2:00PM Water Cooler 2/15/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

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“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

Biden Adminstration

“Earthling: The man who foresaw the Ukraine crisis” [Nonzero]. “Back in 2008, when George W. Bush fatefully strong-armed European members of NATO into promising future membership for Ukraine and Georgia, [William Burns, current director of the CIA] was warning that the consequences would be dire—but not because of Putin’s distinctive psychology. In a memo to then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Burns wrote, “Ukrainian entry into NATO is the brightest of all red lines for the Russian elite (not just Putin). In more than two and a half years of conversations with key Russian players, from knuckle-draggers in the dark recesses of the Kremlin to Putin’s sharpest liberal critics, I have yet to find anyone who views Ukraine in NATO as anything other than a direct challenge to Russian interests.” Burns added that it was “hard to overstate the strategic consequences” of offering Ukraine NATO membership, which, he predicted, would “create fertile soil for Russian meddling in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.” As Peter Beinart notes in his newsletter, Burns’s analysis is at odds with the claim (lately made in many Blob communiques, including Applebaum’s) that the Ukraine crisis is largely driven by Putin’s fear of encroaching democracy.” • So, possibly the CIA is not completely on board with the warmongering of Ukrainian irredentists at State? And speaking of irrendentists:

“Manchin would not back Supreme Court confirmation right before 2024 election” [Reuters]. “Democratic U.S. Senator Joe Manchin said on Monday he would not support a Senate vote to confirm President Joe Biden’s pick for a Supreme Court seat if a vacancy opened up right before the 2024 presidential election.” • I’m not sure there’s a death watch on any Supreme Court nominees… Perhaps some other method of removal is being contemplated?

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.

“Manufacturing Descent w/ Justin Feldman (02/10/22)” (podcast) [Death Panel]. “Epidemiologist Justin Feldman joins us to talk through this week’s sudden pivot by Democrats to drop state mask mandates. We discuss where this policy change came from and how these decisions appear to have been influenced by the anti-mask “Urgency of Normal” group and the increasingly prominent advocacy of Leana Wen.” • The Urgency of Normal site. Out of nowhere, lots of traction.

“Dems’ Problems Bigger Than Redistricting” [Cook Political Report]. “While it is true that Democrats do seem to have escaped a tsunami in reapportionment and redistricting, their fundamental political troubles heading into the midterm elections have little to do with either reapportionment or redistricting…. If the new congressional maps result in a much smaller number of competitive congressional districts, does that reduce the variability of the outcome? That is, if more districts are much more blue or red in their tint, does it narrow the band of potential outcomes and minimize the number of losses that a party can have? Logically and theoretically, that should be the case—and it might. But my experience has been that in wave years, the number of losses for the disadvantaged party almost always ends up larger than if one simply takes a pencil to paper and counts up which seats may flip. This cascading effect has happened time and time again…. So what needs to happen to save Democrats’ skin? As Doug Sosnik, who was a senior political aide in the Clinton White House, told Politico’s ‘Playbook,’ the administration needs to control the coronavirus and inflation, return the supply chain to normal, dodge a global crisis, and hope Biden’s job approvals return to the ‘high 40s by summer.’ Meanwhile, the GOP needs to ‘nominate unelectable general-election candidates and run lousy campaigns,’ and ‘Trump and Republicans need to keep talking about the 2020 election.'”

Oh no:

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* * *

“The left neutralizes the Dem establishment in Pa. Senate primary” [Politico]. “[F]or all his pedigree as a battleground state candidate, Lamb remains mired in the Democratic primary for Pennsylvania’s open Senate seat, trailing progressive frontrunner Lt. Gov. John Fetterman in both fundraising and the polls. Even more surprising: The party establishment hasn’t swooped in to help Lamb, despite the fact that Democratic leaders have aggressively recruited candidates with a profile like his to run for Senate in the past…. Despite receiving national attention for his 2018 congressional victory, Lamb is not widely known outside of western Pennsylvania. Fetterman, the only candidate in the Democratic field who has run and won statewide, is leading in public and private polls. Last year, Fetterman also raised nearly $12 million from a massive network of small-dollar donors, compared to $4 million for Lamb…. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has also stayed out of the contest so far, likely to the detriment of Lamb…. Lamb’s campaign believes that Fetterman has not yet been properly vetted in the crucible of a tough campaign, and is coasting on name ID. As one weakness, they point to the fact that Fetterman once pulled a shotgun on a person he thought might be involved in a shooting, but who turned out to be an unarmed Black jogger. Fetterman has said he did not know the race of the man.” • Oh, lovely.

“Is 2022 the Year of the Angry K-12 Parent?” [Amy Walter, Cook Political Report]. “A survey of battleground state parents (AZ, CO, FL, GA, MI, MN, NV, NH, NC, PA, TX, WA, and WI), taken by the GOP firm Cygnal in partnership with the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) found similar results. Just 38 percent of parents agreed that ‘even though some students will fall behind, we must keep schools closed and use virtual learning until COVID is under control.’ In comparison, a majority (54 percent) agreed that ‘if at all possible, schools should be open because too many students are falling behind.’ It’s important to note that these questions don’t specifically address masking. And the president has made it clear that he does not want to see schools shut down again. But, given actions taken by Democratic lawmakers this week, it seems clear that they too saw masking as a stand-in for other unpopular mitigation efforts like hybrid schooling and restrictions on after-school or extra-curricular activities. Kids wearing masks helps to remind voters that things are still not “back to normal,” something that Democrats and President Biden had insisted would occur under their watch. Even so, polls show that Democratic voters remain divided over the risk in having children participating in in-person school. In the NBC survey, Democrats, by a 51 percent to 43 percent margin were more concerned about the risk of COVID spreading in a school environment than they were about kids falling behind. Voters of color were also more divided with 42 percent concerned about the health risk of in-person school and 51 percent more worried about kids falling behind. Meanwhile, Republicans are united (87 percent) in believing that kids being out of school is riskier. The Cygnal/RSLC survey showed a similar partisan and racial divide. For example, among Latino parents, 59 percent wanted schools to use virtual learning until COVID was under control. In other words, the angry parents are more likely to be white.”

