2:00PM Water Cooler 11/12/2021

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

The brass section….

* * *


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, as of November 10. 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. 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 today’s version 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 predictions (grey area), including the average of the aggregated model predictions (black line). I have helpfully highlighted the “modest upward trend” of the case data:

Now, it’s fair to say that the modest upward trend in case data within the tolerance of the models; it does not go outside the grey area. It’s also true that where we see an upward trend in the predicted case data (lower right quadrant) it’s much later than where we are now. It’s too early to say that the models are broken; but it’s not too soon to consider the possibility that they might be. But maybe we’ll get lucky, and the problem, if indeed it is a problem, will go a dway before Thanksgiving travel begins. (Speculating freely, the modeling hub enabled school re-opening, and more importantly, supported the general view

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 12, 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties:

California and Arizona worse. Arizona better. Nevada and New Mexico less red but more spread. Minnesota looking good. New Hampshire much improved. More isolated pink counites in the Midwest. 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: 780,803 780,254. 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.

* * *


“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

Biden Administration

“Congress’ budget gurus may slow down Biden’s Build Back Better plans” [Marketplace]. “For the Build Back Better Act, the CBO score is extremely important. Senate Democrats are contemplating passing the bill through the budget reconciliation process, a procedure that enables Congress to pass certain fiscal and budgetary legislation with a simple majority. But this method comes with additional regulations, Moller said. The ‘CBO score is vital because the Senate parliamentarian is going to have to weigh in on whether or not individual parts of the bill meet the requirements of this special process that they are using,’ Moller said.” • More trick handcuffs….

“Manchin objects to tax credit for union-made EVs in spending package” [The Hill]. “Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) expressed opposition to a provision in Democrats’ climate and social spending bill that would give additional tax credits for union-built electric vehicles…. ‘We shouldn’t use everyone’s tax dollars to pick winners and losers. If you’re a capitalist economy that we are in society then you let the product speak for itself, and hopefully, we’ll get that, that’ll be corrected,’ he added.” • Lol, “pick winners.”

“Most millionaires could get tax cut under House Dems’ tax plan” [Politico]. “Most millionaires would get a tax cut under House Democrats’ reconciliation plan, according to a new analysis that’s sure to get lawmakers’ attention. About two-thirds of people making more than $1 million would see a tax cut next year averaging $16,800, the Tax Policy Center said Thursday. That’s primarily because Democrats are proposing to lift to $80,000, from $10,000, an annual cap on state and local tax deductions…. Party leaders are caught between demands from colleagues [Gottheimer] representing high-tax states like New Jersey, who are threatening to sink their reconciliation plan if SALT isn’t addressed, and others complaining that will only muddle the party’s mantra of soaking the rich.” • “Mantra,” lol. Nancy, good job.

“Postal Service loss nearly halved” [The Hill]. “The U.S. Postal Service said on Wednesday that its net loss for the 2021 fiscal year was $4.9 billion — close to half of the $9.2 billion it lost during the previous year. The agency also said that its operating revenue for fiscal 2021 was more than 5 percent higher, an increase of $3.9 billion, than one year earlier…. DeJoy told The Wall Street Journal in October that the agency was taking steps to get ready for the busy holiday season, including adding 45 extra facilities to handle packages. Other announced initiatives have included hiring more seasonal workers and adding more than 100 package sorting machines.”

“Hunter Biden’s controversial art gallery show draws fierce critics” [The Hill].

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.

* * *

Republican Funhouse

“Christie’s calculus: Trump is ‘in the rearview mirror’” [Politico]. “Christie stepped up his fire in recent days in media appearances where he has highlighted how Trump lost his reelection and suggested he’s a ‘loser’ for dwelling on 2020. At a Saturday speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition, Christie was the only one of six potential presidential candidates who dared suggest that looking back at November was a bad idea. None of the other 2024 hopefuls came anywhere near that level of defiance on a subject that Trump continues to obsess over. ‘We can no longer talk about the past and the past elections — no matter where you stand on that issue, no matter where you stand, it is over,’ Christie said Saturday.”

Trump Legacy

“Why American politics remains haunted by the former guy” [Robert Reich]. “In this way, he turned – and he continues to turn – America into a gargantuan projection of his own pathological narcissism. His entire re-election platform in 2020 was found in his use of the pronouns ‘we’ and ‘them.’ In his mind, ‘we’ were people who love him. ‘They’ hated him. Which presumably is why he took no action as rioters stormed the Capitol. He knew exactly what they were doing. He was repeatedly implored to stop them, but he didn’t because he viewed them as his people, and they were ‘protesting’ what happened to his nation.” • So it comes down to personal characteristics?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Madison Saw Something in the Constitution We Should Open Our Eyes To” [Jamelle Bouie, New York Times]. This is very good. The scene-setting:

Not content to simply count on the traditional midterm swing against the president’s party, Republicans are set to gerrymander their way to a House majority next year…. It is true that Democrats have pursued their own aggressive gerrymanders in Maryland and Illinois, but it is also true that the Democratic Party is committed, through its voting rights bills, to ending partisan gerrymandering altogether…. The larger context of the Republican Party’s attempt to gerrymander itself into a House majority is its successful effort to gerrymander itself into long-term control of state legislatures across the country. In Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and other states, Republicans have built legislative majorities sturdy enough to withstand all but the most crushing ‘blue wave.’ And in the age of Donald Trump, they are using their majorities to seize control of election administration in states all over the country, on the basis of an outlandish but still influential claim that the Constitution gives sovereign power over elections to state legislatures.

Another way of thinking about this is that Republicans are far more serious and strategic in their politics than Democrats. (Bouie says that the Democrat Party is “committed” to voting rights bills, but I haven’t seen anything more than the occasional vague verbal gesture.) And now the “Something” that Madison saw. The “Guarantee Clause”:

In Article IV, Section 4, the Constitution says, “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.”

In this vision of the Guarantee Clause, the touchstone for “a republican form of government” is political equality, and when a state imposes political inequality beyond a certain point, Congress or the federal courts step in to restore the balance…. Still, a broad understanding of the Guarantee Clause might be a potent weapon for Congress if a Democratic majority ever worked up the will to go on the offensive against state legislatures that violated basic principles of political equality.

Let me know how that works out….

“An Open Letter in Defense of Democracy” [Todd Gitlin, Jeffrey C. Isaac, and William Kristol, The Bulwark]. “Liberal democracy depends on free and fair elections, respect for the rights of others, the rule of law, a commitment to truth and tolerance in our public discourse. All of these are now in serious danger. The primary source of this danger is one of our two major national parties, the Republican Party, which remains under the sway of Donald Trump and Trumpist authoritarianism. Unimpeded by Trump’s defeat in 2020 and unfazed by the January 6 insurrection, Trump and his supporters actively work to exploit anxieties and prejudices, to promote reckless hostility to the truth and to Americans who disagree with them, and to discredit the very practice of free and fair elections in which winners and losers respect the peaceful transfer of power.” • If you take Bouie’s article above seriously, this is not true. It takes a long time to take control of state legislatures, and it also takes time to seize control over election administration. Again, it’s not an issue of personality. It’s a party movement that began before Trump, and would continue if (say) Chris Christie ran and won in 2024. Trump lives rent-free in these guys heads, and it’s really damaging. (I’m also unclear how welding the press, a political partuy, and the intelligence community into a political weapon, as the Democrats did under the “state of exception” they granted themselves in election 2016, defends democracy.)

Stats Watch

Consumer Sentiment: “United States Michigan Consumer Sentiment” [Trading Economics]. “The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment for the US fell to 66.8 in November of 2021 from 71.7 in October and below market expectations of 72.4, preliminary estimates showed. It was the lowest reading since November 2011 due to an escalating inflation rate and the growing belief among consumers that no effective policies have yet been developed to reduce the damage from surging inflation.” Then again, maybe the survey is completely broken:

The moods of consumers play a central role in how information is processed. Positive moods promote more casual and less detailed information processing, and negative moods promote more formal and deliberate information processing, especially of potentially negative developments. Partisans aligned with the President’s party have adopted very positive moods, and those in the opposing camp very negative moods. As a result, partisan supporters of one or the other presidents either mentioned or ignored rising home and stock values, inflation and income growth rates, or mentioned or ignored employment or unemployment rates, and so forth. The partisan differences in perceptions were not minor, but were large and equal in size.

Employment Situation: “United States Job Openings” [Trading Economics]. “The number of job openings in the US fell by 191,000 from a month earlier to 10.4 million in September of 2021, compared with market expectations of 10.3 million but remaining well above pre-pandemic levels amid the ongoing labor shortage. It was the second straight month of declines in the level of the openings, with fewer positions in state and local government education (-114,000); other services (-104,000); real estate and rental and leasing (-65,000); and educational services (-45,000). Meanwhile, job openings increased in health care and social assistance (+141,000); state and local government excluding education (+114,000); wholesale trade (+51,000); and information (+51,000). The number of job openings was little changed in all four regions.”

* * *

Inflation: “The Main Driver of Inflation Is a Murderous Maniac in Riyadh” [The Intercept]. “In June 2018, heading into the midterms, Trump requested that Saudi Arabia and its cartel, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, lower energy prices by increasing output, and the kingdom complied. Prices bottomed out in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic, and usage sank to record lows. Prices surged once the pandemic waned and the economy reopened, and Biden in August 2021 requested that OPEC again increase output. This time MBS refused, angry at having yet to be granted an audience with Biden and contemptuous of the U.S. pullback from the war in Yemen. As one of his first pieces of business, Biden had ordered the end of American support for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates’s war, though caveated it by barring only the backing of ‘offensive operations.’ Saudi Arabia nevertheless received it as a grievous blow. Ali Shihabi, a Saudi national who is considered a voice for MBS in Washington, made that clear in October, tweeting, ‘Biden has the phone number of who he will have to call if he wants any favours.'”

Inflation: “War On Inflation, Part 1: The Lesson Of World War II” [Forbes]. “The public-private partnership that was ‘Team USA,’ then, thought of everything – literally every link critical to the war-making supply chain. All crucial materials were quickly gathered by our government, all needed new manufacturing facilities were supplied by our government, and a guaranteed market for output was contractually provided by our government. All that private sector industry had to do was aid government instrumentalities in planning production, and then produce. The upshot of this collaboration was an astonishing – and astonishingly rapid – growth in pre-war and wartime production. Roosevelt’s ‘50,000 planes’ request, universally thought insane at the time Roosevelt made it, was massively surpassed. And this was done while counterpart ‘miracles’ were worked in respect of ships, tanks, trucks, jeeps, munitions, and all other essentials in war. America quickly became just what the President had called for – the world’s ‘Arsenal of Democracy.’ And all of this productive capacity, which was sold on the cheap to private sector firms once the war had been won, converted quickly to mass production of commercial airplanes, automobiles, durable goods and consumer goods after the War, making America the world’s factory for decades beyond the war, its GDP accounting for over 60% of world GDP during the postwar era. All this productive capacity not only made Americans the wealthiest people in the world, it also prevented our rapidly growing economy from being derailed by inflation as we switched over to peacetime production – there were just too many goods for ‘too much money’ to ‘chase too few goods.’ Why am I rehashing all of this history, which I bet very few of my readers knew about, now? Easy: Because the US is confronting the same predicaments that it faced both immediately before and immediately after the Second World War now.” • The predicaments may be the same. The US is not the same.

Inflation: A good question:

No answers on the thread. Readers?

Commodities: “China’s top chipmaker SMIC says top executive, board members quit” [Reuters]. “[Vice-Chairman] Chiang, a former research director at Taiwan’s TSMC, joined SMIC in late December. The company said he had resigned from his vice-chairman position as well as from the board with effect from Thursday in order to spend more time with his family. His departure comes just two months after SMIC’s chairman, Zhou Zixue, also resigned, citing health reasons.” • ”Spend more time with his family.” “Health.” Really?

