2:00PM Water Cooler 10/12/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I hope you enjoyed your Federal Holiday. Also, I got wrapped around the axle reconfiguring the Covid section; more to come. –lambert UPDATE All done!

Bird Song of the Day

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Patient readers, I have started to revise this section, partly to reduce my workload, but partly to focus more as an early warning, if that is possible. Re workload: I eliminated charts for positivity, because I think private tests make those numbers useless. I cut back to a single hospitalization chart, because I think state-by-state data is more useful than a national aggregate. I retained vaccination (new administrations per day, plus percentage total), case count, and death rate (plus total). To spot new variants if and when they emerge, I changed the world chart to include countries that have form creating new variants: the UK, Brazil, and India, with Portugal as a baseline. I also retained rapid riser counties (though for now, with things so relatively quiet, I am including only this week’s data). Winter is coming! Do feel free to make additional suggestions. (If there were a global map that showed the emergence of new variants dynamically, for example, that would be helpful.)

Vaccination by region:

I think we’re looking at a weekend drop. Coercion works? Or boosters? (I have also not said, because it’s too obvious, that if by Bubba we mean The South, then Bubba has done pretty well on vax.)

56.4% of the US is fully vaccinated (CDC data. Mediocre by world standards, being just below Czech Republic, and just above Turkey, as of this Monday). We are back to the stately 0.1% rise per day. I would bet that the stately rise = word of mouth from actual cases. However, as readers point out, every day those vaccinated become less protected, especially the earliest. So we are trying to outrun the virus…

Case count by United States regions:

I have added an anti-triumphalist black line to show how “new normal” case numbers still are. Even if hospitalizations and the death rate are going down, that says nothing about Long Covid, the effect on children, etc. So the numbers, in my mind, are still “terrifying”, even if that most-favored word is not in the headlines any more, and one may be, at this point, inured.

Simply tape-watching, this descent is as steep as any of the three peaks in November–January. It’s also longer than the descent from any previous peak. We could get lucky, as we did with the steep drop after the second week in January, which nobody knows the reasons for, then or now. Today’s populations are different, though. This population is more vaccinated, and I would bet — I’ve never seen a study — that many small habits developed over the last year (not just masking). Speculating freely: There is the possibility that natural immunity is much, much greater than we have thought, although because this is America, our data is so bad we don’t know. Also, if the dosage from aerosols drops off by something like the inverse square law, not linearly, even an extra foot of social distance could be significant if adopted habitually by a large number of people. And if you believe in fomites, there’s a lot more hand-washing being done. On the other hand, Delta is much more transmissible. And although readers will recall that I have cautioned against cross-country comparisons, I’m still not understanding why we’re not seeing the same aggregates in schools that we’ve see in Canada and especially the UK, although we have plenty of anecdotes. Nothing I’ve read suggests that the schools, nation-wide, have handled Covid restrictions with any consistency at all. So what’s up with that?

From CDC: “Community Profile Report October 12, 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties:

Speculating freely: One thing the consider is where the red is. If air travel hubs like New York City or Los Angeles (or Houston or Miami) go red that could mean (a) international travel and (b) the rest of the country goes red, as in April 2020 and following. But — for example — Minnesota is not a hub. If Minnesota goes red, who else does? Well, Wisconsin. As we see. Remember, however, that this chart is about acceleration, not absolute numbers. This map, too, blows the “Blame Bubba” narrative out of the water. Not a (Deliverance-style) banjo to be heard. (Red means getting worse, green means bad but getting better.)

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 734,611 730,413. A definite downward trend in death rate, mercifully. We approached the same death rate as our first peak last year. Which I found more than a little disturbing. (Adding: I know the data is bad. This is the United States. But according to The Narrative, deaths shouldn’t have been going up at all. Directionally, this is quite concerning. Needless to see, this is a public health debacle. It’s the public health establishment to take care of public health, not the health of certain favored political factions. Also adding: I like a death rate because it gives me a rough indication of my risk should I, heaven forfend, end up in a hospital. I should dig out the absolute numbers, too, now roughly 660,000, which is rather a lot.)

Covid cases in historic variant sources:

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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

UPDATE “Risky move: Biden undercuts WH executive privilege shield” [Associated Press]. “Democrat Biden has agreed to a request from Congress seeking sensitive information on the actions of his predecessor Donald Trump and his aides during the Jan. 6 insurrection, though the former president claims the information is guarded by executive privilege…. Biden’s decision not to block the information sought by Congress challenges a tested norm — one in which presidents enjoy the secrecy of records of their own terms in office, both mundane and highly sensitive, for a period of at least five years, and often far longer. That means Biden and future presidents, as well as Trump…. While not spelled out in the Constitution, executive privilege has developed to protect a president’s ability to obtain candid counsel from his advisers without fear of immediate public disclosure and to protect his confidential communications relating to official responsibilities. But that privilege has its limitations in extraordinary situations, as exemplified during the Watergate scandal, when the Supreme Court ruled that it could not be used to shield the release of secret Oval Office tapes sought in a criminal inquiry, and following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The Jan. 6 insurrection belongs among those ranks, Biden’s White House counsel wrote to the keeper of records, the Archivist of the United States. The argument that the special circumstances of the attack justify the extraordinary release should guard against the erosion of executive privilege for presidencies going forward, some experts said.” • To me, this is Biden doing the right thing and being given [family blog] for it by our brain-dead press, exactly as with Afghanistan. Could it be that executive privilege and access journalism are mutually reinforcing?

UPDATE “Bannon’s subpoena snub sets up big decision for Biden DOJ” [The Hill]. “The law allows for Congress to refer a noncompliant witness to the DOJ for criminal prosecution, which could result in jail time, a fine or both. The Trump administration has a long history of defying congressional investigators, and Bannon, through his lawyer, said he would disregard the subpoena until a yet-to-be-filed legal case from Trump resolved whether the former president can rely on executive privilege to bar his ex-employees from testifying before lawmakers. ‘We will comply with the direction of the courts,’ Robert Costello, Bannon’s attorney, wrote in the letter. Legal experts have expressed doubts Trump will make much headway in an executive privilege suit, as the protection largely applies to sitting presidents. Bannon is also being sought for questioning surrounding his role in planning rallies on Jan. 6 — activity that came years after his brief stint as a White House adviser…. Trump hasn’t yet filed his executive privilege suit, but if he does, it’s possible it could complicate a civil suit from the House — a move that could appeal to the former president, who has been accused by many of using lawsuits as a delay tactic. ‘I think their timeline is very firmly pegged to the midterm elections. If they can slow walk this until they get a new Congress, they won’t have to worry about the next Congress pursuing it,’ Osler said.”

Biden Administration

Oh no:

UPDATE “Climate protesters swarm White House, vandalize Jackson statue, warn Biden” [FOX]. “Left-wing climate protesters hit the D.C. streets Monday, vandalizing a statue of former President Andrew Jackson and swarming the White House while warning President Biden to take their demands seriously. The Build Back Fossil Free coalition took to the DC streets Monday with their five-day-long protest’s aim to spur action by the Biden administration against climate change, mainly by declaring a national emergency and ending projects involving fossil fuels… The coalition is a climate change-focused nonprofit aimed at ensuring “Biden becomes the climate president he promised to be” according to its website, and is supported by several businesses and organizations, including Ben & Jerry’s and Patagonia.”

Democrats en Deshabille

A-a-a-a-u-g-h!!!! My eyes:

UPDATE Metaphors for non-governing Democrats (1):

The door-frame, which is not open, is the filibuster, the Senate Parliamentarian, President Manchin, etc., etc., etc.

UPDATE Metaphors for non-governing Democrats (2):

This is carrying kayfabe very far. Perhaps even too far.


This ad is, indeed, very funny:

But is it a winner? I’m not so sure. Not to bring up the old-time blogosphere too much, but we swore. A lot. It felt liberating, it signified that we weren’t part of the established media, etc. It didn’t do a damn thing. And if I had children, and hoped to postpone the day when they too said [family blog], in my hearing, I don’t think I’d be too happy about them seeing this ad on TV.