“DeSantis Holds Big Leads In Florida” [Political Wire]. “A new Mason-Dixon poll in Florida shows Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) leading Charlie Crist (D) in the gubernatorial race, 51% to 43%. DeSantis also leads Nikki Fried (D) in another possible match up, 53% to 42%. In the Democratic primary, Crist is the clear favorite over Fried, 44% to 27%, with 26% still undecided.”


“Adams’ unlikely alliance with the head of New York’s teachers union” [Politico]. “The mostly positive interactions between [Adams and Michael Mulgrew, who heads the United Federation of Teachers] show the waning power of teachers unions, which moved aggressively in states across the country to control how their members taught — and where they taught — as Covid-19 took hold in 2020. Two years of the pandemic have led experts to overwhelmingly agree that the push by the UFT and other unions to keep students home had a damaging effect on pupils’ long-term learning.” • Hmm.

Trump Legacy

“With North Korea talks stalled, some wonder: What if we tried something different?” [WaPo]. “The research was conducted by analysts from the U.S. Institute of Peace, the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft (which advocates for military restraint), and the South Korean think tank Sejong Institute, whose leadership is allied with [South Korean President Moon Jae-in]…. The finding reflects the view among some analysts that Trump’s summit diplomacy, while imperfect, was a new and “extraordinarily bold” approach that brought new momentum toward progress. For example, a recent NK News survey of 82 North Korea specialists from around the world found overwhelming agreement that Trump’s leader-to-leader approach with Kim ‘represents the best decision by Washington during the Kim Jong Un era.'” •

Our Famously Free Press

“Caitlin Johnstone: Just Run the News Media Out of Langley” [Consortium News]. “I think it would be a lot more efficient and straightforward if all English-language news media were just run directly out of C.I.A. headquarters by agency officials in Langley, Virginia. This way news reporters could eliminate the middleman and drop the undignified charade of presenting unproven assertions by western intelligence agencies as ‘scoops’ that they picked up from ‘sources’.


“Court Filing Started a Furor in Right-Wing Outlets, but Their Narrative Is Off Track” [Charlie Savage, New York Times]. I read this piece a couple of times; it seems dangerously close to special pleading to me (a shame, because I like Savage). For example: “[Mr. Durham’s filing] never claimed that Mr. Joffe’s company was being paid by the Clinton campaign.” Correct. The filing says that Joffe wanted to impress “VIPs” in ClintonWorld (i.e, he was hoping for a job in the Clinton administration). And: “Another paragraph in the court filing said that Mr. Joffe’s company, Neustar, had helped maintain internet-related servers for the White House, and that he and his associates ‘exploited this arrangement’ by mining certain records to gather derogatory information about Mr. Trump. Citing this filing, Fox News inaccurately declared that Mr. Durham had said he had evidence that Hillary Clinton’s campaign had paid a technology company to ‘infiltrate’ a White House server…. Most important, contrary to the reporting, the filing never said the White House data that came under scrutiny was from the Trump era.” Which I find confusing, since the apparently it was the Alfa Bank dry hole that triggered the scrutiny, and that’s Trump era.

“Special counsel Durham alleges Clinton campaign lawyer used data to raise suspicions about Trump” [CNN]. The lead: “Special counsel John Durham accused a lawyer for the Democrats of sharing with the CIA in 2017 internet data purported to show Russian-made phones being used in the vicinity of the White House complex, as part of a broader effort to raise the intelligence community’s suspicions of Donald Trump’s ties to Russia shortly after he took office.” And: “The data was compiled by a tech firm that had special access to the purportedly suspicious internet data through an ‘arrangement’ with the US government, and that firm was in touch with Sussmann, according to the filing. An executive at the tech company, Rodney Joffe, and his associates exploited this arrangement by mining domain name system traffic associated with the Executive Office of the President and other data “for the purpose of gathering derogatory information about Donald Trump,” Durham’s prosecutors wrote.” • Savage gives a lot of detail on the Russian-made phones (YotaPhones), as does other coverage. But surely the key point simple: Joffe’s private firm was sniffing data at the Executive Office of the President and IIRC Trump Tower.

Seems odd:

Redacted entirely?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Republicans Discover the Horror of Gerrymandering” [The Atlantic]. “Democrats have fared better for a number of reasons. Victories in competitive 2018 gubernatorial races gave Democrats veto pens in some states, such as Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where Republicans control the legislature. Democrats also began laying the groundwork for the redistricting fight years in advance with the formation of groups like the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, launched by former Attorney General Eric Holder with the support of former President Barack Obama. In GOP-controlled states such as Texas and Georgia, Republicans have pursued a more defensive mapmaking strategy, seeking to consolidate their power rather than attempting a maximalist (but riskier) approach of knocking out Democratic seats. State courts have struck down more aggressive GOP gerrymanders in North Carolina and Ohio. A major factor, however, is that despite their anti-gerrymandering rhetoric, Democrats have been at least as ruthless as Republicans in the biggest states where they have unfettered power to draw new districts. In Illinois, Democrats approved a map that will likely wipe out two of the GOP’s five current congressional seats. Their haul could be twice as big in New York.”


Case count by United States regions:

I have again added a “Fauci Line” to congratulate Biden and his team — Klain, Zeints, Fauci, Walensky — for finally falling below their own second-highest peak. (Rise like a rocket, and fall like a stick; the slope of the downward curve is more or less the same as the upward curve. 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 unprecedented.) I wonder if there will be plateau when BA.2 takes hold. Since the Northeast has form, that is probably the region to watch for this behavior first.

The official narrative was “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! This time, it may be different. But who knows?

NOT UPDATED MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

Continues encouraging. No jump from the return of the students yet, which is even more encouraging, especially if you’re in “Waiting for BA.2” mode.

