2:00PM Water Cooler 9/3/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Busy, busy!

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

Vaccination by region:

I guess it’s really not fair to say that the South is fiddling and diddling any more. There’s a mild upward trend.

52.7% of the US is fully vaccinated, a big moment, bursting through the psychological 52% barrier. Every day, a tenth of a percentage point upward. 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:

Slowing today.

Covid cases top ten states for the last four weeks:

Fresh-squeezed numbers from Florida. Texas and California diverge again. Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama drop.

NEW From CDC: “Community Profile Report September 2, 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties, this release:

Mississippi and Tennessee much less improved. I hate to be optimistic, but it looks like this fever has broken (thought the back to school bump, IMSHO, has yet to really take hold.) Remember, however, that this chart is about acceleration, not absolute numbers, so the case chart still has momentum. This map, too, blows the “Blame Bubba” narrative out of the water. Not a (Deliverance-style) banjo to be heard. Previous release:

(Red means getting worse, green means bad but getting better. This chart updates Tuesdays and Fridays, presumbly by end-of-day.)

Test positivity:

The South and the West seem back on form.

Hospitalization (CDC): This is where CDC moved its hospital data (and who the heck at Microsoft decided no header for a chart is a good idea):

A dip. Good news, and long may it last.

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

The Gulf Coast is red, but moderating. Look at Kentucky go! And I wonder if Alabama is flat because it’s at capacity. Several states in the West are pink and increasing, except for Wyoming, which is red.

Deaths (Our World in Data):

We are now well past the peak of last year at this time. Which I am finding more than a little disturbing. (Adding: I know the data is bad. This is the United States. But according to The Narrative, deaths shouldn’t have been going up at all. Directionally, this is quite concerning. Needless to see, this is a public health debacle. It’s the public health establishment to take care of public health, not the health of certain favored political factions.)

Covid cases worldwide:

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

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

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

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

Capitol Seizure

“Subpoena Tsunami: House Democrats Issue Hundreds of Secret Subpoenas Targeting GOP Colleagues and Others” [The Hill]. ” [There is] subpoena tsunami coming out of the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6th riot in Congress. The list of hundreds of targets include not only GOP members of Congress but demands for secrecy from these companies on the identity of targets. Just two months ago, the Democrats denounced such secret orders by the Justice Department as a threat to our civil liberties.” • If the FBI investigation was some sort of cover-up, it would really be nice to know why ***cough*** agents provocateurs ***cough***. Maybe if we pile up enough subpoenas, we can get Mueller to come out of retirement.

Biden Administration

“Inside the huge effort to fly Afghans to the US on commercial jets” [Financial Times]. “Last month the US Department of Defense activated the Civil Reserve Air Fleet, or CRAF, which allows the government to commandeer commercial aircraft and crew, for only the third time since it was established in 1951. Airlines enrol in the programme, which pays them to ferry soldiers and other passengers during national emergencies, in exchange for the chance to bid on the government’s peacetime business…. The government routinely charters planes from commercial carriers although it rarely invokes the second world war-era provision. But the Pentagon’s need for planes came as the airline industry continues to recover from the financial and operational devastation wrought by the pandemic. Defence officials used CRAF on this occasion, Wernecke said, because ‘they didn’t get enough volunteers.” • Good. Now do test kits, masks, and vaccines.

“McConnell: Biden ‘is not going to be removed from office'” [The Hill]. “Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) on Wednesday shot down calls from within his own party to try to impeach President Biden, pointing to next year’s midterm election as a potential check on the administration. ‘Well, look, the president is not going to be removed from office. There’s a Democratic House, a narrowly Democratic Senate. That’s not going to happen,’ McConnell said at an event in Kentucky, asked if Biden’s handling of the drawdown in Afghanistan merits impeachment and if he would support it. ‘There isn’t going to be an impeachment,’ he added. McConnell’s comments come as some Republicans in the House and Senate call for Biden’s impeachment or for him to resign or be involuntarily removed from office over the botched [sic] Afghanistan exit.”

Readers will recall that when AOC was first elected, I kvetched a good deal about whether her constituent services would be up to scratch. Apparently, they are:

I love that Richard Nixon account. And this is a remarkable comparison:

I wonder if it will turn out to be true? And if so, in what way?

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“Goldman Sachs says 750,000 households could be evicted this year unless Congress acts” [CNN]. “Goldman Sachs estimates that between 2.5 million and 3.5 million households are significantly behind on rent, owing a combined $12 billion to $17 billion to landlords. Those renters appeared to be safe from eviction until at least October until the Supreme Court last week struck down the Biden administration’s ban on evictions, indicating that further action must come from Congress. At the same time, most state-level restrictions on evictions are scheduled to expire over the next month, which the Goldman Sachs analysts noted in the Sunday night report. ‘The end of the eviction moratorium is likely to result in a sharp and rapid increase in eviction rates in coming months unless Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) funding is distributed at a much faster pace or Congress addresses the issue,’ the report said. Without faster aid or new legislation, Goldman Sachs estimates 750,000 households will face eviction this fall and winter. The Wall Street bank noted that roughly half of all US eviction filings resulted in eviction between 2006 and 2016.” • Noting it, while licking their chops.

“New York Extends Eviction Moratorium to early 2022, Offering New Chance for Landlords to Push Back” [The City]. “State lawmakers voted Wednesday to extend a COVID-19 emergency eviction moratorium until Jan. 15, in a rare off-season meeting of the Senate and Assembly. Members descended onto the state Capitol in a special session called by newly instated Gov. Kathy Hochul to vote on the eviction pause and other pressing business, the first time they had convened in full force since the pandemic began in March 2020. In addition to extending the eviction moratorium until mid-January, legislators moved to add an additional $300 million in federal funds to the state’s troubled rental relief program, tweaked New York’s Open Meetings Law to allow local governments to hold meetings virtually, and approved appointments to a board overseeing marijuana legalization.”

“Eviction is over (if we want it)” [Cory Doctorow, Pluralistic]. “Americans owe $12-14b to their landlords, and Congress has authorized $46.5b in rental assistance that could make all of those landlords whole several times over. But the states have only distributed 11% of the money!…. Why are the states having so much trouble handing out money? Bureaucracy. You know, the thing whose supposed absence was cited as the source of America’s moral and economic superiority to the USSR. What’s the source of this bureaucracy? Means-testing. The endless red-tape, so beloved of conservatives, that is meant to ensure that the “undeserving poor” don’t get any of the money earmarked for “hardworking poor people.'” • And by “conservatives,” we mean “liberals, too.” I mean, ObamaCare?

