2:00PM Water Cooler 12/21/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

The Calliope Hummingbird migrates. This recording has a lot going on: A weedwhacker, or possibly a drone, plenty of other birds including what sounds like an owl, plus this hummingbird “foraging or fating,” and other hummingbirds.

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Vaccination by region:

Either exhortations aren’t working, or there are data problems.

61.5% of the US is fully (doubly) vaccinated (CDC data, such as it is, as of December 20. The stately 0.1% rise per day returns. We have broken the important 61% psychological barrier! Mediocre by world standards, being just below Hungary, and just above Turkey in the Financial Times league tables as of this Monday).

Case count by United States regions:

The fiddling and diddling abruptly ends. I have added an anti-triumphalist “Fauci Line.” As happened in 2020, I would expect a second, higher peak, from Omicron if for no other reason.

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.)

NOT UPDATED 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. Not updated:

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!

NOT UPDATED MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

I wrote: “We’ll see if gets choppy again, or not.” This blip upward is the first sign of choppiness.

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:

Maine better. Boston to New York bad. Upper Midwest improved. More flecks of red in the South. 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):

Better than previous; calm before the storm. II 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: 828,836 827,323. At this rate, I don’t think we’ll hit the million mark by New Year’s.

NOT UPDATED 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).

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

South Africa is looking better, but I think that’s a reporting artifact. Gauteng empties out in the holiday season, I am told; some go to the beach, others up-country. So it’s really too soon to declare victory. Look at the UK, too. 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

Capitol Seizure

“Gina. Rosanne. Guy. What do you do the day after you storm the Capitol?” [New York Magazine]. “Hundreds of people caught on-camera committing what was arguably sedition went home to families that feared them, strangers who admired them, federal agents already setting up surveillance. Over a year’s time, many of their lives would be transformed. They would discover the dark state of American prisons. They would be fired and divorced and bankrupt and subject to extraordinary kindness from strangers. They would become fodder for the kind of conspiracies that had summoned them to D.C. in the first place. They would become a price paid for the right to stand on a dais and say You’ll never take back our country with weakness. Gina Bisignano would lose her salon, Guy Reffitt would lose his freedom, and Rosanne Boyland would lose her life.”

Biden Administration

A good question:

Because Biden has molasses for brains? That’s the charitable explanation.

Everybody loves a winner:

“Democratic critics link party problems to bad messaging” [The Hill]. “One Democratic strategist said the problem is far worse saying the White House ‘needs to completely reprioritize their priorities.’ ‘They need a wholesale revamp of their entire communications, political and strategy team,’ the strategist said.” • Hire me!

“The Democratic Agenda Dies of Delusions” [Eric Levitz, New York Magazine]. “Manchin and his Democratic critics each fell prey to their respective delusions. Put simply, Manchin cannot recognize the intellectual bankruptcy of Clinton-era conceptions of fiscal responsibility, while the Democratic leadership has refused to accept that it has no real leverage over him.” • Good analysis from Levitz, worth reading in full (though I still think prosecuting Manchin’s daughter would be an option of Merrick Garland weren’t who and what he is).

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…

A second example of the PMC’s inability to govern comes under the rubric of “our democracy.” Of the various components of the Democrat party, NGOs, miscellaneous mercenaries, assets in the press, and the intelligence community all believe — or at least repeat vociferously — that “our democracy” is under threat, whether from election integrity issues, or from fascism. But other components — funders, vendors, apparatchiks, and electeds — don’t believe this at all. On election integrity, HR 1 has not passed. Gerrymandering continues apace (also a sign that Republicans take their politics much more seriously than Democrats do). On fascism, I suppose we have Pelosi’s January 6 Commission. But nothing unlawful took place, or we would have Merrick Garland’s January Investigation. The combination of hysterical yammering from some Democrats and blithe indifference from others is extremely unsettling. (This leaves aside the question of whether Democrats, as a party, have the standing to whinge about either the erosion of democracy or the imminence of fascism. I say no.) Of course, there is a solution to the problems with “our democracy”:

It is said, I believe by Thomas Frank, that the Democrats are the Party of Betrayal. Certainly the “Build Back Better” debacle provides many examples of combinatorial betrayal. Manchin betrayed Biden (by lying to Biden at his house). Biden betrayed everybody (by believing, I am persuaded, and acting as if he had Manchin’s vote in his pocket*). Schumer betrayed everybody (by keeping Manchin’s written request a secret). Pelosi betrayed Jayapal (by splitting BIF and BBB into two bills and by relying on Republican votes). The Democrat leadership betrayed the Progressive Caucus (by explicitly and verbally making the face-to-face promise that BBB would be passed, and then not delivering). And, though this is harsh, Sanders betrayed his voters with his 2020 turn toward electoralism (by personally liking Biden, and relying on his deal-making ability, now shown to be a sham). I don’t think the Squad betrayed anybody, unless you regard participating in the process as a betrayal, so there’s that. NOTE * I believe Biden’s top line was Manchin’s from the beginning, and nowhere near Sanders’.

* * *

“The Dreyfus Affair” [John Ganz, Unpopular Front]. • Ten parts, very easy read, contemporary relevance. From Part Six: “The riots across France appeared to be spontaneous outpourings of rage against Zola’s broadside, but in fact they were the product of concerted organization and agitation. Antisemitic posters appeared before the riots and antisemitic conferences took place in many of the cities that witnessed large scale rioting. There was also, as we’ve seen, a growing antisemitic press. The Catholic press, not to be outdone, was increasingly packed with anti-Jewish articles. In Paris, the mobs were becoming organized on an almost paramilitary basis by the Ligue Antisémitique Française.”

Republican Funhouse

“How Dark Money Bought A Supreme Court Seat” [Daily Poster]. “A conservative dark money group led by former President Donald Trump’s judicial adviser Leonard Leo bankrolled Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation campaign with nearly $22 million in anonymous cash, while another nonprofit that Leo helps steer saw a fundraising bonanza and showered cash on other organizations boosting Barrett, according to tax returns obtained by The Daily Poster. The new tax returns shed light on how Barrett’s successful last-minute confirmation campaign was aided by a flood of dark money. They also reveal the rapid growth of Leo’s already highly successful dark money network and its tentacles in the broader conservative movement… Leo is a longtime executive at the Federalist Society, a group for conservative lawyers.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“A Good Day w/Special Guest Matt Stoller” (podcast) [The West Wing Thing]. Brutal takedown of Kamala Harris, plus a discussion of Reddit antiwork (stirrings of something out in the biomass).