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:

Continued improvement. (Remember that these are rapid riser counties. A county that moves from red to green is not covid-free; the case count just isnt, well, rising rapidly.)

The previous release:

Here is CDC’s interactive map by county set to community transmission:

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Sea of green! From the point of view of our hospital-centric health care system, green everywhere means the emergency is over (and to be fair, this is reinforced by case count and wastewater). However, community transmission is still pervasive, which means that long Covid, plus continuing vascular damage, are not over. (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: 946,224 943,411. A dip, fortunately. I sure hope we break a million before Biden’s State of the Union speech. There’s still time.

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

Good news here too.

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States NY Empire State Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The New York Empire State Manufacturing Index rose to 3.1 in February of 2022 from -0.7 in January, but below market expectations of 12.15. New orders and shipments held steady, and unfilled orders increased. Delivery times continued to lengthen. Labor market indicators pointed to a solid increase in employment and a longer average workweek. The prices paid index remained near its recent peak, and the prices received index reached a new record high. Plans for capital and technology spending remained strong.”

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The Bezzle: “EE380 Talk” [David Rosenthal, DSHR’s Blog]. A brutal must-read. “Bitcoin is notorious for consuming as much electricity as the Netherlands, but there are around 10,000 other cryptocurrencies, most using similar infrastructure and thus also in aggregate consuming unsustainable amounts of electricity. Bitcoin alone generates as much e-waste as the Netherlands, cryptocurrencies suffer an epidemic of pump-and-dump schemes and wash trading, they enable a $5.2B/year ransomware industry, they have disrupted supply chains for GPUs, hard disks, SSDs and other chips, they have made it impossible for web services to offer free tiers, and they are responsible for a massive crime wave including fraud, theft, tax evasion, funding of rogue states such as North Korea, drug smuggling, and even as documented by Jameson Lopp’s list of physical attacks, armed robbery, kidnapping, torture and murder.” • Worth reading in full, as Rosenthal explains how all the parts of the Bitcoin “ecosystem” perversely fit together. Oh, and: “Libertarianism’s attraction is based on ignoring externalities, and cryptocurrencies are no exception.”

The Bezzle: “Shared custodianship”:

The Bezzle: “Intel to Enter Bitcoin Mining Market With Energy-Efficient Hardware” [PC Magazine]. “Intel is entering the blockchain mining market with upcoming hardware capable of generating Bitcoin. Intel insists the effort won’t put a strain energy supplies or deprive consumers of chips. The goal is to create the most energy-efficient blockchain mining equipment on the planet, it says. In addition, the company is avoiding the term mining. Instead, Intel is using the phrase ‘blockchain accelerators.'”

The Bezzle: “Investors are paying millions for virtual land in the metaverse” [CNBC]. “It’s no secret the real estate market is skyrocketing, but the Covid pandemic is creating another little-known land rush. Indeed, some investors are paying millions for plots of land — not in New York or Beverly Hills. In fact, the plots do not physically exist here on Earth. Rather, the land is located online, in a set of virtual worlds that tech insiders have dubbed the metaverse. Prices for plots have soared as much as 500% in the last few months ever since Facebook announced it was going all-in on virtual reality…. [Virtual real estate developer Janine Yorio] tells CNBC her company sold 100 virtual private islands last year for $15,000 each. ‘Today, they’re selling for about $300,000 each, which is coincidentally the same as the average home price in America,’ she said.”

The Bezzle: “Super Bowl LVI will be ‘the single biggest sports betting event in history,’ FanDuel CEO says” [Yahoo Finance]. “‘This Super Bowl is going to be the single biggest sports betting event in history,’ [FanDuel CEO Amy Howe] said…. ‘So that just gives you a sense of the magnitude of what we’re coming into. … It just makes for a much more engaging experience right? It’s not just about the outcome of the game but you have skin in the game on who’s going to be the MVP and who’s going to score that first touchdown.'”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 36 Fear (previous close: 33 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 37 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 15 at 1:21pm. Back to flirting with Neutral!

Police State Watch

T. Greg Doucette is an account worth following:

(A Republican, if that matters.) Doucette has an enormous series of threads on police criminality, which is a real and continuing problem.

Class Warfare

“Map: Where Are Starbucks Workers Unionizing?” [More Perfect Union]. “We’re tracking every Starbucks store where workers are forming unions.” • Good idea. Maps are hard to do, and hard to maintain permanently (as Mike Elk knows).

“In California, College Students Are Now Officially Considered an Environmental Menace” [Slate]. “Enrolling more students at one of America’s best public universities might be bad for the environment. That’s the conclusion of California Superior Court Judge Brad Seligman, who on Aug. 23 ordered the University of California–Berkeley to temporarily freeze the number of students it admits every year under the California Environmental Quality Act, putting crowded classrooms in the same category as heavy infrastructure like highways and airports. ‘Further increases in student enrollment above the current enrollment level at UC–Berkeley could result in an adverse change or alteration of the physical environment,’ the judge wrote. It’s the latest and most explicit example of California’s famously stringent environmental law being used for population control. Instead of governing the construction of dams or smokestacks, CEQA is frequently leveraged by anti-development groups in California to oppose apartment buildings, homeless shelters, and bus lanes, among other things. Now it’s being employed to micromanage university admissions.” • “Population control.”

On the Canadian truckers:

News of the Wired

Clearly, we need to recode all this in JavaScript:

Would it be so hard to train coders for these old languages?

Alert reader KE writes:

[I] bought a portable co2 meter. Does particles and temp and humidity too. So far most places have had very good to excellent ventilation even though I don’t go many places anymore! Attached photos are of a local Whole Foods. A big nearly empty barn of a place in the wilds of suburban Jersey. It was lower in produce (bottom) as that’s by the doors.

