2:00PM Water Cooler 1/14/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

More winter birds. There are five (!) types of Evening Grosbeak. This is Type 4.

* * *


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

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

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” –Hunter Thompson

Capitol Seizure

“Analysis: U.S. built ‘textbook’ case of sedition charges for Capitol attack -legal experts” [Reuters]. “The indictment for the Jan. 6 attack is “thorough and rigorous,” said Alan Rozenshtein, a former Justice Department national security lawyer who teaches at the University of Minnesota Law School.” Oh, a “former national security lawyer.” Say no more! Say no more! More: “Lawyers and extremism researchers said the Justice Department appears to have carefully vetted the Oath Keepers indictment, possibly using cooperating witnesses to build a more clear-cut case of attempting to overthrow the government…. ‘The government has a strong case against the Oath Keepers,’ said Joshua Braver, a professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School. Unlike the Hutaree, the Oath Keepers ‘executed their real agreement to obstruct the peaceful transfer of power.'”

“January 6 and the F Word” [John Ganz, African-American Policy Forum]. Interesting historical parallel: “[T]here are a number of eerie parallels between the events of January 6, 2021 and February 6, 1934 [in France]: in both cases, a loose coalition of right-wing groups and their sympathizers attacked the national legislature in an attempt to disrupt the recognition of a new government; in both cases, the mobs were animated by conspiracy theories and myths about their opponents; in both cases, the crowds united old and new political tendencies on the right and included many military veterans. And in both cases, the meaning and significance of the event was immediately contested in a highly polarized public sphere. In 1934, the dead and wounded rioters became martyrs for the far right, just as Trump and others have attempted to do with Ashli Babbitt. For the participants and sympathizers, the riots on February 6, 1934 signaled a patriotic stand against corruption and the machinations of the left and the first hints of a long hoped-for “national revolution.” For the left, it represented the undeniable arrival of the fascist threat in France. But it is here that the parallels begin to end. The riots on February 6, which resulted in greater loss of life than the January 6 action did, did not enter the legislative chamber, but did bring down a government: the new premier Édouard Daladier resigned the next day after weathering several votes of no confidence. On January 6, the mob entered the chamber, but could not change the course of political events. To the French left, the events of February 6 represented a coordinated plot to overthrow the Republic, an attempted “fascist coup.” This judgment proceeded to guide their energetic political response: a general strike and ultimately unification of the disparate left-wing parties in the Popular Front. In historical retrospect, we know there was no coup plot: February 6 was not the result of a centrally directed move against the constitutional order, even if the anti-parliamentary leagues on the street had close ties to some right-wing members of parliament.”

“Congress may change this arcane law to avoid another Jan. 6” [NPR]. “The Electoral Count Act came as a reaction to the presidential election of 1876, which saw Democrat Samuel Tilden win the popular vote but ultimately lose the presidency to Republican Rutherford B. Hayes because of contested election results coming from three Southern states under the control of Reconstruction governments: Florida, South Carolina and Louisiana….. A decade later, Congress passed the Electoral Count Act into law to avoid similar situations in the future, but ‘the crafters of this law unfortunately did a terrible job,’ says Rebecca Green, the co-director of the Election Law Program at William & Mary Law School…. The legislation is ‘extraordinarily complex’ and ‘far from the model of statutory drafting,’ according to an analysis by the National Task Force on Election Crises (of which Green is a member), but the law does create a framework and timeline for when states need to have their election results finalized…. [T]he law also allows members of Congress to easily object to results submitted by states and to prolong the counting process, even without legitimate concerns, and according to legal experts, it does not do a good enough job clarifying the vice president’s role… It’s especially important to do it this year, said Ned Foley, an election law expert at The Ohio State University. ‘The time to address [these problems] is now,’ Foley said. ‘Now is the maximum veil of ignorance: where the two political parties don’t know exactly what the lay of the land is going to be in ’24 and ’25, and so there’s a greater chance of bipartisan consensus on the clear procedures for governing the process.'”

Biden Adminstration

Zeitgeist watch:

“Democrats’ filibuster gambit unravels” [The Hill]. “The remarks from [Manchin and Sinema], though not out of line with their months-long position, underscored that Democrats’ bid to change the legislative filibuster have hit a wall…. Biden acknowledged that reality as he left the Senate Democratic caucus lunch, telling reporters, ‘The honest-to-God answer is I don’t know whether we can get this done.’ White House press secretary Jen Psaki vowed that the White House would keep pushing until the Senate voted, however, saying that ‘we’re gonna keep fighting until the votes are had.'” Always “fighting,” never winning. More: “[W]ithout a shift from Manchin or Sinema on changing the filibuster, and using the ‘nuclear option’ to do so without GOP support, voting rights legislation is facing a dead end. Democrats need 50 votes, meaning total unity within their conference, to change the filibuster.”

“Schumer delays voting rights votes until next week as Democrats face filibuster fight” [CNBC]. “Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer delayed votes on a pair of voting rights bills, pushing back a debate over the chamber’s rules that will decide the fate of election reforms the Democratic Party sees as vital to protecting U.S. democracy. The New York Democrat said late Thursday that the chamber would not take up the legislation until Tuesday, citing ‘the circumstances regarding Covid and another potentially hazardous winter storm’ approaching Washington, D.C. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, announced a positive Covid-19 test on Thursday. Democrats will lack a simple majority until he can return to the evenly split Senate. ‘Make no mistake, the United States Senate will — for the first time this Congress — debate voting rights legislation beginning on Tuesday,’ Schumer said Thursday night. ‘Members of this chamber were elected to debate and to vote, particularly on an issue as vital to the beating heart of our democracy as this one. And we will proceed.’ Republicans plan to block two proposals, known as the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Once the bills fail, Democrats plan to consider ways to bypass the filibuster and push the proposals through with a simple majority.” • ”Once the bills fail….”

“Obama backs Biden push on changing filibuster” [The Hill]. • Oopsie.

* * *

“House Republicans Release Text of Redacted Fauci Emails on Covid Origins” [The Intercept]. “The key distinction was in the ability of the new virus’s spike protein to interact with furin, which [virologist Robert Garry] found too perfect to make natural sense. ‘I just can’t figure out how this gets accomplished in nature,’ he said.” • That, exactly and precisely, the Watchmaker Analogy, beloved by anti-evolution loons everywhere, that “a design implies a designer” (whether The Almighty or a Lab). My view is that lab origins falls under the heading of “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” and the Watchmaker Analogy doesn’t cut it. This view, however, does not preclude that Fauci, Daszak, and their [whatever the Mandarin is for “Merry Men”] didn’t worry about having blame pinned on them, and immediately started pulling strings to avoid that dreadful fate. (See Proverbs 26:1: “The wicked flee when no one pursues.”) Note also that it’s not possible to reverse engineer the truth out of bullshit. But a good round-up.

“Goodbye ‘godsend’: Expiration of child tax credits hits home” [NBC]. ” For the first time in half a year, families on Friday are going without a monthly deposit from the child tax credit — a program that was intended to be part of President Joe Biden’s legacy but has emerged instead as a flash point over who is worthy of government support. Retiree Andy Roberts, from St. Albans, West Virginia, relied on the checks to help raise his two young grandchildren, whom he and his wife adopted because the birth parents are recovering from drug addiction. The Robertses are now out $550 a month. That money helped pay for Girl Scouts, ballet and acting lessons and kids’ shoes, which Roberts noted are more expensive than adult shoes. The tax credit, he said, was a “godsend.'” • I can feel the excitement building for the midterms. Can’t you?

Democrats en Déshabillé

I have moved my standing remarks on the Democrat Party (“the Democrat Party is a rotting corpse that can’t bury itself”) to a separate, back-dated post, to which I will periodically add material, summarizing the addition here in a “live” Water Cooler. (Hopefully, some Bourdieu.) It turns out that defining the Democrat Party is, in fact, a hard problem. I do think the paragraph that follows is on point all the way back to 2016, if not before:

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, of course, that the class power of the PMC both expresses and is limited by other classes; oligarchs and American gentry (see ‘industrial model’ of Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Jie) and the working class spring to mind. Suck up, kick down.

* * *

Republican Funhouse

“GOP Election Deniers Are On Pace To Raise Record Sums For Secretary Of State Races” [HuffPo]. “Republicans who’ve pushed the lie that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump are hauling in massive amounts of money to fuel secretary of state campaigns this year, with candidates in key swing states on pace to raise record sums for contests that have taken on new significance thanks to the GOP’s efforts to exert all-out partisan control over the country’s election systems. Democrats, who have cast their own efforts to defend incumbent secretaries of state in major battlegrounds as key to protecting American democracy, will also likely shatter fundraising records as donors shower candidates with the sort of early cash usually reserved for glitzier campaigns for Congress, U.S. Senate and governor. Secretary of state candidates in three battleground states — Georgia, Michigan and Minnesota — have collectively raised 2.5 times more than candidates had at a comparable point in 2014 or 2018 election cycles, according to a new analysis from the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonprofit that will track campaign spending in secretary of state races and other contests that will shape how elections are managed and run.” • Since “our democracy” includes both Democrat election denial that threatened war with a nuclear power along with Iowa 2020 forgive my inability to jump from my seat waving my pom poms….

“A Democrat won a US House seat this week with 79 percent of the vote. Her GOP opponent has not conceded.” [Boston Globe]. “An election in South Florida this week may serve as a marker for where the Republican Party stands in 2022, and how much American democracy has already changed since Donald Trump lost reelection….. The Democratic winner, Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, is interesting. She is a progressive who spent her own money to win and backs the concept of universal basic income. She also becomes the first Haitian-American woman in Congress to represent Florida. She won 79 percent of the vote over Republican Jason Mariner… [Mariner] said he will file a lawsuit. Election officials say it takes 14 days to certify the results. Mariner, then, has 10 days to challenge them. While few would suggest that Mariner will be in Congress in this year his refusal to concede and decision to file a lawsuit raises an interesting question about the boundaries of American democracy. What if a partisan judge rules, without facts, in favor of a soundly defeated candidate for office? If that seems implausible, then what about for closer elections? These questions are some of the reasons why elections for Secretary of State, the official that typically administers elections in states, are among the most high-profile of the mid-term election year.”

“Big bucks flow into state races for election officials” [NBC]. “The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law found in an analysis released Wednesday that campaign contributions for election administrator contests are surging in some of the states that played key roles in the 2020 presidential election. In three battleground states with available fundraising data — Georgia, Michigan and Minnesota — candidates for secretary of state have raised 2½ times more than at the same point in the previous two election cycles. The figures underscore how once-overlooked races are now deeply partisan contests, in large part because of former President Donald Trump’s false claims of fraud in 2020. Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada and Wisconsin all have elections for secretary of state this year, and voter fraud claims and conspiracy theories are playing roles in each. ‘These have traditionally been sleepy bureaucratic races that no one’s heard of, and we’re seeing much more attention being paid to them and this feeling that the stakes are higher,’ said Ian Vandewalker, a co-author of the report. ‘Candidates on both sides are saying democracy is at stake if I win or lose — it’s pretty much unheard of in our lifetimes.'”


“With Biden’s signature legislation stalled, Democrats stare into political void” [Politico]. “Democrats are quietly preparing for life after Build Back Better. With little progress on Joe Biden’s signature legislation, elected officials and operatives from across the president’s party are busy plotting how to run midterm campaigns without the benefit of a bill to bolster the social safety net and make generational investments to address climate change. It’s far from the ideal position. And party leaders and campaign strategists are holding out hope that the White House may still be able to revive nascent talks around the initiative to at least salvage some popular elements. But in interviews with nearly two dozen Democrats involved in the upcoming election, there is an increasing sense that political inertia may well win out and that their party will be forced to radically adapt its core pitch to voters.” • What I notice is that the press is already treating Biden like a lame duck. Not even a year into his administration. Too bad Vax-only was a debacle.

