2:00PM Water Cooler 9/8/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

An extended aria!

* * *


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

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

Vaccination by region:

53.2% of the US is fully vaccinated, a big moment, bursting through the psychological 53% barrier (mediocre by world standards, being just below Ecuador, and just above Switzerland and Malaysia). 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:

Covid cases top ten states for the last four weeks:

Fresh-squeezed numbers from Florida.

NEW From CDC: “Community Profile Report September 7, 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties, this release:

It would be nice if all that lovely green were not a reporting artifact, but…. 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:

Hospitalization (CDC):

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

Deaths (Our World in Data):

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

Covid cases worldwide:

* * *


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

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

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

Biden Administration

“An infrastructure plan in Congress could spur states to rethink how they allocate scarce transportation dollars. Separate provisions in the bill before the House seek to address controversies over spending on roads and bridges” [Wall Street Journal]. “The programs would seek to build better processes to direct funding and to provide data to help set priorities. The proposals show that lawmakers are still wrestling with how to scale up infrastructure spending while coping with criticism over earmarked funding for projects favored by politicians. One plan would offer $2 million grants to help planners determine funding in a more transparent way. The proposal is modeled on a program used in Virginia dubbed ‘Smart Scale’ that shows how the system can work—and how it can generate controversy. Backers say that having officials justify the reasoning behind their choices can allay concerns over the direction of spending.” • Hmm.

“The Health 202: Senate Democrats eye vouchers to speed up potential new Medicare benefits” [WaPo]. “Senate Democrats are toying with the idea of then sending some form of financial help for hearing, vision and dental services to Medicare enrollees, four people with knowledge of the situation tell Jeff and me. Discussions range from roughly $600 to $1,000, though sources cautioned details are still very much in flux…. The House Ways and Means Committee released its Medicare expansion bill yesterday — and it doesn’t include a mechanism to give all three benefits to millions of seniors next year. Instead, the legislation starts vision coverage in 2022, then hearing in 2023 and phases in dental care beginning in 2028.” • Idea: Tax credits!

Trump Legacy

“The Jolt: Fulton County investigation into Donald Trump moving forward” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]. “The DA’s office is focusing on the Jan. 2 phone call Trump placed to [Secretary of State Brad] Raffensperger, in which he urged his fellow Republican to ‘find’ the votes to reverse Joe Biden’s win in Georgia. But the investigation also could extend to Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, who promoted lies about election fraud in a state legislative hearing; and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who was accused by Raffensperger of urging him to toss mail-in ballots in certain counties. Graham and Giuliani have denied any wrongdoing. It’s not clear how quickly the investigation is proceeding, but we’re told to expect significant developments within months.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Into the Fairy Castle: The Persistence of Victorian Liberalism” [American Affairs]. A Danish “West Wing,” Borgen. “Borgen, in sum, forms a set piece in the continuing liberal project of constructing a hyperreal world in which political identities serve only as props of self-construction. Integrity is obsolete: the viewers, like [Prime Minister] Birgitte [Nyborg], must have their cake and eat it too, casting themselves as moral exemplars who have simply grown too savvy and “realistic” to bother with actual morals. Why, after all, as some perspicacious viewers have asked, does Birgitte form a coalition with the parties of the Left, rather than with the center-right bloc with whom she seems to share more common ground? Why would a moderate leader reach out only in one ideological direction, rather than the more natural course of building outward from her own party’s middle position? The answer is the same reason that contemporary American ‘liber­als,’ though clearly in line with traditional middle-class thinking, still place themselves on the ideological left—namely, it enables one to identify with reformist causes while refusing to take any position inimical to middle-class interests…. Those who have endured this long examination of Borgen will hopefully recognize that we have considered the series not because it is socially impactful, but because it shines a light on a mentality and self-image that pervade the upper-middle classes in the modern West. Indeed, we must note that the currently growing “progressive” and “democratic socialist” Left shares most of the same fixations and proclivities as their liberal counterparts (many of whom are their own parents and teachers): obsessive cultivation of self-image and ‘identi­ty’; punctilious policing of ‘representation’ and the boundaries of polite speech; ecstatic identification with celebrity politicians; and enthusiasm for short-lived moral causes-célèbres. (Indeed, even the perverse projection of mother-daughter relations onto the screen of factional politics is so persistent that the most outspoken leftists in Congress can call the Speaker of the House their “mama bear.”) Nonetheless, certain salient differences emerge as well. Contemporary leftists by and large perceive society as an arena of contending material interests, and accept as a premise of electoral politics that parties and politicians ought to deliver tangible material benefits in return for votes. Even this most basic acknowledgment is anathema to the liberal center, threatening as it does the understanding of politics as a theater of pure self-actualization. …. A political structure is usually most inflexible when its foundations are under stress. The defenders of the liberal center-left persist—through victories and defeats alike—because success on the battlefield is less important to them than holding the center ground. Only from this position can the educated middle class defend its social position in the West, which it has taken centuries to attain. Liberalism’s con­tinuing tenacity, as it suppresses the tensions and contradictions at its base, can be understood only in light of the history of the social class whose haunted conscience it protects, and whose demons it attempts to keep at bay.” • Lengthy as the article is, it’s hard to cut…

“Democrats, Abortion and Phony Politics” [Margaret Kimberly, Black Agenda Report]. “Neither she nor anyone else in Democratic party leadership will ever acknowledge how badly they failed their people. They haven’t changed since 2016. They still hope to win by doing as little as they possibly can. The Texas law spawned hand wringing and foolish deification of the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg. But like Clinton she bore responsibility for the makeup of the current Supreme Court. In 2013 Barack Obama asked the 80-year old, two-time cancer patient to step down, just in case Democrats lost control of the senate the following year. That is precisely what happened but truth telling doesn’t suit the political image makers. Even worse, the Democrats lie about their ability to protect abortion rights. They could pass the Women’s Health Protection Act which would make Roe v. Wade federal law and do away with all abortion restrictions across the country. They could have done this when Bill Clinton and Barack Obama had democratic control of both houses of congress and they can still do it now. Democrats have been lying about their ability to protect abortion rights for the past 30 years. The Democrats constantly treat their members as suckers. They raise millions of dollars claiming that they will stop the Republican onslaught against abortions or some other issue that is important to their voters.. The Women’s Health Protection Act could be passed now but any expectation of that happening is for the suckers to believe. The Democrats claim that it would be too hard to pass because of the filibuster, which they also do nothing about. Round and round they go, with nothing to show except excuses for their inaction. Meanwhile their paid mouth pieces in corporate media use every trick in their worn out playbook to keep the rank and file from noticing they have been conned yet again.” • I think this and the piece above translate to about the same thing….

“Your ‘personal choice’ not to get COVID vaccine is putting our ‘healthcare heroes’ at risk” [Miami Herald]. “On Friday, Gov. DeSantis actually uttered these incredible — and incorrect — words about the vaccine: ‘It’s about your health and whether you want that protection or not. It really doesn’t impact me or anyone else.'” • DeSantis is wrong, but I want to use this to pose a lateral question: Why can’t we reclassify greed as a sin? More to the point, for today’s social justice crowd, why don’t we classify greed as a micro-aggression?

Stats Watch

Economic Optimism: “United States IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index” [Trading Economics]. “The IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index in the US plunged by 5.1 points to 48.5 in September 2021, the lowest since September last year and falling into pessimistic territory for the first time since December. Concerns about near-term prospects for the US economy mounted as the latest Covid wave pushes back the jobs recovery amid ebbing federal income supports…. The federal policies subindex, which reflect views of how well government economic policies are working, dropped 3.8 points to 49.1, turning negative for the first time since February.”

Employment Situation: “United States Job Openings” [Trading Economics]. “The number of job openings in the US rose by 749,000 from a month earlier to a new series high of 10.934 million in July 2021, and well above market expectations of 10.0 million, adding to signs of labor supply constraints. Job openings increased in several industries, with the largest gains in health care and social assistance [I’ll bet] (+294,000); finance and insurance (+116,000); and accommodation and food services (+115,000).”

* * *

Shipping: “Shipping industry proposes levy to speed up zero carbon future” [Reuters]. “With about 90% of world trade transported by sea, global shipping accounts for nearly 3% of the world’s CO2 emissions and the sector is under growing pressure to get cleaner. For the first time, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and Intercargo jointly proposed a levy based on mandatory contributions for each tonne of CO2 emitted from ships exceeding 5,000 gross tonnes and trading globally. The money collected would go into a climate fund that would be used to deploy bunkering infrastructure in ports around the world to supply cleaner fuels such as hydrogen and ammonia, according to the proposal.”