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

CM writes: “Photo taken in Southern Ontario, October. If you look closely at the bottom and edges of the photo, you can see a near-perfect circle line of mushrooms, about thirty feet in diameter, with a dying black cherry tree in the exact centre. My guess is that it traces the perimeter of the underlying root structure of the tree. No idea why though!”

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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. zagonostra

    Canadian Truckers – John Furman

    “…people feel they need to find excuses for opposing things that appear to take the form of social movements but for reactionary political ends.”

    Really!? You mean there aren’t enough legitimate grievances to go around?

    The “Left” is cooked.

      1. zagonostra

        @flora thanks for the “leftlocdownsceptic” article. This harkens back to another Italian, philosopher Giorgio Agamben who is know best for his theory of “sovereignty by exception.”

        We are therefore in the midst of a global geo-financial and geo-political mutation, one of those watershed moments that very rarely occur during one’s lifetime. In this respect, economic implosion and the exercise of biopower should be regarded as two sides of the same coin. The ongoing narrative based on cases and variants works as a smokescreen hatched by the perverse imagination of the elites and their behavioural psychology advisors. Their aim now is to normalise the state of exception in the hope that the people will accept their servitude spontaneously.

      2. djrichard

        It is interesting to go back to late 2019, just before Covid the Federal Reserve had raised their fed funds rate above the 10Y yield, which is what precipitates a recession. They weren’t as dedicated to it being above the 10Y yield as compared to 2001 and 2009, even so it seemed they were on path and it was just a matter of time for the next recession. At which point there would have to be some splainin to do, because it wasn’t really evident that the economy needed the Fed Reserve to take the punch bowl away. And then boom, Covid.

        Flip to present. We now have the 13 week treasury going gang busters since the beginning of Jan. It’s now up to 0.4%. The Fed Funds rate is still at 0.08%, so there should already be a 25 basis point rate hike by now. Regardless, it appears the Fed Reserve is on path on taking the punch bowl away; just need to raise their Fed Funds rate about 200 basis points to get it above the 10Y yield. This time there might less explaining to do as there seems to be a a desire to take the punch bowl away. Still, it’s not like the Federal Reserve can engineer a soft landing. Either it’s risk on or risk off. Once it goes risk off, it really goes. But I have to wonder if a war with Russia is what the doctor is ordering to provide a narrative to the economy going into recession.

        See https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=M8rp

  2. Mikel

    And another grifter economy update:

    “…An engineering professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has pleaded guilty to convincing foreign graduate students from China to pay tuition expenses to his company and pocketing the money, even though they owed no money to study at the school.

    Troy Liu, 41, admitted that between 2016 and 2020, he talked 20 students and visiting professors from China to wire his company tens of thousands of dollars to pay for their tuition….”

  3. DJG, Reality Czar

    Fairy rings. (Great circles of fungi.)

    From the Mushroom Expert, Michael Kuo:

    Just about any terrestrial mushroom can pop up in fairy rings. What is required is simply an evenly composed substrate. Since lawns are tended environments created by people whose goal is an evenly composed substrate, they are frequent fairy ring sites for grass-loving mushrooms like Marasmius oreades, Chlorophyllum molybdites, and several species of Agaricus. Woods are messier than lawns, and involve territory that is usually not very consistent in its composition–but every so often one finds a ring or partial ring created by a woodland species in a rare patch of stable environment; I have seen species of Amanita and Russula, for example, fruiting in large arcs in the woods.

    Here is the entry:


      1. c_heale

        I guess these are fungi that had a symbiotic relationship with the tree and now it is dying are reproducing, so their spores can find another tree to have a relationship with.

  4. Questa Nota

    Fauci Line, soon to join the Line Pantheon?

    a few examples:
    Durand Line
    Maginot Line
    Main Line
    Siegfried Line
    Sykes-Picot Line

    Add your own :)

    1. griffen

      Here’s to your thin red line, I’m stepping over…

      Van Halen, “Unchained”. Off the Fair Warning album.

      1. Randall Flagg

        And when “ Push comes to shove”,I’ll have “one foot out the door” stepping out into that “Mean Street”. And I ask myself, “So this is love?”

    1. Sardonia

      Maybe he’s laying the groundwork for a GoFundMe campaign:

      “I need to raise a $10 million retirement fund. If I reach that goal by May of this year, I will retire then. If not, well, I’ll see how things look in 2025.”

  5. FriarTuck

    “Would it be so hard to train coders for these old languages?”

    Um, probably not, but the whole reason of having a human-readable syntax that gets compiled into machine-readable code is to make it so that logic is easy to interpret and errors are easy to identify. Looking at MUMPS, I wouldn’t want to work in that for five minutes, let alone as part of a full-time job.

    A problem of a lot of those early languages is that the syntax were made by esoteric savants who made the languages in the way that was easiest for them to understand, rather than what is easiest to allow new developers to be on-boarded. They might work pretty well for the savant, but getting a sizeable mass of people trained in the language to build on network effects is never going to happen.

    While, sure, esoteric languages like MUMPS might be more resistant to tampering simply by the obscurity of the language, as any security specialist will tell you, “Security by obscurity is no security at all.”

    1. XXYY

      “This code was hard to write, so it should be hard to read” seems to be the motto of all too many software engineers working today.

    2. Opticon

      Is there a reason why the medical profession continues to use another long-outdated technology, the fax machine? I know about prescriptions, but surely even they could be scanned and sent as email attachments. Anyone know about this?

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        My brother told me that faxed signatures were made legally binding in the 80s. –Never checked up on that.– And nothing has been since. Mostly we gain web existence through credit cards. I’ve found that a scanned, signed invoice is good enough for house insurance, tree services, etc.

      2. Risteard

        Fax is eternal because of the sentOk/receivedOK fax feature. Yes I know it can be done other ways, but nothing will beat this proof that the receiver got the document. It works across all boundaries and clinical software systems and cannot be denied. If using an old fax machine, the fax doesnt have to stay in print very long at the sending end, scans of everything are fine after the all-important faxOK is obtained. Trust, but verify.

