, etc. We are already above the safe line, and should we lower carbon emission to equal carbon removal (which is declining, BTW), the tub will still be overfull. The only way to lower it is carbon removal to exceed emissions, and then it will take time depending on how much removal exceeds emissions.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Some removal will be ocean uptake and storage. Other removal will be green plant intake for biomass buildup and soil carbon re-buildup.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        Very true. But that ocean uptake increases ocean acidification, does it not? Plus there’s no way to increase it. Building up carbon, though, is a twofer. Good for the soil. Good for the atmosphere.

    1. Wukchumni

      Smokiest day yet of the fire, meaning no aerial attack is possible and there’s close to 500 firefighters that i’d imagine would mostly be in the Giant Forest where the Karl Marx tree is, the largest of all and so named by a socialist utopian group that settled here in the 1880’s, and later renamed the Sherman Tree.

      There have been oh so many prescribed burns in the Giant Forest over the past few decades, so a ground fire wouldn’t amount to all that much, meaning that wrap job is more for show than go, and you’ll rarely see an aged monarch that doesn’t have fire scars, its what happens when a conflagration comes through.

      The real danger is in the canopy above in that we’re supposed to get winds up to 40 mph over the next few days, and if the fire gets into the upper branches pushed by the wind, there really isn’t much you can do.

      8 out of the top 20 Giant Sequoias of size are in the Giant Forest, so it isn’t just one tree we’re talking about, its most of the crown jewels in peril

      They’re essentially fighting a fire using the resources you would’ve had a century ago, no aerial support and boots on the ground with Pulaskis & shovels.

      Oh, and the fire increased in size by 25% overnight.

      1. Nikkikat

        My parents took us on long road trips every year. I saw many incredible places. The sequoia forest was just beyond wondrous. We spent 4 days camping there in the park.
        One of my most treasured memories.

      2. The Rev Kev

        Thanks for those updates, Wuk. They are really appreciated. Sounds like you are really in the middle of a bad season out your way so stay safe. I see in international news that those giant Sequoias and the fire are starting to get a mention. Looks like the next few days will be a matter of wait and see & hopefully that wind will never turn up.

        1. Wukchumni

          Wish I could be regaling you with some bitchin’ hike Rev Kev,
          but alas no. I feel like a brisket in a smoker, no bueno.

          The very first CCC camp in the west was established @ Potwisha (a stoner’s whet dream of a name) in 1933, and it housed around 200 young men, one of 9 CCC camps in the area. Unfortunately it looks as if Potwisha car campground has burned up in the fire.

          Have a look at this photo and try to imagine our military leaders presently hanging out in the forest, leading laborers?


          A couple views of the fire from outer space:


          And a good synopsis of the KNP & Windy Fires:


          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > try to imagine our military leaders presently hanging out in the forest, leading laborers?

            Funny, those officers don’t look all jowly and fat. Maybe that’s why they never went on television?

          2. The Rev Kev

            Thanks for those links, Wuk. That guy with the Lookout Channel puts together a really good video and I was surprised to see those sequoia groves so scattered about and it does look like rough territory. I saw a piece on the news showing the General Sherman wrapped in aluminium foil and it looked ridiculous. It looked like they used a few rolls of aluminium foil gotten from the local supermarkets and was only about a meter high. That’s going to do a lot of good.

            1. Wukchumni

              Yeah, it’s very tinfoil hat of them when you consider the Sherman tree is 275 feet tall, but on the other hand it can’t hurt and gives NPS plausible denial if the Brobdingnagians get burned up real good.

              The more important thing to do is get rid of all burnables around the periphery of the trees, as Giant Sequoias have very shallow roots, sometimes sticking out above ground.

  5. Louis Fyne

    i used to drink diet coke.

    stopped cold turkey, lost 15 lbs. over the next two months witbout even trying. ymmv

  6. wol

    The Scalawag article– a while ago I was sent a link to a clip with a prominent Durham artist, a Durham art critic and a Durham real estate developer urging artists to relocate to Durham. Cheap space, ripe for curated tolerance. Having worked at a local university art museum, I can tell you that inclusion and what Susan Sontag called ‘sentimental values’ were/are exhibited foremost. If you can’t make it as a minority artist in Durham or indeed the RDU Triangle, you can’t make it anywhere.