Commodities: “Apple supplier Foxconn cautious on 2022 revenue outlook” [Reuters]. “Apple supplier Foxconn forecast on Friday that a global chip shortage would run into the second half of 2022 and its fourth-quarter revenue for electronics, including smartphones, would fall more than 15%. Chairman Liu Young-way said during a conference call that Foxconn was cautious about its 2022 revenue outlook, citing uncertainties surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, inflation, geopolitical tensions and supply chains.”

Commodities: “EU’s Vestager Warns of Chip Subsidy Race as Intel Weighs Plant” [Bloomberg]. “Chipmakers may play off governments ‘against each other’ for subsidies to fix semiconductor shortages, the European Union’s antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager warned. While such action is tempting for companies in the current circumstances, it ‘risks letting taxpayers –- whether European or American -– pick up the bill, and get little from it,’ she said in a speech in Leuven, Belgium on Friday. Vestager’s words seem targeted at Intel Corp., which is chasing European support to help build more local chip capacity. European leaders have called for more investment to alleviate a supply shortage that’s rippled through several industries.”

Retail: “The Truth About Those Dollar Stores” [Consumer Reports]. “Dollar General, Family Dollar, and Dollar Tree are billion-dollar brands taking over the discount/value retail space, as the category is called, and are sweeping the country. About 75 percent of us live within 5 miles of one of Dollar General’s 17,683 stores, the company says. Only about 60 percent of us live that close to a hospital. Counting just those three brands, dollar stores in this country outnumber Starbucks and McDonald’s combined. And more are coming. Dollar Tree and Family Dollar plan to open 600 new stores by early 2022, the company says. According to Coresight Research, which tracks retail trends, more than 40 percent of announced store openings in the U.S. this year, as of the end of August, are for dollar stores.” • This is a very good overview, well worth a read.

The Bezzle:

“Every…” is a strong claim. That said, both Cocoanuts and The Big Short are pretty funny movies. And:

The Bezzle: “MacroTactical Crypto #3: Embrace the Nonsense” (PDF) [Spectra Markets]. Human beings tend to pay attention to round numbers and treat them as special or more important than other numbers. This is good to know for traders because if you are rational, you can position yourself ahead of these round numbers knowing the probability of a fill is higher for a limit order at (for example) 68,998 than at 69,001. There is also a novel (and also irrational) phenomenon in bitcoin and meme stocks where traders find particular numbers funny, and place orders at those levels in order to screenshot and flex or just have a good laugh with the peeps in the Discord chat. The numbers 69 and 420 have become standalone memes at this point and so the approach of bitcoin to the $69k level and the $69,420 level were hotly anticipated. Bitcoin obviously has many serious narratives behind it, but it still has one foot firmly placed in the Nonsensical Timeline.” • For example:

And then come the charts. Interesting post!

Tech: “Notes on Web3” [Robin Sloan]. “It’s possible you have, in recent months, seen people writing with excitement (or curiosity, or consternation) about “Web3”. The term imagines the transition of many internet services to a model built around cryptographic tokens, such that ownership and/or control of those services might be divided between their token-holders, a group that might include their users. The tokens would also have exchange value, so, as a user, you could always: cash out.” But: “I feel like this simple premise is often lost in the haze: the Ethereum Virtual Machine, humming heart of Web3, is a computer that charges you many dollars to execute a very small program very slowly. It does so in an environment with special properties, and in some cases, those properties are worth the expense. In others … it’s like running your website on a TRS-80 with a coin slot.”

Tech: “What Is Web3 and Why Are All the Crypto People Suddenly Talking About It?” [Slate]. “The appeal of Web3 is that it is decentralized, so that instead of users accessing the internet through services mediated by the likes of Google, Apple, or Facebook, it’s the individuals themselves who own and control pieces of the internet. Web3 does not require “permission,” meaning that central authorities don’t dictate who uses what services, nor is there a need for “trust,” referring to the idea that an intermediary does not need to facilitate virtual transactions between two or more parties. Web3 theoretically protects user privacy better as well, because it’s these authorities and intermediaries that are doing most of the data collection…. Meanwhile, a number of large companies and venture capital firms are already investing huge sums to build Web3, and it’s hard to imagine that their involvement wouldn’t amount to some kind of centralized power.” • Or, to put the final claim more strongly, “large companies and venture capital firms” wouldn’t be investing in Web3 unless they could control it. I mean, that they couldn’t do that well was their issue with Web 1.0.

Tech: “Why Zillow Couldn’t Make Algorithmic House Pricing Work” [Wired]. “Zillow believed it had the secret to the iBuying world: the Zestimate. Launched in 2006, the highly touted algorithm had been trained on millions of home valuations across the US before it was put to work estimating the possible price of property Zillow itself bought. In theory, it was a natural confluence of two things: Zillow’s expertise in pricing homes, and a new method of buying properties that relied on accurate estimates. For three years it worked, according to John Wake, who has been a realtor and real estate analyst around Phoenix since 2003. In that time, he’s seen the market collapse several times, including during the 2008–09 financial crisis, set off by the problems with subprime loans. But he’s never seen anything like the past 18 months. Tech firms chose the Phoenix area because of its preponderance of cookie-cutter homes. Unlike Boston or New York, the identikit streets [also suitable for robot cars!] make pricing properties easier…. People in real estate feared the arrival of the iBuyers, says Wake. In early October 2021, Zillow recorded its most active week buying homes in Phoenix, part of its goal to buy 5,000 a month by 2024. Then suddenly it stopped buying. Wake had one question: ‘What the hell happened?’ It became clear a month later. ‘We’ve determined the unpredictability in forecasting home prices far exceeds what we anticipated and continuing to scale Zillow Offers, the company’s home buying program, would result in too much earnings and balance-sheet volatility,’ Zillow cofounder and CEO Rich Barton said when announcing the company’s third-quarter results earlier this month. The company shuttered its iBuying arm and said it would cut 25 percent of its workforce.” • If your algorithm sucks, control your inputs. Ah, well. Nevertheless.

Supply Chain: Another solution. A long thread, from which I plug two segments:

After various technical issues, we come to this:

So, once again, we see that the issue is not the steel out of which chassis are made, but social relations sanctified in the form of contracts (which no doubt also generate fees for the ports).

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 83 Extreme Greed (previous close: 81 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 85 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 12 at 11:32am.

Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 186 (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so higher is better.) –>

The Biosphere

“Gravitational wave treasure trove shows black holes, neutron stars colliding” [Space.com]. “Scientists have released the largest catalog of gravitational wave detections to date, shedding new light on interactions between the most massive objects in the universe, black holes and neutron stars…. The catalog contains 35 new gravitational wave events, ripples in spacetime predicted by Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity in 1916. The latest batch of detections, made during a measurement campaign that began in November 2019 and ended abruptly in March 2020 due to the spread of COVID-19, brings the total number of gravitational wave events detected so far to 90…. Black holes and neutron stars, which are the collapsed cores of massive supergiant stars, are the densest and most massive objects in the universe. As they come into each other’s gravitational fields, they start orbiting each other, forming a binary system. The powerful gravitational forces involved trigger cosmic ‘earthquakes’ that reverberate through space, distorting the fabric of spacetime. Eventually, these objects collide and merge, forming new, supermassive black holes.”

“An expanding molecular toolbox untangles neural circuits” [Nature]. “Life is full of nervous reactions — a head snaps towards a voice, leg muscles tense at the sound of a starting gun and thirsty mice scamper towards a squirt of water when trained to respond to a certain tone. The mechanisms behind such reward-related behaviours are notoriously difficult to unpick…. Still, researchers are slowly creating the tools to untangle that complexity, harnessing the power of sequencing, optogenetics and protein engineering to trace neuronal connections, record their activity, measure their inputs and outputs and map their networks.” • These Are Things [Humanity] Was Not Meant to Know….

Zeitgeist Watch

“Something Awful Founder Richard ‘Lowtax’ Kyanka Dies At 45” [Kotaku]. “In 1999, Kyanka created Something Awful, and today, it’s hard to understate the site’s influence. It also spawned endless, classic memes, such as, ‘All your base are belong to us,’ and was even the launching pad for what became 4chan. Our colleagues at Gizmodo listed it at number 89 in the 100 websites that shaped the internet today.”

Book Nook

“Let’s Waive Shifgrethor And Have An Honest Chat About ‘The Left Hand Of Darkness’” (roundtable discussion) [Defector]. Barry Petchesky: “Their journey across the ice was so good. Like, a better description of hardship and endurance and cold than I’ve ever come across, fiction or non-fiction. And weirdly I’ve read an awful lot of books about ice journeys. At one point the text made me literally feel cold, to the point where I turned the heat up in my apartment. But yes it’s almost unfair how many cylinders Le Guin was hitting on here. The ideas are great. The prose is great. The characters are great. It’s almost maddening; one author’s not supposed to be so good at so many different things.” • I’d estimate that all the discussants are in their 40s (Petchesky) so it’s good to see LeGuin making it through to another generation, not merely confined to old codgers like me.

Groves of Academe

“USC Pushed a $115,000 Online Degree. Graduates Got Low Salaries, Huge Debts.” [Wall Street Journal]. “Over the past decade, the University of Southern California has used a for-profit company to help enroll thousands of students in its online social-work master’s program. The nonprofit school used its status-symbol image to attract students across the country, including low-income minority students it targeted for recruitment, often with aggressive tactics. Most students piled on debt to afford the tuition, which last year reached $115,000 for the two-year degree. The majority never set foot on the posh Los Angeles campus but paid the same rate for online classes as in-person students. Recent USC social-work graduates who took out federal loans borrowed a median $112,000. Half of them were earning $52,000 or less annually two years later, a Wall Street Journal analysis of newly released U.S. Education Department data found. Compared with other master’s-degree programs at top-tier U.S. universities, the USC social-work degree had one of the worst combinations of debt and earnings.”

“California college students live in vans and hotels as campus housing plans spark backlash” [Los Angeles Times]. “After months of pandemic isolation, Kris Hotchkiss expected a celebratory return to campus for his senior year at UC Santa Barbara. Instead, he and hundreds of fellow students have found themselves hammered by another crisis: a major housing crunch. Hotchkiss had to endure a leaking roof, soggy bedding and power failure that shut down the ceiling fan, refrigerator and lights for six weeks. He has no shower or toilet. That’s because he lives in a van — the only affordable shelter he could find.” • The background for Munger’s ridiculous building.

Guillotine Watch

Speaking of individual responsibility:

Class Warfare

Labor power shortage:

Readers, are things like this happening in your area? If you have similar pictures to share, you can send them to me at the contact address below, but please put “SHORTAGE” in the subject line. And please include your (rough) location…..

* * *

Funny how far capital can reach. Down to streetlight timing:

“Walking America: Florence SC” [Chris Arnage, Intellectual Inting]. “Spend a little more time here and you notice how diverse the entire scene is. The Waffle House, McDonald’s, and Cracker Barrel, have as many whites in them as blacks. Same with the discount motels, convenience stores, and shops. The diversity here doesn’t just play out in the way it mostly does in wealthier northern towns, where blacks are serving whites, but in a more balanced way, with both as workers and customers. That is because Florence, like many deep southern towns, is half black and half white, and while the black residents are poorer, the gap between them and whites isn’t as large as it is in New York or DC. Because in Florence what most everyone shares, regardless of skin color, is a lack of fancy college degrees.” • As usual, incredibly evocative photographs that could be taken in no other country.

News of the Wired

“Gorgeous Floral Interpretations of Great Works of Art” (gallery) [Laughing Squid]. “[A]mazing floral arrangements that mimic the original image in shape and color palette.” • Not sure about this genre….