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of note.

* * *

Retail: “Retail’s Battle With Covid Actually Saved Its Stores” [Bloomberg]. “[F]or the big players who got things right, 2021 saw a remarkable rebound. In the U.S., chains with more than 50 stores are expected to have added more than 4,000 locations this year — led by discount chains Dollar General and Dollar Tree. That would mark the first net increase since 2017, according to IHL Group. Total closings among this group in 2021 are estimated to have been 3,500, a quarter of the 2020 total. The comeback is a big reason why the SPDR S&P Retail exchange-traded fund, which tracks the S&P Retail Select Industry Index, has surged 32% this year, easily topping the broader S&P 500 Index’s advance. Retail stocks in other parts of the world haven’t fared as well, though. Even with Covid variants hammering some parts of the country, overall visits to U.S. stores this year are only 0.8% below the same period in 2019, according to Placer.ai, which uses anonymous mobile phone data to estimate foot traffic. Many of the biggest chains spanning various categories are drawing more shoppers than before the pandemic. These include Target, Lowe’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Ulta Beauty and Bath & Body Works. Visits to Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, are just 2% below 2019 levels so far this year, Placer.ai data show.”

Retail: “Lego: The Toy of Smart Investors” [Research in International Business and Finance]. The Abstract: “We study financial returns on alternative collectible investment assets, such as toys, using LEGO sets as an example. Such iconic toys with diminishing over time supply and high collectible values appear to yield high returns on the secondary market. We find that LEGO investments outperform large stocks, bonds, gold, and alternative investments, yielding an average return of at least 11% (8% in real terms) in the sample period 1987–2015. LEGO returns are not exposed to market, value, momentum, and volatility risk factors but have an almost unit exposure to the size factor. A positive multifactor alpha of 4%–5%, a Sharpe ratio of 0.4, a positive return skewness, and low exposure to standard risk factors make the LEGO toy and other similar collectibles an attractive alternative investment with good diversification potential.”

The Bezzle: “Editorial: Slam the brakes on Tesla’s self-driving madness” [Editorial Board, Los Angeles Times]. “While Tesla follows the Silicon Valley ethos of ‘move fast and break things,’ dozens of other companies experimenting with self-driving technology on California roads are following a reasonable set of rules. They must have a trained and certified test driver behind the wheel and send the DMV regular reports on crashes as well as incidents in which the human driver had to take over to avoid a crash…. California cannot continue letting Tesla have it both ways. If the cars are automated enough to be marketed as “Full Self-Driving,” then they must be required to follow the same testing rules as other autonomous vehicles that roam our roads. If the cars are not automated enough to be regulated as autonomous vehicles, then Tesla should not be allowed to market the technology as “Full Self-Driving.”… Gov. Gavin Newsom — a longtime Tesla owner who has known Musk for 20 years and called him ‘one of the world’s greatest innovators and entrepreneurs’ — should lean on DMV Director Gordon to make Tesla play by the same rules as the companies it competes with.” • Lol no.

The Bezzle: “Jack Dorsey Stirs Uproar by Dismissing Web3 as a Venture Capitalists’ Plaything” [Bloomberg]. “Web3, the still hazy term for blockchain-based, decentralized systems and tech that are meant to replace the internet as we know it, has garnered much attention and funding this year, with Andreessen Horowitz being among its loudest cheerleaders. Trading of non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, on the Ethereum and Solana blockchains has been the most visible manifestation, with many companies now investing in the development of decentralized apps as well as games for those platforms. ‘You don’t own ‘web3’,’ tweeted Dorsey. ‘The VCs and their LPs do. It will never escape their incentives.'”

The Bezzle: An interesting thread on NFTs:

Key tweet:

The implication:

The Bezzle: NFTs:

The Bezzle; “Nikola Corp agrees to pay $125 mln to settle SEC charges of defrauding investors” [Reuters]. “Nikola Corp has agreed to pay $125 million to settle civil charges that it defrauded investors by misleading them about its products, technical advancements and commercial prospects, the U.S. securities regulator said on Tuesday. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) accused the electric vehicle maker of violating U.S. securities laws with numerous misleading statements made from March to September 2020 about in-house production capabilities, reservation book and financial outlook.” • Now do Tesla.

Supply Chain: “Toyota to halt production at 5 factories in January due to supply chain issues” [Reuters]. “Toyota Motor Corp said on Monday it would suspend production at five domestic factories in January due to supply chain issues, chip shortages and the COVID-19 pandemic. Japan’s top automaker said that the stoppage at the factories will affect about 20,000 vehicles, but won’t impact their annual target to manufacture nine million vehicles. Last week, Toyota said it was projecting a bigger reduction in vehicle production in North America in January to 50,000 units due to supply chain issues.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 30 Fear (previous close: 25 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 26 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 21 at 12:19pm. The dial is back! Perhaps writing CNN actually helped!

The 420

“Analysis: Jurisdictions Permitting Adult-Use Retail Facilities Experience Employment Growth” [NORML]. “Local jurisdictions that permit licensed marijuana operations experience job growth at higher rates than do localities that prohibit them, according to data published in the IZA Journal of Labor Economics. A team of economists affiliated with the University of New Mexico and with California Polytech State University compared county-level economic data in Colorado between the years 2011 and 2018. They reported that unemployment fell in counties where dispensaries opened relative to counties in which they did not. Authors reported, ‘[W]e find consistent evidence of a decrease in unemployment and increases in the number of employees in manufacturing.'”

The Agony Column

“Don’t try to be happy. Focus on these 5 things instead” [Fast Company]. Contentment is preferable to happiness (see NC here). That said, this is an odd article. It starts out normal, but begins to veer off the rails: “2. SUFFERING CAN ENHANCE PLEASURE… The burn of hot curry can be pleasurable if it’s followed by the shocking relief of a cold beer. This is the contrast theory of why we choose to experience pain. It’s like the old joke my dad used to tell me about the guy who was banging his head against the wall. When asked why he said, “It feels so good when I stop.'” Helpful theory in the midst of a pandemic! And then we come to this: “3. SUFFERING CAN GIVE US MEANING.” Ditto! Ditto!