    1. griffen

      As a long ago, past resident of the area that was a good, compelling read. Granted, the influx of property developers will be on the lookout for regions of the city that could use a little improvement & enhanced curb appeal. I left Durham in early 2006, so I can’t really speak much to what happened since.

      At one point, though, the skyline of downtown was basically the newer DBAP, the 6-story prison and a litany of commercial & mixed use development. It’s been long enough since I visited in 2009 or 2010, that the performing arts center was just ready to open I think.

  7. Wukchumni

    The anecdote looks to be Datura, loco weed if you will…

    I probably have 100 plants growing wild on the property and pass by many hundreds more driving around.

    In this era of awful drugs such as fentanyl, anybody could have as much Datura as they desire for free, and cause themselves mucho grief.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Jimson weed is in that same genus. Eating any part of it is supposed to risk long-term insanity which is a high price to pay for any short-term psychoactive pleasure. Someone told me that he knew someone who claimed you could smoke the dry leaves and not run the insanity risk. But that is a third hand anecdatum.

      1. Wukchumni

        I was told by a friend that if you stick your nose inside the white flower and take a big whiff, it’ll do the trick, but not mess you up.

        I’m not going there…

  8. QuicksilverMessenger

    I don’t know if anyone else saw this, but apropos of some of the discussions we’ve been having here about masked servants and maskless betters, general hypocrisy, stupidity etc., we apparently need to add Mayor Breed of SF: ‘Cellphone video shows San Francisco mayor unmasked, dancing, singing with equally unmasked crowd in nightclub’ violating the mask mandate for all indoor public settings as COVID-19 infections surge because of the highly contagious delta variant.’

    Darn it! Perhaps better messaging will solve the problem? Although, judging by the statement from her office, it’s not starting well:

    ‘A representative from Breed’s office later told ABC7 that “the mayor was excited to be out and had an incredible night.”

    “She was with friends at her table, not wearing a mask while eating and drinking and enjoying herself. She knows health orders are hard and asks everyone to do their best to follow them.”’

    Looking at some of the pics and some of the video though, there appears to be a lot of ‘not wearing a mask’ while dancing and singing too!


    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Non-elites will see this and decide that “mask mandates” have nothing to do with health and are only about obedience training, like submitting to the security theater at airports.

      Only swift and severe punishment against Mayor Breed might lessen the speed of that assumption taking hold. A swift recall against her at the very least. Any legal sanctions possible? She should be seen to suffer for putting the public health at risk like that.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > She knows health orders are hard

      Jesus [family blog].

      The Blitz was hard.

      The Siege of Leningrad was hard.

      Selling apples on the street in the Great Depression was hard.

      Masks are not hard, Jesus [family blog].

  9. Andrew Watts

    RE: What the Never Trumpers Want Now. It’s clear that Frum is completely delusional, and so he and his will fit in very well with the liberal Democrats.

    Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad. -Euripides

    1. IM Doc

      I have always found the antecedent quotation from Sophocles to be a much more appropriate comment on our time ——

      “τὸ κακὸν δοκεῖν ποτ᾽ ἐσθλὸν τῷδ᾽ ἔμμεν’ ὅτῳ φρένας θεὸς ἄγει πρὸς ἄταν”

      The IM Doc translation – “Evil appears as good in the minds of those whom the gods will soon lead to destruction”

      This is found in Sophocles – ANTIGONE – Lines 620-621

      For the purists – I did the best I can on the Greek letters.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Ola Kala (Greek: Όλα Καλά; Everything’s Fine) is the eighth studio album and first international album featuring a number of English language songs by popular Greek singer-songwriter Sakis Rouvas, originally released on June 16, 2002. So Όλα Καλά translates to “Everything’s going according to plan”?

          According to Wikipedia, hopefully in its impossibly nerdy as opposed to politicized mode, “The origins of the word are disputed.” But there are a lot of those origins!

          Adding, “Whether this word is printed as OK, Ok, ok, okay, or O.K. is a matter normally resolved in the style manual for the publication involved.” This is great stuff! Rather like viral mutations….