Stats Watch

Small Business Optimism: “United States Nfib Business Optimism Index” [Trading Economics]. “The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index in the United States fell to 99.1 points in September from 100.1 points in August, the lowest in six months. More than 50% of small businesses said they couldn’t fill open positions last month and the number of companies offering higher pay was also at a 48-year high. “Small-business owners are doing their best to meet the needs of customers, but are unable to hire workers or receive the needed supplies and inventories. The outlook for economic policy is not encouraging to owners, as lawmakers shift to talks about tax increases and additional regulations”, NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg said.” •

Employment Situation: “United States Job Openings” [Trading Economics]. “The number of job openings in the US dropped to 10.439 million in August 2021, from an all-time high of 11.098 million in July and below market expectations of 10.925 million. It was the first month of decline in the level of the openings since December 2020 with the largest decreases reported for health care and social assistance (-224,000); accommodation and food services (-178,000); and state and local government education (-124,000). Job openings increased in the federal government (+22,000). Job openings were down in the Northeast and Midwest regions. Meanwhile, the number of hires declined by 439,000 to 6.322 million, while total separations including quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations rose by 211,000 to 6.003 million.”

Inflation: “United States Consumer Inflation Expectations” [Trading Economics]. “Year-ahead inflation expectations in the United States rose further to 5.3 percent in September 2021, the eleventh consecutive monthly increase and a new series high since the inception of the survey in 2013. Three-year-ahead inflation expectations also increased, to 4.2 percent from 4.0 percent, representing the third consecutive monthly increase and a new record. In contrast, year-ahead home price expectations dropped by 0.4 percentage point to 5.5 percent, the fourth consecutive monthly decrease, driven mostly by respondents who live in the “West” and “Northeast” Census regions; while expectations about year-ahead price changes decreased for all the commodities, led by a slowdown in price of gas, college education, and food.”

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The Bezzle: “Dirt: Are NFTs status symbols?” [Dirt]. “Do NFTs get people status?… Status symbols require what economists call signaling costs: acquisition alone must be difficult so that possession serves as proof of exceptional assets or privilege…. Acquired status symbols like luxury goods have a fatal flaw, however: The intentional signaling of status is a low-status activity. The highest-status individuals should never need to plead for status; their reputation precedes them. So the most effective status symbols require more than signaling costs: They also need alibis, plausible excuses for ownership other than the intentional acquisition of status symbols. Luxury watches and sports cars are tools. Mansions serve as shelter. The most effective status symbols offer advanced utility as an alibi to justify the expenditure as anything other than an obnoxious act of conspicuous waste. This is why luxury brands talk endlessly about unprecedented craftsmanship, brilliant design, or engineering prowess — to sell a veneer of functionalism that hides raw positional marking. … While signaling costs and alibis are important, the most critical aspect of a status symbol is cachet, clear associations with existing high-status groups…. There is a circular loop, where NFTs are investments posing as status symbols posing as investments. Whatever the case, the fact that people so easily brandish their investment properties to demonstrate taste says a lot about our age. Surely no one in the Seventies sent out receipts for corn futures as their holiday cards.” • Very good!

Tech: “Facebook Banned the Creator of ‘Unfollow Everything’ and Sent Him a Cease and Desist Letter” [Gizmodo]. “A developer who created a browser extension designed to help Facebook users reduce their time spent on the platform says that the company responded by banning him and threatening to take legal action. Louis Barclay says he created Unfollow Everything to help people enjoy Facebook more, not less. His extension, which no longer exists, allowed users to automatically unfollow everybody on their FB account, thus eliminating the newsfeed feature, one of the more odious, addictive parts of the company’s product. The feed, which allows for an endless barrage of targeted advertising, is powered by follows, not friends, so even without it, users can still visit the profiles they want to and navigate the site like normal.” • Enjoying Facebook is hardly the point!

Tech: “Facebook’s oversight board to meet with whistleblower Frances Haugen” [Reuters]. “Facebook Inc’s oversight board, a body set up by the social network to give independent verdicts on a small number of thorny content decisions, said on Monday it would meet with former employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen in the coming weeks.” • Weirdest corporate structure ever.

Tech: “AWS Console Unavailable” [Hacker News]. • People seem a little skittish. Nevertheless, this should not be:

Apparently, the “dashboard” took some time to catch up:

Fortunately, no “resistance is futile” message or anything like that.

Manufacturing: “How did Delta Airlines awaken 570 dormant aircraft?” [FreightWaves]. “Delta Air Lines parked 571 mainline aircraft across the country in 2020 when the COVID-19 wiped out most passenger travel. Airlines still have about 70% of their pre-pandemic international capacity in hibernation, but Delta is returning aircraft to the skies because the U.S. domestic market is recovering faster than in other parts of the world. Parking a plane and bringing it back to life after months of inactivity isn’t as simple as turning the engines off and on. It takes a lot of effort, including maintenance and electrical checks, to keep an aircraft in a ready state for future use. … In some regions of the world, for example, mud dauber wasps clog exterior speed-sensing tubes with mud. Maintenance personnel are instructed to regularly check the probe covers for damage.” • I seem to remember Boeing had a problem with sensors…

Tech: “We need to talk about how Apple is normalising surveillance” [Wired]. Indeed:

Many of Apple’s latest features are about enhancing surveillance – even if Apple would never call them that. The new iPhone operating system, iOS 15, can digitise text in photos, enabling users to copy and paste text from an image, or call a phone number that appears in a picture. Scanning nearby buildings with an iPhone will make Maps recognise them and generate walking directions. Algorithms will identify objects in real-time video, and it will be possible to turn photos into 3D models for augmented reality. And users will now be able to carry their IDs in their phone. All of these features increase the amount of data collected.

Apple is also active in the lucrative business of healthcare. Using their iPhones and Apple Watches, people can track their steps, heart rate, and gait, among other things. A new sharing tab on the Health app even lets users share their health data with family and caregivers. Granted, all that data is supposed to be kept secure – but whenever sensitive information is collected and shared that easily, data disasters are just lurking around the corner.

Indeed, once one starts scratching the surface, Apple’s contribution to the development of invasive technologies and the normalisation of surveillance becomes evident. Apple created the Bluetooth beacons tracking people in shops, gyms, hotels, airports and more by connecting to their phones. Apple’s usage of Face ID as a way to unlock the iPhone has contributed to normalising facial recognition. Its AirTag – a small device that can be stuck to personal items in order to track them – has caused concerns among privacy advocates that they will make it easier to track people. The Apple Watch, as the most advanced wearable on the market, leads us one step closer to under-the-skin surveillance, which can read our bodies and emotions. Most recently, Apple has developed a tool that can scan photos in people’s devices in search of child abuse material. While the objective is noble, the tool could be used for less ethical purposes and, according to security expert Bruce Schneier, it effectively breaks end-to-end encryption – the most powerful way we currently have to protect the privacy of our devices. (Apple later decided to pause its plans to roll out the tool.)

When it comes to privacy, iOS arguably has a better reputation among consumers than Android, as does Siri vs Alexa, and Safari vs Chrome. But that doesn’t give Apple permission to track our lived experience at all times with its microphones, cameras and sensors. Apple’s groundbreaking devices are pushing the limits of what technology companies can track, and that is not good news for privacy.

I wish there were a FrameWork tablet, as well as a FrameWork laptop.

Manufacturing: “Murano glassblowing model shattered by methane price surge” [Associated Press]. “The dozens of furnaces that remain on the lagoon island where Venetian rulers transferred glassblowing 700 years ago must burn around the clock, otherwise the costly crucible inside the ovens will break. But the price for the methane that powers the ovens has skyrocketed fivefold on the global market since Oct. 1, meaning the glass-blowers face certain losses on orders they are working to fill, at least for the foreseeable future. ‘People are desperate,’ said Gianni De Checchi, president of Venice’s association of artisans Confartiginato. ‘If it continues like this, and we don’t find solutions to the sudden and abnormal gas prices, the entire Murano glass sector will be in serious danger.'” • A furnace you have to burn around the clock is not exactly Jackpot-ready….

Manufacturing: Not a chip in it:

What a great car this was. My family crossed the country several times in our bug, summer and winter (being air-cooled, there was no coolant to freeze, which was a thing that happened, back in olden days).

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 36 Fear (previous close: 32 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 27 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 12 at 1:01pm.

Rapture Index: Closes up one on Oil Supply/Price. “Oil prices have risen in the past few weeks.” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 188 (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so higher is better.)