“Ubisoft Boss Tells Employees That NFTs Are Just The Beginning” [Kotaku]. “Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot held a video Q&A this week to try and reassure developers about the company’s controversial new push behind NFTs, according to multiple sources who were in attendance. But they said his answers were vague and leaned on buzzwords like ‘metaverse’ and ‘web 3.0,’ leaving some as disheartened by the company’s latest PR disaster as before. The meeting, which sources said wasn’t yet scheduled when the week started, came after the official reveal of Ubisoft’s new blockchain-based technology called Quartz was widely mocked online, with a video showcasing it receiving over 40,000 downvotes on YouTube. Kotaku previously reported that developers at the company were critical of the rollout as well, with an internal announcement exploding in hundreds of comments that ranged from skeptical to dismissive. The initiative kicked off with three cosmetic NFTs in Ghost Recon Breakpoint, including one that required players to have logged over 600 hours in-game to redeem. Axios reported earlier this week that players have already started at least trying to resell the tokens on third-party platforms, for amounts that wishfully range from hundreds of dollars to the hundreds of thousands.”

The Gallery

Model railroading:

Circular error probably:

Xmas Pregame Festivities

We forget that Warhol started out as commercial artist:

Sports Desk

“What to Know About C.T.E. in Football” [New York Times]. “[Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E.,] the degenerative brain disease associated with repeated blows to the head has been found in the brains of more than 315 former N.F.L. players, Waters the third but whose death brought the condition into the mainstream. The group includes 24 players who died in their 20s and 30s, according to Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist and the director of the C.T.E. Center at Boston University…. C.T.E., which can be diagnosed only posthumously, has been linked to a host of symptoms, including memory loss, depression, aggressive behavior and, sometimes, suicidal thoughts. It is a progressive disease, and the symptoms can arise long after the hits to the head have ceased.”

Our Famously Free Press

“Washington Post Grasps for New Direction as Trump-Era Boom Fades” [Wall Street Journal]. “Executive Editor Sally Buzbee said she was struck by a presentation showing that in one stretch of 2019, nearly all of the 50 most popular articles on the Post’s home page were related to politics, whereas in the same period of 2021, just three of the top 10 were related to politics, people familiar with the meeting said. Ms. Buzbee weighed in with her conclusion: When political news falls out of favor with Post readers, the news organization needs to be in position to excel with other types of stories… The site had about 66 million monthly unique visitors in October, down 28% from last year…. [O]nly 14% of Washington Post subscribers are under 55, compared with 61% of the U.S. adult population. The [internal] document summarizes five groups of potential subscribers to the Post, including ‘contented and uninvolved,’ ‘middle grounders,’ ‘practical mavens,’ ‘engaged intellectuals’ and ‘confident strivers,’ and estimates their interest in the Post. ‘Our paid product is not attractive to younger people,’ the document reads. Of those groups, the only one listed with a ‘high’ level of interest in the Post are ‘confident strivers,’ which the document describes as ‘affluent, urban married men with kids, more multi-ethnic, skew liberal/Democratic.'” • “Confident strivers,” OMG.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

General George Thomas, not a complete [glass bowl]:

Intereting thread. (Obviously, I don’t mean that Thomas in any way legitimated the Black soldiers — they did that themselves, through their actions — but I think it’s a splendid gesture.)

“Classical Music and the Color Line” [Boston Review]. “Two new books, Singing Like Germans by pianist-turned-musicologist Kira Thurman and Dvořák’s Prophecy by cultural historian and concert producer Joseph Horowitz, promise fresh narratives that interrogate the roles of race and access in the history of classical music. This is precisely what the moment demands, but only one book delivers on the promise. The cover copy of Dvořák’s Prophecy touts a ‘provocative interpretation of why classical music in America ‘stayed white’.’ The provocative part, it turns out, is that it mostly appeals to aesthetic and historical debates about the meaning of ‘Black classical music,’ resulting in the glaring omission of racism as a structural force with profound effects for individuals. Singing Like Germans, by contrast, recovers the untold stories of Black classical musicians, complicating any pat suggestion that classical music has ‘stayed white’ while at the same time better explaining the field’s long legacy of racial exclusion, in performance and composition alike. ‘Like whiteness,’ Thurman writes, ‘classical music is frequently racially unmarked and presented as universal—until people of color start performing it.'”

News of the Wired

So meta (1): “Gamer Builds a Gargantuan Computer Inside Minecraft, to Play Games on It?” [Interesting Engineering]. “A Minecraft genius has engineered an 8-bit processor inside the video game that can actually play video games like Snake, Tetris, or even show up as a graphing calculator, according to PC World. Each game and application is also built virtually in Minecraft, plugging into the computer like a game cartridge… It took the Minecraft player called ‘Sammyuri’ seven months to build the processor named Chungus 2 (Computation Humongous Unconventional Number and Graphics Unit). According to Futurism, ‘the resulting virtual processor — assuming that each block is a meter in length and height — would be as tall as a 20-story building if built in real-life.'”

So meta (2):

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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 (AM):

AM writes: “Sunny highlights on a maple with yellow leaves in Roger Williams Park. Have to get out in the mid-afternoon now to see any sun. Boo.”

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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. Lee

        I couldn’t listen to it myself yet. But Yong, a medical journalist that publishes in The Atlantic, is good on reporting on the pandemic in detail and with nuance, and trenchant in his criticism of what laughingly (or would that be tragically) passes for a healthcare system in the U.S. The interview has now been posted on the Forum archive at the following link: https://www.kqed.org/forum/2010101887058/science-writer-ed-yong-on-the-omicron-surge-and-why-he-canceled-his-40th-birthday-party

  1. Carolinian

    Re Tesla–it does see odd that Tesla hasn’t been sued into oblivion what with the fires and cars running into things. Do the owners sign a legal waiver on purchase? EULA is a techworld thing spilling over, lately, to the Covid vax. Indeed I read an article that said Gates’ involvement with pharma may have some relevance to Pfizer et al releasing a Beta product. “Oops” may work for Windows but not medicine. Thirty years later Windows 10 (and now 11?) still has blue screen crashes.