Manufacturing: “The world’s auto makers are moving to take greater control of a critical part of electric-vehicle supply chains. Toyota says it will spend $9 billion over the next decade to build factories for electric-car batteries…. making the Japanese manufacturer the latest in a growing field of car makers aiming to supply their own batteries” [Wall Street Journal]. “The investments by Ford, General Motors and Volkswagen are part of the high-stakes, high-cost efforts to build new supply chains for the raw materials and components that will go into a new generation of tech-heavy, emissions-slashing cars. Toyota has lagged behind its rivals on EVs, but the factory plan is part of significant new research and investment.”

Manufacturing: “Intel is investing heavily in efforts to expand and reset global semiconductor supply chains. The technology giant, which already has a fabrication site in Ireland, plans to spend $95 billion to build factories at an undisclosed site in Europe and will court auto makers among its customers. … [Wall Street Journal]. “[T]he company is responding to an international race to add manufacturing capacity during a global chip-supply crunch, and that the investment could expand still further. The factories would cater to meteoric demand for semiconductors as computers, cars and electronics become more dependent on chips. The expansion in Europe is part of Intel’s push to become a major contract chip maker, an effort that includes plans for a plant in Arizona. Asian manufacturers have their own aggressive expansion plans that include tens of billions of dollars over the next three years.”

Supply Chain: “How the pandemic turned humble shipping containers into the hottest items on the planet” [CNN]. “Roughly 18 months into the Covid-19 pandemic, global shipping is still in crisis, with backlogs looming over the peak holiday shopping period. One look at the market for steel shipping containers, and it’s clear that a return to normal won’t happen any time soon. Before the coronavirus hit, companies could rent a humble 20-foot or 40-foot box with relative ease, allowing them to move goods at a low cost. Containers have a lifespan of about 15 years before they’re recycled into low-cost storage or building solutions. But empty boxes remain scattered across Europe and North America, while supply chain delays mean even more are needed to fulfill orders. Demand for goods, meanwhile, has soared — giving the network of ships, containers and trucks that deliver merchandise around the world little time to catch up. It’s been a nightmare. As a result, containers have become incredibly scarce and extremely expensive. One year ago, companies would pay roughly $1,920 to book a 40-foot steel container on a standard route between China and Europe, according to data from Drewry, a maritime research consultancy. Now, firms are spending more than $14,000, an increase of more than 600%. Meanwhile, the cost of buying a container outright has effectively doubled.”

Supply Chain: “Consumer demand must ease to end supply chain crisis, says Maersk executive” [Financial Times]. “Morten Engelstoft, chief executive of Maersk-owned APM Terminals, said a ‘vicious circle’ had been created by surging demand putting strain on container groups, suppliers and logistics companies as they struggled to deliver goods. ‘We need to work out how we break this vicious circle,’ said the boss of APM, the ports and terminal division of the world’s biggest shipping group, in an interview with the Financial Times. ‘We need lower [consumer demand] growth to give the supply chain time to catch up, or differently spread out growth. Over a long period of time, we will need to recover efficiency.'” • Well, the United States can’t have a recession ’til after the midterms, at least.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 50 Neutral (previous close: 53 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 57 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 8 at 12:33pm.

The Biosphere

“20 meat and dairy firms emit more greenhouse gas than Germany, Britain or France” [Guardian (drumlin woodchuckles)]. “Twenty livestock companies are responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than either Germany, Britain or France – and are receiving billions of dollars in financial backing to do so, according to a new report by environmental campaigners [Friends of the Earth]. “Between 2015 and 2020, global meat and dairy companies received more than US$478bn in backing from 2,500 investment firms, banks, and pension funds, most of them based in North America or Europe, according to the Meat Atlas, which was compiled by Friends of the Earth and the European political foundation, Heinrich Böll Stiftung. With that level of financial support, the report estimates that meat production could increase by a further 40m tonnes by 2029, to hit 366m tonnes of meat a year. Although the vast majority of growth was likely to take place in the global south, the biggest producers will continue to be China, Brazil, the USA and the members of the European Union. By 2029 these countries may still produce 60% of worldwide meat output. Across the world, the report says, three-quarters of all agricultural land is used to raise animals or the crops to feed them.” • Meat should be a condiment….

Health Care

“The Plan to Stop Every Respiratory Virus at Once” [The Atlantic]. “The scientists who recognized the threat of airborne coronavirus early did so because they spent years studying evidence that—contrary to conventional wisdom—common respiratory illnesses such as the flu and colds can also spread through the air. We’ve long accepted colds and flus as inevitable facts of life, but are they? Why not redesign the airflow in our buildings to prevent them, too? What’s more, says Raymond Tellier, a microbiologist at McGill University, SARS-CoV-2 is unlikely to be the last airborne pandemic. The same measures that protect us from common viruses might also protect us from the next unknown pathogen…. The challenge ahead is cost. Piping more outdoor air into a building or adding air filters both require more energy and money to run the HVAC system. (Outdoor air needs to be cooled, heated, humidified, or dehumidified based on the system; adding filters is less energy intensive but it could still require more powerful fans to push the air through.) For decades, engineers have focused on making buildings more energy efficient, and it’s “hard to find a lot of professionals who are really pushing indoor air quality,” Bahnfleth said. He has been helping set COVID-19 ventilation guidelines as chair of the ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force. The pushback based on energy usage, he said, was immediate. In addition to energy costs, retrofitting existing buildings might require significant modifications. For example, if you add air filters but your fans aren’t powerful enough, you’re on the hook for replacing the fans too.” • This is a must-read.

“Kids and COVID: why young immune systems are still on top” [Nature]. “Data collected by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from hospitals across the country suggest that people under the age of 18 have accounted for less than 2% of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 — a total of 3,649 children between March 2020 and late August 2021. Some children do get very sick, and more than 420 have died in the United States, but the majority of those with severe illness have been adults — a trend that has been borne out in many parts of the world. This makes SARS-CoV-2 somewhat anomalous. For most other viruses, from influenza to respiratory syncytial virus, young children and older adults are typically the most vulnerable; the risk of bad outcomes by age can be represented by a U-shaped curve. But with COVID-19, the younger end of that curve is largely chopped off. It’s ‘absolutely remarkable’, says Kawsar Talaat, an infectious-disease physician at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. ‘One of the few silver linings of this pandemic is that children are relatively spared.’ … Research is beginning to reveal that the reason children have fared well against COVID-19 could lie in the innate immune response — the body’s crude but swift reaction to pathogens. Kids seem to have an innate response that’s ‘revved up and ready to go’, says Herold. But she adds that more studies are needed to fully support that hypothesis. The emergence of the Delta variant has made finding answers more urgent. Reports suggest that in the United States and elsewhere, children are starting to make up a larger proportion of reported infections and hospitalizations. These trends might be due to Delta’s high transmission rate and the fact that many adults are now protected by vaccines.” • I dunno. The transition from the happy talk in the headline to “has made finding answers more urgent” seems a little rough to me.

“Hospitalisation among vaccine breakthrough COVID-19 infections” [The Lancet]. A Comment: “Vaccination for SARS-CoV-2 is highly effective against infection with SARS-CoV-2 or hospitalisation with COVID-19. In our real-world assessment of patients admitted to hospital with a positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR test, we found that nearly a fifth of patients had received at least one dose of the vaccine, and we observed that many patients had not completed the full vaccine course. The finding that more than a quarter of fully vaccinated patients admitted to hospital with SARS-CoV-2 were severely or critically ill with COVID-19 could be reflective of numerous factors, including the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants that might confer decreased vaccine effectiveness and an ineffective immune response mounted against vaccines among those with comorbidities—eg, older age, overweight, and use of immunosuppressive agents.” • Hmm.

“Efficacy of Portable Air Cleaners and Masking for Reducing Indoor Exposure to Simulated Exhaled SARS-CoV-2 Aerosols — United States, 2021” [Morbidity and Mortality Report, CDC]. “A simulated infected meeting participant who was exhaling aerosols was placed in a room with two simulated uninfected participants and a simulated uninfected speaker. Using two HEPA air cleaners close to the aerosol source reduced the aerosol exposure of the uninfected participants and speaker by up to 65%. A combination of HEPA air cleaners and universal masking reduced exposure by up to 90%.”

