2:00PM Water Cooler 10/5/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

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

56% 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:

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, some in the Southwest and California worse. 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: 722,439 719,945. 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:

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

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

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

Biden Administration

“Many cities and states have spent no American Rescue Plan funds: report” [The Hill]. “As of this summer, a majority of large cities and states had yet to use any of the funding they received as part of the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan, according to The Associated Press. More specifically, no initial spending was reported by over half of the states and two-thirds of the 90 largest cities, the AP said. After reviewing spending reports required by the law, the AP found that states had spent 2.5 percent of the funds they initially received, and large cities spent 8.5 percent of the money.” • Pushing a string… .

“Broken Promises: HBCU Funding Cut By $30 Billion In Biden Budget, Some Black Democrats Are Not Having It” [The Moguldom Nation]. “Some Black Democrats are not here for the nearly $30 billion cut to HBCU funding in the latest version of President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill. One of them has even threatened to vote against it if the issue is not resolved. U.S. Rep. Alma Adams of North Carolina is the co-chair of the HBCU Caucus. She along with fellow Democrat and HBCU graduate Sen. Dr. Raphael Warnock, the first Black man elected to represent the state of Georgia in the senate, have publicly objected to how drastically the proposed funding to historically Black colleges and universities was cut. Initially, Biden proposed $55 billion in funding to HBCUs in his “Build Back Better” plan. However, when the bill went to Congress for reconciliation, it only allocated a total of $30.5 billion, BNC News reported.”

UPDATE “Check Out These Exclusive Pics From Hunter Biden’s Big LA Art Opening” [Mother Jones]. Photo of Hunter, who cleans up good. “At the pop-up, there was little grousing about the ethics of the moment, according to one attendee. As hors d’oeuvres and drinks were served, the art aficionados gazed at works that appeared mainly to be reproductions. (It’s cheaper than shipping.) An animated projection displayed a host of Biden’s in-progress paintings. Spotted among the assembled were artist Shepard Fairey (creator of the iconic Barack Obama/Hope poster), musician Moby, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who was a national co-chair of Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign and who was recently nominated by the president to serve as US ambassador to India. Though only a handful of the people present wore masks throughout the indoors event—vaccination proof was required for entry—Garcetti kept his on the entire time he was present, the attendee notes. A documentary crew roamed about filming everything, and there was a security presence greater than usual at an art event. Toward the end of the evening, a violinist began playing in front of the animated projection…. Coincidentally or not, the art market is notorious for facilitating under-the-table transactions, the hiding of assets, and money-laundering.” • I don’t see how that can be. All the attendees were perfectly comfortable.

Democrats en Deshabille

“Absolutely Confront Kyrsten Sinema Outside Of Her Bathroom Stall” [Jezebel]. “LUCHA’s video shows a group of activists waiting outside Sinema’s classroom. When she emerges, they ask if they could talk to her briefly about the importance of the Build Back Better plan. ‘Actually, I’m heading out,’ she says, scurrying away from them and heading to a large bathroom with multiple stalls. A couple of members follow her inside. ‘We knocked on doors for you to get you elected,’ says an activist named Blanca. ‘And just how we got you elected, we can get you out of office if you don’t support what you promised us.’ Cue the sounds of toilets flushing.” • Reconciliation is not a dinner party. (But Schumer and Sinema’s DSCC campaign staff must be chuckling at “we knocked on doors for you.”)

“Why Democrats’ climate goals may test their Latino appeal” [Associated Press]. “Last year, Biden won Cameron County, which encompasses Brownsville and is about 90% Hispanic. But Trump’s margin of the vote increased there by 20 percentage points over 2016. Farther north, Trump flipped oil- and gas-producing, but still heavily Hispanic, Jim Wells and Kleberg counties. ‘We are very dependent on oil and gas. That’s the reason you saw those numbers,’ said [said Mayra Flores, a 35-year-old respiratory care practitioner and organizer for Donald Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign], who was born in Mexico, came to the United State at age 6 and picked cotton every summer growing up after age 12. ‘That’s what people do. That’s where they work.'”

“Matthew Dowd, former George W. Bush strategist, to run as Democrat for Texas lieutenant governor” [The Texas Tribune]. “Matthew Dowd, the chief strategist for George W. Bush’s presidential reelection campaign who later split with the former president publicly, is running for lieutenant governor as a Democrat…. In a two-and-a-half minute campaign announcement video, Dowd said GOP politicians have failed the state, zeroing in on [Dan] Patrick, who he called ‘cruel and craven’ and denounced as a divisive figure who puts his political ambitions over the needs of everyday Texans.” • Well, maybe the split wasn’t that much of a split:

Dowd, unsurprisingly, erases Florida 2000, an “attack on our [sic] democracy” that culminated in Bush v. Gore, where Bush was selected as President by the Supreme Court. (Personally, I believe that Scalia, who wrote the opinion, selected Bush because that would create a court Scalia found ideologically compatible. I regard every Supreme Court decision after ascension of the first post-Bush v. Gore justice as something like “fruit of the poisonous tree,” illegitimate, and subject to being rolled back.)

“Progressives’ mobilization delusion” [Matt Yglesias, Slow Boring]. “One of the biggest problems with mobilization theory is that in politics (and also other spheres of life), there are a lot of opportunists. And by moving from a straightforward question like ‘is this popular?’ to something harder to measure like ‘does this mobilize voters?’ a lot of people who have specific agendas can make up hazy reasons why you need to prioritize their issues.”

“Churchill: Zephyr Teachout wants to be New York’s attorney general” [Times-Union]. “If James, the state’s attorney general, decides to challenge Kathy Hochul and run for governor, then Teachout will run for James’ job. ‘If there is an opportunity and an opening with the AG’s office, I would seize it,’ Teachout told me during a phone conversation Friday. ‘If she does run for governor, I’ll be running.’ Consider this part of the continuing fallout from Andrew M. Cuomo’s departure as governor, a seismic event that has New York’s political class jostling like riders on a packed subway car. James, for one, seems ever more likely to take on Hochul, setting up a compelling primary race. ‘Stay tuned,’ James told Ulster County Democrats on Thursday night in Kingston, adding: ‘The question for me really boils down to this: What is the best way that I can make transformational change in the state of New York?'”

