2:00PM Water Cooler 11/11/2021

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

This reminds me of a Philip Glass composition…

* * *

#COVID19

Patient readers, I have started to revise this section, partly to reduce my workload, but partly to focus more as an early warning, if that is possible. Hopefully I will have a variant tracker map soon. In the meantime, I added excess deaths.

Vaccination by region:

The numbers bounce back. (I have also not said, because it’s too obvious, that if by Bubba we mean The South, then Bubba has done pretty well on vax.)

58.5% of the US is fully vaccinated (CDC data. Mediocre by world standards, being just below Estonia, and just above Turkey in the Financial Times league tables as of this Monday). We are back to the stately 0.1% rise per day. I would bet that the stately rise = word of mouth from actual cases. However, as readers point out, every day those vaccinated become less protected, especially the earliest. So we are trying to outrun the virus…

Case count by United States regions:

I think we’re beyond fiddling and diddling to a very modest upward trend. And a good thing Bubba came through, or we’d really be in the soup! This chart is a seven-day average, so changes in direction only show up when a train is really rolling. That said, I don’t think the past rise is the surge some of us Bears have been waiting for. The rise is, however, at odds with the current Narrative.

Here is a chart from the CDC modeling hub, which aggregates the results of eight models in four scenarios, with the last run (“Round 9”) having taken place on 2021-08-30, and plots case data (black dotted line) against the aggregated model results (grey area). I have helpfully highlighted the “fiddling and diddling” of the case data:

Now, it’s fair to say that the modest upward trend is within the tolerance of the models; it does not go outside the grey area. It’s also true that when we see an upward trend (lower right quadrant) it’s much later than where we are now. But maybe we’ll get lucky, and the problem, if indeed it is a problem, will go a dway before Thanksgiving travel begins.

Even if hospitalizations and the death rate are going down, that says nothing about Long Covid, the effect on children, etc. So the numbers, in my mind, are still “terrifying”, even if that most-favored word is not in the headlines any more, and one may be, at this point, inured.

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

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

From CDC: “Community Profile Report November 10, 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties:

California going yellow again!. Arizona not out of the woods. New Mexico better. Minnesota much improved. New Hampshire somewhat better. (New Hampshire is concerning, because Southern New Hampshire is in essence a bedroom suburb for Boston.) Weird flare-ups, like flying coals in a forest fire. They land, catch, but — one hopes — sputter out.

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

The previous release:

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 780,254 778,511. Ticking downward again. But at this rate, I don’t think we’ll hit the million mark by New Year’s.

Excess deaths (total, not only from Covid):

Hard to believe we have no excess deaths now, but very fortunate if so. (CDC explains there are data lags).

(Adding: I know the data is bad. This is the United States. Needless to see, this is a public health debacle. It’s the public health establishment’s duty 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.)

Covid cases in historic variant sources, with additions from the Brain Trust:

Chile, Brazil, and Portugal accelerate once more. Remember this is a log scale. Sorry for the kerfuffle at the left. No matter how I tinker, it doesn’t go away.

* * *

Politics

“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 Mice de Talleyrand-Périgord

Capitol Seizure

“Democrats Are Profoundly Committed to Criminal Justice Reform — For Everyone But Their Enemies” [Glenn Greenwald]. “Why are so many Democrats simultaneously chanting radical criminal reform slogans to abolish or greatly reduce the police and the prison state while simultaneously demanding harsh prison terms for so many people under the classic law-and-order ideology they claim to oppose? The answer is clear: Democrats believe that the only real criminals, or at least the worst ones, are those who reject their political ideology and are their political adversaries. And thus, while they work with one hand to usher in radical reforms to the policing and prison state, they work with the other to concoct theories to justify the long-term imprisonment of their political opponents, even when their alleged crimes involve no violence.” • Another blockbuster from Greenwald…

“Bringing Counterterrorism Back Home” [The Tablet]. “As with every information operation that political operatives, intelligence officials, and the media have run the last several years, the goal is not simply to smear opponents, but also to obtain from the federal government political and legal instruments to wield against them. The hysterical media coverage of Jan. 6 first gave rise to a congressional committee designed to target Jan. 6 protesters, and GOP officials, as domestic terrorists. The next step, it seems, is anti-domestic terror legislation. Hoffman has explained in interviews since Jan. 6 why he backs domestic terror statutes: “It would require the federal government to gather data and statistical information on terrorist incidents in the United States,” he said in April. In other words, it would create work for contractors, consultants, and analysts who research terror-related issues, like … Bruce Hoffman.” • And:

Which is more likely? That the Biden administration is pulling its punches, or that the offenses are mostly no more serious than, say, the Occupation of the Wisconsin state Capitol in 2011, by Democrats (albeit Democrats later thrown under the bus by the national Democrats). From JJ McNab, who follows right wing groups closely:

Most of the rioters, perhaps, would be in categories 1) and 2). Meanwhile, four years for this guy?

Really?

Biden Administration

“Joe Biden announces effort to ID toxic air issues in veterans” [Bangor Daily News]. “President Joe Biden, the father of an Iraq war veteran, is using his first Veterans Day in office to announce an effort to better understand, treat and identify medical conditions suffered by troops deployed to toxic environments. It centers on lung problems suffered by troops who breathe in toxins and the potential connection between rare respiratory cancers and time spent overseas breathing poor air, according to senior White House officials. Federal officials plan to start by examining lung and breathing problems but said they will expand the effort as science identifies potential new connections.” • This is very good and no doubt long overdue. Now could we do ventilation in schools, based on accepting aerosol transmission?

“Biden Visits Port of Baltimore” [Maritime Logistics Professional]. “President Joe Biden on Wednesday made a stop at the Port of Baltimore where he addressed ongoing supply chain issues set in motion by the COVID-19 pandemic…. The infrastructure package includes $17 billion in investments to help ports, including dredging to allow for larger ships and capacity expansion. Biden said the bill will help ease shortages, combat inflation and unclog the nation’s ports as goods ordered months ago from abroad wait at sea to be unloaded and transported inland. Issues like port congestion and inflation have turned Biden’s White House into an economic emergency response team. Biden on Tuesday talked to companies including Walmart Inc, United Parcel Service Inc, FedEx Corp and Target Corp to ensure they are ready for demand to skyrocket during the Christmas holiday rush. His aides worked with the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles to move goods around the clock.” • But not the unions! (Also, Biden seems to be hitting the trail more than usual.

Democrats en Deshabille

Lambert here: Obviously, the Democrat Party is a rotting corpse that can’t bury itself. Why is that? First, the Democrat Party is the political expression of the class power of PMC, their base (lucidly explained by Thomas Frank in Listen, Liberal!). It follows that the Democrat Party is as “unreformable” as the PMC is unreformable; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. (“PMC” modulo “class expatriates,” of course.) Second, the Democrat Party has more working parts than Stoller suggests, and they all reinforce each other. Leave aside characterizing the relationships between elements of the Party (ka-ching, but not entirely) those elements comprise a network — a Flex Net? An iron octagon? — of funders, vendors, apparatchiks, electeds, NGOs, and miscellaneous mercenaries, with assets in the press and the intelligence community. Whatever, if anything, that is to replace the Democrat Party needs to demonstrate the operational capability to contend with all that. Sadly, I see nothing of the requisite scale and scope on the horizon, though I would love to be wrong. (If Sanders had leaped nimbly from the electoral train to the strike wave train after losing in 2020, instead of that weak charity sh*t he went with, things might be different today. I am not sure that was in him to do, and I’m not sure he had the staff to do it, although I believe such a pivot to a “war of movement” would have been very popular with his small donors. What a shame the app wasn’t two-way.) Ah well, nevertheless.

And while we’re at it: Think of the left’s programs, and lay them against the PMC’s interests. (1) Free College, even community college. Could devalue PMC credentials. Na ga happen. (2) MedicareForAll. Ends jobs guarantee for means-testing gatekeepers in government, profit-through-denial-of-care gatekeepers in the health insurance business, not to mention opposition from some medical guilds. Na ga happen. (3) Ending the empire (and reining in the national security state). The lights would go out all over Fairfax and Loudon counties. Na ga happen. These are all excellent policy goals. But let’s be clear that it’s not only billionaires who oppose them.

* * *

Be a lamp in the window for my wandering boy:

Or a wandering Clintonite bag-man….

Trump Legacy

Well, this is interesting:

Not so much a straw in the wind as an entire bale….

Realignment and Legitimacy

A word on the coming moral panic on the Rittenhouse trial. I read some local reporting on the back-and-forth in court, and it doesn’t seem like an open and shut case, at least not for all the charges (and I have strong priors on guns, as readers now). From Carlos Mucha (inventor, as “Beowulf,” of the platinum coin):

And:

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of interest today.

* * *

Tech: “Why Facebook’s Metaverse Is Dead on Arrival” [New York Magazine]. “We live in a capitalist society — money equals options. The people with the most options in the world, specifically Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg, either want to be off the planet or they want to create a different universe on this planet. It feels like the mother of all abdications. ‘We don’t want to improve the world, we want to go to a different world.’ It seems somewhat nihilistic and strange….. Just as I have reveled in the train wrecks that were Portal and Libra, this is the next $10 billion insect hitting the windshield of reality for Facebook.” • Well worth reading in full.

Tech: No:

No.

The Bezzle: “Zuckerberg Avatar Enthusiastically Greets Staff In VR Office As Catatonic Body Lies In Hospital Bed” [The Onion]. • Seems legit.

The Bezzle: “The Intellectual Incoherence of Cryptoassets” [Stephen Diehl]. “Early in my career one of my mentors gave me one of the best pieces of common sense advice on trading that I ever received. Never buy financial products you don’t understand. And in today’s market there’s one very pathological psuedo-asset class, that despite all the sound and fury, I dare say nobody fully understands: crypto assets…. Crypto assets are the synthesis of a speculative mania and a financial scam built around an opaque technology, phoney populism, with a tolerance for intellectual incoherence at its core. And it is a novel type of a scam, one that we don’t have a precise term of art for. They share the obscured and circular payouts of Ponzi schemes, the cult-like recruiting of multilevel marketing schemes, the ephemeral nature of high-yield investment fraud, and payout mechanics of pyramid schemes but strictly speaking they aren’t exactly like any of the classical scams. They’re something entirely new that we don’t have a word for yet. Some people have cleverly suggested we adapt the German compound word schneeballsystem or snowball scheme to refer to this new type of scam…. These investments are effectively a game of libertarian musical chairs where participants gamble on timing the market hoping not to be left holding the bag when the music stops. The only novel element is that our new media landscape has effectively distorted the public’s sense of epistemology so drastically that they’re willing to convince themselves of the emperor’s luxurious clothing far longer than they would have in the past. Eventually though, reality always has a way of asserting itself since madness is not a stable state of being.” • “… longer than you can stay solvent.” Well worth a read; great fun.

