2:00PM Water Cooler 11/15/2021

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Warblers are much more mellifluous than penguins. This one is really worth listening to!

Stalky the Kookaburra. The whole thread is worth a read:

* * *


Readers, Covid tapewatching, too, can be described as “hours of boredom punctuated by minutes of terror.” I find today’s case data disturbing, and so I’ve rearranged this section for today to highlight the case numbers. (I’ve also reworked a lot of the boilerplate, so please don’t skip it.)

Case count by United States regions:

I’ve been muttering about the national case count for awhile. First, I noted when the downward trend stopped, and the curve went horizontal (“fiddling and diddling”). Then I noted a “modest upward trend.” I was reluctant to call the kind of geometric increase we’ve seen before, because I’d never seen “fiddling and fiddling” go on for so long at this level of cases. Now we have an actual jump. Right before Thanksgiving travel begins. At a minimum, the official narrative that “Covid is behind us,” or that the pandemic will be “over by January” (Gottlieb), or “I know some people seem to not want to give up on the wonderful pandemic, but you know what? It’s over” (Bill Maher) is clearly problematic. (This chart is a seven-day average, so changes in direction only show up when a train is really rolling.)

One of the sources of the idea that Covid is on the way out, I would speculate, is the CDC’s modeling hub (whose projections also seem to have been used to justify school re-opening). “Here is today’s version of the 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 current 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 case data discussed above:

(Note that the highlighted case data is running behind the Johns Hopkins data presented first.) Now, it’s fair to say that the upward trend in case data (black dotted line) is still within the tolerance of the models; it does not conform to the models’ average (black line), but it stays within the grey area (aggregated predictions) 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 “Dammit, CDC, your models were 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 away before Thanksgiving travel begins.

So where is the rise coming from? Let’s look at the state case data, starting with the West:

California was hot a couple weeks ago; now, not so much.

Now the South:

It’s a shame Texas flattened at such a high level, but they’re not the source of the case count jump.

Now the Midwest:

Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota, and Illinois were rising until recently, although now their case counts have flattened at a high level. Wisconsin and Indiana, at a middle case count, are increasing, and with lower case counts, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska are increasing. The Midwest is part of the reason for the jump. It’s unsettling that the rise is so widely distributed.

Now the Northeast:

Holy moley, New York is going up, but look at Pennsylvania! (NOTE: There are few rapid risers in Pennsylvania, we could be looking at a reporting data discrepancy, nor do the rapid riser criteria flag steady rise, by definition. And even if we knocked Pennsylvania back to New York’s level, I’d still be worried. Here and here some Pennsylvania dashboards, in case anyone wants to dig deeper.) At a lower case count level, Massachusetts and New Jersey are also increasing. And speaking of Massachusetts:

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

Massachusetts is still exhibiting its oddball sine wave behavior, but to my eye the trend is up (as is the case data). It would be really bad if the case count jumped just as the students headed home for Thanksgiving.

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:

Holy moley, look at the change in Indiana and Michigan, in only three days. Minnesota’s not looking so good either. On the bright side, California and Arizona seem no worse. New Mexico is better. Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont are better.

The previous release:

What is most unsettling to me is that the states with rising case counts are broadly distributed nationally. There is no single location where everything went visibly and badly wrong (as in New York at pandemic start).

* * *

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.)

58.8% of the US is fully vaccinated (CDC data, as of November 14. Mediocre by world standards, being just below Estonia, and just above the Czech Republic 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…

* * *


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

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

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

Capitol Seizure

“Bannon surrenders to FBI” [Politico]. “Bannon was indicted over his refusal to appear for a deposition or provide documents to the House select committee investigating Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election results, and the violent Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol that those efforts inspired. News reports suggest that Bannon was in touch with Trump in the crucial days before Jan. 6 — the day Congress is required to certify the presidential election results — and joined other key Trump advisers planning strategy on Jan. 5. The case is crucial for the Jan. 6 select committee — and congressional power in general. Contempt of Congress cases have rarely succeeded in history, however few targets have ever defied a congressional subpoena as brazenly as Bannon. He refused to engage with the Jan. 6 committee until after his deadline to appear, and he leaned on a theory of “absolute immunity” that has no legal backing and has only ever been contemplated for a president’s closest official advisers. But Jan. 6 investigators are hopeful that the real effect of Bannon’s indictment is on other potential witnesses — like former Trump adviser Michael Flynn — who might rethink outright defiance rather than risk prosecution.” • Fascinating to watch a Congressional Committee simultaneously playing at being a District Attorney and a Grand Jury. Presumably, Bannon’s no ham sandwich. So where’s the Justice Department? (On the original crime, if any, not the, as it were, cover-up.)

Biden Administration

“Biden celebrates rare win with US infrastructure bill signing” [Agence France Presse]. “Battered by critics and dire opinion polls, President Joe Biden signs into law the biggest US infrastructure revamp in more than half a century at a rare bipartisan celebration in the White House on Monday. The $1.2 trillion package will fix bridges and roads, as well as expand broadband internet across the United States, in the most significant government investment of the kind since the creation of the national highways network in the 1950s.” • The West Wing can’t be happy with that headline, and all the headlines are like that. Ever since Biden ended a war, the vicious journamalists turned on him…

“Exasperation and dysfunction: Inside Kamala Harris’ frustrating start as vice president” [CNN]. “Worn out by what they see as entrenched dysfunction and lack of focus, key West Wing aides have largely thrown up their hands at Vice President Kamala Harris and her staff — deciding there simply isn’t time to deal with them right now, especially at a moment when President Joe Biden faces quickly multiplying legislative and political concerns. The exasperation runs both ways. Interviews with nearly three dozen former and current Harris aides, administration officials, Democratic operatives, donors and outside advisers — who spoke extensively to CNN — reveal a complex reality inside the White House. Many in the vice president’s circle fume that she’s not being adequately prepared or positioned, and instead is being sidelined. The vice president herself has told several confidants she feels constrained in what she’s able to do politically. And those around her remain wary of even hinting at future political ambitions, with Biden’s team highly attuned to signs of disloyalty, particularly from the vice president. Few of the insiders who spoke with CNN think she’s being well-prepared for whichever role it will be.” • Willie Brown as much as said: “Kamala, don’t do this.” So why is anybody surprised? Commentary:

Maybe it’s time to have it out. The Black Misleadership Class gave us Obama, Clinton, Biden, and Harris. That’s the catastrophically bad President who gave us Trump, two wretched candidates (Harris’s 2020 delegate count: zero (0)), and… Joe Biden. Maybe it’s time for Roland Martin to sit down?

“Biden-successor chatter grows and Harris isn’t scaring off anyone” [Politico]. “As Vice President Kamala Harris grapples with a portfolio of seemingly intractable issues and responsibilities that have drawn her away from the national spotlight — she Zoomed into the infrastructure Cabinet meeting from Paris on Friday — other Democrats have raised their own national profiles. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is the point person on implementing much of the popular bipartisan infrastructure deal. This fall, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) boosted the mayor of Manchester, N.H., during her recent reelection campaign and is keeping in touch with allies in the critical primary state, according to people familiar with the calls. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) is on a book tour and campaigned in Virginia for Terry McAuliffe. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) endorsed left-wing and progressive candidates outside of Massachusetts this past year.” • Stoller comments:

The only thing that qualified Harris was they love her in the Hamptons. The only thing that qualified Buttigieg was that he stabbed Sanders in the back in Iowa. Granted, that shows a pleasing opportunism on Buttigieg’s part, but does McKinsey consultant-level office politicking quality him for high level? As for Booker, Klobuchar, and Warren, carefully listed by Politico in alphabetical order:… Really?

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, all the working parts of the Party 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.

* * *


Beto throws his hat in the ring. And not standing on a table, either:

“Medicaid expansion” is as far as he’ll go… (I don’t think the ad is so bad. I do think O”Rourke has yet to show a killer instinct, which he will need in Texas. Let’s see a little blood on that blue shirt…)

“Greg Abbott leads Beto O’Rourke by 9 percentage points in hypothetical matchup, UT/TT Poll finds” [KVUE]. • See above.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Some clarifications on political labels” [Carl Beijer]. “Socialists have different ideas about politics than everyone else, so it only makes sense that we would think about political groupings and factions differently than they do, and categorize them accordingly. And yet we usually do not! And I include myself here: it’s extremely easy to slip back into popular terminology, even though these terms bring with them all kinds of baggage that socialists ought to object to. So for the sake of clarity, I thought it might be helpful to lay out how I think about the political labels that we use.” •From April, still germane. Handy chart:

Republican Funhouse

Trump Legacy

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States NY Empire State Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The New York Empire State Manufacturing Index jumped to 30.9 in November of 2021 from 19.8 in October, beating forecasts of 21.2, pointing to a strong growth in business activity in the New York State. New orders (28.8 vs 24.3 in October) and shipments (28.2 vs 8.9) posted substantial increases, and unfilled orders rose (12.7 vs 18.5). Delivery times were significantly longer (32.2 vs 38). Employment grew at its fastest pace on record (26 vs 17.1) and the average workweek increased (23.1 vs 15.3). The prices paid index held near its record high (83 vs 78.7) and the prices received index reached a new peak (50.8 vs 43.5). Firms planned significant increases in capital and technology spending.”

* * *

The Bezzle: Peak Bitcoin?

But elaborate he does!

The Bezzle: Philately, eh?

Retail: “McDonald’s just announced it’s completely changing the customer experience” [ZDNet]. • Robots. Sometimes I get the feeling that McDonald’s executives read Chris Arnade on the role of McDonald’s in the lives of the, sorry, marginalized, and decided they don’t want to do that any more. I hope not.