* * *

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 (KE):

KE writes: “Here’s the last of our carrot crop, which was amazing this year. We’re in northern NJ. We have raised beds, nothing special. We got a lot of rain and hot weather this summer, which seems to be great for carrots. We did mulch the beds last fall and put a tarp on them over the winter so maybe that helped.”

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Toshiro_Mifune

    His entire re-election platform in 2020 was found in his use of the pronouns ‘we’ and ‘them.’ In his mind, ‘we’ were people who love him. ‘They’ hated him.

    We went to war for 2 decades in regions with heavy sectarian divides and extreme partisanism. We then brought that home. Cultural Transference is never a one way street.

    1. ObjectiveFunction

      Appealing analogy, but I doubt it.

      The PMC sent America to war but didn’t go themselves, and 98% of the rest, unless they served overseas themselves, couldn’t find these countries on a map, still less tell you the first thing about their demographics, history or sects.

      Our hatreds are 100% made in America. And European intellectuals have made sport of our extreme partisanship since the founding of the Republic.

  2. zagonostra


    I know it’s trivial but Publix has been out of stock of their store brand Ginger and Turmeric Kombucha in the refrigerated produce section going on months. When I ask the clerks they they tell me it’s because of Covid. Weird.

  3. Carolinian

    Re gerrymandering–so the base assumption here is that no loss of the Dems to the Repubs can be due to anything other than cheating or be related to their own fecklessness. Should one point out that the press and social media thumb on the scales in favor of the Dems is also a democratic distortion? To which their response would be….”who, us?”

    A plague on all their houses, Dem and Repub. It’s the system that is broken and boh parties have broken it. The notion that the Sanders blockers in the Dems and the press care about democracy is a joke. The legitimate anger of the masses is the thing they fear most.

    1. Another Scott

      I live in Massachusetts, where it would be almost impossible to create a Republican seat; however, that hasn’t stopped the Democrats from gerrymandering the districts to benefit a few favored congresscritters.


      So cities with similar populations are split up, but the wealthy Western suburbs still get two anchor two districts. This happened ten years ago when Fitchburg and Leominster were put in separate districts. The state really seems to be trying to minimize the voice of working class voters. And that’s before the bizarre way that the city of Boston is split up (which seems to violate the concept of a contiguous congressional district

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I live in Massachusetts, where it would be almost impossible to create a Republican seat; however, that hasn’t stopped the Democrats from gerrymandering the districts to benefit a few favored congresscritters.

        I agree that the Democrats have no moral standing on the conduct of elections (whether gerrymandering, rigging the election rolls, or theft on election day). But you’d think they would at least be able to act on the danger they say we (“our democracy”) are in. But no. I would say that they are OK with being consigned to the status of a permanent minority, but that doesn’t seem right either: Meritocrats want to dominate and win, after all, but instead we get this deer paralyzed in the headlights thing. It’s very curious and I don’t understand it.

        1. Adam Eran

          See Robert Caro’s Means of Ascent, an account of how Lyndon Johnson stole his senate seat. He showed the R’s everything they needed to know. He won by 77 votes after a lot of ballot box stuffing, and virtually unlimited Brown & Root (now KBR, a Halliburton subsidiary) money. His senate colleagues called him “Landslide Lyndon” back in the day.

  4. Nichols

    “Because the US is confronting the same predicaments that it faced both immediately before and immediately after the Second World War now.”

    What is the same post war predicament we face now? Too few goods being produced domestically, to few imported, in transit now caused by labor shortages. Too much money chasing them, that seems the opposite of the post war, also, there was a huge number of unemployed and the men came home.

    Sidebar: huge numbers of combat hardened veterans back home, meant that the New Deal tail had better do something for them, like free college, home loans, guaranteed jobs and a working civil society that gave them and safeguarded all that.
    The equivalent of today’s SJWs and financial parasites would have been shot or lynched as soon as they opened their mouth or tried to foreclose.

    Great scene in Rust on Netflix. The BMW driving sharp operator from out of town is horrified to see the men of the small Pennsylvania town showing off their deer rifles a couple hundred feet away. The potential foreclosure buyers silently drift away. The local cops shrug. America needs that kind of thing now in towns and cities and different venues.

    1. JBird4049

      Today, I can see the local all being as terrorists with the ATF, FBI, Army and anything else they can be gotten being called in to deal with them. If not now, then in the very near future. I wonder what the MSM would say. Would they even report it?

      1. Hepativore

        I would not be surprised if the labor protesters are going to be ordered back to work at police gunpoint soon, with these pro-labor demonstrations being used by companies and politicians as an excuse to give even more military hardware to law enforcement and allow all branches of the military to be called in to put down anything that has the slightest hint of “rebellion”.

        I do not think that domestic drone strikes are that far off at this rate.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          It’s going to be interesting when union organizing is classed as domestic terrorism (and messing with the traffic lights, as both Warrior Met and John Deere have done, is a clearly provocative act meant to paint strikers as terrorists (and scabs as law-abiding citizens).

  5. Duke of Prunes

    About the CVS shortages… I recently went to my local (suburban Chicago) CVS to pick up prescriptions and some over the counter drugs for my F-I-L. They had 1/2 of what I needed. The shelf had the price tag, but no product. Went to a Walgreens less than 1 mile away, and they (luckily) had the other 1/2… but my curiousity was piqued so I did further investigation… they didn’t have everything I needed either… and it wasn’t like I was looking for exotic products (ex-lax, gas-ex, pain reliever, etc.). Nothing like the picture, but the CVS was in much worse shape than the Walgreens. I don’t frequent these stores so I don’t really know what “normal” is, but I don’t ever remember there being so much empty shelf space.

    Had a discussion with my 25 year old son about the labor shortage. He has friends who recently were or are in these entry level positions. His conclusion is that most of the restaurants and retail stores that can’t fill their openings are crappy places to work. The places that treat their staff well generally are hard to get into. Makes sense to me. The picture above makes me think that that CVS is a crappy place to work.

    1. Louis Fyne

      If it’s a fit for you, check Costco. IMO, Costco is the most “normal” out of the nation chains (price and inventory).

      Presuming this is because Costco has long-term contracts w/suppliers and shippers.

      If one has a big household, it may be worth it to get a membership.

      1. TimH

        Costco is a better than average retailer to work for too, is my understanding. Correct me if I’m wrong… and if I’m right (‘appens occasionally), wonder whether the Club of Sam is better or worse as a workplace?

    2. Kurtismayfield

      Yep.. flex scheduling, crap pay and benefits. Why would anyone WANT to work for a company that wants you on call and won’t pay you for your time? Or one that will cut your shift an hour you walk in?

      The businesses have only themselves to blame

      1. John

        But, being respectful to employees and paying decent wages would cut into profits and executive bonuses! That cannot happen!

        This rebellion against ‘business as usual’ is just beginning. Perhaps “management” will wake up to the emerging reality before it bites them inn the backside.

  6. Samuel Conner

    I’ll bet that carrot-bed could produce through the winter with a row cover or cold frame. So cool (no pun intended) to get fresh food out of the garden in mid-November.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      a while back, i was attempting to figure out how to get pics and vids of the Farm and my doins(chasing chickens and sheep) to Lambert…but i was still in my Chaostime, and never did.
      then my iphone(old one i got for free from the fone company) died a horrific and sudden death…lost all my numbers and can no longer take pictures like that.
      otherwise, i’d be sending in pics of the giant tomato harvest currently underway on my side of the place…in the middle of november.
      i had problems with all my toms early, because of the herbicidal manure problem, as well as late freezes, too much spring rain, and then the advent of Chaos…these vines are outside, all around the Wilderness Bar, and were planted in big tubs with city mulch, topped with bagged “compost” from the feedstore…in late may. they didn’t really start vegetative growth until late july, and i resigned myself to just not having any tomatoes this year….what with all the wierdness and koyannisqaatsi.
      but they went crazy in september, and finally produced in october…and are now loaded with big toms(all are my own variety of pinkish costoluto crossed with a beefsteak that i accidentally isolated some years ago).
      likely first freeze, tonite…so i may be out there picking them green tomorrow, to wrap in newspaper and store in a box in my closet.
      the various peppers, also in pots…and also a second planting due to herbicidal manure…have all been moved into the little greenhouse attached to the house…and i rooted some cuttings of those late toms in there as well.

      the chickens and geese and 2 jake turkeys are currently working in the raised beds on this side of the road, getting it all ready for spring(dump it and they will come=the 5 gallon compost bucket in the kitchen gets dumped in those beds i want worked on, and the birds happily oblige…where there’s encroaching bermuda grass, i run a sprinkler and the geese dig their whole heads into the wet ground going after the bermuda corms, and tilling/aerating as they go)…because i half-assed the gardening this year, due to continuing infrastructure frenzy and the effects of the Chaos…and i’m resolved to be a farmer again, dammit.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > where there’s encroaching bermuda grass, i run a sprinkler and the geese dig their whole heads into the wet ground going after the bermuda corms, and tilling/aerating as they go)

        What a great tip. I wonder if that’s how “quack grass” got its name.

    2. LaRuse

      I am serving up fresh collards with our dinner tonight snipped right out of our front yard garden 10 minutes before they went in the pot. November vegetables from our own gardens is a small miracle and I will be celebrating my little miracle with some apple cider vinegar and butter in just a little bit. :-)

      1. Pate

        My echinacea didn’t do much after the initial early summer bloom and looked more cockleburr than flower for most of the summer. Had my own October surprise when they all came to robust bloom again. First freeze tonight here in ne ok.

  7. Wukchumni

    When that bus ran over Bernie in South Carolina, he didn’t have to request whilst in a prone position that the driver put it in reverse and flatten him real good just for good measure, but he did.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Can’t help but think about what would happen if Bernie put his hand up as a Presidential candidate the year after next. Would people still flock to his standard or would people have moved on instead? If he did, it might fracture progressive voters for the ’24 election between these two groupings so maybe better that he didn’t?

      1. orlbucfan

        Sanders’ 2020 campaign was infiltrated by the RWing corporate GOPukers aka DINOs. People on here know them as Blue Dog/ Third Way. It was poorly run at the grassroots level compared to 2016. I had a front row seat to all the corruption and stealing, etc. as I worked as an unpaid volunteer for both campaigns. Sad.

        1. TempestTeacup

          It doesn’t surprise me in the slightest that, following the 2016 campaign which caught Democratic Party bigwigs on the hop, when Bernie ran again in 2020 they were ready for him.

          Fast forward and I think it has become evident even to those who were originally inspired by Bernie in 2016, that he plays a well-defined role in the Democratic Party’s politics of decorative inertia. A suspiciously friendly press may now like to write of his newfound influence instead of fretting over publicly funded healthcare or other forms of socialist subversion, but in truth he has so far been more patsy than powerbroker. Thus while he is proclaiming Biden’s legislative agenda to represent the rebirth of the New Deal, his Democratic friends and colleagues are taking an axe to every policy or provision not directly congenial to their constituents – the real ones, that is, who write the cheques that keep them in the manner to which they are accustomed, not the hoi polloi that turns out and pulls a lever every few years. By the time they are done there will be not one single crumb left for the uppity masses in all those pages and pages of federal largesse. Even the childcare and pre-K has only been preserved because it will help to force new mothers back into the work force faster and thus satisfy corporate demands for cheap labour.

          In a sense, the Democratic lifers, capos and consiglieres took Bernie’s measure in 2016. They saw him fall dutifully behind Hillary Clinton and cheer with the rest of her backers as she blithely marched them off the nearest cliff. And if they had any doubts, he proved it to them again in 2020 when Obama got on his phone and stood down every candidate but Nothing Will Fundamentally Change himself, Scranton Joe. Bernie took the subsequent shellacking like a good boy; is it really any surprise that those same people have no compunction gutting Biden’s bills in such a way to make Bernie look like a schlemiel every time he tries to talk them up?

