2:00PM Water Cooler 2/21/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

I think I hear bells in the background?

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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

Capitol Seizure

Biden Adminstration

They’re not wrong, are they?

(Of course, I’m glad that the children are protected from Harris, as much as cloth masks can protect anyone, even if Harris doesn’t feel the need to protect them; not all take that view.)

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.


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“Democrats hit 30-year high for House retirements” [The Hill]. “The number of House Democrats not seeking reelection this year has hit a 30-year high — a bleak benchmark reflecting frustrations with the gridlock on Capitol Hill, the toxicity of relations between the parties and the challenges facing Democrats as they fight to keep their slim majority in the lower chamber…. Adding to the Democrats’ woes, the number of retirement announcements will likely continue to grow in the coming weeks as lawmakers get closer to their states’ candidate filing deadlines, many of which are in the spring…..

“Campaigning AOC electrifies crowds as Democrats fear brutal midterms” [Guardian]. “Ocasio-Cortez travelled to Texas this month to campaign for two of the progressive candidates she has endorsed this election cycle, Jessica Cisneros and Greg Casar. Since her first victory in 2018, Ocasio-Cortez has used her celebrity status to help other progressives attract voters and raise money, which she has a unique talent for. During the 2020 cycle, her campaign committee raised more than $20m…. An endorsement from Ocasio-Cortez has the ability to immediately elevate a progressive candidate’s campaign, and the congresswoman does not limit herself to open-seat races. In the four years since she won her own primary against the then congressman Joe Crowley, Ocasio-Cortez has endorsed a number of candidates who are challenging sitting lawmakers. Cisneros, for example, is attempting to defeat Henry Cuellar, a Democrat who has served in the House since 2005…. But Ocasio-Cortez’s willingness to openly oppose Democratic incumbents has rankled some of her House colleagues who have been on the receiving end of her criticism.” • That’s a damn shame.

“Who Runs Our Elections?” [Bolts]. “This page compiles, state-by-state, the local offices who are responsible for administering elections at the county and municipal level. Each state’s system is laid out in some detail—including officials’ power, and their method of selection or the timing of their elections—within the limits of what is possible to convey in one database. In many states, the internal inconsistency is so stark that a full accounting needs a specialized database specific to that state. Bolts will continue to dig into these details….. Note: Officials who are part of the criminal legal system play a decisive role in gate-keeping access to the ballot. Most county jails are run by sheriffs, who control whether the people who are detained there, and who are often eligible to vote, actually can access ballots. (In some states, another official like a warden runs the jail.) County prosecutors are also relevant since they affect who gets stripped of the right to vote, and who regains it or is punished for trying. This page does not include those officials because you can find information about when and how prosecutors and sheriffs are selected here.” • This looks like a useful resource!


“Virginia’s lead IT official resigned after less than a month in Youngkin administration” [ABC Richmond]. ” Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s pick to lead Virginia’s information technology agency is resigning the post in what an agency spokeswoman called a ‘personal decision.’ The governor’s office confirmed to the Richmond Times-Dispatch on Friday that Phil Wittmer is stepping down from his role. The newspaper reported no explanation for his departure was provided.” • Odd. Readers?

Realignment and Legitimacy

One wonders how hot the summer of 2022 will be:

“Who Is Behind QAnon? Linguistic Detectives Find Fingerprints” [New York Times]. “Two teams of forensic linguists say their analysis of the Q texts shows that Mr. [Paul] Furber, one of the first online commentators to call attention to the earliest messages, actually played the lead role in writing them…. The two analyses — one by Claude-Alain Roten and Lionel Pousaz of OrphAnalytics, a Swiss start-up; the other by the French computational linguists Florian Cafiero and Jean-Baptiste Camps — built on long-established forms of forensic linguistics that can detect telltale variations, revealing the same hand in two texts. In writing the Federalist Papers, for example, James Madison favored ‘whilst’ over ‘while,’ and Alexander Hamilton tended to write ‘upon’ instead of ‘on.’ Instead of relying on expert opinion, the computer scientists used a mathematical approach known as stylometry. Practitioners say they have replaced the art of the older studies with a new form of science, yielding results that are measurable, consistent and replicable. Sophisticated software broke down the Q texts into patterns of three-character sequences and tracked the recurrence of each possible combination. Their technique does not highlight memorable, idiosyncratic word choices the way that earlier forensic linguists often did. But the advocates of stylometry note that they can quantify their software’s error rate. The Swiss team said its accuracy rate was about 93 percent. The French team said its software correctly identified Mr. Watkins’s writing in 99 percent of tests and Mr. Furber’s in 98 percent. Machine learning revealed that J.K. Rowling, the creator of Harry Potter, had written the 2013 mystery “Cuckoo’s Calling” under another pen name. The F.B.I. used a form of stylometry to show that Ted Kaczynski was the Unabomber. In recent years, such techniques have helped detectives in the United States and Britain solve murder cases involving a forged suicide note and faked text messages.” • I doubt this will have any political effect, but the tecnology is interesting.


