2:00PM Water Cooler 10/19/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

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. Hopefully I will have a variant tracker map soon. In the meantime, I added excess deaths.

Vaccination by region:

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.)

57% 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:

Still fiddling and diddling. Let’s hope they start going steadily down again.

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?

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.

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

Fiddling and diddling here too.

The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) service area includes 43 municipalities in and around Boston, including not only multiple school systems but several large universities. Since Boston is so very education-heavy, then, I think it could be a good leading indicator for Covid spread in schools generally.

From CDC: “Community Profile Report October 14, 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties:

Speculating freely: One thing to 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: 746,529 744,688. The upward trend in death rate begins anew. We had approached the same death rate as our first peak last year. Which I found more than a little disturbing.

Excess deaths (total, not only from Covid), for which I should give a hat tip to an alert readers, but cannot find their mail. Take a bow in comments, whoever you are!

(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, with additions from the Brain Trust:

Chile and Peru rising. Remember this is a log scale. Sorry for the kerfuffle at the left. No matter how I tinker, it doesn’t go away.

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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 “Trump files lawsuit to keep Jan. 6 materials hidden from Congress” [MSNBC]. “After the bipartisan House committee examining the Jan. 6 attack sought materials from the White House about Donald Trump’s tenure, the former president did exactly what everyone expected him to do: Trump asked the White House to shield the documents. Traditionally, sitting presidents honor such requests, but not this time: President Joe Biden and his team recently announced that the insurrectionist violence creates ‘unique and extraordinary circumstances.’ As such, the Democratic White House has given the National Archives the green light to release materials — phone records, visitor logs, internal communications, etc. — to the congressional panel investigating the attack.” • I have to admit I’m a little queasy about Congress doing what amounts to a criminal investigation, while the Justice Department, meanwhile, is letting a lot of small fish off with very light sentences. Was it an insurrection, or not? Commentary from WaPo:

Biden Administration

“Biden’s dilemma: Satisfying Manchin risks losing other Dems” [Associated Press]. ” It’s Washington’s enduring question: What does Joe Manchin want? But increasingly the answer is crystal clear. The conservative West Virginia Democrat wants to dismantle President Joe Biden’s proposed climate change strategies and social services expansion in ways that are simply unacceptable for most in his party.” • Thereby ensuring that Democrats don’t actually have to govern, and continued submission of the left. It’s win-win! A local view on Manchin:

UPDATE “Democrats Are Courting Manchin on Their Agenda. Here’s What He Wants.” [New York Times]. “Underscoring his place in the debate, Mr. Manchin and Mr. Biden spoke by phone on Monday, according to a person familiar with the call. The senator also met privately with Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington, the chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, to discuss the plan. And Mr. Manchin told reporters he met with Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent and chairman of the Budget Committee, who has been particularly critical of Mr. Manchin’s views. The talks will continue on Tuesday, when the White House plans another series of meetings with moderate and liberal Democrats to try to find consensus…. Mr. Manchin has succeeded in prodding Democrats to trim back such programs in the past. He single-handedly held up action on a $1.9 trillion pandemic aid plan this year until the Biden administration and party leaders agreed to scale back unemployment benefits and to impose a stricter income cap on eligibility for another round of direct payments.”

UPDATE “Jayapal and Manchin meet for first time as negotiations over spending bill ramp up” [NBC]. “Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, met with Sen. Joe Manchin on Monday for the first time since broader negotiations over the Democrats’ multitrillion-dollar spending bill began, sources familiar with the meeting said. Jayapal, D-Wash., and Manchin, D-W.Va., who have been on opposite sides of the debate for several months, had a two-hour discussion about President Joe Biden’s social spending package. Democrats plan to pass the package through a procedural measure known as reconciliation without Republican support. The Democrats’ effort to pass the legislation has highlighted intraparty conflicts over the price tag and its proposals. Jayapal and Manchin laid out their priorities for the bill and did not get into a back-and-forth over how to resolve their differences, a source said. They notably met after it was reported that a sweeping climate measure, known as the Clean Energy Performance Program, is likely to be removed from the spending plan because of Manchin’s opposition.”

“Manchin climate stance threatens to shatter infrastructure bargain” [The Hill]. “One Senate Democratic aide suggested that Biden may add more funding for social spending programs in the reconciliation package to make up for the loss of one of his central climate proposals and keep liberals happy. ‘I think the White House has an opportunity here to figure out a way to get progressives to stay on board by giving them something else,’ the source said.” • Sending Biden to Glasgow with “just his **** in his hands.”

“John Kerry says Glasgow COP26 is the last best hope for the world” [BBC News]. “Mr Kerry told the BBC that key countries were pursuing policies that border on being ‘very dangerous’. He said that if greenhouse gas emissions were not reduced enough over the next nine years there was no chance of meeting long-term targets. The aim is to hold the rise in the earth’s temperature to 1.5C. Scientists have said that would require global carbon emissions to fall by 45% from 2010 levels by the end of this decade. But apart from a brief period during Covid-19 lockdowns, emissions are still rising. China, the world’s biggest emitter, will be key to any hopes of a strong outcome at COP26, when it is held in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November…. Mr Kerry has previously said the US will push for rapid action after four years of ‘reckless behaviour’ under previous President Donald Trump. He said the US would now move forward with ‘humility and ambition’ in the global negotiations.”

“Biden’s DOJ uses a Trump tactic: Federal prosecutors label Black Lives Matter protesters terrorists” [New York Daily News]. “Federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York are continuing to pursue the Trump-era approach of labeling Black Lives Matter protesters as terrorists. Colinford Mattis and Urooj Rahman are two lawyers who were arrested in Brooklyn in May 2020 while protesting for racial justice. (I taught Mattis at NYU Law, but I am not on his defense team.) Mattis and Rahman allegedly threw a Molotov cocktail at an empty NYPD car during a night of mass protest after George Floyd’s murder. Mattis and Rahman can hardly be called peaceful protesters; trying to destroy a police car, even if empty, crosses the line. So I am not questioning the decision to bring criminal charges. But the decision to bring federal rather than state charges is a different matter. No one was in the car, and no one was harmed. A case involving this kind of property damage would typically be pursued by a local district attorney, and first-time offenders like Mattis and Rahman would likely receive little if no jail time for their offense.”

“‘The Bidens’: Is the First Family Corrupt, or Merely Crazy?” (excerpt) [Matt Taibbi, TK News]. On Ben Schreckinger’s The Bidens, which I should clearly buy and read. “Hunter Biden’s life is one long accident, and he’s constantly leaving the scene of it. In one episode recounted later on, he follows up a crack rampage in L.A. by falling asleep at the wheel while driving east on I-10, leading him to jump a median strip at 80 m.p.h. and come to a halt facing oncoming traffic from the other direction. A tow truck leads him to a rental car, which he drives straight to Prescott, Arizona, leaving behind in the other vehicle a ‘crack pipe, a Delaware attorney general’s badge, and a Secret Service calling card.’ Similarly, Hunter ended up leaving [Keith Ablow, a Fox News personality’s] care in such a rush that he left a laptop behind. It wasn’t that laptop, but this other laptop also ends up having a history, when the DEA raids Ablow a year later (people in Hunter Biden’s orbit end up arrested by federal agents with such uncanny predictability that his arrival in anyone’s life must be treated as divine warning). The feds seize that computer, only to turn it back over to Hunter “after a few weeks of haggling.” Schreckinger is careful to note the irony that a Donald Trump-controlled federal agency at one point both collected and surrendered one of Hunter’s laptops, unbeknownst to Steve Bannon, Rudy Giuliani and the other Trump agents who at the time were engaged in a ruthless private treasure-hunt for a different Hunter computer.” • If Hunter has been spawned by Donald Trump…