The Biosphere

UPDATE “An Empire of Dying Wells” [Bloomberg]. “There are hundreds of thousands of such decrepit oil and gas wells across the U.S., and for a long time few people paid them much mind. That changed over the past decade as scientists discovered the surprisingly large role they play in the climate crisis. Old wells tend to leak, and raw natural gas consists mostly of methane, which has far more planet-warming power than carbon dioxide. That morning in Ohio we pointed our camera at busted pipes, rusted joints, and broken valves, and we saw the otherwise invisible greenhouse gas jetting out. A sour smell lingered in the air. To Rusty Hutson, it smells like money. Hutson is the founder and chief executive officer of one of the strangest companies ever to hit the American oil patch and the reason for our four-day visit to the Appalachian region. While other oilmen focus on drilling the next gusher, Hutson buys used wells that generate just a trickle or nothing at all. Over the past four years his Diversified Energy Co. has amassed about 69,000 wells, eclipsing Exxon Mobil Corp. to become the largest well owner in the country. Investors love him. Since listing shares in 2017, Hutson’s company has outperformed almost every other U.S. oil and gas stock, swelling his personal stake to more than $30 million.” • That’s not very much; perhaps the bottom-feeding Hutson is best filed under American Gentry. But that doesn’t mean the wells he owns aren’t emitting a ton of methane. And his numbers don’t seem to add. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Hutson. This is a mus-read.

Health Care

UPDATE “The impact of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning design features on the transmission of viruses, including the 2019 novel coronavirus: a systematic review of ventilation and coronavirus” (preprint) [medRxiv (Allan)]. From the Abtract: “A systematic review was conducted using international standards to identify and comprehensively synthesize research examining the effectiveness of ventilation for mitigating transmission of coronaviruses. The results from 32 relevant studies showed that: increased ventilation rate was associated with decreased transmission, transmission probability/risk, infection probability/risk, droplet persistence, virus concentration, and increased virus removal and virus particle removal efficiency; increased ventilation rate decreased risk at longer exposure times; some ventilation was better than no ventilation; airflow patterns affected transmission; ventilation feature (e.g., supply/exhaust, fans) placement influenced particle distribution.” But: “Some studies provided qualitative recommendations; however, few provided specific quantitative ventilation parameters suggesting a significant gap in current research. Adapting HVAC ventilation systems to mitigate virus transmission is not a one-solution-fits-all approach but instead requires consideration of factors such as ventilation rate, airflow patterns, air balancing, occupancy, and feature placement.” • Simpler and cheaper just to jab people, hope for the best, and the heck with preparing for the next pandemic?

Our Famously Free Press

UPDATE “#367- BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG (Part the Fifty-third)” (podcast) [The Civil War Podcast]. • I can’t recommend this podcast enough. It’s inspiring to watch Rich and Tracy work each week to get the history right, while also educating their listeners on sourcing. (Quite a contrast to the 1619 Project, too, I might add, especially given that The Civil War Podcast is steadily and effectively — and for Confederacy supporters, agonizingly — shoving a knife into the heart of Lost Cause mythology.) That aside, Rich is going part-time at his job to devote more time to the podcast (and possibly help their marriage, too). Since Rich works in health care, that would make him part of the post-Covid “Great Resignation”; he’s cutting back on the job to do meaningful work. Good for him, and the best of luck to both of them; they’ve really earned it. #367. Imagine!

UPDATE In defense of Twitter:

I agree with this, because I saw it play out in real time. And if the CDC weren’t so sclerotic, they would have seen to it that the aerosol scientists were censored. Oh well. Next pandemic!

UPDATE “For-profit newsrooms are adding philanthropy as another way to make money” [Poynter Institute]. “Something strange happened in Philadelphia last year. And in Houston. And Tampa Bay. And Charleston. When for-profit newsrooms asked their communities to support them through donations, those communities did. ‘We definitely learned that local communities are willing to support local news organizations, and it really didn’t seem to matter if they were for-profit or nonprofit,’ said Lindsey Estes, director of member services and journalism funding at the Local Media Association.” • These people have philanthropy confused with community. Still, an interesting trend nonetheless.

Sports Desk

A historic first?

The Gallery

UPDATE Brain worms anticipated:

The ’30s were a rough time, too.

Zeitgeist Watch

I don’t think the problem is Halloween:

Even if Halloween is, itself, a problem; I prefer an orgy of tryptophan to an orgy of sugar.


… but I also think of the wear and tear on the roads, and the van one hundred yards away playing loud music. Or firing off guns…

If you don’t know about kidney lady, you’re lucky. Here, the New Yorker author who broke the story cancels herself:

Turns out that workshopping writers are a cesspit of “predatory precarity.”

“Why cremation has overtaken burial in America” [CNN]. • Ugh, it’s a teaser for this guy’s podcast. Nevertheless, even putting aside money and upselling, who wants to be buried when they could be scattered?

Class Warfare

“John Deere Workers Overwhelmingly Reject Contract, Could Strike Wednesday Night” [Labor Notes]. “John Deere workers on Sunday overwhelmingly voted down the first tentative agreement negotiated by the Auto Workers (UAW) and the company. Among the over 90 percent of members voting, 90 percent voted no. The UAW has announced a new strike deadline of 11:59pm on Wednesday, October 13. If no new agreement is reached with the company by then, 10,000 Deere workers in Iowa, Illinois, and Kansas, will walk out. Members’ frustrations ranged from what they feel are inadequate wage increases to the decision to end the pension for new hires and switch to a “Choice Plus” plan that many felt was scant on details.” • Oh, man. “Choice Plus.” You can see that one coming a mile off. More: “UAW members at Deere described rowdy scenes from at least some of the nine local meetings. In Waterloo, Iowa, Local 838, several members wrote ‘F*** No’ on their T-shirts (they used the uncensored version). At the microphone, one member said that the only thing the agreement was good for was ‘wiping my a**.’ Members of the negotiating committee told members they started with a 24 percent wage increase that got whittled down to 11 to 12 percent over six years. In years two, four, and six, workers will receive lump-sum payments equivalent to 2 percent of their wages, in lieu of raises.”

“Warehouse jobs — recently thought of as jobs of the future — are suddenly jobs few workers want” [WaPo]. “Thought of” by whom? WaPo’s owner? “he industry is facing an unexpected problem: Far too few people are willing to take on the often-grueling work, according to industry officials and economic data. It is the latest sign that the job market is being buffeted by unexpected trends that are leading workers to reconsider the types of positions they want — and upending industries across the economy. ‘Every year we say, ‘Wow, this is really difficult’ — and every year, it gets more challenging,’ said Sabrina Wnorowski, vice president of human resources at Radial, which operates fulfillment centers for brands such as Cole Haan, Aeropostale and the Children’s Place. The company, she said, is offering daily raffles with prizes like PlayStations and iPads, as well as pizza parties and on-site food trucks in a bid to attract 27,000 warehouse workers this year, up 30 percent from 2019. ‘Given high unemployment, you’d expect that it would be easy to attract labor,’ she said, ‘but it’s been the opposite.'” • That’s a damn shame.

* * *

Symbol manipulators gotta symbol manipulate:

Anybody can take a [family blogging] photo of a [family blogging] flag. Holy moley.

Grifters gotta grift:

Project Veritas really has form….

Customer service:

What if — hear me out — “the economy” were organized for workers, rather than for consumers?

News of the Wired

Thanks, Dad:

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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 (TH):

TH comments: “I should probably clarify that the background of this silhouette is not the sky, but a lake. The predominant mood of this desert lake when we were there was remote isolation and maybe no one needs a reminder of that since there’s been a lot of it going around for the past year, but I love the peace and calm of the scene. I’ve read (Wikipedia) that tule is useful at shorelines in reducing wind and water currents, thereby, reducing erosion and inviting more plant life. So, this is Cooper’s Reed, AKA ‘broadleaf cattail.’ True, there’s no plant detail, but hey, it’s grass—how much detail do you need?” Lovely composition!

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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. Amechania

    If the school transmission rates across the country all seem ‘too similar’ an alternative hypothesis is that all of our prophalaxic measures are equally ineffective.

    1. Raymond Sim

      Maybe it’s like evading an angry rhino. Almost succeeding and being taken unawares may not look too different after the fact.

      It occurs to me that since schoolrooms have ceilings of roughly the same height, a thousandfold increase in the number of viral particles being shed would push the virus per ml of room air isoclines from an infectious person out by a factor of ten. If six feet of distancing were safe before, we’d now need to have the kids on sixty foot centers.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > all of our prophalaxic measures are equally ineffective.

      There is plenty of data from other countries, including Canada, that shows prophylactic measures work.

      1. Raymond Sim

        Prophylactic measure could work, employed comprehensively. Employed piecemeal they’ll merely slow the disease’s advance, and unfortunately that’s not nearly as much better than nothing as most people’s intuition leads them to think.

