2:00PM Water Cooler 12/10/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I had planned to do a pantry clearout to make up for Monday and Tuesday, but fate intervened, and I spent time on administrivia. Hopefully next week will be better. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Another one of Darwin’s finches. With some kind of weird intermittent grnding or groaning noise in the background. Walruses? Penguins?

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On the word “mild.” To me, “mild” means “status quo,” i.e. “We’re enduring the present situation, and what is to come will be no worse.” Well, the present situation, whether you look at cases, deaths, or hospitalizations — isn’t mild at all. In a civilized country, 812,205 deaths — we lost 750,000 in the Civil War — would be regarded as a catastrophe. Yet we soldier on. It’s weird. I don’t understand the mass psychology at all.

Lambert here: From Yves’ cross-post this morning, it looks like CDC’s vaccination numbers are off, whether accidentally or on purpose we do not yet know. However, given that “Everything is like CalPERS,” one would certainly give consideration to the latter thesis. The question is how far the rot goes. It would be remarkable if CDC, so bungling in other respects, were able to game all all of its data (particularly since data collection and processing are so fragmented, and also because Johns Hopkins ought to be serving as a check). It also occurs to me that “Vax vax vax” gives CDC a strong incentive to massage that particular dataset, and the rationalization to do so; the public health establishment lies all the time, as we know. In any case, all the data is already known to be bad, because this is America. It’s useful to cross-check the official narrative, however, since nobody can look at cases, hospitalization, and deaths, even as they are, and assume that the pandemic is anything like over. The same was true for “Hot Vax Summer.” So, for now, I will carry on, but do add a truckload of salts to the Vaccination data. Of course, I could always curate a wastewater collection instead; there’s a reasonable number of them now.

Vaccination by region:

A roller coaster. More data problems? (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.)

60.5% of the US is fully (doubly) vaccinated (CDC data, such as it is, as of December 9. Becker’s is pretty good for a trade journal. So we’ll watch to see what they say on CDC’s potentially massaged vax data.) We have broken the important 60% psychological barrier! Mediocre by world standards, being just below Estonia, and just above Taiwan in the Financial Times league tables as of this Monday). Big jump today, a change from the stately 0.1% rise per day. I would bet that the stately rise = word of mouth from actual cases. Or perhaps the numbers are being managed, like earnings. However, as readers point out, every day those vaccinated become less protected from severe illness and hospitalization, especially the earliest. So we are trying to outrun the Delta… With Omicron coming up fast on the outside!

Case count by United States regions:

Fiddling and diddling (which often happens at peaks), now on the way down. As happened in 2020, I would expect a second, higher peak, from Omicron if for now other reason. The Midwest’s numbers are down, so here is that chart:

Not as encouraging as it might be. The drop, and hence a big part of the fiddling and diddling, is due to Michigan.

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 the current 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:

Case data (black dotted line) has been within the tolerance of the models; it does not conform to the models’ average (black line), but it stays within aggregated predictions (the grey area).

I wrote: “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. The case data still looks like it’s trying to break out of the grey area. We shall see.” The case data has now broken out of the grey area (see at “Oopsie!”). Since the models are aggregated conventional wisdom, it’s not fair to call them propaganda, exactly. Nevertheless. conventional wisdom is looking a little shaky, and anybody who relied on them to predict that we would be “back to normal” by early next year should be taking another look at their assumptions. And this is — I assume — before Omicron!

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection, not updated:

Looks like a drop in the average, to me. We’ll see if gets choppy like last year, or not.

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” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties. Not updated:

More flecks of red. Weird flare-ups, like flying coals in a forest fire. They land, catch, but — one hopes — sputter out.

The previous release:

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile), not updated:

I have helpfully highlighted the states where the “trend” arrow points up in yellow, and where it is vertical, in orange. (Note trend, whether up or down, is marked by the arrow, at top. Admissions are presented in the graph, at the bottom. So it’s possible to have an upward trend, but from a very low baseline.)

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 815,413 813,904. At this rate, I don’t think we’ll hit the million mark by New Year’s.

Excess deaths (total, not only from Covid), not updated:

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

(Adding: I know the data is bad. This is America. Needless to see, this death rate is a public health debacle. It’s the public health establishment’s duty to take care of public health, not the health of certain favored political factions. Also adding: I like a death rate because it gives me a rough indication of my risk should I, heaven forfend, end up in a hospital.)

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

South Africa’s rise looks linear, even though this is a log scale. Sorry for the kerfuffle at the left. No matter how I tinker, it doesn’t go away.


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

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

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

Biden Administration

“It’s a Biden Boom—and No One Has Noticed Yet” [Washington Monthly]. “Based on the data, President Biden and the Democratic Congress are set to preside over the strongest two-year performance on growth, jobs, and income in decades—so long as the current cycle of inflation eases, and the Omicron variant does not trigger another round of shutdowns. The future paths of inflation and the pandemic are large and important unknowns—but if they break right, everything else points to a Biden boom through 2022…. Strong growth usually means healthy income gains, and the disposable income of Americans grew 3 percent after inflation over the 10 months from January to October. That far outpaces the gains of only 0.5 percent for the comparable period in 2019 and 1.7 percent in 2018. Wages and salaries comprise nearly all of most households’ incomes, and those earnings also are rising much faster than normal…. The main reason for the big increase in total wage and salary income is that 5,675,000 Americans who were unemployed when this year began had found new jobs by November.” • Well, the series ends in October. Not so good for Democrats if anything like 6.8% continues through six months or so before the 2022 election.

McConnell weighs in:

I wish the Democrats could “ram” something through. Anything!

“Biden set to make 1st late-night TV appearance as president” [NBC]. “Biden is set to appear Friday on NBC’s “The Tonight Show” with comedian Jimmy Fallon. Biden will appear virtually; the White House didn’t say where he will be when he tapes the segment. Biden has made two previous appearances on the show. He bantered with Fallon in April 2020, a week before he became the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, and in September 2016, toward the end of his eight years as vice president.” • Virtually. Oh.

“Jill Biden rejects ‘ridiculous’ concerns on president’s mental fitness” [The Hill]. “Jill Biden is dismissing any concerns about President Biden’s mental fitness, calling them ‘ridiculous.’ ‘I think that’s ridiculous,’ Biden says in an interview for this week’s ‘CBS Sunday Morning.’ Portions of the sit-down at Camp David with Rita Braver were released Thursday. Biden shook her head as Braver asked about some recent polling that the CBS News journalist described as showing ‘quite a few Americans have some questions about the president’s current mental fitness.’ A Politico/Morning Consult survey conducted last month found that only 46 percent of respondents agree that 79-year-old Biden ‘is mentally fit,’ while 48 percent disagreed.” • If you’re explaining, you’re losing.

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. If the Democrat Party fails to govern, that’s because the PMC lacks the capability to govern. (“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. (Note that voters do not appear within this structure. That’s because, unlike say UK Labour or DSA, the Democrat Party is not a membership organization. Dull normals may “identify” with the Democrat Party, but they cannot join it, except as apparatchiks at whatever level.) Whatever, if anything, that is to replace the Democrat Party needs to demonstrate the operational capability to contend with all this. 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.