Tech: “From Automobile Capitalism to Platform Capitalism: Toyotism as a prehistory of digital platforms” [Organization Studies]. From the Abstract: “Challenging prevailing assumptions that the platform is a digital artefact, and platform capitalism a new era, this article traces crucial elements of platform capitalism to Toyotist automobile manufacture in order to rethink the relationship between technology and organization. Arguing that the very terminology and industry applications of the ‘platform’ emerge from the automobile industry over the course of the 20th century, this article cautions against the uncritical adoption of epochal paradigms, or assumptions that new technologies require new organizational forms. By parsing the platform into two types, the stack and the intermediary, this article demonstrates how the platform concept and data-driven production practice both develop out of the Toyota Production System in particular, and American and Japanese analyses of it. Toyotism, we show, is the unseen industrial and epistemological background against which the platform economy plays out. In making this case, this article highlights the crucial continuities between the data-intensive production of companies like Uber and Amazon – emblematic of digital platform capitalism – and the organizational paradigms of the automobile industry. At a moment when the automobile returns to prominence amit platforms such as Uber, Didi Chuxing, or Waymo, and as we find tech companies turning to automobile manufacturing, this automotive lineage of the platform offers a crucial reminder of the automotive origins of what we now call platform capitalism.” • Fascinating!

Supply Chain: “How Our Online Shopping Obsession Choked the Supply Chain” (interview) [Christopher Mims, GQ]. Mims: “Your sneakers started life, potentially, as fracked natural gas in the panhandle of Texas, and then it’s liquefied and shipped to China. There are these very specialized plastics manufacturers there that synthesize the hydrocarbons and natural gas into synthetic thread, which is then going to be woven into a special fabric. And only then does it go to wherever it’s going to get sewn into something. So [if] you think of that point as the beginning of the journey, it’s not. [T]he first bottleneck happens before the thing is even really made. It’s difficult to overstate the impact that China, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia’s zero-COVID policies have had on global supply chains. The famous example is the 30,000 people that just got locked in Shanghai Disneyland. What happens is, they see a single case, and they’ll shut down a city of 4 million—they’ll shut down factories, they’ll shut down whole ports. The seven busiest ports in the world are in China. So imagine the effects of shutting one of those down for a day, much less a month. So, the first real problem is that people can’t even get their stuff made.” • Can you imagine? We can’t get our sneakers because these governments are protecting their citizens. The audacity!

Supply Chain: “James K. Galbraith attributes the supply-chain problem in the US to a system that was built for efficiency, not resilience” [James K. Galbraith, Interest]. “None of these interpretations withstands scrutiny. The excess demand story fails on a glance. After all, there is no shortage of goods. Ships bearing the supply – 30 million tons of it – are sitting right now outside US ports, with more on the way. Nor have production prices risen by much. Most of the “inflation” so far has been in energy (driven partly by a rebound from the pandemic slump) and in used cars and trucks, previously produced goods that are in demand because of the semiconductor shortage affecting automakers. And no, that particular shortage is not the result of “excess demand,” either. During the pandemic, chipmakers predicted a bigger shift in the composition of demand – toward household gizmos and away from cars – than actually occurred. Now they have too much of one kind of chip and not enough of another. As for the “central planning” jibe, that is to be expected from certain circles. The implication is that all would be well if only the Biden administration had not been paying attention. Never mind that the extent of Biden’s intervention was merely to urge port managers to work “24/7” to get the boats unloaded – an idea that one assumes would have already crossed their minds. The point about “efficiency” gets closer to reality, except that the problem is not too little efficiency, but too much. To be precise, the extreme efficiency of today’s global supply chains is also their fatal flaw. Well-run ports are models of high throughput and low costs. They incorporate docks, railheads, truck bays, storage areas, and heavy-lifting equipment to suit the traffic they expect. Building capacity beyond a small margin of safety would be a waste. In normal times, any excess capacity sits idle, yielding no revenue while interest on the debt issued to build it still must be paid. Over time, efficient operators will minimize the excess and keep the docks and machinery they have humming away. The spectacular success of global supply chains – up until now – reflects the relentless operation of this principle…. A supply chain is an entire ecology, a biophysical entity. It requires all of its parts to function smoothly all of the time. Failures are not isolated to one segment, nor can they be fixed with a simple increase in prices or fees, or by some rapid change in techniques. Instead, they cascade through a system that was built in a specific way; a breakdown in one part can become a general one.” • Well worth a read. Here is a parable of optimization:

You’ll never guess what happens next! (Start of thread, a history of Austin, PA.)

Supply Chain: “Wild Bidding Wars Erupt at Used-Tractor Auctions Across the U.S.” [Bloomberg]. “The used tractor business is quickly becoming a crucial marketplace that’s allowing farmers to keep harvesting corn, wheat and soy day and night at a time of insatiable demand from buyers in the U.S. and abroad. With the four-week-old strike at Deere & Co. factories exacerbating an already acute shortage of new tractors, the used market is the only place for many desperate farmers to turn. Peterson, known to all as Machinery Pete, says this is the most frenzied he’s seen the market in his 32-year career. At every single auction he’s attended in the past month, records have been smashed on all kinds of makes, models and vintages.” • Bring back the days of steam? From Iowa’s Old Thresher’s Reunion:

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 82 Extreme Greed (previous close: 83 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 86 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 15 at 12:26pm.

Rapture Index: Closes down one on Anti-Semitism. “The lack of activity has downgraded this category” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 185(Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so higher is better.)

The Biosphere

“‘COP26 hasn’t solved the problem’: scientists react to UN climate deal” [Nature]. “The final 11-page document, called the Glasgow Climate Pact, says that greenhouse gas emissions must fall by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 for global warming to be maintained at 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. It notes that, under existing emissions reduction pledges, emissions will be nearly 14% higher than in 2010 by 2030. Countries acknowledged the need to reduce emissions faster, and also agreed to report on progress annually. For the first time in a COP text, nations agreed to begin reducing coal-fired power (without carbon capture) and to start to eliminate subsidies on other fossil fuels. However, following objections from China and India, a promise in earlier drafts of the text to ‘phase out’ coal was changed to ‘phase down’. India’s climate and environment minister Bhupender Yadav told the conference that richer nations should not expect poorer countries to stop subsidizing fossil fuels such as gas. The lowest-income households rely on these to keep energy costs down, he said. The deal also includes commitments from some countries on ending deforestation, reducing methane emissions and a pledge from the financial sector to move trillions of dollars of investments into companies that are committed to net-zero emissions. However, modelling suggests that the promises will still not be enough to limit global warming to 2 °C above pre-industrial levels, the goal stated in the 2015 Paris climate agreement. If countries meet their 2030 targets, global temperatures will still rise 2.4 °C above pre-industrial levels by 2100, according to an analysis by Hoehne and colleagues that was published on the website Climate Action Tracker during the first week of COP26.:

“Serious about climate change? Get serious about peat” [WaPo]. “These waterlogged, acidic, low-nutrient ecosystems are the most carbon-dense lands on Earth. You want to safely store carbon for a thousand years? Nothing beats peat. It’s nature’s vault.” • See NC here and here on peat.

“Invasive pythons slither north in Florida Everglades: May mean snake ‘population is expanding'” [USA Today]. • Funny, I hadn’t thought Desantis had declared… [rimshot, laughter]. Very wrong of me, but I couldn’t resist.

Health Care

“Anger, grievance, resentment: we need to understand how anti-vaxxers feel to make sense of their actions” [The Conversation]. “[C]ommon ground is found in opposing public authorities whose attempts to counteract the spread of the virus have been interpreted as the first steps toward tyranny.” • I don’t think the content delivers on the headline.

The 420

“Cannabis Is Now The Fifth Most Valuable Crop In The US” [Seedsman]. “Legal cannabis sales have gone through the roof in the US, yet the Department of Agriculture refuses to acknowledge or track the value of annual harvests like it does for all other crops. To fill this data gap, Leafly has just published its inaugural Cannabis Harvest Report, revealing that the crop now pulls in more money than cotton and is the fifth most valuable agricultural product in the US. According to the report, American growers produced and sold 2,278 metric tons of weed in 2020. The authors explain that this is enough pot to roll more than 2 billion joints or fill 57 Olympic-size swimming pools. For lovers of ridiculous units of measurement, that’s also around 1.7 million washing machines’ worth of weed. It’s worth noting, however, that this doesn’t even take into account the entire cannabis crop produced in the US last year. For simplicity, the researchers only included data from the 11 states where adult-use cannabis is available to purchase at licensed dispensaries. Combined sales from these states amounted to $6.2 billion, and supported a total of 13,042 licensed farms in 2020. To put that into perspective, this makes cannabis the fifth most valuable crop in the US, ahead of rice and peanuts and behind only wheat, hay, soybeans and corn. In Alaska, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Oregon, cannabis was the single most valuable crop on the market last year, and it ranked second in Arizona and third in Michigan and Illinois. Amazingly, the year’s cannabis harvest in Alaska was worth more than double the combined value of all other agricultural products.”

The Gallery

Not Francis Bacon:

Granted, a different palette. Nevertheless, that brushwork. In 1660?! (From this Tweet, which won’t load for some reason.)

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“A Black Woman Invented Home Security. Why Did It Go So Wrong?” [Wired]. “Surveillance technology always “finds its level.” Its gaze is always going to wind up focused on Black folks—even if that was not the “intent” of the inventor. Surveillance, first and foremost, performs a carceral function by attempting the capture and control of marginalized populations. That it may serve additional functions is somewhat beside the point. Surveillance systems, no matter their origin, will always exist to serve power. Earlier this year, at Amazon’s annual device launch, the company focused on how it would like us to think about security. A security robot named Astro, essentially a roving Alexa with a camera and big “eyes” to enhance the sense of “cuteness,” will roll around your house and scan the faces of people in your home. A security drone will fly around the house in a predetermined path. This is alongside a host of other initiatives built on existing products: Ring Alarm Pro, Ring Always Home Cam, Virtual Security Guard. Safety, Amazon would have us believe, comes in the form of cameras, or to be more precise, cameras everywhere pointed at everything all the time. Amazon is not the only one.”