UPDATE “Joe Biden and the Disappearing Elephant: How to Make a Full-Sized Scandal Vanish in Front of an Audience of Millions” [Jonathan Turley]. “This week marked the anniversary of one of the greatest political tricks in history: the disappearance of Hunter Biden scandal. New emails were released that added new details to what was a raw influence peddling operation that netted millions from foreign sources. A new tranche of emails connecting President Joe Biden to key accounts prove just how this political sleight of hand was worthy of Houdini. After all, Houdini only made an elephant disappear. The Bidens made the equivalent to an entire circus disappear in front of an audience of millions…. The laptop is, of course, now recognized as genuine even by some of the early deniers. Hunter remains under criminal investigation for possible tax and money laundering violations. But the greatest ‘reveal’ is the person referred to as ‘the Big Guy’ and ‘Celtic’ in these emails: President Biden. Recently released emails reference payments to President Biden from son’s accounts and indicate the possible commingling of funds. Even more embarrassing, the shared account may have been used to pay a Russian prostitute named ‘Yanna.’ In one text, a former secret service agent warns Hunter (who was holed up with a prostitute in an expensive hotel) ‘Come on H this is linked to Celtic’s account.'” • Hunter, that lovable scamp! (I missed these New York Post stories from May and June). I missed this one too; oddly, the story isn’t getting any traction on this side of the Pond at all–

UPDATE “Joe Biden could become embroiled in the FBI’s probe into Hunter’s finances, experts say: Emails reveal they SHARED bank accounts, paid each other’s bills and the president may have even have funded his son’s 2018 drug and prostitution binge” [Daily Mail]. At the end: “Hunter’s claim that he and his father shared a bank account also raises serious questions whether funds from the alleged joint account were used for Hunter’s May 2018 week-long bender with a prostitute in a Hollywood hotel. On May 24, 2018, a recently retired senior Secret Service officer, Robert Savage, texted Hunter warning he would ‘have to assume you are in danger’ and commandeer keys to the room if he didn’t come out of his $470-per-night suite at The Jeremy Hotel in Los Angeles where he had been holed up with a Russian hooker to whom he wired $25,000. The agent added: ‘Come on H this is linked to Celtic’s account’ – the Secret Service code name for Joe Biden. ‘DC is calling me every 10. Let me up or come down. I can’t help if you don’t let me H.’ It is unclear whether the agent’s reference to ‘Celtic’s account’ was about charges for prostitutes on a Joe Biden bank account, or his employment by Joe Biden to monitor his son.”

Democrats en Deshabille

“Joe Manchin Slammed For Stealing Spotlight From Other Democratic Senators Who Also Oppose Progressive Legislation” [The Onion]. Chris Coons: “I’d love to be out there every day making up these nonsensical benchmarks and calling for compromise, but good luck getting oxygen when Joe Manchin is hogging all the attention. I’ve worked hard to block progressive legislation for years, and yet you don’t see my face plastered all over the news. Senator Manchin, we are calling on you to share the phone numbers and email addresses of your contacts at ABC News immediately. It’s time to think of the good of the party and share a bit of that limelight.”


UPDATE “Andrew McCabe’s settlement with the Department of Justice is a signal to John Durham” [The Hill]. “The inspector general’s public report states that McCabe lied to investigators on four occasions, three of them while under oath. His firing followed the standards consistently applied to all other FBI agents. By agreeing to rescind all references to his firing from his personnel record, the DOJ has established a double standard, one for regular agents and one for protected agents. Since McCabe’s firing was easily defensible, this inexplicable settlement by Merrick Garland’s DOJ takes on the odor of a reward for misusing the authorities of the FBI against a political enemy of the Democratic Party. While Andrew McCabe is being made whole, the FBI continues to struggle with the aftermath of the destruction left behind by initiatives that apparently opened an investigation into a presidential campaign without articulating any legal basis for doing so, abused the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court, and purposefully leaked official documents to the press to create an expensive special counsel investigation into their own manufactured nothingness. The trust of many Americans in the FBI dissipated in their wake…. DOJ’s magnanimity comes as special prosecutor John Durham has begun noose-tightening indictments in his probe of individuals involved in creating and furthering the discredited ‘Crossfire Hurricane‘ investigation. The DOJ cannot prevent Durham from pursuing indictments of any former FBI executives, including McCabe, should the evidence lead to that. However, if he does, McCabe’s stunning absolution by a DOJ now controlled by the Democrats strongly indicates that a presidential pardon is likely in play for anyone who so vigorously investigated Republicans without an adequate basis to do so.”

Trump Post Mortem

UPDATE “I alone can say it”:

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Weak minds” [The Scrum]. “If we are to accept Galbraith or Thiel in their respective explanations for decline and their propositions for reversal, then the U.S. has two paths before it: a moderate approach using New Deal Lite economic mechanisms to achieve a slow yet growing economy—this appears to be the Biden administration’s strategy—or a bold, risk-taking approach to governance that relies on the primordial scapegoating mechanism described by René Girard. This could arguably be identified as the Trump administration’s way at our problems. The major issue with Galbraith’s progressive approach is that the solidarity needed to achieve even the slow-growth approach he advocates is notoriously absent… The superior approach is a Thiel/Galbraith synthesis: dispense with the impotent saber-rattling and hostile stance toward the social safety net; instead direct wrath toward a largely parasitic and rent-extracting billionaire class, treat China as a powerful competitor, and concentrate on increasing domestic industrial capacity with an emphasis on the greatest threat to America (and mankind: climate change).”

“Are Your Republican Neighbors Planning On Killing You?” [Blue in Texas]. “I made a new Tik Tok account intending to get over to the right-wing side of the platform. For one, unlike Facebook or Twitter, since my feed (FYP, for your page) aligns so well with my interests, I never come across Republicans on Tik Tok. And two, I thought I would find idiots sticking spoons to their arms (vaccinations) or some other moronic thing. Instead, what I came across was shocking. The more I dug and the further I tailored my FYP, the more shocking the content became. Although I don’t think they have given it a name, I’m pretty sure I curated my Tik Tok feed to #DomesticTerroristTok.” • The algo works!

“Ohio student, 10, confronts anti-maskers at board meeting: ‘Please be quiet. It’s inappropriate'” [USA Today]. “Before 10-year-old Kaylan Park stepped up to the microphone at the contentious meeting, she had watched other pro-mask speakers get interrupted by heckles and boos from people who oppose the district’s mask mandate. A couple of those opponents ended up walking out of the meeting in anger. Critics were protesting the district’s decision earlier this month to extend its mask mandate until at least Oct. 29 to protect students and staff against COVID-19. But Kaylan, a fifth-grader, didn’t let the tense environment intimidate her.” • On the one hand, good for Park for attending the meeting and speaking. On the other, “inappropriate” makes my back teeth each.

UPDATE “Toward a unified theory of Blob-dom” [Robert Wright, Responsible Statecraft] (reprinted from Nonzero, an interesting connection). “My point is just that the Blob is not, strictly speaking, the institutions that undergird the American foreign policy establishment (the think tanks, public policy schools, media outlets, government bodies), and it’s not, strictly speaking, all the inhabitants of those institutions. The Blob is a large and dominant subset of the people who inhabit those institutions—a subset whose members, while sometimes disagreeing, share certain proclivities that shape America’s foreign policy.” In other words, we tend to use “The Blob” as a synecdoche. More: “[N]ow for some positive blobology—a tentative list of inclinations exhibited by blobsters: 1. Threat inflation… 2. Manichaeism…. 3. American exceptionalism…. 4. Meddling…. 5. Naïve do-goodism…. 6. Hypocrisy when it comes to international laws and norms.” • Interesting, but what’s missing is an explanation of why one subset is dominant and not another. Money, I assume, but whose and in what form?

Stats Watch

Housing: “United States Housing Starts” [Trading Economics]. “Housing starts in the US unexpectedly fell by 1.6% mom to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.555 million in September of 2021, compared to market forecasts of 1.62 million. It is the lowest reading in 5 months, as high costs for building materials, supply constraints and labor shortages weighed on the housing market.”

* * *

Shipping: “Live Map” [Marine Traffic].

Looks crowded.

The Bezzle: “As Bitcoin goes mainstream, Wall Street looks to cash in” [Associated Press]. “Love cryptocurrencies or hate the very idea of them, they’re becoming more mainstream by the day. Cryptocurrencies have surged so much that their total value has reached nearly $2.5 trillion, rivaling the world’s most valuable company, Apple, and have amassed more than 200 million users. At that size, it’s simply too big for the financial establishment to ignore. Firms that cater to the world’s wealthiest families are increasingly putting some of their fortunes into crypto. Hedge funds are trading Bitcoin, which has big-name banks starting to offer them services around it. PayPal lets users buy crypto on its app, while Twitter helps people show appreciation for tweets by tipping their creators with Bitcoin. And in the latest milestone for the industry, an easy-to-trade fund tied to Bitcoin began trading on Tuesday. Investors can buy the exchange-traded fund from ProShares through an old-school brokerage account, without having to learn what a hot or cold wallet is. It’s all part of a movement across big businesses that see a chance to profit on the fervor around the world of crypto, as a new ecosystem further builds up around it, whether they believe in it or not.