For an example of the class power that the PMC can wield, look no further than RussiaGate. All the working parts of the Democrat Party fired on all cylinders to cripple an elected President; it was very effective, and went on for years. Now imagine that the same Party had worked, during Covid, to create an alternative narrative — see Ferguson et al., supra, to see what such a narrative might have looked like, and with the unions (especially teachers) involved. At the very least, the Biden Administration would have had a plan, and the ground prepared for it. At the best, a “parallel government” (Gene Sharp #198) would have emerged, ready to take power in 2020. Instead, all we got was [genuflects] Tony Fauci. And Cuomo and Newsom butchering their respective Blue States, of course. The difference? With RussiaGate, Democrats were preventing governance. In my alternative scenario, they would have been preparing for it.

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.

Showing the PMC’s inability to govern, as a class they seem unable to expand their scope of operations into new fields. Consider the possibilities of the “Swiss Cheese Model.” Layered defenses include extensive testing, contact tracing, ventilation systems (not merely blue collar HVAC work, but design and evaluation), and quarantines. If we look at each layer as a jobs guarantee for credentialed professionals and managers, like ObamaCare, the opportunities are tremendous (and that’s before we get to all the training and consulting). And yet the PMC hasn’t advocated for this model at all. Instead, we get authoritarian followership (Fauci) and a totalizing and tribalizing faith in an extremely risky vax-only solution. Why? It’s almost as if they’re “acting against their own self-interest,” and I don’t pretend to understand it.

And I’m not the only one who’s puzzled. “Even if you…

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“Normalizing Corruption” {Daily Poster]. “‘Corruption robs citizens of equal access to vital services, denying the right to quality health care, public safety, and education,’ the Biden administration wrote Monday [report], adding that corruption ‘has been shown to significantly curtail the ability of states to respond effectively to public health crises.’ The Biden administration, as it turns out, is a perfect example of this: Every policy solution they propose involves some sort of corporate giveaway. This is the kind of institutionalized and legalized bribery that’s almost never discussed — the corruption that’s responsible for high health care costs and poor health care outcomes in the U.S., and that has made it effectively impossible for lawmakers to rationally respond to the COVID-19 pandemic here and around the globe. As if to drive the problem home, within hours of releasing their corruption report, the Biden White House was flailing on TV trying to defend an overly complex COVID testing plan that will keep Americans paying inflated retail prices for at-home tests with the hope that their health insurer will agree to reimburse them at some later point. This plan is wildly impractical, but it would be a boon for the same testing manufacturer that just so happened to start paying Biden’s former top aide shortly after Biden was elected president.” • Ouch. That petty? More: “One company that stands to benefit from this convoluted testing regime is Abbott Laboratories, which hired Biden’s former legislative affairs director Sudafi Henry shortly after the 2020 election. Abbott executives and employees donated $174,000 to Biden’s presidential campaign, according to OpenSecrets. Abbott has dominated the at-home test market in the U.S., in large part because the Biden administration has failed to quickly approve other rapid tests.”


“UF researchers felt pressure to destroy COVID-19 data, not criticize DeSantis, report says” [Miami Herald]. “Fear of upsetting state officials is pervasive among faculty at the University of Florida, to the point that race-related references have been edited out of course materials and researchers felt pressure to destroy COVID-19 data, according to a report released Monday by a Faculty Senate committee…. The report discusses several ‘challenges’ faced by UF researchers who were working on COVID-19 with an unidentified state entity. It describes ‘external pressure to destroy’ data as well as ‘barriers’ to accessing, analyzing and publishing the numbers. Taken together, the report said, those problems ‘inhibited the ability of faculty to contribute scientific findings during a world-wide pandemic.’ The report further states that UF employees were told ‘not to criticize the Governor of Florida or UF policies related to COVID-19 in media interactions.’ It says they were told not to use their UF titles or affiliation in written commentary or to give oral presentations. And faculty at UF Health expressed concerns over funding being in jeopardy if they did not adopt the state’s stance on pandemic regulations in opinion articles, the report says. The allegations related to data destruction added a sense of urgency to the committee’s work, Wright said. ‘COVID research, it is life and death to not be able to do your job,’ Wright said. ‘To have your research that you’ve trained for so many years to be able to do, to have that research tabled, put on the shelf and ignored and not get it out there to the academic community to get it out there and see if it’s going to do any good.'” • DeSantis is making Cuomo look like a lightweight.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Latino civil rights organization drops ‘Latinx’ from official communication” [NBC]. “Domingo García, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, the nation’s oldest Latino civil rights organization, has instructed staff and board members to drop the word “Latinx” from the group’s official communications. García sent the directive out in an email Wednesday night, addressed to Sindy Benavides, the league’s CEO; David Cruz, its communications director; and the LULAC board. ‘Let’s stop using Latinx in all official communications,’ García said, adding that it’s ‘very unliked’ by almost all Latinos.” • A breath of sanity, but still performative, but all these NGOs are performative by definition.

“Seattle’s Capitalists Couldn’t Defeat Kshama Sawant” [Jacobin (hemeantwell)]. “n a razor-tight race, Seattle’s socialist city council member Kshama Sawant beat off a recall attempt bankrolled by the city’s business interests. She won by just over two hundred votes in a race that went down to the wire. The outcome wasn’t determined until two days after the election, as mail-in ballots streamed in after election day. Six hundred ballots have been challenged and could still be counted, but they are not expected to change the recall’s outcome. Sawant won largely based on a concerted effort to get out the youth vote. Among all demographics, the eighteen to twenty-five cohort was the only one which increased its turnout from the most recent election, held only one month earlier. Three hundred more voters in that age group voted in this election compared to last month, and those three hundred were largely the margin of victory. To indicate the level of interest in the race: last month’s general election turnout was 43 percent. Turnout for the Sawant recall — a single-candidate special election — was 53 percent. Seattle’s capitalists have tried repeatedly to stamp out Sawant and her socialist politics from City Hall since her election in 2014. Repeatedly, they have failed.”

Stats Watch

Inflation: “United States Inflation Rate” [Trading Economics]. “Annual inflation rate in the US accelerated to 6.8% in November of 2021, the highest since June of 1982, and in line with forecasts. It marks the 9th consecutive month the inflation stays above the Fed’s 2% target as global commodities rally, rising demand, wage pressures, supply chain disruptions and a low base effect from last year continue to push prices up. Upward pressure was broad-based, with energy costs recording the biggest gain (33.3% vs 30% in October), namely gasoline (58.1% vs 49.6%). Inflation also increased for shelter (3.8% vs 3.5%); food (6.1% vs 5.3%, the highest since October of 2008), namely food at home (6.4% vs 5.4%); new vehicles (11.1% vs 9.8%); used cars and trucks (31.4% percent vs 26.4%); apparel (5% vs 4.3%); and medical care services (2.1% vs 1.7%). On the other hand, the inflation slowed for transportation services (3.9% vs 4.5%). Excluding food and energy, inflation went up to 4.9% from 4.6%, the highest since June of 1991.”

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Inflation: “U.S. inflation rate swells to 39-year high of 6.8% as Americans pay higher prices for almost everything” [MarketWatch]. “A string of higher-than-expected inflation readings since the summer is likely to push the Fed to speed up plans to phase out stimulus for the economy by the early spring, several months earlier than it had planned. Top central bank officials meet next week to plot their next step.Worried about the economic and political consequences, the White House has also moved to try to help untangle knots in the U.S. supply chain that are contributing to high inflation. Many goods and materials are in short supply and prices have risen as a result.”