“Is a Mask That Covers the Mouth and Nose Free from Undesirable Side Effects in Everyday Use and Free of Potential Hazards?” [International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health]. A meta-study. From the Abstract: “Up until now, there has been no comprehensive investigation as to the adverse health effects masks can cause. The aim was to find, test, evaluate and compile scientifically proven related side effects of wearing masks. For a quantitative evaluation, 44 mostly experimental studies were referenced, and for a substantive evaluation, 65 publications were found. The literature revealed relevant adverse effects of masks in numerous disciplines. In this paper, we refer to the psychological and physical deterioration as well as multiple symptoms described because of their consistent, recurrent and uniform presentation from different disciplines as a Mask-Induced Exhaustion Syndrome (MIES). We objectified evaluation evidenced changes in respiratory physiology of mask wearers with significant correlation of O2 drop and fatigue (p < 0.05), a clustered co-occurrence of respiratory impairment and O2 drop (67%), N95 mask and CO2 rise (82%), N95 mask and O2 drop (72%), N95 mask and headache (60%), respiratory impairment and temperature rise (88%), but also temperature rise and moisture (100%) under the masks. Extended mask-wearing by the general population could lead to relevant effects and consequences in many medical fields." • Readers? "The Spit Queen, The Economist And The NBA" [NPR]. • Interesting on grant-making.

Naked Capitalism Cooking Community™

“Dumpling Digest: Tasting the Rainbow, Part 1” [Above the Fold]. Part 2. “This series will take a look at the modern rainbow dumpling landscape, from the major restaurants that have parlayed multi-hued parcels into ultra-successful businesses, to the bloggers and small businesses working magic with everything from black carrot powder to beet puree. I’ll also share recommended recipes for making your own at home.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“The Poetic Justice of Amanda Gorman’s Estée Lauder Contract” [New York Times]. “Ms. Gorman will become the first Estée Lauder “Global Changemaker” — as opposed to, say, spokeswoman or ambassador or “face,” though she will also be all of the above. That’s not just a semantic shift, but one that reflects a different balance of power in the current consumer reality, in which the influence of real people can carry more weight than the purely transactional nature of the celebrity model relationship, and where substance is particularly prized, as for-profit companies feel an imperative to prove they stand for something more than simply — well, profit. For at least the next three years, she will represent Estée Lauder’s flagship brand in ad campaigns and speaking events, just like, say, Liz Hurley (the global ambassador of The Estée Lauder Companies Breast Cancer Campaign) and Carolyn Murphy (an Estée Lauder brand Global Brand Ambassador). But she will also work with the company on the corporate level to create Writing Change, a set of grants worth $3 million to promote literacy among girls and women — and with it access to equity and social change. The first recipients will be announced later this year. If all goes well, the relationship could be renewed again and again. (Estée Lauder declined to say how much it is paying Ms. Gorman, though her salary is on top of the philanthropic investment.)” • This fits so closely with Adolph Reeds examination of the figure of “the black ‘voice'” so closely it hurts. (See 2018’s “The Trouble with Uplift,” always worth a reading.)

Class Warfare

“Who’s Raking Off All Your Awful Office Meetings?” [Inequality.org]. ” Information Age theorists tend to see corporate hierarchies as anachronistic, easily disposable hangovers from bygone days of Industrial Age command-and-control. But corporate hierarchies still serve a real purpose in our new Information Age. They amount, in essence, to income-maintenance programs for top executives. Peter Drucker, the father of modern management theory, understood this income-maintenance dynamic years before anyone else. In any hierarchy, Drucker noted in 1982, every level of bureaucracy must be compensated at a higher rate than the level below. The more levels, the higher the pay at the top. Hierarchies would remain appealing to executives, he argued, so long as they prop up and push up executive pay. His solution? To make hierarchies less appealing to executives, Drucker suggested, limit executive pay. No corporate executives, Drucker wrote, should be allowed to make more than 20 times their worker compensation. In 2005, upon Drucker’s death at age 95, obituaries hailed his enormous contribution to modern management science. His ideas, one analyst told the Financial Times, “have become part and parcel of today’s commonsense understanding of business.” But corporations before and since have studiously ignored Drucker’s wisdom on limiting the gap between chief executive and worker pay.”

“Anarchism Shaped David Graeber. Then He Shaped Anarchism” [Novara Media]. “Central to [Graeber’s] interpretation [of anarchism] – and also to the antiglobalisation movement itself – were two concepts: direct democracy and prefigurative politics. Direct democracy is a mode of social organisation in which every citizen votes on all important decisions. As Graeber himself puts it: ‘It is about creating and enacting horizontal networks instead of top-down structures like states, parties or corporations; networks based on principles of decentralized, non-hierarchical consensus democracy.’ While prefigurative politics is the act of behaving in a way that reflects your political values…. Prefigurative politics was at the core of Graeber’s anarchism – he believed that it was “something you do not an identity”. His politics was rooted in practice; it was about demonstrating the viability of anarchist principles, not through theory, but through living them out in your daily life. For Graeber, there was no particular set of social conditions needed for social revolution; we just had to start and dare the state to stop us. Rather than struggling for some far-off anarchist future, he argued that we should be creating the kind of anarchist spaces we wanted to see in the present. Perhaps the best example of this can be found in Graeber’s participation in, and influence on the Occupy Wall Street movement, which adopted several modes of organisation he had written about, including direct democracy and prefigurative politics. Spokescouncils, consensus decision-making and affinity groups – all anarchist modes of organising – were key organisational structures in the movement; while the camps themselves, which Graeber helped to organise, were essentially anarchist spaces established and operated without a centralised authority.”

“Karl Kautsky as Architect of the October Revolution” [Jacobin]. “In the aftermath of the February Revolution, the Bolshevik party as a whole emerged from the underground with Kautsky’s tactical advice in their political DNA: enlist the peasantry as a revolutionary ally, and do not deviate from militant anti-agreementism. From the very beginning of the revolution, the Bolsheviks acted on this advice and as a result they were accurately perceived as distinctive by all actors on the political scene. (Many people want to believe that the Bolsheviks were not anti-agreementist until Lenin presented his April Theses upon his return to Russia. I have documented the problems with this view elsewhere, but the issue has no bearing on the present discussion. Date Bolshevik anti-agreementism from early April if you wish!)” • The word “agreementism” is new to me: “Of particular interest to the Bolsheviks was Kautsky’s condemnation of any kind of political “agreements” (soglasheniia) with liberal or democrat reformers. I give the Russian translation of “agreement,” because in 1917 the rejection of “agreementism” (soglashatelstvo) became central to the Bolshevik message, as we shall see. Zinoviev (undoubtedly speaking for Lenin in this instance) cited Kautsky as an authority on this issue.”

Good question:

The same way the “Friends” could afford theirs, I would say.

News of the Wired


* * *

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 (GlennF):

GlennF writes: “This bull thistle (see attached) popped up after heavy rains here in AZ. It is pretty but is considered dangerously invasive in our area. If you look carefully to the right of the central bud/flower, there is a green preying mantis.” I am here for most invasive plants, but definitely not thistles.

* * *

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

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

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

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

About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Darius

    I think it was in a tweet that I saw a quote from an infectious disease expert on masks. Asked what is the best kind of mask, N95 or other, he said, one that you will wear. Masks are still most important to reduce the spread and it’s more important for people to wear them than the particular type of mask. I still use cloth masks that tie around the head, rather than behind the ears. Those are very hard to find.

  2. Tom Doak

    You missed flagging “smart” in the “Smart Scale” infrastructure prioritizing. Sounds like a smart way for consultants to take $ off the top of the spending. Shocker!

  3. FluffytheObeseCat

    “Is a Mask That Covers the Mouth and Nose Free from Undesirable Side Effects in Everyday Use and Free of Potential Hazards?”

    This is a long article. I was able to skim it up to the subsection in Results devoted to “Internistic Side Effects and Dangers”. I noted 2 things:

    The authors do a poor job of segregating the documented effects of surgical mask or cloth masks versus the more effective N95 masks, which are more likely to cause some of the indicated “dangers”.

    They make repeated assertions regarding “dangers” of mask use….. that they do not immediately related to specific findings in specific studies. They do this prior to the Results section, in a portion of the paper that would be kept carefully free of conclusory language in most scientific disciplines.

