2:00PM Water Cooler 10/4/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I will return with more on the overly dynamic Capitol Hill situation shortly. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Not editorializing in the least, here.

Very sad:

* * *

#COVID19

At reader request, I’ve added these daily charts from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. I feel I’m engaging in a macabre form of tape-watching. I think it’s time to do some tinkering with the charts. I want to improve the vaccination area, if I can, to distinguish between first, second, and ideally booster shots, and give a total. The original purpose of the chart was to see if the advent of the “adults in the room” boosted the vaccination rate at all, and it did not. (Hence, kudos to the heroic efforts of people on the ground.) I also need to look at positivity and see if the data problems (hat tip, Lou Anton) can be overcome, of indeed if the chart is even useful, given the advent of commercial test kits whose data is untrackable, CDC, good job. However, as Arya would say, “Not today!”, with so much going on over on Capitol Hill.

Vaccination by region:

Universal rises. So, coercion works? As exhortation, Biden’s speech had no impact at all.

55.9% of the US is fully vaccinated (mediocre by world standards, being just below Czech Republic, and just above Saudi Arabia). 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… (I have also not said, because it’s too obvious, that if by Bubba we mean The South, then Bubba has done pretty well.)

Case count by United States regions:

On the mystery of September’s non-peak:

50% natural immunity? Where did Gottlieb get his figures? Of course, all our data is bad, so who knows…. (Gottlieb, Trump’s FDA Commissioner, has somehow become a good guy, I’n not sure how. One of these days, I have to review his book.) And from the linked article:

Covid-19 is once again in retreat.

The reasons remain somewhat unclear, and there is no guarantee that the decline in caseloads will continue. But the turnaround is now large enough — and been going on long enough — to deserve attention…..

These declines are consistent with a pattern that regular readers of this newsletter will recognize: Covid’s mysterious two-month cycle. Since the Covid virus began spreading in late 2019, cases have often surged for about two months — sometimes because of a variant, like Delta — and then declined for about two months.

Epidemiologists do not understand why. Many popular explanations, like seasonality or the ebbs and flows of social distancing, are clearly insufficient, if not wrong. The two-month cycle has occurred during different seasons of the year and occurred even when human behavior was not changing in obvious ways.

The most plausible explanations involve some combination of virus biology and social networks. Perhaps each virus variant is especially likely to infect some people but not others — and once many of the most vulnerable have been exposed, the virus recedes. And perhaps a variant needs about two months to circulate through an average-sized community.

Human behavior does play a role, with people often becoming more careful once caseloads begin to rise….

The recent declines, for example, have occurred even as millions of American children have again crowded into school buildings.

Whatever the reasons, the two-month cycle keeps happening.

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. The question is whether we will ascend to a second (or third) peak, as in last December-January, or not, as in last August. Note also that the regions diverge: The South, which drove the peak, is finally dropping. The West was choppy too, and is now falling. Ditto the Midwest. And now the Northeast is falling as well.

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 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, despite anecdotes. Nothing I’ve read suggests that the schools, nation-wide, have handled Covid restrictions with any consistency at all.

NEW From CDC: “Community Profile Report October 1, 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties, this release:

Status quo, except for individual counties scattered here and there improving. (Why Maine? Highest cases ever, despite 64.91% of the population being fully vaccinated. The absolute numbers are small, but it’s worrisome. Could be rural areas, could be schools. It’s not chilly yet, so windows can still be open.) Speculating freely: One thing the consider is where the red is. If air travel hubs like New York City or Los Angeles (or Houston or Miami) go red that could mean (a) international travel and (b) the rest of the country goes red, as in April 2020 and following. But 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. Previous release:

(Red means getting worse, green means bad but getting better.)

Test positivity:

Waiting for the rebound from missing data from Alabama and Florida (go figure).

Hospitalization (CDC). Pop-up unresponsive today, much like the CDC itself:

From this chart, pediatric hospitalization, in the aggregate, is down. I should dig out some regional or better yet county data. Here the CDC’s hospitalization visualization, from the “Community Profile” report above:

Mountain states still stubbornly high Tennessee’s long ordeal seems to be ending.

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 719,945 716,867. Looks like a downward trend, mercifully. We approached the same death rate as our first peak last year. Which I found more than a little disturbing. (Adding: I know the data is bad. This is the United States. But according to The Narrative, deaths shouldn’t have been going up at all. Directionally, this is quite concerning. Needless to see, this is a public health debacle. It’s the public health establishment to take care of public health, not the health of certain favored political factions.) (Also adding: I like a death rate because it gives me a rough indication of my risk should I, heaven forfend, end up in a hospital. I should dig out the absolute numbers, too, now roughly 660,000, which is rather a lot.)

Covid cases worldwide:

European exceptionalism?

* * *

Politics

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

Capitol Seizure

How a Secret Google Geofence Warrant Helped Catch the Capitol Riot Mob Wired

Australia’s NSW state premier resigns over corruption probe amid COVID-19 battle Reuters. “My work here is done.”

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

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

Biden Administration

“Senior White House adviser says Biden ‘expects to get’ both infrastructure and reconciliation bills” [The Hill]. “Senior White House adviser Cedric Richmond on Sunday expressed confidence about passing both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the larger reconciliation package, saying, ‘We know what we’re doing.’ Appearing on ‘Fox News Sunday,’ Richmond made assurances that the Biden administration is not ‘not concerned with process.'” • Confusing double negative there…. More: “‘We’re concerned about delivering,’ he stated. Richmond also said that President Biden ‘wants both bills and he expects to get both bills.'” • And in what condition?

Biden on Manchin being accosted on his boat and Sinema being chased into a restroom by protesters:

Pro forma condemnation, followed by (translating, here) “Grow a pair!” Interesting…. .

“Leader of House Progressives Says She Won’t Vote for Reconciliation Bill if It Includes Hyde Amendment” [The Hill]. • Jayapal should have done this immediately, but for the top line. “We’re compromising; we’ve negotiationg. The $3.5 trillion figure is the result of compromise and negotiation.” This should not be hard!

UPDATE “Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power” [Juan Williams, The Hill]. “Last year, she became the first Speaker to successfully impeach a President of the United States — Donald Trump — twice!” • Losing. Also twice. Come on, man.

UPDATE “Opinion: Wanted: A better Build Back Better campaign” [E.J. Dionne, WaPo]. “What Democrats must fight above all are misrepresentations of the Build Back Better bill as some left-wing scheme. On the contrary, Biden’s proposals are a direct response to critiques often emanating from middle-of-the-road Democrats: that the party needs to spend less time on cultural issues and more on fighting for direct benefits to the working and middle classes, a cause that unites voters across racial and regional lines. ‘This package goes to the very heart of why working-class Americans vote Democratic,’ Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.), one of Biden’s earliest and staunchest supporters, told me. ‘If we are able to pass this bill, I am confident it will help us with those blue-collar voters who went for Obama twice and swung to Trump.’ But only if they know what’s in it. And, yes, only if it passes.” • That’s not enough. There need to be concrete material benefits enough before the midterms so that people experience them (i.e., delay is bad). Otherwise, it’s 2010 all over again. The simplest model for moderate behavior is that this is their goal. Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven, as it were.