Inflation: Tone-deaf liberal Democrat NGOs:

No. The average working class person pays for gas at the pump, food, and rent now. A tax break to install solar panels with capital you don’t have anyhow won’t help with that.

Retail: “CVS CEO Karen Lynch says smash-and-grab robberies fueled by online marketplaces” [CNBC]. ‘CVS Chief Executive Karen Lynch said the drugstore chain is pushing Congress and attorneys general to fight smash-and-grab crimes. She said online marketplaces are fueling organized crimes by allowing people to sell stolen goods. ‘What they’re doing is they’re taking our products off the shelf and they’re putting them online and we need to go after that,’ she said on CNBC’s ‘Power Lunch.'” • Lynch doesn’t actually name those online marketplaces, but given that Amazon is a cesspit of fraud, I’d expect it to be one of them.

Shipping: “The US’ biggest export this year was air, thanks to over 12 million empty shipping containers reportedly leaving ports” [Business Insider]. “In the first 10 months of the year, over 59% of shipping containers that left the nation’s 9 largest ports were empty, according to data collected by MarketWatch. The publication found that the US exported about 12.1 million empty shipping containers from January to October of this year. Over the past year, the number of empty containers that left the ports climbed over 46% from the previous year and nearly 38% from before the pandemic. At the same time, US imports have surged from elevated consumer demand… Demand for imported goods in America has made it far more lucrative for shipping companies to transport goods from Asia to the US than vice versa — meaning shippers are often in a hurry to return the container to China and skip the loading process in the US, Tran explained. ”

The Bezzle: “Space tourism is just a tiny piece of a risky new asset class” [Yahoo Finance]. “Cheaper launch services have helped make all this possible. A decade ago, NASA estimated it cost about $10,000/kilogram to lift a payload into low Earth orbit. Today that number is around $2,000/kg and there are projections that may go as low as $20/kg if and when SpaceX’s Starship vehicle becomes fully operational. And it’s not just the cost — it’s the pace and the variety of available vehicles that has moved the industry away from a few high profile, high risk launch events and towards a more economically sustainable launch on demand model.”

Tech: “The Dutch firm that investors are going wild over is now creating a machine that could redefine electronics” [CNBC]. “Dutch firm ASML, one of Europe’s hottest stocks, is working on a new version of its extreme ultraviolet lithography machine, which is used to carve patterns onto pieces of silicon that form the most advanced chips in the world. Headquartered in Veldhoven, a small village near the Dutch city of Eindhoven, ASML is the only firm in the world capable of making these highly complex EUV machines — but it’s not stopping there. The company’s current EUV machine is used by TSMC, Samsung and Intel to make chips that end up in the latest crop of computers and smartphones. But there’s a new version of the EUV machine in the pipeline, dubbed High NA, that could allow chipmakers to build even more sophisticated chips to power the next generation of electronic devices. NA stands for numerical aperture.”

Concentration: “Amazon Fined $1.3 Billion in Italian Antitrust Case” [Wall Street Journal]. “Italy’s antitrust regulator fined Amazon.com Inc. $1.3 billion, saying it harmed competitors by favoring third-party sellers that use the company’s logistics services, a decision that reflects increased scrutiny of tech giants by antitrust regulators globally. The regulator said Thursday that Amazon favored sellers in Italy that paid it to use its warehouse and delivery services, including by making them more likely to appear as the default option, or ‘Buy Box,’ when consumers click to buy a product. The fine of 1.13 billion euros is part of a wave of antitrust enforcement in Europe and elsewhere against Amazon and other big tech companies for allegedly abusing their dominance to squash smaller competitors.” • Cost of doing business.

The Fed: “Naughty or nice? What will the Fed do about the recovery next week?” [Claudia Sahm, Stay at Home Macro]. • Includes a Bingo card:

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 35 Fear (previous close: 33 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 20 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 8 at 12:01pm.

Health Care

Tape-watching the death rate in Guateng:

The Biosphere

“Why it’s time to study how rocket emissions change the atmosphere” [The Verge]. “Every time a rocket launches, it produces a plume of exhaust in its wake that leaves a mark on the environment. These plumes are filled with materials that can collect in the air over time, potentially altering the atmosphere in dangerous ways. It’s a phenomenon that’s not well-understood, and some scientists say we need to start studying these emissions now before the number of rocket launches increases significantly. It’s not the gas in these plumes that’s most concerning. Some rockets do produce heat-trapping greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, but those emissions are negligible, according to experts. “The rocket business could grow by a factor of 1,000 and the carbon dioxide and water vapor emissions would still be small compared to other industrial sources,” Martin Ross, a senior project engineer at the Aerospace Corporation who studies the effects of rockets on the atmosphere, tells The Verge. Instead, it’s tiny particles that are produced inside the trail that we need to watch out for, Ross says. Small pieces of soot and a chemical called alumina are created in the wakes of rocket launches. They then get injected into the stratosphere, the layer of Earth’s atmosphere that begins six miles up and ends around 32 miles high. Research shows that this material may build up in the stratosphere over time and slowly lead to the depletion of a layer of oxygen known as the ozone. The ozone acts like a big shield, protecting Earth against the Sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation. However, the magnitude of this ozone depletion isn’t totally known, says Ross.” • I’m just leaving this here as a marker, after noting the, er, explosion of launch capacity in Stats. Do readers have more current information? Are these concerns overblown?

Groves of Academe

“The Quiet Scandal of College Teaching” [Jonathan Zimmerman, Liberties]. “A majority of college teachers are now adjunct or contract faculty. This is the third way we fail our students. If we really cared about their education, we would not slough it off on itinerant laborers. When I was in graduate school in the early 1990s, we were told that the old guard would retire and that we would get their jobs. That was right on the first count and wrong on the second one. Many professors did retire, but institutions replaced them by hiring adjuncts — at several thousand dollars per course — instead of new full-time faculty members. A fortunate few of us actually got hired onto the tenure track, which now feels like winning the lottery. Everyone else had to drive from campus to campus, picking up courses here and there and waiting for the real job (with a living wage, health insurance, and even a desk) that would never come. A quarter of part-time faculty rely on public assistance; some of them live in cars, and others have turned to sex work to make ends meet. In 2013, Pittsburgh newspapers reported the death of an adjunct professor who taught French for twenty years at Duquesne University. She never earned more than $20,000 in a year, so when her classes were cut she was rendered almost homeless. She died at 83, with no health insurance or retirement benefits. You would think that an institution so exquisitely attuned to “social justice” would bridle at this radically unjust situation. But a professor quoting the n-word out loud from a James Baldwin book generates vastly more indignation than the systematic exploitation of adjuncts, which barely registers on the campus outrage meter. We have made our undergraduates into accessories to this crime, and it is not clear how many of them know or care about it.” • Wieseltier‘s new venture. Good article, though!