Tech: “Think your phone is snooping on you? Hold my beer, says basic physics” [The Register]. “So, if every Ethernet system is hissing secrets into the void, who’s listening? Excluding your actual spies, it would seem nobody. Quite the opposite. Every bit of wireless kit on the planet tries hard not to listen, because most of the time your packets are just interference. These days, this filtering process is often a software function, and increasingly it knows a lot about the interference it’s trying to reject – and listens to it quite closely to cancel it out, just like the microphones in noise-cancelling headphones. Guess what? Our new friendly AI/ML is poking its snout in. Yes, it will end up using the data it’s trying to cancel out to build up patterns. And yes, that’s the same as listening really hard to it. Will this data, collected invisibly by automatic agents and potentially containing useful behavioural signals, be safe from exploitation? You can answer that yourself.”

Tech: “Apple finally listened to the pros” [The Verge]. “On Monday, Apple announced an intentionally thicker (in the case of the 16-inch model) and heavier MacBook Pro filled with ports — including HDMI, the SD card slot, and even the return of the MagSafe charging cable — plus three USB-C / Thunderbolt 4 connectors, the most capable port around.” And they made that stupid touchbar go away. More: “In the quest for ever-thinner and flashier laptops, Apple had seemingly forgotten why people bought the MacBook Pro in the first place — and pros were happy to point that out. Five years later, Apple is giving those pros everything they said they wanted.” • Now do price!

Tech: “A piece of cloth to clean your Apple devices will cost you $19” [The Verge]. • Does it require a dongle?

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 61 Greed (previous close: 55 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 32 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 19 at 12:31pm. Perhaps Mr. Market believes Build Back Better is no longer a thing?

Health Care

“I’ll Tell You The Secret Of Cancer” [The Atlantic]. “And then [clinical psychologist Anne] Coscarelli told me the whole truth about cancer. If you’re ready, I will tell it to you. Cancer occurs when a group of cells divide in rapid and abnormal ways. Treatments are successful if they interfere with that process. That’s it, that’s the whole equation.” And: “Coscarelli remained just as neutral and said, ‘There isn’t a single bit of evidence that having a positive attitude helps heal cancer.'” • Simple and clean….

Sports Desk

“How the best soccer team in the world lost its luster” [strategy+business]. “With the club in decline… I sometimes felt as if I were writing about Rome in 400 AD with the barbarians already inside the gates or perhaps a chronicle of the humbling of GE, a once mighty industry giant whose management relied on past strategies for success with disappointing results. Barcelona’s fall from grace offers lessons for companies that lead or aspire to lead their sectors. The club fell into the trap set for every company that’s number one: it got lazy while its rivals copied its best ideas and built on them. It failed to create a sustainable succession plan for its aging players, and it was profligate with its finances. Barcelona failed to understand that greatness is always a moving target, not just on the pitch.”

Groves of Academe


Gerken is a terrible, terrible writer. “Recent events that have unfolded over the last few weeks.” Clichéd (“events” “unfold”) and redundant (the “last few weeks” would be something other than “recent?”). More clichés: “lifeblood,” “core value”, “stand ready,” and of course the “norms.” Gerken is paid in six figures to write so badly.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Activist Brittany Packnett Cunningham Creates “Rich List” To Redefine What Wealth Means” [Essence]. “Although she generally tends to stay away from corporate deals, [BCunningham Packnett decided a partnership she was presented aligned so perfectly with her belief system, she couldn’t turn it down. She recently joined forces with Glenfiddich Single Malt Scotch Whisky to produce the #Richest25, ‘a bold new body of work that challenges the collective idea of what it means to be rich.’ The idea came about after the latest Forbes list was released which, while more diverse than it’s been in the past, was still mostly filled with white men.” • I’m happy Brittany is doing so well. I looked at the list. Oddly, no union people on it.

Class Warfare

“Flight attendants at Piedmont Airlines are in the final days of a strike vote” [Philadelphia Inquirer]. “Close to 360 flight attendants who work for an American Airlines regional carrier are heading into the last days of a strike vote this week over frustrations with low pay and stalled contract negotiations, union officials said. About 200 of the Piedmont Airlines flight attendants are based out of Philadelphia International Airport. The carrier is an American Airlines subsidiary that flies under the American Eagle brand. In addition to its PHL base, it operates a second one in Charlotte, N.C., and flies to more than 50 locations on the East Coast. Between 2019 and 2020, Piedmont flew about 9% of all passengers boarding at PHL. Contract talks between Piedmont and the flight attendants’ union have stretched out for three years. Strike ballots went out to union members in late September, and the votes will be tallied Thursday.”

Who know, “The Great Resignation” has a class dimension:

Education being a proxy for class.

News of the Wired

“How Big Data Carried Graph Theory Into New Dimensions” [Quantum]. “when it comes to finding connections in big data, graph theory has its limits. A graph represents every relationship as a dyad, or pairwise interaction. However, many complex systems can’t be represented by binary connections alone. Recent progress in the field shows how to move forward. Consider trying to forge a network model of parenting. Clearly, each parent has a connection to a child, but the parenting relationship isn’t just the sum of the two links, as graph theory might model it. The same goes for trying to model a phenomenon like peer pressure…. The search for those higher-dimensional structures is where the math turns especially murky — and interesting. The higher-order analogue of a graph, for example, is called a hypergraph, and instead of edges, it has “hyperedges.” These can connect multiple nodes, which means it can represent multi-way (or multilinear) relationships. Instead of a line, a hyperedge might be seen as a surface, like a tarp staked in three or more places. Such higher-order methods have already proved useful in applied research, such as when ecologists showed how the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park in the 1990s triggered changes in biodiversity and in the structure of the food chain. And in one recent paper, [Emilie Purvine of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory] and her colleagues analyzed a database of biological responses to viral infections, using hypergraphs to identify the most critical genes involved. They also showed how those interactions would have been missed by the usual pairwise analysis afforded by graph theory. ‘That’s the kind of power we’re seeing from hypergraphs, to go above and beyond graphs,’ said Purvine.” • I believe that Facebook’s “social graph,” which models connections between its accounts, is a graph, not a hypergraph. Let’s keep it that way!

“Walking America, part 3: Indianapolis” [Chris Arnade, Intellectual Inting]. “Walking east I passed mall after mall filled with shops for Mexicans, Middle Easterners, Africans, Jamaicans, Vietnamese, and Burmese. These weren’t the type of shops you find in the upscale parts of bigger cities, that sell watered down ethnic stuff to a mostly educated, wealthy, and white crowd looking for a new experience, but shops run by immigrants for immigrants. Basic needs of life shops. Food, clothing, auto insurance, legal services, and venues to throw a big bash when your daughter graduates from high school or an uncle gets married. This level of diversity isn’t what I had thought of Indianapolis, or what I suspect most well-educated North Easterners think of it. What was striking about the diversity, and what became clearer as I walked more, talked with people, and spent evenings in bars, restaurants, and hanging in McDonald’s, was how interwoven it was a a personal level. It wasn’t just statistical. Everyone in Indianapolis seemed pretty much the same, at a lived reality way. They all worked hard at the same type of jobs, all shopped in the same type of stores, all ate in and drank in the same type of bars. People intermingled because they were not all that different. Not to always pick on New York City (which I love), but that isn’t the case there. New York City, which is extremely diverse by statistics, is more defined by its massive inequality…. While there are certainly big gaps in wealth in Indianapolis, nice neighborhoods filled with mostly white lawyers, doctors, and financiers, it isn’t what dominates the personality of the city, isn’t what most people experience, at least at the street level.” • I grew up near Indianapolis, so this whole piece makes me happy.

Sarah Vaughan and Mel Torme:

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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 (hunkerdown):

And from Re Silc:

Re Silc writes: “Great day to drone!”

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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. Samuel Conner

    > On the other, “inappropriate” makes my back teeth each.

    Ah, but calling it “rude” might make the persons addressed feel … angry.

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      “Inappropriate” is classic elementary school teacher-speak. Which is I think the point the kid was trying to make, that this was behavior that would not be tolerated in their 3rd or 4th-grade classroom.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Its way better. “Rude” has an element of equality. “Inappropriate” puts them in their place.

