2:00PM Water Cooler 9/23/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I will fill out the Politics section shortly. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

“Excited calls from flock.” A little mike noise but really net, especially toward the end.

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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:

Flat everywhere but the South. Anecdotes aside, we ought to be seeing some pop soon from measures taken after Biden’s speech, which was given September 9.

54.9% of the US is fully vaccinated (mediocre by world standards, being just below Czech Republic, 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:

Weirdly choppy, but it does look like we’re descending from a peak. The question is whether we will ascent to a second (or third) peak, as in last December-January, or not, as in last August. Note also that the regions diverge: The South, which drove the peak, is finally dropping. The West was choppy too, and is now falling. However, all this drama has masked the steady rise in the Northeast and Midwest.

We could get lucky, as we did with the steep drop after the second week in January, which nobody knows the reasons for, then or now. Today’s populations are different, though. This population 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.

SInce the Midwest seems to be rising, here is a look at the individual Midwest States:

A minor point is that the chart has autogenerated two oranges: Indiana and Wisconsin. Worse, they have converged. Nine days ago Indiana had spiked; since September, it has moved in tandem with Illinois (blue). Now it Indiiana is falling. Wisconsin is rising. A major point is I flubbed as a tape-watcher by missing Ohio’s increase (the rapid riser concept makes visualizing spikes easy, but not so much steady rises). Fortunately, Ohio is now decreasing. Also, in the Dakotas, this year’s Sturgis spike was great to see in the rapid riser county data (at least some country data can be trusted) but we see it didn’t affect the aggregates at all.

NEW From CDC: “Community Profile Report September 20, 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties, this release:

Minnesota and Wisconsin both look more red to me, Michigan holding, Maine better, outbreaks in upstate New York. Speculating freely: Kids have gone back to school and the windows are closed (Minneapolis, MN ranges from the mid-50s to mid-60s Fahrenheit right now.) Rockies still suffering, Ohio Valley and now Pennsylvania improving. Tennessee feeling great relief, mostly green. Remember, however, that this chart is about acceleration, not absolute numbers. 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). Everything works today!

Here the CDC’s hospitalization visualization, from the “Community Profile” report above:

Alabama now headed down, fortunately. Things are picking up in the Northern latitudes (note the up arrows in Wisconsin and Minnesota). From this chart, pediatric hospitalization, in the aggregate, is down. I should dig out some regional or better yet county data.

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 699,853 697,041. 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.) (Also adding: I like a death rate because it gives me a rough indication of my risk should I, heaven forfend, end up in a hospital. I should dig out the absolute numbers, too, now roughly 660,000, which is rather a lot.)

Covid cases worldwide:

American exceptionalism?

* * *


“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

“Jan. 6 investigation accelerates as it turns toward Trump” [Politico]. • The walls are closing in!

Biden Administration

UPDATE “Why Biden isn’t hitting the panic button on the debt ceiling — yet” [Politico]. “Senate Republicans are rebuffing an effort by Democrats to lift the nation’s debt ceiling through a government funding bill that would require 60 votes. And they’re doing so while relying on the unusual argument that while members of the GOP wholeheartedly want to see the debt limit raised or suspended, they just don’t want to be the ones to do it. That’s left Biden with few options: Plow forward with the plan and risk default, find an alternate route to raise the debt limit through reconciliation, or convince Republicans — either through badgering or enticing them — to get on board with Democrats. So far, he’s settled on another approach: show no signs of panic. Biden has largely deferred to Democratic leaders to drive the process on Capitol Hill, while the White House and administration officials avoid talk of fallback options and ramp up the pressure on Republicans to fold.” • Interestingly, Biden — very much unlike Obama — seems to give zero f*cks, as first the episode of the French submarine, and now the incidents at the Texas border show. If he truly does have zero f*cks to give, there are people anxious to help him with a well-worked out alternative–

UPDATE “And finally, here’s what Joe’s interested in this morning” [Bloomberg]. “Every day that goes by, we get one day closer to hitting the statutory debt limit. If Congress doesn’t vote to hike it, we could theoretically experience the unthinkable: A default on U.S. Treasuries, which are widely understood to be the world’s safest asset. People have all kinds of theories for what would happen if we did hit the ceiling, but the truth is that nobody actually knows. Fortunately there’s an easy way to defuse this bomb. As I’ve been writing about this week, there doesn’t actually need to be a vote at all. The Secretary of the Treasury can mint a trillion dollar platinum coin, purchase $1 trillion worth of debt from the Fed, retire that debt, and then create breathing room under the debt ceiling. It sounds weird, of course, but it’s legal and it would solve the problem of a catastrophic default and potential associated recession. And since the choice is between “weirdness” on one hand and “catastrophic default leading to a depression” on the other hand, there’s a good reason to go with weirdness.” • Includes a FAQ. Ryan Grim chimes in:

(Note that minting the platinum coin is supported by statute; see the FAQ above. I’m not sure about a digital coin.) And the great Carlos Mucha:

And Eric Levitz:


And the great Carlos Mucha:

“Harris to meet with Modi in ‘coming-of-age’ moment for Indian diaspora” [Los Angeles Times]. “Indian Americans are one of the fastest-growing political forces in the United States. Harris, whose mother was born in India, attracted donations, votes and attention from Indian Americans during her political rise to the U.S. Senate and the vice presidency. Her career, political stances and even the activism of her niece — social media influencer Meena Harris — have been chronicled by the Indian media. Some Indians and Indian Americans would like to see Harris, whose father was born in Jamaica, identify more closely with her mother’s traditions. ‘That’s been a running critique for Harris for a while because she does identify as a Black woman and [went] to [Howard], a historically Black university, and many parts of her identity, including the way her mother raised her, were ensconced in the Black experience,” said Karthick Ramakrishnan, a public policy professor at UC Riverside who has been tracking Indian American public opinion since 2008.” • Harris “identifies as” a black woman now, but in her earliest races, “identifies as” Indian in her campaign literature. Oh well, nevertheless.

“Senate Parliamentarian Played Highly Political Role Against Filibuster Reform In 2013” [Ryan Grim, The Intercept]. “SENATE PARLIAMENTARIAN Elizabeth MacDonough actively organized against Democratic efforts to reform the filibuster throughout 2013, working closely with a bipartisan group of senators hoping to stave off the rules change, MacDonough told a law school audience during a 2018 commencement address at Vermont Law School…. MacDonough should run for office, and in the meantime, the Senate needs staff that can offer unbiased advice.” • But liberal Democrats love their auto-kinbaku-bi, and MacDonough helps them tie the knots. So, no.

UPDATE “DHS seeks contractor to run migrant detention facility at Gitmo, guards who speak Haitian Creole” [NBC]. “In a statement to NBC News, DHS said it ‘is not [sending] and will not send Haitian nationals being encountered at the southwest border to the Migrant Operations Center (MOC) in Guantanamo Bay. The MOC has been used for decades to process migrants interdicted at sea for third-country resettlement. The request for information (RFI) recently posted is a typical, routine first step in a contract renewal, and unrelated to the Southwest Border.'” • Well, that’s reassuring. Good thing Obama never got rid of Gitmo. Turns out we still need it. Dodged a bullet there!

UPDATE “How Democrats’ New Voting Rights Bill Tackles The Threat Of Election Subversion” [HuffPo]. “But in one area, the new Freedom to Vote Act is stronger and addresses something that the first bill left out: election subversion. The new bill contains numerous provisions to counteract laws passed in Republican-run states allowing partisan actors to subvert elections…. Trump’s lies and the insurrection’s enduring popularity among the Republican Party’s base led GOP-run states to pass new laws that both make it harder for communities that lean Democratic to vote and easier for Republican partisans to disrupt and possibly subvert elections. These included a law in Georgia allowing for the partisan takeover of local election boards that contain large populations of Democratic voters and a law in Texas giving election observers free reign to harass election workers and voters as they cast their ballots.” • The bill, of course, makes no distinction between a handmarked paper ballot and a paper trail (produced digitally, therefore hackable). More importantly, it leaves out an entire category of election subversion: See Greenwald below.

Democrats en Deshabille

“The most powerful network of Democratic donors has a new president” [Politico]. “The Democracy Alliance, a secretive club of wealthy progressive and Democratic donors, has named Pamela Shifman its new president ahead of what is likely to be a tough and expensive midterm election season for the party. As of this week, Shifman, a lawyer who has long worked with social justice philanthropies, has taken the reins of what is among the most powerful yet little-known groups in progressive politics. The group and its “partners,” which counts Tom Steyer and George Soros among its members, has long operated behind a veil of secrecy. Democracy Alliance helps to funnel money from a group of anonymous mega-donors to an infrastructure of groups it hopes will “advance a progressive agenda for America…. The alliance has supported the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, the progressive media watchdog Media Matters for America and the American Constitution Society, a liberal counterpart to the conservative Federalist Society.” • In other words, corrupt, self-dealing, hackish Democrat NGOs. What a surprise!

UPDATE “California farm worker union marching to the French Laundry after Newsom vetoes labor bill” [Sacramento Bee]. “Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday vetoed a bill that would have allowed farm workers to vote by mail in union elections, a change the United Farm Workers pressed for after the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year dealt a setback to its organizing practices. Assembly Bill 616 would have allowed agricultural workers to select their collective bargaining representative through a ballot card election by voting at a physical location or mail or dropping off a ballot to the Agricultural Labor Relations Board office… n a veto message, Newsom said the bill contained ‘various inconsistencies and procedural issues related to the collection and review of ballot cards.’ ‘Significant changes to California’s well-defined agricultural labor laws must be carefully crafted to ensure that both agricultural workers’ intent to be represented and the right to collectively bargain is protected, and the state can faithfully enforce those fundamental rights,’ he said. He wrote that he would direct his administration’s labor agency to ‘work collaboratively with the Agricultural Labor Relations Board and all relevant stakeholders to develop new policies for legislative consideration to address this issue.'” • I assume “all relevant stakeholders” includes Big Ag….

Our Famously Free Press

Greenwald is 100% right to be outraged:

You shouldn’t hate them because hate is bad for you. But does the Beltway Press deserve to be hated? Without any question. And they are all still on the teebee spouting off, and very well paid to do it, too. I dannae if they can take any more, Captain!

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing for new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose for a 2nd straight week to 351K in the week ending September 18th, well above market forecasts of 320K.”

Manufacturing: “United States Kansas Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Kansas City Fed’s Manufacturing Production Index fell to 10 in September 2021 from 22 in the previous month, the lowest since July 2020. Factory growth continued to be driven by a faster increase in durable goods, in particular primary metals, computer and electronic products, and transportation equipment, while nondurable goods manufacturing grew more modestly.”

* * *

The Bezzle: Ouch:

Tech: “One to charge them all: EU demands single plug for phones” [Associated Press]. “The European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, proposed legislation that would mandate USB-C cables for charging, technology that many device makers have already adopted. The main holdout is Apple, which said it was concerned the new rules would limit innovation, and that would end up hurting consumers. iPhones come with the company’s own Lightning charging port, though the newest models come with cables that can be plugged into a USB-C socket. The push by the EU will certainly be cheered by the millions of people who have searched through a jumble of snarled cables for the one that fits their phone. But the EU also wants to cut down on the 11,000 metric tons of electronic waste thrown out every year by Europeans.” • Of course, Apple. Of course, the company that dumped the MagSafe connector whinges about lack of “innovation” in power cords.

