2:00PM Water Cooler 12/9/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Another one of Darwin’s finches. I skipped the one that had never been recorded!

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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.

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.)

60.4% of the US is fully (doubly) vaccinated (CDC data, as of December 7.) 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). 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:

I wrote: “Now we’ll see how much higher it goes. It’s hard to know how pessimistic to be, but this tapewatcher’s guess is that this years peak will surpass 2020’s.” This tapewatcher expected to be right. But not instantly!

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:

Some red going pink, or even yellow or green. Good news?

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.)

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 813,904 812,205. At this rate, I don’t think we’ll hit the million mark by New Year’s.

Excess deaths (total, not only from Covid), 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 the United States. Needless to see, this is a public health debacle. It’s the public health establishment’s duty to take care of public health, not the health of certain favored political factions. Also adding: I like a death rate because it gives me a rough indication of my risk should I, heaven forfend, end up in a hospital.)

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

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.

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“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

“Billionaire Koch-Backed Group Sues FTC Over Antitrust Enforcement” [Bloomberg]. “A nonprofit backed by billionaire Charles Koch sued the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to obtain documents related to a series of policy changes that have been criticized by the country’s biggest business lobbying group as an attack on American companies. The Americans for Prosperity Foundation filed a complaint on Wednesday in federal court in Washington seeking an order requiring the FTC to produce records in response to a Freedom of Information Act request the group filed with the agency. ‘The FTC’s aggressive agenda on antitrust enforcement is out of step with mainstream legal thinking and is best regarded as anti-consumer, anti-innovation, and harmful to economic growth and prosperity,’ it said.”

“Sending U.S. combat troops to Ukraine ‘not in the cards right now,’ Biden says” [Politico]. “President Joe Biden on Wednesday ruled out the possibility of unilaterally sending U.S. combat troops to Ukraine if Russia invades the country — at least for now. ‘That’s not on the table,’ Biden told reporters as he departed the White House en route to Kansas City, Mo. ‘We have a moral obligation and a legal obligation to our NATO allies if [Russia] were to attack, under Article 5. It’s a sacred obligation. That obligation does not extend … to Ukraine.’ ‘It would depend upon what the rest of the NATO countries were willing to do, as well,’ Biden added. ‘But the idea that the United States is going to unilaterally use force to confront Russia invading Ukraine is not in the cards right now. What will happen is there will be severe consequences.'”

“Florida National Guard troops are somehow caught up in Russia’s showdown with Ukraine” [Task & Purpose]. “ore than 100 Florida National Guard troops are currently deployed to Ukraine as U.S. intelligence officials continue to warn that Russia is poised to launch a crushing invasion of the country early next year. While this small American force is based in western Ukraine – nearly 700 miles from the country’s eastern borders, where up to 175,000 Russian troops are reportedly massing – the presence of U.S. troops in Ukraine adds even more volatility to an already combustible situation…. These National Guard troops are not allowed to accompany Ukrainian forces into combat, said Marine Lt. Col. Anton T. Semelroth, a Pentagon spokesman. Semelroth also said that U.S. special operations forces regularly conduct exercises with their Ukrainian counterparts. He declined to say how many American troops are currently deployed to Ukraine, citing security concerns.” • Holy moley, get those [family blogging] human tripwires outta there, before some Azov Battalion loon whacks one of ’em and points the finger at Putin.

“Fauci says Santa received his booster shot and is ‘good to go’ for Christmas” [USA Today]. “‘Santa already has great innate immunity,’ Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told USA TODAY. ‘This year he is even more protected because he has been fully vaccinated and boosted. Santa will be just fine and is good to go!… ‘I vaccinated Santa Claus myself,’ he added. ‘I measured his level of immunity and he is good to go.'” • Since vaccination doesn’t prevent transmission, Santa Claus could be the Father Christmas of all super-spreaders. We’ll just have to hope Santa masks up — though Fauci didn’t say anything about that — and isn’t an asymptomatic transmitter, shedding millions of virions all over the naughty and nice. If those quotes don’t persuade you that Fauci’s a [family blogging] psycho, nothing will.

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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“Opinion: David Perdue confesses he would have aided a coup. He’s not the only one.” [Jennifer Rubin, WaPo]. “Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) are aiding this effort by refusing to install breakers that would short-circuit a coup in 2022 or 2024. They refuse to touch the filibuster, so there will be no law to head off the next John Eastman memo or to prevent the replacement of impartial election officials. This pre-planned coup is what President Biden enables when he refuses to raise the filibuster in speeches and does not signal that this is a red line for his party.” • Rubin is a Republican, for pity’s sake. And she’s only saying what the Democrat NGOs are saying. But the electeds… just don’t seem to care. Are they right?

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits dropped by 43 thousand from the previous period to 184 thousand in the week ending December 4th, the lowest level since early September 1969 and below market expectations of 215 thousand, as demand for labor remains strong amid the ongoing economic recovery and as many employers seek to retain workers. The 4-week moving average of claims, which removes week-to-week volatility, dropped to 218.75 thousand, a new pandemic low.”

Inventories: “United States Wholesale Inventories” [Trading Economics]. “Wholesale inventories in the US went up at a record 2.3% mom to $759.4 billion in October of 2021, slightly higher than initial estimates of a 2.2% rise. Increases were seen in inventories of durables (2.1%), namely metals (6.6%), hardware (3.6%) and autos (2.3%). Stocks of nondurable goods jumped 2.6%, namely petroleum (12.1%), apparel (4.4%) and farm products (4.2%).”

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Commodities: “China Steps Up Overseas Hunt for Ore Needed to Make Aluminum” [Bloomberg]. “China’s aluminum industry, the world’s biggest, is becoming increasingly dependent on overseas supplies of the ore needed to make the metal, another sign of the nation’s chronic reliance on raw-material imports. The aluminum used in everything from aircraft to drinks cans is made from alumina, an intermediate material produced from bauxite ore. Some 49% of China’s alumina capacity will be fed by overseas bauxite next year, up from 47% in 2021 and 30% in 2015, according to state-owned researcher Beijing Antaike Information Development Co. Bauxite imports may climb to 130 million tons in 2022 from around 110 million tons this year.”