    To be sure computers, and medicine, are pretty complicated. But easier to forgive the former than the latter.

    1. rowlf

      George Thomas was known to take good care of the soldiers that he was leading and being careful how he commanded them. Several times he resisted being rushed so his troops could be fed and better prepared. In exchange they fought well for him.

      Thomas’s actions later influenced George Marshall and anyone else who studied him. Ironically, Marshall felt one of Marshall’s biggest mistakes was having black soldiers train in southern army bases. The bases were situated to train the most people due to weather but he felt it was a terrible thing to have people you want to fight for you to have to be in that environment while going into service.

      1. ObjectiveFunction

        > Marshall felt one of Marshall’s biggest mistakes was having black soldiers train in southern army bases.


        The 761st Tank Battalion ‘Black Panthers’

        Despite the hostile environment, training continued and the battalion received more Black officers. White officers were only required to remain with a Black unit for 18 months, and many sang “I’m Dreaming of a White Battalion” in the camp’s segregated Officers’ Club.

        In March 1943, the soldiers’ rage at the actions of the Alexandria police boiled over into mutiny. The Famous Alexandria N****r Killing Squad beat a Black soldier, dragged him to a set of railroad tracks and laid him in front of a passing train. Whether he was killed in the beating or by the train was unclear; the police claimed they had not beaten him at all, but he had instead been intoxicated.

        The 761st’s tankers had had enough. An angry group commandeered six tanks, a half-track and a large store of ammunition, and prepared to shoot up Alexandria. One of the company commanders, the widely-hated racist Charles Wingo, parked his car across the battalion motor pool’s gates and climbed atop the hood, begging the men to return to their barracks. They ignored Wingo and were about to leave to flatten Alexandria when a city bus pulled up. The bus drivers were deeply hated for their racism, and the troops attacked the bus, smashing its windows, beating its driver and trying to turn it over and set it on fire. The 761st’s commander, Lt. Col. Paul Bates, arrived and calmed the men with a promise that he would end the police harassment.

        ….And after all that, the 761st went on to serve its ungrateful nation in 10 months of brutal fighting across Europe. As an independent tank battalion, its primary role was to help infantry divisions break into defensive positions, manned by German units with 3 years of experience shooting up waves of Russian tanks.

    1. Jen

      NH got off to a rocking start offering free rapid tests. Go to the state covid website, enter your address and get your tests. Unfortunately, their supply was cleaned out in 1/2 a day. I managed to score a box of 8 tests before they ran out. Gave 4 to my dad.

      Now they are offering free PRC Tests. You can go to the website, order one test, and then return the test via UPS to get a result in 24-48 hours. And you have to drop off the test at a UPS store or other staffed location – no just pitching it in a pick up box. There are 13 UPS Stores in NH, and most of them are in the southern region (near Boston for those of you unfamiliar with our geography). The northern half of the state has 5 official testing locations.

      When I was in Maine over the summer I was able to drive to the nearest Walgreens, get a rapid antigen test and have the results in an hour. For free. Could have driven a little further for to location that had PCR testing with next day results.

  2. Joe Well

    Regarding COVID and the undying fomite fixation, I share with you this email I just got from a Wework here in Boston.

    Hi Joe,

    As part of our ongoing efforts to prioritize the health and safety of our communities, we wanted to inform you that we were recently made aware that an individual has tested positive for COVID-19 and was in our space at 625 Massachusetts Ave.

    According to the company, the individual was last in the space on Friday, December 17, 2021.
    Based on our investigation, one or more of your employees may have been in the building on the same day as this individual. We encourage you to send this message to any of your employees you think may find it relevant.

    In line with our protocols and local government guidance, we are taking necessary precautionary measures to keep our spaces safe.

    We will continue to follow our enhanced sanitization efforts including routine cleaning and disinfection of common areas, bathrooms and frequently touched surfaces throughout the space with disinfectant approved by local health authorities for use against COVID-19.

    625 Massachusetts Ave will remain open and accessible as we are confident that our protocols exceed guidance from local health authorities for COVID-19 cleaning and disinfecting.

    We are hoping for a speedy recovery for this individual and we will continue to work tirelessly to keep you safe in our space.

    Please reach out with any questions.


    Your Community Team
    WeWork logo

    1. Arizona Slim

      It isn’t just a WeWork thing.

      Back while I was still part of that now-defunct coworking space in Downtown Tucson, there was a flu outbreak in the building. It was, ISTR, sometime in late 2016.

      Well, management didn’t waste any time in taking action. They installed hand sanitizer stations! They urged us to use them!

      And nary a word about masking up.

      I think that management may have said something about staying home if you’re sick, but, sorry, I don’t recall.

      1. Juneau

        Virus theater, I am told by one advisor, is all about liability. CDC sets the standard and if they don’t focus on particular precautions the companies can overlook it. If you get sued for an employee covid exposure it will be because you didn’t follow CDC guidelines apparently. I guess if they start promoting ventilation the expense to businesses will be overwhelming in large buildings where big businesses operate. So fomites it is! Just a theory of course.

  3. fresno dan

    Own an Olive Garden on the blockchain
    In the future, food will also be a NFT, and Meta, and programs like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) will deliver to the nutrition deprived, via their smart phones, representations of food. This will be a vast improvement over “real” food, which is costly to transport, subject to despoilation, and expiration. While all food in the SNAP program is tethered to a “real” piece of food, no rights, privileges, or consumption of 3 dimensional meatspace food is currently permitted, and your consumption is limited to the the NFT. After all, meatspace is soooo yesterday….
    Where’s the beef?

      1. Samuel Conner

        I wonder if the move into NFTs is a consequence of the proliferation of good online recipes for Zuppa Toscana. Maybe same-store traffic was trending down even before the pandemic.

  4. Wukchumni

    Usually by this time, the consumeratti will be apprised of how we’re doing in buying junk we don’t need for people who act delighted but are really dreading receiving some Chinese doohickey that will be deposited in the trash by the end of the next year, surely.

    I haven’t heard a peep out of the usual news outlets…

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      “We spend money we don’t have, on things we don’t need, to make impressions that don’t matter.”