          Back when the press still worried that Bernie might represent some kind of challenge they often liked to mention that Eugene Debs has always been his political hero. That seems strange since Debs knew as well as anyone that the two party system is an anti-democratic, elite-serving pantomime. It does though make me wonder what he really thinks and if there isn’t somewhere inside him a doubt regarding the path he has chosen. He will depart the political stage soon enough – his now dependable fealty to the Democrats has expedited his irrelevance for many of those who most enthusiastically supported him before. I can’t help but still believe he is sincere in his sensitivity of the scale and depth of suffering, poverty and blight across the country – that he still holds to his analysis of what causes these problems and what could alleviate them. That being so, and time being short, how can he justify a course of action that guarantees none of his priorities will be addressed? Worse than that, since unlike AOC or the Squad, Bernie actually has some understanding of mass movement politics – how can he justify demobilising his own base by sheepdogging them into the Democratic Party?

          I wondered some of the same things about Jeremy Corbyn when he was abandoning comrades to the anti-semitism smears and hit jobs being confected in the media with the help of his party’s right wing in their capacity as scabs for the British establishment. Rather than using his unexpected position of strength to ensure the left of the party had a secure dominance by working the internal mechanisms in his favour, Corbyn went the other way, becoming more supine and emollient towards his enemies as they only got bolder and more vicious. Result? His leadership has been erased as if it never happened by the party’s most right-wing faction as they purge the party of its left in an orgy of spite. Even Corbyn has been booted out.

          If we are to believe their rhetoric – both veterans of left politics with roots in the counter-culture of the 60s – Bernie and Corbyn accept the urgent need to address the issues they so often speak about. They are aware of the cohered and determined forces opposing them. They see the dangerous rise of hard-right ideologies. And yet, despite all that, when it comes down to it, they’d both rather play nicely

          What gives?

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > What gives?

            If Bernie had won Texas, as well as California, he wins the nomination (modulo any “wet team” operations). Given the strength of the Latino vote in both states, it seems odd that he would carry one and not the other. So why didn’t he? Periodically, I look for somebody asking and answering this question (which would take detailed analysis at ground level). So far, I haven’t seen one.

            Now, as to why Sanders turned to electoralism and agreementismn instead of pivoting to the strike wave (my contemporaneous recommendation) I don’t know; however, it is a choice that many on the left have made, not only Sanders. (See under the German Social Democrats voting war credits to the Kaiser.) He said that’s what he would do, and a loyalty oath was the table stakes, so perhaps that’s the answer. Sanders was not a Lenin, sad to say.

            1. TempestTeacup

              You’re absolutely right that Bernie was only doing what he had said from the beginning in both 2016 and 2020 that he would do: loyally support whoever won the Democratic nomination (and I suppose by extension implicitly work with them in office rather than functioning with an outsider’s critical independence). Corbyn was similar insofar as he said throughout his time as Labour leader that he didn’t ‘do’ antagonistic politics that sought to impose on party members or parliamentary colleagues. As a candidate that sounded alright and maybe even appealed to some – his integrity and sense of fair play marked him out from the customary boarding school meets Showgirls behaviour customary in Parliament. But at a certain point, for example when those who disagree with you politically dedicate themselves to your removal, won’t rest until your career is destroyed, your allies traduced and the membership that supported you gagged or purged by summory judgement, all in order to prevent any change to a status quo designed by Tory governments, then turning the other cheek starts to look like a self-indulgence and dereliction of political responsibility that makes a mockery of professed beliefs rather than a genial personal trait.

              But more generally I think it would’ve been a good thing if a wider number of Bernie or Corbyn supporters – especially those for whom this was perhaps their first real political involvement – had listened to what the two of them had said and taken it seriously. Because, as you say, Bernie (and Corbyn) only did what they always said they would do. And the fact that they were already sure of those courses of action said plenty about their fundamental politics – and how much clear water separated them from what I suspect many of their supporters hoped to see in them. That miscommunication may partly explain the current malaise of alienation and demoralisation in sections of the left – they invested far too much in people and movements that were actually pretty clear were not going to deliver some of the things people invested hopes that they might.

              But one more thing – Bernie certainly isn’t a Lenin, but that’s why I mentioned his political hero Eugene Debs – there are points in between even if I personally would also rather see a spiritual kinship closer to the Bolshevik end than the American social democratic one. Bernie wasn’t faced with a choice of either going back to the Senate like a good boy to join the Democratic Party leadership (albeit as a kind of progressive antimacassar instead of something remotely substantial) or breaking bad by forming some kind of revolutionary vanguard party to agitate for the dictatorship of the proletariat. There were so many things he could’ve done with his popularity, public profile, fundraising capabilities, existing political network, and all the rest. You might even argue that the times demanded such a move – short of actually getting elected President, parlaying the accumulated strengths and potentialities of his 2 campaigns into a permanent political presence capable of mass mobilising in support of Bernie’s signature policies as well as running properly funded candidates with the same convictions…That was perhaps the logical and necessary next step if we are to take at face value the sincerity of Bernie’s professed beliefs and his apprehension that many of the social problems he identifies are at a crisis point.

              Instead of that and despite having decades of experience inside the DC legislative sausage machine he chose to work behind the scenes to push forward his own chosen bricolage of policies. Totally top-down, utterly unaccountable, after Biden’s victory he basically submerged himself in the swamp, resurfacing from time to time just to assure whoever was listening that he was on the verge of coming out with the New New Deal. All as if this wasn’t a story line familiar to anyone who has even passing acquaintance with how Democrats succeed in looking busy while doing nothing.

              Did he really believe that this time it would work? That the Senator for Wall Street, Chuck Schumer, an old lag like Biden, and the Luxury Ice Cream Queen Nancy Pelosi were going to sit down to discuss the fastest route to a federally funded public health system, tuition free college, and a minimum wage above absolute destitution? Why? What made him think that this time it would be different to the 100 times before?

              *Have to take my dog for a walk so I will wrap up very quickly – probably none too soon if I look back at how long this is already* In a way if you strip away all the momentary complexities and micro-dramas hyped up by every soft-left Jacobin YouTuber as if it was some political rubicon and not just the equivalent of pro-wrestlers working an angle to juice up the crowd – what you’re left with is the not very complex or ennobling fact that if you agree to support someone or some party because it is better than the hideous alternative having foreclosed any options beyond that dichotomy, then you have absolutely no leverage, power or influence. You are back to the Vote blue no matter enabling that has produced present-day Democratic Party decadence. Sadly, I suspect this is really all it comes down to – not that Bernie’s alone; most of the firebreathing lefty publications like Jacobin or Current Affairs have become remarkably meek little pep squad members for team D between Trump and Biden…

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > infiltrated by Blue Dog/ Third Way

          Really? I would have thought it was idpol types that did him in by removing 2016’s simple and straightforward focus on economics.

          Do you have an example?

  8. Ranger Rick

    Farewell, Lowtax. The Web may curse his memory, but he served as the focal point of the creative energies of a great many other passionate and inspired individuals. Something Awful may now only be remembered as “that site that spawned 4chan because there was content not even it wanted to host” but for a brief period in the 2000s it was what passed for (English-speaking) internet culture.

    At least he’ll always be remembered for getting his butt kicked in a boxing match with director Uwe Boll.

    1. Soredemos

      He didn’t just ‘die’; it was suicide.

      Seems he was a really bad guy on a personal level. He abused one of his wives, and the verdict in their divorce proceeding had just come through the day he killed himself. The judge ruled he was a domestic abuser, had spent most of his money so he wouldn’t have anything to give away in the divorce, and now owed a bunch of fees.

    2. LilD

      I have a t-shirt with a nice 4-string rickenbacker captioned “All your bass is belong to us” that still gets a laugh when I wear it to a jam.

    1. Pelham

      Thanks for the link. Long Covid needs a whale of a lot more attention. That’s especially in light of all the pronouncements from the usual pack of noble-lying PMC wise-acres that, well, Covid is obviously going to become endemic so we may as well get used to it.

      All the evidence now (as the NPR piece indicates) is that this means we’ll just have to get used to tens of millions of Americans being, perhaps, permanently disabled.

      Long Covid does get some mainstream attention. What’s remarkable to me is that none of these numbskulls makes the obvious connection to draw the obvious conclusion. That conclusion may turn out to be wrong, granted, but the arrows certainly point in that direction.

      Meanwhile, we’re deliberately opening borders to hours-long air travel from Europe in tightly confined aluminum tubes where Covid can circulate and infect everyone with a variant now running riot on the continent that’s even more contagious than delta.

      1. jr

        When I mention long COVID to people it’s as if they haven’t given it a moment’s thought. I know they have because I’ve discussed it with them before but it doesn’t stick. COVID is too much for their heads, the fact that it has possible long term component isn’t to be considered. I tell them how it will would make life pretty unbearable and they nod concernedly as always.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Meanwhile, we’re deliberately opening borders to hours-long air travel from Europe in tightly confined aluminum tubes where Covid can circulate and infect everyone with a variant now running riot on the continent that’s even more contagious than delta.

        I agree our travel policy is demented from a public health standard, but which variant are you talking about? From the European Center for Disease Control:

        The estimated distribution (median and range of values from 19 countries for weeks 42 to 43, 18 October to 31 October 2021) of variants of concern (VOC) was 99.9% (87.9–100.0%) for B.1.617.2 (Delta), 0.0% (0.0–0.1%) for P.1 (Gamma) and 0.0% (0.0–0.0%) for B.1.351 (Beta). The distribution was 0.0% (0.0–0.2%) for B.1.1.7 (Alpha), which was downgraded from the list of VOCs on 3 September 2021.

        So, which variant?

  9. Carolinian

    Turley weighs in on the vax mandate

    Now Biden and Klain seem to be competing for the greatest admissions-against-interest, including a prior admission from President Biden that they would be pursuing a presumptively unconstitutional measure simply to buy more time to spend more money. Klain is celebrating a way to evade constitutional limitations — but for courts reviewing the OSHA rule, that is akin to a husband telling a spouse that he has found a “work-around” to his vows by redefining extramarital relations.

    On Sunday, Klain further explained that the OSHA rule is “common sense . . . if OSHA can tell people to wear a hard hat on the job, to be careful around chemicals, it can put in place these simple measures to keep our workers safe.”

    The problem is that OSHA itself failed to see that “common sense” meaning until the White House pushed the work-around. After President Biden announced that OSHA would make the declaration, the agency appears to have reverse-engineered its interpretation to fit the order. For years, OSHA debated whether it can or should issue an “Infectious Diseases Regulatory Framework” covering “airborne infectious diseases.” It has never issued such a framework and, in the past, has done no more than requiring employers to offer workers such things as Hepatitis B vaccination.



    1. Brian Beijer

      For years, OSHA debated whether it can or should issue an “Infectious Diseases Regulatory Framework” covering “airborne infectious diseases.”

      If OSHA is now responsible for regulating airborne infectious diseases in the workplace, shouldn’t they also be demanding more effective air filtration systems in workplaces in addition to enforcing these mandates*? I mean, wouldn’t they now be required to do this?

      *Not that I am at all advocating for mandates

    2. Louis Fyne

      If Trump wins in 2024 (already presuming that the Dems get taken to the woodshed in ’22), IMO, the single biggest person to blame/thank (depending on one’s politics) is Klain.

      As Chief of Staff, the buck stops with him (outside of Biden).

  10. cocomaan

    I’d say that LeGuin is one HBO adaptation away from being a household name again. On the other hand, her books are pretty wacky. I haven’t read Left Hand (now it’s on my list) but The Lathe of Heaven has stuck with me for a very long time. What a book. The character’s frustration, the psychology, the creativity. She’s a treasure.