    At least 3 of the authors are in private practice, and another works at a psychology institute. Only one of the authors is affiliated with the discipline of epidemiology per se.

    Because the U.S. mainstream media is so intensely myopic we have a tendency to be ignorant of the amount of anti-vax, anti-mask bias outside the U.S. However, there is a nontrivial amount of hysteria (hidden behind arrogant verbiage) on both topics in the EU region.

    I strongly suspect that quite a few of these authors entered this effort with an anti-mask bias, and have chosen to spin their meta-analysis so as to confirm their prior leanings. But it would take me about 4 hours to confirm that suspicion…. after having beaten my way through their overly verbose, awkward, turgid prose. And I’d be working uphill with regards to the limits of my own understanding of statistics. However, their flamboyant use of the word “danger” again and again in the part of the paper that precedes the Results section…… is a real red flag. Authors who had come to the reluctant – but well-supported – conclusion that masks are genuinely problematic would never write this way.

    1. LilD

      I did get a staph outbreak on my right cheek. Was a bit ugly for a few weeks but Hibiclens eventually got it all cleaned up. So, I started reusing the homemade cloth masks only after cleaning. Who knew?

      But I don’t think the mask itself is a danger…

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > However, their flamboyant use of the word “danger” again and again in the part of the paper that precedes the Results section…… is a real red flag

      Hmm, interesting.

  4. IM Doc

    About the deSantis article above – and his stance on the current COVID vaccines –

    ‘It’s about your health and whether you want that protection or not. It really doesn’t impact me or anyone else.’”

    I am not sure that there could be a more fitting epitaph for this entire fiasco.

    And it is the same false reasoning on both sides.

    This is the exact way that most people think about vaccines – even today I am having this discussion over and over again with patients. I am vaccinated. Therefore, I will not have the virus, I cannot get sick – and I cannot spread the contagion.

    And the reason this is in their minds this way is because this is true of most every other vaccine there is. But this is most definitely not true with non-sterilizing vaccines.

    We have placed into our world a non-sterilizing vaccine which is completely different than what people are accustomed to. For public health and safety, Plan B must be initiated – yet no such plans are even on the horizon. Plan A of total freedom from infection and spread is not only unworkable – it is actually quite dangerous.

    We have one third of our our society who feel that they are vaccinated and protected and who cares if others are not.

    While the other third is cudgeling everyone else with vaccine mandates and passports with zero evidence that any such thing will work in an environment created by a non-sterilizing vaccine. But what does work are all the bang-on effects of social and economic meltdown. No benefit provided, but all the ongoing damage is happening and encouraged.

    And then all the “deplorable” unvaccinated who threw up their hands long ago – most of him have very legitimate concerns about the vaccines – and absolutely no one addressing them. Instead, a constant barrage of belittling, health-care shaming, moral superiority condescending and now outright lying directed their way.

    All the while, no one is pressing hard on Plan B consisting of masks, ventilation, vigorous testing, vigorous quarantine and so many other measures that are sorely needed right now. No one is having any kind of serious discussion with the people about life style changes and risk factor modification. No one.

    And the PCPs of America are stuck in the big middle of this morass, patients getting madder by the day, with no guidance whatsoever. The big topic of the past 2 weeks has been boosters – coming up almost every visit. Not an official peep out of our health authorities for guidance. Just a mishmash of contradictions and off the wall talk.

    I never dreamed such a hellscape would ever happen in this country. It is truly incredible.

    1. antidlc

      “Not an official peep out of our health authorities for guidance. Just a mishmash of contradictions and off the wall talk.”


      Americans’ Ratings of CDC Communication Turn Negative

      – More Americans now disagree (41%) than agree (32%) that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has communicated a clear plan of action in response to the COVID-19 situation. This is the first Gallup reading since the CDC in late July changed its guidance on the need for face masks for unvaccinated people in areas of high coronavirus transmission.

    2. Lupana

      Totally agree! The mass confusion has been the most stressful part of this. Vaccines? No vaccines? Masks have always made sense as they are pretty easy to just use but there is no easy testing. My husband just waited 5 days for COVID test results and meanwhile the advice was to isolate and use different bathrooms- what kind of houses do these people live in? It was hard enough in our house but how would people living in apartments quarantine? I really have no idea where this is all heading.

      1. LawnDart

        Spent the weekend with TV-watching family. I caught at least two public service announcements that clearly stated that you could help keep your loved ones safe or keep from giving the virus to your kids by getting the vaccine.

        That piece of my family believes that if you have the vaccine you have less virus to spread even if you are infected and that you can go back to enjoying life, socializing, mingling, without a mask, because you are vaccinated.

        I took a stab at explaining the differences between sterilizing and non-sterilizing vaccines, but TV personalities are more knowledgable otherwise they wouldn’t be on TV.

        Against powerful channels of communication aimed at those who want to believe, one can only find refuge and kindred spirits amongst apostates and sceptics.

    3. Eustachedesaintpierre

      We are currently half way through the Greek alphabet & the current greed ridden clown show does not strike me as a good way to avoid another twelve steps to reach the Omega – as at this stage nothing would surprise me. Continuing with the Greek theme hubris is obviously alive & well with perhaps Nemesis assessing the situation while waiting in the wings & perhaps the masks could be updated to add a suitable chorus, while I probably need to change EDSP to Cassandra.

      1. John

        Negligence, sloth, indifference, and incompetence when added to hubris make a heady mixture. I wear my mask. I keep some distance. But tomorrow I return to the classroom. I do hope my students are vaccinated. They will be masked.

      2. lordkoos

        I’m playing a gig this Saturday for a Seattle dance club, it will be the first I’ve done where all of the musicians (including the singers!) as well as the audience will be required to wear a mask. It’s a large space & hopefully it will be well ventilated. Although I have a few more bookings this year, it will probably end up being my last gig of 2021 the way things are trending.

        1. IM Doc

          Please be careful –

          About 10 days ago – I had to admit 2 members of a swing dancing band to the hospital. It was part of a larger superspreader event. Everyone in attendance had to show proof of vaccination – I understand about 80 were there – and yet we had 14 vaccinated breakthroughs from that event – with 2 of them – the band members – having to be admitted. So far everyone is OK. But those 2 and 2 of the others got really really sick.

          It was in a large ballroom. Lots of singing, drinking, instrument playing, and dancing. Masks were not required because they were all vaccinated. They all thought they were good because there was a vaccine mandate for entrance. They thought wrong.

          Please be careful and take care of yourself.

          1. lordkoos

            Thanks IM Doc for your concern. This particular club are mostly teetotalers, it’s in a good-sized hall, and no alcohol will be served. I realize it seems crazy to work at all in these condition but I have missed music so much (as have the audiences), and can use the extra income.

            I played in a much worse situation last month at a small mountain town, in a medium-sized room with poor ventilation and 50-60 people. I turn 70 soon and for the last 5 weeks I have been taking Ivermectin as a prophylactic so I could play out with a little less worry, and so far have not been ill. Got tested after getting some cold symptoms in August but it was not the virus. I’m also keeping plenty of D, C and Zinc in my system.

          2. Eustachedesaintpierre

            It is an antidote & of much comfort to be reminded that the likes of yourself are out there representing the honourable ideal of your profession – as the casino further expands into a place where the throwaway chips are human beings.

        2. jr

          I’m in NJ with family. Almost no one is masking in the supermarket and definitely not outside. My double mask got some funny looks.

          My niece is having a 12 kid pool party next week. I mentioned gargling with the recommended gargles and got smiles. Like wheat before the scythe…

      3. John Zelnicker

        September 8, 2021 at 3:58 pm

        I read somewhere that whoever does the naming of variants was going to switch to using the names of constellations, but only the more obscure or less well-known ones.

        If true, then we can have our own Andromeda Strain.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Plan A of total freedom from infection and spread is not only unworkable – it is actually quite dangerous

      One positive outcome of the whole mess could be discrediting the idea of “freedom” as much of the political class understands it (“lead my life”). Every time I hear about another “Freedom Day” (now NSW) I throw up a little in my mouth.

      > no one is pressing hard on Plan B consisting of masks, ventilation, vigorous testing, vigorous quarantine

      Plan B actually is buried on the CDC site (they call it “layered prevention strategy“*). But it appears nowhere in the messaging. However, the Biden Administration and the CDC have been busily discrediting non-pharmaceutical interventions (by, for example, using de-masking as bribe for getting vaccinated), so we can no longer simply throw a switch and adopt the right plan. And Plan B should have been Plan A from the beginning.

