2:00PM Water Cooler 10/25/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I had to finish up the post that you see immediately below, so today’s Water Cooler is an open thread. Talk amongst yourselves! –lambert

* * *

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 writes: “Taken with my iPhone 7, this cheery Bear Paw, a member of the stonecrop family, is in our front yard. It demonstrated its delight with having finally been watered, with a bouquet of these bright blooms.”

* * *

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

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

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

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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. lyman alpha blob

      I’ll stir the pot. Looking at Google and see a person I don’t recognize above the search bar. Hovering the cursor tells me it’s Claude Cahun who I haven’t heard of before so I switch browsers and do a search in DuckDuckGo so as not to give the evil empire the satisfaction and find the wikipedia entry which refers to Cahun as “she” before switching to “they” later in the article, which brings to mind two questions.

      First, when did we start assigning pronouns to people who died the better part of a century ago?

      And second, if Cahun did actually at one point mention a preference for “they” (which is highly doubtful since Cahun was French and they have their very own neutral singular 3rd person pronoun), can we now cancel wikipedia for being so uncaring and hateful by using the English feminine 3rd person singular pronoun for Cahun?

      1. Mikel


        Taiwan: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

        Maybe it’s just Friday, but this had me in tears laughing.

        But how does it relate to your post? We are all practicing a similiar “strategic ambiguity” now with the pronoun dance.

        Maybe I’m just giddy from laughter at Oliver this week and it’s a reach for an analogy, but it must have crossed my mind for a reason.

    2. Louis Fyne

      how about people naming the most head-scratching shortage/oddity that you’ve seen?

      Mine is juice box-sized, shelf stable plain milk is nowhere to be found. But want chocolate milk? the stores are overflowing with them! ???

          1. Helena

            It might be more helpful to tell you that I eat absolutely no processed food or drink milk. I have noticed however that the local (VT) chevre is disappearing at a faster rate. All the veg and tofu and local apples, etc. are still in good supply. Maybe I just eat outside the usual norm, but I have not noticed any empty shelves in the stores here at all. (central VT–definitely not a ‘metro area’)

            1. Return of the Bride of Joe Biden

              I live in a small(ish) metro area west of the Cascades and east of the Rockies. I’ve had trouble buying neither rice nor beans, my typical source of calories. The other poors in my area often shop the center aisles, so I can’t speak for their experiences.


              I haven’t eaten goat cheese since I was a smug Yuppy in a large(ish) metro area west of the Cascades and north of Portland, a couple of decades ago.

              Ahh… good(ish) times.

              1. Helena

                Well, if you can’t eat cow’s milk, you go for the gold! Chevre and goat dairies are a big business here anyway, and much less impactful than bovine dairies, which are now the province of Big Dairy. Not sure where that yuppyish reputation comes from, I know a lot of people who had family goats growing up. The gourmet restaurant business, maybe?

                1. chuck roast

                  Cabot dairy products are available in my neighborhood, and I go for them because they are a co-op. Oh, and good quality too.

                    1. Helena

                      oddly enough, they are not dirt cheap in Vermont. Unless @ $5.60/lb is cheap for an 8 oz brick. Shredded is $6/lb.
                      Store brand cheeses undercut them by .60 to $1

              2. Josef K

                Hi RotBoJB, quantum effects aside I don’t think one can be west of the Cascades and east of the Rockies at the same time :-).

              3. wilroncanada

                We made our own goat cheese when we had goats25-35 years ago. Now, as a treat, I buy my wife Salt Spring goat cheese, expensive, but local, and not mass-produced.

        1. Glossolalia

          Same here for the most part; I’m in the DC suburbs. There may not be the particular brand I want, but there’s pretty much always a similar item on the self.

        2. Paula

          For me either. It’s a matter of what you eat and is part of your lifestyle. For instance, I am much healthier for my age group than many because I don’t go out to eat, or very rarely because you can make bad quality food taste good. Of course if you are rich, which I am not, you can afford top quality restaurants. So I afford top quality food and cook it at home and it is mostly meatless, thus reducing costs. I also never buy prepackage or ready made food of any kind except for Quorn patties which are probably bad for you and are full of salt.

      1. PKMKII

        The sugar and chocolate in the shelf-stable chocolate milk helps cover up for shelf-stable milk not tasting that good.

        1. Louis Fyne

          plain milk not even available on Amazon (sold by amazon.com)…last time I checked Amazon said their inventory would be restocked in 3 weeks.

          1. PKMKII

            To expand on my explanation: They don’t make as much shelf-stable regular milk as they do shelf-stable chocolate milk, for the reason listed above. Speaking from experience, lot easier to get the munchkins to drink the latter than the former. So with supply crunches and people expanding what they’re willing to consume, or just stockpiling, it’s not a surprise that the regular milk supply would run lean quicker than the chocolate milk supply.