The Bezzle: “Self-Described Bitcoin Creator Must Pay $100 Million in Suit” [Bloomberg]. “The Australian computer scientist who claims he invented Bitcoin was told by a U.S. jury to pay $100 million in damages over claims that he cheated a deceased friend over intellectual property for the cryptocurrency. Jurors in Miami federal court took about a week to reach Monday’s verdict, following about three weeks of trial. The jury rejected most claims against Craig Wright and the outcome probably won’t resolve the debate over whether Wright is the mythical creator of the peer-to-peer currency, Satoshi Nakamoto. The brother of Dave Kleiman, a computer security expert who died in 2013, alleged that the late Florida man worked with Wright to create and mine Bitcoin in its early years. As a result, the plaintiffs claimed the estate was entitled to half of a cache of as many as 1.1 million Bitcoins worth some $70 billion, which are thought to be held by Satoshi. Some cryptocurrency investors see Wright as a fake, and yearslong litigation in Florida has done little to quiet the skeptics. Wright has declared many times in court that he invented Bitcoin, as he has previously in news interviews. Had the jury’s verdict gone against Wright, that would have forced to him to produce the Satoshi fortune. To some observers, that would have been the true test.” • So the Satoshi sardine tin is for trading, not for eating?

The Bezzle: “Cryptocurrencies: A Necessary Scam?” [Matt Stoller, BIG]. ” Cryptocurrencies are a social movement based on the belief that markings in a ledger on the internet have intrinsic value. The organizers of these ledgers call these markings Bitcoin, or Dogecoin, or offer other names based on the specific ledger. That’s really all a cryptocurrency is. There’s no magic. It’s not money, though it has money-like properties. It’s not anything except a set of markings. Sure, the technology behind the ledgers and how to create more of these markings is kind of neat. But crypto is a movement based on energetic storytellers who spin fables about the utopian future to come. In a lot of ways, cryptocurrencies are like Florida land that no one ever intends to use. It has value in the moment it is traded, but only because there’s a collective belief that it has some intrinsic worth. (There is a wide variety of ‘tools’ in the crypto world, like NFTs, smart contracts, and global computing systems, but they don’t work, and none of them have any use cases except speculation and money-laundering, and even in their idealized form they have no use cases aside from doing stuff you can already do far more easily through existing technology, with a different permissioning model.) That said, the crypto narrative is one that anti-monopolists in general find deeply compelling, since both the anti-monopoly movement and the cryptocurrency movement emerged out of the financial crisis.” • Well worth reading. Twice.

Tech: “Dead Roombas, stranded packages and delayed exams: How the AWS outage wreaked havoc across the U.S.” [CNBC]. “Amazon Web Services, the leading provider of cloud infrastructure technology for businesses large and small, was hit with a historic, hourslong outage on Tuesday. Popular websites and heavily used services were knocked offline, angering users and underscoring the severity of problems that can arise from having so much economic activity reliant on technology from just a few vendors. AWS controlled 33% of the global cloud infrastructure market in the second quarter, according to Synergy Research Group, followed by Microsoft at 20% and Google at 10%. Revenue at AWS jumped 39% in the third quarter from a year earlier to $16.1 billion, outpacing growth of 15% across all of Amazon. Tuesday’s outage began around 11 a.m. ET and was mostly resolved by Tuesday night. Amazon confirmed that service issues with AWS’ main US-East-1 region, located in Northern Virginia, were causing problems for its warehouse and delivery network. The company hasn’t said what caused the outage.” • Commentary:

Tech: “Explainer: What caused Amazon’s outage? Will there be more?” [Associated Press]. “Some cybersecurity experts have warned for years about the potentially ugly consequences of allowing a handful of big tech companies to dominate key internet operations. ‘The latest AWS outage is a prime example of the danger of centralized network infrastructure,’ said Sean O’Brien, a visiting lecturer in cybersecurity at Yale Law School. ‘Though most people browsing the internet or using an app don’t know it, Amazon is baked into most of the apps and websites they use each day.’ O’Brien said it’s important to build a new network model that resembles the peer-to-peer roots of the early internet.” • Commentary:

Tech: “AWS Is the Internet’s Biggest Single Point of Failure” [Vice]. “AWS is a single point of failure, but the fact that it doesn’t fail too often has lulled many into a sense of security where they should prepare better.” • Commentary:

Tech: “AWS Resolved Its Outage. What Happens Now?” [Bloomberg]. “It could still be a few days before Amazon discovers and reveals precisely what went wrong. But by Tuesday night, the company said it had resolved a network device issue that led to the outage. More information should follow, since most of the industry discloses the causes of big failures to help avoid repeats. For example, in 2017 a major AWS outage was attributed days later to an employee who goofed while trying to fix a bug in a billing system.”• Oh.

Tech: “America’s most secretive utility is Amazon Web Services” [Newsday]. “Given that governments and corporations have outsourced so much of their network management, and given how the internet has become as essential as other necessities such as water and electricity, it would be useful to think of cloud services as a public utility of sorts — with all of the requisite disclosure and supervision that comes with that.”

“Talking Tech: Internet outages are the worst, but we’ve got to get used to them” [USA Today]. “Multiple sites including Roku, Venmo, Doordash, Spotify, Instacart and Disney+ were down. Not great. The good news is those sites are back up as normal. The bad news is these outages are going to be a normal part of digital life and we have to get used to them.” • Translation: “Live with it.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 36 Fear (previous close: 39 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 25 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 8 at 12:01pm.

Health Care

“Omicron has been found in wastewater in California and Texas” [NPR]. “Dr. Sara Cody, the chief health officer in Santa Clara County, says the beauty of wastewater surveillance is that everyone in a given area gets tested because, as the children’s book says, everyone poops – even people who are infected but don’t have symptoms and don’t seek out a lab test, even people taking at-home rapid tests.” • I don’t have data to back this up, I’ve noticed the word “poop” coming up on the charts for a couple of years, I would say. Some weird premonitory twitch of the zeitgeist, perhaps….