Manufacturing: “Boeing lifts China jet demand estimate over two decades to $1.47 trln” [Reuters]. “Chinese airlines will need 8,700 new airplanes through 2040, 1.2% higher than its previous prediction of 8,600 planes made last year. Those would be worth $1.47 trillion based on list prices, the U.S. planemaker said in a statement. The 1.2% increase contrasted with the 6.3% growth Boeing forecast last year, which made China a bright spot in the aviation market at the height of coronavirus lockdowns worldwide. Earlier this month, Boeing revised up long-term forecasts for global airplane demand on the back of a strong recovery in commercial air travel in domestic markets like the United States.” • FWIW (I don’t play the ponies), this seems like puffery to me (and maybe I should have filed it under The Bezzle). First, I think Mother Nature may have something to say about aircraft travel projections. Second, the assumption is that former national champion Boeing can take advantage of the demand. That in turn assumes they get their manufacturing, software engineering, and development programs back on track. None of that is a lock, especially given Boeing’s finance-oriented board, pencil-necked, union-hating management, and justifiably disgruntled workforce. Third, at some point China’s going to have climbed the learning curve on aircraft manufacturing and started coming down the other side. By 2040? I would say obviously. Finally, geopolitics. Get it together, Boeing!

Manufacturing: “We Should Shame Frequent Fliers” [Jacobin]. Filing this immediately after Boeing, for obvious reasons. “What is good for the American tourist is terrible for the planet. At the height of the pandemic, the grounding of air travel in 2020 led to a 60 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from aviation. One round-trip flight across the Atlantic emits about as much carbon dioxide as heating an average American home with natural gas for a year. And Americans are disproportionately to blame. Prior to the pandemic year, the United States, with just over 4 percent of the world’s population, was responsible for 24 percent of all emissions from passenger flights. And within the US, just 12 percent of adults take 68 percent of the flights. With planes once again ferrying Americans to ostensibly exotic locales, tourists are back to mucking up the planet in the middle of a climate disaster… While the elite tourist should be the primary target, even those who aren’t racking up frequent flier miles should avoid unnecessary air travel. To justify their jaunts, American tourists will go on and on about the opportunity to experience new cultures, meet new people, and contribute to the local economy of waiters, cab drivers, and tour guides…. Once upon a time, when people traveled infrequently and stayed at places for long periods of time, it made more sense to think of tourism as a moral good, as something that could actually accomplish its stated goals of meeting people and learning about new cultures without unduly harming the earth. In those days, nobody zipped off to Vail for a weekend of skiing or to Paris for a four-day birthday trip, the sort of travel that’s common among today’s wealthy cosmopolites. As climate change foments weather disasters and threatens to make one in three plant and animal species extinct, the planet can no longer accommodate such indulgent sightseeing.” • Not to mention fomenting pandemics!

Supply Chain: “Americans Have No Idea What the Supply Chain Really Is” [The Atlantic]. “Everyday life in the United States is acutely dependent on the perpetual motion of the supply chain, in which food and medicine and furniture and clothing all compete for many of the same logistical resources. As everyone has been forced to learn in the past year and a half, when the works get gummed up—when a finite supply of packaging can’t keep up with demand, when there aren’t enough longshoremen or truck drivers or postal workers, when a container ship gets wedged sideways in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes—the effects ripple outward for weeks or months, emptying shelves and raising prices in ways that can seem random. All of a sudden, you can’t buy kettlebells or canned seltzer. All of this was supposed to be better by now…. Overseas shipping is currently slow and expensive for lots of very complicated reasons and one big, important, relatively uncomplicated one: The countries trying to meet the huge demands of wealthy markets such as the United States are also trying to prevent mass-casualty events.” Unlike us. We believe in let ‘er rip which — follow me closely, here — ends up infecting the rest of the world, too.] More: “Infection-prevention measures have recently closed high-volume shipping ports in China, the country that supplies the largest share of goods imported to the United States. In Vietnam and Malaysia, where workers churn out products as varied as a third of all shoes imported to the U.S. and chip components that are crucial to auto manufacturing, controlling the far more transmissible Delta variant has meant sharply decreasing manufacturing capacity and reducing manpower at busy container ports.” • Whaddaya know, seeding the world with vaccine production capability would actually help us too. Also, goddamned Communists shutting down manufacturing to protect their workers. It’s just not right.

Labor Market: “It’s not your imagination: Restaurant drive-thrus are slower and less accurate” [CNBC]. “The average total time spent in the drive-thru lane increased by more than 25 seconds from a year ago to 382 seconds. Compared with pre-pandemic times, that’s nearly a minute longer. Order accuracy dropped to 85% this year from 87% in 2020. SeeLevel HX used mystery shoppers to wait in drive-thru lines across 10 chains and 1,492 restaurant locations from July through early August to compile the annual study. More than half of the orders placed happened during lunch hours. Drive-thru times and accuracy have been key performance metrics for fast-food chains for decades, but the coronavirus pandemic has heightened their importance. As restaurants shuttered their dining rooms, customers turned to drive-thru lanes to pick up their tacos and fries.”

The Fed: “Fed’s Powell: ‘no one’ happy with fellow policymakers’ trading” [Reuters]. “U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said on Wednesday he was displeased with the active investing carried out by two Fed regional bank presidents and pledged the central bank’s ethics rules will be tightened after a thorough review…. Though rules limiting the trading activities of Fed policymakers are somewhat stricter than those for government employees generally, the current framework is ‘now clearly seen as not adequate to the task of really sustaining the public’s trust.’ Asked if he still trusted Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan and Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren to do their jobs, Powell said, ‘In terms of having confidence and that sort of thing, I think, no one is happy. No one on the (Federal Open Market Committee) is happy to have these questions raised.'” • Everything is like CalPERS. Actually, to be fair, a Trump appointee (Powell) is doing much better than a Democrat (Frost).

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 31 Fear (previous close: 25 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 39 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 23 at 12:30pm.

Health Care

“Governments failing to heed ‘paradigm change’ call on ventilation to slow COVID-19 spread, experts say” [ABC Australia]. “Queensland University of Technology professor Lidia Morawska was recently named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world for her role in highlighting the airborne transmission of COVID-19. She said the lack of indoor air quality standards in Australia is ‘a big problem’ because without them ‘no-one does anything’. ‘The community for the past year-and-a-half has been taught to clean hands, sanitise hands, clean surfaces … but nothing about cleaning the air,’ Professor Morawska said. She said a ‘paradigm change’ is needed in the design of public buildings to ensure the air inside them is clean. Carbon dioxide (CO2) monitors – which measure human exhalation – should be displayed in ‘every public space’ so individuals can improve ventilation or leave if concentrations are too high, she said.” • This is something that may actually be achievable, even if building owners see it as a stopgap concession to avoid capital investment. So I am long C02 metering.

“Is The Worst Over? Models Predict A Steady Decline In COVID Cases Through March” [NPR]. I’m seeing a lot of “according to experts” stories lately; this is another. Here is a handy chart from the CDC Modeling Hub:

Holy moley, look at the qualifying language (which I have helpfully highlighted). Also, I like the way the timeline labels go from October 2021 to January 2022. It’s like they don’t want you to think about travel in November (Thanksgiving) or December (Christmas and New Years). I also like the false precision of “March 12, 2022.” I’ll have to dig deeper, maybe it’s all on the up-and-up. Anyhow, the proof is in the pudding! And this is the CDC, which has been consistently wrong.

So the molasses-brained Biden administration finally gets round to testing:

Our Famously Free Press

“Gabby Petito case example of ‘missing white woman syndrome,’ experts say” [Good Morning America] • It is, although when the phrase “missing white woman syndrome” was invented, back in the days of the blogosphere, the stories took place in the summer, along with the shark watches. So there’s something unbalanced in the news flow that is causing the Petito story to appear at this time. (What interests me is the “van life” phenomenon, of which our migrant sheepherder is a limit case. I assume everybody isn’t doing van life “for the ‘Gram”, and I wonder how big the phenomenon is. I also wonder whether it overlaps, or is the same as under another name, RV life, or is there generational siloing? Readers?

Police State Watch

This is so bad:

Wait until we achieve freedom by making all money digital. Then the cops will be able to do “contactless” civil asset forfeiture.

Zeitgeist Watch

“Gender Pronouns Are Changing. It’s Exhilarating” [New York Times]. “What seems to gall some people about the new singular “they” is that people are requesting to be addressed in a novel way that feels counterintuitive to many. But then just some decades ago, some will remember how disorienting it could be to adapt to using “Ms.” rather than delineating women as married or unmarried on the basis of “Mrs.” and “Miss.” Now that custom can look somewhere between coarse and hilarious…. I remember how it felt to be an English speaker in the late 1980s when seemingly overnight, one was to say “Asian” rather than “Oriental,” “Latino” rather than “Hispanic,” and shortly thereafter, “African American” rather than “Black,” with “Oriental,” especially, considered from then on offensive (while “Black” has made a return as an adjective). And yet the earth kept spinning, and references to “Orientals” are now as antique as Atari and McDonald’s hamburgers in Styrofoam boxes.” • Very telling that the author feels all these changes are on the same level as consumer packaging. I’m so old I remember Second Wave Feminism, and the ambitions were a good deal larger than that. Now, we do pronouns (an issue back then, too; Marge Piercy’s superb Woman on the Edge of Time (1976) invented the gender-neutral “per” to replace “he/she,” which would avoid ridiculous constructions like “Roberta wants a haircut, and they also want some highlights.” Is that a run-on sentence, or not?). Symbol manipulators gotta manipulate, I guess. When all you’ve got is a glass hammer….

Guillotine Watch

“Mattis testifies in fraud trial of fallen tech star” [Military Times]. “Mattis isn’t the only well-known board member or investor who became enthralled with Holmes and Theranos. Theranos’ other board members included other former Cabinet members such as the late George Shultz, Henry Kissinger, William Perry and former Wells Fargo Bank CEO Richard Kovacevich. The list of billionaire investors that once valued the privately held company at $9 billion — with half of the stock owned by Holmes — included media mogul Rupert Murdoch, Walmart’s Walton family and Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison.” • Unsurprisingly, our elites are easily conned.

Class Warfare

The neoliberal party card is pretty good!

But DeLong is missing Rule #2.

News of the Wired

“Magic Mushrooms May Be the Biggest Advance in Treating Depression Since Prozac” [Newsweek (Furzy Mouse)]. Alternative headline: “Prozac ‘Wrong Turn,’ Scientists Admit. Magic Mushrooms Better, Safer, More Effective.” Well, perhaps I exaggerate. More: ” In the Hopkins study, published last year in JAMA Psychiatry, the therapy was four times more effective than traditional antidepressants. Two-thirds of participants showed a more-than 50-percent reduction in depression symptoms after one week; a month later, more than half were considered in remission, meaning they no longer qualified as being depressed. Larger clinical trials underway in the United States and Europe are aimed at winning regulatory approval. Two studies that have enrolled more than 300 patients in 10 countries were given “breakthrough therapy” status in 2018 and 2019 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which will now expedite its review of the results. If the trials succeed, new protocols that combine psilocybin with psychotherapy in a clinical setting for the treatment of depression could be established quickly. Treatments could appear in clinics as early as 2024.” • Generally, I oppose human interest leads — they make it hard to understand structure so extracting is hard, and the WSJ does this all the time — but this one is quite touching.

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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 (timotheus):

Timotheus writes: “This is a plant. more than that, I know not.” Readers?

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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. Arizona Slim

    R-r-r-ring! That’s your alarm clock, commentariat.

    Nap time’s over. It’s time to start commenting!

  2. griffen

    Lots of recent links and discussions about a highlighted topic for many: Food! I am not the sole contributor lifting sales of Subway, but I do like the “mild menu updates” and recent slate of commercials. I’m doing a lot of turkey lately, and it’s just easy / convenient for me. Maybe they have also figured out how to franchise without literally being across the street from another franchisee.