    3. Glossolalia

      Winter hasn’t really hit for most of the country, so that could change a lot, but I’m amazed at how low the cases are in the schools in my county. Of course, there is a mask mandate, so that surely helps.

  2. petal

    Click on the Stoller tweet photo and then scroll down. You don’t want to miss the Joe Biden colouring book. It’ll put you off eating for days.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Best example in this genre? I saw it in a bookstore during the late 1970s. Title: The Fortran Coloring Book.

      It was a guide to learning Fortran, a programming language that is still used.

    2. Jen

      That coloring book is just…wow. I don’t think I’ve ever been so sorely tempted to pour actual bleach into my eyes. I’m done for the day. Time to get out in the sun and try to fry that image out of my brain.

    3. Librarian Guy

      There’s worse crap than this online. “Wonkette” is a faux hip, Imperial Lib “Humor” & “Resistance” site selling “Kamala Superhero Women’s Tanks!!” (tanktops, not the kind of tanks or drones with which she’ll kill brown civilians in Asia if Joe can’t serve his full term.) The PMC really have no self-awareness.

        1. Swamp Yankee

          Yeah, I didn’t realize Wonkette was still with us. Still vacuous after all these years, I guess.

    4. griffen

      I dunno. The actual images of creepy Joe sniffing teenager’s hair – that is what puts me off eating.

      Where’s the page with Corn Pop, and the woodshed ?

      1. petal

        There’s empty pages in the back where you can draw and colour your own scene and then put Joe’s face on with a sticker. Scratch n’ sniff.
        (runs away)

        1. ambrit

          Ouch! I’ll bet that “Creepy” Joe still has his original copy of the Hustler magazine “Scratch n Sniff” issue.

            1. ambrit

              Silly me! It’s not a competition when between friends. More of a, dare I say it, cooperation between peers.
              It’s all well and good to cry out in the Marketplace: “The King has no clothes!”
              But when the King replies: “Everybody get naked!”

    5. The Rev Kev

      To add to this, Hillary Clinton has just now come out with her new novel which is really all about, well, her.

      ‘Ellen Adams, a newly-appointed secretary of state forced to step down from her media empire for her new assignment. As the president addresses Congress for the first time, bombings are reported in major cities around the world. Adams begins her globe-trotting adventure to discover who is behind the chaos and stop future bombings.’

      And what is the lead character like?

      ‘A good dress sense and Spanx concealed her love of eclairs. Her makeup was subtle, bringing out her intelligent blue eyes while not trying to hide her age.’

      Just the thing to add to your Christmas shopping list for a friend, or better yet, an enemy. Don’t forget guys – only 72 days till Christmas!


      1. ambrit

        Now if only a supply chain issue could delay the delivery of the “Pseudo-Hagiography of Saint Hillary.”
        OMG!!! What if Wm. Gibson was the ‘Ghost Writer’ for St. Hillary! Are we now in the Alternate Reality?

          1. ambrit

            I dunno. If Faulkner could write scripts for Hollywood, then…. (An invidious comparison, I know.)

  3. Wukchumni

    56.4% of the US is fully vaccinated (CDC data. Mediocre by world standards, being just below Czech Republic, and just above Turkey, as of this Monday).
    Been watching the fully vaxed rate in NZ go from 41% when Covid came calling a few months ago to 57.9% today, as their ‘90% Project’ barrels ahead.

    1. Jeotsu

      I’m going to be watching very closely as they try to couple strong vaccination with strong suppression (NPIs, lockdowns).
      Case rates in the community have been creeping up in Auckland the last few days, and the modellers think the R0 might be 1.2 or even 1.3.
      There is serious socioeconomic disparity the the vaccination rates, with rich white suburbs pushing 90%, while poor brown suburbs linger in the 50’s. Well see how successful they’ll be in bridging some of those divides.
      My partner and I got dose #2 yesterday. Very quick and efficient operation — jabs received within 5minutes of walking in — and that community center was placed to serve a poor/brown part of town, which described most of the people in the 20-minute-after waiting area.

    2. Daniel LaRusso

      so what ? you get covid even after being vaccinated and can trasmit it. My buddhist monk friend who does nothing but sit in his room at the monestary all day came out to get his jabs. Now he has been laid up for two weeks, sleeps 16+ hrs a day and is barely eating. This is his second infection, he got it very early on last year.

  4. Henry Moon Pie

    “Nevertheless, even putting aside money and upselling, who wants to be buried when they could be scattered?”

    John Prine had a whole different concept of “scattered:”

    Please don’t bury me
    down in the cold, cold, ground.
    I’d rather have them cut me up
    and pass me all around.
    Throw my brain in a hurricane
    and the blind can have my eyes.
    The deaf can take both of my ears
    if they don’t mind the size.

    Prine wrote this song when we were both young men, but this is him doing the song on the other end of life with apparently no change of heart. (Video)

    1. Hank Linderman

      We need a John Prine appreciation thread/story/article.

      “The Accident” is another favorite of mine. While we’re at it, let’s include Mose Alison:

      “Ever since the world ended…
      I don’t go out as much…”

      And I could use even more *this might make you feel bettah* content as well. Yes, I know there is already some, and the NJ political ad was perfect.


      1. Henry Moon Pie

        I’ll second that on Mose. This is one of my favorite, discovered through Bonnie Raitt’s cover decades ago:

        You don’t have to go to off-Broadway
        To see something plain absurd.
        Everybody’s crying mercy
        When they don’t know the meaning of the word.
        Nobody knows the meaning of the word.

  5. Mr. Magoo

    Re: “Cultural misappropriate via Halloween”

    Are these people serious? Do they have nothing better to do than to run around and invent ‘woe is me’ narratives? Does one advance their own cause by beating it to death?

    1. jr

      I submit that those people are either financial or social-currency grifters who are always looking to drum up a problem to advance their own individual “cause” by piggy-backing on legitimate causes. “Cultural appropriation” is how the human species works. It’s how rifts between cultures can heal. But then this is the Woke-scammer’s worst nightmare. To attack it is to, as always, ignore the root problems of inequality of opportunity and resources. I’ve come to realize that the Woke crowd consists of 99% people of good intent and 1% hustlers looking to score.

    2. Kevin

      If there is fun to be had – Americans will suck the life out of it.

      This country is so skewed negative. I call it “piling on”.
      When things go bad for me sometimes, everything I see or do takes on a negative tone. An easy trap to fall into.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Wait until a little kid goes up to a door dresses in a white sheet to look like a ghost, only to have some wokester accuse that little kid of glorifying the KKK because of their class privilege.

  6. Matthew G. Saroff

    Nothing on the Internet ever goes away, so you can see old copies of the “Unfollow All” extension with source code, here.

    Unfortunately, I don’t see anything about the license in there, so I do not know if this is open source.

    Certainly, one could use this as a primer on how to write such an extension.

    Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to rewrite the extension, use an open source license, and put it up on Github or some other public repository.

    I would suggest that you do all of this through Tor or some similar anonymous browser, and maybe use Protonmail or some similar anonymous email. Not sure about how to do anonymous payments.

    1. Lee

      “Nothing on the Internet ever goes away” as long as there is a wall plug and all the infrastructure and power sources that are connected thereto. Not to mention all the people and know-how to make the things and make them go. You don’t foresee a civilizational collapse or draconian internet censorship, then.

  7. Wukchumni

    Snake on a plane!

    My way far to the right of right brother in law in Tucson informed me a few years ago that he flies the Gadsden under the American flag on a flagpole on their roof, and because one is supposed to take down old glory @ dusk, he got an electrician to wire up a couple 100 watt bulbs timed to coincide with twilight’s last gleaming, ensuring that darkness never overcome the stars & stripes, nor does he have to risk breaking his neck falling down when lowering it every night. A true patriot.

    1. Yves Smith

      In Maine, a local puts up flags on telephone poles in Harpswell Township (Martha’s Vineyard for poor people) and they stay up for months (I haven’t seen if/when they come down, but I assume after “season” which is what is now Indigenous People’s Day weekend).

      First it is very weird in cranky Yankee Maine to see all these flags. Average age of year round population is over 60, meaning most came of age during Vietnam and don’t hold the flag in huge esteem.

      Second, obvious flagrant violation of not keeping flag lit or taking down at sunset. So maybe actually subversive?