          1. marieann

            My husband does the shopping and he tells me there are no shortages in the stores, but with the Fancy Feast .70cents is the new .60 cents.

            We stock up all the time so have a large supply of FF…..how would I explain shortages to the kitty Kings.

            1. Jen

              Yup. No shortage of most pet foods where I shop but the already not cheap dog food I buy has gone up by $8/30lb bag since the summer.

          2. Sailor Bud

            When I was a kid I read Viktor Belenko’s book. In 1976 (IIRC), he piloted a then-secret Soviet interceptor (MiG 25) to Japan, where he requested asylum and then went on to become a US citizen. The US photo’d and documented every inch of the airplane and then returned it to the USSR.

            Because he knew no English, Belenko somehow bought cat food for himself in an early grocery run, which he went on to praise wholeheartedly as a delicious tinned product with better protections and standards than human food got.

      2. zagonostra

        turmeric ginger kombaucha drink in Publix Grocery store found in the produce section has had a sign saying “out of stock” goin on a month.

            1. Yves Smith

              Huh, Publix here does not sell house brand kombucha, or at least not the last time I looked. Now I have to check. We must not be upscale/organic enough for them to have confidence in demand.

              Also forgot to mention that the Fairway near me in NYC would often be out of popular types of kombucha, although unlike your case, they did restock within days nearly all the time.

      3. jr

        I drink soda more than I should but only the small bottlers such as Brooklyn born Manhattan Special, Boylen’s, and smaller independent producers. None of my regular sources but one have had the cola’s of any brand except for Coke and Pepsi. I saw this in Manhattan last year but someone pointed out people were buying them and reselling them on Amazon, maybe that’s true here as well.

      4. Lost in OR

        Here, just west of the Cascades and way way way east of the Rockies, Ace hardware was out of most types of J-boxes (the wall boxes for electrical connections, outlets, and switches).

        1. Paula

          Bicycles are having difficulty getting parts for repair and orders for specialized can take months. Also same for a folding kayak I had thought to buy. There are shortages, but not of good food and good ingredients thus far. Maybe people need to learn how to eat like their great grandma did. Maybe keep her at home and make her mind the kombucha. They gotta be good for something other than throwing away to a nursing home.

      5. Eclair

        Louis, I have been on the watch for boxed milk for years, the 1 liter size. Occasionally I will find the juice-box size. I become grumpy without morning tea, strong, with milk. Having a box in the cupboard will save me from a midnight run to the market for fresh milk.

    3. Glen

      Every store I was in yesterday had rearranged shelves to conceal a lack of goods. Plus, the local REI is not going to have any winter sports goods (skis, boots bindings, boards) on hand due to shortages.

      And our little bit of bomb whatever weather report here in the PNW: The rain has stopped here for now, but the wind has really picked up and the power is out.

      1. Joe Well

        I have noticed a lot of rearranged foods to make up for missing specialty items at Trader Joe’s and the supermarket chains.

        Like if they don’t have the organic frozen kale, they just fill up the space where it normally goes with conventional kale. And on and on for other specialty foods like sourdough bread, frozen tropical fruit, fresh figs (are they in shortage or just out of season?), my usual jarred tomato sauce…

        I spent twice as long grocery shopping because of all the time looking for stuff on my list, hoping it had just been moved.

        This may drive me to online grocery shopping.

        1. Mikel

          You could go online before you go to the store and see what’s out of stock.
          Type in order, but you don’t have to submit it and then you’ll see some (if not all) of what is out of stock.

          1. John

            As was said above, if you are not buying processed stuff there are few if any shortages – yet.
            I did have to substitute one brand of real peanut butter for another. Prices are going up. Long distance shipping is likely driving up the price of fresh produce.

            Soon I fear, this will qualify as “interesting times.

  1. jr

    Kulinary Korner:

    I read a comment earlier about rising food prices and I thought I would share a recipe I whipped up that’s cheap, delicious, and healthy. Total cost: +/- 3$US:

    3/4 cup glutenous flour
    1 teaspoon oil
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon sugar, optional
    1/4 cup of water, give or take, different flours soak up water differently
    no yeast required

    Mix dry ingredients together, then the wet ingredients together, then combine the two. Knead for 10 minutes, ball up, then let rest for 30. Youtube has videos:


    After it rests, you can either bake it, runs about 35 to 40 minutes, for a roll. Thin it out and bake for 25 for flatbread. Or roll it out unbaked and cut into pasta. Cook in salted boiling water for literally 2 minutes, even a bit less. I like to mix a can of beans and corn, simmer with my favorite herbs, then apply to the fresh pasta. Dried beans are even cheaper, lentils, etc. I use my Dutch Oven to speed up the cooking process for the dried stuff, traps the flavor as well.