Our Famously Free Press

“Fake Bump Conspiracy Theories Prove That Americans Still Can’t Handle Public Pregnancy” [Jezebel]. “The particulars of any specific fake pregnancy debate are nowhere near as significant as what it means to debate public pregnancies in the first place. ‘As we judge and regulate the bodies of pregnant celebrities,’ wrote legal scholar Renee Cramer, ‘we are simultaneously accepting and internalizing the very same regulations of ourselves.’…. Both invasive bump patrolling and anti-abortion campaigns take pregnant people’s bodies to be public property deserving of tight surveillance, with the former perhaps subtly easing the path for the latter. And of course, the contemporary highly-scrutinized pregnancy also offers many opportunities to sell things—including shapewear, workout regimens, diets, and self-help books. Pregnancy came out of confinement and entered directly into the marketplace. Until we locate a middle ground, somewhere between stigmatized invisibility and commodified surveillance, there will be more bump watching, shame, and accusations levied. At celebrities, yes, but also at the rest of us.” • “Bump” is another one of those words….

Poop Watch

Because you demanded it:

(Via AM.)

“Penguins shoot ‘poop bombs’ more than 4 feet, incredibly important study finds” [Live Science]. From 2020, still germane. “Over a decade ago, scientists had explored the pressure needed for chinstrap and Adelie penguins to expel poop along a mostly horizontal path, which they identified as penguins’ most common poop direction. For a new study, which appeared on the preprint site arXiv on July 2 and has not been peer-reviewed, another team of researchers analyzed a different fecal trajectory in Humboldt penguins (Spheniscus humboldti), which often poop in a descending arc away from their nests on higher ground. The team of scientists who first addressed the penguin poo puzzle published their results in 2003, in the journal Polar Biology; that pioneering study won the authors an Ig Nobel Prize in 2005 for fluid dynamics.”

Zeitgeist Watch

“J.P. Morgan’s million-dollar pocket watch vanished. The hunt for it became an obsession” [Los Angeles]. “But my search for the pocket watch didn’t pick up until I got a pivotal clue. It came from a descendant of Marie Antoinette’s mother.” • Oh, come on. I was nice, and didn’t put this under Guillotine Watch, but here we are. And–

“Cellist quits job to perform in NYC subway dressed like Marie Antoinette” (video) [NBC]. “The performer calls herself the “Baroque Barbie,” dressing like Marie Antoinette and playing classical music in New York City’s subway stations.”

Just to round out the section:

The Keds (?) are a nice, contemporary touch…..

Guillotine Watch

“Met Museum Removes Sackler Name From Wing Over Opioid Ties” [New York Times]. • Looking at you, Harvard!

Class Warfare

“The Dark Side of 15-Minute Grocery Delivery” [Bloomberg]. “When we think of resource frontiers, it calls to mind the rugged, glamorous classics: oil booms, gold rushes, or, in the not-so-distant future, asteroid mining. But the latest is closer to home. Whether you live in Manhattan, Hollywood, or beyond, the storefronts and sidewalks in your city are being mined. Over the last year, cities across the U.S. and Europe have seen a rapid rise in the number of dark stores — mini-warehouses stocked with groceries to be delivered in 15 minutes or less. Operated by well-funded startups such as Getir, Gopuff, Jokr and Gorillas, dark stores are quietly devouring retail spaces, transforming them into minimally staffed distribution centers closed to the public. In New York City, where seven of these services are currently competing for market share (including new entrant DoorDash), these companies have occupied dozens of storefronts since July, with expansion plans calling for hundreds more in that city alone.” • If street life in New York is dying, now you know one reason why.

News of the Wired

“MH370: Could missing Malaysian Airlines plane finally be found? [BBC]. “[Richard Godfrey, a British aeronautical engineer,] combined different data sets that were previously kept in separate domains, to align to this new location in the Southern Indian Ocean… Mr Godfrey said it was a ‘complicated exercise’, but previously there was simply a lack of lateral thinking, across multiple disciplines, to bring this together. ‘No one had the idea before to combine Inmarsat satellite data, with Boeing performance data, with Oceanographic floating debris drift data, with WSPR net data,’ he said. Mr Godfrey said work with a team has been progressing for a year now, and ‘we’ve done quite a lot of testing of this new idea and we’ve came to the confidence to apply it to MH370’…, The engineer’s new proposal is a circle radius of 40 nautical miles, far smaller than previous searches. ‘The wreckage could be behind a cliff or in a canyon on the ocean floor,’ he said. ‘And you need maybe three or four passes before you start to pick things up.’ The wreckage could lie as far as 4,000 metres deep, he added.”

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Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) 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 (Stephen V.):

Stephen V. writes: “Out of the corner of my eye…a feather? No. Just milkweed!”

* * *

Readers, I could still use just a few more plants, so if you could send some photos to the address below, that would be great! I’d really like to see photos of harvests or completed projects, to inspire people to plan for spring over the winter. Also fall foliage? Thank you!

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the recently concluded and — thank you! — successful annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:

Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated.

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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. Wukchumni

    I prefer the flip a rock of size on your masterpiece method, but to each their own…

    That said, i’ve always felt that the mere act of going to the bathroom in the wilderness was a deterrent-in particular with women, but it hasn’t seemed to bothered the legions of young backpackers lured into the backcountry the past decade by Resse Witherspoon in the movie Wild.

    Coming back from Iva Bell hot springs last summer, 9 out of 10 of our ‘replacements’ coming in were women…


    p.s. just say no to massed italics!

  2. jo6pac

    The new font is hard for me to read or it just me. It seems to be in comments also but then I’ll old blinded by the light.

    Nap time

    1. Hepativore

      There is an interesting discussion about surface-to-orbit launching systems on a website called Atomic Rockets, which serves as an archive for help on writing plausible hard science fiction.


      I think that something like a “maglev” system for using a reusable sled mounted on a magnetically-propelled railway would probably be the easiest way to achieve escape velocity as well as minimizing garbage to dispose of.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I had remembered this too. I think a conceptial version of this was called ” railgun”.

        That other thing looks like a kind of big flywheel designed to spin faster and faster and then release the object for sending into orbit. But it looks most of all like a plausible-looking scam designed to sucker in naive investors. But since I am engineeringly naive myself, I could be wrong.

      1. Hepativore

        Anything Elon Musk touches is bound to be crap. I do not know why he ever got the reputation for being some brilliant innovator when all he does is choose where to throw his money at. Musk is just a wealthy investor. He has no background in engineering or any other technical field. In other words, Musk is basically a glorified marketer and whether or not the projects that get his seal of approval actually work is never touched upon by the media.

        That being said, the concept of a vac-train has been around long before Elon Musk, and is theoretically possible while the Hyperloop is Musk’s typical hot air.

        1. jonhoops

          Well, the non-engineer Musk has delivered on at least two fronts, re-usable & much more cost effective space launch capability, and a viable electric car company.

          The “engineers” at Boeing and the incumbent auto companies have given us what?

          While Tesla is insanely overvalued, the reason is that Musk actually is doing something exciting.

          So while you see hot air, I see millions of Teslas on the road.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Well, the engineers at incumbent car company Chevrolet gave us the Volt ( hybrid electric) and now Bolt ( all electric due to the all-electric mania-fad prematurely displacing further refinement of the hybrid electric concept.) Also the incumbent engineers at Toyota gave us Prius which is supposed to be pretty effective and efficient. Also the incumbent engineers at Honda gave us the Insight ( about which I don’t know much).