Democrats en Deshabille

“The Democratic Counterrevolution Has A Self-Appointed Leader: Josh Gottheimer” [The Intercept]. From 2019, still germane: “Breaking down Tlaib, Omar, and their allies on the left has been one of Gottheimer’s primary goals since the November elections. He has worked assiduously to carve out a role in the Democratic caucus as something of an avenger, a centrist proud of his centrism and willing to take the fight directly to the squad of freshmen trying to push the party in a progressive direction. He even has a name for his handpicked adversaries: ‘the herbal tea party.’ His definition of too progressive is startlingly broad. As the Democratic chair of the so-called Problem Solvers Caucus, he led a push against Nancy Pelosi as she ran for House speaker last year. He has consistently voted against the party even on procedural motions, threatening to hand control over the House to the GOP. This spring, he was one of just a handful of Democrats at a private retreat on Sea Island, Georgia, hosted by the conservative American Enterprise Institute, mingling with Vice President Mike Pence, Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and other Republican heavyweights. He was one of just six Democrats to break with the party on a push for the DREAM Act in 2018, and he publicly undermined the chair of the House Financial Services Committee, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., during a hearing in which he fawned over CEOs of the nation’s biggest banks. His boldest bid for internal power, however, came amid the push for a congressional War Powers Resolution to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. As progressives in the House neared a historic achievement, Gottheimer organized behind the scenes to take the resolution down, in part by attempting to make it a referendum on support for Israel — and very nearly succeeded.” • He seems nice. “The herbal tea party”? Would it were true!

Lambert here: The “progressives,” if they want to take power, should learn from success. That means, in the American context, studying the Tea Party. One reason the Tea Party was successful was that its members were willing to lose their seats to stand on principle. Yes, the principles were bad, but the tactic whipped the country club Republicans out of the party. (They’re now becoming Democrats, but that’s another story.) If, indeed, the reconciliation (“Build Back Better”) bill is the last piece of legislation the Democrats are likely to be able to pass in some years, then progressives should act like those are the stakes!

UPDATE “Kyrsten Sinema– The Most Hated Politician In Arizona– Keeps Digging The Hole She’s In” [Down with Tyranny]. “Arizona Democrats have been getting their sea legs. Had not Schumer interfered in the 2018 nomination process, Ruben Gallego could well have been nominated and elected senator– in which case no one would be worrying about Sinema’s incessant howling at the moon now.” Hmm. Schumer keeps showing up. More: “After Sinema voted against raising the minimum wage, her support among Democrats started falling apart. It’s been getting worse since then and her polling numbers indicate that unless she starts changing her basic stands– something she has done the way other people change their underwear– she will have no path to renomination.” More from Howie Klein:

As I keep saying, we are seeing the Democrat Party Pelosi and Schumer built, and here we see Schumer building it. Maximum fundraising, minimum governing.

UPDATE “Impact Winter w/Special Guest Prof. Adolph Reed” (podcast) [The West Wing Thing]. • Nice get!

* * *

“Is Nithya Raman About to Lose Her Seat?” [Los Angeles Magazine]. “Only a year ago, Nithya Raman was taking a victory lap after accomplishing that rarest of feats in Los Angeles, unseating an incumbent at City Hall. The 40-year-old urban planner, a newcomer to city politics, won with a platform of unabashedly progressive values that included a plan to forgive rents in L.A. and to reduce funding to the police budget. Today, a commission busy redrawing the boundaries of Los Angeles City Council districts is threatening to make most of Raman’s hard-won Fourth District disappear. At issue is a proposal that would lop off a whopping 73 percent of Raman’s current district in central Los Angeles. Goodbye, Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Larchmont, Koreatown, Mid-City, Miracle Mile, and most of Hollywood; hello, northern San Fernando Valley and rural Shadow Hills! Raman, who was a tenant advocate before she was an elected official, would stand to lose a large chunk of her base made up of low-income L.A. renters of diverse backgrounds. And the suburban homeowners of the San Fernando Valley eyed as possible replacements do not necessarily cotton to progressive activism. ‘This map is effectively erasing the results of an election and denying Angelenos the representation that they voted for less than a year ago,’ says Stella Stahl, communications director for the freshman council member. ‘It really does feel like an invalidation of an election.’ The group of political appointees who make up the Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission evidently disagree. ” • Shocking that Democrats would do this. Especially California Democrats.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“No, We Can’t Get a National Divorce” [New York Magazine]. “But how could I happily accept the accelerated subjugation of women and people of color in a new adjacent Red America, any more than abolitionists could accept the continuation and expansion of the slavery they hated? Would it really be safe to live near a carbon-mad country in which the denial of climate change was an article of faith? And could I ever trust that a “neighbor” whose leadership and citizens believed their policies reflected the unchanging ancient will of the Almighty would leave our fences intact? I don’t know if the hypothetical leaders of an America facing red-state secession would have the unshakable will of a Lincoln. And it’s not at all clear that young men and women in Blue America would be willing to take up arms in large numbers to resist secession with fire and blood. But this Union is still worth fighting for, no matter how frustrated we all are with congressional chaos, with elections that feel like nuclear exchanges, and with “debates” taking place between people who can barely communicate with each other. I’m not willing to peacefully give up our Constitution, abused and abusive as it has sometimes been; our Capitol with its surly bureaucrats and devious pols; or the bonds of kinship and history that connect me with so many red-state people, much as we disagree on most everything other than college football and fried food. So I say to the would-be secessionists: Please don’t go. And if it’s somehow in my power, I won’t let you go. I have no illusions of compromises yet untried or “third ways” left unexplored. So let’s have it out right here in America as peacefully as we can manage.”

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States Factory Orders” [Trading Economics]. “New orders for US manufactured goods jumped 1.2% mom in August of 2021, following an upwardly revised 0.7% rise in July and beating market forecasts of a 1% rise. Biggest increases were seen in orders for transportation equipment (5.4%), namely nondefense aircraft and parts (77.9%); and fabricated metal products (2%). On the other hand, decreases were seen in orders for machinery (-1%). Excluding transportation, factory orders edged up 0.5%.”

* * *

Retail: “More items over $1 to be sold at Dollar Tree” [The Hill]. “The retail chain long known for its affordable goods set at around $1 will begin to sell more goods above that price point, Dollar Tree announced on Tuesday. The retail chain, which has nearly 8,000 stores, has already sold items at some of its locations for over $1. Beginning in 2019, some of its stores had an area of their space called Dollar Tree Plus that sold items for $3 and $5, The Wall Street Journal reported. Dollar Tree noted in its announcement that it was making the move following the success of its Dollar Tree Plus format and positive customer reaction. ‘For decades, our customers have enjoyed the ‘thrill-of-the-hunt’ for value at one dollar – and we remain committed to that core proposition – but many are telling us that they also want a broader product assortment when they come to shop,’ Dollar Tree CEO Michael Witynski said in a statement on Tuesday.”