    You have to admit the lines with Tom Brady are humorous. Do you even eat bread ?

    1. Temporarily Sane

      I dunno, Subway is to submarine sandwiches what McDonald’s is to burgers. Subway is probably healthier than McD’s but their stuff, particularly their bread, is heavily processed, too. At least it was the last time I ate there.

      1. petal

        The last time I ate there a long time ago, their bread tasted like pencil smells(I know, that probably doesn’t make any sense). Totally put me off and haven’t been back. Can’t bring myself to do it. The one in town closed a few years ago.

      2. savedbyirony

        I remember reading not so long ago, and it may have been in a link on NC, that in Ireland Subway’s “bread” does not legally qualify as bread due to its high sugar content.

      3. Janie

        When we’re traveling and fail to take a lunch, we stop at Subway. Add the avocado, go heavy on vegetables and oil and vinegar and throw away the bread.

      4. jr

        The bread at Subway has something odd in it. I’ve never been able to put my finger on it exactly but it’s a chemical kind of smell. I always assumed it was some kind of preservative or rapid-rising chemical or something but it’s horrible. It’s about as fresh as that baby pig in formaldehyde in your high school lab supply closet.

        1. CanCyn

          I couldn’t agree more. A few years back the college where I worked renovated the student cafeteria and added some new fast food vendors, one of which was Subway. They opened before the HVAC work was finished and the smell of their so called bread baking in the morning spread through the halls – it was disgusting. I cannot compare it to anything I ever smelled before, certainly not any kind of bread or baked good. I started parking in a different lot and walking a long way around just to avoid the smell. I used to occasionally eat a Subway sandwich but after that, I could not. Just thinking about it makes me gag a little, even now.

      5. PHLDenizen

        It is NOT a hero. It is NOT a submarine. It was, is, and will forever be a “hoagie”. Primo’s in the Philadelphia area is a superb local chain. I think they’ve started branching out to neighboring states.

        Subway is inedible garbage. For whatever reason, Wawa has spent the last 20 or so years rapidly crapifying themselves into a Subway. Parbaked “rolls”, presliced meats, etc. Blech. Keep in mind they used to sell locally baked loose rolls and would freshly slice all the meats and cheese.

        Jersey Mike’s is mediocre and far inferior to a Primo’s or one of the local gems around here.

        1. CitizenSissy

          Primo’s hoagies are delicious (and one’s near my house – yay!) White House in Atlantic City and Dino’s in Margate are wonderful, too.

    2. griffen

      I failed to note, this was an article option on CNBC after reading about the lengthened wait time at drive thru / restaurant chains.

      I’d rather go to Jersey mike’s but it’s a matter of convenience. Others may well have a differed opinion on quality and pricing. For a long while I wanted and did find a sandwich option elsewhere.

      1. jsn

        I used to go to the original Jersey Mike’s in Point Pleasant, NJ. It was in a little rundown storefront in a set of 1920s row houses backed up to the inter coastal canal if memory serves me.

        They ran a really tight ship with all local high school kids in the summer when we were there. Then they opened a bigger, newer place on A1A, then they started cropping up everywhere.

        But it’s still the same white bread bun, fresh cold cuts , iceberg lettuce and dressing: it scaled without any loss in quality because the inputs were all perfectly scalable.

        1. SteveB

          I’m old enough to remember when it was just ” Mike’s Sub’s”
          before Pete Cangro bought it. Pete’s built a wonderful business.

          But there is no comparison between the sandwich Mike’s Subs made and what “Jersey Mike’s” sells.. Not even close…
          If you’re ever back in Point, and want a good sandwich, go to Colonial Market on Bridge Ave… Like the Original Mikes Subs.

      1. ambrit

        Chives are also in the allium family. That family is large, containing onions, garlics, leeks, chives, scallions, shallots, etc. It can get confusing. These plants have the property of “scaring away” bugs and pests and so are popular in large plantings as ‘guardian plants.’ They are generally perennials, so, take care in where you plant them since they will persist for years.

    1. ambrit

      Same here. Or what Phyllis calls “Ornamental Garlic.” It is very popular around here for borders and flower beds. Especially in commercial spaces.

      1. hunkerdown

        A while back, I lived in a house where garlic chive had taken over half of the back yard. I brought out the line trimmer and breathed deeply. Guess what became my favorite yard chore, year after year?

    2. Harold

      It looks like Allium ‘Millenium’, a very tough and vigorous ornamental hybrid bred by Mark McDonough in 1918. Blooms during the summer doldrums, when it is very welcome.

  3. Temporarily Sane

    “Magic Mushrooms May Be the Biggest Advance in Treating Depression Since Prozac”

    Prozac was an “advance”? I was on an SSRI (paxil) several years ago and it turned me into an emotionless zombie. I quit taking it after a few months.

    Occasional psilocybin, LSD and MDMA sessions have helped me far more than any of the pharma industry peddled “cures” I have tried. But if these substances get legalized you can bet big pharma will try to get their grubby paws all over them (and charge a premium of course).

    1. Utah

      Insurance is loathe to pay for these things. I want to try TMS, transcranial magnetic stimulation, for my treatment resistant anxiety. And I can’t convince my insurance to pay for it because I haven’t had enough drugs to show that I’m treatment resistant. I don’t remember what their cut off is, but most anxiety drugs are SSRIs and those make everything bad, so I don’t take anything in that class. They’d rather pay for drugs and therapy and inpatient stays, I guess. But they’d probably end up paying less if they’d let me try out TMS. Though, I could go get ECT anytime I wanted, which doesn’t make any sense.

      I suspect it’ll be the same with mushrooms. Have to show proof that I’ve tried everything.

      1. Janie

        You’ve probably already considered this, but, depending on the copay, can you fill the prescription then throw the drugs away and say gee they didn’t work?

      2. Eustachedesaintpierre

        Might be of interest to some – It is the WHO’s list of adverse reactions to drugs, that is calculated at the University of Uppsalla in Sweden – I used it to check my partners meds.

        As for the current vaccines the info given is for all Covid vaccines & doesn’t differentiate as to what brand it is.

        Anyway – it presents a long list of disorders broken down into the amount of cases & the following –

        Europe has the highest number at 1,053,342 AR’s = 51% of total, the America’s follow with 773,826 = 37%.
        The hardest hit age group is 18 – 44 – Women suffer 69% with Men at 29%.
        Total reported cases worldwide in 2021 is 2,066, 225, with no available figures for mortality.


      3. steve

        Grow your own. Spores readily available online, cultivation can be relatively simple, research Uncle Ben’s Rice + psilocybin.

        1. Milton

          But alas, Californians cannot legally purchase psilocybin muchroom spores. Probably the doings of a certain senator that made buying a particular decongestant essentially a consent to have one’s background investigated.

    2. ambrit

      I too was put on Prozak for several months years ago. I too became a zombie. It even adversely affected my driving skills, (with a fender bender result.) I felt as if the top of my head had been removed. After I stopped, (against the advice of the medicos, of course,) I got “better” over a weeks time.
      Cow Patty Mushrooms made me laugh uncontrollably and have that ineffable “everything is one” feling for hours. Luckily for society, the feeling went away, but was not forgotten (fogrotten?) The psychology of the catharsis does not get the respect it deserves. H—. The Greeks aimed for just this in their Tragic plays. Sometimes, the “break” one needs from overwhelming cares is exactly that, a “break,” as in psychic one. Since “breaks” come in all shapes and sizes, the presence of a competent Shaman is advised. (I find the similarities between Shamans and Psychologists to be an endless source of amusement.) Even Freud seems to have made that ‘connection.’ According to him, and later codification of the process of certification into the Brotherhood of Mind Manipulators, a postulant Psychologist must first go through Analysis him or her self before being licensed.
      Oh well. I’ve entered Rant Mode. Time for the thorazine!

    3. Jason Boxman

      Wow. Paxil. I took one dose of the name brand version twenty years ago. Heart raced for like 24 hours, like running a marathon. Quite an awful experience.

  4. Questa Nota

    You can kit out a van pretty cheaply if you are handy. That van serves many purposes, one of which is psychological. Having a mobile dwelling or escape pod allows you to have at least some semblance of freedom and agency when dealing with an insane world of gig economics, just-in-time failures, lying media and the usual litany. When a median priced home is approaching One Million Dollars in many areas, then having a few options makes even more sense.

    There is quite a subculture to support such mobility, ranging from the older routines like parking overnight at Wal-Mart to others like getting a cheap gym membership to allow showering (and remember those flip-flops) or finding good, edible food sources. Prior generations had examples of an ethic, as each era contributes.

    That type of information doesn’t make it into cocktail party chatter, even if some of the servers or delivery people would chime in if they felt like it.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I used to have a converted VW T5 van for trips around Europe. It was fun, but I couldn’t imagine living in it long term.

      The guy who did my conversion said that most people last about 3-4 years before they sell it. Its something that seems really appealing (it certainly did for me), but rarely lives up to the expectations over the longer term. It might be different in a nicer climate.

      Oddly enough (well, maybe not odd), people I know who have opted to cycle tour long term with a tent have stuck with it much longer, many for years. Apart from anything else, its generally much cheaper and you meet a lot more interesting people as you travel.

      1. PHLDenizen

        I spent a solid 2 years touring with 3 other dudes in a van and I can’t imagine ever choosing to live in one. Sometimes we crashed on floors, sometimes a hotel if we had the scratch. But more often that not, it was taking shifts driving and sleeping in that god damn van.

        We tore it apart to build raised platforms to sleep on while stowing gear underneath. We pulled out the carpeting to apply Dynamat to the floor and door shells to kill resonance and vibration from the road. Added a few other quality of life improvements, but it was still just a van. Not liberation.

        And the novelty of being a nomad wears off when you’re playing hundreds of shows a year while doing all the work yourself. You get 1 or so awesome hours, a few cool encounters over the course of the tour, but most of it is just dreary necessity in the van. Usually someone always slept in the van to ward off thieves. The only way to keep all your gear accounted for was paranoia.

    2. Robert Gray

      The movie version of Nomadland is good but the book on which it is based is full of much more detail — facts and figures, as well as anecdotes — about this lifestyle and the people who pursue it. Recommended.

    1. Acacia

      Thanks for the link. On a related note, has anybody addressed how the brave new world of ever-expanding pronouns impacts writing comprehensible English?

      To take a current example on the topic of COVID, let’s consider the article on the historical origins of the droplet dogma, from today’s links. Like most every scientific article, it begins with a literature review, in this case historical. Entering the new world of liberated pronouns, it seems we should now figure out the gender identification of each person we mention, and thus a passage from the article could be written like this:

      Ignaz Semmelweis was another pioneer of disease transmission who was also initially ignored as having proposed things too radical for the establishment of the time to accept. Working in Vienna in 1847, they showed that handwashing greatly reduced deaths by childbed fever in a maternity clinic (44).

      First, are these two sentences totally clear to you, or did you wonder what the authors of the article are trying to say? Does “they” mean that the authors have reached consensus that Semmelweis was, on the basis of details known about “their” personal life, not a cisgender male, but really in his heart of hearts identified as they/them, and that out of respect this should be acknowledged, or does it mean that “they” is actually referring to “the establishment of the time”, that the authors are confused, that some or even most of the authors who still assert Semmelweis was “he/him” were compelled to agree with the claim for they/them, i.e., they were silenced, or… ?

      Countless other examples of this sort ambiguity can be found, I think.