      Tim Jackson, author of Post Growth: Life After Capitalism

      It’s the real reason for the season.

    2. Mantid

      Sadly, Christmas for me is kinda weird and sad. As about a 7 year old, because we had many siblings, we each got $5 to buy a present (we drew names). I got all excited and got my cool late teen brother a tie. The odd look on his face as he said “oh, thanks so much Mantid, a tie” has not been forgotten by me. Sort of a bitter sweet time of year – so much guilt but a bit of partying. I hope everyone had a good Hanukkah though. Cheers!

  5. Sailor Bud

    Private property as a social construct is obvious on its face.

    There is no natural law that says when I trade a hunk of metal for five chickens, I suddenly own all the land from here to the sea. Nor was it ever originally obtained that way. Property is both freedom and anti-freedom, more reason why the word “freedom” is all slimy. We all need privacy, and deserve it, but trespass is inherently restrictive to literally everyone but the owner, which is nothing more than the king’s “freedom.”


    Black people & classical: I say “welcome aboard,” like any person of variety, adventure, and taste would. Frankly, jazz is the classical of black people. The best of it is often well arranged, textural, fully universal in its adoption of differing 12-tone mechanics of the tertiary and quaternary systems and all manner of global scales, and uses all the sophisticated harmonics of classical. It is hilarious that this great intellectual achievement of America is likely to be better appreciated globally than it is here, very soon.

    In our woke times, though, how much is classical pitched at anyone? If women are so important now, for example, why don’t we all know about women classical composers? Jeez, no Amy Beach? No Lili Boulanger? She ever make it on a Google daily image? Who today knows of Jenny Lind, who caused PT Barnum such headaches, or the amazing Adelina Patti – her voice as clean and lovely as a new flower – who scooped up incredibly huge sums of money? Why don’t we hear more of Clara Schumann, the fiery Teresa Careno, or the cosmopolitan, glorious, and glamorous Geraldine Farrar?

      1. Sailor Bud

        A good one, for sure! My favorite is probably Mel Bonis, who is still far too obscure for her talents and output. Her piano compositions were really quite lovely. I also love Lili Boulanger, who I mentioned in my post. In just 24 years of life, she wrote some sublime, Ravellian compositions that deserve recognition. She, and Chopin’s student, Karl Filtsch, were two future greats who died way, way too young.

    1. ObjectiveFunction

      ….with usura
      seeth no man Gonzaga his heirs and his concubines
      no picture is made to endure nor to live with
      but it is made to sell and sell quickly
      with usura, sin against nature,
      is thy bread ever more of stale rags
      is thy bread dry as paper,
      with no mountain wheat, no strong flour
      with usura the line grows thick
      with usura is no clear demarcation
      and no man can find site for his dwelling.

  6. Lee

    Uh-Oh Biden keeps coughing and clearing his throat during his address to the nation. His principal message: Get vaxxed y’all.

    1. Lee

      Hmmm, if the vaccines make us so safe, as he claims, why is he mobilizing the military to provide additional medical support? Yikes!

      Better two years late than never, I suppose.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Funny you should mention this topic. I was in a Zoom meeting during the noon hour, and the other person on the call was fully vaxxed and boosted.

        She strongly urged me to take extra good care of myself because the shots aren’t as protective as she had been led to believe. This realization was obviously a source of great distress to her.

        Me? I was tempted to say something, but I didn’t. I have recommended Naked Capitalism to her, but I don’t think she has come around here.

        1. Pat

          I think slowly but surely this detail is making its way past the blocks and into view of the rose colored glasses scenario. Eventually everyone may get that the vaccines have no clothes.

          Not soon enough, someone I know recently declared that they are vaccinated and boosted and they will not wear a mask, and businesses will have to accommodate them, not the other way around. (Maybe when they or someone they trust gets a raging case of the disease they may understand that being up to date was no reason to stop masking.)

  7. Wukchumni

    “A Good Day w/Special Guest Matt Stoller” (podcast) [The West Wing Thing]. Brutal takedown of Kamala Harris, plus a discussion of Reddit antiwork (stirrings of something out in the biomass).
    Experts agree that it’s much easier to replace a dog that bites with one that won’t hunt, and thus a new vice resident was sought and the former sent off into oblivion.

    If it was only so easy with humans…

    1. Soredemos

      It was an interesting episode. The podcast really is developing into a general political show. They’re fast running out of episodes; maybe they should consider continuing after they’re done with the show and just analyze real-world West Wing Brain. They’d probably never run out of stuff to skewer.

      Stoller’s claim that DC is filled with fundamentally well-intentioned but clueless people who just defer to ‘experts’ all the time probably has some truth to it (we know for a fact, for example, that literally only one person in the political and business worlds seemed to think about actually going to look at the LA port situation). Some could, rather pretentiously, refer to this as epistemic closure. But I suspect Stoller is just too much in the bubble and friendly with these people to see any larger pattern. I imagine a lot of the time they’re simply lying to his face about their intentions or lack of understanding. (Stoller is, ultimately, a liberal, not a leftist. There are severe limitations to his political imagination. His philosophy of governance seems to basically boil down to a belief that monopoly power is merely the result of policy choices, and can be countered by just periodically engaging in trust busting. He can’t imagine a world without corporate power, and he doesn’t really seem to have an answer for what to do when corporate power seizes control of government).

      Although ‘they’re dumb and just defer to specialists who are the real source of all the problems’ is kind of just shifting responsibility and not actually explaining anything. Why are the specialists all wrong? Are they also well intentioned and clueless, or are they actively pursuing an agenda? Yes, I know, ‘never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity’, but you can’t just keep doing that forever. At some point people advocating for certain policies know full well what they are advocating for and its likely outcomes. They do it because it serves some grand agenda or other that they have.

      Stoller also totally botched trying to clearly explain deficits and the debt (””debt””). I knew what he was referring too, but that’s because I’m already familiar with MMT. I don’t think it was enlightening at all for a normal person.

    1. Mantid

      I’ll watch it later for comic relief. My guess is he won’t mention Ivermectin but is likely taking it. Je lui accuse!

  8. Tom Stone

    I tend to be a little slow sometimes and just realized this morning that the two most easily identified groups of deplorable Anti Vaxxers are eggheads and Africanx Americans.
    There wouldn’t be any history of anti intellectualism or Goddess forbid,racism in the USA, would there?