Democrats en Deshabille

“This YouTube star wants to be governor. He’s the best-known Democrat on the recall ballot” [Los Angeles Times]. “With no prominent Democrats running to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom, Paffrath has become the de facto choice for a quotient of party faithful who oppose the recall but still want to mark their ballots with a Democratic backup candidate…. But for some voters, Paffrath is a pragmatic option who they think will at least protect Democratic interests….. ‘I don’t think he’s a good choice. I just think he’s a slightly better choice than [Larry] Elder or a blank answer,’ said Elaine Loh, an L.A. writer who voted for Paffrath. In a race packed with longshot entrants, Paffrath’s unlikely candidacy was propelled to the mainstream — or at least the fringes of the mainstream — in early August, when results from a SurveyUSA poll pegged him as the leading replacement candidate, with 27% support.”

“Drug industry banks on its Covid clout to halt Dems’ push on prices” [Politico]. “As Democrats prepare a massive overhaul of prescription drug policy, major pharmaceutical companies are mounting a lobbying campaign against it, arguing that the effort could undermine a Covid fight likely to last far longer than originally expected. In meetings with lawmakers, lobbyists for the pharmaceutical industry have issued warnings about the reconciliation package now moving through both chambers of Congress that is set to include language allowing Medicare to negotiate the price of some drugs, which could generate billions of dollars in savings. In those conversations, K Street insiders say, lobbyists have explicitly mentioned that the fight against the coronavirus will almost certainly extend beyond the current surge of the Delta variant. And they’re arguing that now isn’t the time to hit the industry with new regulations or taxes, particularly in light of its successful efforts to swiftly develop vaccines for the virus.” • Strong argument for nationalization…

Democrat machine shenanigans continue in Buffalo. Anything to keep Democrat primary winner India Walton out of office:

And they wonder why they lost.

“AFL-CIO chief warns of election consequences for pro-filibuster Democrats” [The Hill]. “AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler warned Tuesday that Democrats could face consequences at the ballot box if they don’t support nixing the legislative filibuster to pass a sweeping pro-union bill and other Democratic priorities. ‘Workers want to hold elected officials accountable on an agenda that they voted for. Right now that agenda is being blocked by arcane rules in the Senate. We believe that voters will take that into consideration for the next election,’ Shuler told reporters during a Tuesday event hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. ‘Elected officials, if they’re not listening, that’s when elections end up having consequences,’ she added. The Richard L. Trumka PRO Act — a bill renamed for the longtime AFL-CIO chief following his death earlier this month — is the labor federation’s top priority. The bill would make it easier for workers to organize and was passed by the House in March. However, it doesn’t yet have enough Democratic votes to pass in the 50-50 Senate amid GOP opposition.” • Good, if she follows through.

Realignment and Legitimacy

Texas abortion bill:

The horrid Texas abortion bounty bill:

Very astute. (I did express my concern about “a nation of snitches” when the Capitol rioters were being hunted down. That nation of snitches was, apparently, OK with liberal Democrats. This nation of snitches is not. True, Texas offers a bounty, which makes the whole thing worse. And the bounties come to private organizations, not subject to FOIA, for example, which makes the worse worser.

And it’s not like snitching for a bounty is without precedent:

Why on earth was Roe v. Wade never turned into legislation:

And the failure of bourgeios feminism:

Depends on how you define “getting the job done.” Did the NGOs make bank? Yes.

Of course, what really matters is more and better Democrats:

And, as usual the Democrat leadership thinks we have the memory of goldfish:

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Non Farm Payrolls” [Trading Economics]. “The US economy added 235K jobs in August of 2021, the lowest in 7 months and well below forecasts of 750K as a surge in COVID-19 infections may have discouraged companies from hiring and workers from actively looking for a job. Most jobs were created in professional and business services (74K), transportation and warehousing (53K), private education (40K), manufacturing, and other services (37K). Employment in retail trade declined over the month (-29K) mostly because of food and beverage stores (-23K) and building material and garden supply stores (-13K). Employment in leisure and hospitality was unchanged.”

Employment Situation: “United States Unemployment Rate” [Trading Economics]. “The US unemployment rate dropped to 5.2 percent in August 2021, the lowest level since March 2020 and in line with market expectations, as the labor market continued its steady recovery following business reopenings in the US and despite reports of labor supply shortages and concerns over the lingering threat of the COVID-19 resurgence. The number of unemployed people fell by 318 thousand to 8.38 million, while employment levels increased by 509 thousand to 153.15 million. Still, the jobless rate remained well above the pre-crisis level of about 3.5 percent, but should decline further in the coming months helped by strong economic activity and demand for labor.”

Services: “United States Services PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The IHS Markit US Services PMI stood at 55.1 in August 2021, little-changed from a preliminary estimate of 55.2 and well below July’s 59.9. The latest data signaled a strong upturn in business activity across the U.S. service sector, albeit the slowest since December 2020. New order growth slowed to the weakest since August 2020, with foreign client demand fell at the fastest pace in 2021 to date. Meanwhile, service providers registered broadly unchanged employment levels, while backlogs of work rose markedly and at the fastest pace since data collection began in October 2009.”

Services: “United States ISM Non Manufacturing PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The ISM Services PMI fell to 61.7 in August of 2021 from a record of 64.1 in July, but beat market forecasts of 61.5.”

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Employment Situation: “35 Million People Will Lose Unemployment Income on Sept 6” [People’s Policy Project]. “In today’s report, we learn that 9.2 million people are currently receiving benefits from either the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program or the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. Another 0.1 million filed an initial claim for PUA in the last week. According to the Census Household Pulse Survey, the average household that is receiving UI benefits has 3.8 members in it. This means that around 35 million people (10 percent of the US population) live in households that are scheduled to lose unemployment income in just 4 days.”

Employment Situation: “EXCLUSIVE Amazon CEO unveils 55,000 tech jobs in his first hiring push” [Reuters]. “Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) is planning to hire 55,000 people for corporate and technology roles globally in the coming months, Chief Executive Andy Jassy told Reuters. That’s equal to more than a third of Google’s (GOOGL.O) headcount as of June 30, and close to all of Facebook’s (FB.O).”

Shipping: “There Is an Alternative To LNG as a ‘Transition Fuel’ – and It Is Greener and Easier to Use” [Isle of Man Ship Registry]. “LPG, in the form of propane and butane, can play a major role moving towards the 50 per cent reduction in GHG emissions that is the International Maritime Organisation’s 2050 goal. LNG was the ‘original gas fuel’ used in ships and is more widely known and readily accepted. However, it contains methane, a greenhouse gas which scientists consider to be more harmful than CO2, and combustion must be very efficient to minimise this ‘methane slip’ into the atmosphere. That is not to mention its -162 degrees centigrade temperature at ambient pressures. In contrast, LPG has had the methane removed during production, is kept at a much warmer temperature , at moderate pressures, compared to LNG and needs much less exotic containment. LNG needs cryogenic transport systems and rigid or vacuum insulated while LPG can be much more easily handled. For example, it is bottled LPG in your gas barbecue and you fill up LPG converted cars at a garage forecourt pump. The benefits of LPG are improved safety over LNG, much cheaper materials accommodate the fuel characteristics and there is much wider availability of fuel gas and LPG can be supplied by road tankers at most ports.”