      1. B flat

        The advent of the Pronoun Police is accelerating English’s devolution into meaninglessness. A new class may rise of professional word salad forensics. ACLU redacted the word “woman” from a direct quote of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and inserted person, distorting both her point and history.

      2. Robert Gray

        >> Ignaz Semmelweis … proposed things too radical for the establishment of the time to accept.
        >> Working in Vienna in 1847, they showed that handwashing greatly reduced deaths …

        > … does it mean that “they” is actually referring to “the establishment of the time” … [?]

        This alternative, at least, can be ruled out. ‘Working in Vienna in 1847’ is a reduced adverb clause. The subject of the main clause that follows must be the same as the elided subject of the reduced clause:

        When Semmelweis was working in Vienna in 1847, Semmelweis showed …

        Pronouns have customarily made such constructions smoother — but no longer, apparently, in our brave new world!

  5. Fiery Hunt

    Van -life is very much a different thing than RVing and yes, it’s a Gen Z thing and very much aimed at Instagram. You’d be amazed at how many kids think they can get rich by being an “influencer”.

    I’ve got an AirBnB down the block from me that has had a constant stream of vanlifers. All White and extremely granola and obviously some kind of trustafarians.

    I always laugh when they figure out their “hip” airbnb in Oakland is in the middle of a rough, windows-get-broken kinda neighborhood.

    1. Acacia

      Had a Millennial acquaintance who did the van life thing for two years. At the beginning, he sent me the URL to his beautiful Instagram photos. Landscapes out the parked van window, etc. Looked great. After that, I heard less and less, and what I did hear sounded increasingly bleak. Then, radio silence. After he returned to a stable address, the report was that things got rough, some homeless drug addicts ripped off his stuff, and that the van just became really depressing and he was getting stoned alone all the time to cope.

  6. Mikel

    “Gender Pronouns Are Changing. It’s Exhilarating”

    Pretty soon names will be auto generated like passwords, with numbers and all. And someone will say, “It’s exhilarating”.

    1. Klärchen

      Here’s an old comment on the pronoun issue by one Aaron Sibarium that I archived:

      Editor @FreeBeacon
      Pronouns: he/he. I am only to be referred to in the nominative case; accusatives and datives are inherently objectifying.

      I have many problems with the attempted enforcement of ‘new’ pronouns–and I live in a community which includes many gender-fluid individuals.

      First of all, nobody actually addresses people as ‘they’ (or ‘he’ or ‘she’), for that matter. There is one pronoun for address in English and that is ‘you’. ‘You’ is universally the pronoun of respectful address regardless of the addressee’s personal identity. Which third-person pronoun (‘he’, ‘she’ or ‘they’) one uses in referring to someone (at least out of earshot) is perhaps a personal matter for the speaker.

      Another problem with this innovative use of ‘they’ is that there is already a singular use of ‘they’ which is wholely organic to the English language. It is used to refer to a referent whose identity (in the linguistic sense) is unknown to the speaker. Thus: “Somebody left a package at my door, but they didn’t say who they were”. This may account for why the newer usage “feels counterintuitive to many”.

      Unhappily, I’m probably going to get in trouble for expressing these opinions.

      1. Klärchen

        And Acacia above is right. If carried over into the written language this usage makes English incomprehensible. Because, despite the ‘exhilarating’ pretenses, it is not English, and never will be.

      2. lyman alpha blob

        …nobody actually addresses people as ‘they’ (or ‘he’ or ‘she’), for that matter.

        Excellent point. One of my favorite scifi authors is Greg Egan and most of his books read like math lectures in novel form which is great of you like that sort if thing, which I do! One of his novels, Distress, has a bit more of a plot and one of the characters in androgynous, having had all reproductive organs surgically removed. Egan uses the pronouns ve, ver, and vis throughout to refer to the character, but as a narrative device and to me it came across as thought provoking without being preachy.

        If I am ever required by the pronoun-obsessed to give mine, I will offer up he/haw as my preferred sawed-off sobriquet, just to hear them bray like an ass when referring to me. Now get off my lawn ;)

    2. Ian Perkins

      Even if they is acceptable, or preferable, as a singular pronoun, why is a plural verb still used?
      “Roberta wants a haircut, and they also want some highlights” and not
      “Roberta wants a haircut, and they also wants some highlights”?
      If they is singular, they is surely wrong to say they are right, wrong or singular.

      1. Klärchen

        Because in English, ‘they’ is grammatically plural. That is (nearly) immutable. In these other uses, it is only being construed as singular. If you want to change the verb to singular you are just adding another layer of English ungrammaticality and therefore of incomprehensibility.

        IMHO you cannot impose this degree of change on a language. You only end up with incomprehension. A language, like a virus, is gonna do what it’s gonna do. Human agency be damned.

      2. Acacia

        I agree with Klärchen’s comment, above.

        AFAICT, the brave new world of pronouns is at bottom an expression of the Humpty Dumpty theory of language, i.e., that words now mean whatever the speaker wants them to mean, and you are a horrible transphobic racist deplorable if you don’t accept this. Thus, you must ask them for their “preferred pronouns”, because today, the speaker may identify as a Wolf mama, they/them, but tomorrow it may be something else, as the list of possible gender identities and pronouns becomes longer and longer.

        As H.D. explained to Alice, the question is “which is to be master — that’s all.”

        1. jr

          The few times I’ve been asked for “my” pronoun I’ve replied “Big Daddy Long-stroke”, which wrapped up that jive quickly.

    3. Benny

      Prose will be so exhilarating…
      Alex was thinking about lunch when their boss walked into their office and put the MacKlinchy file on their desk. They stared momentarily at the hated document and then returned their attention to them.
      “What am I supposed to do with this?” they demanded.
      They sighed and shrugged their shoulders. They were obviously agitated and they doubted they would listen to reason, but they had to try.

  7. Wukchumni

    Minting a trillion $ platinum coin seems a lot more involved than just getting the mouse clique to bang on the QWERTY keys 13 times to conjure up the same amount.

  8. Henry Moon Pie

    I ran across an article yesterday that seemed worth linking in the interest of engendering discussion among the NC commentariat.

    As introduction, let me note that I definitely do not agree with the tone and approach of this article, but it is an example of a growing controversy on the Left that threatens a non-trivial schism. The story begins with Chris Smaje’s book, Small Farm Future, that I have linked here in earlier comments. Smaje’s vision, in short, commends small farms, tended by families or small coops, as an effective response to our ecological crisis. These farms would be engaged in three projects: providing as much of the food and fiber required by the farmers as feasible; grow some crop(s) for sale for raising cash; and regenerate the farmed land using permaculture and other regenerative techniques.

    Smaje has come under some intense fire from two sources. The first are feminist critics who see the family household as the locus of inevitable oppression of women and children. The second are Marxist critics who object to the land ownership aspects of Smaje’s proposal. Smaje has responded by defending his ideas and by broadening his notion of how these small farms might be organized.

    The article linked below marks another stage in the increasingly rancorous discussion. The author seeks to defend Smaje by trying to demolish Marxism from top to bottom, beginning with Marx’s heritage as a Cartesian, dualistic thinker. That approach is both wrong and counterproductive in my view. While it would be quite a stretch to claim that Marx anticipated how capitalism would lead to our ecological crisis, it is beyond hyperbole to assert that Marx has no relevance to our circumstances in a society still marked by class divisions. Better to welcome Marxist contributions that can help us understand how to navigate from here to where we need to be whlle recognizing his limitations in our current circumstances because of his Cartesian thinking and productivism.

    Despite the author’s needlessly provocative approach, the article does some things that make it worth reading. First, it highlights two real and difficult conflicts between most Marxists and most “deep ecology” advocates. The first is the Marxist view of land ownership versus the deep ecologists’ conviction that permaculture and soil regeneration necessarily require a long-term connection between particular humans and a particular piece of land. Second, Marxist orthodoxy about the opiate of the masses clashes with most deep ecologists’ view that humanity requires a Great Turning that will depend upon some kind of spiritual belief and practice–not monotheism, about which most of those same deep ecologists share Marxist disdain–but a spirituality that recognizes our oneness with the cosmos and, in particular, living things. These differences are not easily resolved even though the visions for the future of the Marxists and deep ecologists share a great deal, but if we want to build a coalition of people working for a society and economy that stays within ecological limits while advancing social and economic justice, we’ll need some fusion or amalgam of Marxists and deep ecologists.

    The other thing of value of this article is the strength of the positive argument it makes for a deep ecology vision. An example:

    The quest for peace, land, and bread [from the Bolsheviks’ campaign slogan] proceeds along different paths than was the case a century ago, but these aspirations still animate key struggles of our own time. Nearly every act of protest today begins with an occupation – the seizure of a park, a public square, a stretch of farmland or forest – and then proceeds by showing how this land might be used to further humane and democratic purposes. Battles over how and by whom food is to be produced are now among the most consequential that are being fought. If this war goes badly, a few more dollars an hour or a government health care plan are not going to matter much. Among those who now want to occupy land or reconfigure agricultural systems and urban spaces, it is the peaceable types – the ones who feel a kinship with the land and all living beings – who are the most innovative. It is the folks who propose a non-Cartesian relationship to nature – who see it as fully alive, mysteriously purposive, and an active participant in the drama of life on this planet – who are generating the most compelling ideas about what kind of overturning we need.

    Karl Marx in the Anthropocene

    1. martell

      Interesting topic, but the author doesn’t know what he’s talking about, at least where Descartes and Marx are concerned. He asserts that Marx was a Cartesian. But what are some of the distinguishing features of Descartes’ philosophical views (the views for which he is now mainly known)? Descartes was a substance dualist, holding that there are two kinds of finite, relatively independently existing things: body, the essential feature of which is extension, and mind, the defining feature of which is thought. He was also an interactionist, holding that changes in body can bring about changes in mind (via the pineal gland) and vice versa. He was a plenum theorist, someone who denied the existence of a vacuum in the physical world (and so there is really only one physical thing). He was a foundationalist in epistemology, and maintained that the foundations of knowledge consist of self-evident truths concerning one’s own mind. But he was also a voluntarist about mathematics, believing that mathematical principles were matters of God’s will. Oh, and that reminds me, he was a theist. Then there’s his account of the scientific method: try to doubt everything, find indubitable truths, deduce other truths from them, and, finally, check your work. Those are Descartes’ views, basically. Marx did not share any of them. None.

      The author also misunderstands Marx’s labor theory of value, badly confusing Marx with Locke. Marx did not think that private property and value are anthropological constants brought into being with the first human who bothered to do more than simply take whatever the land had to offer. That’s Locke. Marx’s theory of value is a theory about commodities in a society in which commodity production is the dominant mode. So, it’s about capitalism, which Marx knew very well has not existed from the dawn of time. In short, the theory of value is a theory about a historically and socially specific way for human beings to relate to one another in the course of relating to non-human nature. Finally, I myself don’t even think that the version of the labor theory of value that Marx sets forth in Capital is integral to his views about capitalism. That theory is sometimes called the embodied labor theory of value. It is erroneous and has been known to be mistaken at least since Sraffa’s Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities. This has not prevented Marxists in political economy and related fields from continuing to develop Marxist theories capitalism and/or analyses of recent developments within capitalist societies. So, I have found that there is considerable agreement on this point: Marx’s theory of value (the embodied labor theory) is dispensable, even for Marxists.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        Appreciate the point about the labor theory of value, but the aspects of Descartes that you highlight seem to me to be more an artifact of the 170 years of cultural change (note “later” is not “progress”) intervening between the death of Descartes and the birth of Marx.