  8. jr

    Years ago, I was the proud owner of a ’72 Super Beetle, “Hulk” green in color. What a sturdy machine! Once my accelerator cable broke off where it hooked up to the pedal and I took a few key rings to repair it. It stayed that way until I sold it a few years later. Easy to drive, easy to fix: I wish I had one now for city driving. Oh, except the road is filled with ego-tanks designed to kill small car drivers. Forgot that.

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      Ten years ago, I had a convertible ’74 in white. I’ve driven a lot of cars and that was my favorite by far. Despite being about 40 years old, it drove like it rolled right out of the factory. The thing that really got me was how much of a head-turner it was. If I stopped for gas, I would always have someone want to talk to me about it, even if there was something much flashier at the other pump.

      However, your point about the preponderance of bloatmobiles on the road is very valid. Intersections were always a nail biter, especially as red lights are meaningless around here. Merging on the interstate was something I tried to avoid as well.

      1. Wukchumni

        5 years ago here in tiny town I pull up to the gas pump and on the other side is an immaculate 1971 light tan VW Bug in perfect condition, original everything.

        I compliment the young miss filling it up and ask what the story is on it, and a little old lady owned it, put 31,000 miles on the chassis driving it rarely, and she had just bought it for $3500. I was a little jealous.

        1. ambrit

          “…she had just bought it for $3500.”
          Wow, just wow. One of Phyl’s sisters bought a VW Bug new off the showroom floor back in the early sixties for $1850 USD. Therese still regrets selling that vehicle.

      2. marku52

        I owned several of the beasts, and rebuilt the engines on some friend’s as well. Remember the classic repair book with all the wonderful ink drawings?
        “how to keep your VW alive-A manual of step by step procedures for the compleat idiot”

        You can still buy it today. I won’t put up the Amazon link.

        One of the great drawings was of a guy wide awake in bed with the complete exploded diagram of the engine in a thought bubble above his head.

        Great stuff, a very useful book

        1. Glen

          VW Bug -my first car. Rebuilt the engine, and it was all a great trip, to own, to work on, to share, to drive.

          That manual – my first car manual. I still remember the advice on how long to let your car warm up – about the same amount of time as required to roll a fattie, and get it drawing well.

          Also my son’s first car (well, a Squareback, but close enough.) Towed it home, bought him the tools, and he had it running in a couple of days.

          Those were the days. AWESOME!

          1. Mantid

            And then, there were the vans. Bought one without a tranny and found a tranny 100 miles away but the guy insisted I buy the entire van ’cause he’d rolled it. Well, OK. Went to get the van and it was a camper van with all the doo dads, and a good transmission. Good fun, like all have said, easy to work on. It was a nice 1700, early 70s.

        2. Tom Stone

          I learned to drive in a 1949 VW Bug, at the Vedanta Monastery in Olema Ca.
          It’s still there and still running.

          1. LifelongLib

            My parents bought a 1955 VW Bug new in Germany, drove it in Europe, shipped it to the U.S. east coast, drove it across the country, then shipped it out to Hawaii. A few years later we moved to the Pacific Northwest, where I learned to drive in it in 1971-72. Parents sold it in 1985 to someone who said they would restore it (by then it had some odd body parts after various collisions). I hope it still exists…

    2. PlutoniumKun

      My sister had a beautiful duck egg green 66 VW Beetle, which even her doctor husband used all the time as it was more reliable during winter house calls than their Ford, which apparently refused to start when the temperature went below chilly.

      She asked me to ferry it from Birmingham in England to Ireland (long story), which I did. I embarrassed myself at a filling station when I realised I had no idea where the petrol cap was (a kind gentleman came up and pointed out it was under the front bonnet). It was quite an experience taking it through the Welsh mountains.

      I picked up three people I’d met at a festival the week before and had promised to bring them to Ireland (additional passengers are free on the Wales to Dublin ferry). All three were hippies, fresh from anti-road protests, with a lovely odour of patchouli and woodsmoke, and dressed accordingly (so was I, I was just at that point where student scruffyness hadn’t quite given way to work attire respectability). As we arrived in Dublin one of the girls admitted to me that she had a bag full of hash and amphetamines (it apparently hadn’t occurred to her that in crossing a sea border there would be checks). It still amazes me to this day that customs didn’t stop a Beetle full of very scruffy people and check them out. I’m very grateful that they didn’t.

      1. Wukchumni

        If there was one knock on VW’s, it’d be they had a tendency to catch on fire…

        My aunt in Calgary bought a VW in Europe in the late 60’s, went on vacation there for 6 weeks driving all over the place in her new ride, dropped it off at the port in Hamburg and a month later picked it up in Vancouver, drove it a few miles from the port when it suddenly caught fire and luckily she was unhurt but the car was totaled.

        1. barefoot charley

          My knock on VWs was the heating system, a theoretical physics triumph of cross-current induction, where a pipe of hot air (exhaust) blows one way adjoining another pipe of cold air (your heat) going the other, and in an infinitely long communion the hot goes cold and the cold gets hot. Through 3-foot pipes, not so much–I used to brag to my cohort in Chicago, “When it gets cold I just drive to Milwaukee.”

          1. Reify99

            The heating vents ran under the car and had a tendency to rust out. I remember scraping the ice off the inside of the windshield during a winter trip around Illinois/Indiana in 1982. Expired credit cards were good for that.

            Got my first teaching job that year and moved to Northern Missouri 6 days after I bought the car.
            Starter was out for a few days after I arrived but I could pop the clutch without too much trouble.

        2. marku52

          Yup, the drain plug at the bottom of the float bowl (carburetor) would get loose, and pour gas all over the engine.

          It was a good idea to stay ontop of that.

          1. marku52

            Oh, and that long, long, long intake manifold would take a long time to get heat to the carb. Carb icing was a big problem until that heat got up there.

            One time on I10 in LA, the carb iced up so bad that the throttle froze. It was almost like cruise control. I had to floor it repeatedly to break the ice loose.

            My buddy, later to become famous as the drummer for Tom Petty, drove his VW bus across TX with a brick on the accelerator.

        3. Lunker Walleye

          My ’72 Super Beetle caught fire in front of my apartment building when it was about 8 years old. When I ran into the building shouting “fire, my car’s on fire”, people came running out to look at the flames instead of calling the fire dept. I was a commuting student at the time and a Bug loving mechanic somehow got it to work again on the cheap. My brother, who passed last week, sold it to me.

    3. Yves Smith

      In my childhood (1965-1968) we drove regularly to Portland, Or. 35-45 mins each way.

      The game was for each of us to pick a color and count how many Beetles matched our color. That’s how common they were back then.

      1. rowlf

        My family always played “Slug Bug” in the 1960-70s. First to spot a Beetle and say Slug Bug color, then a so-so punch on the shoulder.

    4. Glen

      So, the question for us all –

      Where is the electric VW Bug? And a couple of qualifiers:

      It needs to be cheap.
      It needs to be as simple as all h3ll. (No internet/whatever connections allowed!)
      It needs to be made in America with all the stuff from America. (Sorry Germany, but that’s progress.)
      It must be cool. (Yeah, I’m an old fart so that’s where the language ended up, but Tesla’s are not cool, they are a neoliberal attempt at cool, and thus very NOT cool.)

    5. The Rev Kev

      Saw a ton of them on German roads and typically students drove them because they were cheap to both buy and run. Another common car like that was the French Citroën Ente. Of course VW tried to cash in on nostalgia by coming out with the new VW beetle about twenty years ago but students could not afford it It was more for those ex-students that had done well in life and wanted something of their student days back again-



      1. Mantid

        Yea, Rev. And those “new” ones had real poor electrical systems – way too complicated. They were kinda of a retro thing but lacked the spirit.

    6. Copeland

      Nostalgia aside, have any of you smelled one lately? Every time a VW Beetle drives by me, I thank the stars that the era of cars sans catalytic converters, or whatever other tech is doing away with the fumes, is gone. They all smell to me like only about half of the gasoline is being burned, the rest converted into smog and spewed out the tailpipe.

      1. rowlf

        That smell is common with out of tune carburetors. Modern fuel injection control is wonderful compared to having to get all circuits in a carburetor to work well, particularly aftermarket carburetors. When I had access to chassis dynamometers and O2 sniffers I thought I was in heaven as a race car and motorcycle tuner.

  9. Hepativore

    I think the Biden administration also wants to make an example of Assange, as it probably has the same opinion of him as the Obama and Trump administration did.