“Should Democrats Fall In Love With the 2022 Senate Map?” [Amy Walter, Cook Political Report]. “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, one of the best political strategists in modern times, has long warned candidates and campaign strategists to never fall in love with the Senate map. That is, no matter which seats are up in a given election year, Senate races can be quirky and unpredictable. A late-breaking scandal or a messy primary can turn a ‘safe’ seat into a competitive one. Throw in a midterm electorate, usually primed to vote against the party in power, and even a ‘good’ map can prove to be a mirage. Even so, the map is the best thing that Democrats have going for them in 2022. In fact, this is the first midterm election since at least 1994 that the party holding the White House doesn’t have to defend any state the president didn’t win in the previous election. All 14 seats that Democrats are defending this year voted for Joe Biden in 2020. For a party that can’t afford to lose even one seat, not having to hold onto a state Trump carried — especially in a midterm year — is a big advantage. Meanwhile, Republicans are defending two states, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, that Biden narrowly carried in 2020. The fact that fewer voters split their tickets between presidential and federal down-ballot races these days, means that this phenomenon of a party defending only seats its presidential candidate won the previous election is going to be more common. But, it’s also true that since 1994 the party holding the White House has lost at least one seat it holds that was carried by the president in the previous election. This includes three midterm elections when the party holding the White House either gained seats in the Senate (2002, 2018) or didn’t lose any seats (1998).” • So maybe not abolishing the filibuster wasn’t so very bad. Or maybe all the Democrats knew that, Manchin was the rotating villain, and it was all kayfabe…

“On The Trail: Retirements offer window into House Democratic mood” [The Hill]. “Already, more Democrats have called it quits this year than in any cycle since 1996, when 29 members newly in the minority decided not to run again. The same number of Democrats, 29, retired in 1994, the year Republicans reclaimed control of Congress for the first time in four decades. The exodus may not be over yet. Several Democratic incumbents have not said whether they will seek another term, and others are likely waiting to see the new district lines they would have to run under after the decennial redistricting process concludes…. Already, more Democrats have called it quits this year than in any cycle since 1996, when 29 members newly in the minority decided not to run again. The same number of Democrats, 29, retired in 1994, the year Republicans reclaimed control of Congress for the first time in four decades. The exodus may not be over yet. Several Democratic incumbents have not said whether they will seek another term, and others are likely waiting to see the new district lines they would have to run under after the decennial redistricting process concludes…. ‘There is a lot of weariness and frustration in the ranks,’ said Ian Russell, a former top DCCC official. ‘The good news for Democrats, so far, is that with a few notable exceptions, the retirements have been in safe seats as opposed to front-line [competitive] districts.'” • It won’t take much more than “a few notable exceptions” to flip the House.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Reps Bought Pipeline Stocks Before Passing the Infrastructure Bill” [Sludge]. “While Congress was considering the bipartisan infrastructure framework (BIF) and the BBB, several U.S. House members were making frequent trades in the stocks of oil and gas pipeline companies that stand to benefit from BIF’s provisions, especially combined with the BBB’s stalling out in the Senate.” • Rep. Virginia Foxx (R, NC-05), Rep. Mark Green (R, TN-07), and Rep. Kevin Hern (R, OK-01), but many others, including Democrats, bought energy stocks. When Pelosi said “We’re a free market economy. They should be able to participate in that,” she didn’t explain what goods were on offer. But I think I know.

“Scoop: Josh Hawley introducing his own stock ban bill” [Axios]. “Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) plans to introduce his own bill to prevent members of Congress from trading stocks, while Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) teams up with fellow Democrat Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Axios has learned. This means there will be now be two similar bills to ban stock trades individually championed by two vastly different lawmakers—further complicating the effort to pass a stock trading ban this session. Between the lines: This comes after talks between Ossoff and Hawley’s offices fizzled out, and Ossoff had sought a Republican co-sponsor before partnering with Kelly.”


Case count by United States regions:

Small step after a big step Big step after a small step, a new recurring pattern (says the tape watcher). And a small step down. It would sure be nice if “rise like a rocket, and fall like a stick” applied, but we can’t know that yet. To be fair, previous peaks — how small the early ones look now — have been roughly symmetrical on either side. But the scale of this peak, and the penetration into the population, is unprecendented.

The official narrative that “Covid is behind us,” and that the pandemic will be “over by January” (Gottlieb), and “I know some people seem to not want to give up on the wonderful pandemic, but you know what? It’s over” (Bill Maher) was completely exploded. What a surprise!

* * *

“Two Paths for Omicron” [David Wallace-Wells, New York Magazine]. “On Tuesday, a large, preprint study from Southern California painted what counts as an encouraging picture.” This is the Kaiser preprint. More: “But, worryingly, at the moment there is data pointing in the other direction as well. On Sunday, the Times published an eye-opening group of charts to illustrate the early shape of American mortality during the Omicron surge. Compiling data from New York City, Chicago, and Boston, what they found was — given everything we know about immunity and about Omicron — almost hard to believe. In each case, shifting the graphs by 21 days to account for the typical lag between diagnosis and death showed that the number of deaths was now growing almost precisely in line with case growth. In other words, in this data at least, there was been almost no “decoupling” between cases and deaths at all — to this point, in these places, the Omicron wave appeared on a per-case basis just about as deadly as last winter’s surge, when hardly anyone in the country was vaccinated and the virus itself was inherently more virulent than this variant.” • The whole piece is well worth a read. I especially agree — it’s one of my priors! — that one nation’s experience with Covid cannot be translated to another nation’s. South Africa is not Israel is not the UK is not the US.

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

Continues encouraging.

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 Reports (PDFs), “Rapid Riser” counties:

I don’t see much improvement, aside from Nebraska Kansas (!). Vermont is worse. Tennessse, after basking in green having gone to weekly reports, is now back on form.

The previous release:

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Still brutal. (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: 869,212 866,89. Oops, dropped the last digit….

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

Might as well check out where we go, in case we bring something back (as from Italy to New York in 2020). This is a log scale. (Sorry for the kerfuffle at the left. No matter how I tinker, it doesn’t go away. (The data is from 2019, and so subject to subsequent events, but this is the best I can find.)

Excess deaths. Late:

Look at the qualifications in that drop-down. And the ginormous copy editing flub. Dudes, come on.

Stats Watch

Retail: “United States Retail Sales YoY” [Trading Economics]. “Retail Sales in the United States increased 16.90 percent in December of 2021 over the same month in the previous year. It is the 10th consecutive month of double-digit growth amid historically high price increases.”

Manufacturing: “United States Industrial Production” [Trading Economics]. “Industrial Production in the United States increased 3.70 percent year-on-year in December of 2021, the slowest increase since March 2021. Manufacturing rose 3.5% and the mining sector surged 11% while the utilities output went down 3.4%”

* * *

“People Building ‘Blockchain City’ in Wyoming Scammed by Hackers” [Vice]. Wowsers. “On Monday, CityDAO—the group that bought 40 acres of Wyoming in hopes of “building a city on the Ethereum blockchain”—announced that its Discord server was hacked and members’ funds were successfully stolen as a result. ‘EMERGENCY NOTICE. A CityDAO Discord admin account has been hacked. THERE IS NO LAND DROP. DO NOT CONNECT YOUR WALLET,’ the project’s Twitter account declared. CityDAO is a ‘decentralized autonomous organization’ that hopes to collectively govern a blockchain city, offering citizenship and governance tokens in exchange for the purchase of a ‘land NFT’ bestowing ownership rights to a plot of land. Like many other cryptocurrency, NFT, and DAO projects, CityDAO’s community lives on Discord, a popular service chiefly designed for gamers but which has become an indispensable part of the crypto ecosystem. The attack worked by compromising the Discord account of a moderator, a core-team member and early investor who goes by Lyons800.” • Wait. Libertarian moderators?

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 48 Neutral (previous close: 51 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 53 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 12 at 12:26pm.


“Why crypto gaming is not the future” [DMT Capital]. “Instead of selling in-game items directly for fiat currency, traditional game developers tend to sell in-game items for their own in-game currency, which itself has its price fixed to the dollar. Game developers fix the in-game currency price to USD because they want to be able to monetise their game simply, and a lot of their expenses are denominated in USD! A floating currency means that suddenly a crucial factor which drives the in-game economy becomes uncontrollable/unpredictable, which is not what a developer wants. This is why games like Fortnite, Roblox, GTA V, all have their in-game currencies pegged to the dollar. Developers also have to make sure they “drip” a small amount of their own in-game currency to the users to incentivise them to continue playing the game, in the hope that they are more likely buy in-game currency. To have full control over the supply of the in-game currency, they have to have monetary autonomy. (In the case of crypto games too, they will have to have monetary autonomy to effectively design the ‘tokenomics’ of their currency)… So, I explained all this in-game economy design stuff to an ex FX and interest rate derivatives trader with decades of experience a couple of weeks ago, talking about how Roblox has to implement capital controls to the extent that they make it almost impossible to buy Robux on the secondary market because their entire business model relies on them being the only supplier Robux for fiat currency and they have to keep the price stable because it’s good for both UX and their business. He then pointed out to me that my point could be summarised under the Mundell-Fleming Trilemma, and NOW THIS trilemma is what exposes the fundamental economic flaw of crypto gaming. It was at this point that everything came together.” • I think that’s great for the writer, but my brain just froze at “Mundell-Fleming Trilemma.” Perhaps a reader with better economics chops than my own can elucidate? There’s a diagram and everything.

The Conservatory

‘Send It To Me’: Rolling Stones honoured with Royal Mail stamps” [BCC]. • Charlie Watts, diamond geezer:

Groves of Academe

Does the school get a cut:

Under the Influence

“What to Read: Kathryn Jezer-Morton is researching the mamasphere” (interview) [Kathryn Jezer-Morton, On Substack]. Jezer-Morton: “A momfluencer is anyone who makes brand-partnership money from her social media presence. (I would apply she/her pronouns because at this point it’s a very cisgendered space.) It’s a huge population—there are millions of women all over the world trying to do this…. Momfluencers emerged right alongside Instagram in the early 2010s. Basically, ‘mommy bloggers’ started using Instagram and found that brands wanted to partner with them in creating sponsored content. Now they’re on TikTok increasingly, but I study Instagram, because if I tried to do both, my brain would melt. … My research has clarified how much of a profession momfluencing is, and influencing in general is. They’re not necessarily obfuscating or being dishonest, but what they’re doing is business. They are going to create content that makes sense from a business perspective as well as telling a compelling story about their lives. Some people have always been critical of momfluencers for being ‘inauthentic,’ and I just think that’s kind of a misunderstanding of the format. I’m interested in why people are compelled to demand this total homey authenticity from the moms, though—that’s a whole topic in itself.” • See Tom Peters, “The Brand Called You,” in 1997. “We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.” Give credit, Peters got it right. And before social media….

Class Warfare

I think I need to have a Class Warfare pantry clearout, say, every Friday. This is where the work of creating narratives that aren’t personality-driven would be done….

News of the Wired

“Experience the spectacular sounds of a Murrumbidgee wetland erupting with life as water returns” [The Conversation]. “We wanted to use ecological data to convey not just facts but feelings, and create a vivid digital portrait of life in Nap Nap. So we recently produced The Sound of Water, using audio, images and water data to reveal the patterns and rhythms of the swamp. In part, this is about finding an engaging way to tell an important story. But there’s a bigger agenda here too: how might we use environmental data to amplify humanity’s attachment to the living world?”

