2:00PM Water Cooler 9/27/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, more to come in the politics section. As usual, I collected too much over the weekend! –lambert UPDATE All done!

Bird Song of the Day

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

Vaccination by region:

Now going down everywhere, including the South. So far as I can tell, Biden’s speech had no impact at all. If the measures he announced have any impact, that has not appeared yet. I would bet that the stately rise = word of mouth from actual cases.

55.3% 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:

Simply tape-watching, this descent is as steep as any of the three peaks in November–January. It’s also longer than the descent from any previous peak. The question is whether we will ascend 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: There is the possibility that natural immunity is much, much greater than we have thought, although because this is America, our data is so bad we don’t know. Also, 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. Finally, quite frankly, I don’t see why we’re not seeing what happened in the schools in the UK and Canada happen here. On the other hand, Delta is much more transmissible,

NEW From CDC: “Community Profile Report September 27, 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties, this release:

Northern latitudes improving, including Maine and Upstate New York. Speculating freely: One thing the consider is where the red is. If air travel hubs like New York City or Los Angeles (or Houston or Miami) go red that could mean (a) international travel and (b) the rest of the country goes red, as in April 2020 and following. But Minnesota is not a hub. If Minnesota goes red, who else does? Well, Wisconsin. As we see. 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:

An unprecedented, enormous drop in the South. Surely data.

Hospitalization (CDC). Everything works again today, CDC, good job:

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: 706,338 703,043. Looks like a downward trend, mercifully. We approached 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/)

Covid cases worldwide:

European exceptionalism?

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

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

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

Biden Administration

The week to come:

UPDATE “It’s Always A Battle Against Corruption” [Daily Poster]. “Similarly, John Podesta — who ran the corporate-funded Center for American Progress — circulated a memo on Capitol Hill telling progressives to suddenly back off the $3.5 trillion framework, even though it already passed the House and Senate, even though $3.5 trillion is already a compromise from $6 trillion, and even though $3.5 trillion is a comparatively paltry sum that’s less than what the government is expected to shovel out the door to the Pentagon in just the next 5 years alone. Podesta has declared that “we will not secure the full $3.5 trillion investment” — demanding Democrats once again back off and live to never fight another day, all in the name of protecting the party’s prospects in the upcoming midterm elections. Somehow forgotten is how the same demands for compromise and capitulation were made during President Obama’s first two years, resulting in an all-too-small stimulus that did not adequately boost the economy, and that helped create the conditions for Democrats’ electoral shellacking in 2010.” • The top line matters, obviously, because Podesta says it doesn’t. If “progressives” want to wield real power, and be seen to do so, they need to arrange for both bills to fail if the $3.5 trillion top line is not met. [Family blog] ’em if they can’t take a joke. Comment:

The pieces can always be picked up the morning after. And re-arranged, with corrupt moderates disempowered.

UPDATE UPDATE You will pry means-testing from the cold, dead hands of liberal Democrats:

UPDATE “Kyrsten Sinema Used The Winery Where She Interned to Fundraise with Private Equity” [The Intercept]. “The Democratic Senator threatening to block the party’s ambitious social policy agenda in order to preserve former President Donald Trump’s tax cuts for corporations and for the wealthy spent last summer interning at a winery owned by the private equity baron Bill Price. In the summer of 2020, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., interned at Three Sticks, a winery in Sonoma, California, owned by Bill Price, co-founder of the private equity leviathan TPG Capital. According to the job description, interns “assist in all facets of harvest work including cleaning and sanitizing equipment, sorting fruit, punchdowns, making basic additions and managing fermentations according to winemaker instructions, barrel work, and other winery-related tasks.” Sinema’s personal financial disclosures show that she was paid $1,117.40 in wages for her work. But an ensuing fundraiser at Three Sticks, held in August, netted her campaign coffers much more.” • Yecch. The DSCC got Sinema nominated and ran their campaign. So the Democrat Party we are seeing now is, again, the Party the leadership built, and it is doing what they built it to do.

UPDATE “Dentists’ Group Fights Plan to Cover Dental Benefits Under Medicare” [Wall Street Journal]. “he American Dental Association is mobilizing its 162,000 members to fight a proposal to include dental coverage for all Medicare recipients, opposition that could prove pivotal as Democrats look to make cuts in their $3.5 trillion domestic policy agenda. Giving dental, vision and hearing benefits to the 60 million older and disabled Americans covered by Medicare will provide needed care to people who otherwise might not afford it, supporters say.” • I’ve experienced American dentistry. If there were war crimes in class warfare, American dentistry would be one. (Of course, to be unironically fair, there are good dentists, just as there are good doctors. But the system in which these good people are forced to operate is reprehensible.)

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“Why Biden Bet It All on Mandates” [The Atlantic]. “‘Months ago, because of the potential political blowback, no one wanted to resort to mandates,” a senior Biden-administration official told me, speaking on the condition of anonymity to talk more freely. ‘But then it became clear that we didn’t have any other choice, because, essentially, we had pulled out all the stops. We tried trusted messengers [to promote the vaccines]. We made it very convenient. It wasn’t enough.” • I bet that senior official is Ron Klain.

Lambert here: They’re lying. The Administration didn’t pull out all the stops, even on vaccination, and the continued PMC preening that they did makes me want to claw my eyes out. First and foremost, they didn’t arrange for paid time off to get vaccinated (and for any adverse reactions). Second, they never attempted to make workplaces vaccination sites. Third, they seem to have expected no resistance from the right (“freedom”) and made no effort to prepare for it or head it off. Fourth, there was no national advertising campaign, on the model of “this is your brain on drugs.” Fifth, even simple measures like making sure, as Toronto did, that there were programs for those who fear needles were ignored. UPDATE Sixth, the “trusted messengers” obviously weren’t; perhaps the author thinks Fauci and Walensky are trusted, but that says more about the contagiousness of West Wing Brain than anything else. Seventh, calling people animals because they seek cheap and safe medications is at the very least an unconventional trustbuilding technique (as is lying about the medication itself). Eighth, the messaging strategy of the Biden administration has been bungled from pre-Inaugural planning to this very day; during the Trump era liberal Democrats kept whinging that Trump didn’t follow the “playbook” Obama left him. Well, it wasn’t a playbook, but it had some good ideas on messaging, and Biden didn’t follow them either. Ninth, the Biden administration never promoted a layered strategy, including especially ventilation. Why in the name of all that is holy wasn’t Jill Biden building a Corsi box on Good Morning America with some cute kids? It’s beyond belief — or would have been, once — that the liberal Democrats could talk themselves into the idea that “We did everything we could” when their intellectual laziness and policy flaccidity is so very, very obvious to the few of us who are paying attention. A less trusting soul than mine would give consideration to the idea that coercion was the endgame the whole time.

Democrats en Deshabille

“Socialist India Walton Faces Treacherous Path in Buffalo Despite Court Victory” [Truthout]. “Brown’s campaign, though it’s now suffered a critical setback, has generally been building momentum, amassing some powerful allies. It has long been evident that Brown’s base of labor support would be found in the building trades unions, which tend toward political conservatism and have benefited from Buffalo’s redevelopment. Structurally, they’re incentivized to back Brown, since his tax giveaways to development companies, along with his efforts to ensure project labor agreements, have made for increased union construction work. Few unions among the trades are likely to look kindly upon a socialist mayor, especially one promising to staunch the flow of tax abatements to developers in favor of funding public goods.”

Obviously, Schumer’s gonna come back strong:



Obama Legacy

Please, no more:

Trump Post Mortem

Very true:

We can therefore conclude that if Trump still wants in the game, it’s not only because he wants the money, not only because he wants revenge, not only because he wants vindication and revenge, and not even because he’s crazy (he’s not), but because he senses weakness.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“What Is Political Writing For?” [Columbia Journalism Review]. “Of course, there was never a time when the world could be expected to move at the stroke of a hack’s pen. But we’re living in a moment at which the basic premises justifying conventional engagement with national politics no longer seem plausible, and our structural stasis has been belied by the unprecedented volume and intensity of our punditry. Certainly, the internet has had some positive effects on the industry and helped diversify it with more writers from under-represented backgrounds. But that only makes it all the more surprising that online conversations feel as homogeneous and repetitive as they do. The tonal and stylistic differences between writers and publications are eroding; the dynamics of the internet have driven competing outlets to make similar judgments about what’s worth writing about and how. The morsels of rage and misery we offer might not have much political effect, but they do feed an online writing economy that rewards speed, quantity, and deference to algorithms designed for the profit of three or four tech companies—an economy that offers few incentives to generate writing that lingers in the mind longer than half a day or half an hour. Exploratory writing—ruminative, tentative—is simply a riskier bet than tidy, punchy, reductive, and nut-graph-ready arguments destined to be skimmed by a predictable subset of a subset of the public before disappearing into the Web’s ever-decaying memory. The whole system is one of the bleakest forms of entertainment imaginable.” • One of the nicest things about NC, if I may say so, is that we don’t give a [family blog] about the algos.

UPDATE “Armed Assembly: Guns, Demonstrations, and Political Violence in America” [ACLED]. “Armed demonstrations comprise nearly 10% of all violent or destructive demonstrations in the United States, and are violent much more often than unarmed demonstrations. Contrary to claims that the presence of guns in public spaces makes people safer, demonstrations involving at least one armed individual tend to be violent or destructive 16% of the time.”

Stats Watch

Durable Goods: “United States Durable Goods Orders” [Trading Economics]. “New orders for US durable goods surged 1.8% mom in August of 2021, following an upwardly revised 0.5% rise in July, and beating market forecasts of a 0.7% increase. Main rises were seen in orders for nondefense aircraft and parts (77.9%), capital goods (6.7%), transportation (5.5%) and manufacturing (3.3%). On the other hand, orders for defense aircraft and parts dropped 17.8% and defense capital goods went down 8.3%. Orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, rose 0.5%, above forecasts of 0.4%.”

Manufacturing: “United States Dallas Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas’ general business activity index for manufacturing in Texas decreased by 4.4 points from the previous month to +4.6 in September 2021. The production index, a key measure of state manufacturing conditions, rose 3.4 points to +24.2, suggesting Texas factory activity continued to increase at a solid pace. Meanwhile, movement was mixed for other measures of manufacturing activity.”

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Tech: “You Should Probably Stop Using ExpressVPN” [Gizmodo]. “For years, ExpressVPN has been one of the most popular and widely used privacy products of its kind on the market. … However, all of this has been called into question following the revelation that ExpressVPN Chief Information Officer Daniel Gericke previously worked as a hacker-for-hire at DarkMatter—a cybersecurity firm based in the United Arab Emirates. Between 2016 and 2019, Gericke helped to hack systems and devices all over the world as part of ‘Project Raven,’ a secretive operation designed to help the UAE monarchy track and surveil critics of its regime, including activists, journalists, and some individuals based in the U.S.”

The Bezzle: “Here’s everything going wrong at Binance, the world’s biggest crypto exchange” [Protocol]. “Binance, the largest global crypto exchange, has been hit by a raft of regulatory challenges worldwide that only seem to increase…. Binance has grown due to its focus on being the place for crypto enthusiasts to trade almost any digital asset, investors say. While many exchanges operating in the U.S. such as Coinbase take time and have a process for adding coins for trading, Binance has aggressively added new cryptocurrencies and more recently NFTs. That long tail is appealing to investors looking to speculate on the hot new crypto thing. Originally founded in China, Binance reportedly pulled its employees and any official presence out of the Chinese market in 2017 after China banned ICOs. But Binance has launched quickly around the world in many countries. Regulators in many of those countries have said Binance is operating without permission.” • Followed by a country list. A long one.