    I am sure that they are hoping to let him languish in prison until he either dies or people stop talking about him, banking that people have short memories. The only reason why they are trying to appeal the decision by the UK court is so he can die in a US-based prison instead of Bellmarsh.

    Assange is as good as dead. There is no way that the CIA will ever allow him to be pardoned, and the CIA answers to nobody and they also have a disproportionate amount of influence on the Five Eyes program. Plus, there is the cozy relationship that the CIA has with the Democratic party as many of its current members have had careers in the CIA.

    It does not matter how how many laws and legal proceedings that the US has broken or will break in its prosecution of Assange as it will either ignore or exempt itself from them. All that matters to the US political leadership is that it gets its revenge on Assange by making an example of him to discourage future whistleblowers.

  10. flora

    re: — BERSERK (@srslyberserk) tweet

    So… wait… the Chad in the car is b*tching because the fast food window guy got his order to him fast??? And the Chad held up any cars behind him so he could b*tch about fast service??? In a fast food drive through? oy.

    1. Nikkikat

      That horrible example of a human filming the fast food guy, was an effort to get the guy fired. In his jackass world he apparently thought that it would be a good idea to put it on the internet after he sent it off to the corporate office. I have seen these people every where I go.
      They look down their nose and claim the person is a loser, with no skills. They claim they were rude etc. They are really pretty ignorant themselves to mess with the people who deliver their food.

    2. enoughisenough

      yeah, that made no sense. Who wants to sit and wait in a drive-through line longer than they need to?

      He’s literally complaining about good service.

  11. ChrisRUEcon


    LOL … Oh man …

    The follow up tweets in the thread are just as hilarious/cringe-worthy.

    Must confess: I kinda want to buy the Pelosi-AOC pair and do a mock “Royal Rumble Match” (via YouTube). Hahahaha!

    1. ChrisRUEcon


      Wow … what can one say?

      I keep going back to the feature-not-a-bug toothlessness of “the state” in all these matters. It’s not surprising, given what most of us believe about government in this country – that it’s basically plutocrat-bought kleptocrats running the show. But the outright misanthropy of it all … never ceases to be jarring in a sense:

      “State regulators say Diversified hasn’t broken any rules by building an empire of dying wells. Nor has it violated any restrictions on methane emissions, because none apply. Indeed, state and federal policies—from plugging regulations to tax subsidies—encourage companies to do exactly what Diversified is doing: Keep almost dead assets on life support as long as possible, no matter how much they may damage the planet.”

      What in the every-living-family-blog are they regulating?

      #Sigh #WeAreScrewed

    2. Josef K

      Where’s MTV (was it?) with Celebrity Death Match for our political class? Outré levels of blood and gore, but snippets of decently insightful social satire in the mix, and humerus (sic) to boot.

      1. ChrisRUEcon

        Ha! Thought of that, but erred on the side of keeping this FamilyBlog wholesome … ;-)


  12. Lambert Strether Post author

    If you can read this, you will have refreshed your browser and seen that I have added the UPDATEs.

    Somebody who understands fraud should take a look at the story under Biosphere, “An Empire of Dying Wells.”

    Looks like we have a CEO cooking the planet for a mere $30 million.

  13. antidlc

    Check this out about Merck’s molnupiravir :

    A likely new treatment for Covid-19 was made possible by government-funded innovation

    The story behind molnupiravir is intriguing and a testament to government-funded innovation. Molnupiravir, also known as EIDD-2801 or MK-4482, came out of Drug Innovation Ventures at Emory (DRIVE), a not-for-profit LLC owned by Emory University. It had previously demonstrated broad-spectrum activity against other viruses such as influenza, Ebola, and the Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus.

    It’s a horse drug?

  14. PlutoniumKun

    Sports Desk

    A historic first?

    Ireland and Stoke City fans would call that a Rory Delap special. He particularly enjoyed doing it against Arsenal for some reason.

    I think there were a few players who did that flip before throwing back many decades ago. So far as I’m aware, its not considered legal anymore, but maybe they have different rules for women’s soccer.

    1. petal

      Back in the early 90s, there were a couple of guys on our men’s HS soccer team that did flip throw-ins with a lot of success. It was always so cool when they did it! The ball went so far. One or two of the girls I played with tried it in practices but it was never done in a game. It’s a great weapon to have in the arsenal. It was so, so rare.

  15. ambrit

    Internet Influencers Department.
    This “Survey” came up in my e-mail queue. It is about, first, Covid and mandates, and second, about Medicare and various approaches to ‘modernising’ it.
    Hopefully, the link will work. The questions are very ‘explanitory’ about where someones see this entire Health Management Field going. For example; “Should people who are unvaccinated for COVID be charged more for their health insurance?” A number of similarly themed questions in the ‘survey.’
    The survey proper is run by Survey Monkey, which is rebranding itself as ‘Momentive.’ Everyone is getting into the act.
    Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ZTB37Y6?c=11719fbc4221&campaign=mc_ret_aep2021_pr_survey

      1. ambrit

        The prevailing “official” attitude that I see lurking just below the ‘Horizon of Ra ra ra’ is that; “..the unvaccinated shall be jabbed on sight.”
        There is also a question later in the survey about fully privatising Medicare.
        This elite is doubling down in the face of resistance from the peons.
        Stay safe!

        1. Aloha

          Darn, I went to the site (to give them a piece of my mind) and it says that the survey is closed?! Maybe it wasn’t going the way that they wanted lol

  16. PlutoniumKun

    I don’t think the problem is Halloween:

    I suppose its too late for the Celts to complain that everyone else has culturally appropriated Hallowe’en from them….(frankly, you can all have it).

    1. Hepativore

      According to the woke crowd, it is only cultural appropriation if non-POCs are borrowing from POC cultures, so the Celts do not count as they were not POCs.

      1. ambrit

        “..the Celts do not count as they were not POCs.” Tell that to a Roman legionnaire, and duck, fast.

  17. Sutter Cane

    I have a friend who is a longtime Southwest employee, so I asked about the flight cancellations. He said it’s got nothing to do with vaccine mandates, and everything to do with Southwest management laying people off at the beginning of the pandemic and then not rehiring anyone once travel numbers picked up again. He says his area is working with half of they employees they had in 2019. The cancellations were simply due to lack of crew.

    1. MonkeyBusiness

      If Southwest had known coming in they would be short of crews, why did they put up the flights in the first place?

      1. Raymond Sim

        “…why did they put up the flights in the first place?”

        Maybe they found out not quite just in time?

  18. PlutoniumKun

    “An Empire of Dying Wells” [Bloomberg].

    A few years ago I was told by a hydrogeologist friend who said that at a conference, a speaker who was considered one of the worlds top experts in oil and gas exploration was asked what would be the worst environmental impact from fracking. He said that the long term impact of poorly plugged wells would dwarf the more immediate and obvious impacts.

    I would add that there is a huge methane impact from abandoned coal mines as well, especially in China where there is a long history of small mines which are generally abandoned quick quickly.

    1. MonkeyBusiness

      I don’t think MSM is the only source of “news” nowadays. People are on social media a lot.

    2. ambrit

      s/ Did the CNN also mention the tesselated portrait of the wine cellar’s owner, who looks just like Nancy Pelosi? /s

    3. David

      There weren’t any protests in Paris today, unless the internet sites of the transport authority, the police and the city hall were all part of some conspiracy of silence with the entire media. Demonstrations seldom take place during the week anyway, except occasionally on Wednesdays when schools are closed in the afternoon. There have been some small demonstrations in various French cities on Saturdays (I’ve seen a few) but they are becoming smaller and smaller and seldom number more than a few thousand;

    1. wilroncanada

      John Cleese could write an extra verse for The Decomposing Composer, for the Recomposing Decomposing Composer, and then compost it.

  19. ambrit

    Aaaaargh! The Ruth Bader Ginsburg doll has Pink Bunny Slippers!!! She was one of Dzerzhinsky Square’s operatives?
    Now the covert campaign of dysfunction being carried out by the “American” government becomes understandable! The Rosenbergs did not die in vain!
    Soon, America will see the coming out into the light of day of the two ‘manufactured’ “opposing” militias: the Red State Army Faction and the Blue State Army Faction.
    Stay safe. Hull down.

  20. jr

    Here is an interesting discussion/debate with Rajiv Malhotra and Pete Boghossian as to whether Literary Theory, according to Rajiv the genesis of Critical Race Theory, is hampering critical thinking both in academics and in their students. One point: I understood that it was Critical Legal Theory that inadvertently birthed the gibbering monstrosity of Critical Race Theory:


    at 39:40, Rajiv hits the nail on the head. He discusses how “leaders” in the Social Justice Movement never actually help the subjects of their theories but rather serve to keep those subjects “in the ghettos” because that is where the are most useful to those leaders. Spot on, I say.