      NOTE * The layers did not originally include ventilation. Various iterations (the “Swiss Cheese Model”) do. However, the architecture is right; I assumed it was designed to be able to swap in new layers.

    5. Ian Perkins

      no one is pressing hard on Plan B consisting of masks, ventilation, vigorous testing, vigorous quarantine and so many other measures that are sorely needed right now

      No one in the USA.

  5. Toshiro_Mifune

    Toyota says it will spend $9 billion over the next decade to build factories for electric-car batteries….

    Saw that yesterday. A bit late to the party and I’m not sure how agile they really are.

    1. John

      Am I too pessimistic in saying that electric cars are too late to the party?

      Things are going south climatically, politically, and geostrategically. There are resource shortages already and more to come. The growth model coupled with “nothing will fundamentally change” commits us to an ever steepening downward slope. Better to be sure your shoes are in good shape.

      1. Ian Perkins

        Electric cars are usually seen as replacements for existing petrol and diesel cars. That’s probably not very doable in itself, given various resource shortages, but what of the many countries that don’t have the levels of car ownership seen in wealthier nations? Are they to be left behind, as usual, effectively told they can provide the raw materials to transform developed economies, while most of their populations continue relying on motorbikes, bicycles and (rather decrepit) buses? Too much of this talk of green new deals, electrification, sustainability and so on seems an attempt, quite possibly a futile attempt, for the world’s privileged to hang onto their privilege under the guise of concern for the environment.

        1. The Rev Kev

          I think that you have it. Electric cars are just a way so that we do not have to change our habits. I believe in America you have something called ‘driving season’ as an example. But without cars, suburbia is no longer workable without huge investments in public transport to make up the transport shortfall.

          And Toyota may want to spend that $9 billion building factories for electric-car batteries but they still have to lock in a source for raw materials, particularly Lithium for those batteries.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > without cars, suburbia is no longer workable without huge investments in public transport to make up the transport shortfall.

            Where we are now, that’s the same as saying “suburbia is no longer workable.”*

            Random question: Humanity has been doing cities for millenia. Have we ever done anything like suburbs? Or is the post-World War II suburb a historical aberration?

            NOTE * Maybe not exactly. Perhaps “streetcar suburbs“, as in Boston, can be saved by, well, building streetcars, since the street plan will have been built for that purpose. I dunno about a big sprawl off an interstate filled with cul-de-sacs**, though.

            NOTE ** It was Chrissie Hynde’s birthday the other day.

            1. Greg

              I don’t know about suburbs as they are now – but there have always been smaller satellite towns and eventually cities around major centres. London as it is now ate a huge number of what were once independent areas of work and residence.

              I think the difference in post-ww2 suburbia is the complete lack of the non-residential elements that made those external units functional in isolation.

            2. PlutoniumKun

              Many historic cities were quite scattered, such as the cities of the Khymer. People lived in clusters surrounded by quite intensively worked ‘gardens’ or small fields. It seems likely that some of the Amazon cities were like this. With this type of city the distinction between ‘city’, ‘suburb’ and ‘densely populated rural area’ becames somewhat moot. Its probably only viable in areas of very high fertility where the city itself can generate much of its own food.

              You could argue (it has been argued in the past, (I think Frank Lloyd Wright suggested this), that a suburb of houses on an acre could be quite sustainable if much of that acre was growing food and generating energy and people were not commuting every day.

          2. Nikkikat

            Rev Kev I agree with you. The “electric cars are just a way so that we do not change our habits”.
            This thinking is the same as a covid vaccine saving us. It is smoke and mirrors.

        2. Daniel LaRusso

          I bought a new petrol car last year. Whilst I was at the dealership I was talking to the salesman about electric cars. he said that there have been various briefings between the government and the car industry and what has filtered down the grapevine is, that governments expect elctric cars to never reach the number of regular cars we have. Due to price and problems with charging, people in flats etc. The term he used was “like foriegn holidays in the 80’s”. Quite a select thing.

  6. Pat

    Trivia. I know Trivia.
    Even during Friends run there were questions about how they could afford that apartment (presumably Chandler’s corporate job covered the cost of his.) I am not sure it was ever addressed in an actual episode, but the producers did say Monica had gotten her grandmother’s rent controlled apartment. I don’t believe they ever got into the weeds of how she managed it legally.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Someone did the sums for other programs and asked how Seinfeld could afford his place. And that apartment in Friends looked very large for a New York apartment and was full of expensive furniture.

      1. Wukchumni

        Rev, you know how it goes in TV land…

        …nobody ever has to go to the bathroom, there’s always a parking spot available in NYC, and nobody ever seems to have a job

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      There was another article on this that delved into Frasier’s job, and between his job, selling his practice, and small gains, he could have jumped to a new level. The only real problem is an episode where he is averse to Niles’ stock tips.

  7. Carolinian

    Re masks–I was in Walmart today and almost all were maskless with the somewhat forlorn greeter giving them out from a box. On the other hand at the more middle class Ingles almost everyone was wearing a mask. I think people around here are just as aware of Delta and the latest info as anywhere else, but there does seem to be a class divide in the reaction. You won’t see many middle class people smoking either.

    Perhaps the underclass are somewhat cynical that the PMCs are now, all of a sudden, concerned about the health of the lowers. Before the PMCs (some of them) were perfectly happy for society’s cast offs to “die quickly.” It’s a crazy idea but we could all be in the same boat. Hang together or hang separately?

    1. marcyincny

      That’s interesting. Here in the eastern suburbs of Syracuse NY I saw almost everyone at Walmart masked last week. Many of the customers are inner city residents with a lot of health problems in their families and they wear masks. In the grocery store with the higher income customers almost all were also masked but the grocery store here in the village with the most rural mix of customers was not much more than 50% masked.

      So here at least it’s more of a mix.

      1. Carolinian

        I think the main takeaway is that the public has gotten the message that Covid is back and that regional or partisan stereotypes about these things are bunk. The notion among some TV talkers that Republicans don’t care about the safety of their kids is ridiculous. I live in the most GOP section of my GOP state and my neighborhood is about nothing but kids. Try us on Halloween.

        But as Lambert’s linked study shows there are concerns among some about whether wearing masks all day is a good idea for children or at least there needs to be more study of this in our scientific age. Instead both sides make everything a political talking point.

        1. Carolinian

          Greenwald on the dubious Constitutionality of mandates or at least the ACLU’s flipflop on the matter.


          He’s talking about vaccine mandates but mask mandates could also qualify if there’s not a solid scientific argument to make them mandatory. Which is to say that the “your rights stop at my rights” argument can be flipped on its head if the behavior you are mandating does me provable harm. Given the confusion and uncertaintly around a new disease this obviously makes judicial or law enforcement intervention fuzzy at best. And Greenwald quotes the ACLU’s onetime position that voluntary compliance both works best and is best.

          Of course the “out” for the mandate advocates is to say FDA or CDC approval “proves” scientific necessity–a Catch-22 if there ever was one given that the legal enforcers and the scientists are one and the same government.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > more of a mix.

        Averages conceal. I like this visualization, which seems to apply in Syracuse:

        > more of a mix.

        Averages conceal. I like this visualization, which seems to apply in Syracuse:

    2. Katiebird

      I was at QuikTrip today and only 3 of us (the place was packed) wore masks. The staff was maskless too. I don’t know what people are thinking. But, on TV several commercials and news anchors say, “now that the pandemic is over” …. Maybe people believe it?

      1. ambrit

        People want to believe it. The alternative is to plan on years of ‘austere’ living. In a society where the worship of youth and visible displays of wealth have been sanctified, the ‘new’ pandemic shaped social construct will clearly point up the bankruptcy of the old paradigm. People will want to believe that “everything has returned to ‘normal'” because otherwise they will be faced with the fact that they have been lied to, and been fooled. No one wants to admit that, even to themselves.

        1. Screwball

          I think that is a great and very underrated point.

          Denial is not just a river in Egypt, or however it goes.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > No one wants to admit that, even to themselves.

          I cannot find the source, but I remember reading that the only marks a con artist fears are those who laugh when the con is revealed. So let’s all keep our sense of humor sharp…

          While looking for that source, I found this interesting interview, “The Mind of the Mark“:

          Classic con men understand how the mark sees himself, the story that he tells himself about himself, and use that against him

          And I’m thinking, of course elites know the stories we tell ourselves. They invented them, they propagated them…

        3. Daniel LaRusso

          absolutely. I see it at work everyday. Senior management ushered in a new set of processes that never really worked. All they said was “give it time” — 3 months became 6, became 12, became 24 etc ….