      1. juliania

        I’m late here, but I’ll add the ultimate antecedent, unfortunately not in the original Greek though I have that, and I did once type on a classic Greek typewriter as a student aid job (mere amateur I). This is from Aeschylus, the chorus in his great masterpiece play, Agamemnon:

        “Sorrow, sorrow declare, but let the good be victorious!”

        That’s my humble translation – the chorus sings this line three times as they reveal the chain of events leading up to the action of the play. It reminds me of some chains of impeachable offenses against previous presidents of this country, so I think the play and its two following dramas are a fitting parallel to what we are experiencing in the aftermath of war.
        [Sorry to be so late posting this.]

  10. Carolinian

    That EV battery cost is a lot less than I thought it was. One begins to wonder why Teslas cost so much.

    Of course Teslas use extra large batteries (built into the floor) to give them hundreds of miles of range.

    1. Louis Fyne

      IIRC, a Tesla 3 has ~80 kWh of juice.

      A toyota hybrid has between 0.9 – 1.9 kWh of batteries depending on the model

  11. PKMKII

    The “Middle class” the Democrats are targeting with the SALT cap removal aren’t the national concept of the middle class, but rather the lower to mid levels of the white collar workers and PMC of the major urban hubs. The people earning roughly $100K-$250K a year, not super rich but not struggling either, the kind of person they see as their rank-and-file base. So, middle class to people for whom the outright poor simply don’t register.

    1. hunkerdown

      But the national concept of the middle “class” is disinformation and cope. Why should that concept be respected, instead of rectified, or better yet, retired?

  12. IM Doc

    I was just in the hospital’s doctor’s lounge in between patients when the FDA vote on the boosters came down 16-2 AGAINST.

    As is usual, the physician’s lounge television was tuned to CNBC at that very moment. That is how I found the news.

    Amazingly, they had Dr. Fauci on almost immediately.

    What a perfect encapsulation of the whole situation. The nation’s medical ( scientific ) head of the COVID response, is on CNBC – a FINANCIAL channel to let the world know his thoughts in between breathless takes on plunging Pfizer and Moderna stock prices. I cannot think of a more befitting example of all that is going wrong.

      1. Tom Stone

        Petal, I hope your pain level decreases soon and substantially.
        It’s been 5 months for me and there has been some improvement although I’m still uncomfortable enough that my primary care physician had no problem prescribing opiates.

        1. petal

          Thank you, Tom. Your posts have been so helpful over these months, and I’ve kept you in my thoughts. I hope you feel better soon.

          1. ilpalazzo

            Comrades, if you have post vac or covid problems, you may consider trying the drug. I have some lingering post covid issues and it helps me. I read other people say so as well.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > What a perfect encapsulation of the whole situation. The nation’s medical ( scientific ) head of the COVID response, is on CNBC – a FINANCIAL channel to let the world know his thoughts in between breathless takes on plunging Pfizer and Moderna stock prices. I cannot think of a more befitting example of all that is going wrong.

      Makes you wonder if Fauci shorted Pfizer. I would imagine he did, and I wonder who else. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    2. Nikkikat

      I came to the conclusion long ago that Fauci is feathering his own nest. I have no doubt that his personal wealth like most of congress is tied to large pharmaceutical stocks. I would have fired him long ago.

      1. Carolinian

        Fauci is 80. Surely his nest doesn’t need any more feathering. Pelosi is 80. The president is almost 80. Some of us are so old we can remember when people actually retired. Maybe it’s only the good people like Cronkite who are made to retire (in favor of-ugh-Dan Rather).

        1. Objective Ace

          Leaving resources/advantages to your children is one of our most innate impulses. Thousands of years of genetics are pretty hard to kick

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Fauci is 80. Surely his nest doesn’t need any more feathering. Pelosi is 80.

          Showing, with the example of Pelosi, that greed does not necessarily moderate with age.

          1. chris

            Greed or vanity? Maybe he really does think he’s acting in the best interests of everything. But I would bet a large portion of that comes from his belief that he’s right, regardless of whatever the facts are. I know a lot of people who maintain that Fauci could have quit and so is doing all this for altruistic reasons. I remain unconvinced.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Maybe he is just fluffing his own ego and basking in every limelight that will shine his way.

        I read somewhere that the National Institutes of Health has some kind of arrangement whereby it holds patents on some vaccines. If so, his vaccinationist bias might be institutional loyalty to this arrangement. Does such an arrangement exist?