“Colors: Where did they go? An investigation.” [Vox]. “If you watch a lot of movies and TV shows, you might have noticed that over the last few decades everything has gotten a lot more … gray. No matter the kind of story being told, a sheen of cool blue or gray would wash over everything, muting the colors and providing an overall veneer of serious business. So many TV shows and movies now have a dull filter applied to every scene, one that cuts away vibrancy and trends toward a boring sameness. Every frame’s color scheme ends up feeling the same as every other frame. And when there are so many projects using similar techniques, you end up with a world of boring visuals that don’t stand out. The best term I’ve read for this comes from incisive film Twitter member Katie Stebbins. She calls it the ‘intangible sludge‘.” • Like cars. No more bright colors!

* * *

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 (johnnyme):

johnnyme writes: “I came up empty trying to identify this seed. Maybe the commentariat can assist?”

* * *

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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. Claypool

    “Class Warfare pantry clearout”

    OK, I’ll toss this out for consideration.

    Sure reminds me of today:

    “The Whigs couldn’t even agree on a candidate in 1836 when Jackson’s vice president, Martin Van Buren, ran for president. Instead, the party ran three regional candidates in a bid to deny Van Buren a majority in the Electoral College, in a maneuver to move the decision to the House of Representatives. The Whig scheme ultimately failed, and Van Buren won easily.
    Four years later, the elite’s desperation peaked.
    The Whigs nominated an elderly General William Henry Harrison for president in 1840 and undertook a brazen campaign of misdirection.
    The Whigs muted their support for an activist central government and instead undertook a populist campaign that presented Harrison as a man of the people and depicted Van Buren as an upper-class snob indifferent to the country’s economic woes. (Van Buren had actually overcome humble circumstances; he became wealthy as a private lawyer. In contrast, Harrison was a member of the Virginia aristocracy and made his career in the government.)
    The facade was abetted by the nation’s leading newspapers, all openly pro-Whig.”


    1. Sawdust

      Every few years, there’s a story about how one or the other party is doomed to extinction due to recent malfeasance or incompetence, and it’s always bunk. The two party system is way too deeply embedded for either one to go down.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Had a mate once that was a friend of a guy that owned two butcher shops. One was very expensive and sold the best meat. The other one further down the street sold lower quality meat but was much cheaper. People did not know that both shops were owned by the same guy so it did not matter which shop they chose because of their ‘free’ choice, all the profits went to the same guy. Don’t know why I thought of that story.

      2. JBird4049

        It is not changing the two party system.

        It is for a major party to remain relevant enough to stay alive. Minor third and fourth can be effective in getting at least some of what they want. In the 1890s to 1915 and during the 1930s, if a major political party wanted more power they had to ally with or poach from the progressives, socialists, even communist, parties. Restated, the major parties, in particular the Democrats, were forced to shift leftwards to remain a major party. After the Whigs went away, there were several competing parties with the Republicans winning out; the issue of slavery killed the Whigs and the various issues of today especially the massive corruption likely being like slavery issue back then.

        To expand on this, both parties have a much weaker foundation today, than they did even thirty or forty years ago. Previously, the parties used inclusion instead of exclusion to define themselves and to gain power, which made both of them coalitions, with the most extreme wings of each party broadly overlapped the other party. For example, the then very liberal, even leftist Democratic Party was considered, and I have my class notes on this somewhere, a center-left party and the Republicans were a center-right party.

        The DLC (Democratic Leadership Council) with the enthusiastic help and later control by Bill Clinton purged all all left and many center-left Democrats from office; they abandoned the various groups in the party, if they did not have money, helped to vaporize most of the manufacturing, and started welfare cuts, made the drug laws draconian, and became the servants of the FIRE economy, while keeping the language of social justice, but not the acts, including any actual help for the poor and minorities. Essentially, neoliberalism. Instead of the thirty to fifty percent of the population spread throughout all industries, which gave them a very broad base or foundation, the Democrats are now balanced on a thinning poll of the ten percent who are the PMC (Professional Managerial Class), the money machine of FIRE (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate), Big Pharma, Big Tech, and Big War, all camouflaged with the the tent of Liberal Justice with Wokeism add now. The Democrats became a conservative center-right party.

        The Republicans did a similar process where the left wing of the party was purged of the more liberal, even mildly left, members. The process is still going on as a conservative Republican of forty years ago might would be labeled as a RHINO (Republican In Name Only). President Richard Nixon, with the use of the Southern Strategy, ejected the Blacks from the party (Abraham Lincoln was a member of the Republican Party and that party used to be an advocate) and inviting in the more conservative, very frequently more racist, but not always as the terms are not synonymous, members of the Democratic Party. AKA the Dixiecrats. Add the in the large, politically powerful Evangelical churches and organizations, and drop any pretense of actually helping the needy because they are “users.” They sucked up on an adjacent money tit as the Democrats and used social conservatism like the Democrats use social justice and wokeism as camouflage especially as they gradually abandoned manufacturing and small business. This means after decades they too are wobbling on a shrinking pole of support and using the endless bribes donations to keep the pole upright as well as gerrymandering and vote blocking. The Republicans have moved so far right that they could be considered reactionary, even a bit unhinged.

        So, it is a question of which party is most vulnerable to replacement? Which party is going to lose so much support that it will lose all power and disintegrate, first? By 1860, the Whigs were dead and the Republican Party was formed. The Democrats split into two separate parties. The Republicans remained and the Democrats reunited. They also retained much of the Black vote for a century.

        This is what appears likely. Not a permanent third major party, but the replacement of one of the major parties with a new one. Personally, I believe that the Democrats are likely dead sometime in the next two to eight years although it is a tenacious beast, so who knows? I also think that the Republicans are vulnerable as well because their base is smaller than the Democrats. No matter how much the election process is rigged, they still need voters. However, some faction could take over one or both zombified parties. There would not be a disintegration or replacement as much as a parasitization. For instance, Mike Pence’s church and religious movement supporting a relatively few hardline Republicans of the “right” kind. I think factions in both parties are also recruiting security state and military allies, which is disturbing. We don’t have Marius’ Mules in view, yet, or more specifically soldiers loyal to their leader and not to the Republic, but assassinations and Proscriptions did not depend on the legions, not really.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          This is a very good summary.

          It keeps occurring to me that there must be many people who hate the liberal Democrats for their betrayals, and get the creeps when the conservative Republicans go libertarian or worse.

          Enough to drive a new party? Or to split the old ones? I don’t know.

          ESTRAGON: I can’t go on like this.

          VLADIMIR: That’s what you think.

          Granted, the “two party system” might well be a “fabulous invalid,” to me it feels like some sort of crackup is coming, not at the level of changes of personnel or even a shift of party control.

          1. JBird4049

            >>>It keeps occurring to me that there must be many people who hate the liberal Democrats for their betrayals, and get the creeps when the conservative Republicans go libertarian or worse.

            Actually, I think the theme should be how simplified everything in our country has become, how the very nation or people themselves, how every single area of our society in culture, in the media, in government, in education, in religion, and in business has been stripped down, simplified, and optimized with the use of performative Kabuki bullshit to hid the rot; I used the previous long, drawn out sentence to show just how pervasive the rot created by parasitization is, and how ever increasing layers of colorful paint, glitter, sparkles and paste is used to hide it all. Along with the funny money, creating those layers is the major industry of the United States.

            There is nowhere for anyone to go except in the wealth extraction industry and their helpers in government, which creates immense stress and suffering.

            Expanding on how the political system has been rotted out by simplification and glitter: Since the party system began in the United States every party was a coalition. However, there has not been either a liberal leftist or a traditionally conservative party, or more commonly in the United States large influential factions of the same in the major parties, for something like thirty years. Maybe closer to fifty years. It has all been simplified out of existence with a near mono-culture of servants of extractive wealth; using social conservatism and social justice, the new Woke ideology, with a hefty borrowing of Victorian Era libertarian/neoliberalism including the lies of the deserving and undeserving poor, as the modern layers of colorful paint, glitter, sparkles and paste hides the mono-culture and its actions.

            And today, like in the Victorian Era, the use of neoliberal/libertarian ideology is used to justify the industrialization, then a two centuries later, the start of the financialization of the British and American Empires. Heck, the Enclosures and the suffering they caused were justified on such words.

            It is connected and can be seen in all areas. Monetize, simplify, optimize, and extract the wealth of the nation.

            I think that the best way that I can get people to understand just how different things politically are now from the past is by asking them comparisons. My favorite is “are any of the presidents from FDR to George H. W. Bush would be conservative enough to be elected today?” Then I can asked “whose your block or ward captain? Have you ever seen the head of your local county, city, town, neighborhood party’s head?” “No, it is not a trick question.”

            The frustrating thing is this: we need to put a stake into the hearts of all the vampire squids out there before we can get rid of the glitter before we can really recreate a functioning society, before everyone who has that knowledge is not dead of old age.

            There are still people alive who remember how, if just barely, to do things, whatever that is from building widgets, doing legislation, or manning a pulpit, with many more who want to learn. The rot only started seriously less than sixty years ago and has taken time to spread. The establishment’s American Plan of internal improvements and protective tariffs was the plan followed by every administration from at least President James Monroe to JFK. Nearly two centuries of building up industry, education, farming, and the infrastructure like roads, canals and rails for it all. Privately, the arts, music, writing, religion were also expanded. Whatever it was. Build it up. There is no reason we can not start again. Despite the insanity of it all. If nobody can be found, there are books, there are people taking classes, who have degrees in much of this, and there other people in other countries as well. It would be difficult, probably more difficult than I know, but it would not be impossible.

            However, the Vampire Squids are not satisfied with the sixty years of blood sucking, and will not let us do any rebuilding, needing more time to simplify, to liquefy and suck out the last of the fluids, while the remaining people with the knowledge or at least the memory of it, die of old age, and things continue to rot, fall apart, and disappear.

        2. Cafefilos

          I agree that the Democratic party might fail soon. Their right-wing economics and their woke social policies are very unpopular. Only the PMC seems to love those positions.

          After the Bernie debacle, I keep thinking that the Republican party is vulnerable to takeover from the left. Oren Cass of American Compass is already trying from a position of classical conservatism. His position are to the left of the D party on some economic issues.

          The Republicans immune system from attacks has atrophied; they rely on the D’s to keep the left down. Cass appears on Tucker Carlson, and other R venues, where they give him a voice, even though he is well out of the mainstream.

          Leftists should primary democrats as populist Republicans. I think it could be a popular position. When R’s pose as populists they have to attack “big government” or “dirty” immigrants to prove their conservative bona fides. Left Republican populists could sincerely criticize, Obama, or either Clinton, or woke politics. All very popular positions.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Butterfly weed ( Asclepias tuberosa) is in the milkweed genus ( Asclepias in general ), so the seeds would be very similar.

      1. petal

        Right, so there’s milkweed milkweed, and butterfly weed, and the seeds are similar but the seeds themselves are slightly different. I think the plantidote today is the butterfly weed seed.

        1. johnnyme

          I believe you’re correct. The texture on the seed casing was throwing me for a loop and I eventually found an image (hopefully labeled correctly!) that matched.

      2. Laughingsong

        To me, it looks like a woodsprite (Na’vi name: atokirina’) is a seed of the Tree of Souls that lives on Pandora.

        Did it move? :-D

  2. Mildred Montana

    “Democrats’ filibuster gambit unravels” [The Hill]. “The remarks from [Manchin and Sinema], though not out of line with their months-long position, underscored that Democrats’ bid to change the legislative filibuster have hit a wall…. ”

    The Democrats always have a well-intentioned(?) plan. And then…???? ?? ??????????!

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      ” Send in the Rotating Villains!” That was the plan. That was always the plan, right from the start.