  21. LawnDart

    Chicago White Sox:

    Freakin pathetic. They’ve been playing like a bunch of hangdog bedwetters who’ve already lost the game since the 3rd.

    Embarassing…. embarassment for the city. Not sure if I’d wanna take a big bite of the s**t sandwich or become a Cubs fan. Tough choice.

  22. jr

    Oh, this bodes well:


    “Meet Xavier: The new robot patrolling the streets for ‘anti-social behaviour'”

    Imagine this thing programmed by Robin D’Angelo or Nikole Hannah-Jones. Well, more likely someone smarter than either of those two but infected with their idiocies. Imagine it because it’s coming; see my posting above about the use of “Woke” AI and algorithms…

  23. Michael Ismoe

    I’m sorry Lambert. I lived the first 65 years of my life in New Jersey. That ad just re-elected Phil Murphy. I always wondered why the Dems didn’t just laugh at Trump instead of turning him into the big, bad-ass boogeyman.

  24. jr

    Re: pi$$ poor writing

    ‘The president’s decline is alarming’: Biden trapped in coronavirus malaise…Democrats are ringing alarm bells and coming to the simplest of conclusions: It’s the pandemic, stupid.”

    Simple and stupid. Those words leap right out of that mess. The hacks at PATHETICO need to be more explicit with their headlines. Is it “Doh!” Joe’s political decline:


    or his mental decline:


    they are referring to? Trapped in a malaise and trapped in the maze of the lone hallway connecting his bedroom to the john.

    While we are talking about pathetic writing, a word about “kidney lady” and her nemesis. This includes that hack who broke the story, I’m sure she’s writing a story about the story as we speak. If you have to steal someone else’s story, you are a worthless writer. You may string words together well but you have no creative fount, which makes you a glorified ad copy writer. Especially about “real life” fiction, the literature of the banal. This “kidney lady” represents better writing than the three of them combined:


    Is your life so problem free, are you so blind to the world around you, that you cannot find your own problems to write about? Like I need some Karen to explain what someone else is feeling for me or how tragedy “X” will reverberate down the years from family member to family member. Yawn.

    In fact, I have my doubts about writer’s circles in general. Gaggles of mediocrity. Aren’t they all taking one another’s ideas? Why can’t they come up with their own? Why do they need another’s input? Why don’t they just write?

  25. drumlin woodchuckles

    About Mr. Hutson’s empire of dying wells, it is probable that we will not be able to conquer the government and make it our government and use it to torture the oil and gas industry into gas-tightly capping these wells.
    So we may safely assume that these wells will emit methane till all the underground methane beneath these wells has entered the air.

    So the binary choice which reality hands is between #1: letting the wells emit all their methane with all its global warming power, or . . . #2: harvesting all the methane and burning it into carbon dioxide with its 80 times lower global warming power than if it had been left to remain in its methane form. Since it is going to be one or the other, which do we choose?

    If this Mr. Hutson can get paid enough to capture all the methane and burn it down into carbon dioxide into the air instead of letting remain as methane into the air, then we should accept this as the 80 times less bad outcome.

    Because the fact which remains a fact whether it is faced or avoided is this: no one will ever cap these wells. The owners and abandoners will never ever seal them by choice. And the government will never ever torture them into sealing them by force. Never ever.

    So it is either Mr. Hutson or Mister Methane.

  26. Eustachedesaintpierre

    Methane is also a problem with abandoned coal mines of which my old Staffordshire hometown has hundreds, many going back to the start of the Industrial Revolution. There would have been a sort of Yukon feel at the start with a proliferation of small mines & most or perhaps all of them were never recorded on any map. When they were abandoned the mine shafts would be capped by throwing down large iron girders in a way that meant they got caught at an angle in the shaft, with enough of them criss crossed to catch the large boulders that came next, followed by smaller fill.

    The problem was that from the 1950’s the girders started to collapse due to rust, which led to one man suddenly disappearing down one in the town centre, houses collapsing, minor earthquakes & widespread subsidence. There was actually a fella I knew who had the full time job of finding & mapping the old shafts, which first appeared as a crater. He became very careful after an incident when he was examining a potential sinkhole which meant walking around in it before he climbed out to meet the approaching excavator, at which point likely due to the machines vibrations it all caved in. Perhaps the methane has all leaked out of those old Pits, but there are many thousands of later ones with relatively few having been capped properly, with an average these days of 15 collapses per year.

    There is a helpline if in need like the unfortunate in Stoke who while replacing his sitting room floorboards discovered that he had a 900 foot deep cellar.


    1. PlutoniumKun

      The entire West Midlands is pockmarked with old mines. To make it worse, local governments often suppress the information they have for fear of banks black lining entire areas because of liability fears. A long time ago I used to do land research in the region and I was continuously astonished at how little anyone knew about the extent of old mines. It was always a case of looking at some old maps, drilling some holes, and hoping for the best. I once counted 48 unmapped old mine shafts in one urban park (the Victorians weren’t idiots, they built their parts on land that couldn’t be used for anything else). In the Black Country, it still occasionally happens that a hole opens up unexpectedly.

      The worst case I came across was when a former colleague told me they’d been grouting old mining voids* under a development site and someone wandered up to complain about the smell in his house (a Victorian terrace), a few hundred metres. They thought he was a crazy, but decided to check anyway. Turns out his house had been built over a mine shaft and the grouting operations were pumping mine gas at high pressure right into his living room. Had he been a smoker, the house, and maybe a few others around, would have been flattened.

      If you ever find yourself in the Tipton area SE of Wolverhampton, search out the Tilted Barrel Pub – its an 18th century Inn which has twisted and slumped over the centuries due to mining, the owners simply filling in or re-cutting windows as required.

      *this involves pumping a concrete grout at high pressure underground to fill up any old mining gaps, its pretty standard in those areas. They usually just keep pumping until they hit a neutral pressure.

      1. Eustachedesaintpierre

        I know of a few out of town shopping malls & industrial estates that were built on once colliery sites, of which the slag heaps had to be shifted first, much of it used as fill for road construction, as in the A500 that cuts through Stoke. I once worked at a mineral plant a little way from an old mining village called Halmerend, The plant was surrounded by woodland which during my lunch hour I would explore, one day coming across an old overgrown brick construction which turned out to be built over the the mine shaft of the Little Minnie Pit. I found out that the pit had been sealed in 1918 after a methane explosion had killed 155 miners of which 44 were under 16 – basically wiping out the village’s menfolk.

        It has since then been tidied up & given some respect with a commemoration in 2018 & I imagine that all of those old shafts & associated tunnels contain the graves of many. My Grandfather was a carpenter down a mine who got dug out of a rockfall during WW2 meaning he couldn’t work & had no sick pay. My Aunt & Mother both got diphtheria & both would have likely died but for the newborn NHS.


      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > To make it worse, local governments often suppress the information they have for fear of banks black lining entire areas because of liability fears.

        Now let’s do the state of Pennsylvania, blessed with oil and coal.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > .Methane is also a problem with abandoned coal mines

      Oh good. We’re going to spend a ton of money on sucking carbon out of the air and it will turn out that the real problem was elsewhere all the time.

  27. Michael McK

    One of my favorite youtube channels is ‘Tasting History with Max Miller’. He too chose not to go back to his day job (marketing at Disney) and go full time on his passion. We are all the better for it.

    1. Wyatt Powell

      Ahh a fellow fan! I also watched that clickbait titled video of his and was so excited he decided to stay (in his new “job”) !!

  28. The Rev Kev

    That Civil War Podcast that Lambert mentioned is great. They have spent the past few dozen episodes covering the battle of Gettysburg and are now on the third day. Looking forward to them talking about Custer and his outnumbered Michigan Cavalry Brigade stop JEB Stuart’s cavalry and setting the stage for Pickett’s Charge.

    1. Martin Oline

      I was not aware of this work. I am starting at #89 with Forts Henry & Donelson. It seems to be fairly comprehensive but Shiloh will tell the tale for me,

  29. rowlf

    What would happen if pilots at an airline got vaccinated on the same day and had to wait out the FAA 48 hour period before flying?

    What pilot duties or activities are specifically prohibited during the post-vaccination 48-hour observation period?