    1. Helena

      My favorite buckwheat pancake recipe:

      Buckwheat flour
      baking soda (1/2 tsp per C flour)
      water to desired consistency

      you can let buckwheat/water mixture sit until it gets ‘sour’ if you are not in a hurry.

      I can’t eat gluten so I can have these, fried in butter with maple syrup, once in a while.

      1. Kevin

        I don’t make these because they are gluten-free, I make them because they are our favorite.

        Easy Blender Pancakes

        2 cups oats
        2 eggs
        1 cup milk
        2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
        2 tablespoons maple syrup
        1 teaspoon vanilla
        1/2 teaspoon salt

        Blenderize oats 1st! (This is your flour)
        then throw rest of ingredients in and blend.

  2. jr

    Film Fun: Dune

    I watched a fascinating video the other day on the incredible lengths that were taken to make the wardrobe for the movie. This was enough to tell me I probably wouldn’t be watching it. I’m a “less is more” guy when it comes to cinema. Upon hearing that there is rock and world music in the score, it’s a done deal.

    1. Eloined

      fwiw, I prepared for disappointment but enjoyed the spectacle; would venture re: “less is more” that minimalism was a strong factor in the film’s design choices. Have no clear recollection of the atmospheric score except that one fleeting surge of “world music”-ish drumbeats felt out of place.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Well , as Dolly Parton once said, ” It costs a lot of money to look this cheap”.

        1. jr

          Hammer to nail, thanks!

          @ eloined Seeing some of the visuals might earn it a few minutes of my time when it hits streaming but it’s even more than that for my delicate aesthetics. All-star casts are a drag: Aquaman as Duncan Idaho and Beast Rabban played by that ogre who is in margarine commercials these days, for example. It’s one of the reasons LoTR sucked so badly, I’ll never un-see Cate Blanchett’s empty eyes playing Galadriel.

        1. jr

          Here’s Jodorowsky on the new Dune, he wishes it well but warns it will be “predictable”. He also distinguishes between auteur and industrial filmmaking:


          Here’s him on the older Dune:

          “The first time they said it was safe to do Dune, and [David Lynch] did it, I was ill, because it was my dream. They showed the picture in Paris, and my son said, ‘You need to see the picture.’ I was ill to do that. Ill. And then they start to show the picture, and step by step, I was so happy, so happy, so happy because it was a shitty picture. I realized, Dune, nobody can do it. It’s a legend.”


          1. jr

            Found the Jodorowsky reference:

            “Then it hit me: it’s the tarentuwolf (tarentulouve in French version) from Jodorowsky’s and Jimenez “La Caste des Méta-Barons” comic. The whole of the Incal/Métabaron universe being inspired by Jodo’s Dune experience, this reference is not outlandish.



            as well as this tribute to my early adolescence:


  3. Reify99

    Love in a Time of Climate Change
    By Craig Santos Perez

    I don’t love you as if you were rare earth metals,
    conflict diamonds, or reserves of crude oil that cause
    war. I love you as one loves the most vulnerable
    species: urgently, between the habitat and its loss.

    I love you as one loves the last seed saved
    within a vault, gestating the heritage of our roots,
    and thanks to your body, the taste that ripens
    from its fruit still lives sweetly on my tongue.

    I love you without knowing how or when this world
    will end. I love you organically, without pesticides.
    I love you like this because we’ll only survive

    in the nitrogen rich compost of our embrace,
    so close that your emissions of carbon are mine,
    so close that your sea rises with my heat.

    American Life in Poetry, Column 866

    1. Helena

      soy vey!
      Or as my Mother once said to me, “If everyone was like you, the economy would collapse!”

      Love that poem, thanks

  4. fresno dan

    Well, the atomospheric river hit Fresno. I really thought I should have built an ark, from how the local media was going on about it. And as far as rain storms go in Fresno, it was pretty good. But it will take many more to make any appreciable dent in the drought.
    I went to my back yard, which is flat and level and has a number of sections not irragated. I have an auger and drilled down into the ground – at most the ground was moist to only 2-3 inches. Any deeper than that, bone dry.

    1. griffen

      While the geographic location is certainly north of there, this evening’s contest between the Saints and Seahawks (US football, NFL style) is being played in an apparent constant rainfall. Typically it can be hard to tell given the prevalence of camera options.

      Stay dry and stay safe.

    2. Wukchumni

      You could’ve walked across the Kaweah ‘River’ and not got wet a few days ago, and I was just @ the river and if you fell in you’d be swept away to your death…

      On a happier note, Mammoth ski resort opens this Friday and they’ve got 1-2 feet of snow on the ground, and i’ve never skied on Halloween before, that’d be a first.