“For Nursing Homes, Complacency Could Be a Killer” [Zeynep Tufekci, New York Times]. “[T]he older you are, the more dangerous Covid can be: Someone who is 75 to 84 years old has about six times the chance of being killed by the virus as those between 50 and 65, for example, while the risk goes to about 15 times as high for those above 85. All this means we have to act immediately to ramp up protections for the elderly in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and retirement communities.” Tufecki recommends boosters, then: “[M]itigations need to target the means of transmission correctly. The coronavirus is airborne, so stopping its spread requires more focus on ventilation, air filtering and better masks, like N95s or KN94s, or surgical masks, preferably with braces that make them fit better. (Those more protective masks should be mandated for staff members and distributed for free to them.) Air can be filtered with HEPA filters, and opening windows can help when the weather allows. (Plexiglass barriers, however, are not only a waste of money, they can create dead spots with less ventilation, increasing risks.)” • I don’t know how to apply the precautionary principle to boosters for an population of elders. Perhaps just ask them?

“Healthy buildings can help stop Covid-19 spread and boost worker productivity” [CNBC]. “[Joseph G. Allen, Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health] said the increased interest in the air quality inside buildings stems from a better understanding of how Covid-19 spreads. Cleaning surfaces and obeying the six-foot distancing rule made sense when the belief was that the virus spread through droplets emitted when we coughed or sneezed and these droplets couldn’t travel further than six feet. The reality is that Covid-19 is spread through respiratory aerosols that travel well beyond six feet, Allen said. ‘When we’re talking, coughing, sneezing, or just breathing, we’re constantly emitting respiratory aerosols of different sizes,’ he added. ‘If we’re infected, those particles carry the virus and can travel across any room and stay aloft for hours. The droplet dogma is over.'” • This is CNBC. It’s like everybody knows “droplet dogma is over” but the molasses-brained Biden administration.

“The Coronavirus Attacks Fat Tissue, Scientists Find” [New York Times]. “Now researchers have found that the coronavirus infects both fat cells and certain immune cells within body fat, prompting a damaging defensive response in the body…. The study’s senior authors, Dr. Tracey McLaughlin and Dr. Catherine Blish of the Stanford University School of Medicine, suggested the evidence could point to new Covid treatments that target body fat…. “Maybe that’s the Achilles’ heel that the virus utilizes to evade our protective immune responses — by hiding in this place,” Dr. Vishwa Deep Dixit, a professor of comparative medicine and immunology at Yale School of Medicine, said. The finding is particularly relevant to the United States, which has one of the highest rates of obesity in the world. Most American adults are overweight, and 42 percent have obesity.” • Hmm.

“Changing the definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ is more than just semantics, experts argue” [STAT]. “[Keri Althoff, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health] said the term ‘up-to-date’ could replace ‘fully vaccinated,’ particularly as more research comes out about long-term protection from the Covid vaccines.” • I can see the subscription model coming…

Zeitgeist Watch

“Pantone’s 2022 color of the year symbolizes how COVID-19 has transformed the world” [USA Today]. “2021 has been a transformative year: Coming out of COVID-19 quarantine, much of the world has reexamined daily life practices and invented new ways to interact, conduct business and live their lives. What color could symbolize all that? Very Peri, according to the Pantone Color Institute. For the first time, the color authority’s color of the year is a brand new color of their creation: The ‘dynamic periwinkle blue hue with a vivifying violet-red undertone’ blends the ‘faithfulness and constancy of blue with the energy and excitement of red,’ which together creates an ’empowering mix of newness,’ the company announced Wednesday.” • “Empowering mix of newness. I’ll write that in my diary tonight. Here it is:

Kill it with fire:

L’Affaire Joffrey Epstein

“Key accuser of Ghislaine Maxwell not expected to testify in her trial” [Miami Herald]. “The prosecution in the Ghislaine Maxwell sex-trafficking case is about to rest — weeks ahead of schedule — with one of Maxwell’s most prominent accusers conspicuously absent from the witness list. Virginia Roberts Giuffre — who has previously cast Maxwell as a central player in Jeffrey Epstein’s sex-trafficking operation — apparently isn’t going to testify, even though she has been mentioned by witnesses and prosecutors almost daily during the trial: as a minor who visited Epstein’s homes multiple times; as a girl who had sex with Epstein; as a victim who was allegedly recruited by Maxwell; and as a teenager who flew on Epstein’s private plane, often with Maxwell — 32 times. Her absence in the room is striking, considering that there is physical evidence that appears to support her story of sexual abuse: photographs of her with Maxwell and Prince Andrew and of her at Epstein’s ranch in New Mexico, pictures of her with Epstein and Maxwell at a birthday party aboard a yacht where she looks barely out of childhood. “It’s hard to know why prosecutors have narrowly constructed the case around these particular victims. It’s a deliberate effort to frame the case in a specific way that really only prosecutors understand,” said Jill Steinberg, a former assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted child exploitation and human trafficking cases. Omitting people who are mentioned during the trial as being integral to the crimes leaves a gaping hole that jurors may find unsettling, she said.”

“Ghislaine Maxwell Sex-Trafficking Trial Delayed After Lawyer Becomes Ill” [New York Times]. “The jury in Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex-trafficking trial was sent home on Thursday morning, and the trial put on temporary hold, after a federal judge told the court that a lawyer in the case was sick and needed medical attention.” • Drank the glass of water meant for Maxwell? Kidding!

“Ghislaine Maxwell trial: third accuser’s ex-boyfriend corroborates her account” [Guardian]. “The former boyfriend of the third accuser to testify in Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex-trafficking trial in New York corroborated details of her account during his testimony Wednesday.”

“Epstein and Maxwell pictured at Queen’s residence at Balmoral” [BBC]. • Surely the Windsors aren’t lizards.

Class Warfare

“What You’re Really Worried About When You’re Worried About Money” [The Atlantic]. “Money is one of the things Americans worry about most in the world. Even in 2018, when the economy was expanding, a survey by the life-insurance company Northwestern Mutual found that more than half of Americans felt anxious or insecure about money sometimes, often, or all the time. And during the pandemic, another survey found that workers were almost five times more likely to worry about money than their health.” • I would guess that, for a very large number, what you’re really worried about when you’re worried about money, is money. I mean, that’s why joining the reserve army of labor is a fearsome thing.