      The Democrats consider their “base” to be an audience to be kept obedient through being kept on the edge of their seats by constant cliffhangers after constant cliffhangers. ” Don’t touch that dial! Tune in next week when . . . and remember to vote for us, because The Show Must Go On!”

      Eventually the DemParty base may wake up to reality and their part in the show, and get tired, and walk out of the theater en masse, and all decide to Troll the Vote. At least at the Senator/ House/ President level.

    2. Carla

      I love “Manchinema.” Could it be shorthand for enema by Manchin? That sure describes the Democrat party pretty well!

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Well, they should pay a price, even if only in public reputation and respect, for so eagerly seeking to be the Rotating Villains of this cycle.

  3. Chris

    Regarding “Colors: Where did they go? An investigation.” I was beginning to think I was the only one who noticed this. There are some exceptions, especially films and series that are said to take place pre-80’s, and many of those have a faux film/slide look — a bit to much of a yellow cast.

    1. Wukchumni

      I’ve noticed that newer cars only come in approved colors for the most part, you’ll seldom see a red, green or blue jalopy these days, and frankly forget about seeing a yellow one.

      1. Mantid

        I love some of the ol’ school colors of cars, pre-1980s. Had an early 70’s Pontiac Catalina that had the most amazing wasabi green color. Don’t see that color around now a daze.

        1. Mike Mc

          Seeing more pix (slides really) of streetscapes of the 1950s and 60s showing a vast array of color schemes on cars and trucks. Bought a tow vehicle for a travel trailer in 2020 – International Harvester Red looks good on a 2018 RAM 1500 Crew Cab. Several paint colors were available in ag country that corresponded to ag implements like IH, John Deere etc. Easier to find in a parking lot too!

        2. John Zelnicker

          Mantid – If you want to see some amazing color schemes on cars, look for pictures of cars in Cuba today. They are almost all 1950’s and 60’s models painted in joyous colors.

      2. Flyover Boy

        It’s been said that car colors blanded out as dealers recognized that less polarizing colors were easier to move off the lot, so they loaded up basically on nothing but gray cars. It’ll be interesting to see whether the supply chain shortage shakes this up, because I’d bet a record percentage of car buyers are having to custom-order and wait since there’s nearly nothing in stock now. A family member, in fact, just custom-ordered and got red — striking a bourgeois blow for variety.

    2. John

      In So California, white cars are cooler to drive even with A/C. (terms of interior temps)

      Plus, air conditioning is a MUCH bigger drain on electric vehicles than gas vehicles.

      Not sure if white cars get any “style points” don’t care. Huge difference between Royal blue (which I loved) Crimson Red (also cool).
      My white car is soooooooooo much cooler if I have to park in the sun. Hatch back blows heat out instantly. Better than any color I could possibly want.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      I find it interesting that nearly every film or TV show set in medieval times made over the past few decades uses muted tones and greys, when in reality those old technicolour Robin Hood movies were more accurate. From Roman times up to the Renaissance (at least), people loved bright vibrant colours and if they could afford it dyed their clothes very brightly. Cathedrals were packed with colour (no stone was ever left bare) and even castles were rendered and painted bright white or even in one case, pink.

      1. Eustachedesaintpierre

        The reformation effect in film ?

        I don’t believe that low colour saturation would necessarily create bad visuals, as many other factors are involved like lighting, composition etc – perhaps they are not al that interesting in the first place. I have seen a few Villeneuve films with the colour tuned down, but he more than makes up for that.

        I watched his Polytechique recently, shot in black & white which dramatised the Montreal mass shooting of if I remember correctly, 16 female engineering students back in the 80’s. Brilliantly done but excruciatingly hard to watch & as close as I want to get to experiencing such an event.

        1. NotThePilot

          The reformation effect in film ?

          This is exactly what came to my mind when I first saw the article title. I think art historians even use the term “brown sauce” for the same effect, particularly in Dutch paintings.

          That said, the article’s explanations seem reasonable to me.

  4. ChrisFromGeorgia

    Collapse-o-meter alert: The local education reporter around here had to file an open records request to get the school district to release absentee numbers. The school district just stopped reporting numbers on COVID cases and halted all contact tracing.

    Result? 17% of pupils in the entire school district were sick or absent the first three days after break.

    1. polar donkey

      Y’all are doing well. 1/3 around Memphis area
      A few days ago I said cases down 50%. Wasn’t sure if fewer people getting sick or no tests available. It was no tests available. Back up 80% the last two days.

      1. John Zelnicker

        The Mobile County school system is going to remote learning for the next 9 days due to COVID outbreaks. I don’t know the percentages, but I’m sure they’re quite high.

        Alabama overall is having a huge spike due to Omicron

  5. Hepativore

    So, with Biden’s rapid mental decline only a year into his presidency and his apparent inability to get anything done, does this mean that there is a strong possibility that he is going to resign after the midterms so Harris can take over? Since the Democratic Party gambit for Kamala to run away with the nomination in 2024 looks like it is becoming unlikely, they might try sneaking her in through the back door as vice president as Biden might not be able to make it through a four-year term.

    Also, like clockwork, the Democratic party answer to our current economic woes is austerity again. It is like a neoliberal version of that cartoon Pinky and the Brain if it ran for several decades…

    “What are we going to do tonight?”

    “More austerity!”

    The only form of Keynesian economics we are ever going to get from our current leadership is Military Keynesianism.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      So, with Biden’s rapid mental decline only a year into his presidency

      I swear I’m the only one who remembers Biden before he hung around at the Naval Observatory. He’s a lazy, know nothing bum. He looked terrible on the primary trail in 2008. This is who he is.

      1. Wukchumni

        It’s true, it’s true, the Senate has made it clear
        The climate in DC isn’t perfect all the year

        A law was made a distant moon ago here
        July and August can be too hot
        And there used to be a 6 year limit to the show here for Kamala

        Senate is forbidden after December
        And exits not having done a lot
        By order, Senate lingered through at least November for Kamala

        Kamala: Camelot?
        I know it sounds a bit bizarre
        But for Kamala: Camelot
        That’s how conditions are

        Her Senate reign fell after election
        By January 20th, when the possibility looms near
        In short, there’s simply not a more presumptive spot
        For happily ever after in than here for Kamala

        Kamala: Camelot
        I know it gives a person pause
        But in Camelot: Kamala?
        Those are the legal laws

        The show may never be thrust upon her spot
        But if Joe wavers, an answer must appear
        In short, there’s simply not a more easy entry slot
        For happily ever after here in the White House for Kamala


      2. Hepativore

        Oh, I know he always was lazy and incompetent, but it is worrisome how he can barely get through a sentence or forgets names and where he is now.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > This is who he is

        And I’m looking at the 2020 crop and thinking, of the candidates acceptable to Obama, Biden was the best. Now there’s a frightening thought.

        I just hope the Ukrainian cabal in The Blob doesn’t manage to foment a war — that Biden goes along with because he’s got to “show resolve” or some such bullshit:

      1. Synoia

        1 Reduces the number of peasants (as does Covid)
        2. Funnels money to the Defense Contractors
        3. Blames the Enemy for austerity
        4. Encourages punitive laws
        5. Enables Rationing
        6. Silences Dissent

        I wonder if the US cab outsource the production of all war material to China?

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Wouldn’t she most likely support such a war, to get revenge on Putin for stealing her election for Trump?

        1. Tom

          I’m not sure if my reply ended up in the right spot. I meant that Hillary won’t like Biden resigning thus allowing Kamala to run in 2024 as the sitting president.

          1. Michael Ismoe

            It’s been reported that Mayo Pete carries a portable heart defibulator to all White House meetings just to spite her.

          2. Martin Oline

            It depends whether Hillary thinks Karen becoming the President in this failed administration will help or Harris’ chances for re-election. There is more power of course but that is offset by the increased attention to her personality / ability. Shining a bright light on an incompetent person could be just the ticket for a successful run by the Clintonistas, especially if there are Clinton moles in place in the White House that ensure exposure of scandals.

    2. Dr. John Carpenter

      I don’t see Biden going willingly and I don’t yet see a united front to get him to go against his will. The insiders can’t keep their yaps shut and so far, I’ve not seen anything about Biden being replaced that felt like a trial balloon or claimed to be an anonymous scoop.

      Speaking of loose lips, the recent spate of “rats jumping ship” stories don’t bode well for a Harris mutiny either. Maybe the money that got her on the ticket to begin with is still enamored of her, but I’m pretty sure there’s been rumblings they’re looking for a new shiny object. And let’s be real, does Harris strike anyone as capable of pulling off those mechanizations on her own?

      But don’t worry about the next Dem primary, whenever it is. I’m sure they’ve ready chosen the winner. The only thing halfway interesting to me is how they campaign with what the Biden administration has teed up for them.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > But don’t worry about the next Dem primary, whenever it is. I’m sure they’ve ready chosen the winner.

        Damned if I know who it is. I’m missing the profiles, the seemingly unmotivated and totally organic heart-tugging stories, the trial balloons from strategists…

        The only person I can think of who remotely fits that category is Stacey Abrams, and… surely not.

    3. a fax machine

      Despite the obvious destruction of the middle class, Biden will survive so long as he manages to be sufficiently anti-China and anti-Russia. With the way the world is headed (read: down), all he has to do is circle the wagons nationally and rebuild Fortress America. From a more basic angle if he’s able to get the US a steady domestic supply of computer chips and energy, there won’t be much serious opposition to him so long as he’s not roped into a National Discussion About Race. He’s already cancelled BLM with the new Capitol Defense Force and won’t entertain new lockdowns so the middle American and layman is content. As the economy collapses it’ll be Stability Joe vs Lunatic Trump, and most Americans will begrudgingly vote for the former.

      Now to be clear, students get f-cked, people shot by police get f-cked, people not wanting a major confrontation with russia get f-cked and people not wanting nevada to be strip mined like rural china get f-cked but this all evens out to a powerful moderate, centrist message that will get him reelected.

      As to how long this situation can persist, I dunno. The lockdowns are doing immediate damage to the K12/college system while the student loan crisis does long-term damage to all higher education. How long can a human spleen go without blood before it dies, and how long can a human body contain a necrofied spleen before the body as a whole necrofies?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > How long can a human spleen go without blood before it dies, and how long can a human body contain a necrofied spleen before the body as a whole necrofies?

        “There is a great deal of ruin in a nation.” –Adam Smith

        Until an alternative emerges, Biden’s The One™. Unless he slips a cog, but so far they’ve managed to keep him upright and moving in the right direction. I don’t see an alternative. Weak bench, no farm team, stupid and/or insane owners, “disorder in the front office is affecting the players on the field”… Not a good situation.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Doctor Jill will watch the mixture and balance of function-drugs they are giving him very very closely. I don’t think she will allow any “delete Biden” doctors hiding on staff to change some doses just subtly enough to get Biden to delaminate in public so thoroughly as to suggest the use of Article 25.

          And Doctor Jill probably has no special sympathy for Kamala’s desire to be President for 10 years. She won’t let Mr. Joe suddenly decline right around 2022.

          Flowers for Bidenon? Eventually. But not yet.

    4. John Zelnicker

      @Hepativore – If Biden makes it past halfway through his term before Kamala takes over, she can run for election in 2024 and re-election in 2028. Almost ten years. Ugh!

      Of course, I don’t believe for a minute that she can get elected on her own, but I wouldn’t be surprised of that’s the thinking of too many Democrat operatives.

      1. rowlf

        An offensive unpleasant person in a far distant forum claimed early on in 2016 that the media would do everything possible to drag Hillary Clinton’s carcass past the finish line.

        Maybe Harris has the same support. At this point maybe it’s product not person.