      3. Mantid

        The Bayh-Dole Act – a law passed in 1980 – allows scientists involved in developing a drug to SHARE IN THE ROYALTIES on sales of the drug. Fauci is involved in many, many patents. According to David E. Martin, PhD, a Batten Fellow at the University of Virginia and an expert on Intellectual Property rights (patents), the answer could be as high as 3,500. Fauci is an appropriate guest on CNBC, a real fine citizen (BS). This info is from this article (quite in-depth) https://www.thedesertreview.com/opinion/columnists/gaslighting-ivermectin-vaccines-and-the-pandemic-for-profit/article_19f42a96-05c5-11ec-8172-d776656bad51.html

    3. VietnamVet

      Today was actually almost breathtaking. The FDA panel put their futures at risk by going against the privatized Medical Pharmaceutical Complex. The day after a corporate propaganda clip made it on national news shaming anti-vaxx aggression; they voted against coronavirus booster shots for younger adults. No wonder, the FDA earlier approved Pfizer’s Comirnaty Vaccine without a public hearing as promised.

      This could be the turning point that the big lie “mRNA vaccines are safe and effective” is finally exposed. But, no matter, the corporate/state will never force all Americans to be injected with potentially unsafe compounds against their will.

      Other than chaos, the only alternative now is funding a functional national public health system that saves American lives not kills them.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The word “latinx” was invented by academic intellectual leftists to be able to accuse people who don’t use it of thought-crimes of the spirit ranging from insufficient wokeness all the way to open racism. It’s a “club-house password” word.

      The obvious question for someone using the word “latinx” would be . . . do you mean “latinxo” or “latinxa”?
      A sidewise kind of satire might be to start adding words like ” chicanx”, “cubanx”, “philippinx” to the wokeness roster of ethnocultural identifiers.

      1. chris

        Sharing this comic because I thought it was a helpful explanation of the concept. I don’t see many people using “Latinx” – I prefer to use the terms Hispanic and Latino when referring to countries and friends because, those words are descriptive and well understood. But I can understand why some might want to adapt the language this way.

      2. ambrit

        Oh, the “x” crowd is certainly academic, and political too, but hardly deserving of the descriptor “intellectual.” As for ‘Leftest,’ well, “they” wouldn’t recognize a real Leftist if it came up and bit them on their fundamental concepts.
        Could anyone here imagine Rosa Luxembourg speaking at an Antifa rally, a Neo-BLM rally?

  13. upstater

    Obviously a major contributor to port congestion is the inability of “precision scheduled railroading” to handle the offloading of the boxes on 60 ships stacked up at LA/Long Beach. The industry has laid off 25% of a highly skilled workforce, shuttered terminals and yards and thousands of stored locomotives. Part of it obviously is railroads cannot move containers away from ports in a timely manner.

    Maybe Biden`s head of the Surface Transportation Board will get serious about slapping down this disgusting asset stripping oligoply:

    Top regulator urges railroads to focus on growth (Trains Magazine Newswire)

    STB chairman blames Wall Street for loss of rail traffic over past decade

  14. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

    Further scholarly observations on today’s plant:

    “There exist, however, a number of references that clearly point to the use of akaloid-rich Datura in the context of certain shamanistic practices and rituals. Boyd and Dering, who see evidence in the ethnographic and ethnobotanical literature of the New World for “widespread use of the genus Datura by shamans for the purpose of divination, prophecy, ecstatic initiation, ritual intoxication, diagnosis, and curing”, single out for Arizona, the Navajo, Yuma, Paiute, and Zuni as some of the tribes whose pharmacopoeias contained this hallucinogenic herb.”


    “Further south among tribes in Northern Mexico and parts of Texas, Datura was used by shamans to transcend the borders of life and death and communicate with spirits.”