The Bezzle: “This Is All Exactly What It Looks Like” [Defector]. “But also there is just the reality of how and what cryptocurrency actually is, which is, as SEC chair Gary Gensler said last week, ‘a highly speculative asset class.’ When the Biden Administration tentatively moved to tax and regulate cryptocurrency transactions, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen explained the decision by saying, “To the extent [cryptocurrency] is used, I fear it’s often for illicit finance. It’s an extremely inefficient way of conducting transactions, and the amount of energy that’s consumed in processing those transactions is staggering.” Advocates’ response to this series of basically true observations is less a rebuttal than a blithe counterproposal to the effect that 1) none of that matters and also is all being fixed, and 2) the new money will bring about world peace so honestly how dare you…. The hucksterish utopian rhetoric and blustering ambient scuzz of the broader cryptocurrency thing as it exists in this moment—the clammy slew of posturing experts, the open mendacity and barely concealed rube-running bad faith, the actual criminality and simple goonery that define its day-to-day—do the idea at the center of it no favors, but that is, more or less, the thing that always happens to any idea once people get ahold of it. Again, this is something that most people understand without really understanding how they understand it. At some point, when you are being lied to all the time and everywhere, you just know when it’s happening. With that in mind, it seems safest to look at the various characters on the grind here and assume that they want what they usually want, which is wealth without end or accountability or excuse, and something fun to play with, and also to get over on someone else. There’s something heartbreakingly cretinous about it—they just invented money, again—but the more interesting questions have to do with who buys, and who sells.” • And just at this point, Tom Brady arrives. Well worth a read!

Manufacturing: “Pontifications: 787 deliveries, suspended a year, look for restart soon” [Leeham News and Analysis]. “In a few weeks it will be a year since Boeing suspended delivery of virtually all 787s. Inspections revealed some flaws in production. Despite a year-long effort, Boeing hasn’t been able to persuade the Federal Aviation Administration, yet, to grant authority to resume deliveries….. Boeing’s marquis wide-body airplane is bedeviled by flaws in mating fuselage sections that are variously described as no bigger than the width of paper, a coat of paint or human hair. Calling these flaws “gaps” conjures up something larger. These aren’t safety of flight issues, meaning the in-service fleet didn’t have to be grounded. (Eight 787s were grounded for inspection and analysis soon after the issue was first discovered in August 2019.) But any in-production 787s went into inventory for inspection and, when necessary, fixes that could include rework. …. The fix for the planes in inventory involves inserting shims—again, imagine the widths we’re talking about. For planes still on the assembly line, the fixes are incorporated there…. It remains unclear why these issues surfaced in 2019 and 2020. The 787 has been in production since 2004 and final assembly since 2007. One would think these issues would have surfaced long before. Coming as they did during the MAX crisis only exacerbated Boeing’s cash flow crunch. But production of the 787 has been troubled from the start.” • Maybe some disgruntled employee “dropped” whatever device they use to measure the fuselage?

The Fed: “Boston Fed’s Eric Rosengren announces his early retirement amid trading controversy” [MarketWatch]. “His retirement follows the recent disclosure that Mr. Rosengren traded stocks and other investments while also helping to set monetary policy. Mr. Rosengren’s trading, along with more significant trading by Dallas Fed leader Robert Kaplan, alarmed some central bank watchers. Recently disclosed information from the Boston Fed showed that Mr. Rosengren, who would have held a voting role on the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee next year, had traded stocks and other investments related to the real estate industry last year.” • Lol:

Or spending more time with his family.

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 34 Fear (previous close: 33 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 21 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 27 at 12:05pm.

Rapture Index: Closes up one on volcanoes. “Cumbre Vieja volcano has been erupting at La Palma, Canary Islands” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 188 (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so higher is better.)

Health Care

“Safety and efficacy of a MEURI Program for the use of high dose ivermectin in COVID-19 patients” [Zenodo]. n = 3266, controls = 17966. From the Abstract: “The aim of this report is to inform on the results of a MEURI Program of high-dose ivermectin in COVID-19 carried out by the Ministry of Health of the Province of La Pampa, Argentina.” And: “ICU admission was significantly lower in the ivermectin group compared to controls among participants ≥40 year-old (1.2% vs 2.0, odds ratio 0.608; p=0.024). Similarly, mortality was lower in the ivermectin group in the full group analysis (1.5% vs 2.1%, odds ratio 0.720; p=0.029), as well as in subjects ≥ 40 year- old (2.7% vs 4.1%, odds ratio 0,655; p=0.005).” • Can an RCT maven look at this and evaluate it? As a substitute for the peer review this “report” evidently did not get?

“Red Covid” [New York Times]. “It’s worth remembering that Covid followed a different pattern for more than a year after its arrival in the U.S. Despite widespread differences in mask wearing — and scientific research suggesting that masks reduce the virus’s spread — the pandemic was if anything worse in blue regions. Masks evidently were not powerful enough to overcome other regional differences, like the amount of international travel that flows through major metro areas, which tend to be politically liberal.” • Do notice the artful avoidance of agency in “international travel that flows through.” Because, and I keep saying — using words like “tend to be” myself — if you ask “Who brought Covid here?” then the headline should read “Blue Covid.” I mean, “We gave it to you, now accept our cure for it” could possibly be a problematic message… (I realize that I am an outlier using this framing, and the Republicans haven’t picked up on it, maybe because it has nothing to do with freedom. But, and as the article itself admits, that is the dynamic.)

“Conservatives are killing themselves with COVID, and no, it’s not our fault” [Kos, Daily Kos]. • See above.

Big Q&A thread for returning teachers:

“COVID-19 Cases Projected to Decline Steadily Through March” [MedScape]. “The recent surge in COVID-19 cases due to the contagious Delta variant appears to be peaking and will likely decline now through the spring, according to NPR.” According to NPR? GTFO. More: “At the same time, the latest update from the COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub assumes that childhood vaccinations will take off later this year and that no new contagious variants will emerge. ‘Any of us who have been following this closely, given what happened with Delta, are going to be really cautious about too much optimism,” Justin Lessler, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina who helps run the hub, told NPR. ‘But I do think that the trajectory is towards improvement for most of the country,’ he said. The forecast combines nine different mathematical models from different research groups across the country to project what may happen in the next six months. They calculated four potential scenarios, which accounts for childhood vaccinations and potential new variants.The most likely scenario is that children get vaccinated and no contagious variant emerges.” • This is insane. We now have “models” that incorporate regulatory and political decsisions? Or seek to nudge them? Again, what business is CDC in?

“Op-Ed: Delusional reactions to epidemics are as old as time. COVID has been no different” [Los Angeles Times]. “If anyone should have been prepared for this — this surreal, tragic phase of the pandemic and the derangement of our collective response — it might be me. I am both a red-state native and a historian who studies infectious diseases.” • And yet… everyone was caught by surprise. Why be a historian if you don’t learn from history?

Naked Capitalism Cooking Community™

“Eating sustainably is one of the easiest ways to combat climate change, experts say” [ABC]. “But the easiest thing individuals can do in their daily lives to make an impact in the climate fight is simple switches to their diets — and they don’t even have to become a vegetarian or give up animal products altogether to do it, experts say. ‘We’re not turning them into vegans,’ Marty Heller, senior research specialist at the University of Michigan’s Center for Sustainable Systems, told ABC News. ‘We’re just saying, hey, eat something that is an average [carbon] footprint.’ The easiest way to make a meal more sustainable is to eat less meat and more organic, plant-based foods — the closer they were grown, the better, according to the experts.” • I know that throwing all consumption decisions on the individual is wrong and dumb. At the same time, we see from the success of non-pharmaceutical interventions, small changes in daily life made by hundreds of millions do have impact. No reason not to bring everything to bear on the problem…

The Agony Column

“Invisible gorillas in the mind: Internal inattentional blindness and the prospect of introspection training” [PsyArxiv]. “Making an analogy to perceptual consciousness research, I argue that much of the unconsciousness of high-level cognition is plausibly due to internal inattentional blindness: missing an otherwise consciously-accessible internal event because your attention was elsewhere. In other words, rather than being structurally unconscious, many higher mental processes might instead be “preconscious”, and would become conscious if a person attended to them. I synthesize existing indirect evidence for this claim, argue that it is a foundational and largely untested assumption in many applied interventions (such as therapy and mindfulness practices), and suggest that, with careful experimentation, it could form the basis for a long-sought-after science of introspection training.”

Book Nook

“Orwellian Propaganda on 1984” [Historic.ly]. “I posit that George Orwell was describing a different government. A government more familiar to him. Like many authors, Orwell drew bits and pieces from his experience when creating this dystopian science fiction novel. In 1984, Orwell describes Winston’s place of work, the Ministry of Truth. His description was that it was ‘startlingly different from any other object in sight. It was an enormous pyramidal structure of glittering white concrete, soaring up, terrace after terrace, 300 meters into the air.’ It is a perfect description of the Broadcasting House, where the BBC has its headquarters since 1932. George Orwell worked as a radio producer for the BBC during World War II. He hated his time at the BBC and described it as, “something half-way between a girls’ school and a lunatic asylum.'” And the clincher: “Room 101 is a torture chamber. Room 101 was also the conference room at BBC, where Orwell had to sit through unending meetings. Presumably, any transgression would be followed by a lecture from the manager.”

Guillotine Watch

“The Suburbs Beckoned, but They Found a Way to Stay in the City” [New York Times]. “For Ralph and Shamita Etienne-Cummings, the suburbs have long held a certain allure — especially since 2010, when their son, Blaze, was born and Mr. Etienne-Cummings’s mother moved into their 1876 rowhouse in Washington, D.C. ‘Space became more of a premium,’ Ms. Etienne-Cummings said. Her husband, she explained, is ‘from Seychelles; I’m from India. Culturally, we always have family that lives with us.’ ‘Our son grew up walking everywhere with his grandmother,’ said Ms. Etienne-Cummings, 52, a lawyer. ‘We really wanted to stay in our neighborhood, but definitely needed more space, and that was difficult to do in an area that’s already filled up.’ In a stroke of luck, the rowhouse next door came on the market in 2016, and they were able to buy it for $1.4 million, creating an uncommon opportunity to expand laterally and increase their total living space to around 7,000 square feet. Their idea was to merge the two houses into a cohesive whole, with light, open spaces for entertaining. But they knew it wouldn’t be easy.” • Awwwww! Commentary:

Sports Desk

“Beyond the Nation-State” [Boston Review]. “Commentators disagree about the significance of this “post-Westphalian” order, and whether it is desirable for international organizations to intervene in states’ affairs is on its own a great source of debate. Yet there is widespread agreement about the events of the story that have taken us to the present moment. The Westphalian conceit, in short, forms the descriptive foundation of dominant analyses of global politics…. The problem with this story is that a lot of it is spectacularly wrong. … Over the last few decades, scholars working on the history of international order—in a variety of disciplines, including global history, international relations, and international law—have shown that this traditional account is not only false but diametrically opposed to historical reality. In fact, the single most famous debunking exercise, Andreas Osiander’s ‘Sovereignty, International Relations and the Westphalia Myth,’ turns twenty this year. As these scholars emphasize, the treaties of the Peace of Westphalia, which put an end to the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648) that devastated Europe, make no mention of state sovereignty or of non-intervention, let alone a desire to reorganize the European political system. Far from enshrining the principle of religious tolerance known as cuius regio eius religio (“whose realm, his religion”) that had been put in place with the 1555 Peace of Augsburg, these treaties actually overturned it, finding that it had been the cause of instability. The treaties also make no mention of the concept of the balance of power. In fact, the Peace of Westphalia strengthened a system of relations that was precisely not based on the concept of the sovereign state but instead on a reassertion of the Holy Roman Empire’s complex jurisdictional arrangements (landeshoheit), which allowed autonomous political units to form a broader conglomerate (the ’empire’) without a central government.” • So this is wrong too, OMG:

Better take this out of the curriculum!