    1. Librarian Guy

      I expect you probably know that Lathe of Heaven is her tribute to Phillip K. Dick’s writing and ideas. I saw a movie version of LoH on PBS when I was in my early teens that really blew my developing little mind, and it directed me to that book and then to a lot of the more outre SciFi and fantasy novels in my later teens and early 20s, stuff that was far developed beyond the Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke type stuff out there (which I also read, but less passionately). . . . Incidentally I saw LeGuin speak at Tulane University in New Orleans around 1984 and she was brilliant. She got one really stupid question (condescending and sexist) and she definitely shot it down in a way that showed that she didn’t suffer fools gladly. But neither did she invest the energy to really humiliate the questioner that’s now de rigeur in modern online “communication”, she just gave a sensible answer to a truly presumptuous and stupid assertion framed as a question, & moved on to the next questioner.

      1. Cocomaan

        Did not know that about LoH! Jealous that you got to see her speak, that must have been neat. A true master.

      2. orlbucfan

        I read a boatload of classic sci-fi an old boyfriend had collected decades ago. Clarke, Heinlein, Asimov, LeGuin, Dick, John Brunner, etc. Clarke wrote the best story of all with Childhood’s End. His take on the evolution of human consciousness has not been surpassed.

  11. IM Doc

    This article – https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2021-11-12/cdc-shifts-pandemic-goals-away-from-reaching-herd-immunity

    I do not know when exactly – probably a year ago during the initial vaccine push, I was making the point repeatedly in comments here that herd immunity was simply not achievable in coronaviruses and several other virus families. This has been settled science for decades. As I have pointed out, when you look at basic science on coronaviruses and respiratory viruses in general, this simple fact is clearly stated. Herd immunity like we see in the measles for instance is simply not something that will ever happen with this virus. But yet Fauci, Walensky and others were pushing this all the time for months on end.

    It is not that I am that much of an expert, it is literally settled science over decades of time. And now almost 2 years later, the experts at the CDC are going to change their tactics because the herd immunity promised with these vaccines is not possible.

    Did someone just now at this late date at the CDC bother to look at a standard issue Infectious Disease text?

    When you begin your argument with lies and dissembling, it is not long you have painted yourself into a corner. When you keep going, before long you become a babbling moron. Our health officials have now earned that status with a good chunk, possibly a majority, of our population. And I promise you, the derision is so intense, that it will not be recovered, at least in our life times. It pains me to say that. But facts are facts. And the number of doubters is growing daily.

    If herd immunity is not possible, what then is the medical or scientific reason for a vaccine mandate or a vaccine passport? – I am all ears. Please someone, anyone, explain this to me so I can help my ever growing panel of despondent patients who are now living through the torment of their lives. It is clear in my little community, this torment is harming way more young families and little kids than COVID ever will. The constant stress of young fathers unable to staff their businesses or fill their orders and having their business crumble into dust is becoming overwhelming. Having 2 or 3 young men in the office daily crying in anguish is just not something I have ever dealt with before. And all of this strain is not totally the fault of the mandates, but a good chunk of it certainly is. As each day gets closer to January, it is getting worse and worse.

    200 years from now, assuming humanity survives, this era is going to be right up there with the Salem Witch trials as an example of mass hysteria. The COVID narrative in this country is rapidly turning into a religion if not already there. It could not be further from the tenets of science.

    My deceased father and another life mentor always told me as a young man that the decade that actually brought forth the most prescient movies was the 1970s. Among their favorites and how absolutely correct they have turned out to be were Rollerball and Network. After this weekend’s movie watching with my wife, I would add another to the list – The Donald Sutherland/Leonard Nimoy late 70s Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The 1950s one was good but is a bit campy and dated. The 70s one got me right in the heart. The paranoia captured in that film as the characters realize that something had taken over the minds of their peers is exactly how I have felt for months around the Covid true believers in my own profession. I felt very unsettled at how exactly the movie reflected our reality today.

    I was personally told today by a colleague after a Zoom conference that I needed to be very careful. Asking hard questions was going to earn me the side-eye – and perhaps a letter to the Medical Board. When did asking tough questions become evil in American science, medicine or discourse? In the past – when someone asked a tough question, there was debate. It was not unusual for someone to get destroyed in the debate. But it brought out all kinds of thinking points. And everyone learned and science progressed. These “narrative” people do not view these debates as just off bounds anymore – they are now viewed as IMMORAL and possibly ILLEGAL. Anyone who dares question anything is to be destroyed. The end.

    How did we get here? As the article points out above, even settled science is now being suppressed if it questions the official narrative.

    Another quote I heard this week on a podcast – “Who knew that conspiracy theories were actually spoiler alerts?”

    With articles like this admitting the truth of critical and basic medical facts more than a year into a crisis like this, I cannot tell you how unsettled I am.

    1. cocomaan

      It won’t hold. I’m already seeing institutions I work with in higher education fraying when they make Covid mandates their overwhelming concern. They have falling enrollment, they are threatening to decimate their staff, and so on. You can hear the uncertainty in announcements, the hedging, the anxiety.

      The fact is that this will not be a concern in two months, because if the covid vaccine mandates and so on are implemented as written, the United States falls apart. It cannot possibly fight covid this way AND have a functioning economy. MBA’s and JIT have made the economy too thin. There is nobody to take up the slack.

      The Beltway and Wall Street don’t really understand this, so maybe they push it until the point of no return, but it will start to eat into their earnings and their popularity.

      I was remarking to my wife that no country in either World War could conduct total war for an indefinite amount of time. Eventually, one of the combatants breaks and the countdown to the armistice begins.

      1. flora

        There are several states’ attorneys general filing challenges to the federal mandate. This will end up in the Supreme Court, imo. How will the Court decide? I don’t know. I do think the Court has a long history of both supporting the separation of powers and of supporting business interests. I don’t think most business having an interest in losing large numbers of good employees who are hard to replace, especially over requiring a jab that doesn’t prevent infection or transmission, as we now know. I guess we’ll see what happens.

        1. cocomaan

          I’m with you on uncertainty. I believe that the mandate has been pushed back for OSHA to January. So it’s not getting to the Court before that.

          What Covid does this winter will define a lot of the conversation. Will vaccines hold up?

          Every month changes things in this pandemic, too. Two months ago there was no mandate, all of a sudden there was a mandate, now there’s a mandate with a thousand carve outs for different industries (like truckers) and a religious-right resurgence in the offering too.

    2. Samuel Conner

      Thank you, IM Doc.

      Don’t answer this question if it is too risky, but I’ve been wondering in recent months whether “the nobel-prize-winning generic medication that must not be named” is still racking up anecdotal evidence of clinical usefulness in any physicians’ off-label prescriptions practice.

        1. Eustachedesaintpierre

          I finally found the time to watch this weeks update concerning Dr. Paul Marik’s decision to take the hospital he works for to court after the effective ban of the use of Vit C, Vit D & certain other drugs when the unfortunates turn up in his ICU. Whatever anyone’s opinion of the efficacy of these drugs it does appear that what is under threat & likely to continue into the future, is the ability of doctors to actually do their job in the way it has always been done. As for instance using re-purposed drugs or throwing the kitchen sink in the attempt to stop someone dying in a nothing to lose sort of way.

          Could it result in a situation where experience, intuition & just a doctors general knowledge of what he/she is at become redundant ? & simply replaced with a protocol that depends on what boxes are ticked as to which medication the patient is prescribed. I suppose that robots would be cheaper & of course it would be all the more efficient without those human weaknesses such as sympathy or empathy in doling out the latest Big Pharma money spinners with no questions asked.

          Marik a while ago invented a cocktail of drugs to be given to those in dire need after a heart attack or stroke, which I guess will now also be banned as it contains Vit C & thiamine.

          I wish him well anyway as he obviously really cares – maybe that’s why he started his illustrious career in Soweto during apartheid.

            1. Eustachedesaintpierre

              Yes, basically over a technicality as he explains in the latest FLCCC update, but of course molnupiravir gets the OK in the UK with no peer reviews & a truncated trial as observed by Dr. John Campbell.

              Perhaps it is now the way of the world with most things as in only the little people have to live by a gold standard demanded by an elite who most definitely do not.

            2. RA

              Poorly stated about retraction. The doctors Kory or Marik didn’t retract the paper. The powers on the big money side of medicine (big pharma and “health care”) found a way to spin the data, applied pressure, and the journal where it was published retracted the paper. A technicality was used to refute strong evidence.

      1. Objective Ace

        My primary doc–who ironically wouldnt prescribe said drug–pointed me to all of the clinical trials on it. One of the CTs that actually used the appropriate dosage and timing is pretty clear on the matter:

        Table (2) shows that 15 contacts (7.4%) developed COVID-19 in the ivermectin arm compared to 59 (58.4%) in the no-intervention arm, all of them were symptomatic, according to the study protocol . The difference was highly significant (p<0.001)…

        Table (5) shows that ivermectin have very highly significant role in the protection of SARS-CoV-2 infection. . It has an OR of 12.533 and 11.445 when compared to no intervention in both univariate and multivariate models, respectively. Ivermectin protection was not affected by gender or comorbidities in multivariate model


          1. Objective Ace

            Appears that it hasnt been published (or even peer reviewed) yet, so I guess hold off on the celebrating

            I assumed everything on clinicaltrials.gov had been, but I guess that is not the case

    3. Screwball

      Thank you again for all you have written IM Doc. Your words ring true, and we need true (truth). Where has the truth gone? That’s the main problem IMO. The truth no longer matters – in anything. We are lied to from every direction possible and have no place to turn. People are getting more and more distraught. It can be felt IMO. This is all heading to bad places and unless something changes course – it will lead to really bad things IMO. There will be many Howard Beale’s.

      And yes, Network, the movie – especially the scene called the “money talk” is so appropriate today. I tell people “you want the truth – watch the money talk from Network” and then watch the 3:15 second version of “The American Dream” by George Carlin (1991). Then plan accordingly.

      Thanks again IM Doc – and best of luck going forward. I wish I could buy you a beer.

      1. LawnDart

        Truth is of little value to the Trumpanzies and their liberal brethren, and mass media has done its part to infect our society with dishonesty and division to fatten the bottom-lines.

        There are few consequences for lying, and lying often leads to rewards, as even the dumbest monkeys can see.

        I try to avoid these monkeys, to put distance between myself and them. And I find that this helps to minimize the stress in my life. To cleanse onself of toxic relations can have a most rejuvinating effect.

        This website and commentators such as IM Doc is like an oasis in an otherwise toxic wasteland. I find people that I can look up to here.

        Perhaps Doc can order an enema (as a medical necessity) plugged into the bunghole of DC to help flush all of the crap outta there– I’d buy him MANY beers if he showed up in our capital waving a booty-bag and chasing the natives.

    4. WayneG

      Mission Accomplished?
      Lets see: create massive distrust in Govt Institutions: check
      Destroy small businesses across the land: check
      Largest transfer of wealth in global history: check
      Divide the populace in ways not seen since the civil war and more: check
      Increase powers of the State: check

    5. JohnnyGL

      I’m noticing the popularity of mandates dropping rapidly as the implementation of those mandates collides with the reality of what it means to implement them.

      Matt Stoller said a little while back that if Biden doesn’t get his public health team under control, the electorate will do it for him by sticking a bunch of republicans into office.

      1. Arizona Slim

        I’m noticing that the popularity of a chant, you know the one, is varying in inverse proportion to the mandate.

        (Said chant has something to do with a guy named Brandon.)

        1. rowlf

          How much of the popularity of the chant is about the President, versus people flipping the bird to the news media for trying to feed them something that everyone knows isn’t actually chocolate? A US version of the Soviet observation “We know they are lying, they know they are lying, they know we know they are lying, we know they know we know they are lying, but they are still lying.”

    6. WhoaMolly

      Nicely written Doc. Thanks. At least now I know it’s not just me seeing mass hysteria.

      I’m increasingly wondering why we (taxpayers) pay for CDC NIH and FDA at all. Seems like the upper ranks are infested with empty suits, fools and psychopaths.