I’ve said for some time that CDC numbers are good for narrative purposes: Are things better, or worse? Is there a wave, or not? Is there a peak, or not? Now we have a much better idea of what CDC’s internals are really like, and how sketchy and partial the releases are. What is remarkable is how bad the situation looks, even considered as a narrative. Commentary:

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, although still comfortably above the first peak achieved by the former guy. (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?

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

Continues encouraging (and independent from the CDC). 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.

NOT UPDATED From CDC Community Profile Reports (PDFs), “Rapid Riser” counties:

Looking good, though what’s that little cluster around DC doing? Maine is a data problem. (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:

Some speckles of improvement in the solid red.

NOT UPDATED Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Sea of green once more. 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.)

Just a reminder:

As with everything else, because the United States is not a serious country, our hospitalization data is bad. Here the baseilne is off:

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 959,412 955,497. A continous drop in the death date, which is good news. I sure hope we break a million before Biden’s State of the Union speech. There’s still time.

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Cheerful doggerel:

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

Good news here too.

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Manufacturing Activity Index in the US fifth district fell to a 4-month low of 8 in January of 2022 from 16 in December, due to declines in the indexes for new orders and employment. Survey results indicated firms continued to struggle to find the skills that they need despite solid increases in wages. The third component in the composite index, the index for shipments, increased slightly.”

Housing: “United States Case Shiller Home Price Index YoY” [Trading Economics]. “The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index in the US rose 18.3% year-on-year in November of 2021, the least since May but slightly above forecasts of 18%. House prices remain elevated due to low inventory and fast turnaround but the increasing mortgage rates are starting to weigh.”

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Banking: “Deutsche Bank Warns Staff Not to Delete WhatsApps Amid Scrutiny” [Bloomberg]. “Deutsche Bank AG has warned its employees not to delete WhatsApp messages from their phones as part of moves by the German lender to clamp down on private communication channels. The Frankfurt-based bank earlier this year sent a memo to staff warning them that any business-related messages going through private channels mustn’t be deleted as the act could be considered a crime under U.S. law, according to people with knowledge of the matter. It also reminded them that using messages sent from private phones for business is a violation of company policy, the people said asking not to be identified discussing the private matter.”