Republican Funhouse

“Christie: 2020 Joe Biden ‘is now officially dead and buried'” [The Hill]. “‘It’s the death of 2020 Joe Biden. When he went to the Hill, 2020 Joe Biden is now officially dead and buried,’ Christie said on ABC’s ‘This Week.’ ‘The guy who ran against the progressives, ran against Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, ran to be a uniter in this country, ran saying he was going to force compromise. And he went up to Capitol Hill, and he capitulated to the progressives, the liberals in his party.’ ‘And why should we be surprised? He couldn’t stand up to the Taliban. How could we expect him to stand up to AOC?’ he added, referring to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), before ‘This Week’ co-anchor Jonathan Karl called his comments a ‘partisan take.'” • Indeed!

“Advisers telling Trump to wait to announce 2024 campaign: report” [The Hill]. “Advisers are reportedly telling former President Trump to hold off on announcing his 2024 campaign for president, in part out of fear that he will be blamed if Republicans do not win back the House or Senate next year. The Washington Post reported Monday, citing people familiar with discussions, that advisers are telling the former president to remain patient regarding his 2024 plans, despite his eagerness to launch the campaign in August, when the country was watching the messy Afghanistan withdrawal. Sources told the Post that some of Trump’s advisers were nervous that an early announcement from Trump could cause Democrats to focus their 2022 midterm campaigns around the former president, which could potentially lead to an increase in their turnout and an unfavorable finish for Republicans. The president, however, is still acting like a candidate even though he has not officially announced any plans to run again. He has held rallies around the country that evoke images of his campaign events and his team is spearheading an aggressive online campaigning effort. An informal poll taken among 13 of his current and former advisers, cited by the Post, found that a majority believe Trump will run again in 2024: 10 said they think he will wage another bid, two said it was just a public relations stunt and one other said he was unsure.” • This is all claptrap I’m sure Trump isn’t paying attention to any of it and is gaming anybody who quotes him. Recall Trump has one genius-level talent: Sensing weakness. If Harris is the 2024 candidate, Trump running is a mortal lock. I’m not sure that Trump has (what he conceives of as) Biden’s number yet. Afghanistan is clearly not that weakness, because it’s popular among voters, and Trump knows this, having made (in his own way) the same point in 2016.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Lessons from the elusive backlash to vaccine mandates” [Janan Ganesh, Financial Times].

Vaccine mandates are not incurring a vicious public backlash, at least not yet. Almost a month has passed since President Joe Biden announced that most US workers would have to be vaccinated or frequently tested. Street protests are real but containable. Resignations from work are at modest levels. The governor of California even feels emboldened to require vaccines for school children….

If it holds, the public’s grudging tolerance of mandates will have eye-opening lessons. For one, people are hopeless predictors of their own future behaviour. Surveys had suggested a rash of job-quitting in the event of employer mandates (just as they had implied that France, whose vaccination rate is pulling ahead of Britain’s, would be a laggard). Public opinion data does not just inform the election predictions of speculative columnists. It is also an important basis of government policy. If the science has a systemic blind spot for the future, for what people think they would do in hypothetical scenarios, it has distorted governance.

Another conclusion is that partisanship has its uses… It is a sign of the most dire civic rot that people base even their approach to personal health on their tribal fealties. But it also means that Biden’s mandate is mostly alienating those who were never going to vote for him anyway. The very bifurcation of America can empower as well as curb a leader.

Of all the inferences to be drawn from the elusive backlash, the last is the most far-reaching. In fact, after five years of anti-elite politics, from Brazil to the Philippines, it feels transgressive to express this thought: in the end, people want to be led.

A truism, possibly? Or something more unpleasant? More:

The public has already supplied an example of what we might call enlightened docility. Imagine being told in 2016 that, in four years, there would be vast support for a lockdown with no peacetime precedent, prescribed by an invisible expert class. Next to coercion of that scale and nature, the mandates are laissez-faire. I say all this with the jitters of a man carrying a vase in a greased hand across a stone floor.

No, not concerning at all! In a way, the whole process resembles the neoliberal playbook: (1) Degrade public health by underfunding and corruption, (2) watch it fail in a very public test, and (3) replace it with coercion. Best of all, in future you can go directly to coercion!

Stats Watch

Logistics: “United States LMI Logistics Managers Index Current” [Trading Economics]. “The Logistics Manager’s Index fell to 72.2 in September of 2021 from 73.8 in August, pointing to the slowest growth in the logistics industry in four months, driven primarily by cost metrics (including an all-time high reading of 89.3 for Warehousing Prices), tempered somewhat by a decrease in the rate of growth for Inventory Levels. A decline which is likely due to a combination of inventory moving quickly due to high consumer demand, but also coming in slowly due to logistics delays. There were 73 ships at anchor or drifting in San Pedro Bay in mid-September. This bottleneck has led global schedule reliability to drop to an all-time low of 33.6% in August of 2021, down 30.1% from this time a year ago. The lack of space is confirmed in the Transportation Capacity metric, reading in at 37.2, down (-3.3) from August. Also, shippers are holding on to chassis for longer than normal because containers have nowhere else to go due to a lack of warehousing space.” • Note the truck chassis. It’s not just ships.

Manufacturing: “United States Composite PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The IHS Markit US Composite PMI was revised higher to 55 in September of 2021 from a preliminary of 54.5, still pointing to the slowest growth in private sector activity in a year, amid slower upturns in both manufacturing (60.7 vs 61.1) and services (54.9 vs 55.1). New business growth eased to the slowest in nine months. Manufacturers and service providers alike registered softer upticks in client demand. Goods producers reported a quicker rise in new export orders, which contrasted with a faster contraction in service sector foreign customer demand. Labour shortages continued to hamper output growth across the private sector. Although rates of job creation quickened in the individual sectors, employment growth was historically subdued. At the same time, constraints on capacity were reflected in a series-record expansion in backlogs of work.”

Services: “United States Services PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The IHS Markit US Services PMI was revised higher to 54.9 in September of 2021 from a preliminary of 54.4, still pointing to the slowest growth in the services sector so far this year. New business rose the least in 13 months and labour shortages hampered output growth. Total sales were weighed down by the spread of COVID-19 and a faster decline in new export orders. At the same time, pressure on capacity was reflected in the sharpest rise in backlogs of work since data collection began almost 12 years ago. Challenges expanding workforce numbers reportedly exacerbated difficulties clearing incoming new business.”