  5. ChetG

    I’ve noticed that spam phonecalls have doubled in the past few weeks. On Mondays and Tuesdays the number averages above 20 a day. (My own solution is to have the answering machine handle incoming calls after one ring.)
    Has anyone else experienced such increases recently?

    1. Helena

      Of what variety are these calls? Just curious.

      My phone has been unlisted for so many years I seem to be totally off the radar. Not complaining.

      1. ChetG

        Every kind one can imagine: From “Amazon,” “Microsoft,” fake credit card companies, pending lawcases one can join, car warranty, nonprofits looking for money, etc.
        I’m not certain being unlisted helps (I used to be), since mass dialing would be by numeric order; for example, few would know my name. For the car warranty, neither my name nor my car make was known.

          1. ChetG

            Thank you, Helena, but I’ve been on the donotcall list for many years (and checked to ensure I was still on it).
            Part of the problem, I think, is the web-phone linkage, for which a phone call is the price of being online. Consequently, many of the calls are from overseas, which is why the donotcall list doesn’t work.
            Very convenient resolution to your own problem!

        1. Nikkikat

          I get all of those call plus the Medicare advantage plan and drug plan calls. I just don’t answer the phone any more. I look and see a number that I don’t know and I just let it go to voicemail. It never does. They just hang up when they hear the out going message. The people that know me, know my email.
          As to things not on the shelves, it’s toilet paper, again! The other is spaghetti sauce. Haven’t been able to find Classico any where. It’s the cost that’s getting me. Increases of $2.00 dollars and more for each item, food bill more than double now.

    2. PKMKII

      Election season. It’s not even a mid-term, but a lot of local elections happening, and more and more money is getting dumped into those lately.

    3. Arizona Slim

      I get quite a few. It’s to the point where I don’t answer the phone unless I recognize the number.

    4. Bob


      About 4-5 per day.

      And always the same ones –

      Car warranty
      Police donations
      Amazon scam calls
      Ebay scam calls
      Social Security scam calls
      Microsoft scam calls

      The latest calls show the user ID as the phone receiving the call. So the system has proceeded to the logical conclusion – we are calling ourselves to scam ourselves. !!!

    5. jr

      I get them at a steady 3 to 4 a month, car dealerships, but no increase and those are it. I did have one about a year back telling me I had a warrant out for my arrest through “Federal Agency” but an FBI friend told me they are baloney. It’s one thing to hear your 4 Cadillacs warranties have expired, another to think the federales are after you.

    6. Lena

      We have had an increase in calls for police/firefighter donations. Also donations for scam charities (especially breast cancer and autism). They often use these fake “southern” accents that are really laughable because they think we talk like that here. We don’t.

    7. Sawdust

      After much fluctuation, I now get exactly one per day, between 11:00 and 1:00. Different numbers, etc. Kinda creepy.

    8. Dr. John carpenter

      I get a steady stream of robotexts wanting to buy my house, my Ex’s condo (which I have nothing to do with) and often times random other properties I don’t even recognize. Just had one about a half hour ago, in fact. My house is not on the market and I don’t think my ex is trying to sell her condo. Oh and a phone call or two a week I’m assuming are the same thing (they always hang up with no messages, I haven’t answered unknown numbers for years.) I wish I could make the damn things stop but the do not call list and reporting the number to Verizon is just wasting my time.

      Fwiw, this is something that never happened pre-pandemic.

    9. Bart Hansen

      Here in rural VA we get 2-4 per day, but they go to the landline recorder. I complained to Senator Timmy Kaine but didn’t even receive a form letter back.

      Does anyone else get “Amy on a recorded line”?

    10. Librarian Guy

      I moved away from the climate compromised Bay Area, California to chilly (but green and wet) Duluth, Minnesota, officially last August. I was getting one California spam call a day (I don’t answer, and no messages left, constantly different Calif. IDed #s) . . . for the past ten days it’s up to 2 daily!! . . . I’ll never answer, so I guess they just will continue (at no real cost to themselves) to try for innumerable more weeks, or months, or years?

  6. R

    I tried to interest Lambert in this blog before but without success. I shall take advantage of our free period to share it directly.

    The blog is a series of very interesting post about obesity, diet, observations on global food cultures and the disturbing hypothesis that the obesity “epidemic” may be exactly that, an epidemic, and a result not of affluence but effluence, driven by an environmental contaminant.


    It’s a reason to eat jr’s home made flour bread if you can vouch for your flour, oil and water….

    1. jr

      Really interesting, thanks. Pinning that one. I do take Risperidone but after quitting drinking almost two years ago I lost a ton of weight anyway. I could actually put on 15 more pounds but my doctor said I’m fine as I am. I eat well too, probably too well since it’s basically my only vice now.