          Now their is too much “ego” to admit they were were wrong/aren’t the people to make the decision and do something new. We’re doubling down all over.

          Ego/illusion/self image/self deception is 90% of the worlds issues

        4. Nikkikat

          Good point, it is also true with the people that think these tiny little actions toward climate change will save us. Most people seem to spend their time in a fog of self delusion.

    3. lordkoos

      Here in our little college town the WA state mask mandate has been reinstated so I’m seeing far more masks than in July, thankfully. There is still a local contingent that is strongly opposed to wearing them, unfortunately.

      1. Arizona Slim

        I don’t give a flying fig if the pandemic is said to be over. It isn’t. That’s why I’m still masking up when I’m in an enclosed space or when I’m in close proximity to others in outdoor settings.

  8. XXYY

    The House Ways and Means Committee released its Medicare expansion bill yesterday — and it doesn’t include a mechanism to give all three benefits to millions of seniors next year. Instead, the legislation starts vision coverage in 2022, then hearing in 2023 and phases in dental care beginning in 2028.”

    The key idea for Dems as always is to defer any perceived benefit from their actions until beyond the next election, if not until the next Administration. That way, voters can correctly ask “what have you ever done for me?”

    1. ambrit

      It beggars the imagination to realize that, as has been mentioned here from time to time, Johnson got Medicare up and running in one year. This back in the days of vacuum tubes and optical card scanners.
      This is obviously a “kick the can down the road” strategy. If the Republicans do win the Senate next year, then the Democrat Party Nomenklatura can point to Republican “obstructionism” as the reason nothing that actually helps ‘common’ people gets done.

  9. Pelham

    Re Frazier’s apartment: The real estate porn continues. I assume that TV commercials are designed to appeal to more or less average consumers. But I keep seeing homes and lifestyles that far exceed anything we’ve ever been able to afford with a household income in the top 10%. The current abode is full of busted, wasp-infested windows, a non-functioning oven, thoroughly dinged-up woodwork, gutters that need replacing, a backyard with virtually no grass and a garage that floods. The location is nothing special, either. But it was the best we could do. On the upside, it’s the worst house in the neighborhood. And no poltergeists!

  10. cnchal

    > Supply Chain: “Consumer demand must ease to end supply chain crisis, says Maersk executive” [Financial Times]

    It will end when the corporations realize they ordered twice as much as they need. It is the python swallowing an elephant problem, choking is to be expected.

    > Manufacturing: “The world’s auto makers are moving to take greater control of a critical part of electric-vehicle supply chains.

    . . .“The investments by Ford, General Motors and Volkswagen are part of the high-stakes, high-cost efforts to build new supply chains for the raw materials and components that will go into a new generation of tech-heavy, emissions-slashing cars. . .

    Wall Street Journal writers spin comedy gold. Tech heavy is the exact opposte of emissions slashing.


    I won’t buy any of that garbage and am sticking with my already two decade old cars that run great and cost used go-kart money to buy.

    Expensive cars are an anti status symbol to me and driving or riding in one is embarrasing. I sometimes wonder why the rich that buy those things don’t plaster a picture of their face on the hood and doors as you can’t usually see who is driving the luxo barge or 200 MPH sports car. What’s the point of showing off if no one knows who you are?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > It will end when the corporations realize they ordered twice as much as they need

      That suggests it won’t end, because faced with shortages, (some) corporations have abandoned Just-In-Time manufacturing.

      1. cnchal

        Just in time doesn’t mean what you think it means and it isn’t possible when relying on freighting stuff over from China.

        Just in time manufacturing means the components to an assembly arrive at their station an hour or two before becoming part of the assembly. The way Toyota does it is by having part suppliers close by delivering parts continously in small batches.

        There are tradeoffs with this method. On the one hand, warehouses to store huge numbers of parts for assembly is eliminated or reduced. On the other, the suppliers actually run less efficiently because the tooling that makes an individual part is changed frequently so only enough are made to feed the beast. Long production runs are more efficient from a manufacturing perspective as the time spent on tooling changeover is used for production. Hense the drive for technological tricks like quick change tooling systems.

        I suppose that a container of parts from China that arrived on schedule, lets say once a month can be considered part of this chain but monthly or weekly deliveries is not really just in time manufacturing.

        Your guess that the next downturn won’t be till after the midterms is eerily prescient as by then the corps will realize they expanded and ordered way too much stuff to satisfy sales and then the brakes get slammed on by all at the same time, just like they all ordered way too much as soon as the slightest shortages cropped up. They are lemmings blinded by greed.

        1. Left in Wisconsin

          I believe J-I-T as it has evolved in the U.S., as compared to the Toyota system in Japan, generally involves warehousing in between parts supplier and assembler/manufacturer. I know of some auto plants with close-by subcontractors that can perform J-I-T directly from factory to factory, by my sense is that this is either beyond the capacity of most U.S. parts suppliers, isn’t cost-effective (because, as you say, frequent set-up changes to meet the needs of final assemblers are costly), and also because it requires information sharing with suppliers at a level that most MNC’s are uncomfortable with (because it might give parts suppliers info they could use to their advantage).
          Hence the giant explosion in industrial warehousing that one sees everywhere.

          1. cnchal

            > Hence the giant explosion in industrial warehousing that one sees everywhere.

            I agree with what you write, except for that. There has been no production increase in the number of vehicles built to correlate with the giant explosion in industrial warehouses.

            The relationships between the different tiers of suppliers and the final auto assemblers is relatively static. It is a well worn path and when I see where the new warehouses are being built, serving the auto industry directly as a way station for parts is a minor factor.

            Just in time as used by the financial press is more along the lines of we were expecting that container from China on this date, irregardless of what is inside, and it isn’t here yet. Holy crap, what are we gonna do now? Order twice as much in the hope something shows up sometime.

            The seeds of the next recession are right there.

            The supply chains have so many broken links I am reminded of Humpty Dumpty after his fall off the wall.

  11. Gulag

    Near the end of “Into the Fairy Castle: The Persistence of Victorian Liberalism,” the author writes:

    “The liberal middle class since the 1990s has built a fortress around itself as if defending a phantasmic realm against intrusion. Criticisms on the basis of policy, which raise the specter of conflicting class interest and call into question the pure beneficence of the liberal class itself, must be deflected, ironically in the name of “realism.”

    It strikes me, that the magnitude of the multiple crises we are facing through into question almost every aspect of middle class culture, especially the faith that everything can be controlled and managed with the proper combination of rationally described effort, technology and government intervention.

    1. Soredemos

      Borgen is infinitely better produced than The West Wing, which isn’t saying much, but it’s ultimately just as vapid. It’s trying to do the same thing of being about the business of politics, without actually being about politics. Partly because they don’t want to alienate any potential audience, and partly because Liberalism simply doesn’t stand for anything, none of the characters in either Borgen or TWW actually try to achieve much. There are no real political convictions, no grand policy goals. Any firm stances they do manage to occasionally take are inevitably center-right in their fundamentals. It’s all just pantomime of what the dumb suburban middle-class imagines is ‘serious’, ‘good politics’.

      If you’re going to do that sort of thing, a political show that isn’t really about policy, the only valid way to do it is as farce, like every Iannucci show where the point is how absolutely idiotic, inept, and not particularly different from each other the bureaucrats in both the Ruling Party and the Opposition are. Veep remains the only truly accurate depiction of DC politics ever made; ie the politicians are basically idiots shepherded around by their only slightly less idiotic aids.

      (I should note here that in The Thick of It the only character with actual political convictions is the impossibly potty-mouthed, ruthless party enforcer played by Peter Capaldi. This might take a viewer a while to pick up on, but he’s shown to be genuinely kind to service works, his secretary, etc, because they’re the people he’s trying to help. He’s the only one in the nominal Labour Party who actually wants to advance policies that benefit Labour. The constant enemy in achieving this is a combination of Oxbridge elitists indistinguishable from those in the Tory Party, and dull, inept career bureaucrats who don’t believe in anything that he takes his anger out on).

      I gave up on Borgen part way through the first season, when they had a ‘why Denmark must stay in Afghanistan’ propaganda episode that has aged incredibly poorly.