        Nobody will abandon this. It’s CYA 101.

    3. Glen

      Actually, Donald Knuth (Mathematics, and Computer Science, Stanford, creator of TeX, etc) and John Backus (IBM, creator of Fortran) both credit Noam Chomsky’s work in linguistic theory as helping while developing high level computer programming languages.

      But more generally, yeah, it’s a pretty geeky guy just hammering something out to get the job done.

      I work pretty hard to keep my coding simple, but have worked with guys that have a real talent at taking even the most strongly structured and typed languages and making the code an obtuse journey through the bizarre.

      1. LawnDart

        I work pretty hard to keep my coding simple, but have worked with guys that have a real talent at taking even the most strongly structured and typed languages and making the code an obtuse journey through the bizarre.

        I see that in PLC-land as well.

        We call it “job-security.”

      2. marku52

        C programmers seem to regard it as a work of art to condense 5 lines of easily recognizable code into one dense line that other C programmers scratch their heads over.

        It all compiles the same, so it’s just ego.

    4. Mel

      Here’s a good description of MUMPS. It started in 1966, about the same time the BASIC language appeared, and was built for a similar use-case — a programming system and database that could be self-hosted on the kind of computer that even a modest hospital could afford. It’s interpreted, not compiled because compilers were too complicated for small machines. The extreme, cryptic, compression is not required, but almost always used, to help to get the most program into the least memory.
      I bet you could make a self-hosted programming system on an Arduino Due. With Raspberry Pi’s at $35, there’s no point, but you could.
      Why use it now? Here at Naked Capitalism we have a dichotomy of classes to categorize computer systems. One class is for the obsolete systems, written in the dim past, running forever and way beyond their due date to be replaced.
      The other class is for bleeding-edge systems, based on incomprehensible top-of-fashion abstractions, largely untested, and ready to take down the entire world at any moment.
      MUMPS is of course in the first class.

      1. Janie

        MUMPS was my first (computer) language. Our reference lab ran it on a Data General Eclipse. It was fun, our conversion from manual to computer operations for specimen handling and test reporting.

    5. Art Vandalay

      Years ago I interviewed for a non-technical corporate role at Epic Software in Verona, Wisconsin, one of the big electronic health record companies. It was clear to me during the course of the day spent on their aggressively cute campus (which was its own kind of repellent) that they hired lots of fresh-out-of-school bright liberal arts undergrads with no technical background, made them consultants, and then sent them out for months to years long billable deployment engagements at client sites. It sounded like these people were pretty much indentured servants. At the time, I thought it was that the liberal arts grads were so grateful for a high-paid tech job that they put up with it . . . but it wasn’t clear to me why they would stay other than that they were too busy at client deployments to look for other work. I think MUMPs – which I’d never heard of until today – must be the other part of the puzzle. The bright young people were being trained on archaic tech with no use outside healthcare, and therefore weren’t directly qualifed for any other jobs. Diabolical. And it confirms the bad vibes I got from the interview experience. Dodged a bullet on that one.

      1. Jason Boxman

        Yes, I met one of those people back in 2014, who started fresh out of college, and said after a year he was one of the few left still standing. He did finally leave to go independent. Sounded horrible. And you’re required to relocate to the hq, although no idea about today.

    6. Vandemonian

      Part of the reason that health IT systems written in MUMPS persist is that the business logic which is embodied within them is very hard to identify and extract, and probably very difficult to mirror in a more recent language. And the users of those MUMPS systems are familiar and experienced with the use of them.

      Taking hospital staff off the floor for intensive IT training can be an expensive proposition.

  6. Mikel

    The Bezzle: “Super Bowl LVI will be ‘the single biggest sports betting event in history,’ …

    I suspected this subject would pop up post game.
    Saved these in anticipation:


    and the kicker for more social/historical perspective:
    “When life feels this precarious, it’s only natural to roll the dice on just about everything….”

    1. griffen

      One knows a sports article is dated when it mentions players that were traded since the writing of the article. I mean heck, the Nets had been on a losing streak until last night I think? A very minor point to make, as that Atlantic column is not necessarily old.

      I clicked on the yahoo linked article above, and found another source article worth mentioning. The post retirement business and investment portfolio of Tom Brady. Well then again, just barely into retirement TB12 is already handing out some red meat to his followers about making a return. Per the article, Brady has career earnings over $290 million just on his NFL salary alone.

      1. Mikel

        I said the article was a historical perspective…so yeah…it’s going to have some dated info and the date is in the link…so that shouldn’t be a surprise.

        1. griffen

          Whenever I plan to link to something here in comments, I’m generally appreciative if anyone else bothers to reply on topic or really off topic.

          Atlantic columns are generally more long form. Spend 20 minutes reading both linked articles is asking a bit much, my humble opinion.

  7. Glossolalia

    Just 38 percent of parents agreed that ‘even though some students will fall behind, we must keep schools closed and use virtual learning until COVID is under control.’

    Just 38 percent? That’s an insane number of people who think that schools should be closed. I bet most of them are well-to-do, with fast internet, home computers, private spaces at home for each kid to learn from, tutors on the weekends, etc.

    1. BrianH

      Not all of them. Some of us want virtual school because it’s safer for kids and teachers and would slow down the spread of this virus. The problem is not privileged parents who want virtual school because it works for their lifestyle, although there are plenty of them out there. The problem is our government not providing the support needed to make virtual school work for everybody.

      1. jonboinAR

        With both parents often having to work outside the home, how could virtual school be made functional for even nearly everybody?

        1. ambrit

          Remotely accessed shock collars. Monitered through the Internet of Things.
          “Resistance is futile. (And very painful.)”

          1. anon y'mouse

            send the kids to mcD’s. they generally have internet.

            they can make some burgers and shakes in their break time. or vice versa.

            since the online school will shortly be offered by mcD’s, and we’re also going to return to child labor soon, this could be a time and money saving operation in short order.