    7. The Rev Kev

      You were talking about this insane drive for herd immunity but I think that I can guess why. For the leaders and the professional managerial class of most countries, it was the easiest way to deal with the pandemic and get back to ‘normal’. Society does not have to rethought & restructured to deal with it, buildings like as with schools do no have to be revamped with ventilation in mind, neoliberal policies can still be allowed to play out and there is no questioning of the order of society. And vaccines (non-sterilizing!) were they way to do it. And yes, there are a lot of blame cannons going off at people who are vaccine hesitant but if this did not happen, then blame might be turned towards the fact that a herd immunity policy will break down over time as it already is doing so through vaccine breakthrough cases.

      1. jr

        Nothing must get in the way of “normal”. Here in PMCentral, it’s all anyone talks about in one way or another. Never the disease as a real thing in and of itself, or the fear of getting sick and how it would derail their lives. Rather, it’s all about traveling again and everything getting back to “normal” already.

  12. Cat Burglar

    The Forbes article on WWII industrial policy is something I haven’t read before: a specific proposal for an industrial policy inn the US. National decline is evident to every reader of this blog; certainly the present system won’t survive either ecological collapse, nor will it prevail in the confrontation with Russia and China our handlers seem to want. At least the New Consensus proposals are something to start with, and they have a good reading list. I wonder who the funders are.

  13. Sailor Bud

    “All your Base are Belong to Us” started on the website Tribalwar, which was originally devoted to the FPS video game Starsiege: Tribes, but soon became a giant free-for-all discussion forum much like SA or 4chan. Probably still is. The meme was carried to and further popularized on SA and 4chan, sure, but not spawned there. The article is misleading on that point.

    Don’t ask how I know all this mundane stuff, but I will give out that I once knew every single contributor that added a photoshop to the thing, and some of them outside the internet world.

  14. Wukchumni

    Lack Friday is but a fortnight away and counting in what retailers hope is a shelf fulfilling prophecy while awaiting 111 gigantic cargo ships in the SoCalist movement going nowhere fast, to disgorge their goodies in time lest said shelves be barren and mistaken for really long snowboards.

    Out of desperation a few big box stores have resorted to building facades of 18 wheeler trucks out of ply-board and painted to look the part lining the port road, so as to entice something holding 15,000 TEU’s to come ashore.

    1. Even keel

      I dunno. How come no one talks about how there is just one port that serves the whole coast? Why is Long Beach port so huge?

      Portland had a port. Then it was privatized, and then the operator shut it down after a labor dispute.


      It’s struggling to open back up to container traffic a bit, but if the workers and infrastructure had not been degraded by the extended mothballing, perhaps it would be better. This article about the ad hoc shipping to Portland That is trying to be restarted mentions ports in Everett and San Diego as well, I don’t know their history.

      I suppose it is the same story of concentration of power.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I dunno. How come no one talks about how there is just one port that serves the whole coast? Why is Long Beach port so huge?

        I would guess optimization. Here is a map of railroads, which take the containers when they are (finally) offloaded from the ships. (I think it’s ship -> truck (chassis) -> warehouse -> train -> destination in most cases, as opposed to truck -> destination.)

        This does not give the “first cause” you are looking for, but you can bet that all the heavy black lines from Los Angeles to Chicago are optimized (double track, heavy rail, signaling, passing sidings, straightened curves, yards, interchanges, workforce) in a way that the lines from San Francisco to Chicago are not.

        It would take a lot of capital investment to fix this.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          There seems to be a lot of scale benefits with really big ports. Usually, they keep growing until one of the key variables (water/rail/road) hits a bottleneck. You see the same with Rotterdam in Europe. When you see countries with a wider range of ports, its usually because all the established ports have a bottleneck or two so can’t dominate, or there is active government intervention to create alternatives (the French, for political reasons, throw a lot of money into keeping minor ports alive). In China, there are huge ports, but also lots of provincial governments that want to keep ‘their’ port alive, especially some of the inland ports (the scale of these has to be seen to be believed).

          I’ve always been interested in this because some ports seem to survive despite all logic. Dublin port should have died around the 18th century when ships became too big for the mouth of the Liffey River. But despite vast amounts of money spent in hairbrained and very expensive schemes (at least two major ‘alternative’ ports built in the 19th Century) and far better deep water alternatives around the coast, it remained, and still is, the favoured port for business. Almost certainly the reason comes down to the timing of deliveries from or via the UK (its the shortest direct route). Ironically, its Brexit that is finally changing this.

          Its remarkable sometimes though how fast big ports can die if there is a cheaper alternative. You have to walk the Liverpool waterfront to get an idea of just how huge it is, and what an incredibly busy place it must have been in the mid-20th Century. But it died with stunning speed once east coast alternatives such as Felixtowe were developed. Perhaps because port operations are relatively low skilled, there doesn’t seem to be any inner momentum that keeps one alive when its lost its economic advantage, unlike, say, heavy industrial areas.

          One thing that occurs to me looking at that US map is that you can see clearly why the Soviets/Russians have always been very interested in developing harbour busting mega nukes.

        2. QuicksilverMesenger

          One point here: I’m seeing more than “one port for the whole west coast”. That is, Seattle.

          1. Glen

            Anecdotal observations here:

            Parts of the Port of Seattle that had been empty for years are suddenly overloaded with containers and lines of trucks to take them away. It looks like the Port is trying to up capacity, but it looks on quick examination that the trucks are moving very slow.

            Gee, there’s been a rumble about shortages of truck drivers for years which always seems to coincide with further crapification of the job of truck driving. I’m sure the elites will blame the government for all that.

    2. John Anthony La Pietra

      I’m surprised nobody else has made observations on this new meaning of the term “cargo cult”. But I’m not too proud to swoop in. . . .

  15. lakecabs

    We have been wide open at Lake of the Ozarks since May 3 2020.

    Kids went to school. No masks. Businesses open.

    Our numbers are no worse than average.

    We had a record year in business.

    I am bewildered by the rest of the world.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Our numbers are no worse than average.

      I had no idea Lake of the Ozarks was so large. Covid is most dangerous indoors. It looks like most of the activities are outdoors. I also (from the press coverage) had it mentally classified as a party town (and since bars are indoors, dangerous; the photos of people in bathing suits outdoors is another flavor of beach-shaming, which is just dumb). It looks not to be. So, if there are clubs/bars/restaurants I would have expected those to be hot spots, but not the entire Lake area.

      I certainly remember plenty of rapid riser counties in Missouri at one point in the last wave, though I’m too lazy to find the link. Missouri v. the Midwest:

    2. Josef K

      Missouri has about 6m people, Washington State 8m. MO has about 13k total deaths, WA around 8k, less than half the amount per capita. Other metrics showed similar worse outcomes for MO vs. WA. I’ve been in WA state the whole time and there hasn’t been any more lockdowning than most states, less than CA or OR, vaxxing is above average but not the highest, and yet people are mostly masked up.
      Looking at all the states, MO is above average on the numbers you don’t want to be high, but not in the upper tier. Considering the US has one of the worst sets of numbers, world-wide, I don’t think our average is anything to be proud, or smug, about.
      As to bewilderment, numbers don’t lie.

  16. Chas

    As for the walk/don’t walk signal being programmed to interfere with the Deere picket line, it might not be too hard to fix that problem, in a way similar to how cats get fixed.

  17. NotThePilot

    Re: “Walking America: Florence SC”

    I agree with the comments on his page; he nailed some of the paradoxes about the South, or at least the mid-sized towns. My entire family comes from the Midwest, but I spent most of my childhood & several adult years in the South, so I’m sort of the inverse of the author.

    Housing and some business locations are usually segregated by area, and when a Southerner is a genuine racist / fascist, I’d say they do tend to be more vicious & open about it, though even that’s not so true anymore with the political realignment in rural America.

    But in day-to-day life, there’s definitely less of a distance between black & white Southerners, even up to a decent amount of intermarriage. I could have just not noticed it as much as a kid, but I’d also say I genuinely sensed less resentment towards successful black people in the South than I do now in the Rust Belt. So in spite of everything, count that as one way Jim Crow is still firmly dead & buried.

    It’s more something he hinted at through vignettes (the Indian convenience store owner, the Mexican restaurant, the people that lived in Florida before coming back), but another thing about Southern towns is that most of the energy does seem to come from the New Southerners: refugees & immigrants (particularly Latino) or carpetbaggers. In my town growing up, there was about a 4-way split between long-time white Anglos, long-time black Anglos, Latinos, and out-of-towners from all over for the major local employer. And it definitely made the place way more interesting.

    The one place I think I’d totally disagree though is when he said that Northerners tend to be very different religiously, implying black & white Southerners share similar views. I’m not a Christian & wasn’t raised as one, so I have my own entire set of biases, but setting those aside, my impression is that the typical Southern black church & Southern white church are almost opposites (and that’s probably a part of why they’re still so segregated). Yes, they theoretically share the same doctrines & origins, but people come to them with very different goals & motives.

    1. Carolinian

      Well I do live in South Carolina (nowhere near Florence) and in a town that is 50/50 black/white. There’s an economic divide between the affluent parts of town and the poor, often black sections but the old mill villages, which are mostly white, are probably poorest of all. People here seem to get along and compared to my growing up “colorblind” is increasingly a thing.

      Whereas when I lived in Atlanta the most prejudiced people I knew all seemed to come from Ohio.

      But it could be that integration works and therefore the South–required to integrate after the 1960s–is further along with this than the North. Add in de-industrialization and there are perhaps extra tensions in the Northern working class whereas in my part of the state at least there’s an industrial upswing.

      Most of all we just have a lot more black people–70/30 ratio for the state. Propinquity works, if given a chance.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the typical Southern black church & Southern white church are almost opposites (and that’s probably a part of why they’re still so segregated). Yes, they theoretically share the same doctrines & origins, but people come to them with very different goals & motives.

      Can you expand on this?

      1. ambrit

        My jaundiced view if it will help.
        Phyl is old line Southern Catholic, a peculiar sort of “free thinking” Catholicism. Call it a “Catholic Democrat” political dynamic. Social justice is often defined along socio-economic lines. It looks something like a ‘socially conservative,’ ‘economically redistributive’ triangulation.
        A great many of the White Southern religious I meet think, and more importantly, act this way. Along this ‘path,’ the White Southern religious seem to deal with social problems in a more theoretical manner.
        The Black Southern religious I have met and talked with struck me as being almost exclusively concerned with personal redemption, expressed in a “family and friends first” operational ideology. Family is very important to the Southern Black people I have had any non-trivial encounters with. (I have not lived north of the Mason Dixon line, so cannot give an informed opinion about people from there.)
        Just to perhaps clear up Carolinian’s race based population ratio comment; the Black White racial population figures are, at best, 30% black to 70% White in the Southern states. I live in Mississippi, which has the largest percentage of Black denizens, if one does not consider the District of Columbia as a state, with a 38% Black population.
        As Carolinian mentions, propinquity does indeed ‘work.’ Mixed race children are a common sight here.

        1. John Anthony La Pietra

          Is that “free thinking” Catholicism anything akin to “Catholic Worker” Catholicism?

          1. ambrit

            Phyl is not a follower of Dorothy Day, although she does appreciate the aims of that group. I once compared them to early, as in First Century, Christian communities. Phyl agreed, after some argument between us on the subject.
            I’d say that the best description of Phyl’s brand of “free thinking” Catholicism would be those early groups that coalesced around reformers like Hus and Wycliff.

      2. NotThePilot

        Sure, sorry I didn’t get around to replying yesterday.

        First the disclaimers: I’m primarily speaking about the Protestant, and especially Baptist churches. I mostly have an outsider’s perspective on the how people interacted as church members (just got the second-hand censer smoke, as Heine might put it). And of course there are exceptions so it’s only a rough tendency.

        I don’t want to reduce it to political terms either, it’s subtler than that, though it definitely drives the politics some. I guess you could say I always got the vibe white Protestants saw redemption as something they already had, like property, whereas black Protestants saw it as something out in the future that they were promised, like the result of an activity.