        1. martell

          I don’t understand this reply. I set forth some criteria on which anyone might rightly be called a Cartesian. I said that Marx doesn’t satisfy any of them. I could understand arguing against those criteria. I could also understand arguing that Marx satisfied some or all of them. But you seem to have done neither, claiming instead that Marx was born later than Descartes. That’s a point I am forced to grant, but also, near as I can tell, almost completely irrelevant to the issue of whether he is well characterized as a Cartesian. So, it’s hard to tell what’s going on here.

          My best guess is that you think the features of Descartes’ philosophy that I mentioned are inessential and that some core view of Descartes, different than anything I discussed, was passed on to Marx, who then took it up and elaborated upon it. What might this core view be? Judging from what people working in environmental philosophy often say, it probably amounts to the view that humans are somehow apart from the natural world. That’s certainly Descartes’ view, and it’s also Augustine’s view and Plato’s view and the view of nearly everyone in western philosophy up to and including Descartes. But that isn’t Marx’s view, not the young Marx and certainly not the old. Perhaps then it’s a different essence you have in mind: the view that the natural world is just stuff, devoid any intrinsic value, on hand for value-projecting humans to use for whatever ends they like. I believe Heideggerians would call nature so conceived standing-reserve. Is this Marx’s view? I doubt it, since this is a metaphysical view, so a view of the sort that Marx stopped being interested in circa 1847. Admittedly, Marx would likely have held that if we want to understand why the world is how it is we shouldn’t appeal to the purported fact that it’s good for things to be this way. In other words, he, like pretty much all of his contemporaries in the sciences, rejected explanation by appeal to final causes. But this is a view about what scientific knowledge looks like. It is not a view about the fundamental nature of reality than one can somehow intuit while thinking very deeply. So, again, it is quite different from Descartes’ view.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I dunno here. If this guy Smaje is finding himself arguing with third wave feminists and Marxist critics, it sound like he is letting them set the rules of the fight. and that itself is usually a losing proposition.

      If feminist critics ‘see the family household as the locus of inevitable oppression of women and children’, then that opens up the opportunity of asking them whether feminism for women can only ever exist in an urban environment. Better step back then in case their heads explode. And ask them who will grow their food exactly.

      As for those Marxists, just ask them for an exact outline of how land ownership should be done and point out to them that without any input, that we will be left with our present corporate latifundia. With any luck you will never hear from them again as a civil war will break out between themselves trying to argue what such a vision would look like.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        It’s true that all us ideologues (speaking as an anarchist) have our blind spots and faults. But time’s running short, and the skill we need to develop–and we’ve sucked at it on the Left for a while–is building true coalitions. By “true,” I mean the opposite of the top-down, corporate board approach of the American Democrats now adopted by the British Labourites and more the idealized picture of New Deal Democrats composed of unionists, academics, lawyers and politicos arrayed around a table. Maybe the feminists have a point and Smaje has recognized that already. And Marxists look at our current society obsessed with private property and wonder how that can ever be part of a solution. Deep ecologists need to explain why they consider a level of permanence in the connection between people and land to be an important factor. (“Permaculture” is a clue. The land shapes the people as the people try to shape the land.)

        Marxists need to recognize that the core of their perspective is at least middle-aged. New ideas are emerging. Marx had important insights that remain remarkably relevant today. People with similar visions for the future, especially compared to Gilead or Gattaca, should be able to forge a blend of ideas that reflect the influence of the cores of the two belief systems.

    3. Acacia

      Didn’t read the article because the quotation suggests the author is way off on a tangent looking to settle some academic hobby horse concerning “non-Cartesian thought”. Spare me this kind of discourse. Are Marxists or feminists standing in the way of a small farm future? Are committed Marxists and “feminist critics” even a meaningful demographic in the US? Mostly they are university faculty, probably Biden voters grappling with long TDS, in fact.

      I would agree that Marxists and deep ecologists share a great deal, and humbly submit that the real challenge is to sell this vision of a small farm future to the millions of ordinary people who have no ideological axe to grind. Work on the people who thoughtlessly accept the status quo of industrial agriculture, persuade them that another world is possible, and just ignore the Marxists and feminists braying from their university offices.

    4. Alan Kirk

      Going forward I see more than one model of stability that are all likely to occur at the same time. The first model (Smaje’s) is very likely to persist as it is already in place, has been in place for some time and there are some very wealthy land owning families who are not going to go away easily. In addition, many of these landowners will do a good job with land care and providing benefits to the community and so will have the support and protection of the community.

      A second model would be in the form of some kind of land trust that would “own” the land and temporarily used by individuals or families, church groups, non-profits, tribes. I see this as a viable alternative to paying exorbitant amounts of money to own or rent land. Trusts could be originated with private or public money.

      A third model, which also exists and has existed for a long time is corporate owned land. This seems probable as more and more crop products and processes become patented and land prices exceed what any individual, family, church or tribe could afford.

      A fourth model is state-owned land that has the government or some lucky corporation as the manager. A current example of this federal land that sells grazing rights or lumber rights and oversees that the resource is “protected.” Perhaps National Park land returned to Native American tribes would fall under this category.

      The relative success of each model will have much to do with the degree of self-reliance and resiliency, as well as community. Smaller properties will have greater risk to things like fires, floods, droughts. History has examples of small holders tending properties in different locations, i.e. some close to the river, some farther away to ameliorate some of these risks.

    5. witters

      “The first is the Marxist view of land ownership versus the deep ecologists’ conviction that permaculture and soil regeneration necessarily require a long-term connection between particular humans and a particular piece of land.”

      Where is the tension in the medieval commons?

  9. NotTimothyGeithner

    I’m not sure Biden gives zero effs as much as the size of job is simply catching up to him. He’s tried nothing and he’s out of ideas. He’s tried his usual schtick which is to browbeat the left into supporting hideous policies because of some rider attached with promises things will get better. Now he’s trying it on Manchin and Sinema, and they clearly don’t give a flying eff. Biden is more or less repeating the same act because its all he knows, and he hasn’t left oppose him. Its not a case of Obama taking Kucinich on a plane. All that has been done, and Biden simply isn’t Obama.

    The guy is adrift in a job he simply isn’t fit to even pretend to be ready for. His most recent foreign policy win did nothing but irritate Europe and give Boris Johnson a big man moment. In the case of nuclear submarines, the whole point is you don’t need the bases.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The guy is adrift in a job he simply isn’t fit to even pretend to be ready for.

      He withdrew from Afghanistan. Come on. Better than Obama!

      > Biden simply isn’t Obama

      Thank God,.

      1. marku52

        And notice how bad his press has gotten since he had the *nerve* to end the 20 year MIC grift. The Blob is Pissed, and their pet media snaps to attention.

        Good for him.

      2. lance ringquist

        biden is clearly a better president than nafta billy clinton or empty suit obama, but so was trump. that bar was set so low, anyone could get over it with little effort.

        so biden does know something is wrong, but because he helped build this system in the 1990’s with nafta billy clinton, he does not know whats wrong nor how to fix it.

        so in the end he will bring the hammer down on the deplorable, thinking this will fix the mess we are in, plus of course other countries, including china, after all, china was not supposed to develop, nafta billy thought we had a endless supply of labor that will make sure those snotty deplorable will never strike again.

  10. petal

    Re the highlighted qualifiers: I wish for a pony, too! If that is what the CDC is predicting, then I’m going to expect the exact opposite to happen. sigh.
    ps-love the use of the pawnbroker symbol for the neoliberal card.

    1. Even keel

      What if we think of the CDC document not as a scientific document, or even a planning document, but as a political document?

      The qualifiers are not “real” as in expected to actually come to pass, they are setting up targets for the blame cannons. Picking out scapegoats.

      The next “battle” will clearly be over vaccinating children. This chart sets up parents who refuse to vaccinate their children as the new scapegoats.

      1. TroyIA

        An example of the CDC’s ability to model the future of this pandemic is from May 2021 when they predicted the U.S. would peak in early summer and be done with COVID-19 by September. Just a little bit off.

        Modeling of Future COVID-19 cases

        In all four scenarios, COVID-19 cases were projected to increase through May 2021 at the national level because of increased prevalence of the B.1.1.7 variant and decreased NPI mandates and compliance (Figure 1). A sharp decline in cases was projected by July 2021, with a faster decline in the high-vaccination scenarios. Increases in hospitalizations and deaths (Figure 1), although more moderate, were also projected. A peak of 7,000–11,100 weekly deaths nationwide was projected in May (range = 5,382–15,677, which includes the central 50% of the projected distributions for all scenarios in the ensemble). The larger increases in cases relative to hospitalizations and deaths were attributable to higher vaccination coverage among groups with higher risk for severe COVID-19.

  11. barefoot charley

    I learned a lot from Saagar this morning on his Breaking Points with Krystal Ball. He explained that the Petito Missing White Woman isn’t an example of the usual syndrome, though she be blond, because her murder was elevated from regular police indifference/incompetence by her many fans. She was an influencer broadcasting her trip, and her fans put together clues and foul smells of no interest to law enforcement. Couch-bound fans actually told cops where to look for her body. They evoked body-camera highway patrol footage suggesting how fraught her trip had become. This tells me something I never suspected: if we were all influencers, we’d solve more crimes!

    Parenthetically, uniformed indifference to outcome beyond filling out forms and assuring victims that they don’t, and won’t, give further sh*its is a new norm of law enforcement. They seem trained as scouts for the DA’s office: if the cop doesn’t think prosecutors will bite, they don’t even want to file a report.


    1. ambrit

      I got exactly that response when I asked the local DA to look into my ‘missing’ $600 USD cheque from the Biden Administration.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      This pattern of police behavior is yet another example of Octavia Butler’s astute extrapolation from 90s trends (sometimes known as prescience or even prophecy) in the Parable series.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > She was an influencer broadcasting her trip

      Does anybody know how much influence she actually had? As for online detective work, it didn’t work real well with the Marathon bomber. I’m skeptical of both digital evidence and online witch-hunts.

      1. jsn

        I’m suspicious of events requiring good faith.

        Real time engagement with digital tools can be very effective.

        Until the symbol manipulators get ahead of you. The trick is noticing when you’ve fallen from leading events to following them.

    4. Wukchumni

      Looks mean a lot, in these sort of tales of woe.

      Had a friend who was a drop dead gorgeous blonde, the usual LA story, she was an actress with a myriad of small credits to her name in the early 1990’s when I met her, before she turned into a really bad meth odd actor and frankly looked like any other player in such things, I remember seeing her around 2000 and was shocked as she looked like a skudzy homeless person, ye gads!

      I forget how she died exactly, and about a year later the local tv news reported on her demise always using a 8×10 glossy photo of her from back in the day. Would anybody have cared if you saw the way she appeared towards the end?

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        That place chews human beings up. Decades ago, I served as a guardian ad litem in a divorce case in a small, deep southern town. The mother was trying to regain visitation of her child during a divorce to a local fellow. The denial of custody to a mother, much less visitation, was unusual in that setting, but the mother’s history included a time in LA shortly following graduation. She had drifted into porn work and was lucky she didn’t end up dead. Instead, she came home but lived in disgrace with her disgraced parents in this Baptist and Presbyterian town.

        A local jerk, whom “respectable” local women had avoided, came calling, and desperate to get out of the house, the lettered woman assented to a proposal to a guy that never let her forget her local status. When she could take it no longer to the extent she was willing to go back to her parents, he picked the kids up from school and got an injunction against the mother. He made his case on her taking work in a strip club in a commutable city so that she could make enough money to get an apartment and get out of her parents’ house.

        After I heard this story from her and saw the pain and shame on her face, all I could do was present a report favorable to her so that at least the local guy’s lawyer backed off and she got visitation.