Shipping:

Shipping: “Christmas at Risk as Supply Chain ‘Disaster’ Only Gets Worse” [Bloomberg]. “Early in the year, the hope was that the bottlenecks that gummed up the global supply chain in 2020 would be mostly cleared by now. They’ve actually only gotten worse — much worse — and evidence is mounting that the holiday season is at risk… On the supplier side, Jay Foreman’s been making toys with manufacturing partners in China for more than three decades, and he’s never seen anything like this. His mid-sized toy company, Basic Fun, is on pace for its best year ever — possibly reaching $170 million in sales. There is no shortage of demand, with parents loading up on gifts as the pandemic drags on. But a dearth of cargo containers has left thousands of the company’s Lite Brites and TinkerToys waiting to be shipped. At just one factory in Shenzhen, there’s roughly $8 million worth of finished goods that could fill 140 containers. ‘I got Tonka trucks in the south and Care Bears in the north,’ Foreman, the company’s CEO, said of logistical troubles in China. ‘We’ll blow last year’s numbers away, but the problem is we don’t know if we’ll get the last four months of the year shipped. The supply chain is a disaster, and it’s only getting worse.'” • I loved my Tonka trucks, but really, not getting one would not put “Christmas at Risk.” Maybe just be happy all the people round the tree are alive?

The Bezzle:

The Bezzle: “Why the startup party is coming to an end” [The Hill]. “t’s no secret that American startups have and continue to create products, services and technologies that have changed the world countless times over. They’ve only been able to do this over the past 10 to 20 years thanks to the trillions of dollars of capital received from the venture capital and investment banking industry. And those investors, in their endless pursuit of unicorns and multi-baggers, have turned to startup funding to beat the markets and make them billions. So yeah, it’s been a startup party. But unfortunately, that party will soon be over. Why? Two words: interest rates. Despite what officials are telling us, it appears more and more likely that today’s inflation is not transitory. … To combat inflation, the Federal Reserve will step in and increase interest rates. Does anyone doubt that interest rates are going to rise, and that this increase will happen in the not-so-distant future? Ask any of the hundreds of owners of small and midsized businesses that are my clients and you’ll find that all – I mean all – expect this to happen and are already taking defensive steps like converting their short term variable debt into longer term commitments with fixed rates. Rising rates means a higher cost of capital. A higher cost of capital means less capital available for small business and startups. Less capital available means fewer opportunities for entrepreneurs. All of this is coming in the next few years.” • Fewer rent-sucking opportunities for Silicon Valley, what a shame.

The Bezzle: “DeFi Platform’s Mistaken Token Giveaway Climbs to $160 Million” [Bloomberg]. “After a glitch in the so-called DeFi lending platform Compound led to nearly $90 million in mistaken rewards being distributed last week, Compound Labs’ founder and Chief Executive Officer Robert Leshner said millions more are at risk. On Sunday, Leshner tweeted an additional 202,472.5 COMP tokens were issued, bringing the total dollar amount of crypto that was accidentally distributed to about $160 million. COMP is the “native token” used to conduct transactions. The price of COMP fell about 4% to $316.14 Monday, according to CoinMarketCap.com data. The fiasco began last week when users approved an update to Compound’s platform that contained a software bug. According to a tweet from Leshner, the glitch caused too much COMP to be sent to some users. Unlike other lending platforms like BlockFi, which are run by a centralized company, Compound is operated by a distributed network of users utilizing smart contracts, or predetermined software programs. Neither Compound Labs nor anyone else can pause distribution of the tokens through the platform.”

Tech:

Tech: “Apple’s software update lets users create burner email addresses — here’s how to do it” [CNBC]. “The newest version of the iPhone operating system, iOS 15, has new privacy features for people who pay for iCloud storage. One of the handiest new features is the ability to create a temporary email address — an address that’s not linked to your identity but still forwards messages to your inbox. It’s called ‘Hide My Mail.’ These burner emails are good for signing up in forms on the web that you might not want to share your main email address with, Apple said when it announced the feature in June. Users can spin up as many burner email addresses as they need and delete them when it’s convenient.” • Handy. So long as I don’t actually have to store anything important in iCloud…

Tech: “Researchers find Apple Pay, Visa contactless hack” [BBC]. “Large unauthorised contactless payments can be made on locked iPhones by exploiting how an Apple Pay feature designed to help commuters pay quickly at ticket barriers works with Visa. In a video, researchers demonstrated making a contactless Visa payment of £1,000 from a locked iPhone. Apple said the matter was ‘a concern with a Visa system’. Visa said payments were secure and attacks of this type were impractical outside of a lab.”

Tech: “Cashless Payment Outage Leaves Square-Shaped Hole in Many Wallets” [Cash Matters]. “A malfunction in cashless payment provider Square’s system over the weekend cost workers across America several hours’ worth of tips on the busiest day of the week, leaving customers red-faced and businesses missing sales. No technical details for the outage have been provided, with The Register reporting Square’s status page only noted ‘multiple service issues’ on Saturday. These issues, however, caused chaos in affected businesses, with service-oriented venues hardest hit, given tips amount to more than half of the earnings of wait staff and bartenders, according to the National Employment Law Project. Business owners have been left with a difficult decision over whether to reimburse their workers out of their own pockets.”

Manufacturing: “Boeing adds capacity for 767 freighter conversions in China” [Freight Waves]. “Boeing Co. on Tuesday announced it will add production lines in China to expand capacity for converting 767-300 passenger planes to freighters to help meet strong demand from cargo airlines and express delivery operators. Guangzhou Aircraft Maintenance Engineering (GAMECO) signed an agreement to open two new conversion lines for the 767 next year.”

Manufacturing: “The truck that can be sent as a flat-pack parcel” [TruckerWorld]. “Two West Midlands companies have created a fully-electric utility truck that can be shipped abroad as a flat-pack parcel and built once it arrives. It is designed to be rugged, easy to maintain and financially accessible for farmers in Africa and Asia who otherwise would not be buying vehicles.” • No internal combustion engine, so the flat pack is possible!

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 24 Extreme Fear (previous close: 27 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 34 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 4 at 12:31pm.

Rapture Index: Closes down one on Israel. “Violence in Israel has quieted down in the past few weeks.” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 187 (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so higher is better.)

Health Care

“Increases in COVID-19 are unrelated to levels of vaccination across 68 countries and 2947 counties in the United States” (correspondence) [European Journal of Epidemiology]. “Vaccines currently are the primary mitigation strategy to combat COVID-19 around the world. For instance, the narrative related to the ongoing surge of new cases in the United States (US) is argued to be driven by areas with low vaccination rates. A similar narrative also has been observed in countries, such as Germany and the United Kingdom…. At the country-level, there appears to be no discernable relationship between percentage of population fully vaccinated and new COVID-19 cases in the last 7 days… Across the US counties too, the median new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the last 7 days is largely similar across the categories of percent population fully vaccinated. Notably there is also substantial county variation in new COVID-19 cases within categories of percentage population fully vaccinated. There also appears to be no significant signaling of COVID-19 cases decreasing with higher percentages of population fully vaccinated.” And the conclusion: “The sole reliance on vaccination as a primary strategy to mitigate COVID-19 and its adverse consequences needs to be re-examined, especially considering the Delta (B.1.617.2) variant and the likelihood of future variants. Other pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions may need to be put in place alongside increasing vaccination rates. Such course correction, especially with regards to the policy narrative, becomes paramount with emerging scientific evidence on real world effectiveness of the vaccines.” • A member of the NC brain trust comments: “Nothing surprising in there. The dynamics of Covid epidemiology depend on various factors other than vacc rates. This summer, notably, the appareance and spread of the delta variant, not very much affected by vaccination percentages (and possibly facilitated by behavioral relaxation after massive vaccination). Local, regional factors etc. If the vaccines were providing sterilizing immunity the landscape would be different.”