      One thing I forgot to add to my recipe was that if you want it leavened, add 1/2 teaspoon of yeast and let it rise for at least 45 minutes. The unleavened version is dense but still good to eat. You could also roll it paper thin and bake it into crackers but I think I need to at least double the oil in the recipe. I tried it as is and it was hard and dry. It has to be really thin to be toothsome.

      Sometimes, when I’m feeling really sneaky, I make a bacon grease Alfredo sauce over the fresh pasta. Just cut the bacon into lardons, roast them, use some of the grease to make a roux, make a Bechamel, then fold in your favorite hard Italian cheese along with the lardons. Then, add some roasted cauliflower and corn nibs to it and it’s deeelightful! A little bit of bacon goes a long way, I literally buy one piece from my butcher down the way.

    2. Count Zero

      Thanks for that. A brilliant piece of careful empirical research written in clear prose. The implications are frightening though.

      One of the side-effects of Covid19 is that I have been driven to read a few dozen research papers in medicine, epidemiology, etc. — often through links provided by NC. I have been struck by how badly written they are and how difficult it is to make much sense even of the abstract or the conclusions. Now I know these matters are complex and I have no medical qualifications. But I lean to the view that to write clearly is to think clearly — & vice versa. This sequence of discussions of obesity shows that it is possible to communicate complex issues of medical research to an interested and intelligent readership.

  7. Carla

    Here’s my question for the day. Why do people with good professional salaries and benefits most of us can only dream about feel it necessary to monetize their messages on Substack?

    I’ll pick two examples, both of whom have important messages for the world: Matt Stoller and Stephanie Kelton.

    I would think that Matt would want everyone to be able to read his erudite thoughts about curtailing monopolies. Ditto Stephanie, re: spreading the gospel of MMT.

    It’s my impression that these two brilliant people already reside firmly in or above the 90th percentile in terms of income, and possibly wealth as well. If not, somebody please set me straight. And if so, pray tell, Mr. Stoller and Ms. Kelton, when is enough a feast? Is it really necessary for you to continually extract further $$$ from those of us who have much less than you do? Does it really advance your objectives?

    Just wondering…

    1. Helena

      I have this conundrum with a local now famous environmentalist, with a backstory of off-grid righteousness. Now with a job at a wealthy private college, and insisting that his best option is to hammer on fossil fuel divestiture, when local people really need help getting off the grid to make a difference. It’s impossible for small homeowners to get the attention of the solar installers here–they seem to be out for bigger bucks.
      Guess it’s just not important or sexy enough a goal, or he’s joined the chorus of pontificators in the sky, like Stoller and Kelton.

    2. ambrit

      It may be a big club that we aren’t in, but you must continuously “run” just to maintain membership.

    3. PKMKII

      FWIW, Kelton makes $210K a year as a professor, so yeah in the 90-95th income percentile, at least on the national scale. As far as why she has paywalled substack content, I can only make an educated guess, but perhaps she sees the target audience for that as not the average joe to be sold on MMT, but rather fellow economics wonks who are willing to shell out for the deeper dives.

      1. Procopius

        Doesn’t she also publish a lot of un-paywalled articles and YouTube lectures? The substack stuff then would be like extra.

    4. Objective Ace

      There’s been numerous articles on NC about how the 90 percent is still preyed upon by the people above them. Theyre constantly worried about their employer, health insurance, or some other entity screwing them over. That’s one of the things wrong with late stage capitalism–it requires everyone to buildup significant wealth to shoulder anything going wrong in their life.

      Bernie Sanders was asked in a debate how it was consistent that he wanted government funded insurance–rich people paying their share– while at the same time he is a multi-milluonair with multiple houses presumably not paying his share. He didn’t have a great response . I wish he would have said since he can’t rely on public health/government insurance to cover his basic needs, this wealth is required to ensure he can pay for medical/cancer treatment should it ever be needed.

      1. Helena

        I don’t understand what you said concerning Bernie–he is a Senator with health care–govt funded–why wouldn’t he want everyone to have that also?

        he is a multi-milluonair with multiple houses presumably not paying his share.

        What does that even mean?
        Bernie Sanders net worth: $3 million – including a couple houses
        Nancy Pelosi: over 120 million – beat Warren Buffet’s portfolio performance
        Joe Manchin: 5 million – 12 million and take a look at his portfolio at OpenSecrets

        Potshots at Bernie – what is the point?

        1. Yves Smith

          Bernie bought his house when they were cheap. One is a cottage and when I was a kid, most of the men who worked at the paper mill in town had a home and a cottage and if they had done enough overtime, a small powerboat too.

          And some his millions include having bought at the right time (decades ago) and writing couple of books that sold well. And having a working wife.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Its part of a long-running psycho-disinfo operation against Sanders, to discredit him among any real or potential supporters. The DLC Dems were running that operation the harderst, but Colonel Lang also tried running it once or twice over at Sic Semper Tyrannis — calling Sanders ” in the Rentier class” and all.