  9. chris

    As has been discussed on NC lately, Biden has not done well with the pandemic. You’d think having many more citizens die than his stated threshold during the campaign would be enough evidence that he’s done poorly, but you’d be wrong. And the good people at Slate are here to explain why!

    You can read Mr. Saletan’s article to see why the person who seems to have been instrumental in the idea of making the vaccines at warp speed a priority is also the person who undermined all government response to the pandemic. The Slate summary is kind of amazing and completely ignores people like Kamala and Andy Cuomo telling people the vaccines weren’t safe. Trump was a fool and there’s no doubt that if we had a better federal response we would have had less death and suffering. But that doesn’t mean Biden is doing well now. It’s convenient that the issues Trump needed to be better on are the same issues that Biden is failing at now so that we don’t have to talk about them…

    1. Michael Ismoe

      “The pandemic would be over by now if every Deplorable had gotten three shots by now.”
      Every Democratic Party tool in America

  10. Henry Moon Pie

    So here’s a story prompted by the sequence above of Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol:

    In the summer of 1977, the Carter Administration hosted a Rose Garden reception for four artists who had contributed prints that the Carter campaign had used to raise money in 1976. Those artists were Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Jacob Lawrence and Andrew Wyeth.

    At the time, my spouse was interning for Joan Mondale, and art was Mondale’s “thing,” so my spouse was tasked with obtaining the Social Security numbers for the four “Portfolio Artists.” She succeeded, even with Warhol, and was rewarded with an invitation to that reception.

    So she went and hung out with the Soho gallery owner, Leo Castelli, Castelli’s spouse, Lichtenstein and his SO, nice folks all according to my spouse.

  11. Wukchumni

    10 Little Indians Dept:

    I’m dreading our family xmas get together as it is coming at precisely the perfect time for Omicron to run its course. Anybody else have similar fears?

    My sister called and told me my 22 year old niece just was diagnosed with Covid and won’t be coming, but mom & dad are as they’ve been away from their daughter for 3 weeks, no problemo!

    1. Lee

      Biden says it’s ok for the vaccinated to attend family gatherings but then mobilizes the military to provide medical support to the general population.

      CT Alert:

      I surmise that he has a secret plan for everybody to be exposed to Omicron, which will take out more unvaccinated than vaccinated thus giving Democrats a better chance come the next elections, and at the same time provides universal exposure, immunizing to some but deadly to others, thus obviating the old plan of vaccinations forever.

      1. curlydan

        This quote (and the similar one made around Thanksgiving) just makes my head want to explode:
        “I know some Americans are wondering if you can safely celebrate the holiday with family and friends. The answer is, ‘Yes you can,’ if you and those you celebrate with are vaccinated.”–The President

        The answer is NO. What in God’s name are you doing around Grandma in a cramped, poorly ventilated, low humidity environment for multiple hours? You, vaccinated person, are a danger to grandma! She may be a danger to you. And each of your relatives and the number of people they’ve seen in the preceding days–who you’ll learn about over the next couple hours of close conversation– are a danger to you, too. Open a few windows, put on a sweater, or get the hell out!

  12. Tom Stone

    General Thomas and the great pathfinder Fremont were in charge of the Western Theater in the early part of the War.
    And they pioneered America’s COIN approach which has worked so well in places like Afghanistan…
    Jennison,Anderson and Quantrill might be names you recognize and Lawrence KS a place you remember.

  13. MonkeyBusiness

    Let’s all move to Japan!!! From the website for the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare: https://www.mhlw.go.jp/stf/covid-19/vaccine.html

    “Although we encourage all citizens to receive the COVID-19 vaccination, it is not compulsory or mandatory. Vaccination will be given only with the consent of the person to be vaccinated after the information provided. Please get vaccinated of your own decision, understanding both the effectiveness in preventing infectious diseases and the risk of side effects. No vaccination will be given without consent. Please do not force anyone in your workplace or those who around you to be vaccinated, and do not discriminate against those who have not been vaccinated.

    1. Screwball

      It wasn’t as bad as I expected, but contained about what I had read. I want to read a transcript for the details about the logistics and details on how the home test kits are to be disseminated to the public.

      He coughed some, and didn’t look or sound 100%. Got a little cranky at the end while taking questions about something non related the the pandemic.

      A word cloud might be interesting. I might see what I can do.

  14. Pelham

    Re Manchin: For all the invective directed against him, doesn’t Manchin have one basically unassailable, nearly spotless reason for opposing it: His constituents don’t want it, by a large margin. As someone else pointed out, that’s probably because it includes climate change and energy provisions that many in W.Va. more or less correctly regard as a death knell for coal and any ability for them to sustain a decent standard of living.

    1. Sardonia

      I don’t think it’s just “coal”. West Virginia voted 69% Trump, 29% Biden. You really think they prefer policies that AOC, Schumer, and Pelosi are screaming for?

    2. fresno dan

      December 21, 2021 at 4:21 pm
      Senator Joe Manchin is facing calls from a powerful group close to his heart to reconsider his opposition to the Build Back Better Act: Coal miners.

      A day after the West Virginia Democrat appeared to kill Build Back Better, America’s largest coal mining union put out a statement lauding the legislation’s provisions and pushing Manchin to take a do-over.
      “We are disappointed that the bill will not pass,” Cecil Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers of America, said in the statement on Monday. “We urge Senator Manchin to revisit his opposition to this legislation and work with his colleagues to pass something that will help keep coal miners working, and have a meaningful impact on our members, their families and their communities.”

      I have doubts about how well CNN can report ANYthing – but it seems CNN would be able to repeat what the guy said accurately enough.

        1. fresno dan

          December 21, 2021 at 5:16 pm

          “For those and other reasons, we are disappointed that the bill will not pass. We urge Senator Manchin to revisit his opposition to this legislation and work with his colleagues to pass something that will help keep coal miners working, and have a meaningful impact on our members, their families, and their communities.