Services: “United States ISM Non Manufacturing PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The ISM Services PMI edged up to 61.9 in September of 2021 from 61.7 in August, beating forecasts of 60, and pointing to a robust growth in the services sector, although the ongoing challenges with labor resources, logistics, and materials are affecting the continuity of supply.”

Exports: “United States Exports” [Trading Economics]. “Exports from the US edged up 0.5% mom to $213.7 billion in August of 2021, the highest since May of 2019, boosted by sales of nonmonetary gold and natural gas while shipments fell for autos and parts, civilian aircrafts, corn and travel.”

Imports: “United States Imports” [Trading Economics]. “Imports to the US were up 1.4% mom to a new all-time high of $287 billion in August of 2021, namely pharmaceutical preparations, toys, games, organic chemicals, transport and travel. In contrast, purchases fell for passenger cars.”

Economic Optimism: “United States IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index” [Trading Economics]. “The IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index in the US slipped deeper into pessimistic territory, falling 1.7 points to 46.8 in October of 2021, its lowest since September of 2020. Americans have grown more pessimistic about the outlook for the U.S. economy with the lapse of unemployment benefits even as the latest Covid wave has slowed the jobs recovery. ”

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UPDATE Tech: “Facebook: whistleblower allegations of misleading audience size should be taken seriously” [Financial Times]. “[T]here is one complaint that should give investors pause. Haugen has written to the Securities and Exchange Commission to claim Facebook ‘misled investors and advertisers’ about the accuracy of its user base count. This is the foundation of a business that accounts for 98 per cent of Facebook revenues. Haugen’s claim that Facebook knows young US user numbers are falling tallies with the rising popularity of rivals such as TikTok. The trend could deter advertisers. But the allegation does not appear to include Facebook-owned Instagram, which has more cachet with young adults. She is right that Facebook should stop promoting user numbers clouded by doubts. Facebook’s own estimates suggest 16 per cent of accounts may be duplicates or false. This figure creates a huge discrepancy. Yet Facebook does not adjust important metrics such as average revenue per user (Arpu). Arpu is a crucial number in social media. For Facebook, the figure was $10.12 in the last quarter. There are further discrepancies. While Facebook includes all sources of revenue, it limits users to Facebook and Messenger. Last year, it created a figure for its ‘family’ of apps, including WhatsApp and Instagram. Using this, Arpu in the last quarter was very different at $8.36. Unless advertisers reject these figures or revenues fall, investors must put up with them.” • I find $10.12 exceedingly hard to believe. If I understand the business, $10.12 is what Facebook is paid, and must therefore be some fraction of revenues to clients from Facebook ads, say a ~$30.00 spend per user. Do you know anybody who would spend $30 on products from a Facebook advertiser, even in a year? I certainly don’t. In fact, I regard advertising on Facebook as a negative. And why would anybody buy a product on Facebook instead of Amazon? So, perhaps Facebook advertising is primarily services. If so, what kind? Professional services? Restaurants? All tuned to the user with Facebook’s famous social graph? Perhaps. However, I know I would only purchase services based on a personal recommendation (doctor, plumber, whatever). So why would anyone click through on Facebook when they could deal direct? I honestly don’t get it. Perhaps a social media maven, or a reader who actually uses Facebook can weigh in.

Tech: “Amazon Makes a Robot Bet That Apple Wouldn’t—But Consumers Aren’t Ready” [Bloomberg]. • Here’s a photo:

Stick a screen on the front of it. What could be more appealing? (To be fair, kawai robots, especially humanoid ones, don’t appeal to me either.)

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 27 Fear (previous close: 25 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 28 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 5 at 2:00pm.

Health Care

“Sweeteners hurt the ability of gut bacteria to keep us well: Israeli study” [Times of Israel]. “Artificial sweeteners cause a “breakdown in communication” among gut bacteria, changing the microbiome and potentially increasing the risk of disease, Israeli scientists say. Gut bacteria keep people healthy, but to do so they need to be present in the right balance. This is maintained in part by a communication mechanism that bacteria use, called quorum sensing, which enables bacteria to detect and respond to cell population density by regulating their own genes, affecting their behavior. ‘Artificial sweeteners disrupt that communication, which indicates that artificial sweeteners may be problematic in the long run,’ said Dr. Karina Golberg, who led the peer-reviewed study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.”

“The role of thrifty genes in the origin of alcoholism: A narrative review and hypothesis” [Alcoholism]. “In this narrative review, we present the hypothesis that key mutations in two genes, occurring 15 and 10 million years ago (MYA), were individually and then collectively adaptive for ancestral humans during periods of starvation, but are maladaptive in modern civilization (i.e., ‘thrifty genes’), with the consequence that these genes not only increase our risk today for obesity, but also for alcoholism. Both mutations occurred when ancestral apes were experiencing loss of fruit availability during periods of profound climate change or environmental upheaval…. By aiding survival, these mutations would have allowed our ancestors to generate more fat, primarily from fructose, to survive changing habitats due to the Middle Miocene disruption and also during the late-Miocene aridification of East Africa. Unfortunately, the enhanced ability to metabolize and utilize EtOH may now be acting to increase our risk for alcoholism, which may be yet another consequence of once-adaptive thrifty genes.” • Sounds like we’ve got Jackpot-compliant genes, ready and waiting!

The 420

“Nurses See New Career Opportunities in Medical Cannabis Space” [MedPage Today]. “In 2015, Manus founded Cannabis Nurses Network, a national organization that helps nursing professionals work within the medical cannabis space, mirroring a suddenly surging trend. Some treat patients, others counsel them and liaison with their providers, and still others — such as Manus — have carved out advocacy and leadership roles. More and more nursing professionals are turning to cannabis work, especially over the last few years, sources told MedPage Today. And while they were doing so before COVID-19, their burgeoning burnout, and frustration with traditional healthcare settings and employers during the pandemic, have caused even more to consider this career change. ‘COVID has changed a lot of the landscape of what nurses want our profession to look like,’ said Ashley Wynn-Grimes, RN, who runs a medical cannabis consultancy in the Baltimore area. ‘People go in [to a dispensary] and have no idea what they’re doing, no idea how these products work, and could really use that support,’ said Laura Barrett-Nutting, RN, who also runs a Maryland-based consultancy.”