        Growing up as a kid, you’d hear lots of people that went to the white churches talk about “being saved”, and they always made it sound on one level like getting a vaccination. It could just be because I’m not black so it was seen as something where the unspoken segregation rules apply, but I don’t think I ever heard a black classmate mention it. And on the few occasions religion did come up, I’m pretty sure it was always phrased more like “need to get to church” or “find religion”.

        Looking back now though, after learning much more & with all my ideological biases, I do think the black church is actually quite a remarkable thing. If there’s any truth to the idea that late-stage Rome shaped Christianity to its own aims, black America managed to turn it entirely on its head, and without even officially dropping a single Protestant doctrine.

    1. CanCyn

      My husband and I keep a list of quotes, funny sayings, truths, etc. that we would put on T-shirts if we had a T-shirt printing business. One is “Ansel Keyes was an asshole”. I learned about Keyes from the book Good Calories, Bad Calories. I read that book about the same time that I discovered NC. Along with NC, it served as huge wake up call for me, illustrating as it did the politics and competition and egos that are part of western scientific research. As a librarian, I knew about citation clubs (“you cite me, I cite you”) and the evils of academic publishing but somehow there was still a part of me that believed in scientific method as I learned it in high school and thought that scientists pursued the truth not profits, fame and fortune. Between Good Calories, Bad Calories and NC, I no longer believe those things.

    2. eg

      You can add Barry James Marshall to the list of those scorned and derided by the medical establishment. He was the fellow who discovered that stomach ulcers are caused by bacteria, much to the chagrin of a well-established cadre of surgeons and a pharma industry featuring the usual mendacity.

  18. Quentin

    Lambert remarks on Chris Arnade’s pictures, ‘incredibly evocative photographs that could be taken in no other country.’ What strikes me is the insistent absence of people (apart from window mannequins and, by inference, cars.’ Yes, a bleak view of the US. Or a bleak view of Arnade’s view of the US.

    1. Arizona Slim

      I think I can explain that one, by virtue of the fact that I’m a photographer. When I’m doing street photography, I am very careful NOT to include my fellow humans in the pictures.

      Why not? The reason is simple: People can be VERY touchy. Best to just concentrate on the landscape and/or built environment.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Why not? The reason is simple: People can be VERY touchy. Best to just concentrate on the landscape and/or built environment.

        Thats’s very true.* I think, though, that in hot climates people don’t tend to be outdoors a lot, at least during the day. Arnade’s Dignity has many wonderful photos of people.

        * I resist the whole “family of man” concept. I think the notion that a photograph of a person reveals anything about their interior life is wrong (except perhaps great suffering, especially during war). I think the concept encourages a sort of touch-feely faux intimacy, especially when the photographer is from “somewhere else,” and thus by definition has more options, and is likely to be richer, than their “subject.” It’s exploitation. Everybody hates a tourist. To me, it’s all part of the heart-tugging quasi-pr0n that fills so much of our media flow.

        Now, if the photographer has been part of a community for a long time, and supports it, that is a completely different thing.

  19. JBird4049

    >>>From CDC: “Community Profile Report November 12, 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties:

    Thanks for these updates. The Bay Area is vaccine central, where not being vaccinated seems to be treated as obscene. But Covid is ever threatening to breakout.

  20. Mikel

    Re: Tweet “My sense is inflation is impacting groups differently”

    There have been stats showing consumer spending broken up into different percentiles and that spending is largely being carried by the upper percentile.
    So a smaller group is a majority of the consumer spending. As the squeeze goes on, no wonder there could be a desire for higher prices…it would make up for the lack of spending by those in the lower percentile.

    1. eg

      I am increasingly convinced that there is something terribly disingenuous about the hysterical media narrative around inflation, especially the “won’t somebody think of the poors!” talking point. How can people who already don’t have money be disproportionately harmed by a drop in the value of something they don’t possess?

      Furthermore, doesn’t inflation help debtors and harm creditors since the latter receive payment in currency less valuable than they lent? And aren’t creditors as a class massively more wealthy than borrowers?

      There is something off here beyond the obvious, which is when have those who own the media ever given a flying family-blog about the poors?

      1. deplorado

        Here is another example of those who own the media saying they give a family-blog about the poors that stinks to high heaven:


        The creditors own the cashflow and are too big to fail, they will do just fine with inflation. Those who have 30-year fixed mortgages at 2.5% will do well with inflation, provided they can continue to pay their property taxes and bills, but that’s about it and it is a deliberate exception provided by those same creditors. So the creditors will be fine while everybody else will be squeezed to wiped out. I’ve lived this movie in the 90ies in the post-Soviet bloc.

        At the end of this in a few years, the social structure of the US will look like that of Russia.

  21. The Rev Kev

    ‘Over the last hundred years every financial crisis has its roots in Floridians being morons about speculative assets with no underlying value. In 1925 they literally sold land in a town that didn’t exist, which isn’t that different than crypto actually.’

    I must object to this last line. Lots of that land actually did exist and was sold and re-sold several times. It was just that when it reached the hands of a buyer who wanted to inspect that property, it did not take them long to discover that that property was in fact six foot deep under water.


    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > a buyer who wanted to inspect that property

      “Son, those sardine tins are for trading, not for eating.”

      I wonder if there’s a futures market in (literally) underwater Florida property and if so what it looks like.

  22. The Rev Kev

    “What Is Web3 and Why Are All the Crypto People Suddenly Talking About It?”

    Not sure why but when reading about this I am suddenly reminded of the libertarians who also back Sea-Steading which sets me on edge.

    1. Daryl

      An interesting throwback that does have some similarities, I think, though I would say crypto seems to have a much wider political audience.

      As a card-carrying techbro, a lot of people I know are into this. And I am all for (re)-decentralizing the internet, but it’s unclear to me how cryptocurrency and blockchains get it there. It’s a lot like the meme format 1) do something 2) ??? 3) profit, but instead it’s 1) throw crypto at it 2) ??? 3) internet isn’t dominated by megacorps anymore. Nobody has really connected the dots to my satisfaction.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > What Is Web3

      I don’t have the technical chops to answer that (which is bad of me, but also bad in general, because Web 1.0 was instantly understandable). My feeling is that the bright young things pushing web3 have taken their cue from Silicon Valley ethics generally, which is to get your funding from the sizzle, and then go out and find the steak. And there’s so much stupid money sloshing around these days that’s not hard to do. I also don’t know whether “the blockchain” is performant at scale. (One of the nice things about centralized systems, also, is that they can be good at detecting fraud and rolling it back (at least at the consumer level: not at the elite level, obviously). I think the powers that be are torn. Being crooks and fraudsters themselves, they naturally find blockchain/Bitcoin attractive, but will it be scale to billions of accounts? I’m guessing no.

      The whole conglomeration of tech feels shiny to me; and it’s being pushed by an embubbled group of true believers with entirely too much zeal.

  23. Jackalope

    Re shortages…Hudson Valley NY here…have not seen any shortages at all. Just came back from a trip to WY, restaurant complained about delayed deliveries and said they were out of certain things but the supermarket seemed fine as did other stores. Drove today to Carbon County PA, stores looked fully stocked. Passed about a million trucks on the road coming here, kept wondering about that shortage of truck drivers, seemed like there were plenty of drivers around here.

  24. Anthony K Wikrent

    Thank you for linking to Bouie’s op-ed discussing the Guarantee Clause regarding a republican form of government. It is, if you recall, a subject I have discussed in comments a few times in the past year or two, including links to some very good law journal articles on the Guarantee Clause.

    My read at this point is that we are in a pre-civil war situation, with conservative and libertarians just itching to get on with killing the liberals (just like sothorons were itching, by spring of 1860, for a war to begin killing Yankees). This is the true context in which to view the Rittenhouse trial in Kenosha. The drift into a second civil war should properly be understood as the end result of the past 90 years organizing by rich reactionaries against the New Deal, and their attempt to restore the preponderance of power to capital versus labor. For all the short termism of a financialized economy, the rich reactionaries have had a stunning lomg game in mind, and the most impactful part is probably going to be the creation and propagation of “law and economics” and the (anti)Federalist Society seizure of control of the judiciary.

    The drift into a second civil war is also the context in which to view the “left’s” demands for censorship, which Taibbi, Greenwald, and a few others have assailed repeatedly and, imho, unwisely. We must build the cultural capacity to limit the free speech of the rich, in much the same way the there are cultural limits on speech by military officers. It bears repeating that the ascendancy of the reactionaries, who are now poised to deploy the authoritarians they have cultivated within the population, has been a 90 year project. At various points, severe penalties and a cultural disapprobation of free speech would have avoided the present drive to war. For example, G. Gordon Liddy and Oliver North should never have been allowed to become stars of right-wing TV and talk radio.

    And, a subject of the British crown, Rupert Murdoch, should never have been allowed to have control of major American media. The case of Murdoch points to the real vulnerability we face: there is no understanding of what a republic is, and how a republic must be defended. Hence, Madison writing about “aristocratic or monarchial innovations” sounds very strange to us today. But Ganesh Sitaraman, in his excellent book, The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution: Why Economic Inequality Threatens our Republic (2017), points out that Americans were culturally hostile and suspicious of aristocracy and monarchy up until World War Two and the Cold War, when the new foe to be guarded against became fascism, then communism.

    This lack of republican culture allows Gitlin, Isaac, and Kristol, in their “An Open Letter in Defense of Democracy,” to purvey a series of frauds on public opinion. They write, ““Liberal democracy depends on free and fair elections, respect for the rights of others, the rule of law, a commitment to truth and tolerance in our public discourse.” This is certainly not untrue, but what they omit is crucial. First, this is supposed to be a republic, not a democracy. While a republic should have a democratic form of government, a republic is different because a regard for the General Welfare must be balanced against individual freedoms. There used to be a consideration of public virtue, in which citizens were expected to abandon their self-interests when they conflicted with the public good. For example, citizens should be expected to wear masks and embrace vaccine requirements in a pandemic, and any refusal or disobedience should be properly seen as an assault on the republic.

    Second, in a republic, there is a positive requirement to do good. The exemplar of this is Benjamin Franklin, and the various organizations he helped create: a fire company, a library, a hospital, the American Philosophical Association, and so on. All of these resulted in the network that fought the Revolutionary War, then attempted to codify republicanism in the Constitution. But the compromise with slavery was a fatal flaw.

    President John Quincy Adams, in his first annual message to Congress, summarized this positive requirement to do good:

    The great object of the institution of civil government is the improvement of the condition of those who are parties to the social compact, and no government, in what ever form constituted, can accomplish the lawful ends of its institution but in proportion as it improves the condition of those over whom it is established. Roads and canals, by multiplying and facilitating the communications and intercourse between distant regions and multitudes of men, are among the most important means of improvement. But moral, political, intellectual improvement are duties assigned by the Author of Our Existence to social no less than to individual man


    Law journal articles on the Guarantee Clause:
    Bonfield, Arthur E., “The Guarantee Clause of Article IV, Section 4: A Study in Constitutional Desuetude”, [On the Constitutional guarantee of the federal government that each state shall have a republican form of government]
    46 Minnesota Law Review 513 (May, 1961)

    Erwin Chemerinsky, Why Cases Under the Guarantee Clause Should Be Justiciable,
    65 University of Colorado Law Review 849-880 (1994)

    The Yale Law Journal
    Vol. 97, No. 8, Jul., 1988
    Symposium: The Republican Civic Tradition
    [12 articles on republicanism]

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the rich reactionaries have had a stunning lomg game in mind

      That was what I had in mind with “Republicans are far more serious and strategic in their politics than Democrats”, but you put the idea more clearly (although by “serious,” I also mean serious like this).

      Thank you for this excellent comment.