    “Sacred Datura” https://www.archaeologysouthwest.org/2017/06/21/sacred-datura/

    “Opening at dusk, it attracts crepuscular pollinators in the family Sphingidae, commonly referred to as “sphinx,” “hummingbird,” or “hawk” moths. Multiple species of hawkmoths are found in the landscape, with the most common being the white-lined sphinx moth, Hyles lineata (Fabricus). Around sundown, this species is found hovering at the entrance of Datura flowers, providing pollination services while inserting a long proboscis to the flower’s base to drink nectar. With the antennae, dichoptic eye orbits, and tapering abdomen, the head and body of the attendant Transmorph appears to represent some form of insect, perhaps representing the hawkmoth. Botanists have observed hawkmoths behaving erratically as if intoxicated after pollinating D. wrightii.”

    “Datura quids at Pinwheel Cave, California, provide unambiguous confirmation of the ingestion of hallucinogens at a rock art site” https://www.pnas.org/content/117/49/31026

  15. drumlin woodchuckles

    If the industrial sh*tmeat monopolists drive the price of industrial sh*tmeat high enough, they might drive some people into buying smaller amounts of artisanal shinolameat. If prices for industrial sh*tmeat go so high that poor and poorish people can’t afford it at all, they may go over to a budget vegetarian diet like I ate for years after college. But that would depend on genuine do-ers of actual good, like the DSA reachout-teams who do those tail-light clinics also deciding to do affordable vegefood-cooking and handling instruction clinics.

    1. Objective Ace

      I was thinking this too. Econ 101: monopolists will produce less than demanded since the ability to sell at higher then market prices more than offsets any missed sales.

      We could do with a lot higher meat prices if we want to take climate change seriously

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        If the industrial sh*tbeef monopolists drive the price of their sh*tbeef all the way up to where the price of artisanal shinola beef already is, then the shinola beef artisans will be able to say to the sh*tbeef buyers: ” why not pay us the same price you pay them now, and get better beef?”

        In one of his videos , farmer Gabe Brown ( what . . . again!?) says that he gets $20.00 per pound for his pasture and range fed carbon-capture shinola beef.

  16. enoughisenough

    Re. the pastor selling indulgences:

    I think we need to get the Martin Luther Insult Generator on his case. One example:

    You relish and delight in the chance to stir up someone else’s dirt like pigs that roll in manure and root around in it with their snouts.

    From The Large Catechism, pg. 422 of The Book of Concord


  17. enoughisenough

    “people intuit that this is a man who is speaking the truth and will not let anything stand in the way”

    I think I just swallowed some regurge.
    Well, they have bad intuition, then – also the worst journalistic practice ever: “people say”.

    People who look at evidence before making such assumptions would never make such a mistake.

    Holy $#&# that is just appalling.

    1. Acacia

      > the worst journalistic practice ever: “people say”

      Then there’s the NYT version — “officials who spoke on condition of anonymity”.

      As for the Fauci groupies, it’s funny how “trust the science” is the new religion.

  18. The Rev Kev

    France is definitely not happy about the sub deal. They have just recalled their ambassadors from the US and the UK-


    A reader mentioned how France lost the Mistral deal with the Russians because of Washington. France had to pay back the Russians what they owed them (over $1 billion) but got most of it back when they sold those two Mistral-class ships to the Egyptians. The Russians were then mollified when they sold Egypt the Russian helicopters that were to go on those two ships which had been modified to take them. But this is two orders of magnitude worse for France as they have lost a $100 billion deal.

    To add insult to injury, France has a lot of possessions in the south Pacific so Joe Biden also let them know that he expects them to integrate these territories into Washington’s military plans for the Pacific. That Gala that France cancelled in Washington too? That was to celebrate US-France relations on the occasion of France defeating the British fleet 240 years ago which made Yorktown possible. So was that a bit of deliberate timing as well to insult France?

    1. JBird4049

      >>>So was that a bit of deliberate timing as well to insult France?

      With the current ignorance of American history? Honestly, I doubt many that many of my fellow Americans have even heard of Admiral de Grasse and the Battle of the Capes even if this bunch is of the supposedly “educated” ruling class. They might still have heard of the Siege of Yorktown and General Rochambeau.

      Then again, too many Americans have learned the fine and ancient art of the gratuitous insult.

      Too bad historian and writer Barbara Tuchman is not alive. I would have just loved reading her analysis of the current bunch of fools. Maybe I should reread her chapter on the Americans and the Vietnam War in March of Folly. However, the Best and the Brightest of that time seem to giants when compared to the current leadership. Makes me want to cry.