“The ‘Psychedelic Renaissance’ Is Entirely About Corporate Greed” [Caitlin Johnstone]. “new mainstream article or news segment about the latest study showing the undeniable mental health benefits of this or that psychedelic substance for this or that psychological ailment. So what changed? The situation changed. Global capitalist institutions are acutely aware that western civilization is in the midst of a mental health crisis that only looks likely to get worse, with depression, anxiety disorders and substance abuse skyrocketing on myriad fronts for years. The increasingly widespread use of antidepressants has not led to an overall decline in symptoms and prevalence of mood disorders in the US, Australia, Canada, England and other wealthy countries. In America young people have been growing progressively more depressed and anxious for over 80 years, and no one knows why… So desperate measures have been called in. Give the gear-turners tightly controlled doses of psychedelics, enough to get them functional but not enough to awaken them to the reality of their enslavement, and hopefully you’ve built some systemic scaffolding which enables their minds to put up with the relentless mass-scale psychological abuse that the status quo requires.” • Then throw in the Metaverse…

Sports Desk

“Feds Searched Washington Football Facility, Vermillion on Leave” [NBC Washington]. “Federal investigators executed a search warrant at the Washington Football Team’s training facility and the home of Head Athletic Trainer Ryan Vermillion on Friday, law enforcement sources told News4. Vermillion is on leave because of an investigation, the team said. ‘Ryan Vermillion has been placed on administrative leave due to an ongoing criminal investigation that is unrelated to the team,’ the team said in a brief statement Monday.” • Oh.

Guillotine Watch

“Episode 188: The Busch Family” (podcast) [TrueAnon]. • From The Busch Brood: “Behind closed doors, Busch III was a petty hard-ass. The Fourth tried living up to his father’s expectations but was rewarded with Donald Trump Jr.-style degradation. As [William] Knoedelseder writes in Bitter Brew, “[The Fourth] showed up for a meeting with A-B’s California wholesalers at the Los Angeles brewery one afternoon, sporting a pair of pointy-toed lizard-skin cowboy boots, and his father immediately bawled him out in front of a subordinate. ‘When the fuck are you going to learn to dress like a business person?’ he barked. The Fourth pointed to his father’s feet and said, ‘Well, what do you call those?’ August III looked down at his hand-tooled Lucchese dress boots with tastefully rounded toes and said, ‘These are aristocrat boots.’ Pointing at his son’s feet, he declared, ‘Those are shit-kickers.'” Lovely people!

Class Warfare

“The Left Case Against the 1619 Project — James Oakes (Full Interview)” (YouTube) [Jacobin (jr)]:

Well worth a listen. I love the idea of William Tecumseh Sherman attending one of Robin DiAngelo’s shindigs on whiteness.

UPDATE “During Civil Rights Era, Native American Communities in the South Armed Themselves Against the Klan” [Scalawag]. “Cole did not heed the sheriff’s warnings. That night, about 50 Klan members drove to Hayes Pond and circled their cars; Cole set up a small generator, a PA system, and a lamp. Most of Robeson County’s Klan members stayed home; the 50 Klan members, women, and children at the rally were part of Cole’s following from South Carolina. Soon they were surrounded by 500 Indian men, many of whom were U.S. military veterans, and about 50 Indian women. Many were armed with rifles, shotguns, pistols, and knives.” • You’ll have to read the article for the rest. I always enjoy Scalawag; the United States is so enormous and various.

News of the Wired

“The Geographical Oddity of Null Island” [Library of Congress]. “It doesn’t seem like much of a place to visit. Granted, I’ve never actually been there, but I think I can imagine it: the vastness of ocean, overcast skies, a heavy humidity in the air. No land in sight, with the only distinguishing feature being a lonely buoy, bobbing up and down in the water. It almost seems like a “non-place,” but it may surprise you to learn that this site is far from anonymous. This spot is a hive of activity in the world of geographic information systems (GIS). As far as digital geospatial data is concerned, it may be one of the most visited places on Earth! This is Null Island…. Null Island is an imaginary island located at 0°N 0°E (hence “Null”) in the South Atlantic Ocean. This point is where the Equator meets the Prime Meridian. The concept of the island originated in The exact origins of “Null Island” are a bit murky, but it did reach a wide audience no later than in 2011 when it was drawn into Natural Earth, a public domain map dataset developed by volunteer cartographers and GIS analysts. In creating a one-square meter plot of land at 0°N 0°E in the digital dataset, Null Island was intended to help analysts flag errors in a process known as “geocoding.” • From comment 18:

No idea why this 2016 article just popped up in my news feed in 2021. I had a pretty interesting experience at 0N / 0E. We crossed the equator there in 2007. That buoy wasn’t there then. As we approached this mystical point in the ocean in the middle of the night, I was surprised to see DOZENS of vessels there on my AIS display. I was looking with my own eyes and didn’t see the lights from any ships, so I didn’t understand at first why this party of ships was supposedly happening at 0N/0E. As I continued to watch, I noticed ships kept popping up there (on the AIS display)… and then disappearing. New ships kept popping up there… and then disappearing. It finally dawned on us that anytime someone in Los Angeles or Hong Kong or Dubai or anywhere else in the world first turned on their AIS system, before it obtained its first GPS fix, it defaulted to reporting its position as “00-00N / 00-00E” and showed up on our AIS display in the Gulf of Guinea. After they got a GPS fix, their position suddenly updated to wherever they really were in the world and disappeared from the Gulf of Guinea. It was a pretty interesting phenomenon to watch.

I think Borges would have loved Null Island.

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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 (Copeland):

Copeland writes: “Went to our local you-pick orchard again the other day, this time plums.”

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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. Questa Nota

    Those graphs are indicating a head-and-shoulders pattern so a market change may be in the offing. Or maybe just data dandruff?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Sounds like the head-and-shoulders pattern relates to the suggestion posted yesterday of the two-month periodicity (which I’m not sure is entirely correct as for example with Indonesia this morning). However, the important point is that nobody can give an account of the right, I suppose, shoulder; nobody really understands the drop in January, and nobody understands the drop now.

      As far as “data dandruff,” these are really the only charts I watch, and I don’t play the ponies, so I don’t know what you mean. This is the United States, so of course the data is awful. The data is, however, good enough to check official narratives. The case and death counts, for example, are too high to say “it’s over,” as everybody and their siblings are saying. On the other hand, the rapid riser counties show confirm that the peak has passed. (Of all the charts, I trust the county charts the most, because some counties are diligent; I saw a Sturgis spike, for example, come and go, and the Maine counties conform to reality so far as I can tell. All counties are not diligent, of course, but here again Federalism works to discourage mass fakery.)