Class Warfare

“American Gentry” [Patrick Wyman, The Atlantic]. “The conspicuously consuming celebrities and jet-setting cosmopolitans of popular imagination exist, but they are far outnumbered by a less exalted and less discussed elite group, one that sits at the pinnacle of the local hierarchies that govern daily life for tens of millions of people. Donald Trump grasped this group’s existence and its importance, acting, as he often does, on unthinking but effective instinct. When he crowed about his ‘beautiful boaters,’ lauding the flotillas of supporters trailing MAGA flags from their watercraft in his honor, or addressed his devoted followers among a rioting January 6 crowd that included people who had flown to the event on private jets, he knew what he was doing. Trump was courting the support of the American gentry, the salt-of-the-earth millionaires who see themselves as local leaders in business and politics, the unappreciated backbone of a once-great nation. This class of people exists all over the United States, usually in midsize metropolitan areas such as Yakima, Washington, the agricultural city where I grew up…. Yakima isn’t a tiny hamlet; it has a population of about 90,000 and sits at the heart of an extended metropolitan area that’s home to nearly a quarter of a million people. Millions of Americans live in small metropolitan areas much like it: exurban, surrounded by rural territory and wilderness, but not exactly isolated in the middle of nowhere…. Yakima’s economy revolved then, and revolves to an ever greater extent now, around commercial agriculture. As a result, the whole region is dominated by its wealthy, largely agricultural property-owning class….. The owners have a trusted and reasonably well-paid cadre of managers and specialists in law, finance, and the like—members of the educated professional-managerial class that my close classmates and I have joined—but the large majority of their employees are lower-wage laborers…. These elites’ wealth derives not from their salary—this is what separates them from even extremely prosperous members of the professional-managerial class, such as doctors and lawyers—but from their ownership of assets. Those assets vary depending on where in the country we’re talking about; they could be a bunch of McDonald’s franchises in Jackson, Mississippi; a beef-processing plant in Lubbock, Texas; a construction company in Billings, Montana; commercial properties in Portland, Maine; or a car dealership in western North Carolina. Even the less prosperous parts of the United States generate enough surplus to produce a class of wealthy people. Depending on the political culture and institutions of a locality or region, this elite class might wield more or less political power. In some places, it has an effective stranglehold over what gets done; in others, it’s important but not all-powerful.” • Readers, what does the local gentry look like where you live?

“Amazon Has to Disclose How Its Algorithms Judge Workers Per a New California Law” [Interesting Engineering]. “On Wednesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law that will bar ‘mega-retailers’ like Amazon, from firing warehouse workers for missing quotas, according to the San Francisco Gate. Mega-retailers, those companies that employ more than 1,000 warehouse workers, will now have to disclose how their algorithms judge worker productivity. ‘We cannot allow corporations to put profit over people,’ Newsom, said in a news release announcing he had signed the law according to the San Francisco Gate. The new law will also ensure that mega-retailers cannot discipline workers for following health and safety laws and will allow employees to sue for suspension of unsafe quotas or combating retaliation. The bill, AB 701, goes into effect on January 1 and gives mega-retailers just 30 days to disclose ‘each quota to which the employee is subject.’ Mega-retailers will now have to outline ‘the quantified number of tasks to be performed, or materials to be produced or handled, within the defined time period, and any potential adverse employment action that could result from failure to meet the quota.'” • We’ll see how it goes….

Media consumption by income according to Pew:

“Indignity Vol. 1, No. 20: The nice kind of calipers.” [Indignity]. “And that is all there ever is to phrenology. No evidence can have the power to contradict it, let alone disprove it, because it insists on going where it’s designed to go. The existence of genetic differences between populations, any populations—Basque, Dinka, Cornish—proves humans are not the same, which (with a quick wave of the hand) proves that the differences between Black and white people are ordained by nature. [Kathryn Paige Harden] believes, and The New Yorker invited its readers to believe, that it’s possible to make this landslide of motivated reasoning flow uphill. It’s desirable, even. ‘The left’s decision to withdraw from conversations about genetics and social outcomes leaves a vacuum that the right has gaily filled,” [New Yorker profiler] Lewis-Kraus writes. If liberals and leftists don’t inquire into the natural-born basis of human inequality, then they’ll leave the job of explaining why inequality is natural to the right-wingers. This is structurally and morally identical to the argument that liberals and leftists must embrace harsh anti-immigrant positions to prevent right-wing xenophobes from attacking immigrants; not surprisingly, the New York Times’ studiously reasonable-branded conservative columnist Ross Douthat approves of both. It is important to note here that Harden does not, in fact, study the question of how genes produce social outcomes. Frustrated by the slow progress of assigning clear social results to scientists’ ever-more-complicated understanding of how genes operate, the behavior geneticists have simply skipped over the whole ‘how’ business. Harden’s work, Lewis-Kraus explained, relies on the use of the GWAS—genome-wide association study—in which computation is used ‘to identify hundreds or even thousands of places in the genome where differences in our DNA sequence could be correlated with a trait or an outcome.’ ‘[E]ven if researchers don’t fully understand what they’re learning, this is how the genome is used now,” an unnamed population geneticist told Lewis-Kraus.'”

News of the Wired

Filing this one away:

“Simone Biles Chose Herself ‘I should have quit way before Tokyo.'” [New York Magazine]. Nice get. “For an athlete of Biles’s ability, the mind remains the most important organ. It tells the body what to do, and the body remembers. Anything that shakes that clear-mindedness is a life-risking liability.” • Commentary:

Deray, yecccccch. I think Biles has a shining future ahead of her, and it’s not necessarily what anybody thinks it might be (especially including horrid “voices” like deray). Who knows, perhaps she won’t get corrupted…

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PM writes: “An Epiphyllum. This one blooms once a year for 4-5 days. For the rest of the time it looks very weak.”

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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. Hepativore

    Perhaps some of the older readers here can fill me in on this, but why is it that the interiors of homes have largely been a uniform shade of white or beige for the past few decades? Looking at the picture in that tweet, that is basically what most places look like inside now.

    I was born in the mid-1980’s and as far as I can remember most new homes followed this trend and their owners kept them that way, yet if you look at the catalogs and examples of trends from the 1950’s, (pastels) 1960’s, (bright colors) and 1970’s, (Earth tones) this has been a radical departure compared to what was all the rage decades ago. Colored appliances were even commonplace until now. What changed?

    Has the general malaise and despair caused by neoliberalism since then also seeped in to our culture to the point of collectively bleaching people’s imaginations? Just an interesting hypothesis on my part. As an aside, I have always thought that the Harvest Gold color of the oven my grandmother used to have was rather pretty.

    1. chrimbus

      A relative of mine used to do a ton of work in home remodeling for bougie people out in the suburbs. There definitely seems to be a stylistic convergence like what you’re pointing at. My working theory is that people are more immediately focused on / attending to their house’s ‘exchange value’, since asset prices have been so goosed in the last decades – even if they have no intention of selling/moving any time soon. Maybe maintaining a ‘saleable house’ is just an excuse for spending on kitchen/bathroom remodels / additions? It’s conspicuous consumption but there’s the excuse that it will add $+X to the valuation, and to do so, there can’t be a purple wall or whatever.

        1. Fiery Hunt

          Hate to go where, Boss?

          Are you saying it’s obvious that white paint is a better blank slate for future owners or is there another “obvious” answer?

          Seriously asking.

        2. Greg

          Our local market definitely prices neutral tones above any bright colours. Talking to real estate agents, it’s down to probability on sales.

          If you have a bright colour that you like, you limit your potential buyers to people who like the same colour. Beige apparently offends the least people (although I’m sure there are a subset of potential buyers that are offended by beige, perhaps they’re priced out of todays market).

          1. Donna

            I would guess that you guys have not subscribed to Better Homes and Garden for the past 40+ years like I have. Fashions come and go with the interiors of houses as they do for women’s clothing. The last 20 years have seen an emphasis first on white then on grays. Believe me you can spend hours deciding on shades of grays like gray bluff and eider down and putty. But according to BHG (or driven by BHG and HGTV) over the last few years the colors are coming back along with wallpapers. The changes sell lots of paint and fabrics. It’s all about playing on the tribalism. I am usually a decade or even 2 behind because I just refuse to repaint more than is necessary. But, I love looking at the magazines. There is an art to decorating the inside of a home.

        3. Brunches with Cats

          157 Shades of White. That’s what you get if you search Lowe’s house brand paint for “white.” When you look at them all side-by-side, it’s clear that some are more what we’d consider “white,” while others are gray, yellow, pale blue, green, pink. But if you walked into a house with any of those colors on the walls and no reference point, you’d probably think the walls were white.

          White, or some variation thereof, is typical in the “Scandinavian” style interior, a popular subset of the mid-century modern mega-trend. I have no idea whether it’s actually “Scandinavian” or the Usian idea of Scandinavian, but do an image search for “Scandinavian interior” and you’ll see what I mean. Likewise, do a search for mid-century, and a lot will come up white walls as well, along with some wood paneling. MCM has been declared done and gone a million times over, but doesn’t look like it’s going away any time soon.

      1. bassmule

        Car colors, too.

        “Based on an authoritative annual survey of car color trends, white is the clear global winner in the 2019 color race—for the ninth consecutive year—with 38% of vehicles manufactured in that color, followed in second place by black at 19%, gray at 13%, and silver at 10%.

        The order in North America is slightly different, with 29% white, 19% black, 17% gray, and 11% silver. Only in Europe is white in second place with 24% of all cars gray, and 23% white.

        Nearly 50 years ago, in 1961, blue reigned supreme with 26% of all cars in North America manufactured in that hue.”

        What Is The Most Popular Car Color?

        1. lyman alpha blob

          Yuk. I was noticing in a parking lot the other day that all the cars were gray, grayish black, grayish blue, silver, etc and all in about three shapes regardless of the make – pickup, sedan, or that mini-suv wagonny thing. Maybe we have too much mud in the NE for white to be as popular here.

          Supposedly the free market was supposed to give us choice. I was hoping for more than just one between drab and drabber…

          1. Dr. John Carpenter

            Wow. I had the same realization at my work last week. Not only the colors all being variants of gray but only those three models as well: hulking Tonka trucks, bulbous SUV, or indistinguishable sedans. I don’t know if I am comforted or concerned we had almost the exact same observation.

          2. Jen

            My current car is white. Last one was black. The one before that was red. When mud season rolls around my white car looks dingy. The last two? Positively filthy. I confess that I toyed with buying an orange car a couple of years ago, but I keep my cars until they rot off their wheels and at some point, I knew I’d hate that color.

            The ones that get me are the almost matt grey cars? Like, seriously, you just bought a brand new car the color of primer with some gel coat on it?

        2. KMD

          White reflects sunshine which means a car parked outside stays cooler.
          White cars don’t get washed as often as they don’t show dirt as much as other colors (counterintuitive).
          White cars are less expensive at initial purchase.

        3. skk

          Yeah, since white was so ‘dead common’ I wanted red for my car in 2018 but the dealer just could not source it after a few days so I took white But things are changing – there’s this kind of retro looking (shinyish ) matte color that I spot more and more often nowadays. Googling I find this : it could be a vinyl whole car body wrap rather than paint !


        4. The Rev Kev

          There was an article linked about the drabness of car colours some time ago. Back in Henry Ford’s day, he told customers that they could have any colour car that they wanted – so long as it was black. That was for his ease and not that of his customers. Looks like we are going full circle and I suspect that the bland colour choices that we see are simply the result of it being easy for the car manufacturers. Most cars I see in Oz are white, grey or silver too. It seems that when business is king, that a consequence is reduced choices.

          1. Kfish

            In Australia, car buyers also have to consider the blazing sun’s effect on inside temperatures. White and silver are more reflective, lowering the heat absorption of the car’s body.

      2. CoryP

        It’s interesting because white walls might be more saleable, but I’ve always found it takes me way more coats and effort to put a deep rich color on a white wall than it takes me to white it all out afterwards…

        1. Fiery Hunt

          People have a hard time “seeing” something different than what the color they have right in front of them. It’s harder to imagine a purple wall being white that imagining a white wall being purple. Some colors effect our imaginations more than others.

        2. wol

          Deep colors don’t contain titanium, which covers well. Use a primer tinted a chip lighter than the finish coat for the first coat and it will take fewer coats to cover.

      3. curlydan

        your theory would fit in with the Michael Hudson interview post from earlier today about turning our economy from productive pursuits to financialization, including the obsession with home values and real estate based wealth.

      4. skippy

        Colour palettes at the moment are centered around letting the objects in a room or house do the speaking as well the gloss level which is noted in the flooring i.e. natural vs gloss. Yet as one can see in new builds the absence of crown molding/cornice or skirting boards [box set] is driven by industry to lower build costs in materials and labor. On the other hand the glass balustrade is designed around creating space/floating stairs rather than a focal point of a room.

        But then again that whole early 2000s colour explosion was a trip with wild base colour and feature wall in every room. Had a client walk into front door after base colour was finished in the downstairs of the house and he physically lent backwards whilst walking through the front door. Stood there for a moment and then muttered …. I’ll get used to it. You see he had his cars and the decor was his wife’s plaything ….. amazing what a decorator can sell after a few bottles of wine at lunch and bespoke interior decorating shopping … chortle …

        Oh well back to my 1930s exterior high set … fear and loathing when I have to sort out the interior 8/10 pane windows, very sad work and maintenance in the past, but then again I’ll be able to chat with the husband who is away advising a pacific island country on its balance sheet so that should be interesting.