          1. Taurus

            I think you are reading too much into the intent of a 10-year old. The kid just uses the vocabulary they are used to.

            The journalist, on the other hand …

          2. Helena

            I’m thinking the infant meant to stick the knife in. It made me laugh–gotta have moxie to survive childhood with your sanity.

  2. Wukchumni

    The Bezzle: “As Bitcoin goes mainstream, Wall Street looks to cash in” [Associated Press]
    I was long a naysayer but have now seen the light by which flies are attracted, and have mentally converted everything into virtual money @ $63,237.10 per Bitcoin, and similar to the aforementioned insects, I can’t stop hitting the refresh button every few seconds to chart my progress.

    If Tom Brady and his supermodel wife Gisele are doing it, why shouldn’t I get in on the action?

    Tom Brady Crypto Commercial for FTX Exchange


    1. Lou Anton

      FTX is all over the baseball playoffs too. Logo is on the umpires’ uniforms (which is a new thing for US-based baseball, the ads on any kind of uniform/jersey). I suppose we’re in the Pets.com phase of crypto – lots of advertising, with hopes of making it before anyone realizes you’re faking it.

    2. Jason Boxman

      It really is mainstream. I’ve had quite a few startups in the fintech and blockchain space reach out to me on LinkedIn in the past 3 months, more than any other kind of company at this point. (ML/AI and databases are hot as well.)

      At least 3 or 4 are involved in some kind of blockchain-based smart contracts, which I don’t really understand, because we’ve had functional contracts as part of society for hundreds of years even before electricity.

      The fintech stuff is as you’d expect. One company claims to offer a kinder, socially responsible way of handling debt collection, another has a stated goal to make every company a fintech company. I can’t wait for that day to come…

      1. albrt

        Smart contracts are stupid. I’ve been pitched by a few tech guys over the years about how great it would be to attach blockchain to contracts or even emails. They imagine that fraudulent documents are a big problem in the business world that needs to be solved.

        Maybe fraudulent documents are a problem in international trade finance or something, but in 20 years as a small-time lawyer I don’t think I’ve ever seen an ordinary American business contract case that came down to whether the documents were genuine. Fake documents are just not that hard to detect, and people who try to pass fake documents usually aren’t very smart.

        Basically every American contract case is about what the words in the contract mean, because the words don’t clearly address the problems that arose later. Blockchain does nothing to solve that problem. If anything, adopting a blockchain standard makes the problem worse by raising the transaction costs for amending the contract when something comes up.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Basically every American contract case is about what the words in the contract mean, because the words don’t clearly address the problems that arose later. Blockchain does nothing to solve that problem. If anything, adopting a blockchain standard makes the problem worse by raising the transaction costs for amending the contract when something comes up.

          I suppose the attraction of smart contracts is that you can chain them together. But that’s only a digital model of a real world chain. What happens with the blockchain and the real world diverge?

    3. Henry Moon Pie

      Brady is merely getting warmed up to take over Broadway Joe’s sad role as a Medicare Advantage hawker.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Peyton Manning. Brady usually sticks to luxury items. The Subway stuff is he is obsessed with Belichick thinking Brady was done (he was godawful from about week 10 of the year the Pats beat the LA Rams).

  3. fresno dan

    In Meghan’s telling, it got nasty and personal during and immediately after her pregnancy, ironically, but it was part of an escalating tension already in place. Her co-stars had taken out their frustrations with Donald Trump on Meghan, which seemed inexplicable given her public dissent from the MAGA movement and her father’s feud with the Trumps:
    Well, I have never watched The View. But I don’t have to be biten by a rattlesnake to understand that there can be things I don’t actually experience to understand that it is unpleasant. Car crashes sell…

    1. PKMKII

      I will over zero defenses of anyone working in front of or behind the camera at The View. But given the silver platter of a life that Meghan McCain has had bestowed upon her merely because of who her dad was, I’m not going to lose any sleep over her getting picked on during her time there.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Did Colin Powell have a daughter that could replace her on The View? Let me check. Why yes he does. He has two, one of whom is an actress. Perfect.

  4. Carolinian

    Re Hunter/laptops–Turley says that in a normal world we’d have a special counsel given that he’s the president’s son, has lost yet another laptop to bona fide Russians, the “big guy” is referred to in the repair shop laptop.

    The MSM’s reply is that it’s all a Putin plot according to unnamed intelligence officials. But surely even that deserves investigation. Unless, of course, it’s not true.

    Meanwhile Garland is at least going after those school board terrorists.

    1. griffen

      Wait, I thought we was told it was all just a nothingburger and there is nothing to see.

      I combed through the daily mail link. Something stinks even if there isn’t a rotten fish head. They (meaning the OIG report and the FBI) can gather enough detail on whether, or not, Michael Cohen visited Prague but there’s no way they can glean the details from a device?

    2. Michael Ismoe

      I wondered how they were gonna glide Joe out. I assumed the obvious wait for his untimely demise. Methinks they are gonna go the full Spiro Agnew route and ease him out with a promise of no prosecutions. (It’s looking more and more like the Trumpster does a Grover Cleveland and does the non-consecutive terms routine)

      1. albrt

        I don’t think the chances of Trump being re-elected are very high, but given the abject incompetence of the democrats at every level it certainly can’t be ruled out.

        1. ObjectiveFunction

          Oh good, then we get to flip back from the West Wing retreads to Mr. Art of the Deal Himself, the 78 year old edition…..


          “You mean like Fook You?” President Trump asked. “I knew a guy named Fook You. Really. I rented him a restaurant. When he picked up the phone, he answered ‘Fook You.’ His business went badly. People didn’t like that. He lost the restaurant.”

          All those present laughed dutifully.

          “Mr.President,” McMaster interrupted, “we only have five minutes for this briefing.”

          More people slipped in and out. I wondered how anyone could concentrate in all the chaos. After hearing that Vietnam had a trade surplus with the United States and a trade deficit with China, the president interjected: “The Chinese always get great deals. Except with me. I did a great deal in China.”

          President Trump then instructed Lighthizer to “bring the U.S. trade deficit with Vietnam to zero in four years.”

          Lighthizer nodded, perhaps not knowing how to reply. It was an impossible task. He then tried to shift the president’s focus. “The ambassador [to Vietnam] is trying to finish a deal to build a new embassy,” he said. “We can have a groundbreaking ceremony when you visit.”

          A member of Lighthizer’s staff had told me, earnestly, that President Trump liked groundbreaking ceremonies. He enjoyed holding a gold- plated shovel for the photographers.

          “I’m visiting?” the president asked, apparently unaware that he had agreed to join an autumn summit of APEC in Vietnam. He then disappeared into another room.

          Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and a White House advisor, was paying attention to our conversation about building a new embassy in Hanoi. “How much will it cost?” Kushner asked….

          “$500 million?” Kushner seemed surprised. “that’s a lot. Why are we spending so much? If we’re going to give them that, we should get something back.”

    3. John

      Garland has his eye on the ball. Those school boards: a danger to the republic. Way to go Merrick.

      His performance as AG makes me glad he was not confirmed to the Supreme Court, which does not imply that Mitch McConnell had any other than a reprehensible motive for his actions.

    4. Carolinian

      There’s much much more of the head spinning Taibbi piece at a site that has previously been suggested here for longer excerpts (perhaps from his newsletter?). Here’s an interesting graf

      In particular, Biden’s insistence that “I have never discussed, with my son or my brother or with anyone else, anything having to do with their businesses,” is simply not believable after reading this book, not just because there is witness and documentary evidence directly contradicting him, but because the family does appear to be just as close as it claims. The fact that Biden participated, and continues to participate, in a shameless scheme to deflect attention and squelch inquiry by characterizing these true stories as Russian disinformation adds to the pile of evidence against him.

      Biden’s dark side was abundantly discussed here on Water Cooler before the election even as MSM was all see no evil hear no evil. And even Trump’s first impeachment seemed to be about protecting Biden’s reputation. Will Bernie fans finally have a revenge served cold?

      1. Captain Obious

        So, Joe M. from WVa and his allies (who is that — 50 Republican senators and Kyrsten?) telegraph Joe B. from Delaware and his group of orthodox Democrats that as long as there is only minimal ruckus about his (disgusting) WVa business dealings (and his daughter’s), there will be no Hunter Biden problems.

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Hunter/laptops

      Laptops, plural. It slays me that Hunter keeps losing them. Losing laptops seems to be a thing with him. Weirdest example of privilege I’ve ever seen.