  8. specialprocedures

    On training coders in old or obscure languages, this is very difficult problem.

    First and foremost, people learn what’s useful: both in terms of building things and landing a job. Learning something like MUMPS is good for neither.

    Learning the old and obscure is also difficult. As someone with low-grade coding skills in a couple of languages, the above is utter gibberish. The point of the article was that an important system uses an awful language that’s impossible for a newcomer to read and debug. There are few people out there to support as a community of practice (most programmers are utterly dependent on stackoverflow) and even fewer willing or able to teach. The only real place to learn something like that is in an organisation using it.

    You can argue about economic incentives, but a programmer is always going to be much happier and have more opportunities specialising in languages that get regular use. It’s a truism in the business that a good COBOL programmer will never be out of work, given the number of legacy systems it underpins, but that doesn’t mean there are all that many folks under 45 that use it.

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      I’d add that this whole thing reminds me of the fracas about IBM looking to extinct their “dinobabies” from a few days ago. Cull all the people with any experience in these old systems and see where that gets you when the enivatable happens and something goes wrong.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Simple. You just hire back the people that you just fired as “consultants” with massive pay incentives – and thereby eliminating any savings that you got from firing these people in the first place.

  9. polar donkey

    We have a big Starbucks unionization fight in Memphis. Starbucks decided to fire many of the local managers in Memphis locations a couple months back. Hasn’t sat well with the workers. 7 workers tried to unionize the location at Poplar and Highland. Fired those workers. Protesters shut the place down about a week and half ago for a few days. I’m not sure if it reopened, but people know what Starbucks is like. That is everyone other than the PMCers that don’t care.

  10. Carolinian

    In the interest of sharing this is a good Hedges rant.


    The belief that the Democratic Party offers an alternative to militarism is, as Samuel Johnson said, the triumph of hope over experience. The disputes with Republicans are largely political theater, often centered around the absurd or the trivial. On the substantive issues there is no difference within the ruling class. The Democrats, like the Republicans, embrace the fantasy that, even as the country stands on the brink of insolvency, a war industry that has orchestrated debacle after debacle, from Vietnam to Afghanistan and Iraq, is going to restore lost American global hegemony.

    Empires, as Reinhold Niebuhr observed, eventually “destroy themselves in the effort to prove that they are indestructible.” The self-delusion of military invincibility is the scourge that brought down the American empire, as it brought down past empires.

    1. zagonostra

      The exact same article appeared in MintPress today. I have been following Chris Hedges for a long time. I have purchased, enjoyed and found inciteful his work-especial “The Death of the Liberal Class, but recently he seems to me to be just recycling old essays.

      What really strikes me is not what he is writing and speaking about but his silence on the Canadian Truckers. I can’t find a single public statement. He was at Zuccotti park and the OWS protest and often talks about it and other grassroots moments, especially in Eastern Europe with the fall of the Berlin Wall. But now, nary a peep.

      Perhaps it’s like when you buy a new car and all of a sudden you notice that type of car everywhere except for me it’s not a car but a political perspective, ideology even. Everywhere I look I’m seeing what people whose views I’ve always followed and respected are not saying, Lee Camp is another Political comedian that has been silent.

      1. Carolinian

        He’s a good writer and very good on TV if you’ve ever seen him on CSPAN. However perhaps his religious background makes him more inclined to moralizing than I would be. Ethics are paramount to suppress our more unsavory impulses but if you believe there’s something called “human nature” then you also have to believe that much of what goes on is what scientists call “behavior.” That’s why history repeats itself. Or rhymes.

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          Ethics are paramount to suppress our more unsavory impulses but if you believe there’s something called “human nature” then you also have to believe that much of what goes on is what scientists call “behavior.”

          That’s a good one to chew on, thanks.

      2. lordkoos

        Perhaps it is because Hedges isn’t sure what is really happening. I think the Canadian border is still closed and it’s hard to know what is really going on from the media unless someone has other sources.

      3. anon y'mouse

        Hedges has written far too many fearmongering screeds about wild eyed white supremacists to touch that topic with a 50 foot refrigerated semi trailer.

    2. IMOR

      If I’d ever read that Niebhur quote, I’d forgotten it. Thank you. Which of his writings or speeches is it from?

      1. mistah charley, ph.d.

        It is from chapter 11, “Things that are and things that are not”, in Niebuhr’s 1937 book Beyond Tragedy. I found a copy online.

        1. Swamp Yankee

          Beyond Tragedy by Niebuhr changed my life when I picked it up randomly as an undergrad at the library.

          Can’t get that same quality of serendipity reading online….

          Of course, the neoliberal so-and-so who was College President had that old (i.e., 1970s) library bulldozed and created a postmodern shiny one in its place.

          But Niebuhr in _BEYOND TRAGEDY_ is great, a response to Nietzsche, really, through his sermons.

      2. Andrew Watts

        It’s actually a partial misquote by Hedges. “To the end of history, social orders will probably destroy themselves in an effort to prove they are indestructible.”

        Well, kinda. I think the sentiment remains the same.

  11. fjallstrom

    “Just 38 percent of parents agreed that ‘even though some students will fall behind, we must keep schools closed and use virtual learning until COVID is under control.’ In comparison, a majority (54 percent) agreed that ‘if at all possible, schools should be open because too many students are falling behind.’”

    The quoted questions is how you formulate to maximize the number of answers in the second column. The resulting numbers are irrelevant, the narrative and who is pushing it, is relevant.

  12. Matthew G. Saroff

    Not withstanding all the ranting about MUMPS, which is 56 years old, is that the systems developed were far more doctor friendly than the current crop of medical software.

    This was because doctors were in charge, not the IT guys.

    I agree that the code looks ugly, but no less ugly than Javascript or C++.

    1. dk

      The MUMPS code pictured logs the initiation and progress of the batch as it steps through a list (%uBkgTag) of identifiers (the “batch”); that and the error handling at the bottom is 95% of the code shown. Hard to tell exactly what is being done because of the truncation, but it looks like a set of identifiers/codes is being applied to a set of (patient?) records.