The Bezzle: “Sold: World’s best known Da Vinci replica goes for €210,000 in Paris auction” [EuroNews]. “A faithful copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa dating from more than 400 years ago has sold for €210,000…. But this version, dating from around 1600, is so similar to the original that experts say it is likely that the artist had close access to Leonardo’s version.” • Ha. I assumed from the headline this was a digital copy, but no.

Supply Chain: “Many Logistics Firms Are Avoiding Covid-19 Vaccine Requirements Amid U.S. Mandate Debate” [Wall Street Journal]. “Freight transportation companies are cautiously stepping around a Covid-19 vaccination requirement while trade groups fight the federal mandate in court. Companies including United Parcel Service Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and others that manage warehouse staffers, truck drivers and other employees across logistics networks in general aren’t requiring employees outside of some office workers to get vaccinated against Covid-19. Many firms say they are encouraging staffers to get vaccinated while mandating protection measures in workplaces. The federal mandate, which is slated to go into effect Jan. 4, exempts workers who are exclusively outdoors and don’t report to a workplace where they interact with others. So it may leave out many truck drivers but not the office and warehouse workers who help move goods from factories to stores and residences.”

Manufacturing: “Investors really believe in the future of the electric-vehicle market. Startup Rivian Automotive is walking away with $12 billion from a blockbuster initial public offering…. as shares rose nearly 30% in their debut and the company’s market value topped $100 billion on a fully diluted basis” [Wall Street Journal]. “That exceeds the market value of several other large auto makers and provides a boost for both the Irvine, Calif.-based startup and other companies looking to bring electric vehicles into the transportation market. E-commerce giant Amazon is in the picture with its own roughly 19% stake in Rivian, which has electric package-delivery vans on its drawing boards. Rivian lost $2 billion in the first half of this year. But the new backing will help it expand manufacturing and the projected launch of an all-electric parcel van by the end of the year could change the financial picture.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 82 Extreme Greed (previous close: 82 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 82 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 11 at 12:13pm.

The Biosphere

“Air-scrubbing machines: are they a serious tool in fighting climate change?” [South China Morning Post]. “The Iceland plant, called Orca, is the largest such facility in the world, capturing about 4,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. But compared to what the planet needs, the amount is tiny. Experts say 10 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide must be removed annually by mid-century…. Leading scientific agencies including the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change say that even if the world manages to stop producing harmful emissions, that still won’t be enough to avert a climate catastrophe. They say we need to suck massive amounts of carbon dioxide out of the air and put it back underground – yielding what some call “negative emissions”… As dire warnings have accelerated, technology to vacuum carbon dioxide from the air has advanced. Currently, a handful of companies operate such plants on a commercial scale, including Climeworks, which built the Orca plant in Iceland, and Carbon Engineering, which built a different type of direct air capture plant in British Columbia. And now that the technology has been proven, both companies have ambitions for major expansion. At Climeworks’ Orca plant near Reykjavik, fans suck air into big, black collection boxes where the carbon dioxide accumulates on a filter. Then it’s heated with geothermal energy and is combined with water and pumped deep underground into basalt rock formations. Within a few years, Climeworks says, the carbon dioxide turns into stone.”

“The Most Detailed Map of Cancer-Causing Industrial Air Pollution in the U.S.” [Pro Publica]. “ProPublica’s analysis of five years of modeled EPA data identified more than 1,000 toxic hot spots across the country and found that an estimated 250,000 people living in them may be exposed to levels of excess cancer risk that the EPA deems unacceptable. The agency has long collected the information on which our analysis is based. Thousands of facilities nationwide that are considered large sources of toxic air pollution submit a report to the government each year on their chemical emissions. But the agency has never released this data in a way that allows the public to understand the risks of breathing the air where they live. Using the reports submitted between 2014 and 2018, we calculated the estimated excess cancer risk from industrial sources across the entire country and mapped it all.” • There’s a lot of good mapping going on just now. If only there were an interoperability standard that allowed them to be merged.

“What drives roots’ decomposition and carbon storage in grassland soils?” [Soils Matter, Get the Scoop!]. “You most likely know that roots are important for grasses to grow, but the roots help do other things, too. They build soil carbon and support other life forms in soil. But did you know that various management tactics can force grass roots to break down, decompose, and add to the stored carbon pool in soil? As plant roots die off and decompose, nutrients and carbon are released to soils. The same is true for grasses. The dead roots also become part of the important organic matter in soil. Microbes that live in the soil use this as food for energy and form organic matter. Decomposition of roots is a major source of soil carbon and important aspects of ecosystem function.The driving factors behind root decomposition and how fast the process happens are largely unknown.” And: “With more food sources, there was greater root decomposition and ultimately greater soil organic carbon and organic matter storage. Soils under native grass roots had approximately 14% greater carbon than the non-native forage, which corresponded to an 11% greater root decay for native prairie grasses. These results suggest that the decomposition of native grass roots may be the source of more soil carbon.”

Water

“Climate Change Is Acidifying and Contaminating Drinking Water and Alpine Ecosystems” [Scientific American]. “[There is a] color code of stream ecology: rusty red or orange for iron oxide, chalky white for aluminum, and yellow for manganese. Such colors reveal the presence of minerals that wash down mountainsides; the results can be hostile to local aquatic life and dangerous for drinking water systems. Some mineralization and acidification occur naturally. But decades of research show some is also a result of historic excavations and waste disposal practices at regional gold, silver and other mines, often found in mountainous regions. Now, climate change seems to be speeding up the process. The chemistry starts in high mountain valleys, many of which have long served as the world’s natural water towers. Climate change is raising temperatures and increasing the frequency and intensity of droughts in those high-elevation alpine environments, where mines typically are located. A growing body of research links these hotter, drier conditions to increasingly acidic water, which causes rocks to shed more minerals into waterways. And the list of what’s entering those waters continues to grow. These trends could potentially compromise water quality in watersheds anywhere in the world where mountains contain high concentrations of minerals, from the Rocky Mountains to the Himalayas to the Andes.”

Games

“It’s Time for Some Game Theory” [Lapham’s Quarterly (anon y’mouse)]. “In March 2021 the American Historical Review included three video games in its review section, a first for the self-proclaimed ‘journal of record for the historical profession in the United States.’ All three games selected for review are installments of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, which takes as its central conceit a centuries-long struggle between two shadowy organizations: the Templars, who seek to control and manipulate humanity for their own ends, and the Assassins, who champion human freedom and creativity and are usually (though not always) cast as morally superior. Throughout the franchise players are tapped by one or both factions to hunt for powerful artifacts called Pieces of Eden, each of which was hidden or lost long ago. Finding these artifacts requires accessing the past by means of a fictional technology called the Animus, which generates lifelike, interactive virtual-reality worlds from ancient DNA samples taken from the remains of long-dead witnesses to the Pieces of Eden’s fates…. The most tantalizing loose end for me, a casual player of the games and a holder of a PhD in history, is the brief editorial note that introduces the section, which justifies the AHR’s decision to branch into video-game reviewing as coming out of concern for what nonhistorians derive from playing historically themed video games. ‘For good or for ill,’ it explains, ‘many young people receive their initial impressions of historical epochs, characters, and events in this visually compelling ludic format, and historians should pay attention to these virtual renderings of the past.'” • “Ludic format”! Holy moley! I’m not about to be taking up game-playing, but this piece is well worth a read, and I’d like very much to hear what Assassins Creed players in the commentariat — surely there are some? — think of this article.

Sports Desk

“I Will Create A Winning Basketball Program At The University Of Austin” [Defector (audreyf)]. This is great. Here is the first place where I laughed out loud: “The name of Leon Kass, an octogenarian University of Chicago type, rang a bell for me for reasons I couldn’t quite pin down; it turned out I remembered him because, during his time on George W. Bush’s bioethics council, it emerged that he had written disapprovingly about people eating ice cream in public, ‘a catlike activity that has been made acceptable in informal America but that still offends those who know eating in public is offensive.'” • Cat-like is good! And here is the second: “Anyway that is what the University of Austin is. Now I would like to talk to you about how I plan to build a winning basketball program there.” And the third: “I believe that the University of Austin Fighting Meritocrats can and will be able to compete with the best and best-resourced programs in Conference USA.” • I’m so glad those private equity [glass bowls] blew up Deadspin and as a result we have the (employee-owned) Defector.

“California Golden Bears football coach Justin Wilcox says team followed COVID-19 protocols” [ESPN]. “California coach Justin Wilcox said his team followed all the proper protocols before a COVID-19 outbreak that led to dozens of positive tests and the first postponement of a major college football game this season…. ‘We have followed the guidelines through the athletic department, the university and the city of Berkeley,’ Wilcox said Wednesday. ‘We have health professionals housed in our building, at our practices, on our planes, in the weight room and the training room. There are people here to help us with all that on a daily basis. Is everybody perfect and following every protocol? I don’t know that I could say that. We do the best that we can.’… The Berkeley Public Health department released a statement Tuesday night saying there was a ‘ongoing failure to abide by public health measures’ that contributed to the 44 lab-confirmed positive tests. Specifically the department said people in the program didn’t get tested when they were sick, stay home when they were sick or wear masks indoors. ‘These simple measures keep people safe,’ the statement said. ‘Failing to do so results not only in individual infections, sickness, and worse, but also threatens the safety of all around them — especially those with compromised immune systems.'” • So, the football team followed the protocols, except it didn’t. If the players were this sloppy on the field, Wilcox would have an aneurysm. But public health, meh. Wilcox: “Jones, you blew that tackle.” Jones: “I did the best I could, Coach!” Is that how it works?

Groves of Academe

“A “proliferation of administrators”: faculty reflect on two decades of rapid expansion” [Yale Daily News]. • Administrators: 5,066. Faculty: 4,937. Undergraduates: 4,664. Priorities!

Naked Capitalism Cooking Community™

“Robert Pattinson: A Dispatch From Isolation” [GQ]. A little bit rambling, but I found a nugget:

He puts on latex gloves. He pulls out some sugar and some aluminum foil and makes a bed, a kind of hollowed-out sphere, with the foil. He holds up a box of penne pasta that he had in the house. “All right,” Pattinson says. “So obviously, first things first, you gotta microwave the pasta.”