The Conservatory

Lovely:

The simplicity and cut-out shapes remind me of the backgrounds I have seen for some games (and I mean this as a compliment). Maybe the darkness, too.

Groves of Academe

“A secret USC payout had a catch: Images of ex-dean using drugs had to be given up” [Los Angeles Times]. “On a November day in 2017, USC entered into a secret mediation agreement with the family of a young woman whose drug-fueled relationship with the former dean of the university’s medical school had engulfed the institution in scandal. Carmen Puliafito, who was dean of the Keck School of Medicine of USC during the relationship, was also a party to the agreement, which paid Sarah Warren, her brother and their parents a combined $1.5 million to head off a lawsuit by the family against him and USC, The Times has learned. Confidential payouts to settle legal disputes are common, but one provision of the Warren pact was not, according to legal experts: To receive the money, family members had to turn over to USC all of their videos and photographs showing Puliafito using illegal drugs to allow the university to destroy them, two sources with knowledge of the agreement told The Times. To comply with the agreement, the Warrens took their smartphones, computers and hard drives to a tech shop, where the devices were wiped clean of the videos and photos — some of which also showed him in sexual situations — along with any other material concerning Puliafito or USC, such as emails, text messages and letters, the sources said. The Times could not determine whether USC retained copies of the images and other material.” • Administrators…

“How Did Universities Get So Woke? Look to the Administrators” [Newsweek]. “How did the administrators get so uniform in their views? What I found in researching college staff was that the majority of administrators’—54 percent—have degrees in education. And reports have shown that graduates of education programs are fixated on a narrow progressive view of demographics, identity, diversity and capitalism, as well as ideas about the oppression they believe permeates American society. These views are also supported by scores of centers, which put out academic statements and initiatives to promote them. The truth should not be sugar-coated: America’s education programs are dangerous for higher education because they adhere to a pedagogy that transforms their graduates into activists. Their training teaches future administrators to deconstruct the society in which they live and then promote their views at work, in dining halls, dormitories, and throughout campus.” • Well, golly. No mention that Administrators would l-o-o-o-v-e to get rid of tenured faculty and wokeness is a great way to do that. And it’s a little rich that a so-called fellow at the American Enterprise Institute should be whinging about “scores of centers.” We also have the classic confusion between left and liberal….

News of the Wired

From Twitter’s Inuit account:

Kill it with fire:

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

SC writes:

This is a Fresca “day neutral” strawberry, about 7 months after starting from seed. It seems to be doing very well in a medium sized pot (for scale, the glass dish underneath is a standard 11″ pie dish, I think). The seeds are somewhat dear, but as the variety is open-pollinated, one could propagate loads in subsequent years from saved seed (provided that it doesn’t hybridize with the wild strawberries in one’s lawn 🙁 ). I was not thrilled with the germination rate, about 30%, but with masses of saved seeds that becomes less of a problem.

I haven’t protected this plant, and nearly every ripe berry I have noticed thus far is bird pecked. They are welcome to the hydration; it’s been a pretty brutal Summer here. I haven’t tasted it yet, but a friend who has several of these tells me that the berries are very sweet.

Per the seed seller’s description, this variety continues to bear fruit until cold weather, is not an aggressive spreader, and can thrive in containers. Judging from the masses of blossoms on this one, if the plant had enough space for its roots and enough nutrition and water, it might bear heavily.

Containerized strawberries strike me as an ideal “door-opener” or “gateway drug” into home gardening for newbies, and a local community garden accepted dozens of these in the Spring and early Summer for that purpose.

Yum!

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

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About Lambert Strether

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

121 comments

  1. petal

    Update on lab plastics ordering: 50mL tubes are backordered until Feb 8th. That’s 4 months. So are the tubes that concentrate antibody(and other proteins). I am trying to stock up on supplies to get us through to Spring as I’m anticipating problems again this year. Waiting for another order confirmation to come in to see what other basic supplies are backordered. Good times.
    (Hey Isotope C_14, hope you’re doing okay out there!)

    Reply
    1. marku52

      I tried to order .040″ inch nickel silver plate for my guitar business today.

      “I had 5000 pounds due last month. I have no idea when it will come in.”

      Reply
    2. Isotope_C14

      Hi Petal!

      Great to see updates – I’m doing fine. I’m taking care of an 88 year old Korea vet.

      Left Germany due to va x passportz – I ain’t submitting to the incompetence class.

      Miss all of you immensely and hope that the va x isn’t as evil as I believe it to be.

      Wish we all had a place together to ride out the storm, but the 0.001% have different plans…

      Reply
  2. Wukchumni

    Shatner has a ranch here in tiny town and it is fitting that the starship captain is blasting off into the ether even if he’s going to essentially repeat Alan Shepard’s first effort, to boldly go where man has gone before.

    Reply
  3. Wukchumni

    The Bezzle: “DeFi Platform’s Mistaken Token Giveaway Climbs to $160 Million” [Bloomberg]. “After a glitch in the so-called DeFi lending platform Compound led to nearly $90 million in mistaken rewards being distributed last week, Compound Labs’ founder and Chief Executive Officer Robert Leshner said millions more are at risk. On Sunday, Leshner tweeted an additional 202,472.5 COMP tokens were issued, bringing the total dollar amount of crypto that was accidentally distributed to about $160 million. COMP is the “native token” used to conduct transactions.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    How funny, ‘comp’ is a word that essentially means giveaway in Pavlovegas, reinforcement.

    You push enough money across the green felt jungle and they’ll comp you to a room, meals or shows.

    Reply
  4. Phil in KC

    Dems had all spring and summer to negotiate the social infrastructure bill and only now do they seem to be taking it seriously. And by the way, aren’t they supposed to be conducting a select committee hearing on the events of January 6th? I mean, what’s the deal? Things are moving at a glacial (pre-global warming) pace. Even the walls that are supposedly closing in on Donald Trump move faster. Point being: Democratic incompetence at legislating. And the optics of this sausage-manufacture make manifest the incompetence.

    Reply
    1. Pelham

      Incompetence, yes. But the core question is whether it’s calculated. As Lambert often says, this is the party the leadership built.

      My suspicion is that they’re deliberately screwing up to some degree to ensure they’ll lose in the midterms and hand back all the seemingly insoluble problems to the GOP. The Dems may be more comfortable in opposition, allowing them to drum up even more funding from the biggest donors and send out even scarier fundraising appeals to the little folk like myself.

      Reply
  5. Ranger Rick

    I’m resisting the urge to click on that New York Magazine link. There really is something to that article you posted last week about the demented need of the PMC to push civil war. It’s just a short hop from “not doing what I tell you is a failure of messaging” to “do what I tell you if you know what’s good for you”. Is this just part of the long Trump Derangement Syndrome hangover?

    (I really want to make a “constitutionally incapable” pun here but it’s too cheesy for me.)

    Reply
    1. Laughingsong

      I don’t really want to go there either…. I actually have been trending towards the opinion that breaking up this country would be a good thing, although I am also certain that there would be many difficulties that I haven’t thought of (and I’ve definitely thought of a few really nasty ones).

      Reply
      1. marku52

        Me too. Problem is that the last civil war was pretty strongly geographically divided. Here it is basically urban VS rural. The omelet doesn’t come apart very neatly.