Travel: “‘Forever Changed’: CEOs Are Dooming Business Travel — Maybe for Good” [Bloomberg]. “Business travel as we’ve known it is a thing of the past. From Pfizer Inc., Michelin and LG Electronics Inc. to HSBC Holdings Plc, Hershey Co., Invesco Ltd. and Deutsche Bank AG, businesses around the world are signaling that innovative new communications tools are making many pre-pandemic-era trips history. … A Bloomberg survey of 45 large businesses in the U.S., Europe and Asia shows that 84% plan to spend less on travel post-pandemic. A majority of the respondents cutting travel budgets see reductions of between 20% and 40%, with about two in three slashing both internal and external in-person meetings. The ease and efficiency of virtual software, cost savings and lower carbon emissions were the primary reasons cited for the cutbacks. According to the Global Business Travel Association, spending on corporate trips could slide to as low as $1.24 trillion by 2024 from a pre-pandemic peak in 2019 of $1.43 trillion.” • That’s not very much!

Tech: A long thread about batteries. NC battery mavens please weigh in:

Tech: “Apple to introduce digital drivers licenses in eight states” [The Hill]. “Apple announced on Wednesday that eight U.S. states have agreed to allow users to add their driver’s licenses to their digital wallets on their Apple devices. According to the tech company’s announcement, Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma and Utah have all agreed to roll out a feature that will allow Apple users to add their driver’s license or state ID to their device’s Apple Wallet. Arizona and Georgia will be the first states two roll out this feature. The Apple Wallet app allows those with iPhones or Apple Watches to keep digital copies of their credit cards, loyalty cards and gift cards that can be used in lieu of the physical cards themselves. Users will be able to add their licenses by scanning the card and taking a selfie, which will be sent to the state that issued the license for verification. Users will also be asked to perform a series of facial and head movements. Once verified by the issuing state, their license will be added to their Apple Wallet.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 54 Neutral (previous close: 56 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 50 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 3 at 1:11pm.

The Biosphere

“Rainy season unleashes with fury, beauty in US Southwest” [Associated Press]. “Monsoon storms have brought spectacular lightning shows, bounties of wildflowers and mushrooms, and record rainfall to the region’s deserts. They’ve also brought destruction, flooding streets and homes, and leading to some swift water rescues and more than a dozen deaths.” Then again: “‘Water is life in the desert, and we’ve had a lot of water,’ [said Gene Hall, an entomologist at the University of Arizona] said. ‘Everything seems to be doing pretty well.’ Count mushrooms in.” • Beauty can be closely allied to terror. Which reminds me to give a hat tip to alert reader Wukchumni, for this extraordinary report from John Muir, filed from the midst of the Mineral King Fire of 1875. If you missed it at the time, go read.


“Empirical estimate of forestation-induced precipitation changes in Europe” [Nature]. ” Here we use an observation-based continental-scale statistical model to show that forestation of rain-fed agricultural land in Europe triggers substantial changes in precipitation. Locally, we find an increase in precipitation following forestation, in particular in winter, which is supported by a paired rain-gauge analysis. In addition, forests are estimated to increase downwind precipitation in most regions during summer. By contrast, the downwind effect in winter is positive in coastal areas but near neutral and negative in Continental and Northern Europe, respectively. The combined local and non-local effects of a realistic reforestation scenario, constrained by sustainability safeguards, are estimated to increase summer precipitation by 7.6 ± 6.7% on average over Europe (0.13 ± 0.11 mm d–1), potentially offsetting a substantial part of the projected precipitation decrease from climate change. We therefore conclude that land-cover-induced alterations of precipitation should be considered when developing land-management strategies for climate change adaptation and mitigation.”

“‘Catastrophic’ supervolcano eruption could be much more likely than previously thought, scientists warn” [Sky News]. “Existing knowledge about the likelihood of eruptions is based on the presence of liquid magma under a volcano, but new research warns ‘eruptions can occur even if no liquid magma is found.’ ‘The concept of what is ‘eruptible’ needs to be re-evaluated,” warns Professor Marin Danisik from Curtin University in Australia, lead Australian author of the study from Oregon State University published in the journal Communications Earth & Environment…. ‘Learning when and how eruptible magma accumulates, and in what state the magma is in before and after such eruptions, is critical for understanding supervolcanoes.'” • “More research needed” is always good news!

Health Care

Taleb on clinicians (n=1), epidemiologists (n≥ 100), and risk analysts (large numbers):

Taleb’s teaching style seems easier to understand than his books.

Our Famously Free Press



“Modern Monetary Theory Has a New Friend in Congress” [New York Times]. “f you happened to be watching C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” on June 17, you saw a remarkable display of Modern Monetary Theory’s political influence. Representative John Yarmuth, Democrat of Kentucky, who is the chair of the House Budget Committee, gave a full-throated defense of the deficit-friendly theory to Washington’s sometimes skeptical viewership. ‘Historically, what we have done is said, ‘What can we afford to do?’ The right question is, ‘What do the American people need us to do?’’ he said. He added, ‘If we relied on taxation, purely on taxation, to fund the government, then a lot of people would suffer very seriously, because we could not provide nearly the services that the American people want us to provide.’ I am surprised that Yarmuth’s appearance hasn’t gotten more attention. He is not some anonymous backbencher. He runs the House committee that, in collaboration with its counterpart in the Senate, prepares an annual framework for the federal government’s revenue and spending levels. He is a big fiscal deal and he is on board with Stephanie Kelton, a Stony Brook University economics and public policy professor who has become a leading voice for Modern Monetary Theory. She told me that Yarmuth’s C-SPAN appearance was ‘pretty remarkable.’ ‘Unquestionably he is the most important member of Congress when it comes to just having a very good command of what it is that I and others in the M.M.T. community are arguing,’ Kelton said. ‘He’s not getting anything wrong. He’s done the hard work.'” • Now all Biden has to do is leave a horse’s head in Manchin’s bed. Or maybe we could shred the Big Tent and strangle him with a piece of it. Kidding!

Groves of Academe

I don’t know how one would prevent cheating in an online examination, but this doesn’t seem good:

Handwritten essays? For everything?