      1. DJG, Reality Czar

        Lambert Strether: In Taibbi’s article, I counted six laptops that went astray. Is Hunter that addled? Even privilege has (the occasional) limit.

  5. hunkerdown

    Thanks, Lambert! Even looking up from the (rain) gutter, there is hope.

    Hillary Clinton, here’s your cloth, Apple-branded to match the bathroom server.

    1. jr

      Setting aside “thinking atoms” and related materialist silliness, why possible reason does Dr. Cox think world leaders, who don’t seem to care that they are risking their children’s futures, would suddenly care about the loss extra-galactic observers would suffer from the collapse of human civilization? This is assuming that they could even change things if they wanted to. Sounds like PMC finger-wagging for it’s own sake to me, accomplishing exactly nothing.

        1. Eustachedesaintpierre

          Auntie Beeb’s darling boy – I tried one of his docus but soon switched off after being promised a beautiful desert night sky viewing of the Milky Way, which turned out to be mostly him Adonis like lounging on a rock while talking crap.

          I much preferred Patrick Moore & Venesian.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjpcZPT1-NA 3.37 mins

      1. Procopius

        If there are no other “intelligent beings” in our galaxy, who is being discommoded by this “tragedy?”

  6. Dr. John Carpenter

    Thank you for that Walking America piece. I have lived in Indianapolis almost all my life. I recognize many of the places in those photographs (in fact, if they’d continued a little farther from one, they’d have run into Saraga, an old K-Mart turned into a huge international grocery with anything you can think of.) In my lifetime, the city has gotten so much more diverse. At the same time, it feels like almost the entire area inside the 465 loop has been a victim of white flight. So many areas I just knew of as fields growing up are bursting with McMansions now. Areas like Avon, Brownsburg, Fortville are where the author would have found those signs.

    For a while, I thought the city was dying, but now I realize it’s finding it’s second life. It’s ironic for a city that has such a bad history of pushing minorities out that it’s minorities who are starting to define it. You can still see the effects of the money leaving, but whereas maybe ten years ago, there were hulks of empty big boxes and strip malls standing and decaying, now they’re filling with new shops off the corporate grid. It’s been interesting to watch.

    (I would add that the areas they walked aren’t especially easy to walk though. Indianapolis obviously wasn’t thought out as a walking city. It’s too sprawled out and in many areas they’re having a hard time retrofitting paths for walking or riding as none ever existed. Public transit is kind of an issue too. It seems the improvements are mostly aimed at shuttling the well off committer workers from their McMansion enclaves to their jobs downtown.)

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Public transit is kind of an issue too.

      I believe Indianapolis once had a magnificent streetcar system. Too bad they can’t bring it back… People would travel to see it, I am sure.

    2. Anon

      I agree that Indianapolis is not an easy city to walk, nor is public transit a high priority.

      There used to be lovely streetcars in Indianapolis, as well as in many other Indiana cities. Also a very good statewide passenger train system. Long gone now.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Did these lines just fade away? Or were they ripped out and burned down by the three-way conspiracy between General Motors, Firestone Tire and Rubber, and Standard Oil of New Jersey?

        Did the front company National City Lines figure somewhere in this?

        1. Anon

          I don’t know the answers to those questions. The passenger train system was the Monon Railroad. It operated throughout Indiana from 1897 to 1967. Then it was bought up by CSX Transportation which uses the remaining operational track for freight only. Some unused track in Indianapolis and a few other cities has been converted into bike and walking trails.

          I rode on the Monon a few times as a child. Absolutely loved riding that train. It was a great loss when it died. And it was like a death, especially to the small towns and rural areas of the state.

          1. polycarpus

            I live not far from the Saraga grocery store but rarely go there. Yes, a lot of the working class and middle class aspirants have moved to Avon, Brownsburg, Carmel (at least from the west and north sides, where I live), which made room for new immigrants. The nearby Lafayette “Scare” Mall, has mostly small local merchants filling in for the national chain stores that bailed out about 2005 to 2009 (Sears, Penny’s, Macy’s, Radio Shack and Walden Books, for example).
            According to _Indianapolis Architecture_, “Last interurban suspends operation” in 1941.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > The nearby Lafayette “Scare” Mall, has mostly small local merchants filling in for the national chain stores that bailed out

              The best kind of mall (if a critical mass is reached and the mall is full). Far more lively.

        2. Dr. John Carpenter

          They literally paved over many (if not most) of the lines. Considering the ridiculously poor quality of Indiana roads, I’ve seen potholes deep enough to uncover the rail buried under decades of asphalt. (And despite being a cautious driver, I’ve lost many a tire/suspension to those same potholes.)

        1. polycarpus

          The book Indianapolis Architecture stated that the last interurban system suspended operation in 1941.
          Bicycling can be a challenge in places, but near the Saraga grocery (where I live) is not too bad, just stay off 38 th street.

    3. Phil in KC

      Booth Tarkington’s “The Magnificent Ambersons” (on which the Orson Welles film was based) is set in a fictional city that greatly resembles Indianapolis. In the novel the demise of the Gilded Age Amberson family is contrasted with the growth of the city, whose social set they once dominated. Both film and book depict the growth of city and its suburbs as a product of the motor car, the engine of a new city, versus the horse-and-buggy city of the the Ambersons.

      Yet another Indiana author, this one a native of Indianapolis, rhapsodized over the city of his youth, one Kurt Vonnegut.

      1. Dr. John Carpenter

        I attended Booth Tarkington elementary and had the pleasure of seeing Vonnegut and fellow Hoosier John Updike debate religion at Butler University when I was in my 20s! I really need to read the Ambersons.

      1. Sardonia

        I live in San Francisco and could say the same about my neighbors – who all have post-graduate degrees.

        1. ambrit

          Hmmm… so that would make them; “Dumb as a post-graduate.” Indeed, we could extend the metaphor a bit and say that those post-graduates are acting as holder uppers of Gate-keepers everywhere. More so, valiant lines of post-graduates uphold the fences that keep the “natural order of things” enforced. The proliferation of post-graduates could be said to be an essential part of the modern enclosure movement. How else is the Ministry of Truth going to carry out it’s semi-divine mission without a sufficiency of post-graduates to enbale the dictats of the “greater among equals” class? And the children of the oh so necessary apparat? They are the post(er) pre-graduation children for the Thousand Points of Approved Light movement. Your future is their future, and they won’t be at all shy about letting you know that fact.

          1. John Beech

            Good friends with my neighbor to my left until recently (he died). Now Lynn and I look in on his wife to ensure she doesn’t need anything (she’s in her late 70s), Ditto, our neighbor to my right, good guy I am friendly with. He’s bringing his tractor over one day this coming week to see if we can pull out a stump I’ve dug up for the purpose of moving it to the burn pile. And with regard the neighbor behind me, we rode bicycles daily for exercise until he up and died one day a few years back. Remain friendly with his wife, also (meaning we look in on her occasionally). Neighbors across the way – all 877 of them – are in a gated community and separated from us by a large water feature (and doubt we’ll ever get to know any of them).

            Anyway, never had a neighbor I didn’t get along with. Closest I came was an upstairs neighbor playing his music too loud when we were recently married. Went and knocked on his door, he invited me in joint in hand, and we became fast friends. In fact, just texted a few minutes ago; they’re half way across the country and he may well be my best friend. So if you think all your neighbors are dumb as rocks, could it be they’re not the actual rock?

  7. Bazarov

    Regarding Lambert’s comments concerning administrator Gerken’s language in the Yale Law email:

    You assume the goal is to write well. The language she’s using, designed by corporate PR, is intended to mean very little while A.) Filling paragraphs and B.) Sounding pleasant to as wide an audience as possible by relying on vague yet “positive” words.

    Using this strategy, she’s able to not commit to much of anything while also seeming like she’s doing something. The point is not to act or to communicate authentically but to seem to be doing so.

    I believe corporations invented this awful jargon, now colonizing our entire culture, to create an empty HR liturgy to numb their workers and also to manufacture statements that aren’t legally actionable. These institutions produce communiques and manifestos stuffed with such plabum, you can’t hold them to any rigorous account based on it.

    In Gerken’s email, who or what is the “heart of an intellectual community”? And how do you know it holds those “twin values” (insanely, she regards them as “sitting”)? In what sense are they “twins”? They seem pretty different. Etc.