News of the Wired

My private cul de sac:

“How to run a small social network site for your friends” [Run Your Own Social]. “This document exists to lay out some general principles of running a small social network site that have worked for me. These principles are related to community building more than they are related to specific technologies. This is because the big problems with social network sites are not technical: the problems are social problems related to things like policy, values, and power. There are still some areas where technical progress is needed, and one section of this document discusses some of those areas. Running a social network site is community building first and a technical task second. And while community building is hard work, it’s often worth it. This is my pitch to you: using big social media sites is easy, but you pay a steep price for it. You should consider running your own site, which is harder, but can be extremely rewarding.”

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Contact information: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (AM):

AM: “11/7/21 looking across the lake in Roger Williams Park in Providence, RI. Low key colors on the first day of ‘fall ahead’.” Somehow, I blew past fall foliage, so this is nice to have.

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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!

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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. ChiGal

    Hmph. Periwinkle is my favorite color, partly for its gentle ambiguity—is it blue? is it purple?—which is both somehow both restful and stimulating.

    I don’t need it tarted up with scarlet to become what appears on my screen as a much flatter and less interesting “veriPeri” TM.

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      ChiGal: Good eye. They have indeed mixed in red. Too much? Depends on if you like purple.

    2. LaRuse

      I like to think of it as “blurple.” I like the color but at least what is on my screen looks so very like the purple colored nitrile exam gloves made by Kimberly Clark. Not sure how I feel about that….

  2. DonCoyote

    The BofA story on tin reminded me of Wuxi, a city less than 100 miles from Shanghai in China:

    The history of Wuxi can be traced back to Shang dynasty (1600–1046 BC).[6] The tin industry thrived in the area in ancient times but it was eventually depleted, so that when Wuxi was established in 202 BCE during the Han dynasty, it was named “Wuxi” (Without Tin)

    So being without tin can be a big enough deal to be named after it–even 1800 years ago.

    1. Robert Gray

      > Wuxi was established in 202 BCE …
      > So being without tin can be a big enough deal to be named after it–even 1800 years ago.

      BCE. 2200 years ago.

  3. Wukchumni

    I’ve always been intrigued with financial frolic and the Malaysian tin bubble of the early 1980’s was a doozie.

    The Prime Minister of the country decided that Malaysia should corner the market on all that doesn’t glitter and got the price up substantially, and then the market collapsed.
    In the Great Tin Mystery – a $500 million business who-done-it – the clues all lead to Kuala Lumpur, the capital of the world’s largest tin producer. Malaysia has neither confirmed that it was the kingpin in the plot to corner tin, nor denied that its warehouses are full of the key metal. But those who follow the trading of tin have no doubt that Malaysia was involved.

    Seen from Malaysia’s point of view, the bizarre actions of the past eight months do make sense. Malaysia did, and still does, have a lot to gain from the uncertainty that grips the world tin market.

    The country obviously benefited from the rise in prices that helped local producers through the last half of a dismal year and it must have felt some satisfaction in seeing the tin market out of the control of the London Metal Exchange. Focus on London Metal Exchange


  4. fresno dan

    The Bezzle: “Cryptocurrencies: A Necessary Scam?” [Matt Stoller, BIG].
    Tulip bulbs could make one rich – but only because many more thought they too could be made rich by tulp bulbs.

    Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said. ‘One can’t believe impossible things.’
    I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. There goes the shawl again!”
    It seems to me, humanity has barely scratched the surface of all the impossible things humans can believe if they put their minds to it.

    1. Socal Rhino

      I can’t recall who said it but I think it’s still valid: the last financial innovation that added value was the ATM.

    2. Wukchumni

      Was listening to NPR while out on a drive, and some fellow had invested $15k in Dogecoin which went up to $2 million, but had recently dropped down to $800k, and no way was he gonna sell, a definite HODL type with an IQ in the high double digits.

      When the cryptocurrency market crashes & burns, this type of ‘investor class’ is going to be beyond upset and will lash out, but how?

      1. Juanholio

        A lot of these true believers are going to have wasted the best years of their life on it, if the scheme fails and they are tossed onto life’s scrapheap.

        Can’t say I blame them though. Whilst some have been rattling on about “prosecution futures” throughout last 10,000% rise, others have made an absolute mint.

        It must be tempting to give it a try with wall to wall hype about it on the internet. Especially when often the alternative is a life of irrelevance and penuary.

        1. Wukchumni

          To me, the true believers are akin to lottery ticket winners, except few have submitted their ticket for payment, all they do is crow about how much they’ve made…

          As the value trends downwards, the ‘investors’ will make the same mistake most every gambler falls prey to, they wager too little when winning and bet too much when losing.

        1. ambrit

          That depends…..
          We “get by” on about 19,000 USD a year from Social Security. Losing that much would definitely “put a crimp in our style.”
          As to the mentioned “house money,” I wonder what the eventual ‘source’ of said money will eventually be determined to have been.
          I can see where the only class in America to “win out” from Cryptos will be the Legal Class.

    3. chuck roast

      Occasionally, if lucky, a writer will toss out an absolute jewel. Stoller does it regularly. Maybe it’s because the monopoly/oligopoly beat is such virgin soil. Genius-boy writers and researchers take note!

  5. Wukchumni

    “Fauci says Santa received his booster shot and is ‘good to go’ for Christmas” [USA Today]. “‘Santa already has great innate immunity,’ Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told USA TODAY. ‘This year he is even more protected because he has been fully vaccinated and boosted. Santa will be just fine and is good to go!… ‘I vaccinated Santa Claus myself,’ he added. ‘I measured his level of immunity and he is good to go.’”
    It’s good that an aged fictional jolly obese man has willingly isolated himself from the rest of humanity, as Santa is obviously an at-risk individual, and does anybody really want him to be a super-spreader in both gifts & going viral all over the world whilst on the inside of say a billion homes?

    Imagine what an image of old Saint Nick hooked up to an intubator having trouble breathing would have on children?