      1. Nancy the Librarian

        My county number is the only one I trust (Tarrant, TX). It seems consistent with what’s happening on the ground.

      2. Raymond Sim

        I may have had what the Brits call a brain wave this evening, or I may just need to go to bed. I’m gonna go to bed, but just in case there’s something to it, I’m leaving it here, because by morning I’ll have forgotten.

        Hospitalizations might serve as a straightforward proxy for overall economic disruption. Coincidentally they’re also the metric our leaders seem most interested in keeping a lid on.

        Has anyone examined the relationship since January 2020 between hospitalizations and things like days of delay at ports?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Has anyone examined the relationship since January 2020 between hospitalizations and things like days of delay at ports?

          What an interesting idea, although there are surely a ton of confounders. For example, ships waiting outside the Port of Los Angeles have been increasing as the last peak passed and decline began.

          However, in general, in a fragile and over-optimized system, it would be natural that increased working class power would create disruption. Trying to imagine the epidemiology though, I think warehouses would be safer than, say, meatpacking plants. And trucking is, mostly, isolated except at truck stops and at the dock.

    2. farmboy

      chart crime is happening right before our eyes or drawing conclusions without?, or maybe the countenance of the saviour

  2. Carolinian

    Sorry but I don’t think it’s ok to photograph people in bathrooms (a felony in AZ btw) even if said person is in favor of a filibuster that Biden and the Dems have no intention of eliminating anyway. If Pelosi was on the receiving end of this kind of stunt she’d probably be calling for a special council. Or something.

    Plus it’s quite possible that the majority of Sinema’s AZ constituents agree with her immigration views if not her personality. Indeed, that’s her argument–that she’s just “representing.” But I’d say the main objection to the incident is that it’s yet another example of “it’s ok when we do it.” That’ll take you anywhere.

    1. Andrew Watts

      It’s already happening at school board meetings and with health officials. The FBI will probably get tapped to handle the increasing amounts of threatening behavior towards public officials.

      It’s not their job to deal with angry mobs looking for a witch to burn.

        1. bassmule

          I think a lot of people have finally gotten clued in that their “representatives” do not represent them. They deserve to be harrassed.

          1. Michael Ismoe

            It’s kinda in the Constitution. Sorry. She deserves whatever befalls her.She asked for the job. If she doesn’t like it, she can always quit.

            1. MK

              And she would be replaced with a R from a R gov and then the government is in the hands of Mitch until at least January 2023.

              1. hunkerdown

                Team piety only matters to players and those who wish they were players. The policy results are the only real matter. Everything else, including the career flow of the baby oligarchs, is a harmful distraction that should probably be suppressed.

      1. Darthbobber

        There’s a pretty big gap between making statements (involving no threat of violence whatsoever) and “looking for a witch to burn”.

      2. JTMcPhee

        It’s their “job” supposedly, in our “democracy,” to “promote the general welfare.” And if they are not doing their job, what are voiceless (no megabucks to bribe with) mopes supposed to do? Oh, I know — Rule #2, right? Just die, preferably quietly but only after dishing all their labor and assets over to the ruling elite?

        School boards getting captured by corporate interests and True Believers, along with local legislative and regulatory bodies. I’ve been to a number of planning and county and city commission and council meetings where no “democratic” participation is allowed, in a few cases, citizens being forcibly removed from the hall, agendas managed to deny the public any voice over the interests of the Chamber of Commerce and developers. You tell me how mopes are supposed to get the attention of bosses and bribed “representatives,” in such circumstances?

        There’s something in the Constitution about petitioning for redress of grievances? And if the looters in the Capitol and 1600 Penn. Ave. and the Supreme Court building and the upper-story C-suite-ers won’t listen to gentle persuasion, well, there are a few precedents for what sometimes happens when the disparities and indignities reach a certain quantum state…

        And yes, the monopoly on force that the government has, FBI, Fusion Centers, cops with clubs and non-lethal munitions, that set of organizations we are supposed to trust to protect and defend our sacred rule-of-law “rights,” will wade right in, to protect a blatant “f*** you peasants” creature like Sinema. Hell of a deal, right?

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.

      Considering your point about twenty years, all I can say is the snowflakes who are having the vapors because an elected official has to learn they aren’t beloved is a bit much. She wants to be a fantasy Maverick who opposes decent things, and she miscalculated. Boo hoo.

    3. Arizona Slim

      Photographer here.

      If I have to go potty when I’m out on assignment, I enter the restroom space with the camera turned off and lens cap on.

      I may also be carrying it so that the camera lens is facing backward, as in, behind me. It’s a good way of protecting the lens when it’s time to wash the ole hands.

  3. drumlin woodchuckles

    Why are young people experiencing ever more depression, anxiety, and “substance abuse” ? Because the mainstream society engineered for them to live in is ever more depressionogenic, anxietygenic, and ” substance abuse-o-genic”.

    Conquering the planning rooms and drafting tables of mainstream society and making it less depressionogenic, anxietygenic, and ” substance abuse-o-genic” may lower the rate of forcing young people into these problems.

    In the meantime, young people of all ages might find reversal of these processes through a new green counter-culture. And perhaps we should recognize a distinction between ” drugs of wisdom” like mushrooms, cannabis, etc. as against government dumm drugs like meth, opiates, cocaine, etc.

    1. jr

      I’d add that a lot of kids are acutely aware of the climate catastrophe and the mass extinction we are entering. As Chris Hedges talked about, his daughter had a big book of whales and dolphins that he used read to her at night. All those creatures are facing extinction. How do you explain that to your kids?

      1. Mantid

        jr, I agree. I’ve taught kids and teens for years and they are really into animals, insects, and nature in general. They grow up reading those monkey books, elephant stories, etc. They pay attention to news, lessons in school, etc. when it relates to animals. They are quite aware, and frankly scared, about the obvious collapse of nature. They are sad and depressed as are we all.

  4. drumlin woodchuckles

    If the Democrats are going to overtly kill Texas Latino oil jobs by overt policy, they are going to have to pre-create a program of Guaranteed Oil Job Equivalent Income for life for every worker whose job they kill. That is the only way to get buy in from those targeted oil workers who are doing oil jobs to make a living.
    ( As to those who are also expressing their identity with oil jobs, they would rather keep doing oil jobs than accept a Guaranteed Oil-Job-Equivalent Income for life. Nothing will reach those people).