        We’ve already transitioned from News to News Space (hat tip Clarke and Dawe )

    5. ambrit

      And “Pinky and the Brain” made fun of Bill and Hillary Clinton a good bit. Brain was often calling the White House Oval Office and getting Hillary: “Office of the President. What do you want?”
      As for bumbling through with a demented President, look no further than Ronald Reagan’s second term in office.
      Like in the 1980s, I’ll bet that this Administration is being run from behind the scenes by the Court Astrologer.

  6. Wukchumni


    I think the new way to beat the heat will be treating waves in the same fashion as we do hurricanes in the USA, where we tend to have 3-5 days of warning before they wallop us, allowing the populace to get the hell out of dodge.

    I kind of expect the typically torrid CVBB here to have some 125+ degree days this summer, and one need only drive 4 hours to the coast to be in 70-80 degree temps instead.

  7. Samuel Conner

    Plantidote might be a milkweed seed; can’t hazard a guess at the species.

    I’m setting out trays of damp growing medium with MW seed, some saved and some from a reputable vendor, to cold stratify outdoors. This worked really well in early 2021; better than 50% germination rate. Also Purple Coneflower and Cardinal Flower. Perhaps 2022 will be a good year for pollinators in my backyard.

    1. Jeff

      Our discovery re seeds. “Speed Trays” are ideal for starting seeds. https://www.finegardening.com/article/seed-starting-in-speedling-trays

      These racks with upside down pyramidal shaped cavities, open at the bottom for drainage and air pruning, the only legitimate use for styrofoam on earth.

      100% Organic Potting soil only. Packed into cells fairly firmly.

      The trick is to place these trays with soil and seeds in place into shallow watertight trays, and to bottom water them only. Initial top watering only. All other water is wicked up continuously into potting soil.

      We use reverse osmosis water without chlorine and other chemicals to do this. Tapwater kills goldfish and seeds. 99% germination of flowers, vegetables and other plants this way. Wait until roots get big and use a butterknife to loosen the four sides of the plugs of soil and seedlings, then to lift them out, to transplant to ground, or small pots.

      We made a special tool to do this. An old spatula from Salvation Army bent at 90 degrees in the long direction and cut down into a taper shape to fit into the corner and two sides of the cell.

      1. Mantid

        Good call. Not being a styrafoam fan, and trying more and more to buy less and less, I hadn’t thought about the conical shape of seedling roots until I read the article. Nice link. I use and re-use conical shaped plastic seedling trays that are about 3″ deep. Some plants, such as tomatoes, like to be shocked by transplanting a few times before we put them in the ground but that downward conical shape would help the root system on the earlier side of their growth.

        I also enjoyed the suggested link below the article on a DIY seedling heater. This article: https://www.finegardening.com/article/diy-heat-mat-speeds-seed-starting

        I have a couple terrarium heat pads that I use but the “rope light” idea looks interesting. We do lots of seeds/starts (over 100) so the warming pads are handy. When I start our seeds it’s often still in the 20s around here.

        Can’t wait, but still time to be relaxing and letting the ground take a nap.

        1. PaulaJ

          Jeff’s information comes from this massive and useful site:

          Their quick and easy guide to getting started is something I like to send to anyone with a yard who is not already a gardener. Then follow up with a fruit tree or seed catalog sent to them to trigger their imagination. 2 neighbors hooked so far, one to go.

    1. griffen

      Djokovic by reputation is going to take a hard hit. I’ve seen several commentators on ESPN or TV basically state they don’t cheer for him ever. He’ll not look good by appealing or suing to ensure he can compete, but will not shock to see him and his lawyer / counsel basically push to the 11th hour.

      1. Divadab

        He’s a hyper successful hyper competitor. Not known to give up. I say good on him he’s right- he’s had COVID, has better immunity than from the vax already, so why should he get the vax? Good for him for sticking to his guns.

          1. ambrit

            Well, he is dealing with delusional officials. No one with any sense believes anymore that the “vaccines” even slow down the spread of the Coronavirus.
            If he has already had a bout of the coronavirus, will he be the next high profile sports figure to drop dead on the court, field, course?

            1. savedbyirony

              What he is facing now is deportation because of supplying false information on his visa application concerning travel out of his own country immediately after his covid diagnosis in December. Djokovic has been cavalier since the beginning of the pandemic towards taking steps to prevent the infecting of others, publicly and arrogantly so. (And who knows perhaps detrimentally/lethally so for some unfortunate fan or other who happened to cross his path while he was infectious.) I doubt any high ranking Australian official really wants to loose the #1 ranked men’s tennis player in the world, who is on the brink of tying the record for grand slam tournament wins, from the Australian Open’s field of players. But if they let him stay it will be an ok to both thumbing his nose at the rules both Australia and Serbia have in place regarding behavior when diagnosed with covid and lying on governmental documents.

              I am very curious what his lawyers arguments will be this time to regain a visa for him.

              1. savedbyirony

                Sorry, the above info is incorrect. The unreported travel took place the two weeks prior to Djokovic’s arrival in Australia.

        1. griffen

          He is a guest in Australia, and yes what you wrote is correct. Hyper competitive and an all time winner. He is moving into a category associated with Aaron Rodgers of the GB Packers. Lying to every soul with ears about his status.

          What a dick move blaming bad paperwork on someone from his team. Being respected by his peers must not matter that much.

      2. IMOR

        Because he has a dramatic backstory (ask ’60 Minutes’!), not many of the world’s best come to Idaho, and there was a strong Serbian community relocated to Boise after the war(s), Joker’s match there was big news in April 2013. I was still surprised at the headline:
        “Superstar, Hero…President??”

      1. skippy

        See IM Doc on vaccinations where people [especially doctors] drop all NPIs on social media, political industrial complex pushing herd immunity et al and how that gifts covid potential.

        So I guess the next question is why covid policies fly in the face of all the historical and scientific knowledge, too a fault, BTW environmental conditions preclude one nation/region being applicable to another due to unique circumstances e.g. median age, diet, et al, so drawing conclusions without factoring in these differences is folly.

        Seriously the history behind such events is filled with examples of how various approaches worked and sadly the most glaring is giving infectious diseases an opportunity to blow up in societies face, which in turn requires even more dramatic action. On the latter is just fodder for the wingnut loon pond ideologues to vibrate, like the second coming is at hand, and pronounce they were right all along … which then further cripples any social cohesion in redressing the issue at hand – ergo doom loop …

        1. Basil Pesto

          Seriously the history behind such events is filled with examples of how various approaches worked and sadly the most glaring is giving infectious diseases an opportunity to blow up in societies face, which in turn requires even more dramatic action. On the latter is just fodder for the wingnut loon pond ideologues to vibrate, like the second coming is at hand, and pronounce they were right all along … which then further cripples any social cohesion in redressing the issue at hand – ergo doom loop …

          Yep. Astute if sobering observation.

      2. Synoia

        Form the Johannesburg Star:

        CBS News
        Omicron variant may increase risk of COVID reinfection, study finds
        December 3, 2021·5 min read

        Johannesburg — As data on real-world infections in South Africa, where the Omicron variant of the coronavirus was first identified, suggest the mutated virus has an increased ability to reinfect people who have already had COVID-19, the new strain is also highlighting inequalities in the global pandemic response.

        A study published on Thursday as a pre-print, which is still awaiting peer review, found that Omicron is at least 2.4-times more likely to reinfect someone who’s already had a COVID infection compared to the other variants that have been studied.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Dammit. This virus does not give you a break. Should have guessed that as immunity waned in SA, that they would be vulnerable to a second wave. So this could very well be us in a few months time.

  8. Jason Boxman

    So it’s interesting that, now that it is well established that the vaccinated spread SARS-COV-2, that somehow it’s okay for the vaccinated to infected those that are not vaccinated, but before this same crowd crowed from the roof tops that not wearing masks was putting other people at risk (public health!).

    Cognitive dissonance much?

    This whole fiasco is an opportunity for liberal Democrats to showcase their moral superiority, at the expensive of lives.

    1. Terry Flynn

      Oh don’t worry. Cancer patients, if they show symptoms and if they can get a PCR test ASAP, will be offered monoclonal antibodies and an antiviral.

      If the letters get through. If their mobile numbers are correct. It’s all sorted.


    2. Mikel

      Can’t be too mad at the unvaccinated. Any mass experiment needs a control group.
      At least I remember hearing that in science class. And allegedly this is all about the science.

        1. ambrit

          If Max Planck is right, and Science advances one funeral at a time, this mass democide resulting from the coronavirus should have Science moving ahead in leaps and bounds.

  9. allan

    Bulworth goes to college:

    First Came the Stunt, Then the Suspension [Inside Higher Ed]

    Ferris State University in Michigan has suspended a professor for a posting a provocative, often-profane video for students ahead of the new semester this week.

    Barry Mehler says in the video that he’s fearful of teaching in person during COVID-19 because he’s already 74 years old, and that he’s retiring at the end of the semester. So while it’s possible that being put on administrative leave isn’t the worst of outcomes for him, Mehler’s faculty union says the suspension is an attack on academic freedom generally. …

    Some online commenters have speculated that Mehler was having a “breakdown.” But his “show,” which was clearly scripted and rehearsed, may also be read as the primal scream of a professor forced to teach in person during a new surge in COVID-19 cases, after nearly two years of navigating pandemic-era teaching already. …

    1. Mantid

      One of my favorite teachers, who became a good friend, would pass out his syllabus, then cuss up a blue streak. He’d then stop and announce “if you are offended by my verbiage, you still have a few days to drop this course and register for something else without consequences”. It would make all discussion through the term much more open and students were patient with other’s views, and word choices. Very effective approach and seldom would a student walk out. Now a daze I wonder what would happen. Bruce Selligson, if you’re out there, Hoy Hoy!

    2. lakecabs

      He should just retire.

      There are many people in more dangerous spots doing their jobs.

      How does he get his food?

      How does he get his meds?

      He doesnt care. Young people should sacrifice for him.

          1. FluffytheObeseCat

            In Magickally Righteous Freedom World(tm) all edjumacated individuals who act out a little inappropriately in their own defense are demon Liebrul scum. Automatically.

            Their age and inherent infirmity are not of interest to the Righteous, whose purity of body and mind is unassailable in its self-evident virtue. See, only transgender-defending Liebruls are capable of indulging in self-admiring idiocy. In their view.

            Basically, the poor son of a gun’s legitimate fears are just contemptible to them, because he can’t possible have a point… if his point is distasteful to them.

            His detractors are just like PMC elite in that way. In fact, often as not, if you dig into the past a bit, you will find they hail from exactly the same social stratum. Doggone funny how that works.

  10. Casey

    I do marketing and we have pivoted heavily to influencers.

    Key to marketing psychology is “mental mapping” where your brain associates your emotional state with what you see. See the thing again later and the feeling is recalled. Because an influencer is already beloved by the viewer (hopefully), the love of the influencer transfers over via product placement. Viewer later sees the brand and the good vibes from their relationship with the influencer bubbles up and they think positively of the product. You can do this quickly and cheaply with laser precision on your target audience. You can get a lot of mileage from free samples with micro-influencers too.

    We are all being programmed. (**puts on THEY LIVE sunglasses**)

    If you’re interested in the Dark Arts, How Brands Grow is a good marketing book that talks about some of this.

      1. Mikel

        The advertising can be a financial write off.

        A majority of advertising/marketing is to acclimate youth to a life of consumerism.

  11. Wukchumni

    My parents would invite the neighbors over and slowly but surely they’d all get smashed on Daiquiris (the drink of the 60’s?) while watching Laugh-In…

    Here’s the pilot from 1967-including Barbara Feldon, if you have a premeditated hour to kill. Its amazing how risque it was.

    Laugh-In: Season 1 Episode 1: Pilot


    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Its amazing how risque it was.