              A version of it was run against Senator Tom Harkin during his PrezNom pursuit. Some big magazine, either Time or Newsweek, had the interviewer ask him whether having a vacation house didn’t make him a hypocrite. He explained why it didn’t.

              I think some years ago Lambert Strether tried pushing back against the whole concept of ” you have to be poor or even starving to be a leftist, otherwise you are not authentic. And don’t you dare make a decent living from left wing media or something”.

              It makes me think that we need a counter word for the word rentier misused against the tiny 1 or 2 or 3 house landlord. Something like petty rentier or lumpenrentier or something.

        2. Objective Ace

          >he is a Senator with health care–govt funded–why wouldn’t he want everyone to have that also?

          He does for sure. I guess in hindsite, maybe thats not the best example. Maybe he could say he needs the wealth for his children or something because they dont have access to good healthcare.. at any rate, I think we’re getting lost in the weeds. Bernie doesnt have a lot compared to the 0.1 percenters for sure. He really is more like the top 10 percenters (which does make him and others in the top 10 percent easy targets for GOP misdirection). And merely being in the top 10 percenters wealthwise does mean you do need to worry about bad things happening. If we had universal healthcare that would be one less thing they need to worry about. They could relax a bit about the hyper-drive to make sure they and there children cant possibly fail.. at least in one aspect of life

          1. Helena

            I see time and again that all that selfish people can see are selfish motives.

            And merely being in the top 10 percenters wealthwise does mean you do need to worry about bad things happening.

            It’s the people who pursue unlimited wealth that think he makes them look bad. I personally benefit from his beliefs in his state, and I sincerely wish everyone else could also.

            1. Objective Ace

              Agreed, but 90 percent of the population doesnt have time to follow politicians and their actual beliefs/decade long career decisions. They’re more likely to react to a 30 second TV add that is framed in the most negative light possible

    5. Kevin

      …perhaps more prestige associated with charged content as opposed to “free”?

      I’m finding less and less non-paywalled content these days.

      1. Carla

        Stoller recently announced his subscription-only posts with some fanfare. Some of his posts will remain free and open to all, at least for the time being. Kelton’s substack appears to me to be entirely for subscribers, with just the beginning of each post available to all as a teaser.

    6. Henry Moon Pie

      Good point.

      To know enough’s enough
      is enough to know.

      Tao te Ching #46 (Le Guin version)

      Seems like good advice for everybody.

      1. Carla

        Especially around Thanksgiving and Christmas, I like to remind myself that “Enough is a Feast”— and I also love this saying I came across while trying to learn Spanish (minus, unfortunately, the proper accents because I don’t know how to make them here):

        “El que mas tiene, mas quiere.”

        (“The more one has, the more one wants.”)

    7. drumlin woodchuckles

      Perhaps they want to reach the sort of people who only value something if they pay for it, and who think the only opinion that is valuable is the one that is monetizable.

  8. Neohnomad

    I’d like to present a thought experiment on Inflation that has been bouncing around my head for a while. which I will try to keep succinct.

    Assume an economy(one) of any given year, it has raw materials, food production, widgets, entertainment, a distinct number of population and labor hours; and yes, debt and savings and public and private expenditures and whatever wealth and income distribution you prefer and all the things an economy has normally.
    And assume it has a “monetary base” of $1 trillion, that for the given prices and values of said economy keeps it running smoothly(low friction). A person can work for a year and provide for themself and entertain themself and save a little.

    Then assume the EXACT Same economy(Two), same number of people, raw materials, widgets, wealth and income distributions are the same etc etc…
    BUT the “monetary base” is $10 trillion, which keeps it running smoothly for the same RELATIVE prices and values. Now as long as the Percentages of costs are the same, what truly is the difference between these two scenarios?
    If the same Person, as in economy(one), can work the same amount for a year and provide the same level of living for themselves and entertainment and savings and whatnot. what’s the difference?

    Now Contrast that with the memeified story of the person who in the 1950s or 1960s could work a summer job and pay for two college semesters and living costs and beer money and so on…
    With the very real Inability to come close to doing that in recent years. Sure the economy in total grew, there is more people, stuff, raw materials, and widgets; but wealth and incomes are vastly different than before.
    If there was the same Relative levels of prices and values, wealth and income; Then inflation wouldn’t feel like anything impactful.

    Therefore, I would argue that it isn’t the fact that there is more people or stuff or even money in the economy that makes inflation Feel like it does, it’s the Distribution of money or Market power if you prefer.

    1. Objective Ace

      The distribution is absolutely the issue, but I’m not sure I understand your example. It’s not relevant to the real world. There’s no mechanism to go from “exact same” levels of debt, fixed income assets etc. if the monetary base changes. Levels of debt and fixed income real value of assets decline when there is inflation which is correlated with the monetary base.