    The same principle applies to thermal coal miners. If you suggest killing their jobs by overt government policy, you will have to give them Guaranteed Coal Job Equivalent Income for life if you want them to tolerate your program to kill their jobs.

    And I would accept paying my fair share of taxes to maintain the counter-inflationary “head-room” necessary to be able to pay these oil and coal workers with enough MMT money to do that without inflating the money.

    Now, if no such program is ever instituted, especially because of coal and oil worker opposition, and if the culture itself evolves so far away from coal and oil as to kill their jobs anyway through the playing out of culturally driven market forces, then in that case I would have no sympathy and no empathy with their job losses.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Guaranteed Oil Job Equivalent

      Well, we’d better make sure it’s mean-tested and hopefully done with a tax credit. Certain terms and conditions must apply.

      Seriously, a case for a Jobs Guarantee as a Jackpot hedge isn’t such a bad one.

      1. Eustachedesaintpierre

        Perhaps a sign of how things have slip slided away, as back in the 80’s under Thatcher no less, the substantial number of coalminers made redundant due to pit closures got on average 30 grand a head in redundancy – very much doubt that it would happen today, although except for NHS workers ( the Uk’s largest employer ) there are now I think no individual masses of workers.

  5. Carolinian

    Re Biden’s mandate–does it even exist? Will it exist?

    Here’s the “more complicated than it looks” reporting


    This is the actual text of the new question and answer on the OSHA website:

    “If I require my employees to take the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of their employment, are adverse reactions to the vaccine recordable?

    “If you require your employees to be vaccinated as a condition of employment (i.e., for work-related reasons), then any adverse reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine is work-related. The adverse reaction is recordable if it is a new case under 29 CFR 1904.6 and meets one or more of the general recording criteria in 29 CFR 1904.7.”

    In response, several large contractors said they have changed or will change their vaccination policy to only recommend—not require—a vaccine.

    And here’s the skepticism about the whole thing story

    Psaki said.

    “I can’t give you a timeline. OSHA’s working on them but obviously, hopefully, we’ll know more in the coming weeks,” she added.

    This week, Time reported tension between the White House and Labor Department officials over Biden’s demands:

    “It’s been a very frustrating nine months for OSHA,” says Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Jordan Barab, referencing a series of instructions from the Biden Administration, including the most recent plan for a vaccine and testing mandate. “This whole thing was basically thought up in the White House.”

    “OSHA staff and leaders and DOL staff and leaders would prefer a more comprehensive standard,” Barab says. “I think there is a lot of frustration that this is limited exclusively to just vaccinations or testing. The mitigation measures are totally absent.”


    And here’s the nothing to see here spin–all being “hammered out.”


    Perhaps for a China virus you need a Chinese Fire Drill (no ethnic disparagement intended).

      1. cocomaan

        That OSHA material is crazy. Can’t imagine the costs to an employer for a myocarditis claim.

        It’s possible to rig it so that none of the side effects are recognized, though, like the VA denying vets a claim for hearing aids by saying that it wasn’t related to firing tens of thousands of rounds downrange with various kinds of firearms.

        1. flora

          Imagine the cost to employer’s insurance company to cover a work related bad jab event. I assume the employer’s insurance would have to pay. Or maybe the individual’s insurance policy? So many questions.

        2. Objective Ace

          A cardiologist can detect myocarditis. Its not something easy to hide if you know to be on the lookout for it–your heart gets inflamed which is visible on an echocardiogram or chest xray.

          Speaking of costs to employers for mandating something, what about costs to California’s public school system/taxpayers? My understanding is that children are at an even higher risk for myocarditis.

          1. Cocomaan

            Sure a doctor can detect but you can bet that it will be a coincidence when the insurance companies and lawyers get involved!

              1. Charger01

                Jordan Barab! That guy was a blogger actually back in the Bush II era. I remember his work at The Pump Handle and Daily Toll for Occupational health folks.

    1. outside observer

      When I go to OSHA’s FAQ page it looks like the response to the adverse reactions question has been modified?
      “Are adverse reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine recordable on the OSHA recordkeeping log?”
      “DOL and OSHA, as well as other federal agencies, are working diligently to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations. OSHA does not wish to have any appearance of discouraging workers from receiving COVID-19 vaccination, and also does not wish to disincentivize employers’ vaccination efforts. As a result, OSHA will not enforce 29 CFR 1904’s recording requirements to require any employers to record worker side effects from COVID-19 vaccination at least through May 2022. We will reevaluate the agency’s position at that time to determine the best course of action moving forward.”

      1. Carolinian

        Of course! But regardless of whether it’s in the OSHA log I’d say the legal question is still hanging there. Perhaps that’s wrong.

        Surely the courts need to weigh in on this and even the SC. If it does go to court then presumably the ACLU, which as Greenwald points out not long ago opposed mandates, will support Biden. TINA all around.

      2. Objective Ace

        “OSHA does not wish to have any appearance of discouraging workers from receiving COVID-19 vaccination” so instead will take on the appearance of not giving a crap and no longer fulfilling its mandate to protect employees.

        Very clarifying

    2. Mikel

      Employers are going to collect that life insurance they have on employees if they die. You can be sure of that.
      Company in trouble? Gather up a bunch of employees in a badly ventilated space for long periods of time.

      Who’s going to give a rat’s butt?

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The mitigation measures are totally absent

      That to me was the most interesting part. What is meant by “mitigation”? Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions* like ventilation and masking?

      NOTE * It’s so telling that we have to have a special word for what would have been normal procedure, well after Florence Nightingales’s time (the hospitals she designed emphasized ventilation by design).

  6. zagonostra

    >“Lessons from the elusive backlash to vaccine mandates” [Janan Ganesh, Financial Times].

    Street protests are real but containable…The public has already supplied an example of what we might call enlightened docility.

    This one is worth filing away for future historians.

    1. marym

      Just the grassroots rising up for the good of the childr……

      Koch-backed group fuels opposition to school mask mandates, leaked letter shows

      A template letter circulated by Independent Women’s Forum offers a glimpse into a well-resourced campaign against public health regulations

      Bill Riggs, a spokesman for the Charles Koch Institute and other philanthropic and advocacy organizations endowed by the billionaire, said the group’s financial support for Independent Women’s Forum was steered toward a program opposing occupational and labor regulations.