          “I also want to reiterate our support for the passage of voting rights legislation as soon as possible, and strongly encourage Senator Manchin and every other Senator to be prepared to do whatever it takes to accomplish that. Anti-democracy legislators and their allies are working every day to roll back the right to vote in America. Failure by the Senate to stand up to that is unacceptable and a dereliction of their duty to the Constitution.”
          I should have read all of your links marym. Pretty clear that one can’t blame coalminers for Manchin not backing BBB. Soooo…..who is pulling Manchin’s strings?

          1. marym

            fresno dan
            December 21, 2021 at 10:38 pm

            These long-time corrupt people in Congress live lives of wealth and privilege. They and their donors have a shared interest in a system that enriches them at the expense of everyone else. I don’t know much about WV or Manchin (other than his own family interest in a coal company) to speak to specifics. In general I’ve come to see it as not so much a matter of donors pulling strings or politicians soliciting donors. If it’s good for “coal interests” or “pharma interests” (not workers, customers, patients, etc.) the donor class and the political class are on the same side.

  15. kenick

    Biogen Cuts Price for Alzheimer’s Drug Aduhelm by Half — WSJ

    Biogen Inc. BIIB -0.20% is slashing in half the price of its controversial new Alzheimer’s disease treatment, Aduhelm, in a bid to revive a product launch that has stalled in part because of a backlash over the drug’s cost.

    The price cut will reduce the average annual cost of treatment to $28,200 a patient from the $56,000 the company set when the drug was approved in June, Biogen said Monday.

    1. c_heale

      Well since it apparently doesn’t work and will have side effects, it’s worth much less than zero.

  16. Samuel Conner

    The RAF Luton Captcha reminds me of the cover of Martha Stout’s The Sociopath Next Door. There are portions of three faces on the cover, showing just the eyes. I think that the intent is to challenge the reader to “pick the sociopath.”

    And I suspect that the unstated question is a trick question; they’re all sociopaths.

  17. Pelham

    Re the WaPo and “confident strivers”: I once worked for a newspaper that was dragged through a similar focus-group knothole when online publication and listicles looked like the fresh new thing that all the jazzy kids were hip to. Similarly, readers and potential readers were divided into catchily phrased little subgroupings.

    The project failed miserably, and the paper now is a shell of what it once was, with the splendid building that once housed it transformed into a condo for the damned. As I see it — and I may be monumentally wrong — newspapers are news on paper. They’re accountable and concrete in a way that anything online can never be, and each should have a character and personality that really isn’t very sensitive to reader preferences. I could go on with a long list of ideas, but I’ll stop here adding only that it sounds as if the WaPo is more deeply in the mire than it realizes if the thinking that guides it continues in the direction indicated.

  18. Tom Stone

    Why are America’s professional sports teams being allowed to sabotage President Biden’s messaging by cancelling games, or in the NFL’s case reporting that 47 players are being isolated due to testing positive for Covid 19?
    We need someone trustworthy to counter the despicable lie that the vaccines don’t protect people from Covid!
    Someone like Liz Warren.

    1. Samuel Conner

      > the despicable lie that the vaccines don’t protect people

      Was it Goebbels who said that if you repeat a lie often enough, it will eventually be confirmed by the CDC?

    2. Sardonia

      They’re on it:

      “A memo, obtained by NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, sent to all 32 teams states that fully vaccinated, asymptomatic individuals will no longer be subject to weekly testing.”

      No tests, no positive results! That was easy….

    3. Wukchumni

      If it turns out that all the players turn up positive for Covid by the league’s head in the sand approach, maybe an NFT{L} approach would work, with non fungible players taking the field?

        1. Wukchumni

          I did watch the contest, and i’m delighted to say all players on the field were 100% fungible. It was a right snoozer until the last couple minutes.

  19. Questa Nota

    Dark money supremacy reminds me that The Pelican Brief needs to be updated. How does The Audubon Brief look, with new species, plumage, calls and scat?

  20. R

    Does NC really advise being contented rather than happy? I have always thought the opposite. Better to want change yet enjoy the moment than to be satisfied with misery!

    1. Samuel Conner

      I don’t think that contentment is incompatible with striving for happiness (or for other larger and even more valuable things, like the survival of the species).

      My “take” is that when unhappy, one should not allow oneself to be unhappy about the fact that one is unhappy. That could spiral downward.

  21. Andy

    Will l’affaire Manchin finally convince the “push em’ to the left” crowd that the Democratic Party is not a labor party and that its inability to act like one isn’t a bug but a feature?

  22. Greg

    “Ubisoft Boss Tells Employees That NFTs Are Just The Beginning” [Kotaku].

    From a gamers perspective, Ubi makes notoriously crappy software, forces you to use their buggy, inferior interfaces and portals to get to the captive game licenses they have, and has been on the forefront of the worst financialisation attempts in gaming over the last decade. They were right there in the worst microtransaction abuse, and again in gacha boxes. It makes sense they’d want to NFT, and the people who enjoy a couple of the licensed series they have hostage will be forced to participate if they can’t find a way around it.

    Ubi will gather more player hate every time, as they do. I expect piracy will increase as well (again). It’s a tricky game, being a game company parasite. Gotta find the balance between maximising abusive add-ons and not tipping over to where everyone just falls back on stealing your products to avoid the cruft.

  23. upstater

    Lambert, the Model Railroading MoMA “art” is soooooo… WRONG at so many levels! Destroying a model layout and a commentary on what our elites think of railroads in general. But maybe the artist was trying to tell us 15 years early that “Precision Scheduled Railroading” is a capitalist hoax?

    That picture demands another beer… I have to attempt erase my memory of that monstrosity.

  24. Tom Stone

    I need to email someone proud of being “Woke”,should I refer to Africanx Americans or African Americanx?

    1. Sardonia

      If the person you’re emailing is someone not important to your life, you could have a bit of fun by following the lead of the NAACP and refer to them as “colored people”.

      Then please share their response here. And if the mood strikes you, continue the conversation and play the role of the well-meaning innocent who genuinely thought that was the preferred term, since it’s used by the largest organization advocating for African-Americans. The possibilities of entertainment achieved by messing with their wokeness are endless.

      1. Wukchumni

        I’m African-American in that Lucy was my great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great grandmother on my father’s side.

  25. Pat

    Outside of some half hearted desire to not overwhelm hospitals, I have come to the conclusion that our government, federal and local, do not give a frig about whether the public gets sick or not.