Class Warfare

“RAs on strike indefinitely after Stanford fails to meet demands” [The Stanford Daily]. “Resident assistants (RAs) from more than 28 residence halls have gone on strike indefinitely after Stanford administrators failed to meet their demands for enhanced COVID-19 protections, higher pay and a revised alcohol and drug policy. The collective action by student employees — unprecedented in recent times — represents a significant escalation between student staff and the University just over a week before frosh are set to arrive on campus. While the exact number of RAs involved in the strike is unknown, organizers estimated that hundreds of RAs opted to strike and did not attend staff training on Thursday.”

News of the Wired

I’m not feeling especially wired this Friday. Have an excellent weekend.

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

SC reports:

This will be my last update on the Asclepias purpurascens propagation project until Spring/Summer 2022 when I know the results (plant morphology) of my next round of germinations. Basically, I don’t know with certainty that I have Purple rather than Purple/Common hybrids and the only way I may be able to be more confident is to self-pollinate each plant and see if I get “children” that look like the parent and like each other; if yes, then the parent is probably not a heavily genetically contaminated hybrid. I have one plant that self-pollinated this year (there were no other blossoms on other plants at the time — and I’m hoping that there wasn’t Common MW in bloom in nearby neighbors’ yards; I think this unlikely since my plants bloomed late). It’s not yet clear that the seed pod will have healthy seed. I think it will ripen in another month or so. If I get good seed, I can at least test this one plant to see if its offspring exhibit evidence of hybrid parentage.

The attached photo is a side-by-side comparison of a blossom of mostly or entirely Common milkweed, A. syriaca, with a blossom that is hopefully at worst lightly-contaminated A. purpurascens, Purple milkweed.

In commentary on an early “purple problems” report, NC commenter ‘Brunches with Cats’ (BwC) pointed to a really useful paper on Common/Purple hybridization:

Hybridization between Asclepias purpurascens and Asclepias syriaca (Apocynaceae): A cause for concern?, Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society

BwC noted, per this paper, that the blossoms of hybrids more nearly resemble Purple while the foliage of hybrids more nearly resembles Common. Unfortunately, it does not appear to be easy to distinguish individual hybrid specimens from “pure-breds” based on single plant traits. I get a qualitative impression of “Purple” from overall (leaf, stem and blossom) appearance of most of the plants, but the range of trait variation reported in the hybridization paper is such that these could be hybrids.

BwC also suggested contacting the author, Prof Steven Broyles. Prof Broyles responded to my inquiries and based on his assessments, of the 3 plants that produced blossoms two are probably Purple and one strongly resembles Common. These were all from seeds sold as “Purple” by a reputable native plants seed seller, so that seller appears to have a genetic contamination problem in its seed sources, which IMO casts doubt on my entire colony. He also provided some helpful documents on taxonomical features and on hand-pollination. I will attempt hand pollination in 2022 in order to become self-sufficient in seed. I’m at present treating the identifications of the two “purple” plants as provisional; per his paper some or many of these plants could be hybrids (and the fact that one looks a lot like Common IMO warrants doubt about the rest).

The attached image is a side-by-side close-up of a blossom from my older colony of “mostly genetically Common” MW and a blossom from a new plant that is provisionally regarded to be mostly Purple.

The left image is from a plant in the Common colony. This colony was started from two plants grown from seed in 2017, and there is significant morphological diversity in the vegetation of the two halves of the colony that has spread from the two founder plants. All the blossoms look like Common MW and the seed pods all are prickly, but one half of the colony has noticeably higher aspect ratio leaves and seed pods than the other, which suggests to me the possibility of greater Purple gene content in that half.

(Aside: hilariously, these “mostly Common” plants also came from seed sold as “Purple” — by an Etsy seller; my bad for seeking a rare plant at a lightly regulated marketplace. The most charitable interpretation is that this seller himself had hybrid plants and mistook them for Purple.)

The right half of the image is a “hopefully mostly or entirely Purple MW” blossom from one of the two plants, grown this year from seed, that bloomed and looks like Purple MW.

A number of the traits that distinguish Common blossoms from Purple (but also Purple/Common hybrids, which resemble Purple) can be seen in this image. The most obvious is the “hood teeth”, little “tusks” that project toward the center alongside (as viewed from above) but below the prominent horns, that are present in the left image and not in the right.

So it looks like I have two hopefully mostly or maybe entirely Purple MW plants, and others that did not bloom but that based on leaf shape are also hopefully Purple. One plant from that seed batch is clearly Common, leaf and blossom, and I have moved it into my “sacrifice” Common colony, which will henceforth be frequently decimated to contain its underground spread and the nascent blossoms removed to prevent it from crossing with the Purple colony. I’ll plant a load of butterfly nectar plants in the midst of the Common planting to draw the butterflies and other pollinators away from the Purple colony. If I can become skilled at hand pollination, I can leave the Purple patch somewhat bare of other plants in order to reduce pollinator interest in it, which may help to reduce risk of contamination from any Common MW located on other properties in my neighborhood.

I have two seed pods on one of the two “Purple” MW plants, and at least one of these is from a blossom that did not overlap with potential contaminating blooms on the rogue plainly Common plant in that colony. I’ll probably destroy the 2nd pod as that blossom may have crossed with the Common plant.

When I started this project back in 2017, I had in mind producing lots of seed, which could be sold or distributed gratis to people interested in this plant. From painful experience, I think it unwise to assume that I know what the seed is, even from my own plants, and instead I’ll grow plants from my own seed and distribute only plants that give evidence from both foliage, blossom and offspring, that they do not have a significant genetic contribution from Common MW.

* * *
This is an equivocal interim outcome, and I’m not thrilled about the work that remains to establish whether my plants are more nearly pure-bred or are hybrids. But it looks like it’s going to be pandemic time for a long time yet, so having lots of work in the yard to occupy me may not be a bad thing. And it’s better to know that I should not simply hand out seed or plants without establishing what they are. I only learned about this issue through the excellent commentary that you attract to your ‘blog.

Thanks to SC for reporting on this great project, and also to alert reader Brunches with cats.

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If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!2:00PM Water Cooler 6/8/2021

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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. Wukchumni

    During WW2 every GI Joe had $10k worth of cost-free government issued life insurance if they were to be killed-to be paid to his family, and now in Texas you can garner $10k if a fetus were to be killed, and you turned in the perp.

  2. Hoven

    “Congress has authorized $46.5b in rental assistance that could make all of those landlords whole several times over. But the states have only distributed 11% of the money!”

    “The New York Times recently reported that California has only paid out
    $1 million of its $355 million in apportioned funds

    Wonder if the renters about to be kicked out will recall this as they fill out their special ballot?

    1. Michael Hudson

      I think that you can be sure that AFTER the renters are evicted, the funds THEN will become available to be paid to the landlords. (And for them to pay to their mortgage bankers.) That’s the real aim, after all.