      1. Basil Pesto

        (I should note here that in The Thick of It the only character with actual political convictions is the impossibly potty-mouthed, ruthless party enforcer played by Peter Capaldi. This might take a viewer a while to pick up on, but he’s shown to be genuinely kind to service works, his secretary, etc, because they’re the people he’s trying to help. He’s the only one in the nominal Labour Party who actually wants to advance policies that benefit Labour. The constant enemy in achieving this is a combination of Oxbridge elitists indistinguishable from those in the Tory Party, and dull, inept career bureaucrats who don’t believe in anything that he takes his anger out on).

        I agree to an extent. It’s made most obvious in that episode where Jamie (Capaldi’s character’s right-hand man for a time, for those playing at home), after bollocking and threatening Robyn, bumps into the black cleaner in the office and switches immediately to comically overwrought obsequiousness: “oops, excuse me, I’m terribly sorry”. Later, Ben lashes out at her and Malcolm and Jamie have to clean up his mess.

        I wouldn’t let Tucker off that easily though. He remains a mendacious and conniving bully (don’t forget the inquiry episode, penultimate of the series), which is arguably a kind of politics in itself? And I would say that he does this to serve his party above all (“don’t ever question my loyalty to my party again” – forget the episode. maybe talking to Steve Fleming?), certainly above any strong political convictions. It may certainly be the case that, due to his age, he has some kind of affinity with the vestiges of what his party once stood for, hence his kindness to service workers (who he can’t really be mean to anyway, because that would make him a story, which he always tries carefully to avoid) and the other things you describe (I suspect his kindness to Sam (his secretary) is more a strategy to keep the audience on side to some extent. Can’t have him be an arsehole to everyone all the time. Terry and Robyn are essentially civil servants in a similar capacity as Sam, albeit plainly less competent, and he’s mostly bad to them too). Think also of the party conference episode (series 3) where his party wheels out a Novocastrian whose husband died when a cafe roof collapsed. Malcolm is similarly obsequious, even fawning to her, but when it becomes apparent to him that she’s becoming politically useless and perhaps even harmful because of some of her more eccentric beliefs, he discards her without a second thought (and fobs the job off on to Ollie). Ultimately, everything that he does is in service of a party that is firmly committed to New Labourish principles. He is also, of course, an hilarious creation.

        TTOI, even if it gives its characters occasional displays of their decency/empathy (like when Glenn is furious at his colleagues for mocking ‘Mr Tickel’ after his death), as you rightly point out, isn’t politically prescriptivist; if it was, it would be propaganda (in the most generic sense of the word) and, highly likely, bad art. It wouldn’t be the superb show that it always will be. Propaganda is, I think, what TWW is, albeit it’s propaganda as politically bland as it is artistically; like you say “inevitably centre right in [its] fundamentals” (I can’t speak for Borgen).

        (Sorry for all the parentheticals – in a bit of a hurry and properly ordering all those discursive thoughts into new paragraphs/properly constructed sentences would take some time, and I’m sure I’ve bored you enough already!)

        1. Soredemos

          You may well be right, that he’s only nice to people either because he wants to avoid public scrutiny for abuse, or because he thinks they might be useful to him. But I still prefer my interpretation, because it injects a degree of political principle into an otherwise entirely bleak show. Also the one character who actually believes in anything being the same one who endlessly hurls abuse would fit the comedic sensibilities of the show.

          I really appreciate that there are people with encyclopedic knowledge of TTOI scenes and lore.

          I don’t think Iannucci could great more of the show now even if he wanted to. Reality has gotten too stupid. The Brexit saga has contained multiple episodes more insane than anything he could come up with.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Peter Capaldi

        Malcolm Tucker. I like this one because it’s about data:

        > genuinely kind to service works, his secretary, etc, because they’re the people he’s trying to help.

        These clips don’t seem to have made it through to YouTube, thank you platforms

    2. chuck roast

      I remember watching Borgen a few years ago..the first two or three seasons. What struck me about it was that the various opposition parties were led by the stupido; the slightly deranged; the quite deranged and the radical. By any stretch of the imagination these dysfunctional pols made Nyborg look like the soul of rationality. The one bit of the thing that rang true for me was that eventually even her husband couldn’t stomach her and picked up the kids and left.

  12. John

    20 meat and dairy firms emit more greenhouse gas than Germany, Britain or France.
    Why do tinvestors flock to our eventual mutual destruction? I cite Lambert’s pithy formulation: 1-Because markets. 2- Go die.

    And it is not going to change, because markets.

  13. Wukchumni

    “You had the right to remain silent. Anything you said or wrote online can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”


    1. The Rev Kev

      Maybe the LAPD are worried that they are in the dark as far as how certain social media accounts are used to stage events. Expect disposable social media accounts becoming more common as a response. You give up all that info to the police and you are giving them the keys to your front door and telling them when you won’t be home.

  14. hemeantwell

    On agreementism, delighted to see Lars Lih linked here. His Lenin Rediscovered is a remarkable work that broke new ground in its appreciation of the importance of Kautsky and the German Social Democratic Party in shaping Lenin’s understanding of the role of the party, an understanding that was based on *optimism* regarding the working class’ political abilities and an insistence on avoiding the kind of elitism that has so often been associated with the idea of a vanguard. I was impressed at the book’s reception; old-line Lenin interpreters like Robert Tucker have strongly endorsed it. The Jacobin article looks like a review of material Lih covers in this youtube talk.

    1. Skk

      I’ll just have to get out that pamphlet ‘ the renegade kautsky by Lenin’ and compare notes then. Or maybe not.

  15. skippy


    Quick someone deploy the freedoms and liberty oh look squirrel … meh its practically on auto play these days …

    130 year old Queenslander awaits me today … gotta love those eccentric decades old renos added on ad hoc like Cash’s song One piece at a time Cadillac … oh and fear [irrational] is the great killer of minds let alone the preferred neoliberal tool of conditioning e.g. you either own your own mind or someone else does …

  16. XXYY

    Hospitalisation among vaccine breakthrough COVID-19 infections

    The first Delta case in the United States was diagnosed in March 2021, but data for this study was gathered between March 23 and July 1, 2021. This study seems like it must have been predominantly pre-Delta cases, and so should perhaps be taken as old news.

    1. Lightningclap

      His is one of the anecdotes that has discouraged me from getting vaxxed. I’m concerned about a recurrence of symptoms exactly as he describes.

      I dig the handle, btw. Very roots.

  17. Mikel

    Re: Intel
    “The expansion in Europe is part of Intel’s push to become a major contract chip maker, an effort that includes plans for a plant in Arizona.”

    Is this the same Arizona that already has a potential fresh water crisis? And the same Arizona where the Saudis roam for farmland? And not a whisper about human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia…

    1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

      I know a no-fooling top level engineer at Intel. He says he remembers the good old days of the 80s but it’s run by idiots now with no institutional memory and they’ve lost their sense of inevitable victory.

      1. Glen

        That’s basically the same fear I have. American CEOs have had a front row seat running America’s industrial base, and they have pretty much trashed it. Giving them trillions and a do over and expecting different results is insane.

        Didn’t we learn from 2008 that propping up the same Wall St banks that wrecked the world’s economy and sending no one to jail fixes nothing? The fish rots from the head. The C suites need to be sacked, the boards need to be sacked. Instead, the Fed has handed out trillions to keep these clowns afloat.

        My fear is that the elites running the mega corporations have pretty much bought up the government, and are going to run the country the same way they run their companies, maximize the money into their pocket and {family blog} everything else. You see this in how they are handling the pandemic, our healthcare system, our industrial base, water systems, supply chains, you name it.

        Is the Biden infrastructure bill going to become the next version of Obama’s Wall St bailout? A giant gift of tax pay money to the exact same elites that trashed our country?

        Is he as stupid as Obama?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Is the Biden infrastructure bill going to become the next version of Obama’s Wall St bailout? A giant gift of tax pay money to the exact same elites that trashed our country?

          Nice formulation. We could end up repaving every existing road in suburbia. The difference being that the Wall Street bailout was only digits, and the Infrastructure is material and will be in place for another 50 or 100 years (actual conditions to be determined). We could possibly be defining the shape of the country for that long. Not sure we could trust the current elites to do that. Will bunkers be tax deductible?

  18. Mikel

    “For most other viruses, from influenza to respiratory syncytial virus, young children and older adults are typically the most vulnerable; the risk of bad outcomes by age can be represented by a U-shaped curve….”