    1. The Rev Kev

      I’m surprised that some do-gooder hasn’t made an ad showing old Saint Nick on tubes in an ICU bed with the message ‘If only he had been vaccinated!’

      1. Sardonia

        Nice move, Kev. You just planted the idea in the head of someone at the CDC.

        Expect the meme to be tweeted out by the weekend.

  6. allan

    Faculty Clash With Duke on Proposed Writing Program Changes [Inside Higher Ed]

    Unionized faculty members in the Thompson Writing Program at Duke University allege that proposed changes are intended to force them out and replace them with nonunionized adjuncts.

    Proposed changes to a mandatory first-year writing program at Duke University have some unionized faculty members alleging that the shift in focus is primarily about union busting.

    The Thompson Writing Program, in place at Duke since 2000, teaches writing through a multidisciplinary lens. According to the university website, its writing courses are seminar-style and faculty members come from a broad range of academic disciplines. Instructors for these writing courses are comprised of a mix of lecturers and lecturing fellows, the latter belonging to a faculty union. Though full-time faculty, lecturing fellows are not tenured. Job conditions vary, with some instructors on renewable contracts and others with nonrenewable appointments. …

    But now Duke is changing the nature of the program, zooming out to a broader focus, according to Erin Duggan Kramer, Duke’s assistant vice president of media relations and public affairs.

    “Duke recently completed a review of the 20-year-old Thompson Writing Program curriculum and is making some major changes to better serve today’s undergraduate students. Instead of teaching writing through a disciplinary context, we will be teaching expertise in a number of areas including oral communication; scientific and technical writing; digital/multi-modal writing; multilingual rhetorics; and the literacies of race and antiracist pedagogies,” she said via email. …

    Union busting dressed up `multi-modal writing; multilingual rhetorics; and the literacies of race
    and antiracist pedagogies’ is pure genius. Somewhere, Jay Gould is smiling.

    1. Jen

      ” Instead of teaching writing through a disciplinary context…”

      Call me naive, isn’t the base of writing knowing how to, I don’t know…write?

      I say this as an English major who mainly does financial analysis these days, but whether the subject matter science, education, business or an offer letter, if you want 5 pages of gibberish compressed into 1 page or less of concise comprehensible text, I’m your gal.

      1. Samuel Conner

        I’m sure that I’m naive, but my perception is that the best way to learn good writing is to extensively read from the work of great writers. One should start early, as life is too short. If one hasn’t been pursuing a lust for great writing for years before one enrolls in university classes, it might already be too late.

      2. ambrit

        Sorry to rain on your parade, but I seriously doubt if the highest genius writer could do such to the Fed Minutes.
        “Some things, mere mortals were not meant to know.”

      3. JBird4049

        The problem is not your (or anyone’s ability) to write, but their goal of having the students learn how to not write, speak, or think clearly. Anti-education for which the student has to pay for.

  7. Mikel

    The Bezzle: “Cryptocurrencies: A Necessary Scam?”

    I definately understand the urge to want some “new markings on a ledger” to believe in. With the speed of communications now and the disparities in wealth, the thinking is along the lines of “don’t hate the player, hate the game.” Not enough cash? Make up your own.

    But a monetary system or economy shouldn’t only be about the store of value, it’s also about what is valued in a society.

    Crypto doesn’t change any of that. A budget is about priorities. The USA has trillions and that could have been in cryptocurrency and spent exactly as it has been and the situations would remain the same. The players matter more than the game.

    And crpto-currency comes out of the contradictory desire for austerity – how scarce is something?

    1. Nikkikat

      DCblogger, good on those people sending in fake job apps! Hope no one shows up to work for this company.

    1. Arizona Slim

      I’m going to betcha money that NY’s next governor will be a Republican.

      Cue up George Pataki 2.0.

      1. MK

        Almost impossible these days. Pataki was the last state-wide republican because the real upstate was still heavily populated. The population loss over the last 25 years outside the greater NYC bubble has been epic. The number of democrats in NYC area outnumber all others upstate.

        The best that could happen is that NY split so that the downstate & LI can have what makes sense for them, and those of us north of Westchester can have what makes sense for us.

        tl;dr – a ham sandwich would win any statewide NY race as long as it was on the D line.

      2. mrsyk

        Maybe not. Kathy Hochul is like a generic candidate. (I had to check to see if I spelled her name right.) Could be a good time to be little known (read “minimal baggage”. Also, the race for NYC mayor will be on. Perhaps this will provide a boost to team blue by the way of promoting turnout in the city. Jumaane Williams gets some juice from AG James’ withdrawal from the race. Optically, he now has monopolies of several niches amongst serious candidates (POC, prog, urban), and, at 45 years old, will be more relatable to the younger generations (for what that’s worth). This is a race worth watching. Can JW spin enough magic to take the primary? Will team blue cheat the primary to prop up KH (likely!)? Can team blue hold the gov’s seat with a generic candidate should KH be on the ticket? Pass the popcorn.

  8. AlexS

    Re; AWS outage – it was not the images/s3 service that was down – API gateway service was down (could not invoke).

  9. marym

    Union vote at 3 Buffalo NY Starbucks stores

    First store: “BREAKING: Starbucks workers won their historic union election in Buffalo 19-8. Elmwood will be the company’s first unionized U.S. store.”

    Second store: “Starbucks workers fell short in their union election in the second store, 8-12. The Camp Road location was targeted by Starbucks union-busters more than any other store.”

    Third store: count not yet reported

      1. MK

        Next up – Starbucks sells off all it’s company owned locations (about 100%) to local franchisees and is utilizing the McDonald’s union-busting methods hence forth.