      1. ambrit

        How about a naming contest for the “New and Improved!” homeless camps? It was Hoovervilles back in the 1930s. Hobo Jungles was a term I read a lot in the 1960s. Seeing how ‘times’ are evolving today in America, ‘Lager,’ from the German word for Camp might fit.
        Stay safe!
        (Oh, and what about coronavirus in those ‘camps?’ A pretext for rounding the homeless up and ‘managing’ them? All in the interests of public health, of course.)

      1. Objective Ace

        Small time landlord here*. If I knew the government would pay the tenants rent I’d happily take that and not evict. But we all know how the government works. Promises, money set aside, that never ends up being used for its intended purpose. I’ll take the guaranteed eviction over some hypothetical chance I might some day get back some proportion of what I can prove I’m owed. Not to mention I would likely need to higher an accountant/lawyer to access this money like I would have to access the “small” business loans.

        It’s telling that congress appropriated 3x the amount of owed back rent. They must know significant chunks will either be eaten up by financial processing middlemen or get lost in bearacracies. Best case scenario is 1/3 of it gets through, otherwise why appropriate 3x more than needed?

        *I know landlords are somewhat of a boogeyman on this site, but we provide a service for a fee just like every other industry. I’m fair, honest, and up front with my tenants with expectations (for the landlords that are not–they deserve our scorn). When I became a landlord I realized the risk I was taking that a tenant may lose a job and not be able to afford rent. I did not anticipate the risk that the government would change/ignore the laws they have on the books protecting landlords from non paying customers. I agree housing is a human need and fully support the government taxing (or printing) the money needed to provide it. We should absolutely be doing that for everyone

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Small time landlord here*.

          Back in the day, a retired person in a college town could take in one student and pay the fuel bill. Not such a bad arrangement.

          Those days are long, long gone.

  3. Wukchumni

    “Eviction is over (if we want it)” [Cory Doctorow, Pluralistic]. “Americans owe $12-14b to their landlords, and Congress has authorized $46.5b in rental assistance that could make all of those landlords whole several times over. But the states have only distributed 11% of the money!…. Why are the states having so much trouble handing out money? Bureaucracy. You know, the thing whose supposed absence was cited as the source of America’s moral and economic superiority to the USSR.
    When the end came for the USSR, nobody owned the real estate they happened to be living in, and there was no private landlords dunning them for back rent either. Ex-Soviet citizens essentially gained control & ownership of their flats by eminent domain.

    In my ongoing Bizarro World comparison of the USSR & USA collapsing, we of course had to get to the same conclusion, albeit in a roundabout way of getting there, as was/is our mutual collapse.

    Its gonna get so messy, soon.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      I think that’s an excellent point. At least Soviet State Socialism managed to pass off one good thing to its citizens. But I think the term you’re looking for is adverse possession, not eminent domain.

      1. bassmule

        This may be of interest. Dmitry Orlov, from 2006:

        “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I am not an expert or a scholar or an activist. I am more of an eye-witness. I watched the Soviet Union collapse, and I have tried to put my observations into a concise message. I will leave it up to you to decide just how urgent a message it is.

        My talk tonight is about the lack of collapse-preparedness here in the United States. I will compare it with the situation in the Soviet Union, prior to its collapse. The rhetorical device I am going to use is the “Collapse Gap” – to go along with the Nuclear Gap, and the Space Gap, and various other superpower gaps that were fashionable during the Cold War.”

        Closing The Collapse Gap

        1. Rainlover

          That is a sobering article. Especially his conclusion that unlike the Soviet Union, the U.S. Collapse will be permanent because this country lacks the resilient government -funded and maintained infrastructure that allowed Russia to recover. The population was able to retain their housing and public transportation was widely available. This country will not be so “lucky.”

  4. jo6pac

    This is nothing but cheap theater. They have hearing with ceo not under oath saying what ever the committee wants to hear all the while top aids and lobbyist will be meeting behind close doors to figure out to continue screw over Amerikas Main Street. It will also provide dnc asking for more $$$$ from Amerikas drug lords.

    “As Democrats prepare a massive overhaul of prescription drug policy, major pharmaceutical companies are mounting a lobbying campaign against it, arguing that the effort could undermine a Covid fight.

  5. Carolinian

    That nation of snitches was, apparently, OK with liberal Democrats.

    Nancy kicking herself for leaving off the bounties?

    Meanwhile I was walking my trail this morning and overheard a couple discussing: is it a vaccine or a therapeutic? Clearly the public is more plugged in to these debates than one might think. Some of us have always believed that attempts to control the internet–by the movie industry or by the medical industry or the software industry–would ultimately prove fruitless (this has always been Doctorow’s big point). The only control that might work would be to turn the thing off.

      1. Wukchumni

        Not related, but the bumper sticker on the rear echelon of my jalopy reads:

        ‘I’ve Never Metamorphic I didn’t Like’

  6. Darthbobber

    “trifecta for Democrats?” You know it’s dismal when this is what you’re celebrating. That nj governor and the CA recall should even briefly look competitive counts as near-disaster in its own right. The fact that Newsom and Murphy now look more likely to prevail in contests that were initially expected to present no challenge in the first place is hardly grounds for a big celebration.

  7. Silent Bob

    Regarding the semi-annual abortion hysteria. Inquiring minds want to know if a woman’s right extends to her right to refuse the vaccine. I don’t do Twitter but I suspect a brief perusal through some of these accounts would be fairly revealing regarding what these staunch defenders of womens bodies feel is and isn’t allowed as far as ones bodily rights are concerned. Hypocrisy ain’t just a river in Egypt.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Regarding the semi-annual abortion hysteria. Inquiring minds want to know if a woman’s right extends to her right to refuse the vaccine

      Of course not. But wherever one looks one sees enormous contradictions.

    2. TBellT

      A fetus functions like a parasite, the treatment is a removal. You can’t remove a virus, the body must clear on it’s own, hence the emphasis on prevention.

    3. marym

      This isn’t a completely fair analogy because pregnancy isn’t contagious.

      I’m strongly pro reproductive choice. I don’t believe people should be forced to get a vaccine that’s new and has known and potentially not-yet-known serious side effects.

      However, if who people object to the vaccine on the grounds of “choice” are also among those who have objected to every non-medical preventive measure, and/or have harassed people observing those measures, and/or are willing to take other forms of emergency-use authorization medicine then they’re not pro-choice, just pro-contagion.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > if who people object to the vaccine on the grounds of “choice” are also among those who have objected to every non-medical preventive measure, and/or have harassed people observing those measures

        There are contradictions on all sides. (To go all zeitgeisty, I don’t think it’s hypocrisy, I think it’s deeper than that.)

      2. The Rev Kev

        ‘because pregnancy isn’t contagious’

        Tell that to the women that work with Boris Johnson. It has become a bot of an occupational hazard for them.