      It’s also pretty safe to say there will be wage stickiness when there is inflation/a jump in monetary base which is one of the a distribution issue you mention

      1. Neohnomad

        The example isn’t to raise the question of what would happen if economy(one) would go from a $1 trillion monetary base to a $10 trillion base, but to encourage the idea that in a parallel world type situation there really should not be any mathematical difference in the cost or standard of living…

        But I am glad you brought up wage(Price) stickiness during and after a change in the monetary base. IIRC, I learned the phrase “First access to money” from Mish Shedlock years ago during the GFC, his general viewpoint being what it is and for whatever that is worth is a different discussion. But That phrase stuck with me.
        Why o’ Why does only one little group always get the “First Access” to All of the new money?? Where they can buy up all the real world assets and lend out that money at usurious interest rates?
        And why are wage earners last in line?

        The answer is; its a policy decision.
        These are laws and rules written by human beings and can be changed.
        There is nothing divine or universally constant(i.e like that inertia is a property of matter) about how money is introduced into an economy.

      1. Count Zero

        Sorry, you already lost me.

        What is “an economy”? It’s a concept and to assume that it is a real structure involves agreeing to all kinds of doubtful ideas.

        It’s like opening a discussion of religion in the world today with the proposition: assume the existence of God. Er…

        1. Neohnomad

          I’ll be the first to admit that my prose leaves a lot to be desired, but I am going to have to disagree with you whole-heartedly here.

          The economy is very real and a lot of real things happen in it. The people are real, what they do and make is real, the laws and enforcement thereof are real (if not equally utilized). The pollution is real!
          You are in and a part of “an economy” right now, whatever type or flavor it might actually be.

          1. Count Zero

            People are real, so is all kind of productive/ creative activity. A potato is real and so is a tree. So is my little house. Pollution blowing in from a busy highway is real. But ‘economy’ is a concept that attempts to pull together various activities and objects and relationships — while excluding others. It presents a very limited and distorted picture of the real world you and I live in.

  9. MonkeyBusiness

    According to CNN, “People who got Covid-19 vaccines were not only less likely to die from the virus, but they were less likely to die from any cause over the following months, researchers have reported”.


    We’ve possibly beaten cancer, AIDS, car accidents, etc, etc. Heck we are closer to immortality than not!!!

    Maybe there’s hope in the human race yet ……….

    1. Objective Ace

      This actually comes from the CDC which is even more disturbing. I expect “misinformation” to come from CNN when variables are clearly being ignored and not controlled for. The fact that CDC thinks this data means anything is disturbing. Any stats 101 student in college would see the issue.

    2. Nikkikat

      Lol! We are saved, saved I tell you! The covid vaccines just keep getting better and better it’s like magic!

  10. Wukchumni

    Is an auto bubble possible?

    There aren’t many new cars for sale on account of lack of chips, and we’re used to real estate bubbles involving typically used homes-which seems really played out as first time buyers need an arm & a leg just to come up with a 20% deposit, that is before yoking themselves to 30 years in the big house paying for the remaining 80% due.

    The claim is that new car inventory will be back in 2-3 months and back to normal, but what if there are no new cars until say 2023 or 2024?

    When we can’t have something, it tends to make us want it all the more, and this is the first time in my life that used cars in general have gone up in value, whereas typically they only lose value.

    1. The Rev Kev

      They are having a problem right now because cars cannot be finished without computer chips as each requires a hundred or so. Imagine a generation from now how there might be another computer chip shortage but that they are use so extensively in home software, that houses cannot be finished and then sold. it could happen.

    1. Grebo

      The increase (a flow) slowed. Even if it stopped entirely the level (a stock) would not reduce appreciably.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      Emissions did drop, and by some estimates they fell enough to meet the requirement of cutting emissions by 7.6% per year every year from 2020 to 2030 in order to have any chance of staying under 1.5 degrees C of warming. The problem is that we’re right back to increases again rather than continuing the cuts.

  11. Larry Y

    I’ve been looking to track the flooding in nearby rivers, and came across the US Geological Survey’s updated interactive water dashboard and map. Zoom in on the region you want to take a closer look at.


    The river gauges are color coded according to level (high, normal, low) of stream flow for this time of year. You can also add other layers, like recent rainfall amounts, or foretasted rainfall.

    Each individual gauge has its own site page, with forecast river levels and historical data

  12. Anon

    Since this is an open thread, let me start by saying thank you to Lambert and his Dune movie review. Having seen it at home, it was almost like the one-half of the book that they chose to copy, barring the disappointing omission of Liet-Kynes line about accident and error.

    Anyway, does anyone have any information as to the status of the HBCU funding in the budget proposal? Last I heard was that it went from 55B to like 3B?