        Here in rural OR, (back in the early Obama years) I was not too surprised to overhear in the post office parking lot “First thing we gotta do is get that n*gger out of the White House”.

        OTOH, I would for sure be out of TX before the whole thing blows up.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          Texas is the only state that issued promise sorry fiat money backed by nothing, so I wish them all the luck in the world when they secede, for they know the drill.

          “Redbacks” were bearer promissory notes issued between January 1839 and September 1840 by Mirabeau B. Lamar to fund the national debt during his presidency of the republic. Inflation, due mainly to overprinting, devalued the notes substantially, making 15 redbacks equal to one United States dollar.This debt of over $10 million was an important factor for annexation into the United States.

          Congress acknowledged the redbacks’ collapse in 1842 by refusing to accept them at face value for payment of taxes. Texans increasingly relied on United States currency, shinplasters and private obligations.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_dollar

          Reply
            1. JBird4049

              California does not quite count; they have been used several times since the Great Depression, most often when the state can’t get a budget passed. Strictly for a short time only and only for new obligations like wages or contractors and vendors.

              IIRC, it is not use for any previous debt payments. The banks have always taken them, but always warning that they could deny them, maybe, sometime in the future. It is a great way to make the entire state worry and puts the legislature under the gun as stiffing the entire state’s bureaucracy of their pay for their ongoing work, or losing power and water for the state’s buildings at anytime, say, puts them under a lot of pressure to do something. Or else get fired in the next election.

              But, yeah, it is not fun living “in the eighth largest economy in the world” and having the governor and the legislature having to issue IOUs because they can’t do their job.

              Reply
    2. Lena

      The NYMag article is written by Ed Kilgore. He was formerly VP for Policy at the Democratic Leadership Council. Before that, he was Communications Director for Sen. Sam Nunn. Enough said? I’m thinking Ed has never known the joys of taking a 5 dollar bill to Dollar Tree and having a real good time buying a variety of things for the family. Poor dear.

      Reply
      1. Pelham

        Thank you for the info! The name rang an unpleasant bell, but I was too lazy to Google it. And the point you make is nicely honed.

        Reply
      2. jr

        He had better hope the divorce doesn’t go down or he will be raising his own chickens, pigs, and Prosecco grapes for brunch.

        Reply
    3. Gareth

      I read through it. Kilgore leads with an expression of deep concern regarding discussion of secession among the right, makes a brief stop to chide the left for expressing secessionist ideas as well, and then shows off some research on Civil War history. The ending is a bit bizarre since he is attempting to close with a unifying “Let’s all remember what we have in common and give up this emotional talk of secession” , but then he expresses his willingness to kill millions of people to keep the Union together because of concerns about abortion access and race-related voting rights/policy.

      I attempted to see what his opinions on Iraq and Afghanistan were during the past couple of decades, and I found I wasn’t willing to read through all of his columns to come to a decision. One of the arguments against colonial adventures in the early 1900s was that the violence done to the people of the Phillipines would eventually return home to the US, so I have found myself wondering if the administrators of the depredations in Iraq and Afghanistan have decided to try and continue their grift domestically.

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        Thanks for a summary so I don’t have to read.

        And down here in the land of the red I seem to have missed all the secession rallies. But I have definitely seen articles where blue state cheerleaders threaten to secede and stop sending billionaire dollars to welfare grifters like Mississippi. While we Rebs will definitely miss our access to Broadway shows and Disneyland we may not be willing to fight over it.

        Reply
          1. Left in Wisconsin

            I posted a link on the page with the NLRB story to an anti-union law firm podcast claiming that video gamers are leading the push for unionization in tech.

            Reply
    1. Rod

      Talk about Unity—90% or more participation across all Locals with 98% voting to Strike.

      Old, more lenient contracts with the then emerging ‘streamer platforms’ on hours worked-turnarounds-staffing meant to help them get a foothold.
      Which the Contract(without review) certainly did.

      Getting enough sleep during a production run is the first big issue in shooting schedules on steroids.

      Reply
      1. Pat

        Turnaround is not just a safety issue for film and tv crews. It is one for everyone. Sleep deprived human beings are dangerous to themselves and others. I talked more than one person out of “compromising” on that for various contracts. Even as starter contracts turnaround should have been protected. More than one study has shown a slightly longer shoot with twelve hours on and twelve hours off on average costs the same or even less than 14 to 18 hour days with 9, 10 hours off.

        While I do not think that 10 hours between shifts is adequate, it certainly shouldn’t be any less. Most of the contracts have that or nine now, but the devil is in the details. The penalties for invading turnaround are toothless. Which mean that management just factors the penalty into their budgets and invade away.

        To give you an idea of how bad it has gotten, these are the same people who have spent time and money lobbying their state representatives because the availability of tax breaks can mean enough work, without them many crew members spend months unemployed. These are people who largely do not make waves, it is too easy for producers to take their productions to other states or countries.

        Reply
    1. MonkeyBusiness

      I wanted to use Whatsapp to bit** about Facebook with my friends, but Whatsapp is down as well!!! Mark Z is a genius I tell you.

      Reply
    2. griffen

      Well his (Mark Z) net worthiness is taking a most sincerely sad lap as of today. Mr market to FB: Bad, very bad. You go straight to your room mister.

      Somewhere in a bizarro universe, the “Winklevoss or Winklevi” or sporting a nice wide grin.

      Reply
    1. Pelham

      I see the point about solutions, but I’m still doubtful. Whether Zuckerberg cares or not, the only solution I can see — in line with what I’ve read from Jaron Lanier — is shutting down all the social networks. And that isn’t going to happen. So we’re stuck with networks that might be marginally improved but will continue to metastasize.

      Reply
  6. Jason Boxman

    Maybe just be happy all the people round the tree are alive?

    That was certainly my approach last year. I was just content no one I know has died yet. And we were fortunate enough it snowed on Christmas, my first ever. All morning and into the afternoon. And for a time whatever nonsense is happening in Washington and elsewhere vanished.

    Too many people won’t be around for Christmas this year, thanks in part to a pathetic public health response from both Establishment parties. And with such tightly coupled supply chains, they aren’t even getting “their” economy back all the way, despite the carnage.

    Reply
    1. CanCyn

      Have to agree. Hasn’t anyone seen The Grinch Who Stole Christmas? It is not about the stuff. Not a Christian or much of an Xmas celebrator. Slowly eased out to the craziness over the course of a few years a long time ago. Gifts were the first ‘tradition’ to go.

      Reply
    1. .Tom

      I was talking about exactly this with a NZ’er (a post-doc CNS researcher) at the weekend and got the impression that this was just a matter of time and quite widely expected over there. That they have been working so hard on vaccination suggests this outcome was understood as likely.

      Reply
  7. Wukchumni

    Asked my longtime friend in Auckland how the lockdown was going,?

    …this was his response, as we welcome NZ into the fold

    “Make that about 7 weeks of house arrest. Heartily sick of it (speaking for the entire city here) but from midnight tonight we can at least go more than 5 km from home and planning a big day out getting out of the city. There’s about a billion beaches still within the new lockdown area which covers about 60 miles or so north and south so I’m sure we can find one away from the madding crowd. The one bright spot for us is business has been ok (people are very bored) but for anyone in the hospitality industry it’d be the nightmare that never ends. There’s no eradication anymore – it’s just a holding pattern to get as many holdouts as possible vaccinated before they let the monster loose. Considering the medical system is supposed to be perennially in crisis without any international pandemic it’s hard to imagine its fate when you have to factor one in. The only one I can imagine feeling comfortable about all this going forward would be the lone ranger but I guess you can get used to anything. The new cry is ‘who was that unmasked man?’ I was looking at California’s vaccination rate – has it stalled? Is it now just The Land of the Free (to die)?”