      5. Acacia

        > attending to their house’s ‘exchange value’

        This sounds about right. I will add that white (usually with a wee bit of color mixed in, to warm/cool the vibe) tends to make the interior space look larger.

        As for the exterior color, many homeowners are constrained by ad hoc “neighborhood architectural associations” that will protest/shame/threaten if anybody tries to paint their house red, bright purple, etc.

        Because “our property values!”

        1. anotherLiam

          I will add that white (usually with a wee bit of color mixed in, to warm/cool the vibe) tends to make the interior space look larger.

          It also tends to mask defects in the sheetrock float. Minor issues which are incredibly difficult to see in lighter colored walls become blindingly obvious the second you put a dark color on the wall. To do darker colors right, you really do need a worker who gives a damn.

    2. Carolinian

      Just fashion?

      There was a period a few years ago when all new cars seemed to be white, black, silver (a version of gray) or darker gray. But now pigments are making a big comeback with Subaru (my neighborhood is full of them) leading the way

    3. Grumpy Meezer

      My grandmother had an oven in avocado green.

      Everything is a neutral color now, so as not to offend the sensibilities of the next prospective owner. Appeal to as many people as you can and it winds up at the lowest common denominator. It’s all about the resale, because it’s not a house anymore but a bank account.

      1. marieann

        I also had an avocado stove and when I went to get a matching fridge the colours had changed, so for a while I had a green stove an almond fridge and a white dishwasher. I eventually went back to all white then I could be sure that was not a colour that went out of style.

    4. james

      There is a sense among some bougie folks that aesthetic minimalism is “correct”. It helps that this sterile, hospital-chic, foolishness is low-risk. Like, no one can say it’s tasteless (it is), because there’s very little “taste” to judge.

      Every one of these antiseptic spaces would benefit from a gilt-framed painting or a colorful rug. Or just some kook with a couple of spray cans.

    5. Sailor Bud

      I used to have a “tricks of the trade” book, with quick articles like Chevy Chase telling how to do a pratfall, etc, and one of the claims about interiors was that white walls make the room feel larger. The suggestion was augmented by something that evidently never took off, though: they said to paint the ceiling sky blue as well.

    6. Mark Gisleson

      I used to paint houses. White and beige are easy to paint over. Most house painters will recommend putting at least two coats of the new paint color over a yellow wall. Yellow is incredibly hard to cover up and painting over dark colors also usually requires two coats.

      1. Alex Cox

        Yellow walls are inspirational. Like the inside of a beehive they encourage activity. That’s why Macdonalds paint scheme is yellow and red. Yellow tells you to eat and get the heck out. Red tells you to eat, too, as it’s the color of …

    7. Sawdust

      The digitization of life probably another factor. Your home used to be important part of how you expressed yourself, but now it’s mostly just a container for your meat avatar.

    8. JBird4049

      Yay, some of my favorite subjects; cultural anthropology, history, and political economy. Fortunately, to properly answer this question is going to take some time expounding on them. ;-)

      Neoliberalism has a part, but not exclusively. Architecture, like anything else human is both function and style or fashion, mediated by desire and practicality; costs, available materials, taxes, art, even morality ethics, and religion are all factors.

      Our current trends in architecture, clothing, religion, and so on, are not only differences in what is fashionable, such as the latest electronic gizmo over the latest fashion in furniture, but also what is needed for the proper appearances as well as creation and imposition of the growing inequality or poverty, and the need for propaganda in all its forms to make it acceptable.

      Really, to give a good explanation complete with examples, I should got back to at least the 19th century political economy of Western Europe and the United States and Canada. Really oversimplifying, and focusing on the West, most civilizations, especially the Western even today as always, are socially pyramidal in shape. A very small, very wealthy, often obscenely, egomaniacally ostentatious peacocks of the ruling class. Then a still small, but larger, servant class of servants, artists, scholars, clerks who serve them and depend on their patronage for survival. Sometimes a larger, but still small (to us) middle class of merchants and finally a gigantic class of poor farmers and laborers.

      All parts of society reflected this. The poorly dressed masses of poor village priests who usually came from the peasant class, in no way was like the great, very wealthy, very finely dressed and housed archbishops and cardinals who came from the highest classes. Naturally, people copied their social betters, but the law and costs limited their ability. The classes were dictated by God, the fashions for each class was dictated by the law, and most of the wealth needed to buy any of the always expensive clothing (even of the most basic thing like a plain shirt) was in the upper classes. People did scrounge, buy used, or were even paid as part of their wages in clothes. Also, the ability to make clothes and incorporate lord and lady’s castoffs were both common. Housing and everyday items also followed the same pattern.

      One also has to understand just how materially poor the people of the past were compared to us. To us, a fruit bowl is just some fruit. In the past, say the 16th, 17th, or 18th centuries, wealthy merchants would include a bowl of fruit when getting their portrait to so how wealthy they were. Fruit was expensive and hard to get. Paintings done of prosperous peasants at same time might show a cooked chicken because it was expensive to ear. Or their single, expensive high-backed chair. Again, it might be so, but it is the message being sent using the appropriate symbols of that era.

      In the early 20th century, before the Great Depression, Americans, IIRC on average spent a third of their income on food. The United States for centuries, including then, was know as being an usually well fed nation. (Relatively) Plentiful and cheap food still meant a third, or more, of one’s income, and this is a reason plump women and fat men were considered attractive, or at least well off. (The last famines in Europe were in the 19th century and not just in Ireland.)

      Having pale, white, untanned skin of an indoor worker, plump bodies in a well off family, and when a real middle class arose, more furniture than a single table, some benches and a high backed chair, for the man or a guest, with a plain cross on the wall. Nope, the increasingly well off, and growing in size, middle class Victorians became insane and the later into the Victorian Era, the crazier the entire Western middle class became. Fancy clothes, plentiful amounts of fancy furniture, elaborated decorated, personally owned Victorian houses, with tchotchkes, paintings, rugs, lamps and whatever else everywhere to show their wealth, status, pride, perhaps even their growing social and political power.

      Publicly, fashion and ideas in the Beaux-Arts and neoclassical architectural fashions or movements like the City Beautiful Movement in the United States also reflected the growing middle class as well the general desire to create beautiful, orderly buildings for the general public as well as symbols of status for the upper classes. Then add examples like the clearances of the older, crowded, defensible neighborhoods in the larger cities like Paris (complete with literal fields of fire for the artillery), the Imperial British Indian architecture and art in India, and public housing in German; population control in France, the grand, imposing and very physical propaganda for a permanent, ruling, imperial British presence in India, and Chancellor Otto von Bismark’s public welfare was also to sooth and control the population in Germany.

      However, fashions in everything are often a response to the excesses of the past. The Arts and Crafts movement in Britain and later in the United States was a response to everything Victorian in style. The Bauhaus Movement in Germany was that and also an attempt to find ways to quickly create decent replacement housing and buildings that had been destroyed in the First World War. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie School Movement was similarly a rejection of Victorian aesthetics.

      As in architecture, clothing followed into a less ostentatious style that was still going for good, even beautiful, style. Simpler, but not plain. Tasteful, not ostentatious. Clothing like suits and dresses depended more on balance, cut, emphasis with splashes of color and texture to emphasis appearance, not the bombast similar to a Victorian house, but more like the Bauhaus Movement or Art Deco.

      During all this, the middle classes were either growing or maintaining their power, which meant keeping up appearances; there use to be popular demonstrations in the United States on how to dress well, what to buy, and how to make or maintain clothing. It was a movement.

      Then World War Two destroyed much and Brutalism swept in to save us with new, relatively cheap housing for the masses. Actually, I hate it. Okay, I really truly, just loathe it. It replaces movement in form and shape with the aesthetics of the military bunker, warmth of a prison, and the antihumanism of Postmodernism of which it is a part of. Le Corbusier, the master of concrete, is just a vile architect. There I feel better.

      But just as people react to their parents’ tastes, they also react to what has happened as well. The mental, physical, and emotional destruction of the two world wars as well as the Great Depression, followed by the Cold War, with the chaos of the various reform movements also shattered the inner life of our civilization. The destruction of the past combined with the possible obliteration of human life along with the struggles between the ruling elites and everyone is reflected in Postmodernism. It was and is in the arts, philosophy, architecture, music, clothes, law, literature, in everything. The foundation on which our society and civilization needs is shattered. Turned into much like the deliberately created foundation of San Francisco’s Leaning Millennium Tower.

      This weakening enabled the great success of the counter reaction of the elites’ movement called Neo-liberalism, which has further weakened and atomized society. The computer further caused people to focus inward instead of outward. Outward appearance, while still important is reduced. As with the poor of the Middle Ages, the growing poverty reduces the resources available for fashion of any kind. Just as the increasing wealth, power, and large scale public life of the middle classes gave resources, emphasis, and public approval for fashion of all kinds. This includes the church, associations, hobbyist groups, unions, charities, reform movements. Our Western society, especially America, has always enjoyed the benefits of Liberalism such as universal rights, free speech, debate, the rule of laws, free association, freedom of religion, and general equality also suffered from the weakening of the social bond, of general social order. I do not mean explicit control, say by the government or even the local Ku Klux Klan. I mean the type of connection that comes from Thanksgiving or going to church. Social connections, social understanding, which means social strength and health.

      The security, and broad prosperity, of the past helped with various fashions, be it in art, science (it does have fashions), music, house painting and so. Although, from memory, the fashionable “food” and “clothing” of the 70s was not really. Food or clothing that is. It was style, though.

      So we have a society, civilization really, increasingly damaged by an insidious kind of nihilism disolving everything include both social connections and hope. This was increased by the efforts of the ruling authorities to destroy or at least weaken any threats to their wealth, status, and power. I can start with the union busting of the late 19th century to the Palmer Raids after the First World War to the Red Scare as well as the efforts of the CIA/FBI via manipulation, bribes, imprisonment, assassinations including in the United States of leaders in the various movements. This includes paying people, what you can call the idea or thought people to change, often slightly their works. Gloria Steinem helped to bust apart the Women’s Movement working and middle/upper class members for instance. Or the efforts to change equality to equity. You use the former in a democracy, while the latter is used in an empire. The Ottomans and the British are good examples.

      Keep in mind that while Anarchism, Communism, and Socialism or even the American Populist Movement of the 19th and 20th centuries just terrified the ruling, upper, and part of the respectable, middle class, it also forced leaders everywhere, like the very conservative Chancellor Otto von Bismark, or power to President Franklin Roosevelt into making concessions to the masses, to work with leaders of the various movements, or to push through reforms. Since the ending of the Cold War and the formation of our “Uni-polar world” that is gone.

      Nihilism cause by the massive destruction of the first half of the 20th century, fear and despair caused by the worldwide Great Depression and later the Cold War, control and manipulation by the security state (including the discrediting of free speech, civil rights, and the rule of law via propaganda and more violent means), the deliberate destruction of the both the economy and society under neoliberalism, and the massive, endemic corruption. All of this dissolving all the arts, which is deliberate as they are powerful weapons, the sciences for short term wealth gains, the church has been co-opted and made a grift (Prosperity Gospel), education, including philosophy has been degraded, hollowed out, and twisted into tools of ignorance, lies, and theft.

      In the past, each movement was connect to the past movements. Each form of painting, music, architecture, writing, religion, social organizing, farming, business was connected to and changed from the past forms. Reformation and Counter Reformation. Feudalism and Capitalism. Sometimes deliberately as with Beau Brummell and men’s fashion. Sometimes it’s just ick. Much as the reactions to the Victorian aesthetic. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie School both as a reaction to the excess of the past, but also borrowing elements of past as well, including the local buildings. Sometimes in connection to past theories as in the Copernican theory in astronomy, or the various ideas in evolution. Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace theory of evolution also had seeds from past theorists.

      Instead of a wealthy, physically secure (if you ignore The Bomb, which we all tried to do) American society of the 1950s, 60s, even 70s, we have an increasingly impoverish, hungry, homeless, diseased, and crazed society. A society that has been disconnected from the past fashions, unable to create new broadly based ones, and stuck in an amorphous soup. And it is not just neoliberalism’s fault or the deliberate actions of the security state working at the behest of wealthy. It has been unfolding really since the casualties of Battle of the Frontiers in 1914 and with its economic roots, perhaps, when the Portuguese started the Atlantic Slave Trade in the 1400s.