I watch as he pours dry penne into a cereal bowl, covers it with water, and places it in the microwave for eight minutes. He says using penne is already new territory for him. Usually he uses…well… “Do you know the pasta that’s, like, a little, it’s like a blob, a sort of squiggly blob?”

“Gnocchi?”

“No, no, no, no, it looks like—what would you even call it? It looks like a sort of messy…like, the hair bun on a girl.”

“I have literally no idea what you’re talking about,” I say.

“There was one type of pasta that worked. It definitely wasn’t penne.”

Nevertheless, penne and water in the microwave for eight minutes. In the meantime, he takes the foil and he begins dumping sugar on top of it. “I found after a lot of experimentation that you really need to congeal everything in an enormous amount of sugar and cheese.” So after the sugar, he opens his first package of cheese and begins layering slice after slice onto the sugar-foil. Then more sugar: “It really needs a sugar crust.”

Then he realizes that he’s forgotten the outer layer, which is supposed to be breadcrumbs but today will be crushed-up cornflakes, and so he lifts the pile of cheese and sugar and crumbles some cornflakes onto the aluminum foil before placing the sugar-cheese back on top of it. Then he adds sauce, which is red. The microwave dings, and Pattinson promptly burns himself on the bowl of pasta. He sighs, heavily, looking at it. “No idea if it’s cooked or not.” He dumps the pasta in anyway. At this point, his spirits have visibly begun to flag. “I mean, there’s absolutely no chance this is gonna work. Absolutely none.”

The little pillow now mostly built, he pours more sugar on top of it and then produces the top half of a bun, which he hollows out, places it on top of the rest of whatever the hell this thing is, and…begins burning the top of the bun with the giant novelty lighter. “I’m just gonna do the initials.…”

“You look like you’re cooking meth,” I say, because he does.

“I’m really trying to sell this company. I’m doing this for my brand.”

There’s more. Miuch more. Before, and after. Maybe I should have filed this under Guillotine Watch?

Guillotine Watch

“Revolt of the Goldman Juniors” [New York Magazine]. “hen Goldman Sachs sent its analysts home at the beginning of the pandemic, they figured their jobs would stay largely the same: the same 80-hour weeks, the same urgent but menial tasks, the same imagined riches a few years down the line. And they figured they could rely on the essential sustenance Goldman had always provided: Seamless. In the in-office era, analysts had been able to expense around $30 worth of dinner when working after hours, plus another $25 or so if they toiled past midnight. For analysts — the youngest employees at the bank, enrolled in what’s essentially a two-year boot camp — the meal allowance was sacrosanct, less a privilege than an entitlement. Of course they’d get free dinners when work shifted to home. And so when Goldman eliminated the Seamless stipend in the spring of 2020, the reactions came in shades of disbelief and outrage. ‘The free-dinner thing is a very big perk out of college,’ a Goldman analyst who quit last year told me. ‘JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley were giving free meals, and we felt that we deserved that. When we went work-from-home, they gave us nothing — literally nothing.’… The bank’s reasoning: If it paid for dinner at people’s homes, where workers technically had access to a kitchen, Goldman would owe taxes on that compensation, whereas in-office meals were deductible. The rationale grated on first-year analysts making an $85,000 base salary plus bonus. ‘You guys have billions of dollars,’ said a second Wall Street analyst. ‘We’re just trying to eat.'” • Oh, the humanity!

Class Warfare

“We Don’t Fix This Because We Just Don’t Care About Old People’” [Politico]. “Long-term care — or what’s now called long-term services and support — is essential for millions of people who are elderly or people with disabilities who cannot do basic things such as feed, clothe or bathe themselves. But delivering such care is enormously costly, and Washington has addressed the issue only haltingly over the years. It seemed like this time might be different. President Joe Biden made care-giving a key piece of his agenda and he proposed spending a whopping $400 billion in his Build Back Better plan, with a focus on letting people stay at home rather than being forced into a nursing home. Moderate resistance to the legislation’s broader price tag, however, has whittled that figure down to $150 billion in new Medicaid funds. That’s still a historic sum for home care, assuming the bill is ultimately passed by squabbling lawmakers on Capitol Hill. But it barely scrapes the surface of what’s needed. And with Democrats in danger of losing their majorities next year, it’s clear the best shot at finally tackling one of the biggest holes in American health care is slipping away. The architects of the plan are projecting optimism, but even they acknowledge it’s only a start.” • I hate to think like this, but looking at things at the scale of decades, we seem to be slaughtering subpopulations in tranches (above and beyond “normal” slaughter, of course, that we can “live with”). Simplifying: Urban blacks with the crack epidemic, working class whites with deindustrialization and deaths of despair, elders in nursing homes from Covid (Hi, Andy! [waves]). One more like this, and I’ll start to think there’s some sort of pattern. Perhaps there are tranches that I’ve missed.

“Cory Doctorow: The Unimaginable” [Cory Doctorow, Locus]. “TINA is part of a philosophy, ‘capitalist realism,’ a phrase coined by Mark Fischer in the early 2000s. Fischer said that capitalist realism is best captured in the quote ‘It is easier to imagine an end to the world than an end to capitalism’ (this quote has been vari­ously attributed to the philosopher Slavoj Žižek and the literary critic Fredric Jameson). Žižek (or possibly Jameson) got a lot closer to the problem than Thatcher ever did. For while it’s easy to imagine something after capitalism, imagining capitalism’s sunset is far harder….. It is easier to imagine the end to the world than it is to imagine a nonviolent end of capitalism. But we should still try. In many ways, we are already living in a postcapitalist society. Many of our most important jobs – parenting, caring for elderly relatives or friends – are unpaid. And virtually none of our great businesses or their industries would be profitable save for vast state subsidies: the huge public subsidy inherent in the climate emergency. Companies profit by pushing off the highest cost of doing business to the rest of us, in the form rising seas, hurricanes, wildfires and droughts. If compa­nies had to carry this cost on their balance sheet, most firms would have to drastically restructure or go out of business. It’s a bloody form of postcapitalism, one where vital hard work is unwaged and only costs – not profits – are socialized. But there is an alternative. We just have to imagine it.” • Worth a read, especially for Kim Stanley Robinson fans.

News of the Wired

“Scammers impersonate guest editors to get sham papers published” [Nature]. “Hundreds of articles published in peer-reviewed journals are being retracted after scammers exploited the processes for publishing special issues to get poor-quality papers — sometimes consisting of complete gibberish — into established journals. In some cases, fraudsters posed as scientists and offered to guest-edit issues that they then filled with sham papers. Elsevier is withdrawing 165 articles currently in press and plans to retract 300 more that have been published as part of 6 special issues in one of its journals, and Springer Nature is retracting 62 articles published in a special issue of one journal. The retractions come after the publishers each issued expressions of concern earlier this year, covering hundreds of articles. Science-integrity experts expect that more investigations will come in the months ahead as other titles realize that they have been duped. ‘It is very worrying,’ says Guillaume Cabanac, a computer scientist at the University of Toulouse in France, who has worked to uncover nonsense science papers in special issues. He adds that it is shocking to see such papers in journals from ‘flagship’ publishers and that ‘it is not only predatory journals that publish bullshit‘. A Springer Nature spokesperson said that an investigation had revealed ‘deliberate attempts to subvert the trust-based editorial process and manipulate the publication record’.’ They added that they did not yet know who was responsible.” • I’m glad the publishers are cleaning house. How will we know that they’re finished?

* * *

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 (IM):

IM writes: “Fall foliage from Van Dusen gardens in British Columbia.”

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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.

129 comments

  1. diptherio

    Re: Greenwald

    …while they work with one hand to usher in radical reforms to the policing and prison state…

    Citations needed. Seriously, where have dems done anything like “radical reforms to policing”? I haven’t heard of any. Quite the contrary, actually.

    1. Geo

      Exactly. Other than slogans (which have been heavily criticized by most Dems as too far left) there is no real reform happening. I don’t think wearing kente cloth for a photo op counts as reform, does it?

      As for draconian sentencing: Some BLM protestors in Utah were threatened with life sentences and are making plea deals which are still extreme considering their charges of breaking windows and splashing paint.
      https://www.claimsjournal.com/news/west/2021/06/17/304345.htm

      The Jan 6th protestors are being tried in the awful justice system we have – not the one lefties want. Maybe the rightwing should join us start pushing for justice reforms too?

    2. Detroit Dan

      Did you read the article? Greenwald shows that a ton of lip service has been paid. He’s not claiming that the serious changes have been made.

      1. TempestTeacup

        No, he’s claiming something even sillier. He’s claiming that the Democratic Party embraces calls to “Defund the police” while simultaneously supporting prosecutors and general law and order posturing because they want to criminalise everyone who doesn’t agree with them. It seems Greenwald has forgotten that the Democratic Party has more than a century’s experience assimilating popular demands in order to completely disarm them. That’s a shame, though, because I’m pretty sure it is a likelier explanation for why DC bottom feeders like Hakeem Jeffries tweets vapid slogans than the one based around he, Pelosi and Steny Hoyer, drunk on the catechisms of intersectional CRT brought to them by AOC, creating the People’s Republic of Woke.

        Greenwald is, unfortunately, one of – perhaps the leading – figure in an increasingly clearly defined and articulated rump of would-be contrarian commentators. Their principle selling point is that they were formerly associated with the ‘progressive left’ but have become disillusioned with its dogma or illiberal excesses, which is supposed to endow their criticisms with a frisson of intellectual iconoclasm. Many of them, certainly Greenwald, also evince a pathological hatred of the Democratic-aligned media which would be understandable, it being as vapid as it is dishonest, if not for the fact that his animus seems suspiciously close to professional rancor (see how often he or his contrarian comrades brag-whine about being blacklisted from MSNBC after courageously departing from this or that liberal orthodoxy).

        Media critiques aside, Greenwald along with confreres like Michael Tracey, the execrable Jimmy Dore, Zaid Jilani, sometimes and regrettably Matt Taibbi, have developed a definite pattern whereby they stake out a position principally by how it relates to whatever viewpoint agitates the collective mind of the Democratic Party. They then extol themselves on their independence and free-thinking in an incessant barrage of articles and tweets dining out on the manifold hypocrisies and stupidities of Democrats.