    Fun stuff if someone wants to work-to-rule:

    The Federal Air Surgeon determined that FAA medical certificate holders may not act as pilot in command, or in any other capacity as a required flightcrew member, for 48 hours after each dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. The Federal Air Surgeon made this determination after evaluation of available medical information about these COVID-19 vaccines and potential side effects. As a result of this determination and consistent with 14 CFR § 61.53(a), each person subject to part 67 who receives the vaccine must wait 48 hours after each dose before acting as pilot in command or as a required flightcrew member.

    In the event that an FAA medical certificate holder experiences side effects after the 48-hour period has elapsed, the medical certificate holder may not act as pilot in command, or in any other capacity as a required flightcrew member as described at 14 CFR § 61.53(a) for the duration of the symptoms.

    BTW, I prefer the modern Gadsen flag with a Lego block replacing the snake.

  30. The Rev Kev

    The stupidity – it burns! So this woman was sitting on American Airlines Flight 4817 from Indianapolis and noticed that the guy next to her was scrolling through photos and videos of mechanical devices that she feared could be bombs and he was looking at bomb-making instructions. Next thing, he pulls out one of these mechanical devices and starts fiddling with the settings which could only have been a timer on a bomb’s detonator. She tells the flight staff and the pilot lands the plane in LaGuardia. All the passengers are pulled off right on the tarmac and a video shows a guy spread flat while a bunch of uniforms arrest him. After searching his bags and interviewing him and the original women it was determined that what he had was in fact, wait for it, a vintage camera (Picard facepalm)-


  31. Old Sarum

    The Bezzle: “Dirt: Are NFTs status symbols?” [Dirt]

    A very telling article regarding status symbols. Here in Qld a rich wackadoodle firnge politician (let us refer to him as CliveZilla) has put up a monument to himself in on one of his properties. It is reminiscent of the remembrance monument in Brisbane’s CBD and can be viewed from the front gate which is guarded by vast lion sculptures that are faint echos of those guarding Nelson’s column in London’s Trafalgar square.

    Nowadays I include the riverside residence on my “There Goes the Neighbourhood” cycle tour of an otherwise well-mannered leafy suburb.

    It all begs the question; does a chip on the shoulder amount to a status symbol?


  32. Andrew Watts

    RE: The Civil War podcast

    Sorry Lambert. The quality of the military analysis isn’t all that impressive in that episode. There isn’t any mystery surrounding the actions of Stuart at the Battle of Gettysburg. The lack of reconnaissance more than explains the cause and effect of his actions. This common factor, as well as others like the absence of a well-trained officer corps, on either side led to many indecisive battles during the American Civil War.

    It cannot be overstated how incompetent both the Union and Confederate armies were during the war. The participants of the various military reenactments have more skill and discipline than the actual soldiers who fought. European military observers recovered 24,000 rifles from the killing fields of Gettysburg and only a quarter of them were loaded properly for example.

    Although I have to admit I’m biasd against any American interpretation of the war. Most contemporary Americans are too prone to romanticize or indulge their nostalgia. Some foreign officers and tacticians such as B.H. Lidell Hart are generous in their analysis of the conflict and it’s participants. While others like G.F.R. Henderson are absolutely brutal in their post-conflict review. It’d be easy to dismiss the latter except his extensive notes from firsthand sources who embedded with both armies during the war.

    More importantly, Henderson made the observation that the deficiencies suffered by the Americans during the civil war were innate to the character of the country. I find it hard to disagree with this assertion judging by the outcome of battles and the course of the wars fought since then. The present incarnation of the US military is still talking about the importance of learning, and training for, the usage of combined arms warfare. Which they mysteriously and repeatedly refer to as “jointness” or joint warfare.

    Come on, man.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I’ve no great knowledge of the Civil War, but years back I did some reading on it – mostly UK historians (not deliberately, thats just what was available in my local library) and it did strike me that in comparison to European wars there was a lot of ‘Army X marched 300 miles without anyone noticing, fired some cannons at an unsuspecting fort and went home when they couldn’t figure out what else to do’.

      I guess the US did benefit/suffer from not having the European history of warfare and the knowledge of the necessary ruthlessness required to gain quick victories. Sometimes it reminds me a little of various Irish rebellions of the 18th and 19th Centuries were the would be rebels spent more time discussing the design of their uniforms than how they’d actually win. There is a very big difference between real professionals and enthusiastic amateurs when it comes to war.

      1. Michaelmas

        PlutoniumKun: It did strike me that in comparison to European wars there was a lot of ‘Army X marched 300 miles without anyone noticing, fired some cannons at an unsuspecting fort and went home when they couldn’t figure out what else to do’ … There is a very big difference between real professionals and enthusiastic amateurs when it comes to war.

        Yes: they were making it up as they went. No: they were not necessarily amateurs and you’re operating under a misapprehension.

        The American Civil War was effectively the first modern war, with machine guns, railways enabling relatively rapid maneuver warfare, telegraphs and semaphors, the first armored battleships, the first primitive submarines and aerial warfare (well, balloons), and it also took place between two industrial factions (well, the North, anyway).

        All the above is why the Europeans sent so many observers to see how it would turn out. It was sufficiently instructive for a French-Polish venture capitalist of the time, Jean De Bloch —

        — to write a big six-volume logistical analysis of what a war between two opposed modern (for the time) industrialized nations would be like, Is War Now Impossible?, predicting everything about how awful WWI would be (except heavier-than-air aircraft). Specifically, from looking at the American Civil War, Bloch argued that:-

        [A] The new technologies of smokeless powder, magazine rifles, machine guns and quick-firing artillery had rendered manoeuvers over open ground, like bayonet and cavalry charges, obsolete. Bloch concluded that a war between the great powers would be a war of entrenchment, and rapid attacks and decisive victories were a thing of the past. He calculated that entrenched men would enjoy a fourfold advantage over infantry in the open.

        [B] Industrial societies would have to settle a stalemate by committing million-man armies. An enormous battlefront would develop. A war of this type could not be resolved quickly.

        [C] Such a war would become a duel of industrial might and total economic attrition. Severe economic and social dislocations would result in the imminent risk of famine, disease, the “break-up of the whole social organization” and revolutions from below.

        Bloch was friends with the Tsar, the Kaiser, and much of the royalty and nobility of Europe and the UK, and gave them all copies of his book. Nobody listened.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > The American Civil War was effectively the first modern war, with machine guns, railways enabling relatively rapid maneuver warfare, telegraphs and semaphors, the first armored battleships, the first primitive submarines and aerial warfare (well, balloons), and it also took place between two industrial factions (well, the North, anyway).

          Modern also in the use of entrenchment. I would add, for railways, modern in its logistics (again for the Union). Grant’s biography makes all this clear.

          100% right (and, as I keep saying, modern in the fascist aftermath for the loser).

    2. skippy

      Iran hostage rescue … know two people that survived multiple tours in Nam and other stuff to die in that cluster family blog for jointness and its PR marketing for recruiting and flow of funds buffer …

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Sorry Lambert. The quality of the military analysis isn’t all that impressive in that episode. There isn’t any mystery surrounding the actions of Stuart at the Battle of Gettysburg. The lack of reconnaissance more than explains the cause and effect of his actions.

      These sentences don’t make sense. It was Stuart’s job to do the reconnaissance, or would have been, had Lee not made his thunderingly bad decision to let Stuart go on his famous ride.

      > This common factor, as well as others like the absence of a well-trained officer corps, on either side led to many indecisive battles during the American Civil War. It cannot be overstated how incompetent both the Union and Confederate armies were during the war.

      I’m baffled. I don’t see battlefield brilliance as a theme in the podcast, so it feels to me like you’re setting up a straw man; indeed, questionable decisions are constantly make obvious (like Lee really liking to send his troops to attack fortified positions uphill). In any case, the issue isn’t whether the Armies of the Confederacy and the Union matched some mythical standard of excellence; the question is which was better, and the answer can only be the Union. To be fair, generalship is hard, and these were large armies operating over multiple, enormous theatres. It’s not surprising few people knew what to do; a war like the Civil War had never been fought before (presaging World War I).

      (On reconnaissance: When Meade arrived at Gettysberg, at like 4AM and after only three days in command after Lincoln axed Hooker, the first thing he did was ride round the battlefield with his officers and have maps made, which were then distributed to his generals. Maybe if Lee had done the same thing, there wouldn’t be so much whinging about not knowing where the enemy was.)

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