    Reply
  8. jr

    Some of Senator Sinema’s colleagues in the AZ State department of social work include Bizzaro Superman, the Mad Hatter, and that guy from the album cover of The Wall

    Reply
  9. Duke of Prunes

    Some Covid anecdata. A few days ago, IL announced the most covid tests in one day, and, luckily, the positivity rate continuing down. These numbers are presented every day on the local news, kind of like the stock market stats. Anyway, I suddenly know a bunch of people, in non-overlapping groups, who have caught a traditional cold, and tested negative for Covid… which I guess would lead to more tests – people get tested when they feel sick – and a lower positivity rate.

    With cold and flu practically non-existent last year, does this re-emergence mean it’s kicking Covid out of the way? Or have I been exposed to too much pop-virology, and nature doesn’t work this way.

    Reply
    1. Angie Neer

      Your hypothesis about the effect on test positivity seems plausible to me. Colds are definitely thriving in my circle, here in the NW corner of the US, and led to a number of negative Covid tests among people who would not otherwise have been tested.

      Reply
  10. Raymond Sim

    Yo! It’s West Chester’s own Horace Pippin!

    Horace Pippin, Smedley Butler and Dr. Martin lima beans are our best claims to fame imo. But of course there’s also Home Shopping and Jackass.

    The world he depicted was fading away, but very much still extant during my boyhood. I’m always delighted by the recognition he receives, my own ability to recognize his power as an artist coming as it does from so many of the scenes he depicts feeling like things I’ve experienced.

    A print of ‘The Getaway’ hangs on the wall above the screen I read NC on. I saw the original many years ago at the Brandywine River Museum. The print can’t hold a patch to it, but it does evoke the memory of that wonderful experience, and of the now vanished Chester County that I roamed as a boy.

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      Raymond, I grew up in West Chester. I think we were even in the same classes at, ISTR, Stetson Junior High School.

      Does that school ring a bell?

      If you want to connect, use the contact form on this site. The mods know me well.

      Reply
        1. Arizona Slim

          It’s Internet shorthand for “I seem to recall.”

          And, yup, it sure seems like you were indeed my classmate at Stetson.

          Hint: I was an art nerd then and I’m an art nerd now.

          Reply
          1. Raymond Sim

            That was a very disorienting time for me. I got skipped ahead just at the end of fifth grade. That was on Wake Island (whole other story) subsequent to which we suddenly moved back to Thornbury, where I ‘finished’ sixth grade. That summer we shifted to a seedy part of West Goshen. Everything between Wake and starting seventh grade at Stetson is kind of a blur, and what I mostly recall from Stetson is the overcrowding and racial animosity.

            I do recall the art teacher I had at Stetson, not her name, but her face and demeanor, which in my mind were inconsistent with the popular belief she was an ex-stripper. Looking back though, I can halfway believe it.

            Reply
            1. Arizona Slim

              Oh, brother. The overcrowding. I can really, really, REALLY remember that. I was a little munchkin, and that overcrowding was genuinely frightening to me.

              Racial animosity? Yup. I remember that too. Didn’t have to happen.

              Years later, I had a boss who grew up in Mobile, Alabama. She was there when the schools were integrated, and she was part of a committee in her high school. The committee was made up of students, and the goal was to make integration work.

              First time I’d ever heard of such a thing. Too bad it wasn’t used in the West Chester Area School District.

              The art teacher? Well, as I said before, I was an art nerd then and I’m an art nerd now. I think you’re referring to Miss Krauss, who all but defined the word prudish. And there we were, a bunch of rowdy junior high schoolers. She was very flustered by us.

              After Stetson, my mother got a job teaching Spanish and ESL in the West Chester Area School District. She taught at East Junior and Senior High Schools and Henderson High School.

              Let me tell you, if you want to know all the best gossip in town, just get to know a teacher. Mom knew it all. A few years after I left Stetson, Mom told me that Miss Krauss’ mother had died and Miss Krauss dolled herself up, found a nice fellow, and married him.

              I could go on and on about West Chester. I was there a couple of summers ago because my mother was dying.

              Have to admit that, while I was there, I realized that West Chester had turned into a great little town. Even though I was there for the worst possible reason, I really enjoyed my time in West Chester.

              Nowadays, on my travels around Tucson, I’ll occasionally see a car with a Pennsylvania license plate. Without fail, I’ll say, “I miss you.”

              Reply
              1. Raymond Sim

                Miss Krauss – I believe that’s right!

                I was last back in 2003, during my own mother’s last illness. It was a strange experience. Everywhere I went I could feel the loom of the land, almost always knew where I was, but often things had changed out of recognition. Also I had a pretty terrible cheesesteak at New Haven, but really liked the hoagies I got at Wawa. So wrong.

                Reply
                1. Arizona Slim

                  I’ve read that Chester County is now the richest county in PA. And I believe it.

                  Two summers ago, before my mother’s health really went south, I was in the waiting area at the hair salon. One of my mother’s former students co-owned the place with his sister, so Mom had to be there every Thursday afternoon and, in her words, “get my hair done.”

                  While I was in that waiting area, I thumbed through a local magazine. Yes, Chester County now has location-specific magazines. What really bopped me over the head was the ad for custom-built wine cellars.

                  That was when I realized that, while I could visit Chesco, I no longer belonged there.

                  Reply
  11. Fiery Hunt

    Just putting out there…

    If the only way the Dems can raise the debt ceiling (at this point) is thru reconciliation and they’ve only got one more bullet in their reconciliation 2 bullet gun, is there any way they (the Dems) can get the “soft” infrastructure bill written (and agreed to!) in time to add the debt ceiling change before the US defaults?

    I can’t see how.

    Unless I’m wrong on the number of times they can use reconciliation?
    Have they been too arrogant and just assumed it’d get done?

    Definitely gonna need more popcorn for this sh*tshow.

    Reply
  12. Pelham

    Re that flatpack truck: I’ll bet there are plenty of people right here in the States who could use a “financially accessible” vehicle. Plus, once you assemble the thing, you’re bound to have a better understanding of how it works, a state of knowledge much to be desired.

    Reply
  13. Michael Ismoe

    Carmen Puliafito, who was dean of the Keck School of Medicine of USC during the relationship, was also a party to the agreement, which paid Sarah Warren, her brother and their parents a combined $1.5 million to head off a lawsuit by the family against him and USC, To receive the money, family members had to turn over to USC all of their videos and photographs showing Puliafito using illegal drugs to allow the university to destroy them, two sources with knowledge of the agreement told The Times.

    Hey, isn’t the FDA looking for a new commish? Couldn’t Hunter use a roommate, especially one who has prescription-writing privileges? Let me guess. Nothing will happen to him.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      I liked how USC acted as if it was 1921 and there was only one copy of photos and a single reel of black & white film of Carmen doing lines, ha ha.