  13. jr

    Thanks to AW for this link:


    “We argue that cooperation is not always for the better: high quality collective outcomes are not only endangered by self-interested individual defectors, but by ‘cartels’ of mutually satisfied mediocrities.”

    A study of one facet of crapification! Power fears real talent, it gets people wondering why they should listen to it.

  14. user

    Thought this might be relevant here due to NC daily link posts, which are my lifeline. The US Copyright Office is soliciting feedback on “ancillary copyright,” AKA the “link tax”: https://www.copyright.gov/policy/publishersprotections/

    More on “ancillary copyright” here: https://openmedia.org/article/item/what-heck-ancillary-copyright-and-why-do-we-call-it-link-tax

    I thought this would remain a Euro/Aus phenomenon, but it looks like I was wrong. My guess is the media ownership has called in some favors since they are steadily losing viewership and influence…

  15. Mikel

    Let’s talk about: health insurance enrollment time.

    While insurance is supposed to be for emergency situations, here’s the emergency and no capacity to meet it. Still. Those premiums keep going up and every little surge causes a capcity nightmare, but the issue they tell us is “the unvaccinated.”

  16. The Rev Kev

    In a story that is a sign of the times, a rapper came out with a song called ‘Let’s go Brandon’ which went to the top of the charts, in spite of being heavily censored by YouTube, Twitter, etc.


    I wonder if this is the sort of stuff that Facebook ‘whistleblower’ Frances Haugen wants to see deleted from the internet-


  17. drumlin woodchuckles

    Apparently Biden is just lately mumbling something about “changing” the filibuster here or there in order to permit ” some sort of ” legislative achievement about something or other.

    Beau of the Fifth Column has a 5 minute videoload of thoughts about that. In briefest, Beau thinks that if the DemSenators change the filibuster in any way, they have to be ready to go ” all the way” with political “hardball” to pass every single thing they might want in the single year they will buy themselves. Because if they change the filibuster the least little bit, the Repug Senators will wait till they are the Senate Majority by 1 vote, and then push through every single pro-fascist anti-democratic anti-rights law that any Republican ever dreamed of.

    So if the Democrats are not ready to do their own version of the very same thing first ( except not pro fascist and not anti-rights and civil liberties) , in the single year remaining, they should just leave the filibuster alone.

    He says more stuff along the way, and says why he says all this. For those who want to hear it, here is the link:

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      And here is Beau’s most recent video-talk, about the rioting patriots of January 6, about the Republican Congresspeople who lied to them and conned them into believing the Stolen Election Big Lie, and about how these Republican Congresspeople are all getting ready to deny and disavow their role in leading the rioting patriots along. Some of his talk is addressed ” to” any rioting patriots who might be watching. I consider it 10 watching minutes well spent. There is no transcript to link to. Here is the link to the videotalk.

  18. drumlin woodchuckles

    There is a Canadian video talking head named Christo Aivalis to whom I normally don’t link, because his ( from a Canadian-eye-view) Trump-hatred makes his videos a little too shrill and screechy to link to. ( Even though I find them entertaining and truth-based enough to spend a few minutes a night on).

    But here is one where he claims to see evidence in the political and cultural tea leaves that the Trump Cult is now a Religion with Trump as its Living God upon Earth, and since this belief is incompatible with the Christianity to whose churches many of these Trump Cultists belong; their continuing presence in these Churches will substantially attrit and degrade and in some cases destroy these churches. ( My own feeling is that this would make the Evangelical Church less of a threat to America. But the new emerging religion of Jonestown Trumpianity (((if I really wanted to troll the MAGA Trumpanons I could call this new religion by the name of Jonestown Trumpislam )))
    will become a whole new threat to America to somewhat take Evangelical Christianity’s place.)

    Anyway, here is the link.

    1. Yves Smith

      I live in the Trumpiest state in America, which also happens to be pretty church-y. One of my good friends moved to a wealthy enclave (second cleanest lake in the US, houses on said lake very upscale) and the dogged conservativeness is really getting to here.

      I see no evidence of Trump as God here, or even Trump cultishness, and that includes on talk radio. I have only seen one car (of course a pickup truck) with a provocative pro-Trump sticker, and that wasn’t in the cult vein, but of the piss on the Dems school.

      Southern Baptists are not going to allow secular influences, particularly by a man from the North, married multiple times, who dates swimsuit models, go that far.

      Trump enthusiasm here is largely about poking a stick in the eye of East Coast elites who are open about their Bubba hatred and their desire to tell the Bubbas how to behave.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Either Aivalis is mistaken or wrong, or Alabamian Christians are strong enough in their faith to resist or repel Trumpistian takeover.

        It may be a problem in other regions. If it is a problem nowhere, then Aivalis’ predictions will all be proven wrong on this score.

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