    4. Pelham

      If it weren’t for Covid I’d invite a bunch of friends over for an evening of cable news viewing and a drinking game based on the number of references to “The Handmaid’s Tale” on CNN and MSNBC.

    1. bsun

      This photo was taken by a tenant in New Brunswick, Canada, where my family’s from, and the problem is a little different from the eviction crisis brewing in the US. New Brunswick has virtually no rent control laws. While this increase is ridiculous, large rent increases have become common in some areas of the province over the last five years.

      The pandemic has definitely exacerbated this. New Brunswick is historically one of the cheapest provinces in terms of real estate. On top of that, they’ve made it this far into the pandemic with very few cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, while COVID was raging in other places like Ontario and Quebec. So in the last year, seemingly half of Canada has decided that they’d like to buy a house in New Brunswick and move. My in-laws did it and so did maybe 20% of the retired couples in their church (which means slightly less than 20% of the church). As you can imagine this has caused housing prices to soar in New Brunswick and rents are going up with them. Lots of people from out of province also decided to jump on the bubble part of the way through as an investment so there’s been an increase in the number of absentee landlords as well. The premiere is in explicit denial of all of this for months.

  8. Henry Moon Pie

    The spread of MMT–

    Yarmuth is indeed a big get in my estimation.

    On another front, I received the books for the second semester of my Common Earth course. As another way that MMT is spreading, there was Stephanie Kelton’s The Deficit Myth. Then there were Gabe Brown’s Dirt to Soil, Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics and The Tao of Leadership by John Heider.

    Last but definitely not least, was Hesse’s Journey to the East, and I was just at the age when a lot of us were reading Steppenwolf and I went all the way to The Glass Bead Game, with Siddhartha being a lifetime companion of mine. This synchronicity is a little scary.

    And one more book of note that came with the books for the first semester, Thinking in Systems by Donella Meadows, who was the lead author of the famous Club of Rome report that projected our current crises with what was called in an article today “the most accurate econometric projection ever made.”

    And all the books are free courtesy of our benefactor as are the courses themselves. New classes are forming for the Module I sessions that begin in late September, and I encourage NC-ers to consider signing up because I believe it’s on the right track. It’s another way of responding to our situation in addition to the many ways that NC folks are already involved in activism, etc.

    1. 430MLK

      Political follow up. Yarmouth is getting primaried from the KFTC-left: Attica Scott, who was quite visible in the Louisville BLM (Breonna Taylor) protests last summer.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I tried looking on line for what KFTC is. I found Kentucky Fair Tax Coalition and Kentuckians For The Commonwealth. And further down the page I find Korea Financial Telecommunications and Clearings Institute.

        What do you want KFTC to stand for?

  9. Seth Miller

    Re: Means Testing Rental Assistance

    The states could simply cancel up to a fixed amount of arrears owed by every tenant, and make the landlords apply for reimbursement, on a showing that they have cleared all violations, and that no abatements are due to the tenants for any unrepaired conditions, and that the rent does not exceed both the lease amount and the legal rent established under any scheme of rent regulation. No means testing is needed at all. But no, the burden always has to be on the undeserving poor. And we can never contemplate a world where rentiers actually need to prove their entitlement to rent.

  10. saywhat?

    regarding the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850:

    “You shall not hand over to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you. He shall live with you in your midst, in the place which he shall choose in one of your towns where it pleases him; you shall not mistreat him. Deuteronomy 23:15-16

    1. philnc

      Great example of how to contextualize something in a way that forces people to really think. Of course most of those who need to hear it have been conditioned to believe that even the Sermon in the Mount doesn’t apply to them. But then, as Chris Hedges often says, they’ve also been brazenly violating the 2nd Commandment (the one about idolotry — which is what their worship of money is) for their whole adult lives (with his usual prophetic flair, Hedges brands them as heretics).

  11. Doug in Oregon

    Lambert – Thanks for the week of Euphonia birds! Very much enjoyed the variety of “tweets” (and beauty) of these animals. It makes me wonder what warblers, owls or loons (for example) have as much differentiation.

    1. Basil Pesto

      Thanks for this

      (I know this comment isn’t technically adding anything, but I think a little gratitude can go a long way :)

  12. Glossolalia

    I did express my concern about “a nation of snitches” when the Capitol rioters were being hunted down. That nation of snitches was, apparently, OK with liberal Democrats. This nation of snitches is not.

    Geez. Yes, it is OK to snitch on someone when you know they’ve illegally entered a government building for the purposes of stopping the certification of an election. It’s not OK to snitch on someone who you know was pursuing a medical procedure. This is a whole new level of moral relativism.

    1. hunkerdown

      “My imaginary friend is a terrorist, but he’s MY terrorist so it’s okay!”

      It is always, always OK to snitch on PMCs and other people who style themselves superior to you, and to subvert them in every other effective way. Such people are inherently lying, therefore liars, therefore unfit to participate in society.

      See? I can make up self-serving rules too. My rule serves more selves than yours. Therefore your rules and the values they were based on are objectively incorrect.

  13. Glossolalia

    Representative John Yarmuth, Democrat of Kentucky, who is the chair of the House Budget Committee, gave a full-throated defense of the deficit-friendly theory to Washington’s sometimes skeptical viewership. ‘Historically, what we have done is said, ‘What can we afford to do?’ The right question is, ‘What do the American people need us to do?’’ he said.

    It’s not like they ever ask, “What can we afford to do?” when it comes to military spending.

  14. Basil Pesto

    Heh, I watched that Taleb video last month but couldn’t find a relevant opportunity to share it here. It’s pretty good. I especially liked his points about ‘generalising the particular’ and ‘particularising the general’.

  15. WJ

    “Why on earth was Roe v. Wade never turned into legislation:”

    Because it plus Casey are very poor pieces of judicial reasoning. A legislative solution to the issue of abortion–which I, too, am in favor of–would likely end up resembling the far more restrictive abortion access laws of Europe.

    Also, both Repubs and Dems benefit from the cultural dramatics surrounding Roe.

    1. Yves Smith

      What good is abortion access if you can’t afford to get one, and/or you are in a state where they make you listen to a lecture about being a baby killer while showing you a pelvic sono and then make you wait another 24 to 48 hours? You are smoking something strong if you think where we are in the US is better than Europe.

      The compromise in most of Europe is first trimester. I don’t see why that is hugely restrictive. 91% of abortions are already performed in the first trimester. Experts believe percentage would increase if abortions were cheaper and more readily available.