        This performative heresy gets its zest by relying on the fallacy that Democrats encompass the limits of political thinking and/or that they represent and can be used as a kind of metonym for ‘the left’ in general. Greenwald, Tracey et al do not therefore criticise the Democrats from a Marxist, anarchist or broadly socialist perspective – such political traditions do not exist in their imaginaries. In fact the cod sophistication of their freethinking pretensions are exposed by their political ignorance – an ignorance that, for example, saw Greenwald embarrass himself on a far-right YouTube show by describing Steve Bannon and pre-election Trump as having offered policies that were basically socialist.

        All this in mind and given their shared (petit-)bourgeois positions, it shouldn’t be surprising that in the end Greenwald’s kneejerk Democrat-baiting contrarianism ultimately resolves itself into a seemingly inexorable drift towards the hard, even fascist, right. What began therefore as a perhaps justifiable loathing of the Dem-aligned media as it debased itself chasing the chimerical Russia-Trump conspiracy has evolved into right-wing libertarian critiques of public health responses to Covid, promotion of unproven or even disproven prophylactics like hydroxychloroquine or treatments like ivermectin (because the Dem-media dunked on Joe Rogan, or something – like I said, this isn’t exactly sophisticated political theory!)…and now supporting the claim that fascist vigilante Kyle Rittenhouse was acting in self-defence.

        This brings to mind the segments on the Jimmy Dore show where he did a fawning interview with one of the fascist Boogaloo Boys – “No! You don’t say! You guys are into LGBT rights? You support BLM? Wow! You sound great!” – followed by one with an actual Marxist and socialist who he ended up screaming at for having the temerity to point out the rather elementary fact that socialists don’t solidarise themselves with members of the far-right. Both are politically ignorant and over time the shallowness of their analysis, along with their ideological disorientation, has led them to embrace increasingly overt far-right positions. It is a journey travelled by many, many bourgeois anti-intellectuals before them – and there will probably be plenty in the future, though hopefully they will not gather such audiences as these ones do today!

  2. Caldor

    “Joe Biden announces effort to ID toxic air issues in veterans”

    Like the depleted uranium dust we salted the Mideast with over the last 20 years?

    “The Army values munitions manufactured from depleted uranium because, when fused with metal alloys, they are considered the most effective warhead for penetrating enemy tanks. Also, because depleted uranium is twice as dense as lead, the Army uses DU as armor plating.

    Once a depleted-uranium round strikes its target, the projectile begins to burn on impact, creating tiny particles of radioactive U-238. Winds can transport this radioactive dust many miles, potentially contaminating the air that innocent humans breathe.”
    https://www.commondreams.org/views/2004/12/11/how-dangerous-depleted-uranium

    If we just withdrew from Afghanistan, why is the Pentagon budget bigger than ever? 55%+ of federal tax dollars go to the Offense Department when all costs figured in, plus interest on borrowed money.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      President Harris may have to send them back to Afghanistan – you know, to preserve America’s “honor”.

      I’ll bet that would make those favorability numbers move.

    2. FreeMarketApologist

      Like the Agent Orange we sprayed all over Vietnam (and our own troops there)?

      The wording makes it sound like we owe these veterans something because we sent them to a place where all the locals had fouled the air, which is hardly the case. Where exactly are all these research dollars going now? Certainly not to figure out how to not get mired in foul air in the future.

  3. John

    It may, in fact, be impossible as that would require the haves to voluntarily surrender some of their gains. It would require the somewhat satisfied few to actually care about the other. It would require understanding and acting on such dicta as “the common good” and “to promote the general welfare.” It would require the PMC, for example, to look at, see, and understand how the majority live.

    I look at things that in a more equal society would happen, and do not in the here and now, as evidence of lack of interest in and disinclination to remedy conditions which do not effect that comfortable minority serenely confidant in its righteousness and rectitude.

    1. Jed

      Like Obama lecturing the world about our duty to fight global climate change, and Americans having a special duty?

      From a man with mansion on the beach in Martha’s Vineyard, another one in Hawaii he flies to, a mansion in Chicago and a giant monument being built in a public park nearby after hundreds of old growth trees were cut down?

  4. Carolinian

    Re Pattinson–hope his cooking is better than his acting.

    And the Zuckerberg/Onion premise sounds suspiciously like the plot of the movie Dave. Meanwhile events in DC are starting to seem suspiciously like the movie Dave. Kevin Kline for president!

    1. ambrit

      Oh no you don’t. The man was excellent in “The Lighthouse.” Anyone who can hold their own with Willem Dafoe has to be growing in their craft.
      We just have to admit to ourselves that the “Twilight” saga inhabits an esoteric ring of the Inferno all it’s own.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      A failure to see that difference can be put down to DDS . . . Democrat Derangement Syndrome.

      1. Swamp Yankee

        I agree, dcblogger and drumlin woodchuckles, and have found this line of thought frankly perplexing — I think we can hold in our heads the following two thoughts at the same time: that the Democratic Establishment is horrible, ditto its professional-managerial class base; and that the shambolic would-be golpistas of January 6th, and the Trumpist petit bourgeoisie, is also horrible.

        Seriously, those raging militarist truck guys that you see having a jingo today on various community social media pages I follow are pretty unpleasant, just as the 23-yr old gender studies grad from Middlebury who tries to lecture them is.

        I also think you have to distinguish, in addition to the means used in each capitol occupation — peaceful vs. violent — the ultimate ends of each: preventing a rollback of labor laws vs. overturning the results of an election.

        These don’t seem equivalent to me, but your mileage may vary.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          I think it is because some people have been so deeply betrayed by the Democrats specifically that hatred and a desire for revenge is their Prime Directive, even to the extent of defining Republican evil and danger out of existence.

          Since my hate for the Democrats only reaches the level of Subprime Directive, I am still prepared to see the danger of evil Republicans when they shove it in my face and right up my nose.

          That is part of the reason why in a Trump v. Biden contest, I will still vote for Biden again. I will be bitter, but I will do it.

          Whereas if the Republicans nominate Gabbard, I will vote for Gabbard v. Biden, or Harris, or anyone else on the D Team.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Clear to whom? Sure looked like a lot of selfie takers in that mob, and not one casualty among the targets of the “violent assault” unless you’re counting Nancy Creamsicle’s laptop.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Didn’t a Republican get convicted of letting in demonstrators through a side door in some State capitol a few months ago? Isn’t that what AOC did with those demonstrators? And if AOC said that she was personally traumatized by what happened on January 6th, even though she was a coupla blocks away from the action, how would Nancy have felt with people going into her office? Would you like someone you know letting a whole bunch of strangers into your home to have a sit-in?

      1. marym

        One difference (as with the Wisconsin protest in 2011, and many other protests at the Capitol through the years) is that protesters didn’t threaten or commit violence against people or damage to property.

        Another is that other protests have been about policy grievances, a protest right that’s guaranteed in the Constitution (though some actions at any given protest may be deemed illegal). The Capitol riot was about Trump continuing to be president even though he lost the election, which would be a violation of the Constitution (even though the protesters may be deemed too ineffectual and unprepared to accomplish their objective).

        1. Jerk

          >protesters didn’t threaten or commit violence against people

          politicians aren’t people.

          >or damage to property.

          Oh no! Not the property!

    3. Jack Parsons

      I smell a deliberate attempt to confuse the 2011 event with the recent Wisconsin capitol invasion and the plot to kidnap Whitmer.

  5. drumlin woodchuckles

    We need better language for describing and analyzing the skycarbon problem. The word “positive” has positive connotations. The word “negative” has negative connotations. So calling something carbon “positive” or “negative” carries connotations exactly opposite from the literal meaning of the words in this case.

    If something adds carbon to the sky, we should call it ” carbon additive”. If something removes carbon from the sky, we should call it ” carbon removative”. ” Removative” because it “removes” , get it?

    So . . . skycarbon additive and skycarbon removative. Those words would suggest what they mean.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      How about “sequestering?” The carbon is not really ever “removed” so that it’s never a concern again. If it’s removed from the air, it must be sequestered somewhere else, whether in the soil or in some sealed dome like the natural Bravo or McElmo domes.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I am talking about the actual process of putting carbon into the sky or taking it out. I am saying there has to be a better pair of words for that than “positive” and “negative” which connote the exact opposite of what they are officially said to mean in this context.

        “Sequester” deals with what happens to the skycarbon just after you have taken it out of the sky.

        So “sequester” does not address this particular linguistic problem, though it certainly reminds us all that there has to be the next step after skycarbon removal.

    2. Tom B.

      I think the word you were looking for is “subtractive” – better symmetry with additive, though removative is perfectly
      cromulent.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Probably different word pairs should be tried out in random public to see which ones survive in the wild.

  6. upstater

    Good news! When mayo Pete returns after parental leave:

    Analysis: U.S. infrastructure bill makes power broker of transportation chief Buttigieg

    The $1 trillion infrastructure bill passed by Congress on Friday is the largest U.S. investment in roads, rail lines and other transportation networks in decades. It also gives some members of President Joe Biden’s administration unprecedented control over how it is spent.

    Hopefully McKinsey gets the contract to build a decision support model… of maybe mayo Pete will have his own spreadsheet macros?

    1. JBird4049

      I was writing a comment about how some people always fail upwards, but then I realized that Cabinet Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg is probably very, very biddable; sometimes failing upwards is not just from being connected, but from being very useful for others and their wants. In other words, Pete is a tool.

      1. Wukchumni

        Mayor Pete made the south bend to his will, underestimate a polyglot at your own peril. All they have to do is segue over to another language if a difficult question arises, and this will amaze most Americans, winning us over that damn it, lookie here there’s a guy who knows at least 6 lingua francas!

        He has lots of military experience driving that general around, so anyone questioning his transportation bonafides is simply out of order, mister.

        1. John

          On a related subject, are there those actually serious about Mayo Pete for national office? On the basis of what experience? I feel the same about Kamala Harris. Looking back, I thought JFK was too inexperienced for the job and while Lyndon had years of twisting arms in the Senate, he had no executive experiences which showed up as soon as he was dealing with foreign policy and especially Vietnam. For all his many faults, Nixon did seem to know what he was doing. Ford? Carter? Reagan? Each has more seasoning that Pete or Kamala or Obama. GHWB had held a variety of jobs. He knew what he was doing. Bill Clinton was the most glib, the best on the ground politician, but he was run around the track by his economic advisors … maybe he actually believed that neo-liberal clap trap. Whether or no, we are stuck with it until the people finally say no more, which they will do within a very few years. The most recent four. The less said the better about GWB, Obama, and Trump. Biden inherited a dog’s breakfast and no matter what he has done or does, he is not going to shine. He is a man of the Senate and that does not make one a president and, of course, he was past his “use by date” when elected.