      This is one of the reasons for my loooong comment. To show the connections. But the current aesthetic has no connection, unless it is to make, and glorify the getting of, money without thought, or reasoning, or justification. Just that. There is nothing worth building off of or from. It has all been chopped of with some little bits left over for profit and control. Anything else threatens the wealth extraction and threatens the power structure.

      Just where can one buy a quality suit or dress? It is all fast fashion. Junk at any price and people don’t have money anyways.What profit is there in painting a wall. Why take pride in how it looks or show how fashionable your place is? Mid-century Modern is about the last I saw in fashionable architecture at the individual, public level. And furniture, like clothes, tools, art, music, and food has turned to crap, and again, who can afford any of it and who do you show it to? What can you truly buy with any pride beyond the latest iPhone? That is not going to fall apart? Why bother? Going to have a party anytime soon? To show off your home and listen to the latest music (that’s not garbage?)

      So, it is the plain beige wall for us all.

      1. ObjectiveFunction

        >> Social connections, social understanding, which means social strength and health.

        Very nice essay, many thanks. Do keep writing here, please.

      2. farmboy

        really, this is great writing and analysis, thank you. Gonna listen to blues, not plow the back forty, and watch the weather. Atmospheric thirst https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-09-25/hot-dry-conditions-worsen-california-drought
        as far as who are the decision makers carrying the local culture, politics forward, it was for a brief time WW2 vets, an outsized cohort of well educated, cohesive gentle souls. we’ve reverted to feudal families running everything, local cattlemen’s org vs libs out here for the view.

      3. Hepativore

        Very nice, I wish that I could chat with many members of the commentariat outside of the confines of Naked Capitalism, as most of my friends now live out-of-state and I am in a very rural location and I do not use social media outside of instant messaging.

        I know that this post is already a day old, but here is setting to consider


        One thing that I find admirable about the use of wood paneling and “Earth tones” in trends from the 1970’s, is that while it makes the room seem “smaller” this can also give a feeling of warmth and “cosyness” that big open white spaces lack, especially if you live in a cold climate like I do. Hard white or beige walls, furniture, and appliances remind me way too much of the ice and snow we get much of the year.

    9. Nikkikat

      I was just thinking the same thing. We have been looking for a house. All of the appliances in the kitchens were black or white or silver. Kind of like the cars on the road. I remember all of these “trends” of pastels and bright colors. I still think the worst is from the 90’s. At least one room had to be painted bright red. Absolutely frighting. I also was looking back with fondness at harvest gold. I am already planning how I can add colors to the all white kitchen I am bound to end up with, as I won’t be able to change it.

      1. Anon

        Here in FL, you get the old condos with the floor to ceiling mirrors/walls… and popcorn ceilings… always popcorn ceilings…

    10. dcblogger

      years ago when I moved into an apartment w/ small windows I painted it a BRIGHT white. It really made the place look larger. I loved it.

    11. Big River Bandido

      Most rental properties I’ve lived in were done in some sort of neutral color so that the tenant’s color scheme would always work. New properties, I’ve noticed, are predominantly white. The apartment we moved into last fall was converted from business to rental apartments in around 2005…it appears that the prevailing fashion then was a greyish tan, or maybe a smoky grey…depends on the time of day. But it was easy to match our furniture and wall art.

  2. Carolinian

    Re The Atlantic/mandates

    And fourth…

    And fifth, maybe a problem is that the vaccines have issues and word gets around–especially among those workers who deal with medical issues every day. We who read NC got the word early but there are lots of sites discussing all this and they aren’t all run by cranks.

    Plus re Orwell–I linked this article the other day and here is part two


    But the article itself links this very very interesting Orwell essay from 1946 about Burnham, Stalin, the Nazis, England.


    He denounces Burnham’s acceptance of “human nature,” not because it doesn’t exist but for the complacent assumption that it can’t be overcome.

    It’s an essay making explicit the ideas in his fiction.

    1. LifelongLib

      I know we’re not supposed to, but I wanted to thank you for linking this. I thought that I had read Orwell’s major essays, but somehow overlooked this one. Very illuminating.

  3. TMR

    Re: American Gentry – ctrl+f for “petit” and “bourgeois”, found no hits.

    Someone in the Acela corridor is going to write a stripped-down Capital Vol. I with none of the jargon, and have it hailed as a work of unparalleled genius.

    1. jr

      Living in NYC, I’m surrounded by a lot of aristo’s, I’m sure there are petit bourgeoise but they don’t stand out as they would in smaller town. I have lived in small towns in PA and there the PB’s stand out sharply.

      They are arrogant, quick to defend their class status, and are often held in high regard by the peasantry. Their sons get away with murder, probably literally on occasion, lots of speeding tickets not handed out and fights ignored that would get a truck drivers son tossed into the clink. I’ve known of at least one golden boy who stabbed a friend in the arm in a bar fight and when my pal went to court he and his lawyer discovered they had somehow forgotten that they had “forgotten” to file the paperwork on time, if you take my meaning.

      At the top of the food chain in this town was a machine parts manufacturing family (very small time vs. international manufacturing to be clear), a hotel owning family who was seedier than the dump they ran, and a local judge’s family. A$$pipes to the (wo)man, cutting in lines at the supermarket etc. No one dare naysay them because most people worked for them or had stood in front of the judge at one point or another.

      The PB’s were often attended by the standard breed of obsequious hangers-on and adjacent ilk. I was talking with another guy who lived in town, a non-PB son, and he was filled with admiration for them. He asked me if I knew who they were and when I say no he laughed and said “Oh, you will.” He was confused and annoyed when I told him I considered them as parasitic as a tapeworm.

      1. Brunches with Cats

        A bit to the north of you, jr, in a village in red Upstate. The PBs don’t stand out sharply, or at all, because they’re too good to shop at the Dollar Store, Tractor Supply, flea markets and antique junk shops with the mediocre masses. I’ve heard that the owners and upper management at the few “big” businesses in town won’t even live here due the lack of “amenities.” Which is exactly why I like it here.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Maybe the PBs are just deeply insecure about themselves, and are afraid that they really are exactly the kind of people who shop at Dollar Store, Tractor Supply, flea markets and junk shops.
          Maybe they are unconsciously afraid that if they shopped there, their personal image and their personal reality would co-collide and co-annihilate eachother like positrons and electrons. Leaving their skulls to be empty bubble chambers containing nothing but the tracks of submentomic thought particles having passed through.

          I like dollar stores and junk shops and flea markets. If I could reach Tractor Supply, I would go there too. In Michigan we have Cabelas. Which I would go to if I could.

          I fell out of the PB wannabe class long ago.

    2. griffen

      Believe I’ve read that article previously. My recall is the author spent time offering details about the apple orchards & various landed interests there in his homegrown city of Yakima. I now live in a region previously dominated by textiles and possibly manufacturing of furniture. Textiles and furniture lefts the Carolina’s some 25 to 30 years ago. Cities in North Carolina like Greensboro are still working today to “rethink” or invigorate a thriving downtown scene once again.

      Greenville and Spartanburg, broadly speaking, benefited greatly by attracting the interest of BMW to locate a manufacturing center. Throw in additional suppliers then further other points of distribution, and you get a fairly robust segment of SC providing jobs and increasing home values to a spectrum of workers. White collar work is done closer to the city downtown(s). Locally, I can’t add much color but a few local developers and billionaires have done well by themselves and invested back into the community. Healthcare is another large employer.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well, if they put pictures and charts and tables and graphs and diagrams in it, I will take a look at it.

      Otherwise, not.

  4. hemeantwell

    Re invisible gorillas in the mind.
    Oi, oi, oi. The guy is writing about preconscious mental processes and what makes them varyingly accessible to consciousness. Looking through the extensive bibliography reveals no references to psychoanalytic authors. Thus the author unwittingly exposes a preconscious “gorilla,” an internalization of disciplinary barriers, blocking communication between his effort and that of others who have considered this important question. It’s even fair to say he becomes a gorilla himself. .

      1. The Rev Kev

        I have never understood that test. How could you not see that guy in the gorilla outfit? It’s not like he tries to sneak through or anything. An interesting study would be on the group that fails to see the gorilla guy and try to work out why this is so. Education? Upbringing? Too competitive trying to count those passes?

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            I remember at the time watching it and watching it and never being able to see the gorilla. It made me wonder what was wrong with certain particular cells in my brain.

            ( Well, this time I saw the gorilla. Perhaps because I was NOT counting or even WATCHing the basketball. I wonder why I couldn’t see it the last time).

            (( and then this time I saw the gorilla even while counting the passes. What does it all mean . . . ))

        1. c_heale

          Is the test actually a valid piece of research? Experimental results can be unintentionally or intentionally misinterpreted, and scientific fraud is not uncommon.

    1. Jed

      So late to this…

      I did not see the gorilla the 1st time watching, but it was years ago. I think this has made the rounds enough that many are on to it even without having 1st hand experience.


  5. petal

    Biden, 78, gets his Pfizer booster shot: Masked-up president jokes again about being ‘way older’ than 65 and attacks the unvaccinated for ‘damaging’ the country

    “President Joe Biden received his Pfizer COVID-19 booster shot in front of reporters Monday afternoon on the White House’s campus.

    ‘I know it doesn’t look like it, but I am over 65 – way over. And that’s why I’m getting my booster shot today,’ the president said speaking from a podium in the South Court Auditorium, before he rolled up his sleeve.

    He, again, shamed Americans who refused to get vaccinated, saying they accounted for about 23 per cent of the eligible population.

    ‘And that distinct minority is causing an awful lot of damage for the rest of the country,’ he said. ‘This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated,’ he repeated.

    He said Dr. Jill Biden would soon receive her booster too.

    The president said he didn’t have any side effects when he received his first and second doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

    ‘And I don’t anticipate one now,’ he said, now seated and ready to receive his jab. ” (more at the link)

    I cannot stand this guy. For oh so many reasons. And very helpful to go after those deplorables again and tell everyone they’re the ones to blame for damaging the country.

    1. Carolinian

      He’s telling people do what I say or I’m going to get you fired or, if military, dishonorably discharged. It’s amazing to me that the Dems think this is normal behavior. The public generally tends to ignore politics but now this politician is threatening some of their livelihoods.

      If it was the black plague or indeed smallpox maybe this would make sense. Instead it’s just Biden’s ego or what’s left of it on steroids. Word is his poll ratings are dropping and they may soon be dropping like a rock.

      1. voteforno6

        Who is this “public” that you’re referring to? I’ve come across a great many people that are very much in favor of vaccine mandates. As for the military, there are a number of vaccines that you have to get before you can even join. If you get deployed to certain areas, there are other vaccines that you have to get. So, this isn’t exactly an unprecedented action. As for polls, what do they say about vaccine mandates?

        1. Fiery Hunt

          There’s lots of people who were for torturing prisoners after 9/11.
          Vindictive, scared, and unprincipled people are very common.

          Doesn’t make it right or sound policy.

          1. neo-realist

            If mandates reduce the likelihood of people getting infected, sick, and possibly dead from covid-19, they’re good policies.

            In the city of colville WA, there was an covid19 outbreak in a nursing home–74 infected and 5 dead. only 33 out of the 74 infected were vaxed. 64.5% of the residents vaxed, but only 37.1% staff vaxed. Granted there were breakthroughs, but if most (90%) or all residents got vaxed, I’ll bet those infection numbers would have been lower.

            1. Fiery Hunt

              So approx 43% of the infected were vaccinated.

              How does a therapeutic (it’s NOT a vaccine!) with, in your example, a breakthru rate of 43% justify a mandate that everyone get one?
              Particularly if the mandates aren’t coupled with all the rest of the mitigations Lamberts hammers on everyday?

              All a mandate will do is harder lines and eventually the vaxxed will incubate a waaay worse variant.

              Not good policies.

              1. neo-realist

                Yes, the mandates should be coupled with other mitigations, i.e., masking, ventilation. Who knows if they engaged in much of those mitigations. I bet not. But yes, Biden should be hitting much harder on the mitigations as well as the vaccines. All the tools available should be used.