      Most women who’ve had an abortion say they would have preferred to have it earlier, but financial limitations and/or lack of knowledge about pregnancy caused them to delay


  16. Left in Wisconsin

    UW-Madison uses HonorLock, not Proctorio, but I think they both work the same way. The student has to download the spy software (available only via Chrome) and then the instructor is able to set the degree of invasiveness from about 12-15 options. So the instructor can choose to turn off the “flag student if their eyes move off the screen more than 3 times” (paraphrase) but turn on the “flag student if extraneous material is visible,” etc. So the full spyware capability has to be downloaded to one’s computer and then the instructor can choose, or not, to turn off certain features.

    I thankfully have never had to use it but from first-hand reports, it’s every bit as horrible as it sounds (read some of the reviews for a sense) and the tweeter is correct that the whole scheme depends on the presumption that students are naturally cheaters. Of course, instructors aren’t obligated to use it, and there is a pretty vibrant debate in academia about its general usefulness anyway. But it is amazing how many faculty defend it, along the lines of “if you aren’t doing anything suspicious you have nothing to worry about.”

    1. Questa Nota

      And instructors wonder why they get bad marks after their Proctorioscopies.

      Maybe their tests can have people fill in the blank below?
      Rate My Professor ________

  17. Wukchumni

    Beauty can be closely allied to terror. Which reminds me to give a hat tip to alert reader Wukchumni, for this extraordinary report from John Muir, filed from the midst of the Mineral King Fire of 1875. If you missed it at the time, go read.
    The part of John Muir’s tale which is quite telling is the idea that he could hang out in the midst of a wildfire for days, which is something i’d never do with all the buildup of duff and trees way too close to one another in the very same location as 146 years ago, but then he had a tremendous advantage in that Native Americans had only been forbidden to do prescribed burns only 25 years earlier by the new American arrivals to Cali, so not only was there was not so much to burn, but according to what i’ve read, a rider on horse in the High Sierra @ the time could easily traipse through the forest without having to change direction all the time, as trees were spaced about 15-20 feet apart on account of not only the Native American fires, but think of what lightning strike conflagrations could do with nobody putting them out as they ran their course.


    The Atwell Grove of Sequoias where Muir was, is full of 1,500 to 2,000 year old Sequoias-very much an equal to the Giant Forest in the main part of Sequoia NP in overall size of trees, and as far as I can tell, none of the older trees were affected much by the fire he describes, in stark contrast to the Castle Fire of last year, which took out 30-50% of Monarch Sequoias (the biggest ones) in the groves to the south of me.

  18. Wukchumni

    “‘Catastrophic’ supervolcano eruption could be much more likely than previously thought, scientists warn” [Sky News]. “Existing knowledge about the likelihood of eruptions is based on the presence of liquid magma under a volcano, but new research warns ‘eruptions can occur even if no liquid magma is found.’
    Thera-fu was one hellova supervolcano, and i’ve been to Lake Taupo in NZ & Crater Lake in Oregon which were no slouch, the Taupo eruption being the largest in the last 5,000 years, and if you were an illionaire in a bunker there in NZ, you’d be extra crispy.

    It all boils down to luck, in that if any eruption of a similar size were to happen in our lifetime, most of us would be dead.




  19. peter

    Do we actually have credible evidence that people are losing immunity? Just because the antibodies disappear doesn’t mean immunity is gone. I mean I could I just haven’t seen good data one way or another.

    1. Sutter Cane

      No, but there’s no credible evidence showing that ivermectin is effective, either, and that hasn’t kept it from being brought up constantly.

            1. Yik Wong

              They deny climate change, global warming, and green house effect. That’s about all they have done prior Covid.

            2. Skip Intro

              Scathing critique of transparent corruption in the ‘science’ from the WHO.

              In sum, the WHO’s recommendation that “ivermectin not be used outside clinical trials” is based entirely upon:

              * the dismissal of large amounts of trial data;

              * the inaccurate downgrading of evidence quality;

              * the deliberate omission of a dose-response relationship with viral clearance.

              They should have stuck with smashing guitars.

        1. urblintz

          it is a great question which, for me, underscores a problem seldom elucidated upon – the terribly flawed methods of collecting and presenting the data, the continually changing goal posts about which data should be collected, which category it belongs to and the conclusions drawn from the data. I’ve read (and do not know if it’s true) that persons who die within 14 days of being vaccinated are considered “unvaccinated” which makes sense on one level but requires the kind of assumption that so much of the data has been subject to. There are different ways to demonstrate “effectiveness” and the percentages on offer are not, in my opinion, always convincing, It’s hard to know what to know… lies, damn lies and statistics.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Science lies when liars science.

        If there is a good chance that Ivermectin has a viral replication slow-downing effect which could matter very early in the covid process, and you don’t want anyone to know about that possibility, you just construct your study to avoid addressing that possibility.

        You start giving Ivermectin to deeply critical near-death covid patients in the Intensive Care Unit, when it could not possibly make a difference, and you announce that it did not make a difference. You carefully do not mention that you designed your study to deliberately on purpose dodge finding the difference it could or maybe not-could make if started early in the process.

        Science lies when liars science.

    2. Yves Smith

      For Covid, losing antibodies does = loss of immunity. All the sellers of the vaccines use antibody levels in determining how long the vaccines are effective, and the Imperial College large scale tests (100K every 5 weeks) similarly used antibody levels.

      For slower-moving infections, memory B and T cells can mount a defense, but with Covid, the cytokine storm hits quickly and damage you big time if you don’t mount an adequate antibody response.

  20. liam

    I don’t know the area, but my guess is that Fangorn is a plantation that sits on peat soils. At the very least it is probably water logged, so that the root plate is shallow, and each tree interlocks with neighbouring trees. A fallen tree in the background seems to confirm this. The dampness of the environment is also clear from the mosses on the ground. You don’t need too much wind in that sort of environment for that to happen. It provides a sort of stability, but in high winds losses can be catastrophic, as they tend to lift each other out by the roots. Not exactly silviculture at its finest.

  21. Pamina

    Since I have noticed that there are quite a few Linux users in the commentariat I didn’t want the 30th anniversary of the Linux kernel to pass without mention. It was actually last week. On August 25, 1991 Linus Torvalds (a credit to the Finnish education system) released a message to the world on the Minix Usenet group that he had written, “a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won’t be big and professional like gnu)”. I don’t actually have expertise in computers, just a suburban housewife who switched over 10 years ago and never looked back. If I can do it lots of people can. I use Gentoo, Arch and Opensuse Tumbleweed with a tiling window manager on various frankenputers that I’ve put together over the years as well as some precrapification corporate Thinkpads that I bought off eBay. Total hobbyist, I know, however, I did have to give up tinkering these past four years in order to complete a second undergraduate degree in Russian Literature. I managed to use Linux OS’s exclusively with mostly open source software, including some video editing on Kdenlive, to complete my coursework and store it on the server in my bedroom. I also got some friends who are open to new things, but don’t have time to fiddle about and waste time, to use it as their desktops as well. I can’t believe how much easier the Linux desktop is to use now than when I stumbled upon it in 2011. Just thought I’d mention that, since Linux is mostly used on servers. I plan to raise a toast to Linux with my favorite tipple and reflect on what’s right about Linus Torvalds and the GPL and what sucks about Bill Gates and proprietary crapware. Thank you Linus for contributing something good to our otherwise miserable world, and thank you to all of the developers who have made the Linux kernel what it is today!