      Reply
  14. jr

    Sigh, those dipwads with the AI “art”. The AI is not an entity no matter how many times they reverently say it, it’s just a bunch of algorithms. It has no inner life, no intentionality, no “being”. There is no inspiration, no passion, and sure as fu(k no creativity coming from it. It’s just a super complicated image generator that generates increasingly complicated rules that make more images. Sure, the programmers can claim some creativity but that’s it.

    This (rap is so stupid. Really pathetic. It’s seriously sad that we are at this point in our understanding of ourselves. Physicalism must burn.

    Someone please say something solipsistic.

    Reply
      1. jr

        It’s by knowing what I am that I know what you are. While ultimately unprovable, for sure, I can make a “best guess” as to your internal nature by looking at my own and extrapolating from that. Another way of looking at it is that the odds of me being surrounded by zombies devoid of selfhood seems vanishingly small compared to the odds of others having what I experience, a sense of being.

        Reply
    1. Anon

      Me thinks… once we can’t tell the difference… the difference will cease to exist.

      It’s like falling in love with a transsexual.

      Only disturbing if you think about it.

      Reply
      1. jr

        I do think about it and it doesn’t jive. For one thing, those AI don’t have brains but all humans do. As mentioned above, starting from myself, I feel pretty confident in believing that the human world consists of other selves. (I would extend that to a lot of animals as well.) I know what a brain can do, be conscious, in fact it’s the only thing I know for sure, which of course is where the danger of solipsism comes in. But the notion that others are actually zombies lacking being demands simply doesn’t add up compared to the notion that everything I experience about them indicates a sense of “selfhood” as well. I would have to dismiss thousands of years of art, philosophy, communications with these questionable others to believe such a thing. It really doesn’t seem likely.

        On the other hand, I am definitely not made of silicone, palladium, etc. I have no basis whatsoever to assume inert matter has a sense of being, of experiencing all the things I do, i.e. pain, pleasure, fear, joy. Furthermore, there is no mystery to an AI’s origins, we have know exactly how they work because we created them. On the other hand, consciousness is a mystery, we know it exists but we don’t know how or why. Despite that article by Anil Whazzhisface recently posted, which made >very< strong claims, there is another way to view the origins of consciousness, one that is more "streamlined" if you will. All the same factors apply, phi etc., but the framing is completely different. There is room for consciousness in either of those explanations, there is no room for that in an AI's processes. Why does it matter? Well, inspiration, creativity, a sense of right and wrong, love, all the things that make us human. No AI will ever experience, let alone experience those things.

        Now a construct that can access consciousness, when it's viewed as a field that precedes the material world, that's another story. One that made Bladerunner relevant to me again. ;)

        Reply
        1. Anon

          If I may be so bold… perhaps “you” are merely one part – a higher-order manifestation of – a greater consciousness… that you are unable to recognize said consciousness within a rock or an AI, may simply be your own vanity at work. We made God in our image, etc.

          Reply
            1. Anon

              “All is within consciousness”

              That would imply there is a place outside consciousness and is paradoxical.
              Rather, all IS consciousness. Hence my stance.

              What you describe is awareness of self, and perhaps, of consciousness, which I admit a rock probably doesn’t have; yet this does not diminish its role in the cosmos, or that it too is a manifestation of consciousness.

              We think we are special, because we can observe and communicate it, so we come up with a word to describe that and call it ‘conscious’; but all this word means, is that we can talk about and manipulate the stuff… not that we are beyond it. Rocks, AI, humans, at some scale we are indistinguishable.

              If we ever encounter beings more complex than us, we are in for quite the humbling.

              Reply
      1. jr

        “The world is my world.”
        A clearly defined solipsism, no? While impossible to disprove, again I am left with a choice between my world being populated with zombies who have no worlds and a world in which they do. I base this upon the only fact I do ultimately know about the world, that “the world and my life are one.” So, I’m led to believe others experience a similar “life as world.” It’s true each is fundamentally personal, their own world, but I have to make a lot of leaps to think that those worlds do not share a common basis in, let’s call it the World. “I am my world”, and under a materialist basis that’s all I can ultimately say, but under an idealistic world we have the freedom to assume we each have our own “microcosm” which is situated within a “macrocosm”. This is not a dualism, under idealism we all are within consciousness, our microcosms are simply differentiated points of view within a broader realm of experience. An example would be cars of the same make and model traveling on a freeway. Each is slightly different and each “sees” the world through it’s own windshield but each inhabits the same freeway.

        Reply
        1. witters

          Well, I can imagine the reply: “We should not think a solipsist must lack what is fashionably called a ‘Theory of Mind.’ Nothing stops a solipsist from theorizing the nature of his or her experience, and so nothing stops them from attributing consciousness, beliefs and desires to some aspects or elements of their experienced world if doing so renders their experiences more legible to them (after all, we must assume they have such things themselves). Certainly, they will do this in an as-if way, but that’s just how it might be for so-called ‘other minds’ generally.”

          Reply
    2. Raymond Sim

      Last I knew, the internal complexity, and internal decision making capacities of neurons were looking to be much greater than previously realized. I suspect ‘physicalism’ can’t even be honestly pursued at this point.

      The most solipsist thing I can think of to say is “Cogito ergo sum.”

      Reply
  15. Darthbobber

    Boy. Williams did some amazing contortions in service to his Pelosi hagiography.

    Those 2 impeachments were a case in point. She clearly didn’t really want to do those, seeing them (correctly) as counterproductive, but after much footdragging wound up doing it anyway.

    He drags in the 2009 stimulus that “saved the economy”, which would indeed have been a feather in her cap had she held out for a much larger one. But did she? No. And Democratic priorities in 09 led directly to the debacle of 10.

    As to the current juggling act, we really won’t be able to pass judgement on these delaying tactics (not really even a tactic when all other options are foreclosed) until there’s an end product.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The hagiogrophy is hysterical because even the best are like “for a long time nothing happened”.

      Reply
  16. jr

    Re: Christ-missed

    I seriously could care less if Christmas gets cancelled as long as my semi-automatic crossbow gets here. That and quality time with family and friends. And the crossbow.

    *peeks out from behind the curtains

    Reply
    1. allan

      … and NYPD’s rapid response team springs into action. /s
      Compare and contrast with their response to Occupy.

      Reply
      1. Yves Smith

        It’s not even that many people busting up the sitting area. The van is OK.

        Those guys could disappear plenty pronto, before the cops could do anything even if called. Not that I would expect the police to give this any priority.

        Reply
  17. Mikel

    “50% natural immunity? Where did Gottlieb get his figures?”

    Are you going to scream “TEMPORARY” anti-bodies or shall I?

    And it’s not like they are one-size fits all anti-bodies lasting X amount of time. FFS.
    There is no “immunity”…just various forms of TEMPORARY protection.

    And flights in effect back and forth to countries that may have big waves…of course, measures will be taken too late in the event of their surge.

    Reply
    1. Acacia

      > one-size fits all anti-bodies lasting X amount of time

      I thought they were like those little round thingies that attacked Raquel Welch in Fantastic Voyage.

      Reply
  18. Andrew Watts

    RE: No, We Can’t Get a National Divorce

    If any state wants to secede I’m not going to bother to fight to keep them in the union. I don’t buy into all the fear-mongering over another American civil war either. It seems like wistful nostalgia by people who know nothing of war, much less a civil war. There seems to be a lack of people,willing to fight in our imperial wars aboard so why should it be any different at home? All the people fantasizing about a war is honestly just embarrassing in the abrupt wake of Afghanistan.