Class Warfare

“Iowa Poll: Majority of Iowans support Deere workers over the company as strike enters second month” [Des Moines Register]. “Fifty-eight percent of Iowa adults say they mostly side with Deere workers. Sixteen percent of respondents say they mostly side with the employers, while 19% are unsure and 7% support neither group…. Striking UAW members have a majority or plurality of Iowans’ support regardless of political party, age, gender, educational attainment, religious affiliation, income bracket or whether they live in a rural or urban area. Selzer & Co. conducted the poll of 810 adults in Iowa from Nov. 7-10. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.” • Commentary:

“The Hoffa Era Is Over as a New Top Negotiator Is Coming to the Teamsters” [Wall Street Journal]. “The International Brotherhood of Teamsters is set to elect this week its first new leader in more than two decades. With nearly 1.4 million members, it is one of the largest unions in the country, representing workers from delivery drivers to airline staff to warehouse employees…. The election comes when workers are demanding more from their employers amid one of the largest worker shortages in years, rising inflation, sharp wage gains and supply-chain snafus…. For the Teamsters, the election marks the end of the reign of James P. Hoffa. The 80-year-old son of former Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa has been general president of the union since 1999. He isn’t running for re-election, meaning his successor stands to instill fresh blood into the top leadership spot.” • To track the vote:

@UnionElections is another useful union account.

“When a Hyundai is also the family home” [NPR]. “In eastern Pennsylvania, Veronica Vargas and her longtime partner Alex put their sons to bed most nights in their car in the Walmart parking lot where they work. They’re doing it to keep their 11-, 13-, and 14-year-old boys in a sought-after public school district that’s nearby. We aren’t using Alex’s last name or the children’s names because of his concerns about people learning about their not having a home. But it’s in an area where affordable rentals can be hard to get. So, the family’s Hyundai Santa Fe has become a bedroom, living room, and kitchen for five people.”

News of the Wired

If you want your brain to look like this building, go to this clinic:

* * *

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 (Re Silc):

Re Silc writes: “From morning’s paddle, Clarksburg State Park, Massachusetts.”

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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. Mikel

    “James K. Galbraith attributes the supply-chain problem in the US to a system that was built for efficiency, not resilience” [James K. Galbraith, Interest].

    Reading things like this shows how insane the blob and everyone who loves the blob is when they do their saber rattling war calls.

    1. Lee

      Also see: How a Well-Meaning Health Policy Created California’s Coronavirus Nightmare The Atlantic

      “The state’s hyperefficient health-care system runs pretty well—unless a pandemic strikes.”

      I’m not sure the term “well -meaning” truly applies.

      1. Carla

        Having had first-hand experience with “health care” in supposedly top-flight facilities in both California and Ohio, I gotta tell you, California seemed a whole lot better than Ohio to me.

    2. clarky90

      New Zealand experts, inject efficiency and innovation into pressing problems (1) health-care cost increases, (2) disability/old age support cost increases and (3) climate change, (caused by overpopulation)!


      “Many millennials are forecast to die badly……

      It comes as the new End of Life Choice Act means people with a terminal illness, and who meet exacting criteria, can end their own lives in a fully-funded system.

      …….But, if they want palliative care, to end their lives naturally and in comparative comfort, much of that funding comes from the likes of selling strawberries and second hand clothes.

      “Looking to the future is a nerve-wracking experience, as we see costs increasing but no sign of a commitment from Government to help us with the additional costs,” Mary Potter Hospice chief executive Brent Alderton​ said.

      “It is ironic that the new end-of-life-choice service is fully funded, and our hospice care is funded less than 50 per cent.”

      (It’s A BIG Club & You Ain’t In It!)

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        That would be something for a Social Democrat Party to run against. And run for Fully Funded Palliative Care instead.

      2. clarky90

        Actually, “It’s a tiny club.”

        The club George Carlin speaks of is named, “The Vanguard Group (club)”…..

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > “It is ironic that the new end-of-life-choice service is fully funded, and our hospice care is funded less than 50 per cent.”

        “HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME” –T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land

        Democidal elites is a parsimonious explanation….

      1. Mikel

        It shouldn’t be an either or or versus…
        Before efficiency or resilience can even be considered, a hard look needs to be taken at perspective and sense of reality and a critical eye on the short-term thinking for quarterly profits across the board for everything. Everything can’t be qauntified the same way with one size fits all “formulas” or theories. It’s a sign of really valuing NOTHING.

          1. Taurus

            This strikes me as identical to “any project” should be opposed :)

            It is not always easy to parse out motivation.

            Plus, should the penis rocket project by a billionaire be supported? It is probably not motivated by greed.

  2. Zephyrum

    Wait, so the grand plan of the DNC for 2024 is a cage match between Buttigieg and Harris? Arguably the least competent up against arguably the least likeable?

    In 2016 the Republicans managed to score a presidency out of a clown car of a lineup, so maybe this will work out for the Democrats. But who will be their Trump?

      1. Hepativore

        Of course if the Democrats lose in the up-and coming midterms and the 2024 presidential election, they will view it as a signal that they should move even further right-of-center, especially as they want to try and chase after the neo-WASPs and wealthy suburbanites. This is the only demographic they care about as they think it is the only significant demographic in any election.

        Still, I think that the evidence is pretty clear that the Democratic Party has a long-term goal of being controlled opposition so as to keep the donor money flowing. Whether or not they win elections is beside the point to them now, as they feel that leftists have nowhere to go and they financed by their corporate backers regardless of electoral outcomes. Also, they will still be rewarded with cushy lobbyist jobs by their donors for taking the political fall, even if it causes their terms in office to be short.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > controlled opposition

          And let’s emphasize controlled opposition: the mother of all auto-kinbaku-bi episodes, far outweighing the Parliamentarian, Pay-Go, the filibuster, gerrymandering, etc.; the jouissance of constructing enormously complex methods of self-disempowerment, and then being freed from them, but only partially and after a long time. I don’t say that all the difficulties with the Democrat Party are psychological, but the dynamic is really too obvious to ignore. And all the media attention at the moment of, er, release!

          Whatever collective complexes the Republican leadership may have, this isn’t one of them. It’s a real difference between the parties!

    1. Judith

      Here is a reminder of what Buttigieg accomplished as mayor of South Bend.


      From Luke Savage at Jacobin (April 2019)

      This week I did some research on Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s administration and South Bend. There’s a lot more work I need to do on his policies overall, but specifically I looked into his approaches to housing and homelessness – both of which I think both deserve sharp criticism.>

      [M]any of the Buttigieg administration’s topline numbers create the impression of success (in some cases fairly).

      But its strategy overall seems to have been heavily geared towards attracting private capital & gentrifying the city. Housing & homelessness policy provide two illustrations of how (to put it mildly) *limited* this kind of managerialism is in practice though toxic is more fitting

      1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

        The guy’s a made man as they say. Maybe he could be elected mayor of South Bend.

    2. Louis Fyne

      Tulsi Gabbard would be the Democratic Trump….if MSM stopped their news embargo of her platform, and if a big bulk of the Dem. base stopped unconditionally consuming the narrative-of-the-day ™ from the NYT, CNN-MSNBC and NPR

      1. dcblogger

        Tulsi Gabbard has always been part of the Trojan Horse left, only now it has become undeniable. Even Ron Placone won’t defend her anymore.

        1. MK

          Trojan Horse left – hardly. She is proud Veteran who courageously speaks out on the issues that Corporate Dems won’t touch with a 10 foot poll. She certainly does not need Ron Placone or Jimmy Dore to “defend” her.

          And thanks to her, Harris isn’t president right now . . .

          1. Andy

            dcblogger absolutely make sense. If, after reading her recent tweets about Islam and the heroic things the US military is doing, you still think Gabbard is on the left or antiwar I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

            1. Darthbobber

              Well, there’s nothing Trojan Horse about it. Gabbard ALWAYS bought the original branding of the War on Terror®, which framed it largely as counterJihad. She came to oppose things like the Libyan and Syrian regime change operations, and a number of related things, because they were so obviously NOT about that, and were obviously counterproductive from that perspective. This aligned her somewhat with the antiImperialist left on those specific issues, but not for the same reasons. She was much less Russophobic than the Obama or Clinton folks, I think largely because she (correctly) saw them as counterJihad collaborators, provided that we were willing to collaborate.

              China was less in the foreground than now when she was running for President, so I’m not sure where she comes down there. Since her foreign policy views are often not far removed from those of the Modiphiles among the Desi, I suspect that she might well lean forward on anti-China bellicosity.

              1. orlbucfan

                Tulsi Gabbard professes to back Hindi Fundamentalism aka Modi in India. She can can it and herself. This country is in enough trouble cos of the Fundie organized religious crap.

              2. Brian Clark

                It’s a pity. She won’t make it in the Democratic party because she has (correctly) framed China as the bigger threat over Russia, but the Dem elites (and many Neocon Repubs) have chosen to be all Neville Chamberlain about it. I think she would poll better with the populist side of Repubs than the AWL side of Dems.

          2. dcblogger

            Howie Klein at Down With Tyranny documented her nightmarishly bad record in the Hawaiian legislature, horrible record in Congress. The only progressive thing she ever did was endorse Bernie.

        1. PHLDenizen

          We already have president Manchin (nothing will fundamentally change) and VP Sinema (nothing will change, but you elected a bisexual woman, so I congratulate yourself on identitarian mission accomplished!).

          Plus Democrats have absolutely zero desire or ability to govern in a meaningful way. Between the parliamentarian, norms fairy, and judicial branch, the shitlibs have a place to throw the ball and other parties to blame for their own failures.

          Both parties play Calvinball, only the republicans actually win with the rules they make up.

          So given that Manchin, Sinema, and Pelosi are already de facto presidents, does it really matter?

        1. Michael Ismoe

          She could hardly be a less effective Bernie Sanders. If she’s running for president, buy Twitter stock.

    3. albrt

      “Arguably” is doing a lot of work here. Least competent and least likeable is basically the Democrat brand statement.

    4. Darthbobber

      Depending on how the next couple of years go, just being tied to this administration could be a big negative for both Pete and Kamala. Even if they otherwise showed some sign of political or administrative competence, which to date they have kept well hidden.

    5. drumlin woodchuckles

      If that is the “anointed field” of primary contestants, Tulsi Gabbard might do rather well if she and a movement organize in secret to announce entering the primaries and getting her name on all primary state ballots just a few days before deadline. ( Too soon for the DemParty to figure out a conspiracy against her).