    5. Pelham

      Re the Missing White Woman Syndrome: I understand the argument that we or the media should care just as much about missing people of all colors and persuasions. But I reject it. I really don’t want anyone trying to shame me over whom or what I care about and to what degree.

      It’s one thing to highlight an issue the public might have missed or undervalued and explain why we should care. It’s another to inject a moral judgment about a supposed lack of character or compassion for not caring. That’s intrusive to a high degree and why Lambert, for instance, is correct to note that implied condemnation of supposed “bubbas” over vaccine refusal is likely to be counterproductive and quite possibly just wrong.

      1. Harold

        It used to be a cliche among reporters that a news headline involving the murder of a blonde generated a lot of sales, but if the the blonde was also an heiress, it hit the jackpot. Perhaps someone remembers this bit of lore better than I do.

        1. Pelham

          Sounds familiar. I began work in newspapers a few years after lore such as this circulated in newsrooms, but I got to know some of the old timers who who might have circulated it. It’s a chicken-and-egg sort of thing. Mysteriously dead blondes might sell papers, but then again it might be the decision to blast headlines on such material that accounts for the interest.

          Nice thing about papers, though, is that if you don’t like a story, you can go to the next one or turn the page.

    6. JM

      This is more focused on Joy Reid, but goes over the “Missing White Woman Syndrome” issue quite well I thought. My understanding of it was: most violence happens in certain areas, normally poor neighborhoods and can be put into a mental bucket as “expected” and so people tend to not get engaged; it’s the “middle class” (and normally white, and attractive) victims that are surprising and turn it into a human interest story that can drive viewership.

    7. Daniel LaRusso

      some truth to that due to the focus “sanctioned detections”. Which is a polite way of saying getting a result either in court or official warning.

      Police don’t decide if a case goes to court the CPS do. They base that decision on two things. Is it in the public interest and what is the likelihood of conviction. (well, they use to). It doesn’t take long even for a probationer to learn what has got legs and what hasn’t, and what is worth the work … even though officially that thinking isn’t supported.

      If anything it can be counter productive to bring a suspect in to custody, interview – wthout them being charged. It increases their status to their peers, takes staff away from other duties, educates them what they can get away with. You’d be amazed at how even low level criminals are forensically aware due to cases agaisnt them and their peers not meeting charging standards but evidence being disclosed.

      Of course, none of the above would apply to any crime of a serious stature

  12. drumlin woodchuckles

    About Jacobin’s ” shame the flying tourist” concept . . . eco-tourism pays the people around various multi-lifeform habitats to permit those habitats to remain alive. As long as eco-tourists visited Africa and supported various jobs for the locals in the “see the wildlife” industry, the wildlife was worth more alive than dead. Now that covid has cut down the eco-tourism, many eco-tourism employees have lost their jobs. Now the wildlife is worth more dead than alive. If it stays that way, the wildlife will all be killed for food and the wildlife habitat land will be farmed or grazed for food.

    Jacobin’s suggestion amounts to calling for the extermination of all wildlands all over the world. Don’t believe it? Watch. And learn.

    And for what? For performative “reductions” of an emission source which is only 6% of worldwide emissions anyway? This is just moral superiority stuff-strutting on Jacobin’s part.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > only 6% of worldwide emissions anyway

      That seems rather a lot. Maybe it makes more sense just to write the locals a check, rather than make a market in tourism with the side effect of saving (some) animals (while destroying others, e.g. coral).

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        94% of worldwide emissions is a bigger lot. And bigger carbon emissions reductions can be found in that other 94%.

        No one is going to write the locals a check. If the rainforests and the savanahs and etc. do not earn their keep through eco-tourism, they will all be destroyed for food and other sellables.

        So I would suggest cutting down the other 94% of emissions first. Cutting the 6% of emissions by banning flying will leave the other 94% to kill all the coral anyway, while adding all of the (some) animals and their entire habitats to the funeral pyre.

        The Jacobin article remains self-congratulatory moral superiority stuff-strutting. And I will certainly do my part to conserve wildlife by flying to see them ( and the people who are paid to not exterminate them) if/when I ever have the time and money to afford it. While cutting my emissions in that ” other 94%” area.

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          And drumlin, here’s another approach entirely: the Black Mambas Anti-Poaching Unit of South Africa.

          Or train the poachers, give them a camera with a long lens, and pay them to take photos of live animals at long distance. Another JG possibility.

          We have to make real, deep cuts to what goes on in this society. The beauty is that so much of what goes on is mere churn, not doing anything of social value excepting keeping us out of trouble. But for each one of those bullshit jobs (my def, really, not Graeber’s [draw circle A on my chest)) anybody tries to eliminate or even cut, there will be cries about justice and the American Dream and every man’s right to a pickup with a big grille. How long have the cries been coming already from coal country?

          So are we just going to keep our foot on the gas as we fly over the cliff? Or are we going to learn how to manage a shutdown, drawback, whatever you want to call it?

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      You’ve pinpointed another example of the systems problem known as “unintended consequences,” which pop up when someone didn’t expand the observed system’s boundaries far enough. In other words, the author didn’t look past his nose.

      Still, given our desperate circumstances, 6 % ain’t nothin’, especially given that it’s 6% that could be caught without anybody freezing in winter or dying of heat exhaustion in summer or essential, food-growing fields going unplanted.

      But as you’ve pointed out, somebody didn’t see the effects this would have on economies in Africa and through those, on the ecology of even relatively “wild” lands in Africa.

      Is there a both/and? If we lived in a world ruled by systems thinkers (can’t get away from Plato), we could cut plane emissions even with the negative effect on African tourism if we replaced the work and money of those who had been employed in tourism. The more UBI-er types could say, “Just give ’em the dough.” The JG-ers could have them out restoring habitat destroyed because of tourism.

      Wouldn’t the African ecological situation be significantly improved while we gain 6% on carbon emissions more or less without any pain more serious* than a “world traveler” would lose his ability to bore his friends with his latest trip stories? (thanks for illuminating us, Veblen)

      Just continuing the riff, I’m a UBI-er by nature, but if JG were implemented on a rolling, by-project basis, I could see how it would be effective.

      *Provided we similarly compensate other areas that lose tourism.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Well, the OverClass could, but would they? No, they would not. If the animals and the habitat are no longer earning money as animals and habitat, then the animals will earn money by all being turned into bushmeat and into traditional medicine for China. And the land will earn money by all being mined or sold to Saudi or Chinese land-grabbing mega-investors for ultra-mechanized hyper-huge neo-plantations.

        That’s what will happen with an eco-tourism flight ban. Don’t believe it? Try it and see. But it is the sort of experiment which can only be run once.

        1. Daniel LaRusso

          It think it also depends if the “poacher” wants to become a photographer, even if he’s guaranteed some pay. I’m guessing he could earn more poaching (more kills/more tusks/more money etc)

          Maybe some would because they only poach from lack of a job. But that’s not the only driver for anyone working in a job we want to eradicate.

  13. JustAnotherVolunteer

    On van/rev life – this is a growing issue for cities dealing with car and rev dwellers parked on city streets –

    Local laws against vehicle dwelling:

    My Oregon city makes the list with a frequent move ordinance.

    Some places, like Palo Alto and Mountain View have semi-permanent encampments on major city streets.

    High rents and low wages drove a lot of folks into the RV life.

  14. Hana M

    I’m watching the most extraordinary film “The Testimonies Project” with first person stories from Israel about adverse events following the Pfizer vaccine. It’s an hour long (Hebrew w English subtitles) and the impact of story after story after story is chilling. I had my own negative reactions and I’m recognizing things that I hadn’t linked up,but that now make sense. https://rumble.com/vmpbh3-38132823.html

    “The Testimonies Project was created to provide a platform for all those who were affected after getting the covid-19 vaccines, and to make sure their voices are heard, since they are not heard in the Israeli media.

    We hope this project will encourage more and more people to tell their story. to view all the testimonies:

    1. voteforno6

      Adverse events following the vaccine? I suppose it would be too much to expect that there is some hard proof that these events were caused by the vaccine.

      1. Acacia

        That would mean collecting hard data, but the establishment evidently doesn’t want anything that might conflict with their narrative of the vaccines as flawless. Ergo, first-person testimonies it will be.

      2. Daniel LaRusso

        hard proof all covid deaths were actually CAUSED by covid ? Can you prove the casue of death in all cases

  15. marym

    Re: hand-marked paper ballots

    According to Pew 46% of votes in 2020 were by mail, 54% in-person. I don’t have any info on what percentage of in-person voting was also hand-marked. The second link below summarizes voting equipment/ballot type as hand-marked, BMD, and/or DRE by state. The current version of the HR1 bill requires universal availability of mail ballots.


  16. Trainer

    “Mattis testifies in fraud trial of fallen tech star….Unsurprisingly, our elites are easily conned.”

    I agree that our elites are easily conned, but I also suspect that something else was going with Theranos. My guess is blackmail.

    Elizabeth Holmes has been quoted as saying that former Secretary of State George Shultz introduced her to nearly all the big name outside directors on Theranos’s board. According to Fortune Magazine:

    “In 2011, explains company founder Elizabeth Holmes…she finagled an introduction to George Shultz, the former Secretary of State, Treasury, and Labor….Three years later nearly all the other outside directors on Theranos’s board are people who were introduced to the company through Shultz, now 93. They are former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry, former Secretary of State and National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger, former U.S. Senators Sam Nunn and Bill Frist (a heart-transplant surgeon), retired U.S. Navy Adm. Gary Roughead, retired U.S. Marine Corp Gen. James Mattis, former Wells Fargo CEO and chairman Dick Kovacevich, and former Bechtel Group CEO Riley Bechtel.”

    It’s a pretty big ask for a former Secretary of State to vouch for you with so many of his friends, which may or may not also include the big name family offices that later invested in Theranos (Walton/Walmart, Murdoch/News Corp, DeVos/Amway, Cox/Cox Enterprises, Oppenheimer/DeBeers). This level of commitment does not usually come from a casual relationship.

    Shultz most likely had (he passed away this year) a more enduring relationship with Holmes. Her mother (Noel Anne Daoust) was a congressional aide to Representative Charlie Wilson, the subject of the Tom Hanks movie “Charlie Wilson’s War”. Wilson’s obituary describes him as having “staffed his ­congressional office with beautiful female assistants (dubbed Charlie’s Angels on Capitol Hill)”. Wilson also led congress to support the covert arming and financing of Afghan mujahideen against the Soviets throughout the 1980’s. This would put Shultz, who was U.S. Secretary of State during the 1980’s, in regular contact with Wilson and probably his aide Noel Anne Daoust.

    When combined with the very odd fact that Elizabeth Holmes spent several family holidays with George Shultz, this makes me believe she might be his illegitimate daughter. Tyler Shultz, a Theranos employee whistleblower and grandson to George Shultz describes one family Thanksgiving with Holmes:

    “She actually came to our family’s Thanksgiving. It was a very intimate setting. It was just me, my parents, my brother, Elizabeth, her parents and my grandparents. It’s not like there were 100 people at this Thanksgiving dinner. It was a small dinner, and at the table, Elizabeth raised her glass and gave a toast and said, ‘I just want to say that I love and appreciate every member of the Shultz family.’”

    If Holmes in fact is the illegitimate daughter of George Shultz, and he did not want to publicly acknowledge this, then she may have been blackmailing him to get all the legitimacy and funding she needed to start a billion dollar company. Holmes obviously had other actors that helped her gain legitimacy, like Theranos’s relationship with Stanford University, but I think one reason this fraud got so big was the influence she had over George Shultz.