          When you suffer the rule of the gerontocrats, you are in deep trouble even without the fistful of nettles that is the world today. Add to that the spin addicts, the narrative pushers, the rhetorical acrobats, and you have a government and a business community that are demons with words and promises, but short on action and performance. It was 67 years from Lincoln’s death to FDR’s election. Each in his way saved the nation and remade it. FDR died 76 years ago. If there is indeed a special providence for drunks, fools, and the United States of America, perhaps it will kick-in in 2024 and from a quite unexpected direction deliver another great one.

          1. Michael Ismoe

            Those kids of his were adopted for a reason. He will run as the spokesperson for Family Medical Leave – he’s going to ride it into the White House then do what all Democrats do, completely forget about it.

  7. zagonostra

    >CV19 Passport world-wide protest

    MSM and alt Media don’t seem to be all that interested in covering CV19 vaccine passport protest. Last month there were protest in Brazil, France, Canada, Italy, Australia, Greece, UK, Denmark, and some cities in the U.S. Below is the first I’ve seen from Morocco. If you had two protestors outside the Chinese embassy you would see non stop coverage on CNN.

    So you can have the “Democrat Party rotting corpse” decomposing in front of your nose, but they’ll just keep offering up perfumed-laced lies to cover up the stench.

    https://youtu.be/TZu2SRpx2TM

    1. JBird4049

      They have been doing an excellent job of ignoring the mass deaths from opioids, the suicides, the hunger, the growing shantytowns, soon to be shantycities, the strikes, the massive corruption, and the vaccines, haven’t they?

      Damn, they are good at their jobs, aren’t they. The ones that they were actually hired for, that is. Not their ostensible ones.

  8. PKMKII

    So I woke up this morning to discover that Facebook (MetaBook? MetaFace?) has given, for the first time, one of my posts the (prepare my fainting chair) scarlet letter F of the fact check! The post in question, was the story out of the BMJ, not exactly realtrumppatriotnews dot ru, about how some of the Pfizer vaccine trials had serious issues. Now, the fact checking it linked to didn’t dispute any of the claims of the BMJ article on factual grounds, rather that it “lacked context” that could result in people thinking it invalidated all the trials, which the BMJ article didn’t claim. So more narrative check than fact check.

    I realized the irony of it though, in that doing so Facebook is doing the exact same thing they’re trying to prevent. Just as there are idiots who will believe everything Joe Rogan tells them, there are idiots who see the Facebook “fact check” warning and automatically assume, whatever’s in that story must be fake news. Warnings about lack of context lack context.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      To be fair to Rogan, he is often very self-deprecating and goes out of his way to tell his audience they should not necessarily take his word for anything.

    2. clarky90

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObTAOvgd_JE&t=1464s

      Alternative facts
      Nov 12, 2021

      Dr. John Campbell

      Dr Campbell fact checks the facebook “fact” checkers.

      Funny comment…

      Hegel said…..”Love the homage to the butter product peeps are using about the Pfizer drug – ” I cant believe its not Ivermectin”

      SciCheck’s COVID-19/Vaccination Project (the Facebook fact checkers) is made possible by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. (Johnson and Johnson….)

    3. Acacia

      Maybe they don’t care about “facts” and it’s just pure gaslighting.

      After all, their goal is to enslave capture users’ attention, snarf (and sell) their personal data, and make them dependent on Meta so that the whole exercise can be repeated, profitably, like the relationship with “the Man” in any other form of addiction. Why let “facts” get in the way of that?

  9. William Beyer

    Not sure what Trump’s envoy is doing in Kosovo, but it’s not recognized as a country by the UN and is basically a U.S. airbase stolen from the locals surrounded by a bunch of medieval serfs.

  10. Jason Boxman

    So the NY Times is fighting a rearguard action in service of the myth that vaccination is still quite effective at preventing infection, drawing on studies done in England and Canada, but leaving out data from Israel. Curious, that.

    A study in England examined the vaccines’ effectiveness against the Delta variant over time. It found that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is about 90 percent effective at preventing symptomatic infection two weeks after the second dose but drops to 70 percent effective after five months.

    The graphic on the front page is highly suggestive, showing a US and two Canadian studies, the latter two with over 70% effectiveness heading into weeks ~24-30. This is in contrast to the US study showing ~50% effectiveness against infection heading into week ~17-18. Only if you read the story is any more depth provided, but Israeli data isn’t included there either.

    Misdirection by chart if there ever was any, painting a very comforting picture. And there doubtless must be other data sets from highly vaccinated countries as well by now.

    1. lb

      “Follow the science” authoritarianism has a second phrase in its shadow: “Control which science.”

      The pharmaceutical industry has for decades controlled which studies were relevant to or reached regulators when seeking approval for drugs. This reads as propaganda by the paper of record, lifting these convenient techniques.

  11. IM Doc

    I can see both sides of this argument – I really can.

    I have spent far too many days in an ER with patients with 12 holes where hearts and lungs used to be.

    I genuinely have a concern, though. If this is so important, why is the prosecution team doing their best imitation of The Mickey Mouse Club?

    I am not even close to being an attorney – but even I can see the absolutely egregious unforced errors being made, as if they are trying to lose on purpose.

    Prosecutors – “We have never asked you to change your testimony, correct?
    Witness – “Well, yes you did!”

    This seems like a legal mistake from Courtroom Law 101 and that is just one example. There have been multiple issues.

    1. JBird4049

      Trying to? I understand being fair, but I think it is what it appears to be, although I have no real way to prove.

      It is as Lambert Strether mostly said, and it looks to me that most of these prosecutions are controlled by their political and social aspects with no connection to the law or justice, and fairness might as well not be around. The 1/6 defendants and Rittenhouse are treated the same way as the police usually are as when Police Trooper Joseph Azzari murdered Peyton Ham.

      The Democrats, really the PMC, are baying for the convictions and harsh punishments of some, with no concern for justice, but just naked vengeance; the police too, are usually protected almost no matter how egregious their crimes. When the political or public pressure is too great, or too little, to avoid or force a prosecution, those in the justice system often hide or destroy evidence, manipulate witnesses, and lie.

      Kyle Rittenhouse killed three people who were protesting a police killing. Some want Mr. Rittenhouse convicted because he was at least a counter-protestor. Some want him to go free because he killed supposed cop-haters or at least those protesting police abuse. As the “justice” system supports the police, the prosecutor is trying to throw the case as the defendant is probably considered cop adjacent and therefore protected.

      Mr. Rittenhouse’s actual guilt or innocent, never you mind nonsense like justice, has no real meaning for too many people. And that is a real problem we have.

  12. Geo

    Re: Rittenhouse:

    Seems this whole thing has come down to the old “good guy with a gun vs. bad guy with a gun” and depending on which ideological divide people are on they decide which one was the good guy and which one wasn’t.

    In a sane society both lunatics with guns would be guilty of being aggressors. Sadly, we’re in a dumb society where we think people marching around brandishing guns is patriotic and wholesome. As someone without a gun, all people with guns in public are aggressors. I say this as someone who has been on the wrong side of a gun a few times. Of course, the dumb solution is for me to just carry a gun too. Problem solved… Yeehaw! Lets just have a national Stand Your Ground law and anytime I feel anyone has ill intent I can just drop ’em on the spot. Just accept we’re a third world failed state and go all in on barbarism.

    1. Carolinian

      I’ll go with Greenwald since he’s the lawyer.

      But I think almost anybody other than hard core gun nuts would agree a 17 year old should not have been there with an assault rifle (that part at least definitely a violation).

      1. Pelham

        Fully agreed. But the only issue at the core of the trial is whether in three specific instances Rittenhouse used the gun to defend himself.

        Relatedly, I’ve caught snippets of CNN and MSNBC coverage of the trial and it appears to me they’re deliberately trying to paint Rittenhouse as the aggressor even though they have to know that there’s at least a decent probability he will be found not guilty. I emphasize the deliberate nature of this as I suspect the networks are hoping he will indeed be acquitted so they can rev up the outrage machine.

        At that point, it won’t take much to spark off another eruption of nonviolent protests (lunatic bloody riots) and generate some very nice cable audience numbers to help make up for the loss of viewers as Trump and Russiagate fade into the distance. It’s all about the ad money, and damn all those uninsured pizza shops, car dealers and nail parlors that will be burned to the ground.

        1. Carolinian

          One can at least suspect that much of what went on last year was about Trump. And if that’s true then seems dubious the MSM would want to gin up the same thing under Biden.

      2. hemeantwell

        I commented on this yesterday and it was purged.

        To look at this as a strictly behavioral matter — e.g. was a man lunging at him? — is astonishingly myopic. It is common practice on the Right for people to arm themselves in various ways — body building, clubs, or guns — and then go to demonstrations hoping that a confrontation will develop that will allow them to injure or, in this case, kill a political opponent. That is exactly what Rittenhouse did. His age doesn’t matter, his weeping on the witness stand doesn’t matter. And if he gets off, political protests will become more dangerous than ever. To talk about this as though it is a dismissable case of “moral panic” when two people have been killed and the trial’s outcome will be used by rightists to gauge their tactical options is to impose what has become a routine way of evaluating mass-level anxiety on an issue for which it is completely inappropriate. For historical perspective, I’d suggest you consider the Weimar court system, wherein it was common practice for right-wing killers to be exonerated.

    2. NotThePilot

      Yeah, I’ve been following the news enough to hear some of the updates, but even for a murder trial, the whole thing just leaves me feeling in a funk.

      While my politics are clearly more with the protestors’ than Rittenhouse’s, I’m not sure I particularly find him or the people he shot sympathetic. That hasn’t changed at all, only now I also feel that way about both legal teams & (especially) the judge. Don’t even get me started on the defense team complaining that iPads use “logarithms” (to paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld, it doesn’t offend me as a leftist; it offends me as a mathematician).

      Sympathy isn’t ultimately the point though, justice & procedure is, and I don’t see how his self-defense plea won’t get him off the murder charges at this point. And yes, despite the prohibited evidence (and simple fact he chose to go play posse with a borrowed rifle) that he had some latent violent intent.

      The whole thing is just sordid as hell. Frankly, the only bit of closure I can find in it as a member of the same society is that it definitely heightens the contradictions. Maybe it wakes up a few more people to how rotten & unreliable the edifice has become.

      1. Late Introvert

        Big SMH on this whole thing, much in agreement with all that you said. As a father of a 16-year-old I can’t imagine what kind of parent lets a teen do that. So I’ve avoided it but know enough to see that all parties brought guns to a fistfight and that sure was dumb.