  19. jr

    Re: Elizabeth Bruenig is already in Free Fall

    What a treat! I was hankering for a onanistic knob-slobber from Reitholz or Fong but along comes Liz Bruenig to satiate my PMC porn cravings. Rich in entitlement and advertising plugs! Let’s dig in!

    ““I work on morality and public life, which is kind of douchey,” says journalist Elizabeth Bruenig”

    Work on morality and public life isn’t nearly as douchey as the need to reflectively label oneself as douchey in order to let your readers know you are self-aware. It also lends itself to the notion that one doesn’t really understand the import of such work.

    “I’m interested in the ways that we think about these big questions that are, well, subterranean. Good and evil. Right and wrong. This stuff that’s floating around the periphery of everything we’re talking about. I’m always trying to bring those things to the fore.”

    She’s bringing my gorge to the fore. Capital punishment and sexual assault aren’t remotely subterranean, unless one wishes they were so that one can feel like one is edgy. As if one is asking the hard questions no one but everyone over the age of 16 has spent time thinking about. And what periphery and what fore is she referring to? Her own? The periphery of her class-bubble is what. Big questions like good and evil, right and wrong. Questions way too big for her.

    “There’s a habit I’ve had since I was a teenager, and I’ve honored it every place I’ve ever lived, every continent and country I’ve ever visited: The day begins with a frosty Coca Cola Zero, or a Diet Coke if I must. ”

    Ah, travel porn laced with a hint of the entitlement of the Westerner. Heaven forfend, what if Zambia cannot supply her carcinogenic chemical brew? How does her day start?

    “It’s the combination of caffeine, carbonation, and icy cold that really gets the day going for me.”

    Yes, that’s what caffeinated soda does, thanks for clarifying. In the world of writing, this is known as filler. As artificial as that can of shit-water she drinks.

    “an orange, faintly cinnamon joint that feels more than a little like an indulgent sop to their white-girl-customer core.”

    I’m trying to wrap my head around how one converts a dessert into an opportunity for some Woke virtue signaling. Us white girls with our indulgent sops, giggle giggle. I’m assuming that’s where she is headed, given that there is no other reason in God’s creation to mention her ethnicity, unless pumpkin-spice is a cultural marker for privileged PMC hacks. More self-fellating with faint praise.

    “I volunteer with this group that matches home bakers with cake requests from foster kids.”

    Of course you do! Nothing like a bit of boutique activism to soothe one’s soul. Jesus had his loaves but this Christian’s charity calls for cakes.

    “I make a lot of macarons. I got into it about a year ago just watching YouTube tutorials. They’re so damn fancy — they’re just the fussiest little bitches. There’s so many things that can go wrong.”

    Ooo, earthy but sophisticated, so damned fancy but bitchy. I wonder if you could put a mirror glaze on a macaron…

    “When I make a batch for someone, every hour I have spent learning to do this right is part of the gift.”

    Oh, the earnest pathos. I wonder how much time the recipient has to spend hearing about it. I freaking hate macarons and now I hate them even more.

    “I figure crops and animals are changing genetically all the time, so who cares if humankind has a hand in it? Haven’t we always?”

    Profound ignorance, crops and animals genetics are changing but generally not intermixing, you dingus. Talk about playing God. She simultaneously gets to present as down to earth and practical, unlike the twittering worry-worts she is doubtlessly aiming this at. She’s so real.

    “As for pesticides and the like, I guess I’d rather roll the dice with that shit than peel a banana full of spiders or something.”

    Right, cause spiders cause cancer. Nothing like the McChristian’s disdain for nature. Cause you know, God’s creation is so yucky!

    “I mean, I think about Martha Stewart a lot because she also loves keeping house, she loves cooking, entertaining, giving gifts, wrapping gifts, yadda yadda, but she’s a bad bitch, right? Like, she did time.”

    Yes, it’s the Christian way to idolize sociopathic parasites who did time for robbing the public of her share of the social burden. Again with the earthiness. I bet that’s a “Texan” thing in her mind. Y’all.

    ” I thought the socialists were all on board with, like, screwing around at your house and doing your hobbies. It’s going to work and doing shit for your boss that sucks.”