    It makes you wonder how often this type of thing happens in the business world.

    1. MK

      This is very interesting. If true about the father/daughter relationship, it may not have been ‘blackmail’ in the classic sense – probably more of a wanting to pull his daughter up into the exclusive club that she would otherwise not have been a member of. Daddy dearest if you will.

    2. Jason Boxman

      As I recall, all the bio-tech adjacent VC firms that actually knew their business passed on funding Theranos. So save for this, the whole enterprise might never have been funded.

  17. Andrew Watts

    RE: Police State Watch

    When the State decides you’re an enemy they can pretty much do whatever they want to you. I had a good laugh at the following quote from the article.

    “That’s not how things should work. The government should never be able to forfeit property from someone without convicting them of a crime.”

    To avoid having their property seized my family had to sign it over to trusted friends of theirs who just happened to be white. When my great-grandfather refused to sell his farm that he owned outright the state merely seized it as unclaimed property after they were put into concentration camps.

    You know, because they were Japs.

    1. Fred

      You should study the history of just who ended up with much of that property: Federal Judge David Bazelon.
      “How a Young Syndicate Lawyer from Chicago Earned a Fortune Looting the Property of the Japanese-Americans”

    2. The Rev Kev

      This whole civil asset forfeiture stuff is really historical. In medieval times you would have to pay off soldiers who provided protection for you to travel the King’s way. Recently, in places in the third world like Afghanistan or Iraq, if you had to travel or go someplace it was accepted that you had to pay any police or customs a little gift in order to do so. Before the Taliban took over, the government customs people took a major chunk out of trade going into Afghanistan through all the bribes that they demanded. So yeah, this is turd world ways of doing things. But it took lawyers in the US to put a new veneer on it. Instead of them charging you for having too much money while not being important, they charge the money that they are stealing. So it will be the US vs $10,234.12. Only way that I can figure of getting around it is to turn that money into a cheque before you set off. Then give somebody you trust temporary power of attorney. If they do not hear from you daily, then they will automatically cancel that cheque in case you are locked up and have had that cheque seized.

  18. jo6pac

    Update: biden hasn’t removed the Post Office General because he doesn’t care and neither does anyone else in govt.

  19. TBellT

    What constituency is AOC trying to please by voting present instead of No? I feel like I’m missing something.

    My guess is its to appeal to soft Zionist libs. But are they ever going to vote for her anyway? She can’t really be that obtuse can she?

    1. haywood

      Zionist politics dominate NYC outside of her congressional district. She will get redistributed soon enough and is probably looking ahead.

  20. steve


    Allium ‘Millenium’ and Allium ‘Pink Planet’, both hybrids, are contenders.

    Garlic chives, Allium tuberosum, have white inflorescence and Onion chives, Allium schoenoprasum, typically have solid pink inflorescence, though there is a less common white variety.

  21. ChrisPacific

    Re: the Hawaii million tests tweet

    From memory, full Covid testing of an at-risk population with 100% coverage is how China typically gets on top of its outbreaks (various articles discuss how China repeatedly tested the entire population of at-risk areas, including cities with many millions of residents).

    This is usually described as “draconian measures” by the Western media.

  22. Lee

    “Manufacturing: “Boeing lifts China jet demand estimate over two decades to $1.47 trln” [Reuters].”

    Does this mean we won’t be going to war with China over Taiwan? I’m much relieved considering the AUKUS kerfuffle and recent remarks by China’s Victor Gao.

    “[Gao] went on to warn that Taiwan is ‘part of China’ and slammed the ABC host for referring to an ‘invasion’.

    ‘Listen to me – the reunification of Taiwan will happen by peaceful means preferably, and by non-peaceful means if necessary,’ he said.

    ‘No country will be able to deprive China’s mission of national reunification.

    ‘If the Australian government want to stand in the way of that, be my guest – you will see what will be the consequences to Australia.'”

  23. Bazarov

    “We Should Shame Frequent Fliers” [Jacobin]

    A brief comment: I recall reading in an authoritative source some time ago that air pollution was retarding global warming by reflecting sunlight back into space. This source theorized that if air pollution were to abruptly end (say by shutting down the coal plants or grounding the airplanes), the Earth could warm rapidly by as much as 1 degree celsius!

    Obviously, frivolous air travel must end. But the consequences of ending it will be worse than the mere collapse of the tourism industry, at least in the short term.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I think the air pollution being referred to as shielding the earth somewhat from sunlight reaching the surface was particulate air pollution and perhaps also sulfur-based air pollution ( hopefully not too much of it for acid rain and ozone depletion reasons). And if that stopped, increased sunlight would degrade into increased heat, and the ever present skycarbon would keep retaining that heat.

      How much of airplane pollution is that solar reflective kind?

      I suspect that at least 2/3rds of air travel is for reasons other than eco-tourism. So ban that other 2/3rds and allow eco-tourism air travel to continue. Or ban that too and watch several hundred thousand square miles of habitat be destroyed and every life-form on those several hundred thousand square miles of land be driven extinct within the borders of those several hundred thousand square miles of habitat which won’t survive a hungry world anymore because the eco-tourism which permits that land to earn its keep and fend off “non-tourism” uses won’t exist to be a shield of protection around that land . . . . the only shield of protection that land has.

      Choices . . . choices . . .

      1. Objective Ace

        What’s your baseline? A fellow american or someone living in the 3rd world who raises/slaughters/eats their meat themselves?

        Their children aren’t likely to contribute to global warming at all. Sadly just more victims of 1st world excess when the bill comes due

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Upper atmosphere aerosols are slowing down climate change, this is well established. But these are generated by coal and oil burning on the surface, not by kerosene fueled engines. In reality, for a variety of reasons the real warming impact of aviation is probably significantly greater than the direct CO2 impact.

  24. Pelham

    Re the trillion-dollar coin: Wouldn’t this tear away the veil of monetary sanctity and reveal the truth of MMT to some degree?

    Also, why not mint a $20 trillion coin and give ourselves some real elbow room? Seriously.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      Don’t be ridiculous. Who would be able to make change for a $20 trillion coin? Better to print 20 one trillion dollar coins. It would give Bezos and Gates something to live for, getting one of their own.

      1. Wukchumni

        The double dip would come via seigniorage, the difference between the worth of the platinum and face value, so if it were a 1 ounce coin, there would be 999,999,999,016.00 worth of added profit.

    2. Ian Perkins

      Minting the coin, purchasing the equivalent in debt, and then retiring that debt would take a few eyes off Evergrande.

  25. Lee

    Excerpt from Dr. Thomas Frieden interview on PBS Newshour.

    “William Brangham:

    You have in the past already also been very critical of the pharmaceutical companies.

    I’m going to read something you said recently. You said — quote — “People are dying because of the choices of Moderna and Pfizer, their boards and shareholders.”

    It is a very serious allegation. I mean, again, what are the things that they could do to speed this effort more?

    Dr. Thomas Frieden:

    The way it works, really, is that governments do a lot to make things possible for pharmaceutical companies that sell vaccines. They do the science. They buy the vaccines. They indemnify them against legal challenge. They educate doctors and patients. They buy the vaccines at high cost, in the case of the U.S.

    And what many vaccine manufacturing companies do, but not these two, what many do is understand that they have a responsibility. And that responsibility includes technology transfer when they cannot meet global need immediately.

    I think what has to happen is a combination of legal pressure, support incentives, and ensuring that they transfer technology to entities that are able to scale up production of their vaccine much faster than is currently being scaled up.

    William Brangham:

    I mean, the companies, in their defense, argue, we’re making vaccine as fast as we can. We didn’t decide who we sold them to. We sold them to the first buyers that came, and those were the Western nations, and that, on some level, that these criticisms are unfair.

    Dr. Thomas Frieden:

    Well, it is true that these companies have done a great job making a great vaccine and scaling up within their capacities.

    The problem is, we can’t be held hostage to two companies and what they can do and the one-off deals they can make with other companies. In truth, both the companies and the Biden administration are doing a lot. But what’s needed — and what’s needed is not easy. It’s hard.

    It means forcing the companies to do something they don’t want to do. It means threatening legal action. It means sending people who know about production to the factories. It means finding willing partners.

    But you know something? The stability of the world depends on it.

    William Brangham:

    Dr. Tom Frieden, former head of the CDC, and now president and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, always good to see you. Thank you.”

    1. ambrit

      “..it is true that these companies have done a great job making a great vaccine…”
      That’s the Big Lie, out there in the clear, being promulgated by the Medical Establishment. All the reports of dangerous side effects, the shield from liability, the funding of the University labs that did much of the precursor work, all are studiously ignored by the Main Stream Media.
      Types of Covid vaccines, a short primer: https://www.immunology.org/coronavirus/connect-coronavirus-public-engagement-resources/types-vaccines-for-covid-19
      “…what’s need is is not easy. It’s hard.” As in, today’s regulatory regime is no longer capable of the efforts and allegance to the Public Good that former generations of Public Health agencies were capable of?
      Neoliberal Health is the opposite of Public Health.
      The System is collapsing before our eyes.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Well . . . 40 years of systematic defunding and deliberate demoralizing and downstaffing professionals and upstuffing with Thatcher-Reagan Republican moles and agents and embeds and left-behinds will do that to a System.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          We may just be riding down the far side of Hubbert’s Peak till we come to our final resting place at the bottom of Hubbert’s Pit.

  26. Jason Boxman

    So the pronouns opinion piece seemed to miss a key element, or I missed it when reading it last night, but what isn’t discussed is that each individual can have their own personal set of pronouns (or might have a preference none be used at all), and each of us need to confirm what these are, before engaging with another person, to be respectful of each person. I’m not sure that scales particularly well in practice, when at the onset of any engagement pronouns must be confirmed. In tech circles of late this is preempted by having the chosen pronouns associated with each individual’s user account or stated proactively at the onset of any communication.

    1. Acacia

      Yep, and gender fluidity means the list of pronouns keeps growing and preferred pronouns will change, sometimes overnight. So, keep asking Humpty Dumpty what his preferred pronouns are, i.e., what his words mean, because in the new world of pronouns he gets to decide all of this — potentially every time he speaks — and you don’t.

      1. Massinissa

        I was under the impression most genderfluid persons use they/them pronouns, rather than shift the pronouns on a whim as you say, but then not knowing genderfluid persons myself I have no idea.

  27. Amfortas the hippie

    regarding the distinction between van-life and RV-life—“I also wonder whether it overlaps, or is the same as under another name, RV life, or is there generational siloing? Readers?”—-….well…let me place the little skirt* on my beer and tell ya,lol.

    I lived in a 76 VW campervan, with the pop-top…that peculiar VW Green…looked like a big grasshopper when the top was popped and all the doors were open.
    mom bought it for me, using funds from the sale of my S-10(she got a profit,lol)
    the difference at hand is in resources.
    RV’s are expensive!
    even old nasty ones.
    wife and i and both boys(when they were 1&4) lived in a (again) ’76 fifth wheel that had…seen worse for wear.
    i modified it the best i could, and we went to San Angelo for a summer to facilitate her collegeing.
    POS! I ended up cracker-rigging a window unit into the bathroom window when the ancient rooftop unit went the way of the buffalo.
    and that darned thing cost us almost $3K.
    …and it was older than my wife.
    New…or even nearly-new…will run you well past $100K…unless you’re doing the little teardrop things…or rejiggering an older frame.