    3. Josef K

      Thanks for pointing this out Geo. KR showed up with an AR-15. No, it’s not a machine gun; yes, it’s much, much more powerful than a handgun (or hunting rifle for that matter). As the saying goes, a handgun is only useful for fighting your way to a rifle. I don’t think many non-gunheads get that.
      Walking around with a gun on your hip (open carry) in the 21st century is agression. (If you conceal carry, and show your gun in order to intimidate or threaten, you’re libel for a charge of brandishing, which can be a misdemeanor or a felony. Open carry “solves” that but is by the same logic a means of intimidation). Carrying around a loaded AR-15 in the streets with mutliple magazines on your chest–and this includes all those militia types and all those rallies–is, and should be legally, a type of threatening behavior. Otherwise, as was pointed out below, the only solution is everyone arms up; is that the society we want?
      Half-facetiously, anyone walking around with body armor and an assault rifle should be open season: if you want to play soldier, prepare to eat a bullet at any moment like a real soldier. That’ll put a damper on their cosplay intimidation of peaceful citizens.

      1. Tom Stone

        Josef,the AR15 fires the .5.56 Nato cartridge which is less powerful than a 30-06, 270 Winchester or most other hunting cartridges.
        It’s not legal for deer in California or a number of other States.
        Rittenhouse did not possess that rifle legally, he crossed State lines with it and he killed several people in what was arguably self defense.
        Voluntary Manslaughter if he acted in self defense.
        I’d really like to know who chose the prosecutor…he’s not there by accident.

        1. Duke of Prunes

          He didn’t carry the gun across state lines. It was given to him when he arrived in Wisconsin. I think he took it home, though. Yeah, he should get a gun charge… then again, 30 miles south in Chicago (with far stricter gun laws), felons caught with guns are often not even charged by the DA as these are considered victimless crimes.

        2. Josef K

          Tom, I guess you’re referring to my saying an AR-15 is much more powerful than a hunting rifle. Certainly not per round, but I’ll see your 5rds of 30-aught or whatever (loaded and re-loaded round-by-round unless yours has a box mag–still 5rd limit) and raise you 30/60/90/120/150/180 of .223/5.56 reloaded nearly instantly 30 at a time–that was my point.

          And, unless your hunting rifle is semi-auto, racking the bolt or pumping and pulling the trigger 5 times will take the same amount of time that the AR guy is sending 10/15/20 rounds downrange. The only situation in which a hunting rifle in say .243Win and up outpowers an AR-15-type rifle is at longer ranges where the .556 whithers and dies before rounds with larger powder capacity.

          What to bring to an AR15 fight? An M-14/FAL/G1 or similar.

          1. ambrit

            You are confusing a full auto AR which is very restricted, with the ‘civilian’ version, which must be trigger pulled for each round fired. An auto AR requires a Federal Tax Stamp, which costs $200 for each weapon and a background check, a real one, not the standard check.
            Now, I most certainly would prefer an FN FAL for “hot work.” Still, the entire rationale for the AR and AK styles of weapon is for close combat. For further out, American snipers were said to prefer the .270 calibre bolt action guns. It all depends on what type of combat you are expecting to be embroiled in.

            1. Josef K

              “You are confusing a full auto AR”

              I am most certainly not. A person with some familiarity and training can send 30 rounds of .223/5.56 downrange with a SEMI-AUTO AR15 or similar in less than 20 seconds–and they can then reload another 30 within a few more seconds, and carry on.
              That is absolutely far more lethal and any rifle designed for hunting or target shooting, within the effective range of the 5.56. I mean, there is a reason the AR15 is the weapon of choice for killers both organized and dis-, and full-auto isn’t always the best choice.

              That all said, for the novice, pray and spray does work. AR15s can be converted easily, if illegally, while “regular” rifles can’t. I see there’s a doodad you can order from China that will turn a Glock 17 into an 18. So, the widespread availability of these weapons increases the chance of that happening.

              Not that there’s a good, practical solution–there is a good one, of course, melt down all weapons and make useful tools out of the best material and art out of the rest. Then WWIII can be fought with sticks and stones, but we can skip the destruction of civilization step.

            2. JacobiteInTraining

              Part of me loves chuckling at firearms pedantry in threads. I have a drinking game where i take a shot whenever someone says ‘clip’ when they mean ‘magazine’ — and I take *two* shots whenever a firearms pedant points that fact out.

              (no offense intended to anyone here – I realize there are very real misconceptions about firearms that a lot of people get wrong, and that it is semi-important to try and educate people about! I guess I happen to have been drinking just now…)

              But (being a long time gun nut myself, who owns something like a dozen handguns, a couple dozen historical/collectible rifles, and a half dozen AR’s and AKs)

              ….its a bit pedantic to try and avoid the point being made: If I have my trusty Arsenal SLR-106, chambered in 5.56×45 NATO, with a passle of 20-round magazines at the ready, red dot sight, a good chest rig for easy access…and either cover, concealment, surprise, or all of the above to get me inside 200 yards of the poor schmuck with a bolt-action .30-06 and a pocket full of rounds…yeah, I’m far more ‘powerful’.

              Even without a bump stock, or true full auto. My buddies and I at the encampments have proven that to ourselves time and time again with (and vs.) new and old-timey Army and marine vets. Truth in advertising: I am *not* a vet. But I train with some.

              Now, to be pedantic, if we are talking about a WWI or WWII-trained UK vet, using an SMLE….OK, maybe i could be convinced they would not be outclassed in the rate and base of fire department… :)

              1. JacobiteInTraining

                ack, my apologies to any Marines – didn’t get an edit in quick enough, my lack of caps above was unintentional… :(

              2. Josef K

                Hi JIT, I fully agree. I edited the part out saying I don’t get any pleasure from discussing guns, and abhor how it inevitably mixes with euphemizing or downplaying the taking of life. When I do pipe up it’s usually to make this argument about semi-auto ARs etc being very deadly and a whole ‘nother level from regular old rifles. Maybe I’m an anachronism, but I find their presence, and that their presence is increasing a lot, to be pretty unnerving, and I question whether this is an inevitability never mind a good thing.

              3. Soredemos

                It often isn’t pedantry though. It’s hard to have any sort of meaningful discussion of this issue when one side consistently doesn’t know what it’s talking about.

  13. Jason Boxman

    On elder care.

    Terry Fulmer, president of the John A. Hartford Foundation and a nationally known expert on aging and long-term care, is more optimistic. Washington may not be solving the problem, but she sees rising activity beyond the Beltway to support family caregiving. The tech industry, she says, is eyeing tools and solutions. Employers are offering more support to workers who are also family caregivers. Insurers are embracing new community-based approaches to dementia or palliative care. Even venture capital is getting into the aging game.

    Optimistic? Tech? VC? We’re all screwed. But it’s easy to game this out.

    Crunchbase identified $2.5 billion in venture-backed investments in eldercare and home-care startups in the last 5 years. What services will cost, who they will serve and how well they serve them remain open questions — as are what can new technology handle and what will remain hands-on. And for the hands-on part, where are they going to get the home-care workforce to do the jobs and how well will they be paid, trained and supported?

    So what’s this mean? Uber-for-elder-care, complete with subsistence wages and evasion of licensure requirements. I can’t imagine that ending well for anyone but big Tech and VCs.

    Fasten your seatbelts, everyone!

    1. R

      We saw endless pitches in 2018 for videoplethysmography start ups, monitoring video streams of care home residents for changes in breathing, blood oxygenation , pulse and even blood pressure by remote sensing.

      To which our cynical investor question was always – what is somebody going to do on that information and what will really change? Charting the patient to death digitally is no substitute for actual care but that costs money….

  14. Wukchumni

    For reach of a metaphor, it’s kind of a ‘Scopes trial’ even though it looked as if Kyle didn’t really need one when defending a car lot from those who might murder motors.

    Heretofore, appeasement seemed to be working fine when it came to states saying hell yeah!, you can carry that hand cannon any old place on your person but just not in a commercial airplane, but this trial is different than your usual messy multiple murder scene, as this era’s gun totin’ Baby-Face Nelson, but with a happy ending possible if Baby-Face Rittenhouse gets off.

  15. Tom Bradford

    i came to Assassin’s Creed late, with Origins and then Odyssey largely because of the hype about the attention to historical detail – and haven’t been disappointed.

    The blood and guts gameplay isn’t my scene – I play on ‘easy’ just to progress through the game – and the ‘plot’ is nonsense, but the game world is astonishing and an education. All the little incidental details of the lives of the ordinary people in the background while one is immersed in the world through one’s own agency rather than just a passive spectator as one is with TV or a film, brings the ancient world uniquely to life.

    And to see all the famous buildings with their original colours and decorations just as backdrops to daily life rather than as faded and battered ‘ancient monuments’ and tourist traps to be marvelled at of brings home to me that the world of our long-gone forebears was in many ways brighter and richer than our own.

    1. Sailor Bud

      I tried Odyssey on a friend’s PlayStation while recuperating from an injury, and I wasn’t as crazy about it, but I’m not much of a gamer. Some nitpicks I can remember: I had just read Thucydides, and went up to where Potidaea is supposed to be, a hot spot town in the early war, and all that was there were three soldiers guarding a shack. Tons of important places from the book were like this. Some of the characterizations were a bit much, too. Alcibiades is some sort of flamboyant goofball, for instance, and hard to take seriously as any great influence over others. Neither would I have understood his significance from the game alone, if I hadn’t already known about him from books, which makes me wonder about how educational it is simply to have him as a character in the game.

      Likewise, anything from Greek mythology would have been DOA if I only knew it from the game. Fortunately, I’ve read my Bulfinch, Graves, and Hamilton, so the references weren’t lost on me.

      The game would have been improved by not making all of the Aegean 10 x 10 miles in size. They should have made the whole map only Athens and Boeotia, or maybe the lower Peloponnese around Laconia and Argos. Then it wouldn’t feel so weird to sail from Athens to Crete in two minutes, when you just got done reading that it took a full 11 days to get to Syracuse from Athens by ship in those days.