      I just listened again to Iolanthe (Gilbert and Sullivan, 1882). I’m amazed my parents allowed me to listen to it (though granted, the subtext was entirely over the head of an eight-year-old).

  12. Ghost in the Machine

    “That, exactly and precisely, the Watchmaker Analogy, beloved by anti-evolution loons everywhere, that “a design implies a designer” (whether The Almighty or a Lab). My view is that lab origins falls under the heading of “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” and the Watchmaker Analogy doesn’t cut it.”

    I am pretty sure the virologists making these statements are aware of the Watchmaker analogy. Evolution over the course of 100s of millions years has produced extraordinary complexity, but evolution has to work with the materials at hand. It has constraints both in the short and long term. Virologists know them better than anybody for these viruses. The trail for this virus is absent. One of the troubling things about the original virus was its lack of genetic diversity, a diversity that is usually present in zoonotic viruses (resulting from the evolutionary struggle to jump species). Trails for previous recent SARs viruses were found within 6-12 months. I know there are examples of long cold trails for other viruses. There is also no hard evidence for the natural origin hypothesis. The argument is simply, this is how it has happened before so that is how it happened this time. It is a conservative argument and it does have merit, especially in the absence of other hypotheses.

    The Watchmaker in the traditional creationist argument is proposed to be a sentient supernatural designer there is no evidence for. Here we know there happened to be a building of virus ‘watchmakers’ next door. And we have a rejected grant that describes the ‘design’ for exactly a trait of the virus that is a mystery. The lab designers are known to exist, the technology to do it exists, the design exists. The evidence of the ‘backbone’ virus is not publicly known. So the starting materials are missing just like the natural origin hypothesis. The database where it would most likely be found was taken offline before the epidemic took off. Maybe it is not there, but it looks very bad. Such an event has been predicted for decades. No one is claiming something as ridiculous as a supernatural designer. It seems like a straw man to me. Claiming that the virus came from aliens would be a extraordinary claim. Claiming it came form a lab working on these viruses (at that location), who had the technology, and actually proposed to implement one of the virus’ mysteries and in the complete absence of a trail for natural origin is a perfectly reasonable hypothesis.

    Shall we call it ‘the hypothesis that cannot be named?”

    1. lambert strether

      If they were aware they were hopping joyously into bed with anti-evolution loons, I don’t think they would, no. Many scientists over-estimate the powers of science (and lack political awareness).

      > watchmakers next door

      Question beg much?

      1. Eloined

        The Intercept’s roundup left aside some other recent news, made via a FOIA request to UC Davis where EcoHealth had research partners: https://usrtk.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/China-GenBank-sequences.pdf

        Combined with China’s deletion of WIV genetic sequencing data in September 2020, the message below begs questions regarding The Intercept’s note that “[w]hen the [Proximal Origins] paper appeared in Nature Medicine on March 17, 2020, it noted near the end that in order for the novel coronavirus to have emerged in a lab via serial passage, scientists would have to conduct those experiments using a relative with very high genetic similarity, but there was no evidence that such experiments had been done.”

        From Mr. Daszak to his colleagues on April 28, 2020:

        All – It’s extremely important that we don’t have these sequences as part of our PREDICT release to Genbank at this point.

        As you may have heard, these were part of a grant just terminated by NIH.

        Having them as part of PREDICT will being very unwelcome attention to UC Davis, PREDICT and USAID.


        PREDICT involved the gathering of viruses from around the world, and experimentation at WIV and elsewhere.

        In any case, glad to see — if I read correctly — that the lab leak here has moved from “zero evidence” to less-than-“extraordinary evidence.”

        See also https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/healthcare-information-technology/chinese-researchers-told-nih-to-delete-early-covid-19-gene-sequences-from-database-wsj.html (a summary of paywalled WSJ content) for signs of how opaquely WIV genetic sequencing data has been handled.

        Lastly, I feel compelled to add that my interest in this issue is not anti-China or contrarianism but in understanding the risk that risk-blind science will bring our demise. But would anything slow dual-use experimentation?

        1. skippy

          “but in understanding the risk that risk-blind science will bring our demise.”

          Its not blind and the book Science Mart connects the dots on the Homo economicus human tool user problem. Then again you could throw out science and then be completely oblivious until everything is back to ill winds and spirits and how that worked.

          Norman Borlaug is another good example of how this plays out, how many of the comorbidities are a direct result of that agenda and now hived off on individual choices from a moralistic imperative with religious underpinnings. This can all be traced back to the core ideas behind neoliberalism sought to impose on everyone else.

      2. Ghost in the Machine

        Genetic engineering is not hopping in bed with anti-evolutionary loons. The fact we are capable of these manipulations is not anti-evolutionary. Straw man again. Very few are ‘hopping joyously’ (I guess sociopath politicians with an agenda are) and they understand the gravity of the implications for scientific trust and oversight. I think that is why so many scientists just instinctively recoil from the hypothesis.

        With ‘watchmakers next door’ I am just poking fun at the strawman. The lab hypothesis does not require a ridiculous supernatural or other implausible designer. Actually, just the standard hubris afflicted human screwing with things that do not fully understand or can predict the outcome of. The virus could just be an engineering/scientific accident. Like a nuclear accident. We humans do these things. Good circumstantial arguments have been put forward supporting this hypothesis. Circumstantial evidence has been put forward for the natural origin. Continuously equating those who consider the lab leak hypothesis with creationist nutters is a strawman argument and is convincing no one in your readership who is considering the lab leak hypothesis. Unlike that cartoon where the scientist draws his proof with ‘a miracle occurs’ in the middle, there is no implausible step for the lab leak. All the necessary steps are doable and indeed some outlined in a grant proposal. The natural origin is also completely possible of course. Unfortunately there are big voids in that chain of causality with no evidence to fill them. It is natural to consider other plausible hypotheses no matter how uncomfortable.

        1. IMOR

          I appreciated the hell out of this dialog and want to thank you for it. And your other posts. I can’t help thinking after reading you that when it’s YOU who are ‘hopping’ and are ‘capable of these manipulations’, all is well. When some ambitious or twisted clown in a generic urban center in China or the U.S. is the actor…it doesn’t take a sociopathic politician.
          We tried to suborn the research, then we funded it, then someone(s) (family blog)ed up– may not be THIS story, but it sure is a lot of other stories.

          1. Eloined

            Ditto — particularly the line that “many scientists just instinctively recoil from the hypothesis.” Reminds me of the recoil that I, who believe in certain contra-mainstream narratives, feel when talking with some whose minds work even more reflexively against the mainstream. Those are the conspiracy theorists, not me!

            I imagine that editors with readers/commenters interested in counternarratives feel an impulse to enforce that distinction at times. It may be anachronistic to think that reason should guide us; I can’t for the life of me see that a lab leak hypothesis, regardless of anyone’s evidentiary standard of proof, is unreasonable at any link of the “chain of causality” that Ghost in the Machine notes.

        2. skippy

          The rub in all that is the lengths the creationists have gone to in attacking anything that they deem a threat to their social narrative market share.

          Science will always be conditional on the human tool user problem and Homo economicus front runs all of it …

          1. Wukchumni

            My buddy got in on a dream trip, a 21 day raft trip down the Colorado River, and one day ran into creepy creationist types who were attempting to cherrypick something near the river that was precisely 6,000 odd years old, as they were surrounded by billions of years of erosion that they managed to not see.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Genetic engineering is not hopping in bed with anti-evolutionary loons.

          Strawmanning and misquoting is an unhappy combination.

          If you are saying that “This is too complicated for Nature, it must be a creation of Science”, then hopping into bed with evolutionary loons is exactly what you are doing; that is the argument they use to urge that the universe must have been created by a Supreme Being. (Six thousand years ago, generally. And don’t @ me, anti-evolutionary loons.) This is also the argument made by Robert Garry in the originally quoted passage. Scientism and hubris. We also went through the same dynamic with HIV, where it took IIRC fifteen years to discover the zoonotic

          > Continuously equating those who consider the lab leak hypothesis with creationist nutters is a strawman argument

          If lab leak advocates didn’t deploy the working assumptions of creationist nutters, they wouldn’t be “equated” with creationist nutters. “If you didn’t want to go to Milwaukee, why did you get on the train?”

          The Watchmaker Analogy is shockingly bad reasoning (used by Garry and now in your comment). I’m surprised a scientist would use it, or I would be, if I were surprised by anything these days.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > What is the simplest explanation?

        Zoonotic origins, obviously. Shown to have happened in other cases, shown to have happened with HIV (where support for lab leaks or CIA foofraw was also rife). No necessity to multiply entities, as lab leak does.

        Anything else is an extraordinary claim that requires extraordinary evidence. And if the best evidence that Harris can come up with is [whines] “it’s too complicated for nature to create — as if the human body, the immune system, and consciousness where not “too complicated” — then his case is pitiably weak.

      1. NotThePilot

        Funny enough, I actually have done this sort of thing before, though only in a very basic capacity. I’m skeptical of the lab-made hypothesis so that kind of biased me to look for issues.

        I don’t have the expertise to say something’s clearly wrong with it, but a few things make me suspicious the author isn’t being entirely honest:
        1. Changing search parameters (especially filtering on only viruses) across sequences
        2. Some of his statements about how mutations & probabilities work don’t seem right
        3. Implying that last sequence is patented, when it’s actually just a tiny part of the accession
        4. The last nucleotide sequence also has 19 characters so it doesn’t even correspond to an unambiguous amino-acid sequence (every codon takes 3 nucleotides)

        A couple other clarifications:
        * BLAST technically isn’t any particular genomic database, it’s the algorithm used to do local sequence comparisons, and I don’t think you typically use it to prove anything. It would be like saying an article is propaganda just because other Google hits for a common phrase happen to be from state media sites.
        * Because local sequence comparison has no idea of function, or possibly even where a gene begins or ends (there are options to filter out introns), you typically have to motivate why you’re looking at a specific sequence beforehand. Reasoning in the opposite direction is arguably just a form of data fishing.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > He basically checks COVID nucleotide sequences against a virus database to show COVID appears to be lab created.

        Methodologically vacuous. What he needs to prove is that (a) nature could not have evolved whatever features he may be describing and (b) some chain of evidence on the ground as opposed to hand-waving.

        We have people, plural, in the brain trust who do this kind of work for real, but I think it’s not worth bothering them with “Something is wrong on the Internet”-level postings on substack. Not seeing an affilations or publications from this dude, either.

  13. skippy

    @Mundell-Fleming Trilemma

    International money chases short-term opportunities, and it suffers from the principal-agent problem whereby those economic agents will get paid their commissions even when the principal (regular people whose savings and pension plans they control) suffer the losses of bad investment choices – see pre GFC.

    With all that said, the Mundell Fleming model does provide some useful predictions about the effects of macroeconomic policy changes, and real-world interest rate differentials do operate within reasonably narrow bounds – see Taleb on risk.

    Other than that its another reason to giving the IS-LM [lacks epistemological nuance] the flick as a cornerstone to policy setting, because it limits options to – which two sides of the triangle would you like – in an increasingly destabilized socio-economic/political setting. Like trying to save the free market kids on the bus by running over all the pedestrians on the footpath in slow motion. Another reason for a JG and then the free market kids can walk on the footpath with everyone else.


    Everything is a market and everyone is a commodity on Gates frictionless capitalism digital platform seeking price discovery and with it ones worth/value … Zuckerberg metaverse v2.0 watch this – space – opening soon … will courts have to consider being hacked in real time on this platform a form of physical attack or even murder … who will supply the courts .. what administration runs it all … and how is that arrived at – ????

    1. skippy

      Ref – lacks epistemological nuance ..