    (* after i swallowed 5 or so live flies with the last swig of a shiner in a bottle…i took care to save the sleeves of all the tie dye tee shirts i ventilated this summer(all summer without AC, which is yet another tale of adventure and hardship)…cut them in half…and they are now in a hanging wicker basket in the Wilderness Bar, for to drape over one’s beer, so to prevent that rather traumatic experience(the flies were quite lively, and were obviously trying to climb back up(!!))= hence: Beer Skirts were invented)

  28. drumlin woodchuckles

    As the behind-the-scenes supply chains obtrude themselves upon our awareness through their increasingly spastic tremors and random absences, we may come to view them as being fragile like spider silk rather than strong like the “iron links” of a “chain”.

    Perhaps we may start speaking of the supply web or the supply chain web or some other word acknowledging their random fragility going forward.

  29. The Rev Kev

    “Boeing lifts China jet demand estimate over two decades to $1.47 trln’

    Strange thing about that article is not once did they mention Airbus like in not at all. China has a choice here and quality control for Boeing does not seem to be a priority anymore so all those orders could go to the Europeans instead. Another factor is that planes will always need spare parts and the US does use this to blackmail countries with. I believe that Iran has that problem so that they have been machining their own Boeing spare parts in order to keep their planes flying. I cannot see China leaving themselves totally vulnerable to having spare parts being held up, especially if they have the capability of machining them all themselves.

  30. JBird4049

    Cops committing property crimes is common

    Armed robbery, dressed up as civil asset forfeiture

    It has been about a decade since I last did some real research on the whole evil mess, so be warned. I still think that it must have gotten worse since then.

    IIRC, during the crack wars of the 1980s,when asset forfeitures became a thing, the clearance rate, never mind the conviction rate, just the we-know-who-did-it-but-we-can’t-convict rate for murder and other violent crime has been climbing. The number of autopsies has declined for decades as has the tendency for police departments to find murders as suicides, or not testing rape kits, or looking for suggested serial rapists and/or killers (Sometimes the patterns are clear, but finding the monster(s) can be expensive. If it is NHI or No Humans Involved, why worry? And we know who they are, don’t we?), etc. Departments like the NYPD have been caught massaging the numbers to look better.

    Restated, anything requiring actual hard work, time, and money has been increasingly neglected, while revenue collections using forfeitures, fines, ticketing, drug crimes, and so has increased to the point that private autopsy services are a thing, especially when the “suicide” looks like a murder and friends or family have to pay for their own investigation.

    To note just how tightly constrained having money is for the peons, IIRC that $10,000 limit after which banks have to report the deposit to the IRS was set in 1970, when adjusted for inflation, was roughly $68,000 then. The amounts that trigger seizures from people have gone into the hundreds, not thousands of dollars, and the circumstances for which vehicles, cars, businesses, and other valuables often are having a friend, relative, acquaintance, even total strangers/customers doing something like buying/selling weed or seeing a prostitute on or near whatever it is being seized. So, just knowing someone can get you hurt.

    Of course, it does depend on location and department for just how insane the seizures can be. Philadelphia has routinely seized the homes of people whose relatives sold some weed or used the telephone to make a deal, while other places are fairly clean. But that is the problem. A corrupt government makes the police corrupt. Also, governments often refuse to tax their citizens to fund services, even the police, so alternatives are found. Then the whole system becomes corrupted. Not at once, but after a decade or so…

    This country’s economy seems to be increasingly bifurcated with the lower classes living in an increasingly grey economy with limited access to loans, or credit cards, often using cash to live, subjected to increasingly harsher limits and penalties. It is almost a requirement for a poor person to lie, just to survive. Just look at the income and resource limitations for SNAP, SSDI, and SSI. Having just one dollar over the two thousand dollar limit in cash or bank funds can get you cut off. It is like a financial Cliff of Death. There seems to a number of hardwired bobby traps that usually only hurt the lower classes. Sometimes the middle classes with their housing and cars.

    This while the upper classes seem to have more forgiveness for any rule breaking as well as access to good banking, not cash checking or pawn shops. Then there are the elites, starting with members of the legislatures and executive branches especially the Federal Congress and Executive branches, who are effectively almost immune to the consequences of breaking any financial rules or laws. I could label their economy the Black Market between the war profiteering, interest free loans, real estate, insider trading, and other lucrative sources of wealth.

  31. Blue Duck

    Theranos trial

    If evergrande tanks the global economy, the trial of Elizabeth Holmes should provide plenty of Marie Antoinette style fodder for the seething masses.

  32. Wukchumni

    Sequoia NP just announced that all trails are now closed because of a semiconductor chip shortage, nah just kidding. Sequoia-Kings Canyon NP is closed on account of the KNP Fire, now @ 36k acres burnt, with no containment.

    The best thing that can be said about this conflagration congregation was it has been largely a slow moving fire, for the thick smoke it creates dampens its ability to get the ‘lightning war’ going combined with hardly any wind, it’ll be a fortnight since a bolt from above set four hills afire and compared to more recent old flames up north, is meeker.

    Feels weird being confident with containment still 100% away, but now there are over 1,500 firefighters working the fire with quite a covey of water/retardant dropping helos of every flavor. Apparently fixed wings don’t work on this gig which needs precise targeting more than saturation bombing.

    There has been extensive use of retardant and bulldozers have been allowed to cut fire lines (about 20 feet wide) all over the National Park, which is something that wouldn’t have been allowed a decade ago, but that was then and this is now, combined with the Garfield Grove and a few other Sequoia groves on the South Fork burned in the Castle Fire last year.

    Everybody is now used to some town in Cali getting wiped out by a wildfire, its sadly old hat, but there’s something about the largest tree in the world wearing what appears to be a tinfoil shoe, its the perfect photo op that worked to our advantage, for suddenly resources and firefighters came streaming in as a result of the publicity. Talked to the Sequoia NP superintendent and he related that he had talked to a good many in the world press, who were just as curious.

    We had another public meeting in regards to the fire and the Tulare County Sheriff pleaded with the mostly masked crowd to please stop spreading rumors about the fire on social media between gossipers or something to that affect.

    If all goes according to Hoyle and is contained, it will be a costly victory of sorts in that most everything burned is of little value in that its where dense groundcover in conjoined thickets held sway for the most part, largely away from trails or visitor facilities, its in the kind of mid-altitude latitudes, much of which has never had the pleasure of human presence, nobody goes there.

    I hike often with a couple who are French ex-pats dwelling in the CVBB, and a 7 mile walk we did early this summer was on an unmaintained trail from Giant Forest down to the Crystal Cave road, and we must’ve had to go over, under or around at least 50 deadfalls on the trail, for it had been abandoned for use about 25 years ago. Some stretches of the old trail were indistinct as it doesn’t take Mother Nature long to hide our efforts.

    Every last bit of it burned this week…

    They went back to France for the first time in a couple years just before the wildfire started and we’ve been in touch and they’ve had oh so much rain there on this least or most of best worlds~

    C’est la eau!

    1. BrianC - PDX

      1500 firefighters… lol Back in the day… When we had a Government that could get stuff done…

      When my Dad ran his first fire school in Glacier National Park (1964) he had over 1600 park employee trainees on the line in his school. Over four days they constructed ~5 miles of line along with attending several hours, of classes on how to take care of equipment and fire safety. Those were just the people spared to take the class. The Park still manned the entrances 24/7 and had rangers at all the campgrounds and back country stations. Those students would have been organic trail crew, fire guards, naturalists, road patrol, maintenance, plumbers, carpenters, sanitation, and blister rusters.

      The plan was that those trained people would become the cadre during fire season when they needed more people. They would become the crew bosses and support people for a mobilized fire response.

      Because, Glacier, back in the day, had the capacity to outfit, deploy and lead 10,000 fire fighters organically if needed. [1][2]

      At that time the government could spool up payroll and payment for 10,000 firefighters instantly. Pay was direct to the fire fighter. No with holding, it was (hours * payrate) = gov’t check. You were then, as an EFF, required to do the proper thing tax wise on your own.[3]

      Slowly over the next 50 years all that capability evaporated away. Glacier has no organic trail crew, or fire guards now. It’s all supplied from outside. The gates aren’t manned past 5:00pm and often not on weekends. The back country ranger stations are empty.[4] No organic search and rescue, trail crew, fire guards, or maintenance.

      Then the MBA heads came in and decreed – We will only staff so that each park can handle its own fires 30% of the time. The other 70% of the time the park will get help from “neighbors”. As my Dad would caustically say… “When you are burning up – Your neighbor is burning up too! There won’t be any GD help from neighbors.” Now even that capability is gone. (As I understand it.)

      Which is what happened when Yellowstone lit up in 1988. People don’t realize it, but Glacier’s North Fork (Red Bench Fire) burned up that same summer. My Dad was in charge of that fire for about 10 hours.[5] He flew it and watched it travel 10 miles in 30 minutes. They threw everything at it. The Incident Commander promised it wouldn’t be another Yellowstone, and all that enviro stuff went out the window. Fireline was built by commercial feller bunchers and cat tractors. With a width of 160 feet. No messing around.

      [1] At that time if the fire season was bad, the local woods would be in red flag conditions and no logging would be taking place. So all of those mill workers, log truck drivers, fellers, buckers and assorted timber camp followers could be scooped up as either EFFers (Emergency Fire Fighters) or PUFFs Pick Up Fire Fighters. Feds called them EFFers, and State called them PUFFs.

      Now do the math on all that Federal money pumped into the local economy…

      [2] My Dad was in charge of a fire up on the North Fork in 1967. He had 200 guys on his fire and his radio was the only one they had. He wanted to conserve the batteries, so they’d take a break a 2:00 pm and gather round for story hour and listen for 15 minutes. The two conversations he recounted from that time, were turning on the radio to hear the Chief Ranger state “One of the questions the press is going to ask, is how do you know you shot the bear that killed the girl”. Which was how he learned about one of the 1967 Grizzly killings in Glacier. The second was when they’d extinguished the fire, with the exception of a hot spot about 50 feet up in a larch tree with a 6 foot diameter trunk. He was going to radio for a chainsaw to take the tree down, but when he turned it on he caught the last part of a transmission from (can’t remember the name) the fire cache supervisor in West Glacier saying “and not only that we’re 5000 canteens short”. Which meant, because they dispatched each man with two canteens that they’d used everything in the fire cache. Meaning they had at least 10,000 guys in the Park fighting fire, and because they were 5000 short there were at least 2500 more above that either deployed or about to deploy. He figured they wouldn’t want to hear about his tree, because they had bigger things to worry about. So his crew divided up into relays and they brought it down by rotating guys in 5 minutes at a time with Pulaskis.

      [3] My Dad told of a co-worker coming by his office and telling him “you gotta see this”. It was a Region Finance team in the Superintendent’s conference room paying out all the bills for one of the big project files. Invoice would come up, they’d read the bill, leader would call out the billing account, they’d route to one of the clerks, cut a check, stamp a signature and put it in an envelope. He estimated they cleared several million dollars in about 10 hours.

      [4] The Essex Ranger station is not manned now, but in the 1960s we were stationed there for about 3 years and Dad had about a dozen trail crew, 2 fire guards and the Lone Man Lookout directly reporting to him. That was just one of the smaller sub district stations.

      [5] Until he was replaced by an Incident Command Team from BIFC

  33. Michael Ismoe

    Overseas shipping is currently slow and expensive for lots of very complicated reasons and one big, important, relatively uncomplicated one:

    The supply chain is stretched because the choke point are the West Coast container ports are being run like it’s 1973. After watching the ships pile up outside the Port of LA, the PTB finally decided to do what any normal business would have done months ago – they are adding a second shift. If the world depends on a fragile supply chain then why is it the people unloading the ships work Banker’s Hours?


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