    6. The Rev Kev

      I would digress from where Lambert says that ‘The only thing that qualified Buttigieg was that he stabbed Sanders in the back in Iowa.’ That was done for him and all he had to do was to call victory before the votes were counted. Still remember him walking to his car with that s***-kicking grin while ignoring all questions that the press were throwing out to him. Only trouble is that the port supply fiasco will go into next year and the Repubs can pin it on him as he is in charge of transportation. And when at is worse, he went on holidays basically.

      1. Hepativore

        He certainly deserves the nickname, “Sneaky Pete”. Just looking at that sh*t-eating grin of his and the smarmy demeanor gives the impression of an adult Eddie Hascal.

        Buttigieg seems like the sort of guy who you would run into trying to sell you a run down and overpriced timeshare.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > That was done for him and all he had to do was to call victory before the votes were counted.

        That’s true. But you have to give credit to Buttigieg for seizing the opportunity!

        If the Democrats leadership thinks they can run Buttigieg and win, they’re out of their minds.

        1. LilD

          Is there any hope?
          We have no plausible way of having power in the hands of anyone not affiliated with either party. No republicans appear to be willing to do anything for the working class except keeping those darn wokesters away.
          On the blue team there’s… hmm. Sherrod? Anyone? Bueller?
          It’s depressing.
          About to turn 70. Personally had a great life and accidentally got into the 1%, but I feel like I’m just watching a disaster unfold. I time it from Bush v. Gore but maybe Reagan and frankly probably reaction to Goldwater’s loss…
          Been advocating for a clean healthy planet since Earth Day 1, Club of Rome,… useless
          Now, play guitar, and volunteer at the food bank and try to avoid depression.

    7. Lost in OR

      OMG, can I get in on this? I have a right cross that would set both bimbos on their butts.

      And as for my own local rep, the imminently corrupt Kurt Schrader, how can we possibly rid ourselves of this blue trash? If I had a path forward and fewer closet skeletons I’d love to take him on myself. As it stands, I see no hope.

  3. Wukchumni

    The Bezzle: Philately, eh?
    When I was a kid it was common to see coin & stamp stores and then all of the sudden there was a divorce around 1980 when the silver bubble came about, exacerbated by really hardly anybody collecting stamps anymore (almost every brand new never used USA stamp in perfect condition from 1935 onwards is worth merely the face value-nobody cares) and I watched a hobby pretty much die and go away. There might be a dozen collector stamp stores in the country, maybe not that many.

    What little of the business remains are essentially baby-sitting enterprises for single men in their 60’s and 70’s who paw through endless albums of used stamps with tweezers looking for something with a little meat on it @ a Nickel per. They’ll typically spend hours and find 27 stamps to their liking, and more than likely try and badger the store owner down to a Dollar for the goods. Yes, it’s that pathetic of a hobby.

    1. eg

      Father in law was a philatelist (born in the 20s). None of his children showed (nor show) the slightest interest. His grandchildren have likely never used a stamp in their lives.

  4. Peerke

    Regarding the MWRA Boston wastewater Covid detection: could the oscillation since roughly august be due to the NFL games in Foxboro? I believe there is some famous team or other plays there. Foxboro is just off the MWRA map near South Walpole but the fans would likely skew to greater Boston.

    1. R

      The UK has a similar sine wave. Data for England shown below because it has more comprehensive dataset and visualisations than other UK constituents.


      It is not seemingly driven by obvious events. It appears to be an emergent property or transmission. My guess is that an infection works through a well connected social graph and then hits a bottleneck and can only jump to a new milieu via a single or sparse long range connections, creating a pulse. I cannot justify why a sine wave rather than any other.

      1. Peerke

        Interesting website Thanks! What I would say about the U.K. is that it is PCR and rapid test data and seems to show a seven day cycle which may be a reporting artefact. The MWRA is sampling from wastewater as I understand it. So not dependent on people presenting for test due to symptoms or suspicion. So in a way it averages out all of those network effects that you mention yet still shows oscillation. It might have a mundane explanation and be also an artefact but I suspect if it is a real signal and one were to find the root cause it could be very revealing.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The UK has a similar sine wave.

        I don’t see wastewater data there. Am I missing it?

        > an infection works through a well connected social graph and then hits a bottleneck and can only jump to a new milieu via a single or sparse long range connections, creating a pulse.

        This is how superspreaders work at the micro level. I’m not sure that scales to the macro level. Interesting idea, though!

        1. R

          Your eyes do not deceive you, no wastewater data on the UK.gov site. I was just trying to highlight the sine wave, it is really interesting that there is periodic or pulsatile growth in such different measures of the epidemic.

          Epidemiology seems to gave the same problems with micro foundations as macroeconomics. What is happening at the level of human relations that, aggregated, gives logistic growth (which, in the UK, is nothing of the sort for the last five months, chugging away at a high level, sometimes up, sometimes down)? Perhaps NC is where the saltwater epidemiologists gather? :-)

          I think it helps to imagine the R(t) value – or its drivers – like the tide. As it drops, the rockpools of our lives are isolated (our social networks are closed and have few long range connections that it can bridge) and cases propagate in discrete mini epidemics. As it rises, through viral infectiousness increasing or NPIs decreasing, the rockpools join up in bigger and bigger epidemic waves.

          The other phenomenon is gatekeepers. Some social graphs may have high contact between inner members but only limited contact of the outer circle with the outside world. A closed order of nuns would be an example. Or religious communities that seclude women secularly. Or simply immigrants who do not speak English and rely on second generation to handle dealings with the world. If the gatekeepers are cautious, the virus will not breach the hard shell and run amok in the soft centre. If the gatekeepers allow the virus in, there will be a jump in R as it finds easy prey.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > an infection works through a well connected social graph and then hits a bottleneck and can only jump to a new milieu via a single or sparse long range connections, creating a pulse.

        Certainly from 6/7 onward (variants, which I assume means Delta, were “49% of cases from June… up from 6% in May and 2% in April.”

  5. Hepativore

    I would like to see an end to the whole brutalist/postmodern architectural fad. It seems that half of these attempts to make buildings look “iconic” come off as either being intentionally ugly or just plain pointless. The Lou Ruvo center indeed looks like it was designed by somebody with brain damage.

    If architects want to be “modern”, I would not mind seeing something inspired by classic Art Deco, or “Googie”. The latter is often thought of as being a gimmick, but there is something elegant about the retro-futuristic design of the latter mixed with bright colors and conveying a sense of optimism.


    I would much rather live in the “Jetsons” future than the corpo-authoritarian future from the movie, Brazil, the latter of which seems eerily prescient to the way things are going.

    1. Tally

      You mean something like an executive order or something?

      “”While designating the classical as “the preferred and default style” for the nation’s capital, however, the EO included hair-splitting over employment of non-classical historic styles such as Gothic, Romanesque, and Pueblo Revival. It opened the door to such styles outside the nation’s capital, while everywhere raising the bar for modernist designs—only imposing outright bans on those in Brutalist or deconstructivist modes, which have by no means lost their relevance to contemporary “cutting-edge” architecture.””


    2. Pat

      While I like many aspects of Disney’s concert hall based on most of what I have seen, if I were ever to own property containing some piece of Gehry’s “genius”, chances are I would bulldoze it and start over.

      Like wine, art and most fashion, architecture also seems to expose not just a lack of taste, but how little recognition much of our wealthiest have for real quality.

    3. jr

      Gehry’s work reminds me of the films I came across on the MUBI streaming service years back.. Overly complicated, “brute-force” aesthetic statements that hit you over the head with their intentionality. Like Tim Burton’s tousled hair attempting to communicate what an unpredictable, quirky genius he is. Gehry could reinvent architecture and it would be as stale as day old bread…he creates brand new cliché’s…

    4. The Rev Kev

      That building looks like something that an architect from “Idiocracy” would design. Instead of form following function, it seems that for Gehry, function follows form – until it doesn’t for the people that have to live or work in that building. It is not one that you could take pride in.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > That building looks like something that an architect from “Idiocracy” would design.

        And the building is a direct expression of the mental state of the boards and funders who enabled it, as Christopher Alexander argues (too lazy to find the link).

    5. Sailor Bud

      I consider it all cruel. My most tinfoil hat of tinfoil theorizing is that the elites and businessmen and engineers knew that art was getting too sophisticated and beautiful, the artists themselves were like the elves in LoTR – superior and cocky and dangerous.

      So with their machine world they made it intentionally ugly as hell everywhere. Psychologically sterile or brash, or rude, to match the ads they were going to plaster everywhere and the control scheme of legalism with their “small government” that somehow manages to put its tiny foot up the whole world’s <3. Now artists of great ability, and public beauty itself, can suck it. Futurism, brutalism, postmodern “play,” etc. Bomb those old cities. Welding, not sculpting. Make us a video game, a movie effect, or an advertisement, or make fries.

          1. JBird4049

            There is some evidence of this. COINTELPRO had a very broad remit. Finks : how the CIA tricked the world’s best writers by Joel Whitney covers the literary world. Just as Civil Rights Movement, the Feminists, the Beatniks, and others were subverted in the United States, it is probable that the arts were as well. I have read a few articles on this, but of course I didn’t save the links or book reviews. Chris Hedges, IIRC, covers some of this in his book Death of the Liberal Class, but he also shows that the wealthy as well as the intelligence agencies were responsible for the destruction of the arts.

            He also says that classical music and opera were also made highbrow instead of regular entertainment for the masses. If you read about entertainment in the early 20th century and before, they were much more popular (and I think affordable) than they are now. It is not just changing tastes that cause them to lose influence.

            1. Sailor Bud

              I’m pretty ignorant about the stuff in your first paragraph, other than “getting it” without having to look anything up. My knowledge of all that CIA stuff is low, and I really need to look into it more.

              Your second para, tho, I can absolutely corroborate. I am well versed in classical piano and its history in particular. There are numerous books that discuss the whole thing, and put together they tell a tale, though the CIA stuff isn’t in it as I know it. Probably another layer to add.