      Probably should have noted that refers to all the Classical, Smith, Keynes, bits about group collusion/fraud/self dealing and the failures of the currant model to redress by any political means.

    2. NotThePilot

      I’ve usually heard of it as just the “Impossible Trinity / Trilemma”, not by the model creators’ names. I actually feel it’s pretty legit though.

      Pretty much, there’s having a sovereign currency, there’s stabilizing your exchange rate, and there’s limiting friction in capital flows. The trilemma says you can have two, but more of the third requires trading-off.

      To me, what’s really insightful about it is the subtext, which economists don’t bring up, that each choice favors a different sector of society. The point in the triangle a state chooses actually tells you a lot about its real priorities.

      A sovereign currency empowers the state (possibly but not necessarily for the people’s benefit), while stable exchange rates arguably benefit the real economy, especially in areas that rely on imports / exports. Free capital flows though are de facto concessions to investors and finance, regardless of whether you feel increased foreign investment is worth it.

      1. skippy

        I think the triangle model of it is most representative, old which two sides of the triangle would you like choice. That said I think neoclassical econometric models used to make these choices has an inherent bias.

      2. ChrisRUEcon

        The trilemma is also well understood as a consequence of “original sin” – i.e. the inability of “developing” countries to trade internationally by issuing their own debt. From the Impossibility Trinity Wikipedia entry:

        … it is impossible to have all three of the following at the same time:

        – a fixed foreign exchange rate
        – free capital movement (absence of capital controls)
        – an independent monetary policy

        The fixed foreign exchange necessitates counterbalancing demand for the local currency from abroad with demand for say, any other basket currency like the USD. Imports make this very difficult, and the neoliberal (Washington/IMF) consensus encourages abandoning capital controls like tariffs on foreign goods or restrictions on how much of a foreign currency can be acquired for trade by local interests. Finally, interest rates can be used as a tool to lure more foreign capital to a country’s FX reserves, but then the country in question has to export/resource-sell their way out of being on the hook for foreign currency denominated bonds and the like – the whole bond vulture scenario that invariably leads to BoP crises and devaluation.

        The invocation of the Trilemma for the Roblox example is a bit heavy handed, because it seeks to treat exchange for crypto on par with exchange between state currencies, which said exchange is not. The real issue which the author pointed out in quick succession is the volatility. If someone purchases $5 worth of Robux, they get something like 500 every time. If someone purchases $5 of some crypto token in game, they might get .004 today and .001 tomorrow, which as the author points out is not an attractive scenario at all.

        1. skippy

          Some adore volatility to boring old utility like returns and the desire for it is where things get really interesting.

  14. jr

    Jacobin on why the Democrats suck and some great analysis of Mayor Adams:


    Lambert I think you might find the discussion of how Adams is able to both attack Woke-ism and simultaneously use it to further his goals particularly interesting. He excused his hiring of his brother for an NYPD position of power by claiming he needs to protect against “white supremacy”. He is, as you have pointed out, going places.

    1. Jen

      Perhaps he will be the exception that proves the rule but Mayor of NYC is the graveyard of political careers. No mayor of NYC has ever gone on to hold higher office. I suspect this is because you need to be a particular kind of a**hole to be mayor, and this does not scale to higher office.

    2. Pat

      There was no one of color with experience in police administration?
      Unfortunately it won’t be the last time that is used as deflection for corrupt or incompetent decisions.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > [Adams] is, as you have pointed out, going places

      I do qualify this with “I don’t know where.” Dark horse for 2024 Veep? “Hero Cop Saves Republic” — liberal Democrats would love that story line.

      1. ChrisRUEcon

        > “Hero Cop Saves Republic” — liberal Democrats would love that story line.

        Oooooh just saw this … interesting. Exactly as you said, checks off a lot of #VBNMW boxes right there.


  15. jr

    Kim Iverson on the dark money organization backing Kermit the Transportation Secretary and it’s refusal, despite publicly promising to do so, to reveal the funders behind the money:


    Did you know the Transportation Secretary oversee’s around 500B$ in funds? That’s a lot of sweetheart deals for friends.

    1. Nikkikat

      Some very powerful and wealthy individuals wanted this guy in power. It won’t take long to find out who they are and what they want. Adam’s is dripping with the look of having been bought.

  16. griffen

    Article above about the Congressional district southern Florida. So the Republican is trounced, receiving less than 20% of the vote. There is no conceivable means or method to make up ground on the winner, a Democrat, who received 79% of the vote.

    He actually is quoted about the winner and that the race was called…”I did not win, so they say, but I didn’t lose either…”my paraphrasing. Kind sir, dude you got owned and you got trounced.This veers into the twilight zone. Just delusional.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      Why does anyone care if he concedes or not? He can say his 20 percent is better than her 80% but she’s the one who is getting the ticket to DC. The results are certified by the county. He can declare himself King if he wants to. Who cares?

    1. tegnost

      Thanks, that’s pretty cool…
      I have a love/hate relationship with the weasel family, here north of the strait of jaun de fuca we have minks, really close to fishers in stature, “regular” otters, and river otters which are as big as a dog.Most years it’s minks that populate the under house area. Not particularly sanitation minded, to say the least. This year it’s river otters, and through the fall I would wake to the sound of insulation being torn out so they could make a nice bed, and they talk to each other. Very social. They have fun, which is endearing. In recent snowstorms they basically sled their way down to the water, I only wish I could see it happening rather than seeing the tracks of a 30 yard belly slide, but still cool to see the tracks. In the fall they are irritating, and I know they are messing stuff up under the house that I will have to fix, but killing them doesn’t work so it’s either get used to it or restrict entry…not very easy in my case but not impossible either. But then the big freeze comes, and I’m all “hey otters why don’t you guys have a ten day party! Bring all your friends and keep my pipes from freezing!
      The absolute last thing in the world I want to do is go under the house with the weasels to fix a broken pipe! Do not mess with a river otter. Big. Teeth.

  17. upstater

    Our “moderate” Republican Congressman John Katko is retiring after 4 terms. He was 1 of 10 Republicans to vote to impeach Trump. Previously was a federal prosecutor. Trump targeted him. Had $1.2M in the bank. His district may be combined with Claudia Tenny’s (a true believer of Trump’s “reelection”, she won by a few hundred votes in an election decided by a judge). The new district was gerrymandered by Democrats.


    From a personal standpoint, his constituent service was great. He was personally helpful in an important manner to our family, unlike our 2 democratic senators that initially blew us off. It was for a criminal referral to DOJ in the death of our daughter, a federal employee killed at work. Once we had Katko’s letter in hand, Schumer and Gillibrand’s office followed suit. The woke DOJ didn’t prosecute.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      Katko voted the same way as Louie Gohmert did 97% of the time. Can you help me out? Why the former is a “moderate” but the latter is a “right wing ideologue”?

    2. griffen

      An interesting profile, a little unfortunate one supposes given the length of service in the House. That just sounds brutal, losing the parents and the inlaws in such a shortened time frame. It surely takes a toll losing one .

      Shame on the DOJ for their inaction.

      1. Terry Flynn

        Such lesions can promote growth of plaques and ultimately atherosclerosis.

        Close family member diagnosed with the latter out of the blue last month. My cardiac review brought forward to Monday as I was already cardiac compromised due to previous condition. I don’t think these “is no big deal” comments in the MSM are warranted at all.

  18. griffen

    The blockchain city article. Wowsers is right. Why on earth, or the moon or mars, folks are enamored with crypto and using such insufficient IT protection schemes is beyond my understanding. Based on my reading of the article, it seems the moderator mentioned is attempting to deflect to insufficient verification on the Discord server. What, no follow on security answer (my first pet’s name…or such)?

    I don”t proclaim to understand much of what went on there. Other than people got took.

    1. Tom Doak

      Someone has started a crypto country club, too. It’s going to be “more inclusive” as in any sucker with digital money can buy in. The first round funding of $11m is not to actually buy a golf course, but to search out the right opportunity!

    2. Icecube12

      That article confused me so much. Is the land real? Are NFT land rights actual rights to some land or just make believe rights to virtual land? I googled blockchain city and still don’t understand whether it’s a concept for planning an actual city or just some virtual game. Granted, I think a big part of me doesn’t want to understand. The money is real, I understood that much. Adults today can be so weird.

      1. griffen

        Learning about crypto, as I suggested above but here is my take on it. Utopian crypto believers arranged for a land drop, selling virtual plots but real currency / crypto is required to do so. The hacker(s) made off quickly and converted it to a different form of crypto.

        True on the last sentence. People are crazy.

  19. Knifecatcher

    Every so often I read something that hits a little harder than usual. This essay captured my current feelings better than just about anything I’ve seen in a long time:


    I think defector gives an article or two for free but if you can’t read it I’m sorry.

    If you can I’m sorry too, but for different reasons. It’s very good, but not exactly upbeat.

    1. Jen

      I was able to access it, and yes, I think it capture a lot about the current mood perfectly.

      “The minimum wage is still atrociously low. Cops are still shooting black people in the streets. School shootings are only down because the students are learning virtually. Everything is more expensive and not any nicer. Our experiences of buying things is also bad. The government’s relationship with the people is that of a disapproving and forgetful grandparent with a very young and very naughty child. The country is in shambles, and everyone can feel it.

      The people in charge, it seems clear, never wanted things to get better. Since the earliest days of the pandemic they have given us vague instructions, asked us to sacrifice our lives and our happiness for the faint promise of Getting Back To Normal. If we suffered gamely enough, for long enough, we might win back… the same country we had before. “

  20. aj

    “What I notice is that the press is already treating Biden like a lame duck. Not even a year into his administration. Too bad Vax-only was a debacle.”

    Lambert, is it too early to say “I told you so”? Most of us at this site knew exactly how this was going to play out if Biden got the nomination in 2020. What about the senile, ineffective old man he was back then could have possible predicted that he would turn out to be a senile, ineffective old man?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Lambert, is it too early to say “I told you so”?

      Hopefully, the Ukraine Blobbists don’t manage to start a war. If they do, all bets are off. Until then, I’ve got to give credit to Biden for getting out of Afghanistan (even if Trump did set up the deal) and cutting drone strikes. Both are better than [genuflects] Obama was able to do.

    1. petal

      Also on the veterinary front in Rochester, NY: VSES: First Veterinary practice on East Coast to unionize
      The only local overnight emergency vet practice has been shut down for a few days now. People would have to drive to Syracuse, Buffalo, or all the way to Ithaca(Cornell). It’s not been a good situation, but I’m glad they unionised. My mother said they’ve been worked to the bone and not treated well, and that it was bought by a PE firm(she said my brother dated a girl that worked there so they were hearing all about what was going on).

  21. The Rev Kev

    ‘I can feel the excitement building for the midterms. Can’t you?’

    You have to campaign on something but what have the Democrats got to campaign on that has helped average Americans and not just the top 10%? They have mostly pulled any help that people were received. What have they to show for their year in power? I would not be surprised to see people shout at Democrat politicians on campaign ‘Dude, where’s my $600?’ I guess now that it is only a mater of time until Lambert puts in his midterm countdown clock which has left *checks notes* only 297 days left to go. And a ginned-up military action against Russia, Iran, Venezuela or China will not be enough to push them over the line.

  22. just_axing

    “The key distinction was in the ability of the new virus’s spike protein to interact with furin, which [virologist Robert Garry] found too perfect to make natural sense. ‘I just can’t figure out how this gets accomplished in nature,’ he said.” • That, exactly and precisely, the Watchmaker Analogy, beloved by anti-evolution loons everywhere, that “a design implies a designer” (whether The Almighty or a Lab). lambert

    So you’re an expert now in virology and discount that virologist Robert Garry almost certainly believes in evolution too but has a much more educated view than your slap-dash discounting of a designer?