The Bezzle: “Does Crypto Have Value? A Bitcoin Pioneer Spelled It Out Years Ago” [Institutional Investor]. “The spark that lit the virtual currency bonfire can be traced back to 1997 and a computer game called Ultima Online, the world’s first large-scale massively multiplayer online game. It was created by Richard Garriott, a British-American game designer who began working on it when he was 13 years old. Arriving two years after the launch of eBay, Ultima drew more than a million players worldwide within just months, leading to challenges previously unimaginable. What happened next in many ways laid the foundation for decentralized cryptocurrencies. Very rapidly, auctions for in-game virtual currencies and goods exploded in venues across the web, opening the door to secondary markets, but also fraud, money laundering, and seriously thorny legal questions about who really owns the virtual assets inside a game. ‘This became such big business and such a pain for the game companies,’ Radtke said in her 2012 talk, because game companies were being exploited and mined for their digital assets but weren’t sharing in the revenue. They eventually prevailed on eBay to shut down all virtual goods auctions in 2001 — but it didn’t work. People kept on trading virtual assets. ‘The only thing that happened is people just went other places to buy them and other places to sell them,’ Radtke explained. Soon game companies were offering multiplayer games that encouraged real money trading and also gave them a cut of the profits. But players still broke the rules and tried to arbitrage their virtual currencies over online platforms and markets. Legal debates raged over the ownership and value of in-game virtual goods. For instance, if a player spent time mining iron ore from a mountain in-game, then went to a blacksmith’s shop to forge that iron into steel to make a sword, then discovered a magic spell to make it enchanted, who would own the sword — the player or the gaming company? No one could agree. The secondary marketplaces were completely unintended, says game maker Garriott, now based in New York and semiretired, in an interview with Institutional Investor. What he learned back then holds lessons for crypto investors today. As Ultima became one of the fastest-selling personal computer games in history, he recalls, sales of virtual goods from his game dwarfed sales of the game itself. ‘We thought, how is this possible, that anyone is willing to pay thousands of dollars to acquire a sword?’ What Garriott says he didn’t realize at the time was what he now characterizes as the ‘time value’ of a sword, or any other coveted virtual asset. Because players could not get virtual assets inside a game without putting in long hours of playing time, many were willing to purchase those goods outside instead. ‘In a game, it can take dozens of players and hundreds of hours to make a top-value magical sword,’ Garriott says. ‘Some people found it easier to just buy one on eBay.’ Although Garriott came to appreciate why Ultima players were willing to exchange fiat for digital objects from his game, he was thoroughly unprepared for the number of players seeking to profit off that fact….” From a talk given in 2012 (!!). Also: “Understanding how in-game, centralized virtual currencies morphed into real-world, decentralized cryptocurrencies is the key to demystifying cryptocurrency for a still-skeptical institutional investing crowd, according to Raghu Yarlagadda, chief executive of FalconX, a $3.75 billion crypto institutional brokerage firm in San Mateo, California, that serves hedge funds, asset managers, retail aggregators, and crypto-native funds.” • I’d want detail on that “morphing,” which sounds handwave-y to me. Bitcoin is freighted with a whole boatload of ideological impedimental that don’t seem to have an equivalent in RPGs.

The Bezzle:


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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 36 Fear (previous close: 38 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 34 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 18 at 4:59pm. Back to flirting with Neutral!

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 186. (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so higher is better.)

Feral Hog Watch

“California Has a Feral Hog Problem. We Have Some Suggestions” [Texas Monthly]. “If what happens here happens there, Californians will likely be failing to put a dent in their pig population for many years to come. So, happy for any opportunity to Texsplain something to the coastal elite, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to draw up a list of suggestions.” #1 is what you no doubt guessed it is, but #6 is pretty good: “6. Go undercover as a hog, infiltrate their network, identify the source of their power, and take them down from the inside.” • Worked for… Worked for….

Photo Book

Usually, I loath Aesthetica, which is like Yang’s successor ideology in visual form, but hbd Ansel Adams (February 20):

Holy moley, what an S-curve!

Zeitgeist Watch

Kill the protesters!

L’Affaire Joffrey Epstein

For the record:

Our Famously Free Press

“Dean Baquet Never Wanted to Be an Editor” [The New Yorker]. Obvious rejoinder aside… Baquet: “the job of the New York Times should, in the end, be to come out with the best version of the truth, with your own political opinion held in check by editors and editing. Not everybody believes that, but I believe that. And I think that if you come to work for the New York Times—if you really want to work for the New York Times—you have to embrace that, because that’s what the New York Times is. Independence means being independent of everybody and of ideology—it just does. And I know people want to beat up that view, but, I mean, the reason those stories about the air strikes had so much power is because people read them as the truth.” • Well, the air strikes story was, perhaps, not so timely…..

To the Times, and presumably its readership, the “hardest” thing…

The hardest thing is thinking of others. I know there are some who think that the Times has “journalism’s worst and most incompetent social media team,” but they’ve really clarified matters here.

The Times is really in peak form this week:

My “usual Saturday tennis matches”? Really?

Yes, quite a week:

How odd, a country that protects its citizens from a disease that’s as infectious as measles, and has long-term effects on the vascular system, the lungs, and the brain. What is wrong with China, anyhow? Don’t they understand freedom? Particularly when freedom is in liquid form?