                1. tegnost

                  “other mitigations”

                  The mask mandate should never have been llifted.
                  Notwithstanding the sentiment that mitigations should accompany vaccine mandates, the people who lifted the mask mandate don’t get a pass. It’s simply that it was effective and rational then, as it still is now. It’s like saying that the barn door should in the future be closed to prevent the horses running free without acknowledging that you opened the ban door and let the horses out your ownself, ignoring the potential consequences which were just as obvious then as now.
                  If there is a problem with people not accepting “expert opinion” maybe experts should make sure their opinion is effective and rational, and look in the mirror when they’re not.

                2. drumlin woodchuckles

                  But aren’t the CDC and WHO and others still trying to damn-with-faint-praise the concept of aerosol transmission? When not still dropping the Cone of Silence over it altogether?

                  But we must never ever say that WHO and CDC are pursuing a long-range secret agenda of “accidentally-on purpose” spreading coronavid to every single human on earth. That would be CT tinfoil.

            2. Objective Ace

              Public policy that cut back on alcohol, obesity, smoking, etc. would also cut back on the likelihood of people getting infected, sick, and possibly dead (from Covid and a multitude of other ailments)..

              >I’ll bet those infection numbers would have been lower.

              Probably–but since the data is so terrible its pretty hard to say definitively. We definitely cant say to what extent infections would be reduced. Most people would want to know that before you start forcing medical treatments on people which have very real side effects including serious ones like blood clotting and myocarditis.

            3. Cuibono

              well mandating people not be fat would also reduce the likelihood of people getting sick and possibly dead.
              where you plan on stopping?
              you happy if boosters q6 are mandated?

        2. Carolinian

          First of all it’s quite possible the OSHA mandate is not going to survive the courts since there’s a coherent case that this, like the CDC eviction moratorium, requires Congressional action. Biden himself didn’t think the recent CDC action was Constitutional but said it would “buy time.” See Turley. The Massachusetts precedent is not the slam dunk that some claim.

          And yes all those people who have already been vaccinated probably don’t mind the government forcing others to do so but once they see soldiers being discharged or hospitals closing their doors from nurses quitting or being fired things are likely to change. The punishment doesn’t fit the “crime.”

          Also there is a growing awareness that the vaccines are not doing what they were supposed to do and this too will undercut Biden’s case.

          Finally don’t forget that those who have certifiably had Covid are also being forced to take the risky vaccine and this is surely the most controversial and bad science proposal of all.

          1. rowlf

            The jungle drums suggest vaccinated pilots may not pass their physicals due to heart problems but more information is needed. Let’s see what the airlines find out. This may be bogus info at this point.

        3. tegnost

          Funny story. Our band has had weekly zoom calls since the covids shut down practice. It had been unlimited but now the service we chat on throttled us down to one hour. Needless to say as people who can still afford seattle they are pretty “blue no matter who” just like your “great many people”. One of them was talking up mandating vaccines for plane flights as the hour wound to a close. I piped in at this point to say absolutely! Since covid didn’t cross the pacific on a harley but came to us on a business class jet they should have been testing those (choose colorful language here) for over a year! Stunned silence of course follows and voila! the feed closes.

          1. rowlf

            They’re probably not fans of the 1995 film by Terry Gilliam 12 Monkeys then, where a virus is spread worldwide by international jet travel.

            1. witters`

              That is a good movie! Used to use it to get students thinking about time travel (it is that rare thing, the perfectly coherent time travel story). And this is the movie (I think the only one) where Bruce Willis is truly great!

        4. Nikkikat

          Other vaccines actually work to prevent the disease. This does not. That is why I have a problem with a mandate. Especially since as Lambert so eloquently stated above: They have not even tried to help by giving time off or going to their employment to make it easier.
          This is about business interest and not much else.

        5. drumlin woodchuckles

          Of course those “other vaccines” are safety-know, safety tested genuinely genuine actual vaccines. Vaccines, not vaccinoids.

          Not “emergency use” mRNA neo-vaccinoids.

        6. Big River Bandido

          The “vaccines” are non-sterilizing, clearly of extremely limited efficacy, and so experimental that they’d never have been green-lighted under normal safety processes — even through such a corrupt, captured public health establishment as the one we have now.

          Until now at least, neither students nor members of the military have ever been required to take non-sterilizing flu “vaccines” — nor any *experimental* medicine that had not been thoroughly tested.

    2. Soredemos

      I got Pfizer (both shots) months ago and got J&J a few days ago because a place I volunteer at was offering it. The J&J shot, which is the same mRNA strategy just delivered via a different vector, will be my ‘booster’. I have zero intention of bombarding my immune system with a steady stream of booster shots

      1. lyman alpha blob

        I distinctly remember Biden saying the kids used to like to come up to him and pet his blond hairy legs. Well it may be an arm, but those hirsute biceps are definitely not golden – more of a salt and pepper if you ask me. Not that I rally needed another reason to distrust the guy, but come on man!

        In case anyone missed the reference – https://twitter.com/TimMurtaugh/status/1201124132869607424

        1. petal

          Welp, there goes my appetite!
          I guess I should feel lucky he didn’t stop and bend over and sniff my hair (or worse) when he brushed by me couple years ago. (shudder/vomit)

          1. newcatty

            Ha! No need to answer, but were you a young girl at the time? Think he prefered “some on the younger side “( nod to Bill referring to his friend, Jeff). Shudder!

            1. petal

              I was 40-41 but always mistaken for an undergrad around here! Maybe undergrad is out of the preferred age range…

  6. Michael Fiorillo

    How exactly is Patrick Wyman’s “American Gentry” different from the old tried-and-true Petit Bourgeoisie?

    Trump’s real base was never the white working class – they put him over the top in 2016, but are not his base, and he lost support among white working class men in 2020 – but this kind of Lumpen-bougeoisie, many of whom feel squeezed and increasingly precarious when, like Ashli Babbit, their assets are tied up in cyclical and monopoly-heavy industries, as I believe Lambert pointed out a while ago.

    Wyman’s description of this class is nicely detailed, but the nomenclature doesn’t fit and is unhelpful.

    1. TMR

      As alluded to above, it seems to be a new media-class cottage industry to do Marxian analysis without letting on that Marx is involved

    2. lambert strether

      I think the regional aspect is important. America is of continental scale, unlike the nations/societies where Marx cut his teeth. Also class is dynamic and material; it has, you might say, a terroir. No point doing the analysis without anatomizing this society.

      1. Swamp Yankee

        At the risk of pedantry, I wonder if we can distinguish between provincial and regional gentries that are legitimately bourgeois — own the large means of production in a given economy, like cranberries or shoe factories in my neck of the woods, or onions in eastern Washington — but still small beans compared to the metropolitan-imperial-cosmopolitan bourgeoisie, on the one hand;

        And more of what I would call the classical petite bourgeoisie on the other, people who own a restaurant or a dry cleaner or gas station (many contractors fall into this category), are affluent with big trucks and gas-guzzling boats, but don’t actually own the means of production at any large scale.

        They may vote in similar ways — though not always — but I find they are two distinct classes around here. The latter seem considerably angrier and more aggressive, both in personal experience and from a careful monitoring of local community social media pages (no joke, it’s useful as a barometer, however skewed, of public opinion, esp. in small communities).

  7. Soredemos

    Regarding covid and vaccine hopes, putting aside that the vaccines seem to be wearing off and falling apart all on their own, how’s our new friend the Mu variant doing? Haven’t heard much about it in weeks. It seems to have at least partially developed the ability to evade the spike protein gimmick that all the mRNA vaccines exploit.

    If/when a variant comes along that entirely evades it, the vaccines will be rendered entirely useless regardless of how recently you got them. How long will it take to develop a new one? And will it just be rejiggered to exploit the new protein, or will they come up with something more lasting to direct the immune system?

    1. neo-realist

      The vaccines will have benefit if they don’t stop you from getting infected in that they will in many cases stop you from getting really really sick–hospitalized and possibly dead.

      1. Soredemos

        I wouldn’t bet on it either. I think she’s essentially talking out of her ass. She’s making a prediction of the future, based on what, exactly? How can she even begin to guess what might mutate next? Oh, they don’t feel ‘an enormous amount of concern that we’re suddenly going to see a switch to something that evades existing immunity’. Well that’s all right then.

        I have exactly zero trust left in the predictions of doctors and medical scientists. When they aren’t turning out to be completely wrong, they’re actively gaslighting the public about something, only for it to turn out later that they privately knew differently.

        It’s amazing how the better part of two years into this medicine as a whole seems to have developed zero humility or introspection.

      2. The Rev Kev

        I wonder if Dr. Sarah Gilbert predicted the arrival of the Delta strain and its transmission ability when we were dealing with the Wuhan strain last year. Know what this all reminds me of? Ever heard of the Infinite monkey theorem? That if you had an infinite number of monkeys at a typewriter, that sooner or later one will come up with the works of Shakespeare? Same here. We have hundreds of millions of people that had/have had this virus with several billion more that can get it. And vaccinated people can carry this virus too which makes me wonder if it is inside people probing for weaknesses. The odds then are heavily stacked that we will get a coupla new variants that may have few more tricks up its sleeve. The precautionary principle should be the rule of thumb that rules here.

      3. Raymond Sim

        I’m late, only just noticed this conversation.

        Quite simply, she’s wrong. I don’t like to make unqualified assertions about something so important, but if that’s her honest opinion she is woefully uninformed regarding, in particular, the dynamics of the virus’s evolution. Delta’s replacement won’t have to be better than Delta at anything other than evading immunity to Delta.

  8. The Hang Nail

    Biles chose herself. Call that mega-superstar privilege. Yeah, if I was getting youtube viral coverage of my workouts even before the Olympics I could pull out and still get million-dollar endorsements and magazine covers. This is great and all but for the average person struggling to compete, much less struggling to get the media’s attention, dropping out of a competition is a much bigger deal. Her life will go on. Heck, in some ways it is better because she is celebrated more than ever for her wokeness. But she is not a model anyone can follow in our current system. Too many people are using sports to cash in and as long as cash runs the system this is just another excuse to garner clicks and …make more cash.

  9. Objective Ace

    A little old, but I came across this news release from the CDC: “New CDC Study: Vaccination Offers Higher Protection than Previous COVID-19 Infection”

    Upon reading the study though–I dont understand the conclusion. The population appears to consist of only people who have had Covid. One subset of the population then went on to get vaxxed while the other subset did not. The set that has both natural immunity and is vaccinated is demonstrated to be less at risk then the just natural immunity set. While useful to know, this is not what the CDC is claiming as its conclusion. Anyone have any other takes?

    Here’s the link https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/s0806-vaccination-protection.html

    1. Soredemos

      The CDC needs to be literally burned to the ground. We would be better off with them simply not existing. A total absence of leadership would be better than their gross misleadership.

        1. Soredemos

          It would deprive its professional liars of officespace to give out bad medical instructions, if nothing else.

        2. ambrit

          Burning it to the ground would require rebuilding it all from scratch. Be prepared to manipulate that process, and something useful to the general public might be made out of it.
          Entities like the FDA and the CDC were established to stop “snake oil salesmen” from endangering the public health. Now, those entities have become the servants of a new generation of “snake oil salespersons.” Organizations like the FDA and CDC are literally contraveneing the principles that they were originally built to promote. Time for them to reform or die.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        And that is a very sad thing. Because there was a time when the CDC actually existed to track and head off new diseases and epidemics. And actually did that very thing.

    2. Samuel Conner

      I think that the wording

      “These data further indicate that COVID-19 vaccines offer better protection than natural immunity alone and that vaccines,”

      has to be interpreted in the context of the study population, and it does not imply that “vaccination offers better protection to the previously uninfected than the natural immune response to infection does in those previously infected”

      I haven’t read into the details, but superficially, this study might answer or be relevant to a claim I have seen in various places that vaccination impairs immunity in those previously infected. The claim, IIRC, was that the immune response, in previously infected persons, to the mRNA vaccines was messing with the memory cell response elicited by the prior infection. That was an alarming possibility.

      1. Objective Ace

        >has to be interpreted in the context of the study population

        Perhaps, but unfortunately thats not how its being dissected/interpreted. The yahoo article NC linked to this morning specifically said “In August, the CDC published a study of 246 Kentucky residents, concluding that vaccination offers higher protection than a previous COVID infection”. There’s zero mention of the context/population in the Yahoo article.

    3. Cuibono

      the whole study was a joke. Ask yourself one question: given they had access to data from most states, why did they pick just one?
      Second: you think the vaccinated population is the same as the unvaccinated here? of course not. Not even close and they sort of admit that at the end.