        And could you imagine how huge the return for Wall Street in “unlocking” all this value! The MBAs will have sliced and diced the ‘bux to huge returns, hell a reverse IPO or take it private would get the stock to skyrocket. /s

  10. MP

    Really great stuff on the AWS outage. I work in data center/cloud computing and a lot of our clients have moved to AWS and Azure over the last five years, but I’m always wary of it for the mentioned reasons, and I always recommend to clients to have multiple backups, both within the cloud and outside of it. That being said… AWS and Azure are really easy to use, and have really revolutionized the way IT is done by putting the entire infrastructure into an easy-to-use UI/API. The solution in the short-term is to use a hybrid/multi-cloud approach, but only the largest enterprises can afford that. The long-term solution is to force these corporations to allow the IP to be used in private data centers as well as in the public cloud. Azure has this, it’s called Azure Stack, but it’s so tightly controlled (their own hardware, their own pricing) that it renders it meaningless: it’s still more cost-effective to just spin up instances on pay-as-you-go/reserved pricing. What is needed is for the UI/IP to be made open-source so that the orchestration is just a paid software, and the hardware can be used anywhere you want. Unfortunately, that means Amazon/Microsoft have to give up the price spiral they currently have their customers locked in.

    1. PHLDenizen

      I have a buddy who works on PTC for the US’s railroad infrastructure and he remarked that this is exactly why you don’t run mission and safety critical control systems in a cloud environment.

      I have to agree. Can you imagine the consequences of some anesthesia equipment manufacturer requiring a constant connection to AWS when this shit went down?

      1. Jen

        Our board of trustees, in their infinite wisdom had directed that we shall move all to the cloud…until they were informed of the cost. Now we have an upgrade to our current version of Oracle financials that will keep those functions (at minimum) on premises through at least 2030.

        Those programs ensure that staff and vendors get paid. Not something anyone with a functioning brain would want to risk on AWS.

    2. cnchal

      > . . . Unfortunately, that means Amazon/Microsoft have to give up the price spiral they currently have their customers locked in.

      Good luck with that price fixing duo.

      You know what the world needs moar of? Power sucking data centers to store all the zeros and ones generated by every brain fart recorder passively by the self spying devices that people carry around with them. We are in “technology” overkill mode with moar and moar devices that worked fine in the past without those effing pieces of chip in them. We are drowning in pieces of chip and we supposedly still can’t get enough.

      The stupendous energy requirements of them and the making of the pieces of chips that go inside them is an environmental disaster, but because they use so much they get a massive discount on power when they should be charged triple retail to discourage their use.

      Data centers. Kill them with fire and salt the ground they were built on.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Unfortunately, that means Amazon/Microsoft have to give up the price spiral they currently have their customers locked in.

      It’s almost as if the forces of production (the servers + UI/API) and the relations of production (customer lock-in) are in contradiction somehow.

  11. TMoney

    US Population in 1860 was ~30 million. US Population in 2021 was ~ 330 million.

    While not trivializing the 812,205 dead, it would need to be 8 million dead to be comparable to the US Civil War. But we still have a couple of years to go, so our Feudal Overlords aren’t out of the running yet.

    I read that $25 billion was enough to vax the world – compared to the ~$700 billion defense budget – as bad as Big Pharma is and can be, I think lining their pockets with $25 Billion is still a good deal. At least the money would save some lives – as opposed to turning them into a red mist.

    1. Glen

      Judging from WH presser reaction to question on free testing, elites have put profits over world health.

      Maybe travel industry can sue big pharma.

    2. JBird4049

      Don’t forget the injured and the crippled, not to mention those like General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain whose death fifty years later would be directly caused by those injuries. He never healed properly despite multiple surgeries and decades of life. That was often true of civil war injuries. The injured would die days, weeks, months, even years later often in great pain and frequently missing body parts.

      I think, that like the Civil War, with its roughly one million dead and one million injured, the human costs with Covid is always higher than it first looks If you include what we would label as PTSD, the number of injured was much more than a million.

      It took four years to get those casualties, with some of the worst dying done in the last year, so Covid has time to match or exceed the war proportionally. Only thing is that much like in the First World War, the elites often fought and died in those civil war battles. Sure, some bought or bribed their way out or used their connections to sit in an office, but not as many as one would think. It makes reading about those wars and battles different than reading about today’s wars.

      Our current elites keep killing people in different ways and for no good reason other than money, taking none, or almost so, of the risks that today’s population takes, or yesterday’s elites took. War, disease, disasters, whatever. They are protected from their actions, made wealthy by what they do.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Good point about the long term effects on those Civil War vets, especially Chamberlain. I was just reading a book by a Peninsular war vet called “The Recollections of Rifleman Harris” as he was later in the 1809 Walcheren expedition which an ancestor of mine also served in. It was a massive force but the British soldiers were soon struck down by a deadly fever and went down like nine pins. Here is a medical link to this forgotten episode-


        The reason that I mention it is that those who caught this fever were ruined for life. Some survivors were sent to Wellington in the Peninsula but it was found that they kept collapsing on marches causing Wellington to order no soldiers to his command that had been in the Walcheren expedition. So they may be compared with long covid survivors and too many found their way to an early grave and I think most were discharged as medically unfit.

        For those interested, there is another medical link called “The Lessons of Walcheren Fever, 1809” by John Lynch, MPAS PA-Cand in a pdf file. I don’t think that they have properly identified what this disease was yet which this file talks about. The link is excessively long due to the need of a token so I will let any medicos locate it on Google if they so wish.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      so…why aren’t there stacks of packages of walnuts at every retail outlet i visit?
      and for cheaper, too?
      (supply and demand and price discovery still apply, right?)
      i love walnuts…but they generally cost too much shelled.

      since the late 70’s we’ve heard how agile and nimble the Free Market is…how it’s the absolute best way to allocate resources, etc etc.
      so what’s up?
      i noticed the same thing with meat, early in the pandemic…handful of megacorps scrambling for frozen warehouse space at or near ports…while the price for beef, pork and chicken…if any was even to be had…went up and up and up at the grocer’s.

      1. lance ringquist

        nothing free about it. global economic concentration because of free trade has taken away any competition.

        its why this will take decades to reverse. like letting homes sit empty till we pony up, walnuts will rot before you get them at a decent price.

      2. Eclair

        Jeez, Amfortas, it’s all about our vaunted distribution chain. Ginormous system set up to package nuts in special export-type containers, transport them to ports in special export transportation system, bill them with special automated export billing systems. Took years to design and implement this system. Can’t just ditch it, throw walnuts into burlap bags and tote them to local farmers’ markets or local grocery stores.