Class Warfare

“How We Turned the Tables On Starbucks Union-Busters” [Labor Notes]. “Starbucks is spending millions upon millions of dollars to hire a huge law firm to train its managers to become experts in union-busting. You’d think they’d be better at it. Every store that files goes through the same basic steps of union-busting. The upside of this is that Starbucks workers can see what’s coming, and get creative. Our store prepared for the meeting not only by communicating with each other, but also by holding a Zoom meeting with baristas from other cities who’d already gone through the same experience. They walked us through what to expect and what kinds of things had worked best for them in throwing the union-busters off their game. So when we sat down for our meetings with our Store Manager, District Manager, and Regional Manager, we did so in solidarity. Our manager started off the meeting. This woman had spent a good part of the last election cycle talking about her left-leaning politics. She leads the Starbucks ‘Womens’ Alliance Network,’ a group designed to empower female Starbucks employees. She started our meeting by looking us all in the eyes and saying, ‘I don’t think you need a union.’ Over the next few hours they tried various tactics to try to sow doubt among us. They tried one of the arguments they’ve used frequently, which is that with a union we won’t be able to have baristas from other stores cover shifts at our store. In response, two people pointed to a New Jersey law that specifies that non-union workers can work in union settings. Our Regional Manager kindly thought of those workers and wondered, ‘How would that affect their experience? How would they feel working in an environment where their salary is different?’ One worker responded, ‘Well, I’d think that would just spark interest in them unionizing their store too.’ Clearly these managers were operating from a basic script; when we veered away from it, they unskillfully tried to return to it.” • Script-jamming. Driven by Zoom meetings. I hate to use the word “innovation”….

“The Digital Offertory and the Militant Right” [Forever Wars]. “WITHOUT TOO MUCH EFFORT, you can learn a great deal about the 92,844 people who used Christian crowdfunding site GiveSendGo to give $8.4 million to the “Freedom Convoy” that has upended daily life in the Canadian capital of Ottawa…. But we don’t have to get anywhere near full names or other doxxing territory to see some conspicuous themes. Here are some non-identifiable names entered into GiveSendGo alongside cash donations. This information was supplied to FOREVER WARS by anti-secrecy organization Distributed Denial of Secrets (or DDoSecrets): ‘Pastor Josh, Pastor Rob…. [Pastorn]…. .GIVESENDGO IS ODD. It’s a mistake to think of the operation as yet another far-right crowdfunding organization, though it hosts fundraisers by members of far-right groups including the Proud Boys. Mostly in 2017, the far right experimented with its own crowdfunding platforms, created expressly to host campaigns that Kickstarter, IndieGogo, and others had kicked out: Hatreon, WeSearchr, Counter.Fund (they’re all dead). But there is still a need for funding among the parts of the right that don’t have consistent access to megadonor largesse from capital—militants trying to crowdfund court costs like Enrique Tarrio, for example. GiveSendGo isn’t like that. Evangelical Christians rely on funding networks of laypeople for a wide variety of community projects, from soup kitchens to missionary trips to funerals. Some of that money can come from the weekly collection plate intake, but some is more formal and direct, with Christians pledging to help friends to the tune of $20 or $15 or $100 a month when they go off to do God’s work—sometimes directly for churches or denominations, but sometimes for “parachurch” organizations like InterVarsity or Youth With a Mission. GiveSendGo is a crowdfunding platform, but it is mimicking the American church’s own analog networks, not GoFundMe. The typical GiveSendGo campaign doesn’t benefit a grubby little fascist who has made himself unemployable by tweeting slurs. Many are simply for medical bills for sick children or memorial funds for widows, widowers, and parents who have lost children. Others are stranger—providing an interesting record of the Christian financial world.” • The whole piece is worth a read.

Please do your part and infect others in the workplace. It’s important!

News of the Wired

One of the nicer things about Twitter is bots that tweet beautiful images; reading them can be a form of what we call “self-care.” Here’s one account I follow:

Word of the day: “ventifacts”:

I wonder if it would be possible to treat long-dead talking points as ventifacts…

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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 (KD):

KD writes: “Another shot of the abandoned shed, looking north.” I’ve seen permaculturists try to repurpose such abandoned structures. This would at least look good with some vines!

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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. cocomaan

    Ventifact? That’s a sand trout if I ever saw one.

    And I think we all know that what we need to get through the problems of today is a sandworm/human hybrid with chair dogs.

    – this post brought to you by the Retired Fish Speakers for Leto

    1. ChrisPacific

      High (or higher) resolution pictures from (or of) other planets make me very happy. I still get a thrill from looking at the New Horizons closeups of Pluto.