    1. Yves Smith

      Funny how your pet Robert Garry can’t keep his story straight over time. I found this in less than a minute on a search engine:

      A team of scientists from Tulane, Scripps Research Institute, Columbia University, University of Edinburgh and University of Sydney analyzed the genome sequence of the novel SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that emerged in the city of Wuhan, China, last year and found no evidence that the virus was made in a laboratory or otherwise engineered.

      “We determined that SARS-CoV-2 originated through natural processes by comparing the genetic sequences and protein structures of other coronaviruses to those of new virus that causes COVID-19,” said study senior author Robert F. Garry, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology at Tulane University School of Medicine. “It is very close to a bat virus. The adaptations that the virus has made to affect humans are actually very different than what you would expect if you were designing it using computational models in biological engineering.”


      It took nearly 15 years to prove the animal origins of SARS-1:


      And there are many prominent experts who back theories that have been disproven, like doctors who treat cholesterol as causing heart disease, or economists who support the loanable funds theory. Again, let me stress these are SETTLED matters, not ones of unresolved controversy, yet prominent experts stick doggedly to false theories. That is why Max Planck said, “Science advances one funeral at a time.”

      There are vastly more bat virus in the wild, on the order of two orders of magnitude, more than all the labs that collect bat viruses possess together. There is a huge known unknown regarding how much is in the wild and what it looks like. And that’s just the bats.

      1. Eloined

        Perhaps those doctors and economists also espouse different public vs. private views, as we now know the NIH virology brain trust did.

        Robert Garry changing his story is the point. The Intercept cruised above this level of detail in the newly released messages, here’s Garry on the Feb 1 conference call last year:

        “I really can’t think of a plausible natural scenario where you get from the bat virus or one very similar to it to nCoV where you insert exactly 4 amino acids 12 nucleotide that all have to be added at the exact same time to gain this function– that and you don’t change any other amino acid in S2? I just can’t figure out how this gets accomplished in nature.”

        By Garry’s (private) measure, it’s the natural origin theory that best suits the Watchmaker Analogy.

        1. Yves Smith

          Garry put out a paper where he was the lead author with co-authors that was published in a peer reviewed journal. Frankly he looks like an idiot to do a 180 in less than a year. He said in writing that SARS-COV-19 was consistent with evolutionary models. Now he says he made shit up in print in one of the most prominent publications in his field? This is Trump level saying what appeals to him when he wakes up in the morning, not science.

          And our Ignacio, also a virologist/immunologist, has been loudly of the view that it’s way too convenient to think this was engineered because it appeals to human vanity.

          1. Eloined

            I see the mistake. Garry is not currently arguing against natural origin. He was against it as of February 1, 2020. We know this only because of a FOIA release last summer which revealed the existence of the meeting (referred to in email from Kristian Andersen to Fauci on Feb 1), followed by Republicans pressing for info about the meeting, followed by HHS allowing in camera review of meeting notes.

            Garry, Andersen et al. have indeed been consistent since Feb 4, 2020 (first draft of Proximal Origins paper) that the origin is natural. In fact they pulled a 180 not only in less than a year, but in just 3 days — after the conference call with NIH.

            1. Yves Smith

              Huh? Nothing was going to change about how the spike protein worked and how that was consistent with an evolutionary model based on a call with the NIH.

              Again you have this wrong. It takes about 6 months to get a paper published in any decent journal, often as long as a year. So the the research would have had to have been finished by Sept 2020 at the latest. Remember they then have to draft the text.

              And if he became unhappy with what the paper said based on things he learned post submission for review but prior to publication, he could have asked for his name to have been removed.

              1. Eloined

                Come again?

                Garry has not said he disagrees with what the paper said. The Proximal Origins paper was published on March 17, 2020. The authors have said that the first draft was ready on February 4, 2020 (so 6 weeks from first draft to get their paper published in Nature, good for them). On Feb 1, three days before the first draft, we have record of multiple co-authors seeing no evidence of natural origin — and explaining clearly why — and none who did. Then they talked to NIH and 3 days later they have a draft that reverses their views.

                The only contradictions are between their earlier, private analysis and what they began saying and publishing publicly after that call.

                Adding: apologies for saying “last year” in my 8:04 comment above when I meant 2020, haven’t fully adapted to 2022.

                1. Yves Smith

                  Do you have a reading comprehension problem? The paper was published March 17, 2020.

                  The Tulane press release was dated March 18, 2020, and has a quote Garry provided and therefore approved. It is common for lead authors to review not just their quotes but the full press release.

                  Garry had plenty of time to retract the paper or have his name removed if he thought he had been muscled. He’s a full professor. Two of the top FDA commissioners quit over much less than that.

                  It is also hard to see how a paper ready for publication could have been turned completely on its ear. How could they have had the time to redo the data to make a completely different position seem credible and then rewrite the text and have it peer reviewed???

                  One could just as well surmise from the time line that Garry may not have strongly held the position that his colleagues held and was glad to have an excuse to flop. No one can force a tenured academic to put his name to a document he does not believe in. He might lose grant money but he won’t be kicked out or lose any pension.

            2. Lambert Strether Post author

              > I see the mistake. Garry is not currently arguing against natural origin.

              Garry is not currently arguing against gravity.

              Garry is not currently arguing for phlogiston.

              Garry is not currently arguing privately for Ptolemy and publicly for Kepler….

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > So you’re an expert now in virology and discount that virologist Robert Garry almost certainly believes in evolution too but has a much more educated view than your slap-dash discounting of a designer?

      Oh, my goodness, no. Just a feller who can read plain English. A modest talent, to be sure, but not all possess it.

  23. Katy

    Today I learned that there are people who turn physical artwork into NFTs.

    The biggest facepalm of all facepalms. Grifters gonna grift.

    1. Wukchumni

      I just invested in an NFT of a physical artwork featuring dogs playing poker rendered on black velvet. I think it has legs.

  24. Carolinian

    Re colors–in Technicolor the early years there was a lady named Nathalie Kalmus who had to approve the color timing of all films using the licensed process. This resulted in the eye popping colors of all those MGM musicals. Directors who wanted a more muted palette were out of luck.

    As for now, it could be that makers of certain shows would prefer to use black and white but for commercial reasons color is necessary. This was Ted Turner’s position until the film world rebelled against abominable colorization and TCM came along. And for the artistic desaturation is the next best thing. Kalmus and her reign of error (much less three strip Technicolor) long gone.

  25. Wukchumni

    Sports desk:

    Brutal weather for the Bills-Pats playoff game tomorrow with a high of 12 degrees and a low of 3 degrees @ the Ralph. The amount of time actually played is around 12 minutes, but CTE (critical temperature existence) logs in @ 3 hours.

    1. petal

      It’s going to be an interesting game! I think one friend will be attending. I’ll be listening on the radio and not envying said friend. Can’t imagine having to play, and play well, in those conditions for 3 hours. Here in northern NH, it is going to be FL -30 for us tomorrow, then a snow storm Sunday night into Monday.

      1. Wukchumni

        You can pick up tix for under $50, and the real issue isn’t the players so much, but the proles who will be going nowhere fast in their seats. I get the feeling we won’t see the usual fans sans shirts in the stands tomorrow.

    2. Yves Smith

      Wimps! The Ice Bowl!

      Pro football fans in Green Bay, Wisconsin have always been recognized as a loyal and hearty bunch. But one wouldn’t have faulted even the most loyal “Packer Backer” if he’d decided not to attend the 1967 NFL Championship game between the Packers and Dallas Cowboys. Played at Lambeau Field on December 31, the temperature at game time registered a frigid 13 degrees below zero. Nonetheless, more than 50,000 parka-clad fans braved the elements that New Year’s Eve and watched in awe as the Packers claimed their third consecutive NFL title, with a 21-17 victory.


      At 5 below, you feel the hairs in your nostrils freeze and thaw with each breath.

      At 15 below, you feel the cold air bite in your windpipe.

  26. Bill Carson

    I’m starting to think that somebody has dirt on Senator Sinema. I keep seeing clips of her speeches before she was elected, when she was progressive and passionate, and now she just votes ‘no’ and won’t reveal her reasons for opposing bills or propose ways to make them better. It’s as though her strings are being pulled behind the scenes. Yes, I realize that this is another conspiracy theory of sorts, but I don’t think that campaign contributions from big pharma or corporations adequately explain her transition.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      She’s just a preening idiot, and instead of Biden responding to her thumbs down routine, he let her go. Same with Manchin. Now, they’ve dug in. She’s convinced herself she’ll be the next John McCain. They needed to be punished then (Manchin reading the Constitution during the SOTU). I’m not sure they can be dealt with at this point where they vote for anything, but Biden let them get on the furniture and is now asking them to not get on the furniture. They don’t respect Biden. Manchin is still afraid of him (see his whining about the White House staff but not Biden).

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I can’t recall the source, but I did read a fairly convincing argument from someone who was well connected with her team that she is genuinely deluded. She is convinced that she is destined to be the great unifier of left and right and will sweep into power in the next presidential election (hence her lack of interest in re-election in Arizona). Her funders find it convenient to put fuel into the fire of her self delusion. It will not be a pretty sight when reality hits her like a train.

  27. The Rev Kev

    Another tale from the files, in which our intrepid hero becomes the Premier of New South Wales and throws open the borders while easing all restrictions in order to make himself the face of post-pandemic Australia. Unfortunately for him, the virus had other plans-


    But wait, there’s more. It turns out that Scotty from Marketing has a hero. And who is it you ask? Why, Teddy Roosevelt (bangs head on keyboard)-

    ‘He believes his approach is “very similar” to that of one of his political heroes, Teddy Roosevelt, whose homestead he visited on a 2019 trip to the United States. Morrison has volumes of Roosevelt biographies, and a bust of the 26th US president in his office at The Lodge in Canberra.’


    1. Wukchumni

      “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

      Teddy Roosevelt

  28. marym

    Realignment and Legitimacy

    Comparison of Ossoff and Hawley bills to ban congressional stock trades:
    “The enforcement provisions in @SenOssoff’s bill to ban congressional stock trades are far stronger than those in Hawley’s bill, which set up a number of procedural hurdles that would likely prevent any action. Ossoff’s bill also makes the entire enforcement process transparent”

    Thread: https://twitter.com/waltshaub/status/1482115918423592969

    1. rowlf

      We’ve sparred a bit in the past. Why do you think Ossoff would do this? I like it, but it seems career limiting, putting him outside the group.

      (As a former union member I really hate Democrats for treating us as veal penned and want to see them destroyed. Then we should destroy the Republican party.)

      1. marym

        I think we’ve had some good discussions. I don’t know why he did it. He and Warner ran a decent and politically smart campaign so maybe he believes people in Congress shouldn’t be corrupt. It’s an issue that’s in the news, he’s got 5 more years before he’s up for re-election, and the Senate Dems aren’t exactly keeping busy doing good works.

        If electoral politics and an inside/outside movement for change are possible (I don’t know), someone has to be working on the inside, which includes giving a public voice to the issues. Maybe that doesn’t answer the question of why Ossoff chose this issue, but it does clarify yet again where Josh “we are a working class party now“ Hawley actually stands. So it’s already been useful.

        As far as the destruction order for the parties, the Dems are doing it to themselves of course, but the Republicans aren’t going to leave any avenues open for further change. They say this explicitly, and take every action to make it so, on every level of government, so there’s no need to imagine otherwise.

  29. Michael McK

    I think the Plantidote is a thistle seed, Milkthistle, if I had to guess one in particular.
    I think the next President will be a Republican, Daniel Cameron, if I had to guess one in particular.
    Both are pro-life.

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