    It’s purposeful senselessness, and even highly educated people are very easily taken in by it.

    When I teach writing to my students, one of the habits I have to break them of is reliance on lazy corporate plabum. They want to sound insightful without having to understand or to communicate anything. One of the reasons why students have such a low opinion of reading and writing is that they recognize instinctually that so much of what’s shoved down their throats by the elite is Bull Shit.

    1. jsn

      I have a client who is a junior executive in the auto industry who’s arrived at his “Peter principle” level largely through the use of opaque management-speak. My team began collecting his nuggets of linguistic invention and compiled them into “coherent” sentences. All language direct quote, clauses edited into sequence:

      “That may start to direction us from a yogurt element standpoint toward a destinational-specific perspective in simulation with a Radial appenditure set. Employees will be habitized to do that from a hood ornament perspective.”

      “Functionable Solar and Element Obscurance, we were commentating about that, dialoguing that issue, maybe it’s a mute issue, the city has been very advantageous to work with us on it.”

        1. John

          Gobbledygoop (or poop) is good, but I prefer bafflegab. In the essay Politics and the English Language, George Orwell concluded a list of six rules, each and all of which espoused simplicity, with “Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.” The higher one rises in academia, business, and politics, the more obscure and jargon laden becomes the language.

            1. Charles Sheldon

              45 years ago a colleague in this little consulting firm showed me his “buzz word generator” which was three columns of words like impactful and policy and generate etc. You could read across the 3 columns and pick any word and it made beautiful and totally meaningless but important sounding phrases. Very funny.

    2. MK

      “Don’t ever, for any reason, do anything, to anyone, for any reason, ever, no matter what, no matter where, or who, or who you are with, or where you are going, or where you’ve been, ever, for any reason whatsoever.” – Michael Scott

    3. Jen

      Pre-covid, my elite higher ed employer embarked on creating a training program. No one could define the audience. No one could define the purpose. We did our civic duty for clueless upper management and, with a great deal of work on the part of a lot of people, created a 10 part course. Naturally, upon completion, participants would receive a certificate for their accomplishment.

      At the end of the first phase of this project, we gathered for a luncheon to basically congratulate ourselves for doing a lot of work. One of the project sponsors made a presentation that started out with the project goals. The one that stuck in my mind, coming right after some vague hand waving towards employees having agency was: Employees will be optimized to perform roles across the campus.

      We were invited to provide feed back and yours truly probably insured permanent blacklisting from any future such endeavors by saying that as I read that sentence, my only thought was “I’m sorry sir, I’m not the droid you’re looking for.”

      One of the upsides of COVID is we seem to be done with that BS.

    4. Robert Gray

      It’s over 40 years since Richard Mitchell heaped scorn on these dolts with his droll masterpiece Less than Words Can Say (1979). Still germane, as the saying goes.

    5. Procopius

      Using this strategy, she’s able to not commit to much of anything while also seeming like she’s doing something. The point is not to act or to communicate authentically but to seem to be doing so.

      Sounds like the Imperial Envoy visiting the Foundation. While the official leadership are overjoyed at his promises of support and aid, the staff analyze his words with symbolic logic and show that, in fact, during his entire month-long stay he had said nothing at all.

  8. shinola

    “Was it an insurrection, or not?” (“it” referring, of course, to the Jan. 6 disturbance at in DC)

    No – it was a riot; with all of the associated charges that could be brought against those participating such as: vandalism, trespassing(& possible theft if any of the rioters took any items out of the building), failure to obey lawful orders, assault on police officers, reckless behavior resulting in injury or death of another person, etc.

    The reckless behavior charge would be similar to DWI & causing an accident resulting in injury or death to another person (or maybe even whatever the charge applies to an armed robbery where a surviving perp’s accomplice is killed during a gun battle by police & is charged with the causing the accomplice’s death).

    Even better yet, how about the new catch all – “Terrorism”!

  9. flora

    re: I have to admit I’m a little queasy about Congress doing what amounts to a criminal investigation

    Just call it ‘Son of HUAC’ or ‘HUAC II.’ / oy.

    From Glenn Greenwald, (paywall):

    Civil Liberties Are Being Trampled by Exploiting “Insurrection” Fears. Congress’s 1/6 Committee May Be the Worst Abuse Yet.

    Following the 9/11 script, objections to government overreach in the name of 1/6 are demonized as sympathy for terrorists. But government abuses pose the greater threat.


    1. Carolinian

      Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Trumpian party?

      Just love it when history repeats….

    2. JBird4049

      So the all the protesters of the 60s and 70s in the civil rights, equal rights, and antiwar movements were all terrorists committing terrorism? This is a good way to shut down any protest movements. Declare them all terrorists and toss them into some federal supermax.

      Or maybe they will bring back the charge of being Bolsheviks and Moscow agents. At least they haven’t gotten to saying that the union organizers are working for the Kremlin, again. Yet.

      I think the next few years is going become “interesting” history.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Let’s not forget the really neat catch-all Catch-22: SEDITION.

        18 US Code §2384. Seditious conspiracy
        If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.

        Covers a lot of territory there.

  10. Michael Fiorillo

    Regarding the absence of union people on Brittany Packnett’s “rich list,” that was entirely predictable, since she was the head of Teach For America – one of the most insidious of woke anti-labor non-profits – in St. Louis at the time of the Michael Brown episode.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the head of Teach For America

      I should have mentioned that. Deray, whose career path as a “voice” was similar to Packnetts, was also Teach for America. An administrator with a six-figure salary.

  11. Henry Moon Pie

    Good news from CNN: “UK unveils its Net Zero Strategy with pledges for guilt-free flying, electric cars and more trees.” All complete with a great picture of BoJo right underneath.

    That’s all wonderful for the planet, but I was hoping for flying electric cars without the comma. Guilt-free is always groovy. Oh well, it would probably be hard to land a flying electric car with all those trees.

    It seems COP26 will further demonstrate just how deluded and myopic our elites really are.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      Just thinking I could charge my guilt-free flying electric car with one of Matt Yglesias’s small modular nuclear reactors. I’ve been looking for them on the Home Depot website. I hope it can fit in my van.

      I’m kind of wondering where I can buy the uranium though. Something about yellow…

  12. drumlin woodchuckles

    If the House of Reps DemProgs accept “something else” to “make up for” the deleted climate-correction provisions in the Big Biden Bill, they will lose respect and standing among some of their heretofore-supporters. How many? Their re-election campaigns will be the test of that. Till then, who can know?

    Whereas if they destroy both bills rather than accept poison bills, they will gain respect and support among those who want something done for real. In that event, we will find out how many of their voting constituents are just Democrat Liberals at heart, because they will lose every Democrat Liberal vote.

    Which risk would the DemProgs rather take and for what reasons and with what goals in mind?

    I would like to see them adopt the following attitude: ” We want the whole loaf. Or no bread for anyone.” And especially no bread for Arizona or West Virginia until Sinema and Manchin are all the way out of politics.

    1. synoia

      The problem with your proposed scorched earth approach, is that it scorches the congress critter’s donors in a very visible way.

      Which is bad for the congress critter’s re-election money.

      PS: I am assuming the congress critters are hypocrites, or just mere lackeys, with every shred of their integrity tied to Donors Dollars.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Why is that a problem? Maybe its a bunch of extra whipped cream with a cherry on top.

    2. Left in Wisconsin

      I find the idea that doing nothing for anyone could be good for Democrats, or the (class-centric) left, in the short- or long-term, hard to believe. But that seems to be where we are headed, so I guess we’ll find out. I’m glad Bernie is still working hard to salvage something.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        What is the point of doing token good if the climate change slowdown and relief provisions are gone from the bill?

        Nothing else has done any good, so it is time to try this. And if the Democrats disagree, and go ahead and pass Sinema-Manchin, then we will see how much respect and support they retain, and how much they lose.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        We’re in a thirty-foot hole and the Democrats are lowering a fifteen-foot ladder. And they want us to congratulate them on how hard they’ve worked on our behalf.

        1. Left in Wisconsin

          Right. But there is a difference between recognizing the inadequacy of a 15-ft ladder in that circumstance and refusing to take it.
          But my comment was about the politics of the situation, not the actual benefits. I don’t think a failure to deliver anything is going to be good for the Dems (Dims?).

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            A fifteen foot ladder for a thirty foot hole is not just inadequate. It is a malicious insult and an act of sneering trollery.