    Our testing ability is all over the place. And after determining the right tests, the government did not order multiple millions a month.
    We do not provide free tests for the asking (and that includes administration fees).
    We do not have a comprehensive testing program, procedure.
    We do not contact trace.
    We do not adequately inform the public regarding exposure, symptoms, lag time between exposure and developing symptoms or testing positive.
    We do not have a quarantine procedure for travelers.
    We allow public health officials to spout nonsense about the vaccines and ignore basics like being aerosol based and the need for masking and ventilation.

    And that is just off the top of my head. Any government interested in keeping the public as covid free as possible would be doing the exact opposite.

    I would hope that when people get how they have been misled about the vaccines they might realize a bunch of the rest, but I am not sure I am that optimistic. And am certainly not optimistic enough to think they would demand better rather than just give up.

    1. juanholio

      I think you’re right Pat. They only made a meal of it in 2020 because it was a convenient stick to beat Trump with. Just like the babies in cages.

    2. Silent Bob

      “I have come to the conclusion that our government, federal and local, do not give a frig about whether the public gets sick or not.”
      No kidding. And yet I believe Duh President said the mandates weren’t about controlling our lives but rather saving them. Saving them for what, pray tell?!? Debt peonage? Cannon fodder? Big Pharma experimental pin cushions?!?
      Let’s go Brandon!

    3. Tom Stone

      Pat,why waste an opportunity to make bank while blaming “Those People”?
      Are you some kinda Commie who doesn’t believe in Markets?

  26. Wukchumni

    George R. Stewart is one of my favorite authors and his novel Storm is reminiscent of the 10 day bender about to bear down on us. He was the catalyst in naming storms…


    In January 1935, a cyclone develops in the Pacific Ocean near Japan, and becomes a significant storm as it moves toward California. The storm, named “Maria” by the (unnamed) Junior Meteorologist at the San Francisco Weather Bureau Office, becomes a blizzard that threatens the Sierra Nevada range with snowfall amounts of 20 feet (6.1 m). The storm’s beneficial effects include averting a locust plague and ending a drought. Its harmful effects include flooding a valley near Sacramento, endangering a plane, stalling a train, and leading to the deaths of 16 people. It spawns a new cyclone, which significantly affects New York.

    They Call The Wind Maria


  27. Amfortas the hippie

    i must report that the Solstice Log burned real slow.
    3″ thick slab of oak, about a foot across.
    good coals, etc(I know what i’m doing with fire, and all)
    it had 2021 spraypainted upon it.
    (made it fit;somewhat legible)
    took forever to burn to undifferentiated coals.
    3 frelling hours.
    doesn’t bode well.
    grim, in fact.

    1. Wukchumni

      It takes about 60 minutes to burn a 60 year old piece of wood containing recycled energy from the sun, slower than recycled & refined dinosaur ooze but incredibly fast nonetheless.

      Had a nice Solstice blaze in the chiminea…

  28. dcblogger

    not that anyone asked, but I just finished Care Work; Dreaming Disability Justice. The author is a disabled lesbian of Sri Lankan ancestry and working class background. It is a fascinating view of the world from one of the most disenfranchised individuals. I learned so much, do not know where even to begin. But truly recommend. The DC library had the eAudio version, read by the author herself, great listening.

  29. Jason Boxman

    So I only just had time to skim this today, but this makes a vax-only strategy f**king insane:

    The data from figure 4 shows that fully-vaccinated sera with the Moderna vaccine saw a 33-fold drop in neutralization against Omicron, Pfizer a 44-fold drop, and AstraZeneca a 36-fold drop. Notably, Recently released data shows that sera from people who received the third dose lost almost ninety percent of its potency against Omicron after two weeks. After three months, most third-dose sera failed to neutralize at all. This data confirms the epidemiological observations that most fully doubly-vaccinated and triply-vaccinated individuals, including those with prior infection, are susceptible to infection by Omicron within three months of the last boost.

    The Biden administration is a one trick pony that’s all outta gas.

  30. LawnDart

    Lovely link, Mr. Boxman, but I think you skipped the punchline:

    We previously predicted that SARS-CoV-2 would persist, continue to vary, and evade our natural and adaptive immune responses. We have also learned that SARS-CoV-2 has the potential to become far more lethal than it is today. We reiterate that the sister of this virus, SARS-CoV, and its cousin, MERS-CoV, ranged between 10% and 30% lethality. This is presumably due to slight variations in the structural, nonstructural, and accessory proteins. We must be ever alert now and for many years in the future of the possibility of such changes and their consequences.

    Omega, here we come… …or at least that might well be our fate if we allow things to continue as they are on our (stage-)managed decline.


  31. LawnDart

    And what’s old is new again:


    No data, no problem. This seems to be a recurring theme.

    I was in the supervisor’s office when he took the call: an FTA warrant (on an ordinance violation, no less) had been used as the basis for a forcible- entry. And at an incorrect address… “It’s under investigation… …we are investigating the matter” he said.

    And they keep on “investigating” until the matter goes away.

    See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil… time cures all ills.

  32. Dagnarus

    I think the problem with NFTs for actual property is, what happens when the blockchain forks? Both ethereum and bitcoin have forked in their pasts. Because the only thing which was being stored on them was a digital ledger, this wasn’t really a problem. Everyone kept their tokens from both ledgers, and if people want to trade for tokens from either blockchain, that is up to them. This doesn’t work if you have an NFT representing physical ownership of a house on the blockchain. If there is a fork only one of these chains can retain ownership rights over the house.

    For this reason I think that owning an olive garden, or anything else on one of these chains will likely lead to massive headaches down the road.

    Personally I think the main advantage of block chain is that tampering with the blockchains is difficult/impossible to do in a clandestine manner. It makes sense for a central government to store legal documents on such a chain. (A chain maintained by a central authority doesn’t need massive amounts of computation, it doesn’t need much computation at all). Bitcoin is pretty useless, requiring the los Angeles police department to log their evidence on a pd maintained block chain, with publicly viewable blocks (data which needs to be kept private until court can be hashed) would make it a lot more difficult for evidence to mysteriously showup/disappear.

    1. jsn

      A “use case”!!

      Still leaves you no where when the power goes out.

      Which, of course, could never happen here.

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