    Secession is a obvious solution to the structural problems the federal government is afflicted by. An amended constitution that isn’t dominated by anti-democratic institutions like the Senate or Supreme Court would be better, but that outcome isn’t likely. Smarter people have tried to reform our system of government throughout the last century and yet here we are. I’ve yet to see any attempts to reduce the Senate to an oversight and advisory body or willingness to strip the Supreme Court of their self-granted power as unelected legislators. The Court only became a problem for liberals when it was filled with reactionary Papists.

    What we’re experiencing is the disunity of the bourgeoisie. Hence the constant political gridlock, the media hysterics, and legal battles in the courts. Bipartisanship is a euphemism for ruling class unity and should be scorned as such. How about we start World War III with China instead?

    Reply
    1. JBird4049

      The biggest problem is not the way the system is set up on paper, under which the federal, state, and municipal governments functioned, or less, for over two centuries; the massive corruption and the systematic elimination of the means or tools of governing as well as the unofficial, unannounced abrogation of the responsibility of doing their jobs, which is running the country’s governments, hopefully for the general welfare, today, is; the way the federal government was set up under the Constitution is that it is only the overall blueprint, not the operator’s manual or even the owner’s wish list for their new home.

      Since at least former House Speaker Newt Gingrich tenure, but more likely a generation earlier, debating by verbal bomb throwing, cutting funding for the agencies and staff that enabled Congress to do its job, cutting funding for the other agencies like the FDA, as well as doing their respective jobs (like the generals and admirals do) in way that ensures cushy, lucrative sinecures when they retire. The system as a whole is now run by people looking for those sinecures or, effectively, their bribes while doing their government jobs.

      What I just described is happening in every state at all levels and in all three branches of government. Trying to secede from the Union because of this is like shooting yourself in the head because you have gangrene. Unless a systematic, decade(s?) long purge of the corruption is carried out, whoever secedes would just be carrying the deadly infection with them under whatever new system they create.

      Reply
      1. Andrew Watts

        While it’s true the operation of the Constitution has evolved over time institutions like the Senate have always been a bastion of oligarchic power. We’re just back in a new Gilded Age all over again. The major historical difference being there isn’t a frontier to expand to either at home or abroad that will release any of the internal pressure that’s building up.

        Our Congress is probably a lot less corrupt than it was in the past.

        “What I just described is happening in every state at all levels and in all three branches of government. Trying to secede from the Union because of this is like shooting yourself in the head because you have gangrene.”

        Agreed, but isn’t that Brexit in a nutshell? The UK left the European Union so that it could cut free trade deals with other countries even though the EU is one of the world’s largest free trade zones. It doesn’t make sense if that was the goal.

        Reply
      1. Andrew Watts

        The US nuclear stockpile would be defunct after six months to a year. The long-term maintenance of a nuclear stockpile requires changing sensitive components out on a regular schedule. The primary issue would be the leftover nuclear materials that remain viable in the country. Those materials could probably be re-used to kickstart a new nuclear program somewhere in the former United States.

        The federal government, or whatever successor government took it’s place, would have to deal with the legacy of America’s nuclear program in the form of Hanford. Which the Department of Energy repeatedly assures us rubes in the Pacific Northwest isn’t leaking into the Columbia River.

        Reply
  19. ambrit

    Medico Zeitgeist Anecdote.
    I had to go to the Clinic this morning. (Will have to return tomorrow.) The Cardiac offices are the third floor of a wing of the six storey clinic building.
    Placards in the elevator:
    1) Got your shots? (Picture of smiling generic diverse crowd, all with bandaids on arms.)
    2) Get your flu shots now. (Curiously, with picture of twenty-something mixed gender couple.)
    3) Botox injections. Now only $10 per unit! (With picture of well preserved thirty-something woman.)
    4) Happy Halloween! (With carved pumpkin logo.)
    5) Sign your child up for Moderna Covid vaccine trials now! Let your child become part of the KidCovid vaccine trials! (With picture of generic Mommy holding what looks like a two year old. Both smiling like March Hares.)
    All ‘civilians’ in clinic building were masked. The place is enforcing a mask mandate, for “customers;” for “vaccinated” staff, not so much.
    Stay safe!

    Reply
      1. ambrit

        Thanks. It looks like some more cardiac stents. (I had three put in in 2012.) Time will tell, but then again, Time always wins.

        Reply
    1. neo-realist

      Collins drumming for 40 years? If you factor his starting drumming from about the age of 5 to coming out from behind the kit to do lead vocals after Gabriel left the band in the late 70’s, then we’re talking more like 20 plus years of drumming. Breaking down the way he has, I don’t think Collins took good care of himself. Heck, there are drummers that have played longer than Collins and were in decent shape in their 70’s: Art Blakey, the recently passed Milford Graves, Ginger Baker, and still drumming at the age of 75…..Roger Earl of Foghat.

      As far as Lydon’s antagonism toward the TV miniseries about the Pistols, his antagonism springs from their treatment of him as a bit of d**k, which is the experience that most people have had of him. His ire will be justified if the series turns out to be an after-school special version of the Pistols and 77 period punk.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Do the series right and make it an After School of Hard Knocks special version. “Here come the slammers!”

        Reply
  20. Mikel

    FB – between rock and a hard place.
    Half of the country thinks they didn’t censor enough and are getting their comeuppance.
    The other half thinks it is because they were silencing people.

    Anyway, 2022 is mid-terms. It will get more divisive with the political ads.
    Come to think of it, timing of this hearing and the upcoming elections is something to think about.

    Reply
  21. Gregorio

    RE: Instagram making teenage girls want to commit suicide. Seriously, is there anything that doesn’t make teenage girls want to commit suicide? They will probably go after the Kardashians next.

    Reply
    1. Anon

      “ is there anything that doesn’t make teenage girls want to commit suicide?”

      Burqas?

      I wonder what the teenage-girl suicide rates are like in the ME?

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Forget suicide rates for teenage girls in the Middle East. Worry about “Honour Killings” by the girl’s relatives.

        Reply
        1. Anon

          Certainly a problem… but not the same problem, no? Otherwise one would be inclined to call them “mercy killings” or “assisted suicides”?

          There was a time when sexual humility was culturally enforced in the west as well. I don’t want to go back to those times, but perhaps there were truths in it that we ignored in pursuit of a sexual “liberation”, that instead became a sexual “commodification”… with children killing themselves as an unforeseen outcome.

          Go ahead and treat that as an externality, blaming Instagram… but Insta merely amplifies a trend that’s been growing since the advent of the supermodel (and indeed, the neoliberal model).

          Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Seriously, is there anything that doesn’t make teenage girls want to commit suicide?

      Let’s not be entirely heartless. I remember my teenage years with loathing. That’s when I had my first waves of depression.

      Reply
    1. Brian Beijer

      “threatened by the Government and forced to flee the country.”

      Lol. Should we expect anything else? I mean, you could read that same line if the person had lived in the US, UK or in almost any other country in the world. It really would be news if the line read, “hailed by the government as a hero, they will be giving him a citizen medal for his bravery”. Ever read that before?

      Reply
    2. ambrit

      The garbage barges that used to go out from the Jersey Shore to dump New York City garbage way offshore come to mind.

      Reply

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