        Like at the beginning of the pandemic, farmers’ were dumping milk because they were in the wholesale distribution system that sold to school cafeterias, and all the schools closed down. Meanwhile, there was milk shortage at the local grocery stores because families were buying more milk to feed their at-home kids.

        Nimble it is not. More reasons why we need to encourage the development of local food systems. Feeling for the big growers who produce for export (well, not really). But maybe we shouldn’t be growing stuff on such a big scale and forcing our produce onto areas of the world that could feed themselves, if we didn’t interfere. As in flooding Mexico with cheap American corn and putting local farmers out of business, for example.

        Just don’t take away my imported coffee! Or tea!

    1. Samuel Conner

      Perhaps Omicron long COVID will lead to an early retirement for Dr F. They’re saying it will be difficult to avoid exposure once it is widespread.

  12. DJG, Reality Czar

    Dear groundlings,

    I’m having a voo ja day:

    These National Guard troops are not allowed to accompany Ukrainian forces into combat, said Marine Lt. Col. Anton T. Semelroth, a Pentagon spokesman. Semelroth also said that U.S. special operations forces regularly conduct exercises with their Ukrainian counterparts. He declined to say how many American troops are currently deployed to Ukraine, citing security concerns.” • Holy moley, get those [family blogging] human tripwires outta there, before some Azov Battalion loon whacks one of ’em and points the finger at Putin.

    More war crimes to come!

    Another delightful squib from the article, featuring another bloodthirsty woman of power, Evelyn the Magnificent:

    “I don’t think the Russians want to pick a fight with U.S. military forces,” Farkas said. “The last time they did that, they ended up with several hundred dead Russians.”

    Farkas was referring to a battle that took place in 2018 when U.S. and Kurdish forces in eastern Syria came under fire from a column of Russian military contractors. In that incident, overwhelming U.S. airpower hammered the Russian contractors, reportedly killing between 200 and 300 of them.

    [Yeah, so the U.S. shot up Russians in Syria. This is a woman who doesn’t understand tactics, let alone strategy.]

    [I hesitate not to be dashing, but at this point, is the only purpose of U.S. feminism to produce more Hillary Clintons?]

    I was tempted to say that this is the dumbest, most immoral, most obvious setup I’ve seen.

    And yet:

    Well come on all of you big strong men, Uncle Sam needs your help again,
    he got himself in a terrible jam, way down yonder in Vietnam,
    put down your books and pick up a gun, we’re gunna have a whole lotta fun.

    and its 1,2,3 what are we fightin for?
    don’t ask me i don’t give a damn, the next stop is Vietnam,
    and its 5,6,7 open up the pearly gates. Well there aint no time to wonder why…WHOOPEE we’re all gunna die.

    The sainted Country Joe and the Fish.

    1. Nikkikat

      One of my favorite performances at Monterey Pop Festival. Country Joe. Song now playing in my head. Will need to dig a copy out and play it now.

    2. Bart Hansen

      Along that line, about country 404:

      “U.S. intelligence officials continue to warn that Russia is poised to launch a crushing invasion of the country early next year.”

      Can we assume that come Spring with no such invasion, that Burns and Haines will commit seppuku?

  13. Michael Sharkey

    >I can see the subscription model coming…

    If life wasn’t complex enough in the United States, now Cuba is producing a Covid vaccine that could potentially rival Pfizers. To make matters worse, they are distributing it to the world at cost.


    For those who prefer their information from mainstream sources, this broadcast on The Hill’s ‘Rising’ covers Novavax, as well as the Cuban vaccine.


  14. lance ringquist

    just think, a UBI without protectionism and production would do to this situation?

    Backlog at Los Angeles port won’t ease until June, chief says






    Why signs of an improving supply chain are an illusion

    and if the ports were fixed, it would encourage even more free trade coupled with the fuel of a UBI.

    you read it right, june 2022.

    1. Wukchumni

      The price of Palladium has dropped nearly 50% in the past year, and every catalytic converter needs some in it…

      Car makers are claiming everything will be ‘back to normal’ soon, but the spot price of Pd is telling a very different story~

    2. Juanholio

      I think that it was PPP fraud that really snarled everything up in the supply chain.

      Loads of small business owners gamed the system for huge amounts. Instead of protecting their worker’s paychecks, they bought new homes and airbnbs which they had to remodel and furnish.

      How many of those containers are filled with furniture and appliances?

      1. tegnost

        Loads of small business owners gamed the system for huge amounts

        Thats precious…


        “That morning, the Federal Reserve announced the deployment of additional “tools to support households, businesses, and the U.S. economy overall in this challenging time.” The measures included many actions taken during the 2008 financial crisis, with one new wrinkle: Direct purchases of corporate debt”
        “Backstopping corporate bond markets would support investors and capital owners. By the evening of March 23, investor confidence was lifted even further; reports announced progress on a record $2.2 trillion congressional rescue package, a large chunk of which would go to support the Fed’s interventions in corporate bond and other markets.”


        Those darned small businesses! Sooooo Greedy.

  15. Trainer

    “And yet the PMC hasn’t advocated for this model at all. Instead, we get…..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,”

    I think the professional managerial class might be trapped in a testing and vax-only solution to COVID, instead of the layered defense you describe, because of how vaccine and testing facilities are financed, and how the profits from their activities are realized.

    Building and equipping a facility to manufacture COVID vaccines, or to process COVID tests, likely requires borrowing against some estimate of each facilities future revenues. These COVID related revenue projections will probably undercount in the near term, when there is a crucial need for vaccines or testing, and overcount in the long term, when everyone already has all the vaccines or testing they need.

    This creates a dilemma for management. If the facility owners would save all their outsize near term profits, in anticipation of the eventual drop-off, then financing these facilities over five or ten years would be no problem. If the facility owners get greedy and pocket the outsize near term profits, and ignore the eventual drop-off, then financing these facilities over five or ten years will be a problem.

    My guess is that management has chosen to pocket all their short term profits. Which is why they are now forced to advocate for any policy, no matter how inappropriate, that increases future vaccination and testing.

    1. Objective Ace

      The government should be handing out interest free loans (or even suspend payments alltogether) to any business improving its ventilation.. and actually require the receipts unlike the previous stimulus rounds.