    What in the hell is she talking about? What vision of socialism involves screwing around with hobbies? If she is talking about leisure time for the masses, well, that’s a long, long ways away from an entitled, pampered housewife’s puttering about her doubtlessly well appointed home. The lack of scope here screams to heaven.

    “That’s the thing about being a mother. It can feel liberating in a surprising way. It doesn’t really matter what chaos gets ahold of you.”

    Really? Try homelessness as a mother. Oh wait, you have a cake for them too. Good. Super.

    “I’m not holding myself out as a role model here!”

    Yes, most self-consciously. Part of the earthy shtick, along with the joint and the mushrooms. So authentic, at least when compared to the inanities of her PMC cohort. Contrasted with the rest of the world, she’s as airy-fairy as a helium balloon doing whippets.

    1. jr

      Just sent them two of those pull-along telephone toys. I eschewed sending along the cop dog toy, I suspect they have seen enough of that.

  20. jr


    That’s Datura?! There are about four of those bushes in my neighborhood, in full bloom right now. I wonder how they mix with risperidone?

  21. drumlin woodchuckles

    Here is a story from reddit about some violent Texans assaulting a restaurant hostess in New York City.


    The obvious answer is to not force the hostess into the position of being the one to ask for proof of vaccination. The proper thing for restaurants to do is to hire bouncers highly skilled in the breaking of bones and the rupturing of internal organs to do the asking. That way, if those Texans would have punched the bouncer, they would have gained some instant wisdom.

  22. griffen

    Naming of ships after Patriots coach(es) and players. I read enough before fighting a need to throw back my evening meal. I guess you can’t argue with the strategy to name after players. After all, Bubba Gump had like 12* shrimping boats; I think they were all a Jenny.

    *I ventured a guess. May differ on the actual, fictional total of boats.

  23. drumlin woodchuckles

    From way above . . . . “Is the idea that we won’t redistribute the means of production away from people who aren’t rich? Cos I think that’s a bad misunderstanding of why socialism.”

    I assume the socialist who wrote this looks back with approval upon Stalin’s ” liquidation of the kulaks”.
    Amish farmers are not “rich”. But their farms are “means of production”. The Amish have made their farms into productive means of production and have kept them that way for several centuries. I assume the socialist who wrote this supports “redistributing” Amish-owned/worked farms “away” from the Amish, for example.

    Because Socialism.

    Statements like that make me suspect that Gulag Socialism is the sole and only power-tripping goal of “socialists”.

    1. ambrit

      Come on now. Stalin’s “liquidation of the kulaks” was about using their wheat to produce financial credits to use on the world markets. Since the kulaks didn’t want to give it all away, they had to be removed from play. Family farms are about as far away from the idea of plantation as one could get. Now, breaking up plantations I can see.
      Funny how, after the American Civil War 1, the Carpetbaggers didn’t focus on breaking up the major agricultural properties, but instead, changed the owners, (often only on paper.)
      Besides, we already have “Gulag Socialism.” It’s now called the Prison Industrial Complex.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        But family farms are part of “people who aren’t rich” which that pro-socialist comment said the means of production should be redistributed away from.

        Because Socialism.

        And my sketchy memory is that “kulak” was a word redefined by Stalin to mean ” any successful non-starving farmer with a few animals and a viable crop-growing operation”.

        The Prison Industrial Complex is “Gulag Socialism”? Well, the Gulag Socialists want to extend it to tens of millions more people, including every single non-rich mini or micro farmer who might object to having his/her mini or micro farm redistributed away because Socialism.

        One hopes the several million not-rich mini and micro business/farm/etc. owners whose means of production the socialists would like to redistribute away . . . have enough guns and bullets to make the socialists pay for the attempt.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > family farms are part of “people who aren’t rich”

          Big Ag dominates everything, including land ownership and supplying the, er. means of production (hybrid seeds, farm equipment without right-to-repair, fertilizer, and oil oil oil).

          “Family farms” is a sentimental edge case, exactly like “the craftsperson who owns their own tools.”

          1. saywhat?

            Neither concentrated land ownership nor government privileges for private credit creation are Biblical.

            One would think then, in this still largely Bible-believing nation, that fundamental reform that does not make a mockery of economic justice according to the Bible would be plausible.

            So I reckon more heat is coming till people see the light (or are even more hardened).