  10. clarky90

    “……because it’s too obvious, that if by Bubba we mean……”….

    The People of the Land (Am ha’aretz)


    Am ha’aretz means an “ignorant,” or “boorish person.” In a culture that has always prized learning highly, it is quite a put-down to call someone an am ha’aretz.

    The literal meaning of the phrase is “people (am) of the earth (aretz).” To the rabbis of the Talmud, an “am ha’aretz”, by virtue of his ignorance, was deemed likely to be lax in his observance of the commandments. One common implication of this was that one couldn’t count on an am ha’aretz separating tithes from his produce.

    The rabbis argue about how you may recognize an am ha’aretz. Some of the possibilities are: one who doesn’t say the Shema with its blessings morning and night; one who doesn’t put on tsitsit or tefilin; one who has children but doesn’t care to give them a Jewish education. The most stringent view is that even a person who learns Torah and Mishnah, but doesn’t frequent Torah scholars, is to be considered an am ha’aretz; without learning face-to-face from a living sage, our knowledge is likely to be unreliable (Talmud Berachot 47b, Sotah 22a).

    Today, “am ha’artzut” (the state of being an am ha’aretz) has spread on a scale that the sages never imagined. Knowing what an “am ha’aretz” is, and knowing that traditionally Jews strove with all their strength to avoid being one, may be a first step to remedying this.”

    1. Soredemos

      What snobbish elitism. This is effectively the Hebrew form of ‘redneck’, and even more direct in its loathing. And only a clueless, elitist snob could write something as foul as that final sentence. “Oh no, stupid people are spreading!”.

      For my money I would take the average farmer over the average rabbi any day of the week (being well versed in bronze age myths does not in fact make one ‘learned’, certainly not in any practical sense. And no culture that produces such brain-geniuses as Steven Pinker or Larry Summers is half as smart as it thinks it is. There are in fact a lot of very stupid Jewish ‘intellectuals’. Ethnic narcissism nepotisming them to the highest levels of power doesn’t make them smart. It makes them fortunate failsons who always fail upwards).

      1. Basil Pesto

        tbh the am ha’aretz definition cited above sounds more like it’s describing and admonishing secular jews than rednecks

    2. Brunches with Cats

      That’s very similar to the origins of “pagan” and “peasant,” both of which originally meant a rural dweller, country person (as in, “country bumpkin”), someone who works the land. “Pagan” became synonymous with “heathen” after the establishment of Christianity in the Roman Empire, the country people being given to worshipping multiple gods (e.g., the gods of ancient Gaul). Masses were conducted in Latin, which the pagans didn’t understand — because, of course, they were uneducated, ignorant, uncivilized, lacking in culture … Different millennium, same old $h!t.

      1. JBird4049

        Using latin instead of the local languages was also a form of control. If people could understand what was being read or spoken, then they could judge for themselves. Can’t have that. One of the reasons why people were burnt at the stake was for translating the bible.

        1. Brunches with Cats

          Yes, and the Cathars (12th & 13th centuries) were branded as heretics on several counts, among which was conducting mass in the language of the local people — not the worst of their offenses, though, according to the inaptly named Pope Innocent III.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      I thought I remember reading once somewhere that the am ha-aretzes were a kind of hippie of that time and place, who made a deliberate point of refusing to know about any of the formulaic and specific items of judaic ethno-religio-cultural knowledge or practice. And the rabbis referred to them as the equivalent of ” G-d Damned hippies” and meant it, too.

  11. Mo.B

    I don’t have access to WSJ article on dentist’s opposition to including in Medicare. Can someone summarize their reasons? I assume the payments will be small, but still it is more business, isn’t it?

  12. David

    If you are a “lawyer, writer and media critic” and you are going to pontificate about 1984 you could start by reading up on what is already well known. The best summation of all the research on the origins of the novel is Dorian Lynskey’s “The Ministry of Truth”, from which the author would have learned that for many years, it has been known that the Ministry of Truth building is not the BBC HQ at Portland Place, but the much more impressive Senate House, further north, which during the war harboured the Ministry of Information (yes!) and where Orwell’s wife Eileen worked. Most of the points raised in the article are actually explained in that book.

    Orwell’s intention in writing the book is not really in doubt, either. He was a democratic socialist, who believed that democracy was in danger from centralising and authoritarian tendencies from all parts of the political spectrum, and the rise of managerial theory (of which 1984 is in part a parody). In turn this could lead to a division of the world into competing blocs held together by force (remember that in 1984 Britain (Airstrip One) is essentially part of the US.) Orwell was less worried about the triumph of any ideology (the Party in 1984 famously has none) than of the tendency for modern scientific management to take over and demand obedience. (In many ways he foresaw the plague of the MBAs). Orwell did not seriously think something like the events of his novel would happen in England, but, as he said, he wanted to use satire to shock people into the realisation that such events could, in theory, happen everywhere. As I say, this is all pretty well known.

    Oh and there aren’t “two theories” about interpreting literature. The extreme Intentional view (which students are warned about as the Intentional Fallacy) treats works of art as crossword puzzles to be decoded by critics, after which there’s no more to be said. In reality, what an author was consciously trying to do is only part of the story, and everyone accepts that unconscious and half-conscious elements also find their way in. Likewise, Barthes’ extreme position is not itself an alternative, and few real critics in practice deny that the life and circumstances of an author have some relevance, although not in the mechanical way the author here seems to assume.

  13. Terry Flynn

    Hoping skynet is rational. I haven’t had issues with NC but the delay here is suspiciously long on a comment…….

    1. Wukchumni

      Skynet is ok, the issue is with the hinese buying up onsonants and then holding missives hostage if they ontain those letters, laiming opyright violation.

  14. Appleseed

    re: “Indignity Vol. 1, No. 20: The nice kind of calipers.”
    “Harden isn’t trying to say the races are unequal. She isn’t even trying to say the races are races. But the racism of scientific racism is always stronger than the science.”

    Thanks for posting a link to this terrific essay. It nicely amplifies a recent Cory Doctorow post I read this a.m. about the new edition of Peter Kropotkin’s Mutual Aid.

    Doctorow writes: “If critiques of social Darwinism and evolutionary psychology are your thing, I strongly recommend feminist biologist Anne Dagg’s incandescent 2004 book, LOVE OF SHOPPING IS NOT A GENE.

    Kropotkin was a scientist, but he trained as a geographer and biology was more of a hobby. By contrast, Dagg is a prominent and celebrated biologist and her critique has an unmistakable scientific heft mixed with a righteous fury.”

  15. Samuel Conner

    > No reason not to bring everything to bear on the problem…

    re: eating sustainably, and connecting with Lambert’s 9/26 post on pressure cooking,

    pressure cookers save a significant fraction of the energy required to cook a meal, compared with conventional electric or gas range cooking.

    I don’t know what the embodied energy of a 3rd gen pressure cooker is, but on a post-purchase energy expenditure $$ basis, they can pay for themselves over a span of not that many years through electricity cost savings.

    I just hope that the electronic components on mine don’t go bad before the machine is a decade old.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      And the longer one keeps and uses a pressure cooker without breaking it or wearing it out, the longer a time span that embodied energy input is spread out over. Would the concept of “amortized” fit here?

      Somewhere in my papers I have a black cast iron skillet that my father already had and used when I was a toddler. So it is at least 60 years old and maybe older. That one shot of embodied energy has stayed embodied for a long time. And if I find it and use it, that embodied energy is again put to good use.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Even if the electronic components go bad, will the metal body and lid ( and pressure retention ability) of the cooker structure itself remain intact? If it will, and the electronics go bad and become irreplaceable as digital civilization winds down, could the cooker itself still be worked on a bit to make it function as an analog sits-on-a-flame pressure cooker?

      1. Pat

        Not the way most if not all of them are set up. The bottom of the electronic pressure cookers are a base that contained the heating elements for the unit. The pot is a separate inner pot that sits in that base.

  16. jr

    re: Gorillas in the chimps (myself included)

    A different perspective: under idealism, there is no such thing as the “unconscious” mind. Consciousness is the bottom line of the world writ large, the extensions of space/time as well as objects. As all is within consciousness, including the brain, therefore it is impossible for anything to be not-consciousness. This is NOT a panpsychicism claim, which is a anemic effort to save materialism. All is within consciousness but not all is actually conscious, let alone reflectively consciousness.

    So there is is consciousness and, for higher-level brains, reflective consciousness. To be clear, this is distinguished from intelligence, which Bernardo Kastrup defines as the ability to construct models of reality for processing by consciousness. Confusing intelligence with consciousness is a mistake made consistently by the loons who think that godd@mn3d robot I linked to is alive.

    In place of the unconscious, Kastrupian idealism proposes “obsfucated” consciousness. Individual consciousness are off-shoots of what he calls “mind-at-large”, brains are not the producers of consciousness but rather they filter and shape consciousness. More of a transceiver than a motherboard if you will. The more complex the transceiver, the more awareness until the level of self-awareness is reached. A great discussion of a hierarchy of consciousness is in the free will work of Harry Frankfurt, although he moved away from his arguments in later life. I believe erroneously.

    The filtering (structure of the brain) produces the obfuscation, which is a good thing as both system theory and biological evolutionary theory hold that too much unbounded access to information is un-good. It would a. dissolve the individual mind into the whole (thinks of a stream flowing into the ocean, it’s no longer the stream, it is the ocean now) and b. it would be too distracting for an organism to survive (think of a caveman who sits marveling at an increased access to experiential reality while a cave bear closes in unnoticed). Survival depends on an imperfect experiential process, in short less is more.

    One supporting bit of evidence for Kastrup’s theory is based on the effect of psychedelic drugs. When one experiences say mushrooms, there are visions of colors, objects that aren’t there, powerful surges of emotions. Ask McKenna what happens when you take a lot of mushrooms, he describes another world complete with bizarre entities who seem to be aware of the observer.

    Now, “common sense” would dictate that this corresponds with an increase in brain activity but in fact the opposite appears to be the case. The filter is relaxed, the barriers between individual consciousness and the broader consciousness are lowered to a degree, and we experience a broader spectrum of reality. For informed readers, there was a study done that seemed to contradict this but there is at least one other that demonstrates that while different parts of the brain do increase in activity the overall level of activity goes down.

    Another line of argument is drawn from near death experiences. As the brain begins to shut down, one could argue that experiences should go down as well. However, there is a body of evidence that shows many people experience an expanded range of “mental events”, seeing dead relatives etc. Again, this could be seen as a lowering of the barriers as opposed to an internally generated process shutting down.

    Some recommended reading: pretty much anything by Kastrup is interesting but specifically “Why Materialism is Baloney” is a great jumping off point. If you like whiskey over beer so to speak, check out Schopenhauer’s “Will and Representation”. Bring a lunch for that read.

    1. jr

      A quick note: intelligence is, if I recall correctly, is a function of perception, raw data impacting either the senses or in the case of abstract thought directly perceived. Then it’s kicked up to consciousness. I have to work on that bit but my point is it’s not a conscious process, it “packages” input for consciousness to apprehend.

  17. jr

    A quick shout out to drumlin woodchuckles: thanks for the idea for the stoves, im going to give it a try and report back here

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Thank you for the kind words of shout out. If it works I will feel very pleased and validated. If it does not work, I will feel sad, but we should know about that, too. It is all data.

      And datum by datum, science makes progress.

      If any other ideas come to me, I will offer them back in the pressure cooker thread.

  18. Old Chris

    Disappointed to see your “the right (“freedom”)” logic, Lambert. The vaccines are bad news not only for lovers of “freedom” but also lovers of the precautionary principle. Nobody knows the long term effects of these things so the claim that they are safe and effective is just bunk. It’s simply outside the realm of knowledge at this point.

    The importance of the above point cannot be overstated. Dune, which you have been fond of quoting long before the recent movie, makes it a supreme commandment: though shalt not disfigure the soul. Forcing the immune system to mass produce Spike Protein B and its antibodies will, of course, have costly and unpredictable effects. To change the underlying mechanics of a complex system is to totally wipe clean the known parameters of possible system outcomes. Obviously the Biden people know this and while we could toss out nefarious conspiracy theories all day, I think destroying the one control group that cannot be manipulated by outright lying about the data, non-vaxxed people, is a reasonable guess as to why they are using such brutish tactics.