    1. Samuel Conner

      Perhaps the next move will be to repudiate Stalin’s assignment, at the end of WWII, of Galicia to the Ukrainian SSR and to suggest that it really ought to be returned to Poland.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Since the Galician-based Ukrainians have also been treating Polish-Ukrainians as second-class citizens, Poland would not want them.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      From the article:

      Analysts are now watching how far Russia will go to support the independence of the Ukrainian separatists: whether Putin sends Russian troops into the country and chooses to fight the Western-backed Ukrainian military and whether the conflict expands beyond the borders of the breakaway Ukrainian regions, which are collectively known as the Donbas.

      I wonder if Putin would throw the Donbas separatists under the bus in exchange for the written guarantees he’s been asking for (e.g., Ukraine not joining NATO).

          1. Daniil Adamov

            Meaning that, yes, he would throw them under the bus without a second thought? :)

            (That is at any rate a fairly common view on Putin and Russians in, well, Russia.)

      1. nippersdad

        Per Alex Mercouris (YouTube), who seems to be pretty well plugged in, the press conference with Putin and Lukashenko of Belarus last week featured an acknowledgement that nothing they could do would prevent sanctions at this point, so they have already been priced in.

        If you are going to be punished anyway then you might as well be guilty of the crime alleged. If that is the viewpoint taken by Russia, something we will hear about further when their security council meets next week, then there is no chance that they will back off support for the separatists in Donbass. I think the “conversation” has moved well beyond what NATO/US does or does not wish to do. They are now irrelevant; Russia has moved on.

        1. The Rev Kev

          There was a spokesman from the Pentagon saying this yesterday which was in direct contrast with what some Senators have been saying. He said that if you punish them with sanctions before they do anything, then they will simply decide to go ahead and do what they want as they are being punished anyway. It was almost like a breath of fresh air what he said.

          1. nippersdad

            It really does seem so obvious, doesn’t it? The power of groupthink still has the ability to amaze me.

        2. jsn

          I think the Russians actually want the sanctions at this point.

          They’ve dangled them long enough plenty of very powerful interests see how devastating they’ll be for themselves.

          It’ll get various western oligarchs at each other’s throats and activate the most revanchist elements in Germany & France. The White House will twist itself into a pretzel to declare a climb-down VICTORY!! Majestic nudity for the world to see.

        1. Boomheist

          Vry interesting to hear his directly (even thrugh a translator I know) because his argument sounds very different than that reported in the mainstream media.

      2. Daniil Adamov

        IIRC the idea was that Ukraine would pledge neutrality and the People’s Republics would be reintegrated (which I fear may well take the form of throwing under the bus). The former idea is dead now, and so the latter followed.

        The only thing to hope for there is peace, regardless of how it is framed officially.

    2. Soredemos

      I’m really having a hard time accepting that there weren’t genuine Russian false flags in this, and that many of us weren’t just useful idiots. No, Russia hasn’t overtly invaded Ukraine. They’re just ‘acknowledging’ part of it as independent, and gradually giving its residents Russian citizenship. Now they can move in their military and claim it isn’t an invasion because the ‘independent governments’ will invite them in. And I’m sure these ‘independent republics’ will stay independent and not be integrated into Russia. Right. I know the NC line is that this won’t happen because Donbass would be a drag economically, but, come on. It’s going to happen.

      Russia could have waited until Ukraine was unambiguously invading the Donbass, crushed their military with ranged weapons, then acknowledged the republics. Then they would be justified in proclaiming Minsk dead, and it would be obvious that Russia responded, and didn’t instigate. But so far there frankly isn’t any unambiguous evidence of a major Ukrainian assault. The artillery intensified, yes, but not remotely like would come before a major attack. And theres no evidence for anything beyond skirmishes other than the claims of the republics and Russia (how convenient for Russia that Ukrainian troops trespassed into Russia itself in two APCs and with documents ‘proving’ they’re Ukrainian. It could be true, but I can’t be alone in being intensely suspicious of this windfall).

      1. Darthbobber

        Maybe they think that Ukraine’s repeated statements that the Minsk accords are unacceptable as written constitute sufficient evidence that Minsk is dead.