            “Vote yourself a farm”, per Lambert some time ago.

              1. saywhat?

                Yes, the king is allocated SOME land but only some:

                “And the prince shall have land on either side of the holy allotment and the property of the city, adjacent to the holy allotment and the property of the city, on the west side toward the west and on the east side toward the east, and in length comparable to one of the portions, from the west border to the east border. This shall be his land as a possession in Israel; so My princes shall no longer oppress My people, but they shall give the rest of the land to the house of Israel according to their tribes.”

                ‘This is what the Lord God says: “Enough, you princes of Israel; get rid of violence and destruction, and practice justice and righteousness. Revoke your evictions of My people,” declares the Lord God. Ezekiel 45:7-9 [emphasis added]

              2. Adam Eran

                JFYI: Leviticus 25:23 The speaker is God:
                “The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine. For you are strangers and sojourners with me.”

                “the land is mine” sounds like even Kings are tenants-at-will to me.

                Of course even the evangelicals aren’t educated about the Bible. Honestly, the tenth commandment says “thou shall not covet,” but where are the pickets on Madison Ave. rather than in front of abortion clinics?

                …and for that matter where are the demands for a Jubilee?


                1. Yves Smith

                  Sure looks like cherry-picking, contradicted shortly thereafter. The Bible has lots about ownership:

                  Leviticus 25:29-30

                  If a man sells a dwelling house in a walled city, he may redeem it within a year of its sale. For a full year he shall have the right of redemption. If it is not redeemed within a full year, then the house in the walled city shall belong in perpetuity to the buyer, throughout his generations; it shall not be released in the jubilee.

                  Leviticus 25:31

                  But the houses of the villages that have no wall around them shall be classified with the fields of the land. They may be redeemed, and they shall be released in the jubilee.


                  Deuteronomy 19:14

                  You shall not move your neighbor’s landmark, which the men of old have set, in the inheritance that you will hold in the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess.


                  Psalm 115:16

                  The heavens are the Lord’s heavens, but the earth he has given to the children of man.

                  1. saywhat?

                    Yes, walled city land could be permanently sold and in principle concentrated ownership might* arise there. That’s possibly a true exception to my assertion though normal economic cycles, unsuppressed by government privileges for banks, would tend to reverse even that concentration, if obtained via leverage.

                    But as for productive agricultural land and shelter near-by, that could not be permanently sold so all Hebrew families were normally secure wrt food and shelter.

                    Btw, the Bible offers an apparent contradiction within only two verses for those inclined to chuck it for the lamest reasons:

                    Proverbs 26:4-5

                    *though during a food shortage, farmers might have the upper hand and gain back some walled-city property

                    1. Yves Smith

                      You made an absolute claim. You’ve been forced to retreat and admit otherwise, yet continue arguing to try to preserve the appearance that your initial statement was accurate by having the last word. That’s bad faith argumentation. You’ve not only doubled down but also insulting the site admins, which is a fast track out of NC. I trust you will find your happiness elsewhere on the Internet.

    2. JBird4049

      Gulag socialism? If anyone tries to bring back the Gulag, and I think that our carceral state does a good job of imitation already, should be sent to the Hague.

      This is simply too simplistic and is using the example of the genocidal, megalomaniacal strongman and ostensibly communist Stalin to argue against socialism. Using a “communist” murderer’s excuses for committing genocide as an explanation for socialism is just wrong.

      Much of the CIA/School of the Americas/State Department work during the 20th century was preventing land reform in most of the Americas as well as any other country that tried. Most of the good farmland was and sometimes still is in the plantations of either the local oligarchs or international business like the former Standard Fruit Company, locking out the often majority rural, very poor farming population. They overthrew governments, created wars, and did economic sanctions of these Banana Republics. The new, usually illegal, very right-wing, usually corrupt, always brutally, murderous repressive regimes replaced the lawfully elected socialist or reformist governments and declared trade unions, civil rights activists, or just rights as communist. Any reforms or economic efforts to the left of Francisco Franco or Augusto Pinochet were labeled communist, socialist, and leftist. (Three different word with different meanings.) Such reasoning is used to justify the murder of Salvador Allende and to support Jair Bolsonaro’s administration.

      And yet, we are the “Good Guys” and socialism is evil.

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