      1. JBird4049

        Apparently, it is all about getting power. If it takes burning the world down, who cares, so long as they get that power? Mordor here we come.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Another way of saying this, however, is that Conservatives (on the whole and on the average) are much more serious about their politics than Liberals (ditto) are.

          Shutting down a schoolboard vs. bemoaning the incivility of it all….

          1. JBird4049

            This is true but, eventually, being serious becomes just an excuse for being stupid, if not suicidal.

            This is like in a winter cabin when all you have is a fireplace. Doing the hard, exhausting, sweaty, but necessary work of chopping that woodpile down to size to feed the fireplace, which the Democrats obviously do not want to do. Understandably, because it is not fun. However, they don’t seem to mind feeding the furniture, because all they do is just whine about the rudeness and all. We must’nt insult the Norms Fairies after all. That would be baaad because reasons.

            But when that furniture is all gone, the Conservatives then look around, seen no furniture, and do the serious work of chopping the walls and the floors up to stay warm begins, which is what the Republicans seem to heading towards. Maybe they will leave some bits of the roof up near the fireplace. And we still have a dry, untouched cord of oak, that pile of cash, just outside the door, which neither party wants to use.

            This is what I mean, when I say they don’t mind burning it all down, if they get to have and keep that power.

  7. Tim

    Regarding :“Amazon Makes a Robot Bet That Apple Wouldn’t—But Consumers Aren’t Ready” [Bloomberg].

    I would call this a mini-butler, not a pet unless the provided photo is showing that it’s energy source is skittles.

    Pets should have the following characteristics for consumers to ring the till:
    Warm (or capable of being warmed)
    Soft somewhere
    big eye to small head ratio
    preferably fury

    This is cold hard and repulsive. Perhaps the real problem is the marketing guys just got it wrong, because there aren’t enough eons left in the universe for humans to be ready to call this hideous contraption a pet.

    1. griffen

      As I’m flipping channels today, the movie Promotheus was just starting. I’ll wager there is a designer or engineer alive today who watches that film and thinks that David makes a good template to follow.

      Then again we aren’t lacking for evil corps pretending to be wholesome and good, necessarily. Quite the opposite.

  8. allan

    FBI raids offices of New York City police sergeants union [AP]

    Federal agents raided the offices Tuesday of a New York City police union, the Sergeants Benevolent Association, and the Long Island home of its bombastic leader, who has clashed with city officials over his incendiary tweets and hard-line tactics. …

    Along with the union’s Manhattan headquarters, agents also searched union president Ed Mullins’ home in Port Washington, Long Island …

    Along with Mullins’ periodic appearances on cable networks like Fox News and Newsmax — including one in which he was pictured in front of a QAnon mug — perhaps the union’s most powerful megaphone is its 45,000-follower Twitter account, which Mullins runs himself, often to fiery effect. …

    In 2019, it wasn’t tweets that got Mullins in trouble, but rather comments he made in a radio interview suggesting that slain Barnard College student Tessa Majors had gone to the park where she was killed to buy marijuana. Police later arrested three teens, saying she’d been stabbed during an attempted robbery. …

    Sadly, as we’ve learned in the Middle East, removing leaders of armed militant groups
    just makes them into martyrs and leads to more online radicalization.

    1. Kurtismayfield

      The man was getting paid for a no show job by the city, AND his union job.

      Though he’s a full-time union chief, city law has allowed Mullins to retain his sergeant’s position and collect salaries from both the union and the police department. Last year, Mullins made more than $220,000 between the two, according to public records: $88,757 from the union and $133,195 from the NYPD.

      Nice gig if you can find it

  9. Mikel

    “Lessons from the elusive backlash to vaccine mandates” [Janan Ganesh, Financial Times].

    Wouldn’t be so sure about the docility.
    Probably just a boiling, fuming anger – a social fabric ran through the shredder – that will manifest itself in other ways, then the first chance for payback will be taken.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the first chance for payback will be taken.

      “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” –Margaret Mead

      It’s not clear to me that the nature of the “thoughts” is the primary driver here,..

  10. 430 MLK

    Love the picture of the plums. My blue damsons didn’t do so well this year, though my blueberries and gooseberries were bumper.

  11. griffen

    The Busch brood, holy cr*p on a sleeve of salted crackers. I mean there is rich, crazy rich and indulgent rich so you avoid every conceivable law. The fourth version must’ve lead a poor adolescence, as his growth seems to have stopped at middle teenage years.

    Recommend the linked article, for future entertainment value.

  12. Carolinian

    New Greenwald


    It’s about this week’s Facebook controversy and his assertion that the real motive for the story–at least from the Dem politician standpoint–is to force still more censorship onto Facebook rather than reform Facebook.

    Undoubtedly that’s true but you could pair Greenwald with this morning’s NYT link that suggests–probably correctly–that Facebook is slowly on the way out and most popular with older people while advertiser desirable younger people turn to other platforms. Since I never go on it I can’t opine on Facebook. But I do seem to do just fine getting info from blogs like this one.

    Greenwald says the politicians want to force all sites to moderate their content and thereby shut them up. But NC has always done this and has been around for quite awhile. He may be exaggerating the threat.

    One way he surely is right though is in seeing the MSM as the real threat. Their power depends on institutional privilege. That’s why CNN is so eager to get rid of Fox.

    1. Yves Smith

      We have not always moderated comments. We have had to do so as the standards of Internet speech have generally fallen.

      As for FB, it has been acquiring platforms like Instagram that do appeal to younger people. Plus older people are higher income than young people and so still a desirable demographic.

    2. Acacia

      > Facebook is slowly on the way out and most popular with older people while advertiser desirable younger people turn to other platforms

      True, though TV is today similarly for an older demographic, but not going away anytime soon. As for the other platforms targeting younger people, Instagram is also part of the Facebook hydra.

      1. Carolinian

        I think this week’s controversy is about Instagram for Kids which apparently been blocked or dropped by FB. Seems the 60 minutes lady made a thing as well about how Instagram causes teens to consider suicide due to body image issues. As Greenwald points out Hollywood has always been in the body image business with Melissa McCarthy a rare exception now (and a comedienne).

        Standards were once a lot more Rubensesque (see Jane Russell) although Audrey Hepburn sure was popular.

  13. Acacia

    Re: Facebook advertising, don’t forget about building the brand.