            The proper response would be to take hold of the lower end of the ladder and then jerk the ladder hard downward while they still had hold of the upper end of the ladder. The purpose of that would be to pull them down into the hole with us. Where we could then surround them and beat them and beat them and beat them till they had to pick up their own teeth with their own broken fingers. This would be to teach them to stop throwing us into 30 foot holes and stop insulting us and trolling us with 15 foot ladders.

            And that is what killing both bills would be a start towards accomplishing.

    1. pjay

      I was glad to see Cuomo gone and hopeful toward Hochul – for about five minutes. But making COVID a religious crusade and (especially) portraying the vaccines God’s gift to man (rather than Pfizer) has me concerned. And that is not the only problem I’m having with our new governor.

    2. allan

      Hochul says she’ll forego an endorsement in the Buffalo mayoral race [WBFO]

      Governor Kathy Hochul plans to travel around the state in coming days to back Democratic candidates for November elections. But she will not offer her endorsement for any candidates in the Buffalo mayoral race. On Tuesday, she explained why. …

      “With respect to Buffalo, we have a unique situation there,” Hochul said. “And I’m going to be looking forward to truly working hard, rolling my sleeves up with whoever emerges as the victor. Buffalo’s success is important to me personally. So that is, that is my commitment. I will work with whoever the voters select. It is up to the voters.”

      Walton is the lone mayoral candidate on the ballot, having won the Democratic Primary in June. …

      In short, PUMA. There’s a reason that the cliche, Republicans fear their base, Democrats hate theirs, is a thing.

  13. hamstak

    Interesting, but what’s missing is an explanation of why one subset is dominant and not another.

    Perhaps it is as simple as the self-serving sociopaths are dominant.

  14. Jason Boxman

    It’s worth noting that if we really want China to reduce emissions, that’s actually quite easy. Buy less stuff. Done. If we aren’t buying, they aren’t manufacturing, or at least not quite as much as they are now. How much of this stuff we ship across the ocean on mega container ships is really necessary? Why can’t we repair and reuse more? How many choices of toothpaste do we need? I find the choices baffling as it is, and they mostly have the same strength and active ingredient anyway…

    Maybe if we had less stuff, we’d value what we do have more, and try to keep it in good working order.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      And restore protection to restore the making of necessary stuff here where we emit less carbon per stuff than allow China to keep making that necessary stuff at more carbon per stuff because necessary stuff-making has been exterminated in America.

      1. JBird4049

        Not to mention the extremely polluting necessity of shipping everything across the Pacific on the those gigantic containerships with their dirty engines.

  15. allan

    Facebook will pay up to $14 million to settle claims it favored foreign workers over Americans [NYT]

    Facebook agreed on Tuesday to pay up to $14.25 million to settle claims brought by the federal government in the waning days of the Trump administration that the company had discriminated against American workers.
    The Justice Department sued the company in December, arguing that Facebook had declined to “recruit, consider or hire” qualified Americans for more than 2,000 positions. Instead, prosecutors accused the company of giving those jobs to foreign workers who held work visas. …

    A Facebook spokesman, Andy Stone, said that the company believed it had met the government standards but that the settlements allowed the company to move forward. …

    For some reason that `forward’ triggered me, echoing as it does FWD.US, the Facebook front group
    that superficially pushes for immigration reform but is really a H1-B lobbying shop.
    Its site is totally opaque as to it’s funders, but you can find the story at Wiki.

    1. deplorado

      Yep, H1-Bs have taken over management at the tech titans in technical areas in Sillicon Valley. Recruitment is heavily skewed towards those from the same tribe….
      The rest of the country really has no idea.

      1. Jason Boxman

        What’s the story with these recruiter firms with randomly generated company names and Indian recruiters I always hear from? After years I finally asked one and the woman (with that easily recognizable accent) said she was based in India.

        I assume they’re around because they undercut other recruiters on fees?

        My only experience with one of these firms as a contractor was a complete train wreck. They had no idea how to provide benefits to me as a W2 employee (No corp-to-corp offered) and instead just took a few bucks off the hourly rate in exchange for adding me to their employer plan. I wonder if that was even legal? When I filed for unemployment years later, the state of MA could find no record of my work time at this CA-based recruiter as reported (I assume) by CA. (I have no idea how different states coordinate unemployment benefit funds.)

        Fun times.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      $14 mil for 2,000 H1-Bs works out to about $7K per. In other words FB has to pony up probably less than what amounts to a month’s pay for it’s H-1B workforce and they hand it over to Uncle Sugar rather than it being a much more substantial penalty used for something far more useful. How about mandating a few billion be distributed amongst its workforce whose wages have been suppressed?

    3. Procopius

      Good news as far as it goes, but they need to go much farther, including prosecuting the West Coast cabal of high tech companies who conspired together to not compete for each others’ employees. They also need to impose fines and deny future H1-B visas, in every case where a company makes their American employee train the H1-B who replaces them, because that’s prima facie evidence that an American is available to do the work. This has been a scandal for at least thirty years that I’ve known about it.

  16. John

    Nothing of any substance will be done to mitigate our changing climate until the inevitable catastrophe. There is no profit in changing things and the opportunity to wring out the last dime. The medium term future looks bleak.

    1. Divadab

      Maybe for you Johnny I’m looking out for my family and I’m actually quite optimistic on a personal level in terms of riding out the long descent. Readiness is a constant state of mind.

      Anyway then the progeny can do with what we give them and we shuffle off the mortal coil.

    2. albrt

      On the bright side, the future looks wide open for the thousands who survive the evolutionary bottleneck [aka Jackpot] 50 or 100 years from now.

      In 100,000 years, archaeologists will prove by mitochondrial DNA that all living humans descended from a single woman who lived in Portland OR [or insert your choice of other small climate refugium here].

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Those Typhoid Mary police should be fired. But they won’t be.

      Their blue fascist union should be abolished. But it won’t be.

      The only way that individual New Yorkers will escape this sort of Blue Fascist Oppression is to vote with their feet and leave the city. Leave NYC to its fate.

    2. Angie Neer

      Comments about that video included many NYC subway riders who say non-masked cops are ubiquitous. I hope more people work up the nerve that guy did to challenge them.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > NYPD’s maskless finest eject a masked subway rider
      who had asked them to wear masks, as required by MTA rules

      From the 30,000-foot level–

      Ultimately the state depends on force (Mosler’s “man with a gun”).

      How the liberal Democrats expect to enforce any kind of mandate with no state violence to back it up eludes me. Robot dogs?

      The Democrats remind me of a little kid driving a toy car. They turn the steering wheel, but it’s not connected to anything.

  17. Senator-Elect

    Matt Stoller linked this article, and I thought it was pretty much on the mark. But maybe someone could assess the finance and economics aspects of the argument.

    It certainly covers themes familiar to readers of NC.

    1. Helena

      That is one heck of an article, thank you. My assessment is ‘octopus with a thousand arms’ but I am guessing not what you are looking for.
      I have been having an email discussion with an activist/environmentalist in my state, and he is passionate about forcing divestment from fossil fuel companies as a major deterrent. I am wondering at this point if things are not just moving around like oil in a bag–if you squish it in one place, it just moves to another. I admit I am confused, since someone is always buying distressed assets and keeping them going in some way, or is this just smoke?

    2. Divadab

      Yes thank you for linking this. I have shared it with some thoughtful family and friends. I think the author (s?) put their finger on thé ideology that Boeing adopted to its extreme hazard; for what is the 737 max débâclé the result of but maximizing returns to capital ($43 billion in share buybacks ffs!) and underinvestment in the business. The parasite is destroying the host. And on an imperial scale.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “Apple finally listened to the pros”

    And it took only six years of Apple not listening and ignoring to their customers before they finally reversed course. Was it the janitor there that asked the engineers whether throwing away everything that made an MacBook usable just so that what, that it could be thinner was a good idea.

    So, are they going to revamp the operating system next?

    1. flora

      The last 10 years’ chase after the home entertainment market by both Windows and Mac finally shakes out. Windows realizes first that its stable, core market is work related, not home entertainment related, at least as a market baseline.

      True story: a work colleague goes to big box tech store to buy a new computer for work-related use at home. Colleague spends time talking with big box sales rep about what he needs in a new home computer. Sales rep says, somewhat surprised, “Oh, you want it to do work on?” … why, yes.