    “Research is beginning to reveal that the reason children have fared well against COVID-19 could lie in the innate immune response — the body’s crude but swift reaction to pathogens. Kids seem to have an innate response that’s ‘revved up and ready to go’, says Herold. But she adds that more studies are needed to fully support that hypothesis…”

    But the swift reaction to pathogens isn’t the same fFor most other viruses, from influenza to respiratory syncytial virus”. So at least to me this points to something more innate about Covid-19, (possibly due to its origins?) than anything innate about their immune systems.

    1. Cuibono

      this really is a fascinating puzzle.
      i would wager that as long as we continue to adhere to a largely mechanical , reductionist approach to understanding health, and in this case immunity, our progress in understanding it will be stymied.
      knowing WHO is going to get really sick with this illness goes well beyond young verus old.
      just this week i have had half a dozen patients who have multiple comorbidities and all did fine but the youngest one who is now fighting for her life. Why? In what way were they different?
      How can we not know more about that ?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > immunity

        We do not understand the immune system (like we don’t understand a lot of important things, like sex, death, sleep, consciousness, many other “miracles of humanity,” the origins of the universe, etc.).

        This is probably a good thing. If we could understand the immune system, no doubt the collective action of billions of pathogens would already have been able to understand it faster and better, rendering it useless.

    2. ilpalazzo

      I have this anectote from my brother’s household. He has type I diabetes since his teens. Both he and his wife are early fourties and they have two daugters, 15 and 5 yo. In march during our big Covid surge the wife complained about joints pain to a doctor, got sent to do a PCR test that came out positive. Whole family was ordered to isolate for 10 days, no other person had any symptoms at that time.

      A couple of weeks later all of them took antibody test. The wife’s and 5yo daughter’s came out positive. Another month later the little girl came down with what was diagnosed as bronhitis. It turned out to be pretty nasty – in three weeks two courses of different antibiotics were tried without much improvement. Eventually she got well. A couple of weeks later she became not well again. This time she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. So there’s that.

    1. Basil Pesto

      Thank you very much for sharing, I thought that was excellent. The penultimate paragraph is a keeper.

      I saw he wrote this, about vaccines, a couple of weeks ago. I’ve only just started it but so far it seems eminently reasonable too

  19. Larry Y

    Regarding greed…

    In Buddhism, the three main afflictions/poisons/defilement are greed/sensual desire, aversion/hatred, and delusion/confusion. They are considered the roots of craving/thirst and of suffering.

    The term nirvana means “blowing out”, and what is being blown out is greed, aversion, and delusion.

  20. djrichard

    Is the U.S. economy about to faceplant? From the article:

    About 9 million Americans got kicked off their unemployment benefits Monday after the expiration of the super-unemployment provisions in the American Rescue Plan passed in March. This is likely the biggest cut in welfare benefits in American history. It’s a cruel irony that it happened on Labor Day — supposedly a day of rest for the working class.

    Worse, it raises the possibility of the economic recovery not just stagnating but going into reverse. If I were the Democratic Party, I would be reversing these cuts immediately.

  21. rowlf

    I attended a meeting at work today that explained the company’s vaccination policy. The policy covered how people who were vaccinated and unvaccinated would be treated and seems fair (unvaccinated workers need to wear masks and be tested weekly). What I still can’t figure out is why do the vaccinated people consider the unvaccinated dangerous to be around even under these rules?

    1. Daniel LaRusso

      why don’t the vaccinated need testing/masks ?? They can still carry the virus – even at a reduced probability

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Because all the wall-to-wall 24/7 Sensurround government propaganda says that being vaccinated will stop the disease. And they make sure to say it in such a way that common and normal interpretations of language will hear it as ” stop the disease from spreading by preventing the vaccinated from even getting it at all.”

      1. JBird4049

        Sigh. The facts that the vaccine is both non-sterilizing and allows plenty of breakthroughs are easy to find out, probably even with the personalized Google-Facebook-Twitter Bog feed. Those responsible for spreading the mindf—ry for profit should face charges, but they won’t.

  22. allan

    Ryan Nobles @ryanobles

    House Dem @WhipClyburn tells Jim @Acosta
    the $3.5 T figure for budget reconciliation is just a “celling” and not a “floor”.
    Clyburn says there is $2T worth of negotiating room.
    Worth noting that progressives like @BernieSanders
    & @AOC have said $3.5 T is already a compromise.

    If a movie about this time in politics is ever made,
    I’m looking forward to Samuel L. Jackson playing Clyburn.

  23. The Rev Kev

    You can see why “liberals” are so hated by so many people. So Jimmy Kimmel weighed in with his advice for hospitals dealing with Coronavirus patients-

    ‘That choice doesn’t seem so tough to me. Vaccinated person having a heart attack? Yes, come right in, we’ll take care of you. Unvaccinated guy who gobbled horse goo? Rest in peace, wheezy.’

    https://www.huffpost.com/entry/jimmy-kimmel-vaccinated-hospitals_n_613837dde4b0aac9c01d3766 (with 10:18 minute video)

      1. Daniel LaRusso

        what about obese/smokers and drug addicts. Do they get cared for? In the UK those people are still paying into the NHS (yes, I know some people think taxes don’t pay for services)

      2. JBird4049

        I saw a clip of that unctuous, sanctimonious, self-righteous twit and his “joke.”

        I did not find it funny.

  24. Wukchumni

    Two orphaned bear cubs that were getting too close to people in Tulare County were safely rescued and are being cared for at San Diego Humane Society’s Ramona Wildlife Center.

    The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) brought the young bears, estimated to be about 6 months old, to the wildlife center on Aug. 18 after they were captured in the Three Rivers area near San Joaquin Valley.

    The male and female bears had been seen without their mother and were too close to humans — even being fed by people in the neighborhoods, according to the San Diego Humane Society.


  25. a fax machine

    US National Archive now has a trigger warning for the Bill Of Rights. It’s at the top of the page, and reads “Harmful Language Alert: see NARA’s Statement on Potentially Harmful Language.”


    I find this to be worrying because, say what you want about America’s founding, but given the Bill of Right’s casual use as a document that confers rights, associating rights with racism is a very fast path to associating noncompliance with government directives with bigotry. Also, you’d think that anyone interested in reading such a document would be mature enough to not take outdated references in it personally…. like in that Star Trek episode where a time-traveling Abraham Lincoln inadvertently refers to a crewmember as a “negress” [sic] but she’s not offended because she doesn’t get the reference. It seems that the current liberal regime is moving in the other direction.

      1. JBird4049

        I miss that completely.

        I think the back of every middle school, high school, and college American history or government I have had has had a copy of them.

        I am not being hyperbolic when I ask just what is harmful and/or offensive about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights??

        1. Basil Pesto


          NARA replied by clarifying that the warning was not meant to demarcate any particular document in the catalog and that it was a blanket warning for all records kept by the office.

          “This alert is not connected to any specific records, but appears at the top of the page while you are using the online Catalog,” NARA wrote on Twitter.

          Probably not unreasonable to get out in front with a generic language warning before some galaxy-brained hot take-ist finds some old
          documents on NARA and writes a “7 most problematic docs in National Archives” listicle

  26. VietnamVet

    As IM Doc points out, at this critical point, there is no plan B.

    The fate of French and Russian Noblesse should be a red flag to the global upper middle class. But, as the comments here point out, they sure do not get it. To them the chip shortages, the pandemic, missing workers, crashing life expectancy, and the rising inequality are of no concern. The only way to address the crisis means taking down the corrupt incompetent revolving door corporate/state and restoring democracy and rule of law. This would end the system that provides Insiders status and a means of support. But multi-national, colonial, divide and rule works only for a while.

    School employees are dying of COVID in Florida and Texas. When the unvaccinated are scapegoated, the game is up. This is life and death. Unless the USA starts public health programs now to eradicate the virus like China, Taiwan and New Zealand; the remnant North American nation states will be poor, highly unequal, and ill like Brazil & Mexico, but armed with nuclear weapons.

  27. drumlin woodchuckles

    Meat should indeed be a condiment.

    And more than that, meat should be carbon-capture. And only range-and-pasture raised meat shows any hope of that.

    Any other meat will have to show that its presence in the agro-ecosystem in which it was raised allows that agro-ecosystem to function efficiently enough to capture more carbon than what the meat emitted. That’s a challenge to the permaculture community, among others.

Comments are closed.