            And some years ago the incumbent engineers of their day at GM gave us the EV-1, which was so well loved by its users that GM recalled them all and did its best to destroy them all to prevent the potential customer-base from getting ideas.

            So there you go.

          2. Juanholio

            The excellent Thunderfoot channel did a thorough debunking of those cost effective economics of SpaceX.

            It looks to be yet another scam along the lines of Spinlaunch, Hyperloop, Theranos, Juicero, Comiraty etc.

            You can watch it here. https://youtu.be/EojxThnDPng

  3. jsn

    Italics aside, there appears to be a new Covid bloom around NYC: New York, New Jersey & CT along with Mass are all in the more or less vertical mode and have been since on or about the time Omicron entered stage right.

    1. lambert strether

      That’s what the rapid riser data has been saying, so it’s good to get confirmation. Could still be Delta, but to me JFK/EWR and BOS argue no.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      I figure this UFO initiative is to make the Moon Base planning department sound less absurd. –Sharp pocket handkerchief, I thought that was a lost art. I hope it’s not just a card.

      I bet the PowerPoints for all these makework projects are just amazing. Twenty bucks a kilogram! …If this curve works out.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      I haven’t watched John Kirby, but I have been watching Fauci lately, and his mastery of saying nothing in ever so many words seems to me to be only second to Greenspan. In fact, listening to Fauci reminds me of listening to Greenspan more and more lately, now that I am really paying close word-by-word attention.

  4. solarjay

    Just have to love the great sierra club. Ugh.
    #1. Currently the ITC tax credit for solar stands at 26% which would go to 30%. That would give the average customer $1000 more, not $7200 more. Humm where have I heard such bait and switch before, seems to be it had to do with 1400 vs 2000$
    #2. If you want to increase DG (distributed solar) you have to do the following. Low interest loans to people instead of tax credits is an option. Nation wide simplified solar permitting code/process. Guaranteed utility rates for 10-20 years, this is because right now you could install solar and have net metering, which means every kWh you produce you get credit at retail rate. If you have a large solar or wind farm you get a multi year rate contract. However you don’t get to sign a contract with your utility, so they can change the rate structure anytime they want, there is no inherent grandfathered clause, so yes and it is happening that they could charge you a new large monthly fee or pay you less for what you make and more for what you buy. Which turns the ROI from say 8-10 years to 20 years with equipment that lasts at best 25 years. That is something the feds could ( hahahahah) change. This is a really big part, and there are lots and lots of ways to make DG solar cheaper and better. Oh get rid of the solar lease, to quote others, ban it, kill it with fire. But allow homeowners the same tax breaks that solar leases use. Its a complete scam and we as tax payers are subsidizing it.

    #3. Up to $10,000 for a house heating upgrade to heat pump. Lots of carve outs and if/then etc. Most won’t quality for the $10,000 and most upgrades will cost way more than $10,000. I’ve been quoted upwards to $25,000 by a few people. And then you are going to have a lot of really unhappy people when their utility bill goes up. Yes no gas bill, but most people have gas because its cheaper than electric heat. Yes heat pumps are very efficient, but they get much less efficient as it gets colder, you know kinda when you need it. And then is your local electric network actually able to handle a whole new large consistent load over thousands of homes? And then you have to look at where are you getting your electricity from. I just installed a new NG boiler for a client, 95%+ efficient, replacing a 40% efficient 25 year old unit. Cost was about $10,000. To have gone with a heat pump, closer to $20,000+.
    I understand the logic, that as we progress to non fossil fuels going electric is where we should be. Sorry that is a long time away, in 10-15+ years when that might happen, this boiler will be prime for changeout.

    And along the lines of heat pumps, where are they made, here in the USA? Nope, mostly all east asia. Japan, Korea, China, etc, not that I care, but its not US jobs. And at this point try to find a trades person. Where are all the trained trades people going to come from that will do all this extra work besides the normal work? Seems to me all the PMC/Politicans say to learn to code.

    There is actually some good stuff if the bill, but actually getting it implemented, I’m not sure. And they have missed all the low hanging fruit that is the easy part, which is regulation, not the hard part which is what I do, actually installing stuff.

      1. Solarjay

        I had to look it up. Seems like a pure scam to me. Especially when they said it’s then used like existing geothermal
        electric production.
        In a previous life I was a field engineer for geothermal energy production. It works by extremely high temp ( like 400 f+)steam turning a turbine to make electricity.
        Currently solar/steam is done with power tower or parabolic trough designs. Power towers provide such an extremely higher temp that must be stored in something like a molten salt. Which is then used to boil water and turbine then electric.

        In conclusion it will only work with extremely high temperature storage, with a extremely insulated storage. Not just stuffed underground into dirt.

        1. Janie

          Do I ever learn a lot on this site, some of which I may even comprehend and retain (I hope). Thanks to you and everyone else here!

  5. Eloined

    Re: DeSantis is making Cuomo look like a lightweight

    I am wary of overdone Desantis criticism because since at least 2020 he’s been clearly a target of Dems who anticipate his presidential candidacy. So here I note that having searched the 274-page Faculty Senate report for a description of COVID-data deletion — or pressure to destroy — I found none in searching the entire document for instances of “data”, “delet*”,”destroy*” and “pressure.” Regarding COVID, there is simply sentence-fragment allegation presented in the executive summary.

    Perhaps I missed something. In any case I don’t doubt that these professors have reason to be concerned about academic freedom — as it seems to be under assault far and wide, from administrators, politicians and agency / foundation funders who demand that the content-generators stay on message. But Rebekah Jones, the Great Florida Whistleblower of 2020, has shown that the state’s anti-Desantis institutional dissidents should not necessarily be taken at their word.

    And if data was urged to be destroyed (or even disregarded), before determining that to be a bad thing I would like to see that the data was more credible than the CDC’s collection of “probable” case counts, absurdly time-ranged and otherwise “adjusted” breakdowns of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated hospitalizations, and apparently negligent vaccination counts — all of which, like Russiagate reporting, tend in one direction. They exhort the unvaccinated not to be the last unclean persons in the country, fostering the sense if the COVID doesn’t get you then the government, HR department or your peer group will.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      The Faculty Senate report is a mess. Read for committeeology. It even concludes with ‘we didn’t have enough time.’ This has metastasized from Law School profs not being allowed to testify against positions held by the Governor. This report which started from there is sending the message that Law is not the only areas of study being quashed by the Governor’s office. Specifically, Covid studies. Generally, any words that trigger the Republican base.

  6. cocomaan

    Good grief. I did not see the crosspost that Yves did about the vaccine numbers but WOW.

    What does the CDC do at this point?

    1. Revise downward, redo their methodology. Pro: they at least try to be accurate. Con: Incompetence in this case is indistinguishable from malevolence, given the CDC’s appeal to authority, so they get to be both stupid and evil in the eyes of watchers.

    2. Leave it as is, using lots of asterisks ******* to say, “Data may not be valid.” Pro: nobody notices except for wackos, freaks, and losers like NC readers, Zero Hedge racist commentariat, twitter wackaloons, whatever. Cons: No longer even remotely posing as a legitimate source of data.