      1. TempestTeacup

        When I think of the seriousness of Republicans and the ability to execute long-term strategic visions in service of their ideology, I think of the stunning success they have enjoyed in altering the judiciary from the most recently appointed or elected judge at the state or local level to the justices of the Supreme Court. By lavishly funding law departments or even creating their own institutions – with all the influence on their direction and politics such spending will get you – hard-right libertarians like the Koch brothers, along with christian fundamentalists, have managed to create their very own network of colleges or faculties from which emerge a steady stream of tomorrow’s jurists. They have managed to combine elite standards of education and training with ideological cultivation in a way that ensures those who come out of such an orbit will not just be reliably doctrinaire; they will also have the legal education and general skills to present a professional veneer that conceals their fanaticism. We saw this with the 3 Trump Supreme Court appointments during their nomination hearings. They used rhetorical dexterity to deflect any efforts to probe their political or religious biases. We saw, too, how the Democrats predictably lapped it up since there are few things they love more than displays of copiously credentialed professional verbiage.

        As a result of this project, a crackpot legal ‘theory’ – originalism – has become one of the fundamental doctrines throughout swathes of American jurisprudence. Compare the legal and constitutional philosophies of the current Supreme Court with the justices who sat at almost any point between FDR and Bush Jnr – they are like different worlds.

        It’s almost always a moot point since neither party tries passing legislation to create the need – knowing full well whose interests they are there to serve – but I’ve always thought of this world, up to the Supreme Court, as representing a kind of ‘insurance policy’ just in case by some miracle the wrong kind of people did get elected and start to get uppity in Congress. If legislation was passed that the plutocracy didn’t like they could always relax in the knowledge that the federal courts are there to declare it unconstitutional.

        Impressively successful as this project has been, it is also impressive in that for it to work took not just years, but decades. Departments were altered to suit political demands, schools were established, students trained, then their careers had to have time to develop and their stars had to rise. It required not just money but clear vision, patience and persistence.

        Gerrymandering is, of course, also something that the right pursue with far more clarity and serious intent – and where they are also reaping the rewards in the present. But with that i’ve always suspected there is an unspoken agreement or at least understanding between the two parties that involves them essentially carving up the country in such a way that each side has a certain number of districts so heavily tilted red or blue that they constitute latter-day rotten boroughs. These can then be retained as sinecures that party leadership can pass to trusted ideological allies or as reward for services rendered. It’s been a while since I last did so but I remember looking at various districts around the country and although the media likes to discuss gerrymandering as an exclusively Republican form of villainy, a lot of the ones I saw were clearly designed to benefit Democrats. Or, rather, there were trade-off where for example a district was designed to snake absurdly around a city so it was made up entirely of the wealthy suburbs while another was made up of only the poorest parts of the inner city. The red and blue teams would get one each and nobody would have to really bother with the expensive, time-consuming stress of actually winning an election. Happy days!

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Impressively successful as this project has been, it is also impressive in that for it to work took not just years, but decades. Departments were altered to suit political demands, schools were established, students trained, then their careers had to have time to develop and their stars had to rise. It required not just money but clear vision, patience and persistence.

          To be fair to liberal Democrats, the Party as currently configured, which includes dominant factions in the press and the intelligence community, as well as virtually the entire NGO structure, also took years to construct (see paragraphs beginning with “the Democrat Party is a rotting corpse that can’t bury itself”). So we are in Godzilla v. Mothra territory. But if I had to choose, I’d choose the party of the local gentry, which controls material resources.

          1. Noone from Nowheresville

            But isn’t the change of New Deal Democrats into Neoliberal Democrats really the most impressive change that the long-vision well-discliplined wealthy were able to achieve? The wealthy broke down the entire framework via a multi-pronged attack, dismantled it piece by piece, then wielded it as a weapon just as they wielded the framework they changed for the Republicans.

            I’d be curious to know how many voters still believe in the rose-colored nostalgia of New Deal Democrats and vote accordingly? And how many voters know what a lie that nostalgia is (were actually betrayed by it) and vote Republican?

            If we look at the wealthy’s war against the New Deal, how does the election of the Democrats (party of Austerity and a thousand cuts) at the federal level fit into their war against the plebs and the New Deal framework?

            1. Noone from Nowheresville

              Nine decades and the New Deal framework foundation is still visible. Shaky, perhaps on it’s last piers waiting for the right Jenga piece to be pulled to bring the whole thing crumbling down.

              If nothing else that goes to the resiliency and redundancy built into the original framework. Our current promoted framework is more like our supply chains.

              1. Noone from Nowheresville

                I’m currently reading this article on modern storytelling (heroes v. villains and “morality”) which showed up in my pocket feed this morning. While reading it, I couldn’t help but think about how we discuss and get caught up in politics in terms of (e.g., conservative v. liberal; Republican v. Democrat) morality, hypocrisy, etc. while we ignore the underpinings and objectives of high level politics like the war on the New Deal framework. It’s like a cultural whisper.


            2. Lambert Strether Post author

              > But isn’t the change of New Deal Democrats into Neoliberal Democrats really the most impressive change that the long-vision well-discliplined wealthy were able to achieve?

              I was thinking institutionally but the ideological shift is impressive, too. Even though I lived through this change, I don’t know the history of it; I am too close. It is almost as if in their haste to abandon and betray the working class (see Thomas Frank), and shift their base to the PMC, the liberal Democrats adopted whatever non-New Deal ideology happened to be lying around, instead of developing a new one (Third Way and Blairism don’t count). Neoliberalism? Sounds meritocratic! Hence TINA. And hence overwhelming liberal Democrat focus on norms, civility, and so forth. They have nothing else going for them ideologically. A vast wasteland!

      2. Anthony K Wikrent

        Yes, but it’s also worth remembering that Lewis Powell, author of the 1971 Powell memo to the Chamber of Commerce laying out the corporate response to the “Attack On American Free Enterprise System” was a life-long Democrat – though it was in Virginia, and hence part of the post-Civil War Democratic Party dominated by the former slave holders.

        Also, not insignificantly, Powell was a top hired gun attorney for Big Tobacco.

    2. eg

      This is excellent, thank you. I would add only that the original charters granted to corporations also required that they state and pursue their commitment to some public good or other — they were never conceived of as mere profit generating vehicles, much less as islands of petty tyranny. They were also time bound. Allowing the legal framework to change such that they became potentially eternal entities inimical to anything and everything other than profits for their shareholders was one terrible misstep for which we all continue to pay.

    3. Noone from Nowheresville

      My read at this point is that we are in a pre-civil war situation, with conservative and libertarians just itching to get on with killing the liberals…

      While being fully prepared to restore and reinvigorate the wealthy’s public leadership (Republican v. Democrat) should one side take it just a bit too far and be discredited. Battles can be won or lost but the actual multi-pronged war against The New Deal framework and vampire-squiding of the plebs should go on unimpeded.

      So we have the dog and pony show created by the wealthy to wage a war against the plebs but is there currently an actual division among the US wealthy where they would make purposeful* physical war with one another? If so, over what?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > is there currently an actual division among the US wealthy where they would make purposeful* physical war with one another? If so, over what?

        That’s a very good question. I do not know enough about the funders of the loony right to know if they are financialized, globalized, or not. My impression is that they are the “American gentry” but I can’t say.

        My snap answer is: Resources, during the Jackpot. But see paragraph above. I assume the wealthy are factionalized like everything else; it’s factions all the way up….

        1. LilD

          Wolves tend to only attack other wolves when already wounded and weak, otherwise they stick to attacking sheep…

    4. Basil Pesto

      Many thanks for this, I’ve occasionally expounded on my unease of the ‘all freedom/no responsibility’ formulations of American civil libertarians a la Greenwald et al, but yours is a far more serious analysis than I could hope to provide. If you were to write further on the subject and put it on, say, Medium (or anywhere that would have you!), I would read it with interest.

  25. Heraclitus

    Thanks for posting the Chris Arnade piece on Florence. I agree with all his observations, but I think he may not have realized from his walk that Florence has a lot of good things going on economically. Plenty of companies move there, but they tend to be on the outskirts of town. Florence is not a deer in the headlights of change like so many smaller Southern cities and towns which haven’t recovered from the loss of textiles.

    I don’t think the new prosperity in Florence has worked its way through the population, however. Maybe in the next generation the rising tide will help more people out of poverty.

  26. The Rev Kev

    Re the Metaverse. So I was just watching a short video by a WSJ reporter on what it was like spending 24 hours in it and I am going to say yeah, nah! People will look at it and think that it is so creative but that will be until the companies that will be running those platforms (Facebook, Google, etc.) crack down on what you can and can’t do or say like they are doing on the rest of the internet. The headsets give you headaches like those early 3D movie glasses did and from what I see, it is a dumbed down version of Second Life. At least in Second Life they could do legs! If it took off, the power and bandwidth requirements will be off the charts so that won’t help many people. Not a fan obviously-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtLTZUaMSDQ (7:33 mins)

    1. Acacia

      This article is a bit hyperbolic, but not entirely wrong methinks:

      The Metaverse Is Big Brother in Disguise: Freedom Meted Out by Technological Tyrants

      Welcome to the Matrix (i.e. the metaverse), where reality is virtual, freedom is only as free as one’s technological overlords allow, and artificial intelligence is slowly rendering humanity unnecessary, inferior and obsolete. […] The metaverse is, in turn, a dystopian meritocracy, where freedom is a conditional construct based on one’s worthiness and compliance.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the power and bandwidth requirements will be off the charts

      Sounds like diminishing returns, to me.

      Also, no legs, no sex. Eliminating an obvious use case for avatars that would scale to billions of accounts (Snow Crash is kinda prudish about this too).

  27. VietnamVet

    The very basic problem in the USA is that it has a government run by and for corporations, not the people. They can’t tell the truth so they lie. In the last 40 years the lies have become too apparent. None more so than the pointless mRNA vaccine mandates and passports that are firing essential American workers.

    The rulers use divide and rule to keep the “moderate” 10% in power and the top 0.1% in the money e.g. Elon Musk. The old left is gone. Most lefties and righties see the same parts of the elephant through their imprinted beliefs. The tragedy is once both see the truth together, the regal Raja riding on top will be thrown to the ground and stomped flat.

    The onrushing chaos could be avoided by re-regulating elections, using paper ballots counted in public, and restoration of the rule of law. Bring back the Republic!

  28. Pat

    News I know is cheered by others but leaves me with a pit in my stomach is that the vaccine drive for children is going so well here in NYC, that they won’t be enacting a mandate….yet.

    If there are problems down the line, I wonder how they will view the hundred dollars the city is giving them. I worry we are just adding to our public health problems. But hey I am the wrong side of middle aged and childless, I may get to miss when things start going to hades.

    As Im Doc indicates there is an ever increasing pressure to eliminate questions, and I would add ignore and downplay concerns, if they aren’t outright derided. It won’t hold, but this regimented need to insist the emperor is clothed will destroy more than trust. I despair at the scorched earth this is creating.

        1. Pat

          I am always happy when I stumble across them.

          I have a hard time imagining Facebook not seeking to use better human actions to enhance itself and its coffers. Once you recognize how grabby and grubby it is about your data and your photos, it is difficult to forget. And I left it over a decade ago, before many of the most egregious algos were fine tuned.

  29. drumlin woodchuckles

    Seeing Mayor Suarez talking about MiamiCoin and BitCoin, I begin thinking that he and Mayor Adams of New York are innocent digital rubes, in love with the magic of BitCoin and desperate to find something that will work for their city.

    If the mayor of my city insisted on creating a bitcoin wallet with a bitcoin for every resident, I would immediately find someone to sell my bitcoin and its wallet to at any old price, to be disconnected from it.

    1. Pat

      I would also sell it.

      You are kinder than I am. My first thought was Adams thinks this is a good way to hide the real source(s) of his soon to be increasing wealth.

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