      This was done for residential mortgage holders who lost their job, so there’s already a precedent

  16. Michael Ismoe

    ‘But the idea that the United States is going to unilaterally use force to confront Russia invading Ukraine is not in the cards right now. What will happen is there will be severe consequences.’”

    Good Lord. Brandon even sounds tired and out of it. And Putin is supposed to be afraid of this empty husk? This is like watching the four-year version of “The Irishman” where the plot of the movie is lost because you are spending most of your time wondering why none of the actors can move without a liberal squirt of Ben-Gay.

    1. Darthbobber

      The US is in no position to fight a farging ground war in the Ukraine. And Biden knows it. They’ve launched so much Goebbels-worthy propaganda at our populace vis a vis Russia that they are stuck in a self-created bellicosity trap, in which any policy that might make sense would clash mightily with the last decade of jingoistic sabre rattling.

  17. Tony Butka

    Isn’t it nice to know that there’s something that the Republicans and the corporate Democrats can actually agree on! We are so sold out at every turn it’s hard to see anything resembling ‘the rule of law’ or actual governance.

  18. McDee

    Some good news. In New Mexico the proposed merger of Public Service Co of NM and Avangrid of Connecticut (read Iberdrola of Spain) was unanimously rejected by the State Public Regulatory Commission.

    Avangrid has been $pending big here in Santa Fe. Full page ads in the Daily New Mexican and weekly Reporter. They enlisted former Governors Bill Richardson of NM and George Pataki of NY to endorse the merger and tout the benefits. Of course, Avangrid was promising more efficiency, lower rates, jobs etc.

    One of the commissioners noted that Central Maine Power (an Avangirid Company) was at the bottom in a survey of customer satisfaction involving over 120 companies. Another commissioner stated that ..”the whole deal to me kind of boils down to promises versus actual performance.”

    Appeals of the decision are possible as, of course, is legal action. Avangrid hasn’t indicated what they plan to do, if anything, But for now, at least, it’s a win.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Central Maine Power (an Avangirid Company) was at the bottom in a survey of customer satisfaction involving over 120 companies.

      I believe it. They’re not very good. Outages not weekly, fortunately, but certainly more than once a year and not only in winter.

  19. The Rev Kev

    ‘1970: We’re going to build a global network that can withstand a nuclear war.
    2021: AWS is down and my coffee machine doesn’t work.’

    Sometimes, someone on Twitter will absolutely nail it. So, like the virus, are we going to have to learn to live with the outages? Because that is the line that they are using. Meanwhile, I saw this down thread of that tweet-

    ‘Lesley Carhart
    I’m in this very serious management course and they told us to put a virtual background on today when we logged in. Everyone else has a pretty landscape photo. I chose the Star Trek bridge. It was apparently not the correct choice. This is all going really well.’


    Apparently the guiding principal of that serious management course is to make it anything but so.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      yeah. that tweet was spot on.
      of course, i didn’t notice any outages,lol.
      and if there were, so what?
      need to talk to each other, or read, or just loll about, instead of being plugged in?
      my boys would, of course, bitch and moan…but they’d get over it…because we raised them thataway…(me walking by the little birdhouse where the last router from mom’s big internet pipe lived(before we got our own) and turning it off…blaming isp…and thus enforcing off-line time)

      while i was all in with Berners-Lee on the promise of the web(see: Herzog’s “lo, and behold…”)…it’s really gone to hell, and ain’t what i signed on for.

    2. Michael

      In the olden daze they used to argue about the shape of the table. Progress!

      Lots of great comments too.

  20. Alex Cox

    ‘Surely the Windsors aren’t lizards.’
    C’mon. You know better, Lambert, than to insult lizards.

    1. Samuel Conner

      There’s a “Doctor Who” episode that unveils the hypothesis that, at least since the time of, IIRC, Victoria, they have been werewolves.

  21. Samuel Conner

    It’s reported that the Senate has voted to raise the limit on the cumulative amount of activity the US Treasury Department is allowed to have injected, from the inception of the Republic until now, into the economy.

    Happy days are, at least temporarily, here again, sort of.

    The 45th (and, per Anthony Atamanuik, final — a prediction that would appear to have been disproved by events, though 45 himself continues to dispute that) president of the US was reported to be displeased by this outcome. One wonders if he was long default.

  22. Cat Lady

    For me, the most memorable “cultural” reference to poop was in the 2006 movie “The Benchwarmers.” It was a sophomoric film but still had a decent anti-bullying message. A group of younger kids challenges the three older main characters to play a baseball game against them by saying “It’s time to meet your makers!” Clark, (played by Jon Heder) one of the athletically challenged 3 main characters responds by saying “Makers of what – poop?” It’s nonsensical but very silly, like most of the movie. Poop is a satisfying word to pronounce. Just like that other family blogging word that starts with “f” and ends with “k.”

    1. Samuel Conner

      > Poop is a satisfying word to pronounce.

      It seems to me to be a hilarious example of onomatopoeia, similar to ‘plop’, though that hypothesis requires that the word was not in use before the advent of water-filled chamber pots.

      1. Samuel Conner

        Prior to chamber-pots, presumably the sound of fecal contributions to the carbon cycle, when deposited into pits or onto flat ground, made a sound within the semantic range of “thud”.

        Perhaps “turd” is a bit onomatopoeiaic, too.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Why we needed to introduce a monosyllabic and onomatopoeic piece of slang for human feces that can be used in polite society c. 2008 is still an open question. To this old codger’s ears, it’s a big cultural shift.

      1. The Historian

        I don’t have a word that is monosyllabic and onomatopoeic or even a word for the fresh stuff, but coprolite is a perfectly acceptable word – as in: Don’t you feel the Capitol is full of coprolites these days?

            1. Samuel Conner

              Given that NC is widely read, one can hope that some of the neologisms that are offered up by the commentariat may eventually enter general use.

              “coproheavy” has a Taibbi-esque feel to it, IMO, but does not appear much in Search. I see four hits. The first is about an admirable fossilized … deposit that sold at auction for 5 figures. I wonder if the purchaser polished it before displaying.

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