              Arthur Loesser wrote a whole social history called ‘Men, Women, and Pianos,’ and we can definitely say that the piano was the TV of the 19th. Combine this with the story of the music biz in general, and yeah, classical was huge once. Jenny Lind, the soprano, was a PT Barnum product, and a pain in his bottom. She, and then Adelina Patti after, made bounties of cash. Then came records, Caruso, Hofmann, Rachmaninov, Toscanini, etc. Classical was the overall top seller until the 1950s.

              Norman Lebrecht has written two books on the killing of classical, maybe more. I have those two, and the business history there is too much to relate here. They are called ‘The Life and Death of Classical Music’ and ‘Who Killed Classical Music?’ I don’t think they tell the whole tale at all, but they tell a lot of it, and the reader who has pushed through that and all the Harold Schonberg books will start to see odious little things through the mists, adding up to exactly my conclusion above.

              1. JBird4049

                More good book suggestions. Thanks.

                It really does look like they have put a lot of effort in dumbing down the population, doesn’t?

    6. Phil in KC

      I have read that this architect will crumple a piece of paper into a ball and then toss it randomly on a table and study the results to discover new forms heretofore not imagined. I can see a place for buildings designed this way, but please, not in my neighborhood. I have to agree with the Prince of Wales that such buildings are inhuman and ahistorical. There is already enough bad architecture without this movement adding to the stream.

      1. Bellatrix

        That approach sounds like something Gulliver may have come across when he visited the Academy of Projectors in Lagado on his travels. Not as exciting as getting sunbeams out of cucumbers though.

    7. JohnnySacks

      Designed like everything is in this day and age, to suit our current consumer culture. Disposable products overly emphasizing form over function bought with dirt cheap money. That building is going to be a maintenance horror show quicker than we wear out a pair of good shoes unless it’s built in the Atacama Desert. Rain water will find it’s way in through all those off camber windows despite any technical fetish of apologists.

  6. Kendra

    “Many in the vice president’s circle fume that she’s not being adequately prepared or positioned, and instead is being sidelined.”

    Native intelligence is the question. She failed the bar the first time, was a mediocrity in every office she ever held and she got her start by capitalizing on a rapidly depreciating asset, her looks, depending on what turns you on.

    Willie Brown’s chew toy, until tired of her and moved on. Make sure and read his article above.

    1. Darthbobber

      What has she done when given the ball that would encourage anybody to let her have it more often? It’s not really usual to need to “position” your Veep or “develop a portfolio” for them. Usually they arrive with as much experience of national politics and issues as their running mate, if not more. There was little difficulty in “finding a role” for Pence. Or Biden. Or Chaney. Or Gore. Or even Quayle. Or Bush Sr. Or Mondale.

    2. PHLDenizen

      The Democrats’, IME, credentialism and technocratic aspirations have made them all perpetual children in need of “being adequately prepared or positioned”. Auto-didacticism is a “deplorable” trait, as you’ll inevitably learn the wrong ideology from the wrong people.

      They’ve engineered a world full of elite vending machines like Harvard and Yale to dispense destructive commodities like MBAs or CIA spooks. Any other path to levers of power is blocked off with histrionics, scolding, intellectual violence, smugness, and an incredulity at the idea that the “elite” institutions can produce the dumbest, intellectually incurious, sociopathic dullards.

      And I thought one of the central tenants of feminism was to treat women as adults? If Kamala is really a fierce modern woman, why would she need anyone to fight her battles? She’s the VP! Why does she need to be mollycoddled and seek others’ permission to be a strong female leader?

      This grown-ass woman with experience in politics needs to be treated like a kindergartener? C’mon, man! She doesn’t need the teacher to sit her at the table with the cool kids. Infantilizing women is decidedly anti-feminist and offensive.

      It sounds like groundwork to blame the patriarchy when she inevitably loses the primary or bows out before the humiliation. “Well, clearly the world isn’t ready for a woman president!” Yet another excuse to not examine the fundamentals of her unpopularity.

    3. Pat

      You must remember there are certain people who cannot fail, they can only be failed. Well…until they fail so spectacularly it cannot be missed. And then in some cases they will blame it on the Russians.

      Even when Harris was crashing so badly in the primaries, she and her team had excuses. It worked out for her. But then she was stupid and went into a slot where the main players weren’t happy she got it. Unfortunately for her and her team the media is refusing to play along with the illogical and delusional blame game.

    4. Skip Intro

      Maybe they were assuming Biden would forget the way she gave him the shiv during the debates. Biden knows what the office of VP is used for, it would take a Bernie-level crisis, like AOC leading going into the CA primary, to get a VP like that nominated.

  7. diptherio

    David Bollier’s latest podcast is worth a listen, imho:

    When he died in 2012, David Fleming — a polymath thinker among the earliest to address Peak Oil — left behind an unusual book manuscript about climate change, the fragility of capitalism, and the likely nature of our post-capitalist future. Fortunately, Shaun Chamberlin, a British author and activist who was Fleming’s associate, shepherded the manuscript to publication as ‘Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It’ and a companion volume, ‘Surviving the Future.’ In this podcast, Chamberlin reflects on Fleming’s brilliant, visionary writings and his own ongoing activism and initiatives.


        1. diptherio

          No, I just forgot about it, as perusing your review I see that I commented on it back then. Starting to think I may spend too much time around these parts…naaaah.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        Yep, NC is where I first heard about permaculture and all that good stuff.

        From the review:

        The financial system would, I suppose, be a complex system. It would therefore be embedded in a slack system — I suppose the planet. We had better hope, then, that the planet has plenty of slack….

        This is exactly Kate Raworth’s point in the second chapter of Doughnut Economics. Explaining a stocks-and-flows diagram, Raworth writes:

        What does it show? First, Earth–the living world–powered by energy from the sun. Within Earth is human society, and within that, economic activity, in which the household, the market, the commons and the state are all important realms of provisioning for human wants and needs, and are enabled by financial flows.

        It’s the same point made by Donella Meadows’s Limits to Growth Team. Humans, embedded in the Earth, use resources and produce waste. Climate change is the result of our waste CO2 exceeding the planet’s “slack” when it comes to absorbing that CO2. Moreover, it’s becoming an overshoot situation where exceeding the limits is now having the effect of reducing those limits, perhaps permanently.

  8. molon labe

    “Bannon surrenders to FBI”–Is the Justice Department still working on Eric Holder’s indictment?

    1. rowlf

      You need to look forward. /s

      I used to listen to the Sean Hannity radio show driving home from work, as Jamie Dupree was on the segment daily at the time I was I tuned in. Dupree ALWAYS wiped the floor with Hannity by pointing out past times when Hannity’s favorite people did the same thing in the past as the people he was railing against. Wonderful stuff and I couldn’t believe Dupree kept being invited on.

      When Dupree lost his voice (ala Don DeLillo’s Great Jones Street ending?) and Hannity didn’t stroke out I stopped listening. I still try NPR when I want to sample weird worldviews and partisan goodthink.

      (yeah, I yell at the radio.)

  9. dcblogger

    given that India Walton and Nina Turner both lost their elections I would say that most black women are content to continue to follow the recommendations of the black misleadership class.

    1. Pat

      Or white female misleadership class…I am sure if Hilary and Chelsea object they will happily “resist”.

  10. dcblogger

    given Greg Abbots’s record of Gov, I am surprised his numbers are not in single digits. Really the entire Republican party should be in lunatic fringe territory, with the Democrats as the conservative party and the Greens as the party of the left. That the Republicans are not simply viable, but actually dominant tells you how people can be manipulated into voting against their best interest. Even if you believe, as I so, that vapor voting machines are stealing many elections for Republicans, it should not be within stealing range. Republicans should be in single digits.

    1. albrt

      This analysis is basically correct as far as it goes. Republicans would be a permanent minority, except that the core strategy of the Democrat party is to tank their own platform to make sure every election is 50-50 so they can keep the threat-level fund-raising dialed up to 11.

      Many things in the Democrat platform seem great, until you realize that no actual elected Democrat is ever actually going to do any of those things. Once you realize the Democrats are intentionally tanking their own platform in order to keep the Kabuki fund-raiser going, it is easier to understand how so many people would vote for anybody who promises to crush the Democrat hypocrites and blow it all up.

      1. JBird4049

        The Republicans use the Democrats as well to goose up their funding, and to hide their takeover of the judiciary and of state and municipal governments in the West, Midwest, and South of the United States.

        The difference though is that the Republicans intend to not remain political partners, but to become the ruling party, which is why I think, we are seeing the Republicans becoming more fascistic in action as well as words.

  11. zagonostra

    >I’m running for governor – O’Rourke

    I was able to get through half the video clip, and that with herculean effort. This “together” theme, isn’t going to work. It’s a hackneyed, tired phrase with no purchase left. Killer instinct? Please. I forgot who delineated the difference between the information that politicians give you and what they “give off”. There must be something of the latter that really sours me on this guy. With his rolled-up sleeves, his over-eager gesticulations and empty clichés (“together we can get back to being big again”), maybe it’s because he is the anthesis of what 2016 Sanders was.

    Will we ever see a Sanders-Like politician come close to winning a nomination again, be it for Gov of a large State or the Presidency? One thing is for sure the Establishment posses cunning and endless resources, is skilled at keeping country split down the middle so it’s probably unlikely without some precipitating event.

    1. Darthbobber

      I think its Crooke over at Strategic Culture who describes the American Foreign Policy establishment as having “an instinct for the capillary”. Domestically, this applies to the Democratic leadership when dealing with Republicans, though not when dealing with inconvenient democrats

    1. zagonostra

      When I first walked to town where I live part of the year in rural Pennsylvania, I was excited to see several chestnut trees lining the street. I scooped up a bag full of chestnuts and took them home thinking I could eat them like we ate roasted chestnuts during Christmas when growing up. Unfortunately they turned out to be “horse” chestnuts whatever those are, and not suitable for human consumption.

      Good video clip, all you need is lots of acreage which unfortunately is being scooped up by investors and time which, the way COP26 going, we might not have.

      1. Bazarov

        Chestnuts are delicious.