    3. Leave it as is, without even suggesting that they’re incorrect in any way. Pros: appear strong and confident, like the high school quarterback that the data scientists never were. Cons: Neutral Evil DND alignment forever cemented.

    I am going with #2.

    1. Lee

      The data are bad if for no other reason than because of our criminally pathetic testing regime. But it is of interest to note that of the 43 recorded cases of Omicron in the U.S. 75% are vaccinated. If we grant for the sake of vituperative argumentation that mild cases become the rule, then the exceptions who become seriously ill due to the sheer number of those who are expected to become infected whether vaccinated are not……phkit, I don’t even want to finish this sentence.

      1. cocomaan

        I keep saying this is the dumbest time to be alive, and then the next time I say it, it seems even dumber.

  7. Questa Nota

    SoCal Edison is an electric utility serving a lot of Southern California that isn’t in the service areas of the Los Angeles Dept of Water and Power or what used to be called San Diego Gas and Electric.

    I am reliably informed that their customers are receiving notices now about rate changes increases of around 40-50%. The good news is that those new rates take effect in 2022, so there is that. Maybe Santa will bring some kilowatt hours for stockings?

    1. Erika

      Yet another epic Kamalatastrophe, like One West Bank, Bay Bridge Rebuilding, Herbalife etc:

      “a California Justice Department criminal investigator working on her behalf turned up damning evidence of an under-the-table deal to put $3.3 billion of the $4.7 billion needed to close the defective nuclear plant onto ratepayers. Hand-written notes, scrawled in Warsaw on Hotel Bristol stationary in March 2013–where Peevey met with a Southern Califoria Edison executive–laid out the numbers…..”


      1. drumlin woodchucks

        People in detached houses could do that. They could put up photoelectric panels and/or micro-wind turbines and charge long-lasting deep-cycle batteries to drive DC current wholly-separate wiring-system in their detached houses able to power DC appliances. ” off the grid” of course means zero ability to feed power back into the grid and zero interest in doing so. “Off the grid” means zero points of contact with any grid.

    2. Questa Nota

      Mea culpa. I queried that source again and found less reliable, as that increase was overstated. I apologize for providing misinformation. Rates still excessive, so I’d expect more conservation, solar and other attempts to economize.

  8. Amfortas the hippie

    On corruption:

    corporate capture is just the tip of the iceberg.
    This country is shot through with corruption, from top to bottom, and has been forever….enough so that it’s not all that hyperbolic to say that it’s who we are.

    I’ve spoken of the birthday party of a drunk old toad who owned a bunch of houston strip clubs…we(my atomic blues band, back then) were hired to play this soiree…heated pool in a heated greenhouse…naked chicks everywhere…and all the local movers and shakers: county judge, JP, superintendent of the schools, preachers galore…all drunk as skunks and snorting coke from the pubic mounds of the naked body painted waitresses…and not batting an eye at the 3 pro photographers wandering around recording the whole debauch.(“compromat”)
    In spite of my own inebriation(we were provided our own keg), I knew right then that I really didn’t want to know,lol.
    That was 30 years ago, in an exurb of Houston.

    Out here, there’s a more prosaic version….real estate speculation/gentrification…driving po folks out, often de facto stealing their homes, due to the weaponisation of permitting and zoning, as well as outright denial of service…then used to condemn said property, driving the owners(mostly hispanic) into tax arrears. Then, the same old men…literally grandsons of pioneers…sit on the board at the tax place…and are johnny on the spot when properties go up for sale on the courthouse steps.
    Pennies on the dollar.
    They then do minor repairs…always waived through by the permit people…and rent the places for way too much money for this area.

    Except for the selective zoning enforcement and grossly unfair way that condemnation is applied, it all appears to be perfectly legal.

    My MIL’s recent experience with 2 city-caused shitfountains in her house was instructive…as in they tried to fine her for their negligence, and otherwise get in the way of her fixing her house…i allege, in the hopes that she’d give up and either fall behind on taxes, or sell(several unsolicited buyers making lowball offers(her house is in a nice part of town…bare land alone would be worth a fortune.)

    corruption is literally everywhere…and I see no way to fix it…because the same people who benefit from it, are the ones who either make the rules, or own those who do.

    1. anon y'mouse

      i ran into a similar kind of scheme in Alabama.

      supposedly, when one runs behind on the annual property taxes, the property is auctioned off for the debt with a right to redeem by the owner.

      so some lawyer/banker vultures sit there and bid on the tax sales, and then when the owner comes to redeem the property, they pay the cost plus late fees and interest to the buyer banker vulture at the tax sale. this all happens within a few months’ window of falling in arrears, i believe.

      essentially the locality auctions off the right to collect your tax debt to banker/lawyers who are connected to each other and all wait to make money this way. and of course, if you don’t redeem it they get full right to the property for a pittance. it appears to me that this has been a way to disenfranchise the poor and the black from their property, since coughing up thousands of property tax at one go is sometimes difficult to do. and of course, the longer it takes, the more interest they collect.

      if, as some people i know did, you own a larger place that has been made up of various smaller plots, you have to go running around to all of the banker/lawyers paying them off and getting them to sign off some kind of a dischargement (i imagine it’s like a quitclaim deed) for you to get your property back. this can be quite the ordeal to claim back the family farm. the municipality has sold off your place within a few months, but it can take 6+ months or more to get all of this accomplished to get it back.

      pretty neat trick, eh? just for parking your money on a tax sale deed for awhile.

      1. JBird4049

        This sound just a more complicated form of civil asset forfeiture where the local police, sheriff’s, highway patrol, federal task force, DEA, Border Patrol, Customs, whatever agencies that DHS controls can take your cash, car, house, or any other property; all they have to do is declare it as suspected proceeds of illegal activities usually drug trafficking; the owner is often not even charged, but his property is charged. In some egregious cases, they have taken the money right out of a person’s wallet, backpack, or suitcase. Why not? like corporations, physical property are people too.

        This has been happening since at least the 1990s. It is up to the owner to prove that he got his stuff legally, and usually he has to pay a lawyer, which can cost more than what was stolen from him.

        So, be careful out there as some departments literally have interdiction patrols usually on freeways whose sole purpose is to seize case and/or vehicles under the supposed suspicion that they come from or are going to be used in illegal activities, usually drugs.

        All those tax cuts the politicians have been bloviating about for forty years have been replaced by fees, fines, and seizures in many, if not most, places. The government can and has admitted that a person is innocent and still taken their stuff or charged them with fees. In the South and Midwest, they have even started debtor’s jails even though the Supreme Court outlawed them in the 19th century. It’s funny, I thought there was this thing call the Bill of Rights.

        1. drumlin woodchucks

          Has anyone started a website or something detailing informal reports of all these civil forfeiture traps so people can read about them ahead of time and drive around them?

          1. JBird4049

            Not that I know, but I am sure someone has. I think I will do some looking for one.

            However, it did take a while for those websites listing police homicides to get going.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Perhaps if no one had ever thought to get such a website going, by the mere act of seeing these comments, perhaps someone now will. It could take a while to set up and refine. But if it could be, then it could be updated every so often, so as the authorities keep moving their Highway Robbery checkpoints, people can know within hours or even within the hour, and route around them.

              Hey! An “internet” of cars, treating every checkpoint as damage and routing around it.