    Please don’t dismiss the vax hesitant/resistant as “the right.” And if you must, perhaps it’s time to re-consider why the terms right and left got their names; or at the very least, be more forthright in disclosing your values (maybe the emerging chaos of antibody dependent enhancement is your thing, but I doubt it).

    1. hunkerdown

      Not speaking for him, but I read his intent there as to treat the vax mandate strictly as a political operation. We devotees of the precautionary principle don’t have a political party or other organization representing our interests and active in DC, and aren’t likely to find many friends there either. The official opposition party decided to stand in the way of the other official opposition party, choosing one of their standard sales languages (“freedom”) and avoiding fact-based mic drops at all costs to protect the other party (both do this).

      1. Old Chris

        Well, I agree with you’re take on the political theater angle but the actual people who oppose the vaccines cannot be squared into any conventional political category. The claim that it is “the right” that opposes the mandates is not strictly true; the set includes members of the political right and a random assortment of people from all over the conventional political spectrum. Biden (or realistically his people) get this and gave vax passes to those liberal mafia groups that helped him “win” the election (the post office, and the BLM marketing team, aka the NBA, being key examples).

        Unless you’re arguing that the right is simply the group that stands for doing things right, I.e. living their life in accordance with their values regardless of what the massive force of collectivism demands of them, then the characterization of the mandate opposition being the right isn’t really fair.

        The vaccines were a huge mistake and it’s been disappointing to see the wider Naked Capitalism team so uncritical of them.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > The vaccines were a huge mistake and it’s been disappointing to see the wider Naked Capitalism team so uncritical of them.

          Not sure where you’re getting this. NC’s coverage of vaccines has been about as exhaustive and even-handed as any blog — heck, source — I know. (We’re not going anti-vax because (a) we believe in vax, in principle, and (b) we’re all vaccinated. If not going anti-vax means “uncritical,” then there’s not much I can do to help you.)

          1. ambrit

            Alas, it is way past the time where “vax” could be decoupled from “mRNA therapy.” Would it be too conspirationally minded to imagine some fell entity deliberately conflating “mRNA therapy” and “vaccine?”

  19. Greg Taylor

    The high-dose ivermectin study from Argentina allowed patients/doctors to choose the treatment so it wasn’t a randomized clinical trial and causality can’t be rigorously determined. People who either weren’t offered or declined the treatment as well as some who didn’t meet inclusion criteria were used as a comparison group – one significant weakness of the study. The study was performed between January and May 2021. Less than 2% were fully immunized while 8.5% had one shot.

    The 3266 patients choosing ivermectin tended to be more obese (36% vs. 12.5%) and hypertensive (17% vs 9%). Despite the higher risk, the 1556 non-immunized ivermectin patients over 40 had lower percentages of deaths (2.1% vs 3.6%) and ICU admissions (1% vs 2.1%). The mortality and ICU results look promising especially considering the risk factors present in the ivermectin group.

    Liver enzymes and adverse events were analyzed and the overall safety deemed adequate.

    Some patients received a higher than normal doses (0.6 micrograms/kg/day). Unfortunately, safety results weren’t reported separately for that group. Efficacy results for the higher dose group were somewhat better than the lower dose group but not enough to be considered statistically significant.


      Boeing Dreamliner…….the project that announces to the world that we cant build squat anymore.

      The Wichita bizjet builders figured out back in the 1990s that using composites in primary structure was a bad idea. Mainly by watching Beech flounder thru three consecutive development programs….the Starship, the Premier and the Hawker 4000.

      There are no secrets among the people working on the airplanes in Wichita. Like the story about Beech finding out that the tooling that you wrap with carbon fiber, then bake in an autoclave SHRINKS after its been through some thermal cycles.

      If Boeing is experiencing something similar, shims and rework will be the least of their problems. They will be chasing their tails forever. And I can’t even imagine how much they will lose in scrappage.

      And that leads to another thing. Aluminum scrap has some value. Carbon fiber scrap is hazmat.

      Or that the Lear 85 project was effed the second they weighed the first prototype (in April). Airplane was too heavy. Seems that all the high priced design software does a lousy job of predicting weights. But didnt announce the project cancellation until the Friday before the following Christmas

  20. Wukchumni

    When I think of the workout these digits and so many others have gotten over typing casting in regards to Bitcoin and the other cryptocurrency limited edition pretenders to the fiat throne…

    …reckon I could deadlift a $50 bag of pennies using merely only my index finger

  21. Glen

    Is this what happens if you mess with China?

    Suppliers in China for Apple, Tesla, Intel, Nvidia, Qualcomm, NXP, Infineon, ASE Forced to Halt Production amid Energy Crackdown

    America is getting to be at the end of a very long supply chain that is not being run by America. I’m sure the American CEOs and billionaires that sent all the technology, factories, and jobs to China will suffer for their poor judgement! (I jest, I’m sure that just like all those crooks from Wall St that Obama sent to jail, they will do just fine!)

    1. Samuel Conner

      > America is getting to be at the end of a very long supply chain that is not being run by America.

      This brings to mind something Lambert has on occasion observed about one’s business being dependent on platforms that one does not control.

    2. cnchal

      Notice how natural gas futures for Korea and Japan spiked five fold within the last year?

      That is going to knock a lot of businesses down and out.

      > America is getting to be at the end of a very long supply chain that is not being run by America.

      Actually, the supply chain problems originate in America. Splashing trillions of MMT money into sending crapola over from China is America’s doing and as soon as a pinch was suspected businesses started ordering double or moar in the hope something would show up, and yes, the executives will never feel the pain of handing everything over to China for personal riches.

      What should piss everyone off is the suggestion that billions should be wasted on ports so ever moar crap from China can be shoved into local landfills. At the moment there are over 60 ships waiting in California waters to disgorge their garbage.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        “America’s” doing? Not, it was the IFTC’s doing. IFTC stands for International Free Trade Conspiracy.

        Presidents Reagan and Bush were the early traitors who designed the agreements. President Clinton was the key crucial traitor who got the agreements passed. With help from certain economic traitor Democrats.

  22. jr

    A note for helping the homeless I came across in a prepper video:


    These are pocket can openers, dirt cheap and sturdy. It greatly expands the opportunities for feeding oneself on the street. I’ve started to carry a few in my pocket to hand out with a buck or two.

    1. Rod

      Got em free in every box of C-rats.
      Still have some.
      Bet you can find hundreds/thousands with a metal detector in every forest in Bavaria

  23. Jason Boxman

    So it’s hilarious that liberal Democrats somehow must have simply forgotten that funding the government and the debt ceiling votes were coming up in the 2H of this year. Who knew, right? Like who knew the eviction moratorium was going to expire? Not liberal Democrats.

    Republicans Block Government Funding, Refusing to Lift Debt Limit

    It’s almost as if they never intended to govern anyway. And this is the party of the “adults”, that can’t use a simple calendar.

  24. enoughisenough

    RE. Biden saying we have done way more than other countries:

    Where is our lockdown? Where are our mask mandates? WHY HASN’T HE RELEASED THE PATENTS?

    1. Anon

      Easy with the lockdown talk, this is America, and some of us who are still employed have mouths to feed… seriously, after Trump’s ‘15 days’ in early 2020; horrified, I correctly identified that “we’re all just going to have to catch this thing”. Biden drove that point home when he lifted the mask mandate.

      Get your vaccine (or not… I won’t miss you, like you won’t miss me), wear a mask, social distance, and pray.

  25. Michael Stover

    You guys and your acronyms. There are those of us who read your columns with great interest but still don’t know all of your code words. To whit, what does PMC mean?

    Maybe you could from time to time publish a list so folks like me would have a clue.


    1. hunkerdown

      In this case, professional-managerial class, theorized by Barbara and John Ehrenreich in a 1977 essay, a collection of salaried, educated workers, 1) tasked with reproducing capitalist relations after beatings and massacres could no longer be counted on to do so, and 2) who constitute themselves as antagonistic and separate to both capital and labor.

    2. Rainlover

      PMC=Professional Management Class. I share your pain but can usually find the meaning with a DDG (Duck Duck Go) search.

    3. The Rev Kev

      PMC is the Professional Managerial Class aka the pointy-haired bosses. They are a point of derision not so much because of who they are but their all too often incompetence. Personally, it has gotten to the point that anybody with a Master of Business Administration is placed under automatic suspicion by myself. You see these people talking about aircraft or wines or machined tools but they never describe it as such. They always call it ‘product’ which to me is a marker.

    4. cnchal



      Professional Managerial Class. Middle-class professionals typically who typically are educated and have business training and qualifications, and some advanced university degrees;

      e.g. academics, teachers, social workers, engineers, managers, nurses, and middle-level administrators, The PMC typically have above-average incomes.

      The Republicans suck up to the PMC by giving them tax breaks and stripping the industry of fundamental business regulations. which really doesn’t benefit the PMC in the lower rung. And the transfer of all the wealth to the rich limits the PMC’s opportunity, especially when the middle class and poor no longer have money for discretionary spending on their products.

      1. Big River Bandido

        academics, teachers, social workers, engineers, managers, nurses, and middle-level administrators, The PMC typically have above-average incomes

        Whoa. Whoa. Four of the professions you listed — professors, primary/secondary teachers, social workers and nurses — are among the most poorly-paid, especially for the amount of education they require. Even engineers don’t make now what they did 20 years ago. And all of these professions have lost any power they may have had to control the conditions of their own work. That alone would disqualify them from the PM *class*. Sure, there will be ”academics” who are nothing but columnists. They are a drop in the bucket among the actual PMC.

        PMC is more about one’s attitude and approach to rules and society — and especially with regard to the question of who in that society gets to make the rules. Members of the PMC see themselves distinctly as a class, born to rule. The key word in this phrase is “Management”.

  26. dday

    Similar to how Democrats in 2010 were amazed that the Bush tax cuts were coming to their ten year end.
    Also similar to 2010 is that 40 Blue Dog Democrats wrote a letter to Nancy Pelosi basically saying that they would not sign on to any attempt to deal with taxes. Two months later the Republicans stormed back into control of the House, and most of the Blue Dogs lost their seats. It looks like Sinema and a few Dems in the House are trying to replay this scenario.

  27. Martin Oline

    Regarding “Orwellian Propaganda on 1984” I believe George was greatly influenced by his experience in 1936 in the Spanish civil war. He wrote about it in his 1938 book Homage To Catalonia. He was a believer in socialism and would have joined the communist fighters, but quite accidently joined the Workers Party of Marxist Unification (POUM) because it was the main organization in Catalonia on his arrival. During his stay there, he was a witness to the Soviet purges of the POUM and other leftist fighters of the Republican cause, which resulted in the imprisonment and execution of many. He and his wife were lucky to escape Spain with their lives. They were accused of “rabid Trotskyism” and tried in absentia in Barcelona, along with other leaders of the POUM, in 1938. This experience was one the greatest influences of his political education, which he later expressed in Animal Farm and 1984.

  28. coboarts

    Lambert, about ants – I had a conversation today with a friend who had noticed something that I have also noticed, just the past couple or three weeks. There are these tiny ants now working along with the regular little black ants. But her comment as well as my observation was, “they look like child ants.” I live in SF Bay Area, Livermore. I don’t poison my yard, so I have healthy ant colonies. My ants are the little black ones, not the field size ants up the road a bit. You’re well aware we are in extremely dry conditions. And as you know there are some pretty wild ant types that can pour out of a nest, long ones, winged ones, so here is a crazy thought – could an ant colony (the one that dominates my bathroom especially) be downsizing their body size due to the extreme dryness -??? At least the thought crossed my mind – see crazy :- )

  29. drumlin woodchuckles

    A couple of summers ago was a dry enough summer that the couple of wooly bears I saw that early fall were barely an inch long and very thin. It must have been a hard hunger year for them.

  30. Pat

    My cynical self was not cynical enough.
    I admit to being taken aback that The View called two of the co hosts out during the show (the way these things are normally done they would have been there well over an hour, probably two before the cameras would have rolled. But with “our” dismissive attitude to testing, I justified that qualm with the idea that nobody was checking the tests. Then some media pointed out this derailed the first face to face interview for Harris in a while, and it had been derailed. So today it is announced that both tests were false positives. Wow not only does The View look serious if slightly incompetent, Harris gets a soft landing and testing gets shown to be inaccurate. Wins all around, except for the public.

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