      There may be some very difficult code in a MUMPS program, but that sample isn’t it. Performative whining of demagogues distracts from the actual problems.

      MUMPS is based on a string-manipulation paradigm, so much of what a piece of code will do is very dependent on what is in the data. Worry about the data. The challenge of legacy MUMPS program code is that it may have been (almost certainly was, at this point) written for data conditions (“codes”) that have since changed.

      Hospitals and providers have procedures to document all data coding changes, but there is naturally a lot of variation between sites, and also, stuff happens (as it does, a reliable and fully predictable constant in the physical universe we inhabit).

  13. Wukchumni

    Intel insists the effort won’t put a strain energy supplies or deprive consumers of chips. The goal is to create the most energy-efficient blockchain mining equipment on the planet, it says. In addition, the company is avoiding the term mining. Instead, Intel is using the phrase ‘blockchain accelerators.’”

    In essence, a ‘blockchain accelerator’ is an old school ‘chain letter’ of sorts, that attempts to convince the recipient to make a number of copies and pass them on to a certain number of recipients, because markets.

    The Bezzle: “EE380 Talk” [David Rosenthal, DSHR’s Blog].

    I’m as lost as Mr. Magoo when negotiating high techorama lingua franca, but luckily the article was strewn with plain talk about things crypto, with a few nuggets here and there. Worth a read!

    The Bezzle: “Super Bowl LVI will be ‘the single biggest sports betting event in history

    NFL players* have a really short shelf life compared to other pro sports, it’s the equivalent of being in a car wreck 17 out of 18 weeks each season. One of these days a gridironist will throw some games, and the NFL will be out of favor, ruined over it’s stance on gambling.

    * TB12 so skews things, i’ve tossed him out of this conversation as an outlier.

    1. Mikel

      “Blockchain” is sort of re-inventing the checkbook. Remember how you could write me a check for a sum and then I could sign it over to someone else as payment and they could sign it over and so on?
      It was currency until somebody took it to a bank to cash.

  14. Adam

    Based on my first hand experience, focusing on just maintaining a poor system (whether the system is poor because no one can write it anymore, whether the design itself was flawed or whether its built in a lacking programming language like SAS) is just going to lead to much worse results over the long run. Even teaching someone an old language doesn’t necessary mean that they can parse someone else’s code (or even worse, I’ve seen bad system where one critical person who wrote the code couldn’t parse their own code years after writing it). Rethinking the system and writing it into a new language can lead to pretty large and sometimes unexpected benefits.

    1. Duke of Prunes

      Spoken like a true software developer… Nirvana is just a system rewrite away!

      Granted old systems do eventually need to be retired, but if I had a nickel for every time a developer said “look at all the benefits of rethinking and rewriting”, and it didn’t quite turn out that way, I’d have a lot of nickels. Of course, by that time, said developer is long gone as all the meaningful experience designing the new system in the new language of the day has juiced his resume. Never is it “look at all the risk, and remember our history of missed milestones and delivery delays”.

      The successful path forward is rarely a “rewrite”. It’s more about incrementally moving the required capabilities of the old system into the new world until the old system can be turned off. Often, much of the old system is never migrated because the world has changed, and it’s those capabilities are no longer necessary. Maybe this is what you mean by “rewrite”, but my experience with “rewrites” is they always cost more and take longer than anyone ever predicts – much time and $$$ later you still only have a fraction of the features of the original system because that new design had unforeseen complexities.

      Also, in my experience, while MUMPS is still out there, it is in no way “the foundation of pretty much all of US healthcare”. The writing was on the wall in the 90s, and the foundation of healthcare is now Epic and few others – healthcare loves “turnkey systems” and rarely codes anything themselves.

      1. Adam

        I just spent about 1.5 years rolling 20 years of code of over 500,000 lines across multiple languages into about 15,000 lines, corrected a horde of errors the code was causing and used my structure to built multiple additional layers of quality controls and analyst tools on top of it, so I’ll take my nickel!

        That being said, I don’t think about else in my organization could have done it, so you aren’t wrong (and certainly not someone who was just a software developer since it takes a broader skillset).

      2. Otis B Driftwood

        Epic won the EHR wars a decade ago (with Cerner a close second and everyone else a distant third), based on a ruthless sales and marketing approach and a client-server based system built on MUMPS.

        I found this article from 2014 that sums things up pretty well:


        The world and US healthcare IT has since moved on, albeit at a slow pace, and it is absolute rubbish to claim that all of US healthcare is crippled by systems running on MUMPS. It is neither ubiquitous nor responsible for the poor state of our healthcare system.

        Don’t blame MUMPS for that, blame pharmaceutical companies, healthcare insurers, the AMA, and the countless politicians who do their bidding.

  15. Ranger Rick

    That Intel news is jaw-dropping, but I can only imagine the financial leverage being used to persuade them. Factory-direct silicon beats having to compete with the proles for retail hardware after all — the shortages will continue.

    Barring outright bans from national regulators (Congress won’t even bat an eye) I predict the next crypto battleground to be public utility commissions, which will first be petitioned and then be locally-legislated into (functionally, as it will likely take the form of a punitive use tax) banning crypto as an acceptable industrial power customer. What we’ll be witnessing in the next few years is a massive PR effort to convince J. Q. Public that they too can profit from crypto (currency, mining, NFTs) in an attempt to fait accompli enough of the electorate to stop it from happening.

  16. Daniil Adamov

    “It seems like people feel they need to find excuses for opposing things that appear to take the form of social movements but for reactionary political ends.”

    I would add that it’s okay to call something a social movement even if you disagree with goals, methods, and underlying values. A social movement is not defined by being right or in alignment with anyone’s political views.

  17. ProNewerDeal

    It appears here in the United States of Flip Flopping, even most “Blue states” are going to remove mask mandates, a few weeks after the Biden Admin supposedly offered free N95 masks if one can jump through the private insurance-gatekeeped neoliberal hoops.