        In France, they’re a bit of a delicacy. Some pretty old companies make yummy (and pricey!) confections like “marrons glace” out of them.

          1. Wukchumni

            I can still see and hear the chestnut sellers in Switzerland on the street chanting:

            ‘Heisse Maroni!’

      2. lyman alpha blob

        Horse chestnuts are nature’s fidget devices – very soothing.

        Not much good for roasting on an open fire but pigs love them. Plant a few to support the local feral hog population!

      1. The Rev Kev

        Good article that. If you were living in this region and you could look out to the present day forests, you would have to remind yourself that it looked vastly different to the first colonists that set foot there. Not only in the types of trees that grew there but their spacing as well. Here in Oz we have mostly Eucalyptus trees but before the continent dried out, it was mostly covered in rain-forests of which a few pockets still survive. hard too imagine that.

  12. hamstak

    With regards to the political labels chart, I am confused on a couple of points. First, the overlap of “alt-left” with “fascism” — what “alt-left” would that be? Does that refer to idpol extremists? In that case I think that authoritarian/totalitarian/absolutist might apply, but not explicitly “fascist” — unless the meaning of that term has been diluted. Second, there are gaps, such as above progressive and between capitalist and anti-capitalist. Maybe I am taking this particular layout of the chart too seriously, but this seems to imply there are progressives who are neither capitalist nor anti-capitalist (nor fascist). What exactly are they progressive about, then? Idpol progressives? Lifestyle/fashion progressives? Libertarians who dig solar panels? Or are they just in some sort of nebulous, creamy middle?

    1. Sailor Bud

      Note that it’s under the “false labels” (or whatever) category, taking account of the zillion ways the media and various online players equate the left with fascism, or “horseshoe theory,” etc. That’s how I interpreted it, anyway.

      1. NotThePilot

        Yeah, that’s how I took it as a pseudo-category too, and most of the time I’ve heard it, it’s some real galaxy-brained take on Fox News or something.

        Then again, he might also be referring to some genuine cases of people taking bits of leftist policy over to the dark side: beefsteak Nazis, eco-fascists, Lyndon LaRouche, Mussolini, that sort of thing.

        1. Sailor Bud

          It’s all over the map.

          The “horseshoe theory” stuff comes from the liberal/Democrat conservatives and the “Hitler was a leftist socialist” talk comes from the conservative conservatives. Jonah Goldberg also says those same liberal Democrats are the fascists. The left calls neoliberals fascists, including all the above accusers, and round we go.

          A completely ignored sentence of Orwell’s from ‘Homage to Catalonia’ says simply: “fascism is just another form of capitalism.” Hilariously, we seem to have disappeared the movie ‘Schindler’s List,’ and I suspect it’s because the ending scene is of a Nazi businessman bawling and moaning about how he could have saved another slave’s life if he had only resisted the allure of an expensive car (ka-ching!), another fur coat (ka-ching!), etc. Nope, can’t have people seeing that! Those Nazis were all commies. Schindler’s what now?

          You also go and point out Larouche and Mussolini as “taking bits of leftist policy” and eco warriors as ‘ecofascists.’

          Just what the hell is fascism, in the face of all this? An awful word, that’s what, and it needs to be left back in the 1930s and 40s, where it belongs.

          We are clever enough for modern designations, if they make sense. This world is odious in its own stinky way, and needs something more nasty and sinuous to describe it. Trashitalism?

          1. NotThePilot

            I think you’re misunderstanding that I believe horseshoe theory, and after all, I didn’t make the chart aligning the labels that way. Some examples I listed definitely started out in a Left milieu, and some tried to keep up that image, but it’s more likely a mix of rejection & an authoritarian personality won out in the end. I don’t think Mussolini wound up a fascist by trying to out-socialize the socialists.

            I agree with you & Orwell too that fascism is just a desperate variant of capitalism, but I disagree it’s a useless word because people throw it around too much. Even if there’s no single definition, it definitely has characteristics, it’s definitely still around today, and it’s good to be able to diagnose it.

            One other point, I didn’t come up with the “ecofascist” term & they’re definitely not anything like an ELF member. They’re pretty much Great Replacement types that dress it up in environmental concerns rather than cultural ones. Ever hear of the Tragedy of the Commons?

            I actually had to read it for an economics class, and besides it having no real basis in empirical reality, I hope I wasn’t the only person in class that found it creepy as hell: much of the article is actually an extended rant all but asking to impose population control on “those people”. I don’t necessarily just take the SPLC’s word for granted that the author was a white supremacist, but the more digging you do, the more sulfur you smell.

            1. Sailor Bud

              Sorry, I was aware after I wrote that post, that it made it sound like I was calling you wrong, and I wasn’t. See if you can reread what I wrote as if it wasn’t challenging your Mussolini, ecofascists, etc, stuff. I could dispute this or that use, but it’s not my game. I was just using your own extra examples to pile on top of what I was saying. It’s all so broken that everyone is a fascist to someone else now.

              In general, I believe there’s some kind of Linnaean scale to political classifications, and that species level is always policy.

    2. PKMKII

      I think it’s supposed to refer to the tiny but vocal Neostrasserite minority. People who look at the wry pessimism of the “America would embrace democratic socialism/social democracy/nordic model if it was whites-only” and respond “Yeah okay let’s do that.”

      1. Sailor Bud

        Pretty sure that’s not it, but it’s a great slice of weirdos to point out.

        I say this because of all the other words in his “pseudocategories” section and because I’ve read Carl before. All those words are just as watery and meaningless. “Progressive” means nada now. There is a reason why everyone here so far is guessing who the heck the alt-left even are. It’s because they are not.

        I should be googling it, but I think the “alt left” are supposed to project an amalgam of us (yes, us here), Bernie holdouts, the dirtbag left (Chapo, cumtown, etc), any proud self-avowed socialists & Marxists, and – lol of all lols – Antifa.

        Then again, these days every word on the whole chart is completely suspect like that, or needs a whole book to differentiate.

    1. Lee

      Not counting reinfections as new cases? Is that simply moronic or a calculated misrepresentation of the facts for some desired PR effect? Hard to know these days.

      1. cocomaan

        Yeah, beats me. This was Rachel Levine’s health department until recently, she now works for the Biden Administration. So I assume the new leadership has made this change.

        What’s funny is that the new Health Sec of PA is the former Chief of Staff for the governor. She’s my age lmao

      2. Objective Ace

        Are they definitely all reinfections? If you test positive and then test positive again a week later (maybe you needed a negative test to fly or something) that’s likely not a reinfection.

        Seems like there is a large middle ground between testing positive back to back within a week or less and within 90 days

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Pennsylvania Dept. Of Health To Begin Separate Count For COVID-19 Reinfections CBS Pittsburgh. Here’s the quote:

      Starting Monay, the state’s health department will include COVID-19 reinfections as new cases when they release the case count.

      Under the new guidelines, anyone who tests positive more than once at least 90 days apart will be counted more than once when the numbers are reported. State leaders always had data on who was reinfected, but previous protocols only required initial cases to be posted. This change comes as health leaders better understand how the virus operates.

      “It was a reasonable guess that people would be getting it only once. But now as we’ve seen, it’s much less like the measles and a lot more like diseases that tend to occur like influenza,” Dr. Randolph Peters said.

      Now that reinfections will be publicly shared, doctors hope data will help them learn more about the virus and evaluate infection rates. Dr. Peters also says it will offer some insight into natural immunity.

      Well, if one wishes to relate case rates to things like future load on hospitals, or medical supplies, counting reinfections would seem to be a rational thing to do [lambert looks urgently around for a rope, to hang himself]. So no wonder the numbers jumped. All the states are different, and so much data is bad, but I would bet that other states aren’t counting reinfections either, and so the national case data is borked as data (though I have always considered it more narrative than data).

      Great catch. Thanks for doing the research.

  13. PKMKII

    The CNN article on the dysfunction of the Harris vice presidency reads like it was copy and pasted from the articles on the dysfunction of the Harris presidential campaign, right down to the “family members getting in the way” details. Don’t see a Harris presidency as the third time being the charm to escape the mess her inner circle creates.

    1. Darthbobber

      You’d almost think that there was something in her own makeup that caused her to surround herself with sycophantic toadies and palace politicians. Rather like Hillary.

  14. zagonostra

    Yanis Varoufakis – Technofeudalism

    Very interesting thesis that capitalism as historically understood has transmogrified into something different. Not like different as a certain plant having different color or differently shaped leaves, what Aristotle would have referred to as “accidents,” but rather a new form, or species. I’ve heard Michael Hudson talk about “neofeudalism” a term David Harvey is hesitant to use but one I’ve always liked. However, I think Varoufakis term is more useful. He is on to something, especially when he discuss the role of the central banks and how corporate “profit” are now not so much a result of a system of production, but one of financialization.


    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > transmogrified into something different

      Post Great Financial Crisis, and especially post-Covid, there’s been an enormous and unheard of concentration of capital. It would be strange indeed if social relations were not also underging rapid reconfiguration. Among the working class, too.

      Perhaps these new relations are still forming, and will only be able to be categorized retrospectively.

  15. Andy

    Jimmy Dore was caught out making sh!t up about Covid19 vaccines. Who could have guessed that the bandwagon left jumping on the anti-vaxx train would end up with them cleaning egg from their faces.

    Not that Dore’s fans seem to mind of course. Because unconditionally “supporting” your favorite celebrity talking head is more important than facts and integrity.


    1. diptherio

      Yikes. Dore literally re-writing “quotes” from articles to totally change their meaning. Lying about what he had previously claimed about ivermectin. I mean, I knew he had some issues way back in the day when he attacked me personally for suggesting that maybe shilling for Amazon wasn’t a reputable way for a lefty to be making a living, but this is pretty next level.

    2. zagonostra

      Interesting that the video had half a million views when JD’s video’s had less than 200K.

      He has been doing a pretty good job in my opinion on underscoring the establishment hypocrisies and lies. He goes where most liberals fear to tread. “Making shit up” gratuitously, I doubt it. Did he screw up some editing, possibly, not really worried about the mote in JD”s eye when their is a beam in the MSM’s.