    1. BillC

      And thank you, Pamina, for reminding me. Began a long IT career when I started programming (vacuum-tube IBM 709 and 80-column punch cards) as a university student assistant in 1967. Started with Linux around 1997, and been using it for all my personal computing ever since. Unlike Windows, it runs fine on old hardware.

      My primary server is about 15 years old and the desktop I’m using to write this about 13. Both do everything I need them to do even with relatively recent Linux releases. Given its hardware sucking power, Windoze 10 probably won’t even boot on those boxes. Plus, I don’t have to buy new hardware and relearn the OS user interface every time Micro$oft decides to inflate their bloatware even more nor am I am forced to use their “software as a service” and share my personal information with their famously insecure systems.

      Open source is the only way for you to control your computing environment!

  22. urblintz

    This was intriguing when first reported and I wonder where it might lead:


    “Exposure to the rhinovirus, the most frequent cause of the common cold, can protect against infection by the virus which causes COVID-19, Yale researchers have found.

    In a new study, the researchers found that the common respiratory virus jump-starts the activity of interferon-stimulated genes, early-response molecules in the immune system which can halt replication of the SARS-CoV-2 virus within airway tissues infected with the cold.”

  23. ambrit

    With the site admin’s indulgence. Post Ida Zeitgeist Report (Part the First.)
    Today being checque day for the Social Security crowd, I got out early to do a lot of the shopping and some pre-loading of utility bill balances.
    First, the roads were very crowded. Much more than the usual Friday scrum. This lot drove, if this is possible, even worse than the college crowd. I was roundly cursed by the driver behind me for slowing down and flashing my lights to tell a woman with kids in the car that she could merge into trafic from out of a parking lot entrance. Hah! No good deed goes unpunished!
    Second, when I pulled into the big gasoline station at the Sam’s Club, I entered a mini Twilight Zone of honking, snarling, pissed off drivers. Twelve pumps had three and four cars backed up in front of each. Over a half of the autos had Louisiana plates. Most of those autos, especially pick-up trucks, were filling containers with gasoline. (More about this later.)
    Third, inside the WalMart, (mea culpa, I’m cheap and on a bufget, though I do try to patronise local shops whenever they are even close to the Bigg Boxx Stores in price,) the place was packed. Check out lines averaging five to seven customers deep. Entire aisles of basics were empty. [The same was observed at Winn Dixie and a biggish local grocery chain.] Absoluteoy no ice chests available. People were buying the ice chests to keep their groceries in, along with some ice, of which all the stores had a decent amount available, for the drive home and after.
    Fourth, from conversations with people and overheard conversations. It transpired that many of the shoppers were from Louisiana. (More on that later too.) This cohort was buying ‘in bulk,’ as in enough supplies for a week or more. One woman with her young daughter in front of me in the line had two full shopping carts. this was not rare. It also slowed the check out process. I could have made good money with a drinks concession just at those check out lines today. This Louisiana cohort had to have driven a minimum of sixty miles, if they were from Bogalusa, LA. Slidell is 83 miles from Hattiesburg, Covington, LA is 88 miles, and Mandeville, LA is 100 miles away. Many of these people were from Covington and Mandeville. [From overheard conversations and direct questioning. I felt a bit like an anthropologist. Hi there Professor Amfortas!]
    This evening we finally regained telephonic contact with our middle daughter who lives just east of Baton Rouge. The eye of the storm passed just east of her condo. She is bunking down with a friend from work, because that person has electricity, while Daughter’s neighborhood does not.
    According to her testimony, electricity is generally out in the entire region. Small pockets of service dot the landscape, often without rhyme or reason. The school she works in is without electricity, and the officials do not know when service will be restored. Water service is out because the pumps are not running, an electricity supply issue. Luckily, she, being a child of disaster, stocked up on water and snacks before the storm arived.
    Finally, Daughter related that there was a shooting at a local gas station over gasoline. This happened in an area she described as a middle class suburban zone.
    People “down there” are learning just what great grandad and grandmom had to put up with a hundred years ago. The South is hot and stickey in the summer. There is even a good film about it.
    See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Long,_Hot_Summer
    Well, did dins is ready and I must eat.
    Stay safe all!

      1. ambrit

        De nada. I do wonder about similar stories to be found in the Northeast zone. Hurricane Sandy stressed the region severely. The remnants of Ida have now done the same. This is not too far out of the ordinary for the region. What I see is the emphasis on degraded infrastructure in the “news.” This could be made into a major tool for pushing the long a-borning infrastructure bill, and with few cuts too.
        Some commenters and readers have self identified as being denizens of the New York megalopolis. Are the travails of the Northeast densepack urbs different from the problems of the Sothron suburbs in quality or quantity?
        Enquiring minds want to know.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > a major tool for pushing the long a-borning infrastructure bill

          It could be, but I’m not sure “build back better” is what we need, as opposed to “build back different” (and I freely admit that I do not know what different is).

          My understanding is that construction for large projects in the US is out of band world-wide, like health care, and for similar reasons. So the infrastructure bills may stimulate but in the ways that we think.

    1. griffen

      This is useful feedback, and not surprised that those who can travel from +/- 100 miles to obtain necessary goods and liquids are doing so. One’s inclined to go into the weeds and even suggest this is a short term boost of sales tax on those items.

      Hey looks like that town over yonder there got lights and gasoline to sell!

  24. dcrane

    Re: Why on earth was Roe v. Wade never turned into legislation:

    Washington, D.C. is the Capital of Gaslighting. One of the last things the Democrat Party wants to see is the end of abortion as an issue. Another would be the end of Donald Trump as a GOP candidate.

    1. Yves Smith

      History is much older. I have repeatedly criticized the useless feminist movement (personified by NOW) in putting all of their political chips on the extremely heavy lift of an equal rights amendment, and treating Roe v. Wade as if it were sufficient protection of abortion rights. In the era of Peak Feminism (early-mid ’70s), it would have been close to a nothingburger to get legislation consistent with Roe v. Wade passed: “Oh, we already have the rights. This is just a mopping up, to cure ambiguities.”

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Nothing more professional than putting all one’s faith in highly credentialed judges. “It’s the law of the land.” Throughout, the opponents of Roe v. Wade took a more, shall we say, serious approach to the politics of it.

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