    IIRC, at a time before vaccines were available, mikethemadbiologist cited a German standard of wearing masks in public indoor settings as long as 7-day average daily prevalence was above above 7 case/100Kpersons. For riskier settings such as bar/restaurant/gym/churches, this was to be 1 case/100Kpersons.

    Does the NC Covid experts have any take on indoor mask wearing, relative to prevalence?

    I assume it is prudent to keep wearing the N95 mask in public indoor settings, at a minimum when the local county 7-day average daily prevalence was above above 7 case/100Kpersons. Family-blog peer pressure or being perceived as eccentric or a hypochondriac, that is less burdensome then potential Long Covid effects such as possible increased cancer risk from T-cell depletion, etc.

    What do ya think?! (c) Ed Schultz

      1. albrt

        I’m going with N-95s until further notice. Less COVID, less flu, less common cold, less allergies, less video facial recognition. What’s not to like?

  18. NotTimothyGeithner

    in Florida shows Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) leading Charlie Crist (D) in the gubernatorial race,

    A Trump Republican and a Shrub Republican.

  19. The Rev Kev

    ‘And here’s @NBCNews Chief Foreign Correspondent @RichardEngel promoting a media stunt by Ukraine’s far-right, neo-Nazi Azov Battalion on air.’

    Willful blindness. They must know who these people are and what they are all about. Did not the torchlight parades give them a hint? And nobody at NBC News will ever be held to account for this. Did anybody hold to account that CNN reporter who sniffed a backpack and claimed that she could smell sarin gas that the Syrians supposedly used? I guess that since US troops are training the Azoz battalion, that NBC News can claim that they must be on the up and up and their conscious is clear.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      You can see the Azov insignia at the :13 mark. Seems fairly obvious what it’s alluding to.

      Over the last few years we’ve seen a media looking for racists under every rock, claiming those who would dissent from the conventional narrative must be right wingers, and stooping so low at one point to ridiculously claim a Jeopardy winner was flashing white supremacist signals after a victory.

      But when the real thing is literally right in front of their faces, they don’t decry but actually promote it.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        One wonders if all the Paperclip Nazis brought here by the proto-CIA and establishment leadership right after WWII have worked their way deeply enough into government and academe that they are now able to command American ruling class support for genuine the-real-thing nazis when such nazis manage to take over a country’s government.

        Would this explain some of the DC FedRegime’s support for the Banderazi Nazis of Ukraine?

  20. The Rev Kev

    “In California, College Students Are Now Officially Considered an Environmental Menace”

    On the face of it, it sounds pretty stupid. But what it really sounds like is that UC-Berkeley reneged on an agreement on student numbers and then tried to off-load the costs of the use of public services by students like fire, police, public transit,housing, etc. onto the city of Berkley. If UC-Berkeley wants to make more money by increasing student enrollment, then they are going to have to come to the party and put their hands in their pocket to pay for the consequences of doing so.

  21. Mikel

    “Would it be so hard to train coders for these old languages?”

    Or hire laid off older workers that know it…

  22. Amfortas the hippie

    the san antonio starbucks that is the only starbucks in texas trying to unionise(according to the art) is near where we’re at right now(down here in a hotel for clinical trial stuff).
    being totally out of my depth when it comes to real world union things, i’m not sure how to support them on our way out of town tomorrow.
    getting a cup of overpriced coffee?
    going in and tipping them a $20 while yelling a slogan(TBD)?
    chaining myself to the espresso machine?

    the reason i’m out of my depth, here…is because this is texas…and, being in ‘food service’ in texas my entire working life, nobody i ever worked with even knew what a union was…except some ambiguous “bad thing”, per the rampant propaganda.
    ergo, my entire knowledge of unions is pretty academic….however self-taught.
    any advice will be appreciated.

    1. ambrit

      Just don’t cross any picket lines. All else will be ‘organic’ to the organizing effort.
      A big hug from us to your Lady.

      1. griffen

        I’d think a picket line in Texas would be like seeing a Democrat in the Guv or Lt Guv. Unicorns are more likely to be observed.

        A hearty “amen” and once more with feeling. Big hug to the lady.

  23. Andrew Watts

    RE: With North Korea talks stalled, some wonder: What if we tried something different?

    Well, that’s probably what you should do when the outcome(s) you achieve are less than desirable. The DPRK offered to cease enriching uranium in return for peace, but the Bush the Younger administration refused. Since then they’ve built a respectable stockpile of nuclear weapons.

    The North Koreans occasionally demonstrate their increasing ability to wage a war with all the might and fury they’ve mustered thus far. Which is completely understandable. They’re often portrayed as crazy in the media, but when you’re denied peace you need to prepare for war.

  24. VietnamVet

    It is morning now, 7:28 AM, in Kyiv, Wednesday, February 16, 2022 – Invasion Day. On WaPo/NYT web sites there are no reports of sightings of rocket’s red glare, bombs bursting in air, or Russian tanks swarming across Ukraine’s borders.

    1. The Rev Kev

      When the Kremlin heard about this 3 am time for the Russian invasion to begin, they told the Ukraine not to forget to set their alarm clocks so that they did not miss anything-


      Our media is nothing but a bad joke doing psyops on people. Would you believe that a report came out the other day that CNN hired a researcher to find out why listeners were going to Joe Rogan and not newsrooms like themselves?


  25. LawnDart

    Obviously the Russia-Russia-Russians dishonestly changed the timing of their massive attack on our ally and close friend Ukraine in an attempt at tricking us to letting down our guard– they’ve done this before, you know.

    In March and April 2021, Russia started to mass thousands of military personnel and equipment near its border with Ukraine, representing the highest force mobilization since the country’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. This precipitated an international crisis and generated concerns over a potential invasion. Satellite imagery showed movements of armor, missiles, and other heavy weaponry.


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