      (hint: you can’t run a desktop/laptop full featured system on a smartphone. Smartphones and desktops/laptops are two different universes.)

      Glad Apple is catching finally catching on.

      1. flora

        adding two things:

        1. When the original “Apple sexy”, aka you don’t need to be a nerd to use a computer, becomes “Apple annoyance”, aka you need all kinds of adapters and workarounds to make your existing hardware and software work, you’re on the wrong track.

        2. When your latest operating system isn’t fit for real, job related work on a desktop platform – on either a Mac or Win – you’re on the wrong track.

        My 2¢.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > it took only six years of Apple not listening and ignoring to their customers before they finally reversed course

      Faster than the Democrats!

      > are they going to revamp the operating system next

      They don’t need to revamp it. They should roll it back to, say, Snow Leopard (OS X) and get rid of all the iOS-inspired stuff, starting with Notifications. (I realize under the hood things need to be different because of Apple’s new chips.) They’ve gradually been deviating from the Human Interface Guidelines, and purge all features that violate them.

  19. lyman alpha blob

    RE: #Richest25

    Definitely seems like one of the main qualifications for making the list is not doing any actual work. Lots of “advocates”, “activists”, “ambassadors” and “channellers” though. Like a group of insomniacs on a meth bender they’re so woke.

  20. Raymond Sim

    I’m looking at the STAT Covid-19 Tracker:


    They’re showing enormous spikes in case numbers for France and Denmark yesterday. Roughly fourfold relative to recent days. Denmark, which according to Monica Gandhi ‘declared endemicity’ already looked to be experiencing uncontrolled growth, but this is appalling if correct.

    Was there a holiday or something?

    While I’m at it, the Baltic States appear to be going the wrong way as fast or faster than Denmark was.

    1. Duke of Prunes

      I’m starting to think some of these are made up. Almost every thing else on the internet is made up, why not this too… and I don’t think this because I don’t believe that there are so many horrible bosses. I’m sure there are as I’ve had a few. I’m getting skeptical because most people I know are not in any position to walk away from their income. Precarity, I think they call it.

      Why go to the trouble of posting a fake story? They call it “karma farming / mining”. Posting imaginary stories to collect imaginary money. Grifters gots to grift.

      1. Helena

        The gist I got from the employee’s responses was that the manager was in no position to lose any more workers and thought they were bluffing. I doubt I would have had the guts to talk to a manager that way though in my youth–It crossed my mind it was made up too.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Cultural Maoist SJWs

      I wish conservatives would stop stringing together words, Christmas tree-light style. I know they light up and look pretty, but I prefer to use my meaningful words.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I’ve seen a similar video by a Nestle CEO saying the same. This by the CEO of a company that bribes politicians to get their water for virtually free to sell for a fortune. People can go without food for a month before dying. Water? A coupla days. I was thirsty once being caught with insufficient water after a long walk in isolated territory. Not fun. Two days without water and most people will be prepared to rip people like that CEO apart who tries to tell them ‘No water for you.’

  21. NotTimothyGeithner

    I don’t say this. But it is time to write your electeds and to call them climate denialists. Joe Manchin is a climate terrorist.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I have read different theories in different places at different times as to where exactly in particular Coaly Joe’s coal money comes from. The most recent one I read is that his money comes from partial ownership of a company which scavenges “waste coal” and sells it to power plants of a particular utility in West Virginia.

      West Virginians are in general not rich. ( Unless they are Manchins, I suppose . . . ) So they are probably using rather little electricity to begin with. But for those West Virginians who resent Manchin’s recent actions, is there a way to help them use even less electricity without degrading or attriting their probably already quite modest lifestyles? If there is, would they accept the help if it came without political lectures or a missionary attitude? Because if they would, and if it did, perhaps enough West Virginians could be helped to further reduce their electricity use enough to degrade and attrit the revenue reaching that utility and those coal plants and eventually Manchin’s “waste coal” company itself.

      Perhaps this should be looked at as a slow fight to the death between two boa constrictors in a bottle.

  22. George Phillies

    Manchin, Manchin, Manchin. These is a lack of recognition that there are other opponents who have equal votes.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Revolving villains. By the end of all this, President Manchin hopes to have remade the Democrat Party in his image. Electorally, a loser. Financially, not so much.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Right now Manchin and Sinema are the two eager volunteers for the job of rotating villain. The only way to stop Senators volunteering for rotating villain, or even accepting instructions to be the rotating villain, is for million of members of the public who are “hip to the jive”, “wise to the con” etc., to ruin and destroy Sinema’s and Manchin’s lives so thoroughly and utterly and totally that no other Senator would dare to accept the job of rotating villain.

      Is there a way to do that within the letter of the law? Because nothing less and nothing else has any chance of working.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Right now, Sinema and Manchin are the particular two flies who are doing the backstroke in our bowl of soup.

  23. juliania

    I’m sorry to have been late to the Links discussion of religion as relating to David Graeber’s new book, but perhaps I could add, somewhat tardily, an apology for Christianity as expressed in the ‘Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy’ concerning the thoughts of Blaise Pascal on the subject:

    ” …he wound up explicitly rejecting “the god of the philosophers.” However, just because the medium or process through which a belief is achieved may not be rational, doesn’t mean that the belief itself is unreasonable. For Pascal, that belief was his acceptance of Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Kekule discovered the shape and structure of the benzene molecule in a dream. Though his means of discovery was non-rational, what he discovered was quite reasonable and proved true.

    Another reason why Pascal’s religious views are sometimes confused with fideism is his notion of an infinite and hidden God, who is essentially beyond our comprehension and understanding and whose existence and nature transcends the limited perspectives of reason and sense perception. However, once again, just because God surpasses or eludes empirical sense and reason doesn’t mean that He is contrary to or incompatible with them. “Faith,” Pascal writes, “indeed tells what the senses do not tell, but not the contrary of what they see. It is above them, and not contrary to them” As for God’s infinitude and incomprehensibility, they too surpass or confound reason, but aren’t necessarily contrary to it. The notion of mathematical infinity baffles us in the same way. As Pascal points out, just because something is incomprehensible, for example, God, infinity, “a sphere whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere,” doesn’t mean that it can’t exist …”

    I rather think Mr. Graeber hasn’t quite grasped the depths of that philosophy (love of wisdom) which the best of Christian thought seeks to explain. Pascal is an interesting champion of the faith, because he is also such a mathematician at heart. The two are not incompatible.

    Sorry to come late to the discussion, but better late than never.

  24. Koldmilk

    “The Great Resignation” has a class dimension

    This may change. Recall the recent news (panic?) over men opting not to go to college. One assumes they are middle-class since college is an option for them, so what kind of work do they end up in?

    Does the requirement of a college degree start to fall away for white-collar jobs? (There are many that don’t really need degrees, e.g., sales.) Or do these men go into blue-collar jobs? Or start their own businesses?

    The Maker movement is very active online. Youtube videos on carpentry, metal-work, electronics, etc. are very popular. Could these men be attracted by work that is skilled and creative, making things.

    It will be interesting to see what the Great Resignation brings: whether it is middle-class men opting for independence in own businesses, or a flowering of skilled artisans (from both working and middle class).

    And will we also start to see more women reconsider college? There are plenty of female Maker stars on Youtube in electronics, but also carpentry, etc., not to mention other crafts (viewed, rightly or not, as traditionally female, like making clothing, etc.) so the lure of non-office work appears to be there.

    I know that I’ve omitted many areas, e.g., food, brewing, and, of course, services.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      If this is what is happening, and for the reasons you offer, then “we” or “somebody” should create a way to help as many of these men and women as we can to become good or very good thingmakers and thingfixers. Then those of us who still have jobs which pay us in money could spend that money paying these skilled thingmakers and thingfixers to fix broken things we would like to keep alive and working, and even make new things which we can only vaguely describe and imagine but which they could make physically real for us to buy and to use.

      ( For example, I have kept pairs of shoes alive by paying a shoe repair place to repair them long after their designed-in date of death. The money I could have spent on a new pair of shoes has instead been spent on helping a fellow citizen stay in business repairing shoes and has default “prevented” another pair of new shoes from being made, thereby sparing the destruction of one pair of shoes’ worth of natural resources.)

      That would begin to redirect streams of money into circulating around and around at the base of the ladder and prevent that money from climbing up the ladder to the 1% at the top of the ladder. It would be a cultural evolutionary way around our paralyzed and obstructed electoral politics.

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