      It was curious that the “thumbs down” on the video you linked to didn’t show up on my phone although when I shifted to my computer to type this it did, curious, no?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Did he screw up some editing, possibly, not really worried about the mote in JD”s eye when their is a beam in the MSM’s.

        If that’s really your view about accurate quoting, you should stop reading NC, because we care about stuff like that.

        1. zagonostra

          The question is one of intent. If I make a typo here or omit a modifier when making a statement it’s one thing (not good, and I’ve been taken to task as JD should be) if I purposely construct my sentences to mislead as CNN did with the whole fiasco of Joe Rogan/Ivermectin/ Horse dewormer and support for military interventions, that’s quite another.

          I don’t hold a comedian podcaster to the same standards as I hold the MSM news outlets with unlimited resources. What I get is that people don’t like JD, fine. He’s not perfect and makes mistakes. But when it’s a knee jerk reaction used to re-direct from the beam in the eye, well that’s what I picked up on…and yeah I don’t want to spend an hour watching the video, tell me where he messed up and tell me if it was motivated by self-promotion.

          1. Yves Smith

            If you are going to argue with the video, you need to watch it. Otherwise you need to stand down.

            I only looked at a little bit. The argument for the one article I saw parsed is that Dore cherry picked by picking up paragraphs in the middle or late in the piece and omitting substantial qualifying or even contradictory material that the article authors had put higher up and thus would inform the reading of the bits Dore hoisted.

            And I guess you did not get the memo that news outlets are severely budget starved.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        I watched the first 10-15 minutes or so. The argument was that Dore was advocating vaccines at first but then started running stories about the vaccines not being as effective as touted, and kept running such stories because he got more clicks and thus more money. The video author then tried to prove the argument by noting that Dore had cherry picked quotes about vaccinations not being effective from a news article while leaving out other parts of the article that spoke to their effectiveness. What the video author did not do is mention what Dore’s commentary was – he just noted the quotes – and Dore always has lots of follow up commentary. They also did not mention that Dore has had an adverse reaction to the vaccine that he took, at least not in the part I watched.

        Since the author couldn’t show any actual evidence in the first 15 minutes of Dore’s supposed making stuff up, I stopped watching and went back to reading NC. Life is too short to listen to people with an axe to grind (Dore has double the subscribers of the video author which seemed to rub him the wrong way) but can’t get to the point.

        1. Skip Intro

          ‘Taking numbers out of context’ is a favorite attack by vax-flacks on results that they consider heresy against their vaccine monomania. Don’t cross their noble lies!

  16. Verifyfirst

    Couple of Covid articles I don’t recall seeing yet at NC:


    A retraction of an Iv……..in article:


    FLCCC (Dr. Marik) is also suing Sentara on the same day–the organization that reviewed their data and caused the retraction above–for not allowing him to use the protocol…..


    I am a fan of you know what’s safety profile, I can’t really tell about it’s efficacy–my 20 months long-covid sister tried a short course (2 weeks, I think) with her doctor, said it did something but she could explain what. In any case she is still very sick……

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > A retraction of an Iv……..in article:

      I saw that one, couldn’t get to it. I’ll try to surface it tomorrow. (Should be emphasized that there isn’t some sort of ideal world where all the studies are good, as opposed to the iv… .world, where all the studies are bad. The replication crisis is real, fake papers are real, blah blah blah.,)

  17. Petter

    I’ll admit to not following COP26 at all but the following from the link caught my eye: > and a pledge from the financial sector to move trillions of dollars of investments into companies that are committed to net-zero emissions.
    I just read an interview (Norwegian newspaper Morgenbladet) with Tariq Fancy, formerly BlackRock’s chief investment officer in their ESG division – their green sustainable division. According to him, hoping that green finance is going to help solve the climate crisis is not going to work, it’ actually a “deadly distraction.”
    Here’s part of the interview from Morgenbladet (Google Translate):
    At the same time, something was amiss. When Fancy asked how the green funds Black Rock sold, contributed to climate-friendly investments or higher profits, he got woolly answers. Customers were not interested in complicated explanations, he was told – for them it was important to know that green funds are good funds. The public was enthusiastic, the marketing departments of Black Rock loved selling sustainable funds. But managers seem lukewarm when the ESG department came up with new indicators to measure sustainability. The attitude was that if this really mattered to the companies profit, yes, then the brokers would have measured them already.

    For Black Rock, green funds were obviously a good business idea, because the public was willing to pay them more to manage green than gray. But for the globe? Fancy set out to show how green funds should contribute to less greenhouse gas emissions and more profit.

    The more he sought, the less he found.

    – People think that when they buy a share in a green fund, they make a difference. But in practice, they only pay a higher fee to the trustee. All these funds, they just move money around, says Fancy today.

    – Those who work with this from day to day and have good insight into what is going on – none of them think this has any effect.
    Fancy, whom I’d ever heard of, recently wrote a long three part essay in Medium – The Secret Diary of a Sustainable Investor. I haven’t read it yet but it’s apparently gotten lots of attention.

    1. John

      COP-26 and its ilk will deserve attention when their words actually produce actions that are substantive. I watched a clip of Carl Sagan testifying before Congress in 1986. His testimony recycles quite nicely and given the track record of all piously prating today, I imagine they will recycle well in 2056 … if we get that far.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Spreading misinformation

      Like, ya know, masks don’t work, Covid transmission is by droplets, herd immunity is a thing for respiratory viruses, the vaccines will prevent transmission (“you are protected”)….

  18. chuck roast

    Not Francis Bacon…

    I’m guessing Albert Pinkham Ryder. But they were knocking off Ryder’s paintings even during his lifetime. When got really old and demented, people would show up at his doorstep and ask him to sign their bogus paintings. He was a very obliging fellow.

  19. thoughtful person

    Thanks for the updated Covid charts Lambert!

    The Covid bump up in cases in the Midwest follows last years pattern, w/ the other regions following after. As in Europe (record case counts at the moment), it seems pretty clear we will see a big bump up this “flu season”, aka Coronavirus Season, a big bump up in cases.

    My question is: Will we see deaths at the same rate overall as we did last year (which was WAY worse than a typical “flu season” and not really sustainable) or will we see deaths at a much lower rate than last year, due to vaccinations?
    Does anyone have numbers (perhaps from the EU) where Delta is the primary variant and what rates of death are happening?

    I just did a quick calculation on UK numbers reported by Johns Hopkins, overall death rate (actually not an epidemiological sound calculation, but gives one an indication) in UK for pandemic as a whole, deaths as a % of cases, is 1.48%, but in the last 28 days it is 0.38% (assuming my math is right), so I guess that is encouraging.

    We can hope that the vaccinated will not die as fast as previously, though we know the vaccine protection wanes after about 6 months (and if 5x more get infected with Delta, even if 80% less die, we’d be where we started). It appears that all the many layers of ‘swiss cheese protection’ have been dropped by most states, and individuals, for the one swiss cheese layer of vaccination (equally to other layers in that plenty of holes, infections, transmission, illness; vaccinations certainly not 100% effective!). With the new extra infectious delta variant circulating, we can probably expect more cases. I’m guessing a higher peak in cases than last year, though many won’t get tested and we’ll never really know. Too bad our numbers here in the US are not so reliable.

    Let’s hope we don’t have more deaths. With new variants emerging in the wings, I would recommend everyone consider bringing back as many layers of protection as they feel comfortable with (and while peer pressure is certainly going the other way it can be tough). Air filtration, ventilation, masks, social distancing (both in space 6′ and in time – don’t spend hours in small rooms!), gargling even. Personally I find filtration and ventilation of air not too invasive and arguably on par with a mask or two (can make indoors as safe as outdoors). Limit exposure by keeping an eye on # of persons/ cubic feet of space you are in. Limit time in small crowded spaces!

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Deaths are tricky. Flu will be back as we’ve eased up in so many places. We know how brutal covid was because flu was virtually non existent.

      The 500,000 number was just the excess deaths over actuarial estimates with no cases of the flu. The number of covid deaths was probably much higher.

      Now plenty of people in the nursing home clusters who would have died in the next few months likely were victims of covid in 2020. The numbers won’t be so clear this go around.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > everyone consider bringing back as many layers of protection as they feel comfortable with

      Amen. If you must have a large, family gathering-type Thanksgiving, it’s not too late to prepare for it.

      1. jr

        I hope not! I’d hate to think we might be completely on our own in this. I was hoping for more stable leadership.

        1. Late Introvert

          Hey jr, I love your posts, you have hipped me to some great stuff. Thanks.

          Are you sure you believe ANYTHING the military says? I don’t. The evidence so far is crap video and 3rd party anecdotes from pilots who tend to be military even in the commercial sector. So it’s not necessarily impossible, just not at all likely given the reporters at hand. Cheers.

  20. flora

    Thanks for the half-tone Rembrandt self-portrait in its first stages of blocking. I’ve been thinking lately about why he used the method of chiaroscuro -light and dark – painting style, as did almost all artists then and earlier, and up until the 20th c, but less so in the 20th c.

    It occurs that to me that electric lighting changed what we see and expect to see on a daily basis. Vividness is no longer dependent on a subject stepping into the light of a window (Vermeer) or a lighted doorway from a darkened room (Rembrandt), but now all rooms are electrically lighted and colors vivid thanks to aniline dyes, for example.

    Not to say chiaroscuro isn’t a wonderful painting approach. Only to say that many modern portraitists see the world in a way the old masters never did or could see their world. Rembrandt’s lighting is as much an artifact of his age’s lighting technology as of his keen eye. My 2 cents.

  21. flora

    I wonder how Rembrandt’s portraits would have changed in our modern era of electric lighting and aniline dyes.

  22. Pat

    Local NYC news noting rising numbers in the area. All leading to clips of NJ Governor Murphy and DiBlasio pushing booster shots. Well Bill led with first we get the 5-12 year olds done and finish off with the teens and get everyone a booster…. Not sure how the one reporter will live down having mentioned masks.