      A game that taught me a great deal more than history books (about feudal relationships) was Crusader Kings II, from Paradox Interactive. It certainly isn’t perfect, but with the right DLC, it’s really something. It’s also a great stoner’s game because you can just mellow and wait for stuff to happen while you examine all the duchesses and princesses (and talented commoners) you can betroth to your bratty heir.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Paradox games definitely bring in the hardcore historical crowd. Plus, they have really gotten a grasp on how to do marketing in 2021. Lots of Q&A’s with developers, interviews, livestreams, etc. They really cultivate relationships with the customer base. Their DLC policy of drip, drip, drip in order to extract a few extra bucks is super annoying. For me, the games are a little too dry (which, i think, is saying the same thing you are when you call them good stoner games).

    2. JohnnyGL

      Not a player of assassin’s creed myself, but am familiar enough with the series. There’s plenty of youtube videos with historians and/or archeologists interviewed who are thoroughly impressed by the level of detail put into the games.

      There’s also a lot of youtube gamers/creators that dabble in both games (playthroughs, reviews, coaching/advice, mod reviews) and also due genuine historical research and narrations.

      There’s a pretty vibrant fanbase of historically themed games. They can be a demanding bunch, too! Many also get involved in modding of games, often in the name of improving historical accuracy.

      Fwiw, i’m a fan of creative assembly’s ‘Total War’ series. I recall a few year back, delving into Peter Frankopan’s ‘Silk Road’ around the same time as i found a modded version of Medieval 2 Total War called Broken Crescent, which did a really nice job bringing southwest Asia into the European medieval world. The way history is (was?) often taught, with a Eurocentric focus, it can often seem like little was going on in the rest of the world until the Europeans arrived to kick off the colonial era!

    3. NotThePilot

      I grew up with video games and still play occasionally, but even in high school, I would have never considered myself a gamer.

      I did play the first two games though, both several years after they had come out. So I only know the series from the starting point. I definitely enjoyed the gameplay, though I don’t know if they cluttered up the later ones with too much crafting, collecting, etc. (the 2nd one seemed to have just the right amount).

      The plot started veering into really out there even by the 2nd one, but the 1st one in particular was actually quite good, especially for a video game. Some genuine twists, heel/face turns, just the right amount of sci-fi, plus a good balance of “clever” writing techniques.

      More to the article’s point at the end though, about how we engage with the past, the one really interesting thing about the first game was that the plot itself was arguably pretty subversive. There’s definitely an implication of “a lot of religion is meant to control” you, especially when the sci-fi bits come in.

      On another level though, you literally play as a member of the militant Ismaili order during the time of Saladin. And that means shank-ety-shank-ing your way through both multiple Crusader factions and Saladin’s armies (though as I said, there are multiple face/heel turns). Many of the side-quests involve doing good deeds for the everyday people in whichever city you’re trying to blend into.

      I also remember that they made Acre (where the Crusaders were heavily centered) really grimy and depressing, while Masyaf was like a resort for high-end spiritual retreats and Damascus was glorious. Considering that the first game came out while George W Bush was still president, I don’t think it’s out of the question that the (Canadian) developers saw the game as a subtle “f-you” to the Global War on Terror.

    4. Soredemos

      Visually the games are great as recreations of different times and places. Especially Origins and Odyssey (they got the paint right!). But as historical fiction, the franchise has always been a trainwreck. It always, always, opts for the laziest, most shallow portrayal of events, and frequently takes a sledgehammer to things to make them conform to the epoch spanning metastory, which basically comes down to strawman libertarians vs strawman authoritarians.

      As is usually the case with AAA video games, AC likes to pretend to play with weighty subject matter, but basically never actually says anything. For example, in the Assassin’s Creed universe, the French Revolution was actually a giant false flag operation by the authoritarians to make the libertarian revolutionaries look bad. Because the creators can’t bring themselves to portray the Revolution as anything other than ultimately a tragedy (the Reign of Terror was just the worst thing evah), but since it was done in the name of liberty, they also can’t bring themselves to portray the Assassin’s as being behind it.

      (occasionally the Assassin’s are portrayed negatively, but this is mostly in that they sometimes make mistakes. The comfortable middle-class liberals writing these games can’t bring themselves to have the titular faction actually commit mass murder against the writer’s own social group).

    5. Basil Pesto

      I played the first and second, and have dipped in and out since, and recently had a gander at Odyssey, which was the second game to ‘shake up’ the series formula from an modestly size open-world action game to a full blown massive open-world. I was sort-of enjoying it but could never escape the feeling that, as far as gameplay goes, it’s more or less a Witcher 3 clone but not as good, and realised I’d rather be doing other things so uninstalled it to clear up the SSD space.

      I might come back to it because, as you say, the setting is fantastic. I much prefer the ambition of trying to encapsulate the whole of ancient greece in one game map for a game like this than keeping the scale a bit more ‘realistically’ smaller; my suspension of disbelief is more than willing to accommodate this design decision. I don’t really care about arguments of ~historical accuracy~ when talking about narrative texts either. Tedious. Normal people can, I think, separate fact and fiction, even fiction inspired by fact, into discrete categories pretty easily.

      But yeah the writing is shithouse and always has been. ~videogames~. Whether it has “something to say” or not, per remark below, I couldn’t care less – if I wanted a thesis I would, well, read a thesis. If it did and was still this poorly written, it would still be bad.

      (Incidentally, a far better written game dealing with ancient Greek mythology rather than history, is Hades, wherein you play Hades’ son Zagreus trying to escape the underworld – over and over again – to meet his mother Persephone)

      But the AC games do one of those great services that many games do of piquing the curiosity of players with even the mildest autodidactic tendencies (probably the best series at this is Civilization but there are others). I’ve had a go at the recently released Age of Empires IV and the campaign is presented with straightforward video documentaries and bonus videos (eg on military technology of the period) which is pretty cool – they’re a bit superficial/just-the-facts-maam in style, but in being so they avoid staking a position on historical arguments and invite further reading on the periods in question.

  16. Another Scott

    I think the Yale story is one of the most important ones I’ve read in a long time. Although the headline numbers don’t really surprise me, I was surprised that the professors recognize the problem (the administrators are as clueless as ever). I’m pretty sure that most Americans would agree with them.
    And at the same time “conservatives” (who are likely more liberal than most Americans even if more conservative than typical professors) are launching their own university. I think there really is a place for a university centered around professors and students and now might be the time; however, the University of Austin doesn’t seem to be it.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      If some universities are ready to rebel against Wokenism, and are ready to purge and burn out the whole infrastructure of concern over what various Victim Olympics Teams and Athletes pretend to be offended about, they can call themselves Free Speech Universities.

      “This is a Free Speech Free Inquiry University. There are no Safe Spaces here. If that Triggers you, then you don’t belong here.”

      1. The Rev Kev

        No good that. A bunch of Wokesters would sue for the right to attend that university. And once the court lets them in, they would let themselves get triggered and take that to the courts as well. Lawfare is what they use to make people take them seriously.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Good point. Any university doing this would have to know the law and would have to understand the waging of lawfare. They would have to word everything to indicate that the Wokesters have every legal right to attend but have no legal right to control anyone else’s speech. That would make it easier for the University to win the inevitable Wokester lawsuits.

          Then the University could look into countersuits of its own against the Wokester harrassment.
          Frivolous Lawsuit lawsuits, Malicious Lawsuit lawsuits, lawsuits for slander and libel over any accusation of racism if it is malicious and egregious enough, etc.

    2. Left in Wisconsin

      One thing that is really missed in this whole discussion of administrators vs faculty is that, in my experience, the vast majority of faculty (like virtually all of them) want nothing to do with administration, supervision, or really any work outside their narrow area of interest. At my Big Ten U, many of them have very little interest in teaching, which is theoretically part of the job. They all believe that have too much on their plates already just from doing research, teaching, and the professional aspects of the job (departmental committees, journal reviews, conferences, a bit of student advising). Absolutely no interest in taking on more administrative burden (which is already shared unfairly in most departments between those who feel a sense of responsibility to do their share and those who don’t).

      Relatedly, the students of today, for better or worse, are way more demanding than even a decade or two ago in terms of mental health, special accommodations, etc. The faculty bitch about this constantly in private but some amount of the growth in administration is related to providing these additional services.

      So while there is a fair amount of grousing about the growing ranks of administrators, most of it is just that.

      Don’t get me wrong, the modern U.S. university is a seriously effed up place. But the growth in administrators is a symptom, not a cause.

      1. Acacia

        This is a rather important point. Much as I dislike them, the admins are not simply usurpers. The faculty in the US university willingly outsourced all sorts of responsibilities. In my experience, the same is not true in other countries, and as a result, faculty in some other university systems have more autonomy.

  17. Wukchumni

    Fool me once, shaman you and 4 years in the slammer!

    There’s quite the V for Vengeance feel to the whole gig, the powers that be knowing full well our attention span on the early January DC TragicComicCon had played out long ago, but alas in stepped Joe to allow missives of the teetotalitarian leader on that the fete full day to be aired.

    Is my Kevin in too deep, Hawley not hardly hands off, and the usual coterie in cahoots of dirty deeds not done exactly dirt cheap to be revealed tomorrow?

    1. Michael Ismoe

      Nancy is convinced that the1/6 riot/insurrection/mutiny/SevenDaysInMay thing is somehow going to be positive for the Dems in the midterms. She lives in a bubble.

      1. Anthony Noel

        I’d argue it was never about election politics. Any gains made on that are a cherry. The real benefit is getting billions of dollars and a massive expansion of size, scope, and equipment of their own personal police force. One that is far less constrained and regulated then “normal” police, which given the state of “normal” policing in the U.S should make your blood run cold.

        And now they’re setting up offices outside the Capitol and interfacing with the FBI. Gee guess where they’ll be “hiding” any dirty deals now. After all there is no pesky FOIA for the Capitol Police.

        With the continued breakdown of the country and the upcoming massive increases in homelessness and unemployment, the last thing any of your congress critters wants is another Bonus Army showing up on their doorstep.

        Best let a few yokels mill around and yell and then wander off after a few hours then howl with outrage over the imminent threat to democracy and freedom and next thing you know you’ve got a personal army to play with.

  18. Tim

    The Rittenhouse charges are bizarre. He should be charged with Manslaughter. He participated in an illegal militia and put himself in a situation that guaranteed somebody would be shot.

    He defended himself after setting up the situation for failure, unintentionally mind you.

    Is it that much different that driving drunk and killing somebody? The intent to kill was not there, but you put yourself in a bad situation in violation of the law and somebody died.

    But if you throw that out and say he murdered somebody the self defense argument is solid as we are seeing.

    Every decision seen by the judge so far biases for the defendant, but I don’t even think it will be necessary. The DA screwed up with the charges and the prosecution has to live with the consequences.