        1. Carolinian

          Thing is Ukraine signed Minsk years ago–in order to get out of their then messy defeat by the breakaways–and then ignored the agreement. So they too are “not agreement capable” (not to mention puppets of the US). It was all covered here extensively. So the only real question is how many Ukrainians want to die for Biden, bearing in mind that most of them are apparently draftees.

      2. Polar Socialist

        So, the end result would have been the same, but with lots of dead and wounded people to make it more right? As disappointed as I am, I hope this ends the “frozen conflict”, or at least improves the life in LDNR.

        It might have been cynical manipulation of emotions, who knows, but in the recent days the Russian media has kinda flatly reported how the whole country has offered places for the refugees to stay, so they may have been a very strong domestic pressure for Putin to acknowledge the republics.

        Considering how clear the message was that this is not about integrating the areas to Russia, it’s still possible that they may decide to re-integrate to Ukraine, if and when Minsk 3 is figured out and Ukraine actually acts like it wants to reintegrate the areas, instead of of shelling then and threatening with “ukrainization”. Who knows?

        Just to think how a minimum amount of actual diplomacy, by professionals, could have prevented this.

        1. Soredemos

          Well, first let’s dispense with the notion that Putin isn’t willing to sacrifice lives for better optics.

          And further, they’d already made a big show of evacuating tens (maybe hundreds now) of thousands of people, starting with areas closest to the front line. Next, the Donbass ‘militia’ (perhaps it’s time to dispense with the notion that there isn’t at least a solid core of Russian military ‘volunteers’ (like the Flying Tigers were volunteers) in these ‘militia’) would likely have done what they’d done before and fallen back to form cauldrons. They could have made it both apparent that Ukraine was invading, and minimized casualties before Russia overtly intervened.

          Unless of course no such assault was actually in the cards, and Russian simply made up some fake incidents to justify intervention, which is what I think it really looks like happened.

      3. lance ringquist

        its pretty easy to see what the russians are doing. nafta billy clinton showed them the way, and made it international law.

        the reason why america does not take russia to the international courts over the crimea, is because they would lose. nafta billy did the exact same thing you are complaining about in yugoslavia over kosovo

        why are there so many bill clinton deniers? to understand russia and the ukraine, is to understand bill clintons trumped up illegal war against yugoslavia, and its been proven that milosevic and yugoslavia were cleared of any crimes

        the reason why the u.s. or the ukraine will not go to international courts over crimea, or eastern ukraine, is that they would lose.
        bill clinton destroyed international law, and now its open season on any country in the world. this is a globalist dream come true.


      4. Yves Smith

        I suggest you look at a map. We said Russia would never want to take Ukraine or its eastern half.

        Donbass is a tiny section. And this is about poking the West in the eye. The West has been imposing sanctions since 2014. The only one left is cancelling Nord Stream 2. You can bet Russia negotiated an option on that gas with China.

        Oh, and the heightened tensions keep energy prices up. All good for Russia. Germany is hosed.

        The US kept insisting there would be a confrontation, and was whipping up the Ukrainian neo-Nazis to Do Something. They’ve moved tons of troops into the east and we”ve been supplying arms.

        Russia may have decided to put this in play rather than wait for the West to try something to make sure this played out before winter was over, as in Germany would miss the fuel.

  2. Otis B Driftwood

    That photo of Harris is typical these days. So-called elites unfettered by rules for the rest of us .
    But check out the LA Parents Union, whose sole purpose is to eliminate mask mandates. It’s a veritable font of gotchas like this and mask disinformation.

    This tweet and the comments spewed in response are more excited that those girls are wearing masks than the fact that Harris isn’t.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Yesterday I came across a video clip to do with schools and masks. One parent was being called out at a school board meeting so she returned fire to a board member showing images of herself not wearing a mask which made her so mad that she stormed out of the meeting. But first she tried to shut her down and to call a cop on her and it all got a bit heated-


  3. Bill Carson

    So many people in my Twitter feed are livid, but I can’t tell if they are upset because Putin is recognizing Donetsk and Lugansk or if they are really just mad because they wanted to see Putin invade all of Ukraine so they could confirm their own biases for what an evil person he is.

    1. Bill Carson

      Pepe Escobar says, “The US Lack of Intelligence Community wanted “Russian aggression” and war. They get two brand new independent Republics.”