    Worse though was the clip of Fauci telling people if everyone in the family is vaccinated they should all get together and enjoy the Holiday. His follow up was slightly confused UNLESS you recognized he was covering his ass. He started with if any one was a stranger or “outside your immediate circle” you should mask. I have grown to despise that poor excuse for a doctor and a human.

    I cannot try to watch the weather again…

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      Well, you can do what I do. First, imagine the National Mall filled with medieval trebuchet and the object of your ire as ammunition. Now, imagine them being flung into the Capitol dome, noisily voicing their displeasure as they pass overhead before The Splattering. Fauci, if you will.

      Myself, I imagine Forbes’ billionaire list. Sometimes, Larry Ellison. Okay, often. Today, it was Steve Ballmer, all fat and jiggly, screaming, naturally. In my mind, I imagined his flight in super slow motion, slow enough that one could readily discern a wave function as his pendulous stomach led then fell behind only to rhythmically swing out in front again. Then my wife hears me chortling and, giving me the side eye, kicks my recliner.

    1. flora

      Yes, the painter Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud, grandson of famous Sigmund, were best pals for some time in the 50’s and 60’s. The popularity of trying to paint “the inner man’s psychology” was a thing back then. / ;)

      1. Eustachedesaintpierre

        Rembrandt well into his downfall by 1660 which according to Greenaway’s J’accuse was due to his painting of The Night Watch which exposed all sorts of nastiness among the members of the militia, who by that time were basically a gentleman’s club of elite bankers & merchants.

        Murder, paedophilia & dodgy financial dealings are all illustrated in that painting which unlike all the previous versions of militias in which they are portrayed as fine gentlemen with everything under control, R has portrayed them like a disorganised rabble. The accused got it moved to another gallery where they could cut out the lefthand section which just happened to feature 2 very unsavoury characters who were preferred not to be seen as associated with such self exalted company.

        They destroyed his reputation with the chattering classes, assisted by R’s sexual antics with maids, but on the bright side for us anyhow – if he had been getting commissions he would likely have not painted all of those amazing late self portraits.


        1. Late Introvert

          Thanks so much, great post & link. Where can I read more?

          Not to mention King Crimson’s “The Nightwatch” which I will never listen to the same again.

          1. Eustachedesaintpierre

            I don’t know where you would be able to read more about it, but if you were to watch Peter Greenaway’s docu J’acuuse all is made clear. There is also the film called The Nightwatch directed by Greenaway which is a dramatisation of the affair that is available on BFI player if you can get it if you are in the US.

            I found this on youtube of the former work – in English but with Spanish subtitles & thanks for the song which I did not know existed.


  23. Daryl

    > “Greg Abbott leads Beto O’Rourke by 9 percentage points in hypothetical matchup

    The fact that Abbott leads anyone in anything is rather dire. For Texas, for the D party, for everyone I guess.

    I haven’t been keeping tabs, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Abbott gets primaried.

  24. Glen

    I’m taking the never go to a fast-food joint without a human pledge.

    But then, these idiots owning fast food joints have never seen how expensive or complicated it is to keep a robot running, or just how dumb robots really are. It was probably one bad robot on the assembly line at GM that caused the whole battery recall mess:

    Fearing battery fires after recalls, people are selling their Chevy Bolt EVs back to GM

    Imagine one bad robot messing up making food.

    1. Late Introvert

      The MBA class has been trained into delusion. I predict that there will be very few robots at even fast food restaurants. They will soon turn back to trying to turn humans into robots, we’re better at the job and cost less.

    2. Skip Intro

      You may consider going to the restaurant and interacting with the machinery without making an actual purchase. Like going to the robo cashiers, and requiring help from the omnipresent minder.

  25. Ranger Rick

    One of the most overlooked reasons that used farm equipment is so popular is that you can fix it. The Right to Repair movement is less about being able to get your phone fixed and more about manufacturers (like the currently-crippled-by-strikes John Deere) being able to completely prohibit repairs and changes by adding a chip to it and claiming the DMCA anti-circumvention clause prohibits any modifications.

  26. allan

    Poor University of Austin at Texas: so far from the Ivies, so close to Galt’s Gulch:

    UATX Statement about Robert Zimmer and Steven Pinker

    The University of Austin is just one week old and has thus far succeeded in generating huge public interest. Yet, as is often the case with fast-moving start-ups, there were some missteps. In particular, our website initially failed to make clear the distinction between the Founding Trustees and the Advisory Board. Although we moved swiftly to correct this mistake, it conflated advisors, who were aligned in general with the project but not necessarily in agreement with all its actions and statements, and those who had originated the project and bear responsibility for those things. This led to unnecessary complications for several members of the advisory board, including Robert Zimmer and Steven Pinker, for which we are deeply sorry. We fully understand their decisions to step down as advisors. …

    Sounds like Silicon Valley crisis management AI bot word salad.
    Change a few words and this could be the closing defense statement at Elizabeth Holmes’ trial.

  27. Jason Boxman

    Weird, did the West Wing crowd not actually watch the show? The VP in that show was also sidelined and talked down to.

    1. Late Introvert

      When you ignore Willie Brown’s advice? When you even know him at all, let alone slept with him and got your career appointed by him? Let’s go, Kam’la.

  28. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

    “Bannon surrenders to FBI”—-Politico

    The Bannon file gets curioser and curioser, or maybe not, as a return to Traditionalism seems to be de rigueur, at least among a certain subset of the global ‘intelligentsia’. Interesting times indeed!!

    1, “How doth the little crocodile improve his shining tail, and pour the waters of the Nile on every golden scale! How cheerfully he seems to grin, how neatly spread his claws, and welcome little fishes in with gently smiling jaws!”

    2. “Last time he was charged with defrauding desperate MAGA donors with a scam called “We Build the Wall” that siphoned off a million dollars to cover his own personal expenses. With no care for his duped followers, Donald Trump granted Bannon a full pardon on his last day as president.”


    3. “For all his paranoid alarm, Bannon believes that the rise of nationalist movements across the world, from Europe to Japan to the United States, heralds a return to tradition. “You have to control three things,” he explained, “borders, currency, and military and national identity. [[Maybe 4 things, but who is counting, or paying attention enough to notice cognitive inconsistencies, logical errors, deceptions, overt fraud ect.!!]] People are finally coming to realize that, and politicians will have to follow.” Trump, for one, certainly looks to be pursuing that agenda.”

    “He isn’t alone. Before Trump came along, the clearest example of Traditionalist political influence was in Russia. Vladimir Putin’s chief ideologist, Alexander Dugin— whom Bannon has also read and cited—translated Evola’s work into Russian and later developed a Russian-nationalist variant of Traditionalism known as Eurasianism. ”



      1. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

        “You have to control three things” . . . .

        1. Borders

        2. Currency

        3. Military

        4. National Identity

        4 items are listed and not 3. Unless there is some subtle, occult/inscrutable meaning that is only available to “a very stable genius”, it seems to be the universally accepted case that 3 distinct somethings are not the same as 4 distinct somethings, unless one is fond of playing language games.

        As I am a very simple and slow learner, in the sense of geological epoch slow, perhaps you are able to correct my apparent feeble misapprehension, Being corrected on my mistaken beliefs enables me to learn new things and I like learning new things, as it is often the case that correction is a necessary step in the learning process specifically and in pedagogy more generally (“Dharma combat”). That’s my story and I am sticking to it, for the time being; unless of course, new information causes a needed and drastic reformulation of insight/outlook.

  29. VietnamVet

    Tony Wikrent wrote in a classic Republic “citizens are expected to abandon their self-interests when they conflict with the public good. For example, in a pandemic, citizens should be expected to wear masks, obey vaccine requirements, and abide by other public health measures intended to protect the community at large. Any refusal or disobedience should be properly seen selfish, and as an assault on the republic. Second, in a republic, there is a positive requirement to do good.”

    The American Republic is dead. US citizens don’t recognize it because of corporate control of the media but the corruption and incompetence are obvious. I may be alone on this, but the next US Civil War will be between corporate Imperialists defending their colonial exploitation and the American haute bourgeoisie fighting to regain control. Libertarians and anarchists will fan the flames to crash it all. The only chance for survival of the 50 State Union is if America’s left, center and right reunite to demand the restoration of a democratic republic run by and for the American people.

    1. albrt

      Then let’s hope the left, center, and right fail to reunite. The best gift Americans could give the world would be to break up into countries too small to commit mass war crimes with impunity.

  30. eg

    Iowa poll results regarding support for the workers in the Deere strike is further proof, were any necessary, that the very premise that Bootygedge “won” that primary remains ludicrous.

    1. Late Introvert

      At my caucus he had maybe 5%. College town skew, but shouldn’t that mean he would have been at 60 or so? Very few signs but many bumper stickers, all on Teslas and stuff.

      As I have said, I am no longer registered Dem-rat. That was way too blatant.

  31. Skip Intro

    I find it interesting that that chart somehow distinguishes capitalism, an economic system, from fascism, a political system, when they seem to always go hand in hand. But it does find ‘alt-left’ fascists. It would be interesting to see the definitions they used, because I sense the chart has an agenda.

  32. Pat

    In not so good news, IATSE voted to ratify the contracts that Loeb and crew negotiated. Barely. In fact the popular vote in the LA area was slightly against and outside LA for the other was barely for it. But the way the system works both passed.
    Mind you almost thirty percent didn’t vote (although some part of this might include technical failure in voting procedures).
    Some locals went overwhelmingly against. One of those I can be almost certain that it was probably because the supposed improvement in turnaround was practically nonexistent. (The local covers workers who have to arrive earlier than the call and have to stay after wrap.)

    One nice thing, the industry press didn’t miss that Loeb and crew barely escaped having their asses handed to them. Unfortunately the damage done by them wasting this opportunity, may not be salvageable by ousting them. It will be years before this can be broached again and the chance of getting a nearly unanimous strike vote especially in a year when the production model has been battered is near to zero.

  33. Matthew G. Saroff

    Frank Gehry’s work, which ignores and inflicts pain the surrounding community, are just awful.

    That building is even worse than his onanistic abomination in Arles, France.

    That being said, I would probably eat lunch there every day, because I could not see the outside from the inside,

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