    Also, it’s said that the three most important things in business are: location, location, and location. And the most effective location is right in front of your eyes.

  14. Ds

    Hey Lambert, to answer your question about ARPU, ARPU is a common operating metric in the consumer internet space.

    It’s the total revenue generated during a given period divided by the number of active users during the same period.

    If Facebook’s ARPU was $10.12 last quarter, it implies that Facebook billed its advertisers a grand total of $10.12 for all the ads shown to the average user during that 3 month period. It doesn’t reflect stuff that the average user bought; it reflects what advertisers paid for all the ads Facebook delivered to the average user.

    For what it’s worth, Facebook’s ARPU is based on actual billings, not projections, so I don’t really see what they are doing wrong there.

    This whole episode smells fishy to me. The whistleblower’s claims fit a bit too neatly into an existing “we need to censor everything to protect ourselves” narrative for me to believe that this is an honest effort. Facebook, which is already very unpopular in Washington, has become a perfect encapsulation of what happens in the absence of media censorship (ie armed hordes invade the capital, uninformed barbarian vaccine skeptics proliferate!)

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Wasn’t Facebook the platform on which the Killer Buddhist priests of Myanmar organized and whipped up their follower mobs to begin the process of ethnic cleansing the Rohinjas out of Rakhine State? Perhaps this whistleblower is more concerned about that kind of violent flash-mob hate-amplification and weaponization than about “misinformation” on Facebook.

      Perhaps it is the media itself which is diverting the discussion away from Facebook’s hate-mob amplification interaction technology towards “misinformation” to suit the media’s own interest, and the government’s own interest here.

      And perhaps Greenwald is just not smart enough to see that.

      1. Carolinian

        Just read his column. He says the Dems and the media don’t mind hate speech as long as it’s directed against someone they don’t like (i.e. Trump comes to mind).

        He also says Facebook’s foreign markets don’t have enough staff to keep an eye….an argument for less Facebook, not censorship. He’s in favor of antitrust.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Less Facebook and more antitrust would be a good thing. No Facebook at all would be the ideal.

          If someone were to try creating a subscription-based Shinola Search and Social, this might be a find time to hire the best minds away from Facebook and Google to try developing it. Then people would really reveal whether they really want a Shinola Search and Social enough to actually pay for having it.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > iod. It doesn’t reflect stuff that the average user bought; it reflects what advertisers paid for all the ads Facebook delivered to the average user.

      I understand that, but I was trying to say, and I think failed, that for the buyer, the commission has to bear some rational relation to goods (or services) purchased. And I don’t see how it does

      1. Stillfeelinthebern

        We’ve never had good sales off FB ads. Long ago switched to Pinterest and what a difference! The results are great, the backend is excellent and it keeps on giving. It’s the nature of the platform.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Maybe the non-dragged non-punished anons might want to use something else, then. If something else or elses exist.

        1. Acacia

          yeah, that would be bot nets, I guess, and those have of course been used for mercenary DDoS attacks. Not an expert on this subject, but what I keep coming back to is the sense that there just isn’t this kind of collective political consciousness in the Anonymous community. When you listen to their discourse, their criticisms of the status quo are often pretty banal.

          So then the meta-issue becomes how to stimulate that consciousness.

  15. Jason Boxman

    As anticipated, the top line is being negotiated down: Biden Scales Back His Agenda in Hopes of Bringing Moderates Onboard.

    Mr. Biden and his aides have known for months that they would most likely need to reduce the size and scope of his plans to satisfy moderates in his party.

    lolz whut?

    The president acknowledged in private meetings on Monday and Tuesday with House Democrats that he was now negotiating a plan to spend no more than $2.3 trillion, and possibly less, in a concession to two Democratic centrist holdouts, Senators Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

    My best guess remains that in exchange for dropping Hyde, the figure shrinks to the $1.5T redline Manchin set and passes the Senate. And obviously that what constitutes the left flank of the Democrat party folds again. But we’ll see.

    Of course, the United States federal government is so large, every Congress and Presidency achieves some good, be it accidental or intentional, so someone can always claim that half a loaf is manifestly better than none. And that’ll likely be the line taken here as well.

    Yet the hour is late for liberal Democrats to deliver so little to so few. And as Stoller has pointed out it isn’t just the spend that matters, it is who spends and how that shapes the future.

    1. ambrit

      Caving in to a political bully like Manchin will work out about as well as it ever does out in the “real world.” No one except the bully will be staisfied and public faith in the institutions themselves will erode a little bit more. Where the “tipping point” is, I know not. But “it” is out there, waiting.

      1. Jason Boxman

        Given that means testing is now in play for these originally universal programs in the formerly 3.5T bill, I think liberal Democrats at least will be quite satisfied with the outcome of negotiations. Complex program designs keep NGOs employed, after all.

    1. Objective Ace

      The interesting thing about Youtube TV, unlike its traditional competitors comcast and verizon, is that it can be used as a “family and friends” type plan you see phone companies offer. One account grants access to 3 emails–no need to be shared by the same household*. There is a limit to watching 3 things at once though. That makes the 60$ fee much more palatable, heck, even a great deal!

      *Word of caution, I believe there may be a regional constraint. One of our friends moved across the country and eventually got an error saying he needed to login within x amount of miles from the “home” account every 90 days.. or something to that effect

  16. VietnamVet

    To me, a former Amtrak traveler, the firefight at Tucson AZ station in the war on drugs yesterday is hardly docile. Violence is the basic disconnect in America that the coronavirus pandemic highlights. It is growing. There has been a 9% increase in gun deaths since last year. The wealthy and their overseers are making out like bandits while, at the same time, they are above it all, strolling on and off their private jets, with none of the hassles and dangers of lower-class Americans. Public Education is in its death throes and the Public Health System no longer works.

    Joe Biden emphatically mandates vaccines for all workers but assures that corporations are in no way responsible for maintaining a safe workplace or for any adverse consequences from the mandatory gene therapy jabs. Welcome to North Mexico.

    North America is today as much a colony for multinational corporations as Latin America.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Violence is the basic disconnect in America that the coronavirus pandemic highlights. It is growing.

      Just out of idle curiosity, is the CDC building in Atlanta fortified, does anyone know?

      1. Charger01

        As described by Richard Preston in The Hot Zone, apparently the US Marshals or another federal security branch provides security for the CDC. All Team Fed buildings have security features after Oklahoma.

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