    2. griffen

      The drunk old toad anecdote, now I’m thinking about that late 1980s classic film “Roadhouse”. I had to look up the film to find the local a**hole owner of any legitimate business in the small town. In the film it’s Brad Wesley, just for argument’s sake.

      The experience described previously, about your in-law having the actual sh*t storm in the house was incredible and unfortunate. I acknowledge that’s an understatement. As we like to quote frequently, laws are for the suckers.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        yeah, re: Roadhouse.
        we were the de facto House Band of a beerjoint near his house…and patrick frelling swayzee’s mother had a horse stable pretty much across the street(met him many times. he was an ass)
        said drunk toad would be driven up in his limo, by his body man…. a tall drink of water redneck…and practically carried into the joint on sunday nights…followed by his entourage of lingerie-clad hotties, and they’d lock the doors, and we’d have a private(sic) show.
        us jamming, them dancing.
        this was always well after the open mike we hosted was done.
        that’s how the toad even knew about us.

        all manner of shady bidness was done there…obvious, once you can see it
        (guarantee that it’s happening near wherever y’all are, right now)

    3. Robert Gray

      > corruption is literally everywhere…and I see no way to fix it…because the same people who
      > benefit from it, are the ones who either make the rules, or own those who do.

      This is the Catch-22 that all these starry-eyed types just can’t grok. ‘Oh, radicalism is just too scary! Let’s work really hard from inside the system to make it better!’ But the vested interests, a.k.a. the iron heel, will never voluntarily allow that to happen.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Along those lines – it has been said that the Democrat party is a political graveyard for all those progressives who have gone into it to change the Democrat party from the inside. Progressives would have more luck pushing the Parliamentarian left.

  9. Louis Fyne

    the grocery store had boxes and boxes of hand sanitizer on clearance… 11 oz. bottles for $0.25.

    people must not be buying sanitizer like last year.

  10. Wukchumni

    “The Dark Side of 15-Minute Grocery Delivery” [Bloomberg].

    Then: In the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.

    Now: In the future everybody will be famished for 15 minutes until the food arrives.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The more of a garden you have, the less famished you will be.

      ” If gardens are outlawed, only outlaws will have gardens”. But do the authorities really plan to outlaw a hundred million gardeners and their hundred million gardens?

  11. Nikkikat

    This would not surprise me. Had them as my electric company when I lived in S.Cal. Rate payers always paid for everything. Huge bills, shoddy equipment. They caused fires were sued and rate payers will foot the bill. Edison and PG&E own the place. Pubic utility commission a joke. Caught multiple times in secret meetings with utility companies. Both Jerry Brown whose wealthy Sister sat on the board and Gavin Newsome worship at their alter.
    Used to get an increase for something every month. There was absolutely no cost to doing business, ever! All profit.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      it is literally How It’s Done.
      again: System Selects for Psychopathy.
      Either you are a Psychopath, or you pretend to be one….otherwise, be ready to stagnate, if not fail.
      scratch a bit at any local bidness/CoC/fraternal lodge and you’ll find the Rot.
      all the way down to tiny little isolated places like this.

      we’ll need a thousand Pro Publicas, if not many, many more.
      as well as a Mass willing to listen to the universal unearthing/secrets revealed(yeah,Hi, Clif,lol).

      Neither is likely, i’m afraid.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      How far can the ever-upward-ratcheting failure/rate-rise treadmill go before some people and then many people are price-tortured into dropping off the offending grid altogether?

  12. RockHard

    Re: flash mobs and online marketplaces: personally, I’d wager that eBay is a prime outlet. On the odd occasion I go on there, it feels like a bazaar full of stolen or “it’s broken and I can’t return it” goods. IDK about running an Amazon store but I’d think you’d have to carry a lot more product than even a well-organized, well-disciplined mob could supply.

    “Fake Bump Conspiracy Theories…” I think Jezebel is using the wrong noun here. Americans as a whole don’t care. It isn’t “Americans” buying People magazine and US Weekly. It isn’t “Americans” who binge watch The Bachelorette and subscribe to The Kardashian’s various Instagram accounts. It’s a subset of Americans who cherish this culture of celebrity, who obsess over the British royals. It’s the same subset that Jezebel claims to speak to and for. IDK, maybe Jezebel doesn’t consider the rest of us Americans, or even worth talking about, which is certainly possible.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      for all the recent insightful and ennervating thought about how the intertubes have frelled us, i haven’t yet seen an analysis fro the Walled Garden, manifested into Real Life(“IRL”).

      aside: original Persian ancestorword for Paradise was literally “Walled Garden”.
      (and i have 2(working on more) Keyhole Gardens based on the same ecological/horticultural prncipals…still picking outdoor tomatoes out of one of them, in december)

      the effect of socmed has been to ossify whatever divisions were already there, and then fracture it all further, by engineered outrage and hyperbole.

      i’ve mentioned before, that alongside Marx,Smith and Polyani, et alia is Mario Puzo…because the Godfather is the real economic philosophy text…at least descriptively.
      That’s just “How It’s Done”

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I don’t see how the intertubes have frelled us. The intertubes are a fine venue for motherfrellers to operate on. Then again the intertubes are a fine venue for NaCap, Ian Welsh, Ran Prieur, and millions of obscure blogs which could only ever be found by random Image-URL wormhole-searching.
        But they are there.

  13. Greg

    We’ve seen the introduction of vaccine mandates (for frontline roles like healthcare and teachers) and new restrictions on the size of events where vaccine certs arent checked here in NZ.
    And now we’ve got the capitalist response to needing a vaccine cert but being antivax, after a crackdown on permissive doctors handing out bogus exemptions – https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/coronavirus/127245863/covid19-man-receives-up-to-10-vaccines-in-one-day
    Enterprising chap decided to risk getting an unknown number of jabs on behalf of other people to allow them to get the vax cert. We’ll see what that does.

  14. marym

    Statement by President Joe Biden On Kellogg Collective Bargaining Negotiations

    “Collective bargaining is an essential tool to protect the rights of workers that should be free from threats and intimidation from employers.

    That’s why I am deeply troubled by reports of Kellogg’s plans to permanently replace striking workers from the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International during their ongoing collective bargaining negotiations.

    Permanently replacing striking workers is an existential attack on the union and its members’ jobs and livelihoods. I have long opposed permanent striker replacements and I strongly support legislation that would ban that practice…”


  15. Amfortas the hippie

    re: the yahoo thing on ever weirder gopteatrumpism:
    fta:”Hugo Lowell of The Guardian tweeted slides from the presentation on Thursday detailing a conspiracy theory-laden plan for Vice President Pence to install Republican electors in states “where fraud occurred,” and for Trump to declare a national emergency and for all electronic voting to be rendered invalid, citing foreign “control” of electronic voting systems.”

    if this is all they got…man…i’m a libertarian socialist, with zero representation, and i don’t trust any election “authority” unless i can frelling watch them all the way through the process.
    why would i?
    what reason have any of “them” given to trust them?

    to lump healthy skepticism of an entire national political system into trumpism and insanity is just as bad as the worst of the USSR and mccarthyism.
    i mean, John Pilger, ferodin’ssake!

    i’m also sick of everyone and their sister using “Left” and “Far Left” as an equivalent to “Woke” and all the rest of the PMC side of the diversionary mudslide.

    and Psaki’s qils mangeant brioche moment is just too frelling much.

    ergo, i’ll prolly be fading into the underbrush, until the sun is high enough in the sky to actually confer Vitamin D.