  19. Fred1

    Re: two points about Rittenhouse

    First, back when I was a baby lawyer in 1978, my first jury trial was defending a man armed with a 12 guage shotgun who killed his unarmed uncle who had tried to take the shotgun away from him. Both had been drinking. My client claimed self-defense, that he was genuinely afraid of his uncle. During closing argument, the prosecutor didn’t say much. He just picked up the shotgun and strutted around before the jury saying “look at me. I’m afraid.” My client was convicted of 2nd degree murder.

    Second, my client couldn’t believe he could be convicted. He was convinced he had the right to shoot his uncle, and it showed when he testified -“my life is more valuable than his.” This entitlement, if apparent to the jury, is very dangerous for anyone claiming self-defense. It is even more dangerous if the deceased is a total stranger.

    I have no idea how the trial will turn out, and don’t care. I haven’t watched a minute of it because after having tried over 250 jury trials, a handful of which received a fair amount of media coverage, it is impossible for either print or electronic media to accurately convey what is exactly going on inside the courtroom.

    1. Darthbobber

      “It is impossible for either print or electronic media to accurately convey what is exactly going on inside the courtroom.”
      And that’s even if they were trying to. Coverage of this is much that of an Eagles-Cowboys game with every analyst being a homer for one team or the other.

    2. Bazarov

      Thanks, Fred1. This is very interesting. It makes me wonder if “closing statements,” which seem to me like a time for nonsense and bluster, should be abolished.

      The last thing the jury sees before they begin deliberations shouldn’t be some clown show–they should be thinking about the evidence.

      1. Fred1

        The definition of self-defense that is given to a jury in the final instructions of law varies among jurisdictions. So I don’t know precisely what the definition will be in this case. However, in the jurisdictions I practice in, a defendant must persuade the jury that from all of the circumstances he genuinely feared that he was at risk of immediate death or serious bodily injury at the hands of the deceased and that this fear was reasonable. In other words, the subjective belief of the defendant alone is not controlling. It must be objectively reasonable based on all of the facts and circumstances in the case. The jury decides whether the fear is reasonable.

        The point the prosecutor was making 43 years ago in my case was that my client, because he was armed and the deceased wasn’t, was not afraid and even if he were afraid, his fear wasn’t reasonable. Using very few words, the prosecutor pointed out what he considered to be the most important evidence, that my client was armed and the deceased wasn’t, and in doing so directly mocked my client’s claim of having a reasonable fear. This was excellent lawyering.

        1. Bazarov

          I see what you mean. Excellent lawyering, indeed.

          Did you, in your time as a lawyer, ever win a self defense case? Are those cases particularly hard to win, from the vantage of the defense (I imagine they are)?

          1. Fred1

            I have both prosecuted and defended. Self-defense is hard to win. The main difference is whether they know each other. If they do, sometimes there is enough history that self-defense will work. If they’re total strangers, it’s very difficult to avoid being convicted of some degree of homicide.

    3. Objective Ace

      That’s not really a valid comparison by the prosecutor. Being afraid of someone and being afraid of someone while they are trying to wrestle your gun away from you are scenarios that are worlds apart.

      1. Basil Pesto

        Quite so, but using sophistry to convince a jury is part of the lawyer’s toolkit (especially in the US, from what I can tell, where those sorts of theatrics seem to be better tolerated)

        1. Fred1

          Sophistry? Sometimes. What a lawyer is permitted to say during closing argument is very circumscribed by well known rules. For example, you can’t mistate either the law or the evidence. You can’t comment on facts that weren’t admitted into evidence. A prosecutor can’t comment on a defendant not testifying. There are many more rules, that if violated can lead to an a** chewing, or a mistrial, and sometimes even professional discipline.

          But as far as self-defense is concerned when the two people know each other, a jury can sometimes infer that the deceased had it coming. Defense counsel cannot explicitly make this argument, but a skilled lawyer can make it easier for a jury to make this inference without violating any of the rules governing closing argument.

    4. Basil Pesto

      I have no idea how the trial will turn out, and don’t care. I haven’t watched a minute of it because after having tried over 250 jury trials, a handful of which received a fair amount of media coverage, it is impossible for either print or electronic media to accurately convey what is exactly going on inside the courtroom.

      Indeed, one of the very first things I learnt at law school (never practiced) is not to learn about/judge a case based on its media depiction

  20. Stephanie

    Scrolling through that GQ link on Robert Pattinson fully expecting to see a BoJo-inspired slattern and was not disappointed. This seems like the perfect companion piece to that thing this morning about the disappearance the plain-faced heroine : the Rise of the Unwashed Heartthrob, the one that looks as if he smells like bad pot and sour milk, slimy to the touch, and with undefined crumbs of … something… in his sheets. How the hell did this man become a movie star?

  21. DGL

    IM writes: “Fall foliage from Van Dusen gardens in British Columbia.” This is a special place and was created from a former golf course. Vancouver is ideal for many plants. Plants from around the world are featured at Van Dusen.

    The British colonials apparently loved collecting things and maintaining a ‘bit of home’ where ever they went. For example, even Hervey Bay AU has a botanical garden. And of course Sydney. All inspired by the Kew Gardens, I would suspect. A wonderful place to have a cuppa tea.

    A former golf course = the opposite of Obama creating a golf course by destroying a park.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Someone wrote a couple of threads ago about possible ways to keep tagging the high blank walls of the Obama Cult Temple once it is built. And a thought has occurred to me . . . .

      Make a projectible loop-tape of Obama bragging about ” all that oil? That’s me, people! Thankyou very much.” Include the audio. Project it against the wall of Temple Obama many tens of feet high, with real loud sound, but not loud enough to distort the Holy Obama Words as spoken by the Holy Obama. And let it run over and over till authorities charge out to stop it. And do it again on various unpredictable nights. Like maybe when Obama has fancy receptions full of rich Democrats.

      Maybe do the same thing with other looped footages of Obama’s truest self. Like “drinking” the glass of water in Flint.

      Maybe 4 or 5 Deepest Truest Obama footage sequences could be attached into one longer loop which plays against that wall over and over again, until stopped by the authorities.

    2. Basil Pesto

      A former golf course = the opposite of Obama creating a golf course by destroying a park.

      ¿

      The Jackson Park golf course precedes the OPC by many, many years.

  22. Trisha

    Regarding Orca capturing about 4,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, I recently calculated that in 2020 my county (Lane) in Oregon produced roughly 1,779 metric tons of CO2 … every day … and that’s a conservative number.

    Annual Lane county Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT) for state-owned highways (i.e. not all traffic) was 1.43 billion VMT for 2020, so 3.9 million VMT a day, divide by 20 average mileage then multiply by 20lbs CO2 produced per gallon (essentially a wash), finally divide by 2,204 lbs per metric ton.

    So I wouldn’t hold out much hope for any carbon capture scheme given the scale of these emissions.

  23. ambrit

    How will we know when the publishers are finished cleaning house? When a peer reviewed meta study done by certifiably credentialled professionals is published in a prestigeous journal.

  24. Jason Boxman

    And the wholesale collapse of American public education continues apace.

    Because of staff shortages, some school districts are canceling classes. Others are lowering their hiring standards. The result can be a chaotic classroom.

    And:

    “My thinking is that they will find a way to keep the lights on,” Ms. Groshen, the economist, said. “But whether the actual education taking place is up to the standards that we need — that’s going to have an impact on this generation of children for a long time.”

    I don’t know, critical thinking has been deemphasized for ages and we seem to be doing just great, eh?

    1. Late Introvert

      My advice is to stop reading the NYT. Scorn porn about all the flyover losers.

      I didn’t read it, and I won’t, but they never seem to focus on the problems in their own community, like a certain street.

      1. Jason Boxman

        Perhaps, but it nonetheless highlights a real issue. I peruse the “paper of record” for indications on what The Establish line is. It can be useful. Particularly for what it doesn’t mention, such as the teacher strikes pre-pandemic in “flyover” states that don’t merit mention in the linked piece.

  25. The Rev Kev

    “Biden Visits Port of Baltimore”

    Yeah, very nice and all but wouldn’t a visit to the port facilities at Long Beach have been better?

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The theory of the visit may be to note that Baltimore has a pretty big port able to handle pretty big ships, so why not send some ships there?

      Of course if the same problems handling cargo and containers after the ships get there emerge as have emerged on the West Coast, then getting more ships to go to Baltimore will not have solved the problem, just made it harder to avoid seeing.

  26. drumlin woodchuckles

    I jus read about how Lebron James noted something interesting about the “crying in court” video of Kyle Rittenhouse. He noted that not one single trace of one single tear appears anywhere on Kyle Rittenhouse’s face. James thinks Rittenhouse isn’t crying. James thinks Rittenhouse is acting. And very melodramatically, too. But the jurors are not close enough to Rittenhouse to be able to see that, so it may look real to them. And it could work.

    Here is a link to some twitter-embedded footage of Rittenhouse “crying” the way Obama “drank” that glass of water in Flint.
    https://twitter.com/USATODAY/status/1458521089152274442?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1458619464329670657%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es3_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tmz.com%2F2021%2F11%2F11%2Flebron-james-mocks-kyle-rittenhouse-courtroom-crying-mistrial-pending%2F

  27. drumlin woodchuckles

    Here is another demonstration of the positive uses of social media. Here is a videophone segment of restaurant owners assaulting a handicapped person because they disapprove of his service dog being in their restaurant.

    I have read that people are down-reviewing this restaurant in an effort to attrit and degrade this restaurant’s revenues. If this video can be walll-to-wall viralized throughout the whole potential customer footprint area of this restaurant, perhaps its revenues can be reduced to zero and if a movement forms promising to boycott any other business which takes over that space for at least a year or two, the owners may be prevented from recovering any of their capital by selling the restaurant and;/or the building.

    Let the people who did this be doxxed. Let their lives be destroyed. Let them live and die under a bridge.

    Here is the link.
    https://www.reddit.com/r/PublicFreakout/comments/qrmm2a/business_owners_attack_harass_disabled_man/

    1. Gareth

      Or maybe we can let the authorities in the Kitchner-Waterloo area handle the situation rather than wasting emotional energy getting outraged over a situation where police have not finished their investigation? Unless one lives in either town or in that part of Ontario, that incident will never impact one’s real life. It’s best to let the people paid to handle these situations do their job so one can get on with fulfilling, non-virtual living.

      Internet General’s Warning: Reddit is incredibly toxic and has been known to cause severe depression, spiritual blindness, and loss of morals; ingest it only in small quantities, if at all.

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