  16. Wukchumni

    When I began work on this book in 1991, the largest Marxist-inspired society in history was in the midst of collapse. Monuments to that great experiment were being destroyed — statues were toppled and walls were knocked down. Soviet communism, as established by Lenin and ruthlessly enforced by Stalin, was a distant cry from the communist utopia Marx and Engels had envisioned. Nonetheless, to more than one generation of Americans, the name Marx would forever be linked to the powerful and evil Soviet communist regime—our greatest threat and the losers in a long and bitter Cold War.

    One monument to an earlier Marxist-inspired utopian endeavor still stands, even though the experimental colony disbanded 100 years prior to the recent dissolution of the great Soviet experiment. There exists an old photograph of this living monument with more than two dozen socialist pioneers standing shoulder-to-shoulder within the width of its massive trunk. The incredibly large redwood tree was christened the Karl Marx Tree by these pioneers, the Kaweah colonists. Being the largest tree in the forest (in fact, it is the largest tree in the entire world), it was given a name representing the greatest honor in their eyes.

    Today, that giant sequoia is known as the General Sherman Tree and is a major tourist attraction in Sequoia National Park. Those who know the story of the 19th-century utopian experiment, however, will always partly look upon this awe-inspiring giant as a monument to a colorful and dramatic chapter of California history: the Kaweah Colony.


  17. Inquiring Mind

    Re: Marie Antoinette clothing montage

    I can’t find a link, but I remember reading that according to Sophia Coppola, the Chuck Taylor sneakers were there on purpose as an anachronism to emphasize that Marie was just a teenager.

  18. The Rev Kev

    ‘60.5% of the US is fully (doubly) vaccinated’

    Been thinking about this number lately. It may be that as people do not bother going for a booster shot, that this number starts going backwards. That is why you see so many references right now about going for a booster shot and even using Omicron as an excuse to do so. But I wonder now if people will and I am talking about people that were hesitant to get a vaccine but were pushed to do so anyway. And I am not even talking about children here where so many people have drawn the line. Blind Freddy can see that Omicron will be sweeping the land in the coming months and it cannot be stopped. So what if lots of people say to themselves that as it will probably displace Delta as Delta did to the original strain and it is mostly harmless (big maybe), why go for a booster shot at all. Let things take their course and just ‘learn to live with the (Omicron) virus’ as this has been the message for so very long. I expect that this might then be reflected in percentage of vaccinated people sinking back into the 50s again or maybe even into the 40s.

  19. marym

    The search for “fraud” (by which Republicans mean votes for Democrats) continues:
    Lawsuit filed [12/09/2021] by David Perdue, a one-term Republican Senator from Georgia who is now running for governor [and lost to John Ossoff in 2021], and a Georgia voter raising repeatedly-debunked claims of voter fraud during the 2020 presidential election. The lawsuit alleges that there were multiple issues with the processing and counting of absentee ballots across Georgia, particularly in Fulton County, rehashing conspiracy theories about a ballot processing center and claiming that “thousands” of absentee ballots were “unlawfully marked by machines rather than legally registered Georgia voters.” The lawsuit asks the state court to conduct an inspection of absentee ballots cast during the 2020 election.

    Texas Secretary of State John Scott announced late Friday [12/10/2021] that his office has presented an “exhaustive” document request to Dallas, Tarrant, Collin and Harris counties as part of an audit [announced in 09/23/2021] of 2020′s election.

    The counties ‘include the major Democratic strongholds around Houston and Dallas, as well as Tarrant County, which for years has been the largest GOP-controlled county in Texas but went for President Joe Biden last year.”

  20. drumlin woodchuckles

    One wonders if the exploited adjunct lecturers love the smell and feel of academia so much that they will never join the Great Resignation even if every one of them knows that every one of them will die penniless and
    homeless at the end of their non-careers. One wonders if they still love and seek the status-class prestige of being a “professor” at wandering tech-adjunct wages more than they would love making a living.

  21. LifelongLib

    Blaming the victims. The few people I knew who went into academia weren’t looking for either big money or prestige, just a way to make a decent living pursuing obscure subjects that most of the world doesn’t care about. Yet another refuge that’s being destroyed by the moneymakers.

  22. Basil Pesto

    Kinda wild story

    Kanye West publicist pressed Georgia election worker to confess to bogus fraud charges

    ATLANTA, Dec 10 (Reuters) – Weeks after the 2020 election, a Chicago publicist for hip-hop artist Kanye West traveled to the suburban home of Ruby Freeman, a frightened Georgia election worker who was facing death threats after being falsely accused by former President Donald Trump of manipulating votes. The publicist knocked on the door and offered to help.

    The visitor, Trevian Kutti, gave her name but didn’t say she worked for West, a longtime billionaire friend of Trump. She said she was sent by a “high-profile individual,” whom she didn’t identify, to give Freeman an urgent message: confess to Trump’s voter-fraud allegations, or people would come to her home in 48 hours, and she’d go to jail.

    1. jr

      When I read this story earlier, my head literally swam trying to take it in in it’s Vonnegutian absurdity. What goofy times we live in.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Not goofy for the target of this FascisTrump conspiracy. Or for the state-by-state electoral systems which are themselves the second-order target of this conspiracy.

        Remember what they say about conspiracy theory . . . . its not a theory if it happened.

  23. Acacia

    “Biden will appear virtually”

    Bring on Joe Headroom. He’s already got the video cut-up stammering mastered.

    1. Hepativore

      Seeing as how the president is now a mouthpiece for his corporate donors…we can just get rid of the presidency altogether and just have him be a cgi mascot on a television screen set in the background of the oval office.

      He will tell us the latest news of Congressional activity on behalf of the donor class interspersed with inspirational-sounding platitudes.

      Eventually, we can do something like what Robyn Hitchcock originally envisioned for his band, the Soft Boys…

      “The front man would be a robot, for good measure; being the songwriter and lead guitarist I would supply the material and direct the music, while he, Golem-like, would be the cyber-darling of the crowds.”

      In this case, the various aides and technicians would program the president’s speeches and quotes.

  24. PlutoniumKun

    “Why it’s time to study how rocket emissions change the atmosphere” [The Verge]

    Plenty of reasons to be sceptical of commercialising space travel, but this seems like someone in search of a grant. I find it hard to believe that even with a massive ramping up the impact of space travel would come close to the impact of air travel or military activities.

    The issue with alumina in the upper atmosphere is likely only connected to solid fuel boosters, which have gone out of favour with space launches (but are still the norm with military rockets). Some upper stages use small solid rocket boosters, and I think one or two of the smaller companies are proposing solid rocket boosters, but nearly all the action is in liquid fuels. Some early rockets, in particular the Soviet ones, used some pretty horrible chemicals in the propellants, but this isn’t so common now. Most boosters now use RP-1, which is highly refined kerosene, so pretty much the same stuff ejected by airliners and military jets.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Unless the extreme power of the escaping gases can wear bits of aluminum off of the thruster nozzles themselves and fill the ozone-layer zone with ozonolytic aluminum particles itself.

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