        1. Dftbs

          It has happened. Amazing to see history flash before our eyes. Vladimir Vladmirovich really pulled our pants down. It’s fortunate for all of us humans the most powerful man on planet Earth seems to always work so hard to avoid war. I’lol drink my next beer in his name.

        2. Daniil Adamov

          Hmm, what happened (or didn’t happen)? Putin said he’s recognising them as independent. In other words, that the de facto will now be de jure… for us and maybe a handful other countries that want to suck up to us. More significantly, it means they will be frozen like quite a few other mini-states in that region, instead of holding out for the always rather slender hope of peaceful reintegration. Hopefully the situation CAN be frozen instead of any last-ditch attempts to alter their borders (in either direction).

        1. lance ringquist

          not really, its what nafta billy clinton got enshrined in international law. if you want to see the original prototype, just look at kosovo, a independent nation.

    2. Screwball

      Yes, my PMC friends are even worse than that. They are totally obsessed with “getting” Putin. Revenge for what he did to Hillary and for putting Trump in the White House. Screw those nukes – charge!!!!!

      At this point there is little hope for any change in this country. Too many on both sides are so unhinged it’s a wonder they can find their way to work. I would love to blame the pols and their media, but dammit, people are suppose to think for themselves.

      1. nippersdad

        A charge of the Light Brigade redux? Those who fail to learn the lessons of history, and so forth.

      2. Donald

        I mostly see this online–online liberals turned into Cold War McCarthyites in 2016. I half expected but was still amazed at how the Wikileaks documents stopped being relevant for what they showed about Democratic corruption and became instead a reason for why Trump and Putin were allies and Putin was pure evil.

        In the meantime, we are complicit in a genocidal war in Yemen, supported terrorists in Syria, killed thousands of civilians with bombing, impoverish ordinary people in several countries with sanctions and are currently on the verge of creating a gigantic famine in Afghanistan, but none of that matters much I guess.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Team Sports. Wikileaks was on the team when it was releasing on Shrub, and now, they are off the team. Shrub is just an honored hall of famer. Its like Magic getting applauded in Boston.

    3. The Rev Kev

      And now the Russian Federation has sent in the military to those Republics as Peacekeepers to secure them against invasion. So when those Ukrainian units fire against the Donbass, they will also be firing against the Russian army. Let’s see how that works out for them. Georgia might have some good advice on how firing on Russian Peacekeepers works out for them. Yesterday the Ukrainians actually fired on and destroyed a Russian border post which may have been a sign of things to come. There must be panic in Washington and Brussels right now but at least Putin was considerate enough to wait until the Winter Olympics were over-


    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > No lyrics or accompaniment for God Save the Queen?

      I should have thought to do that:

      Not sure everybody is a Sex Pistols fan, but the rest of you can just rattle your jewelry :-)

  4. Screwball

    Speaking of the Queen… Some help from our friends down under? There is a TV station out of Sydney called “A current Affair” and looks to be channel 9. Not sure if that is true but that’s what it looks like. There was a video from that station going around Twitter today with a guy talking about what they were giving the Queen for her COVID.

    I found the video on the site, but it is now missing. When I did find it the first time I was given a warning it could not be played in my area (America I guess). All I can now provide is the Twitter link below.

    Anyway, is this a legit station in Australia? I ask because they kind of let the pill out of the bag on this one, and maybe why the link went missing. Anyway, the video is some guy explaining what they were going to give the Queen, and at the 19 second mark you can see a box of pills that contain the drug that cannot be named. What????

    Is this all BS, or could it be true? If so, makes one wonder what other celebrities might get this treatment. Ok, I’ll remove my tin foil hat now…


    1. marku52

      According to Dr Cory, many congresscritters and family have been taking the unmentionable medicine for Covid…

    2. The Rev Kev

      “A Current Affair” is a real Channel 9 production going back at least forty years but alas is but a shadow of what it once was so do not bother watching it. It would be odd suggesting the Queen take the drug that cannot be named as it is illegal for doctors in Oz to dispense that drug to people for anything related to Coronavirus.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      2600 miles or so in 6 days is a piece of cake for long haul truckers. Most have loads (intended) of experience putting down 1000 miles in 14-16 hours.

    2. Eclair

      Shades of The Bonus Army in 1932! Some say that Hoover’s unhinged reaction, abetted by young US Army officers, Douglas MacArthur and George Patton, lost him the election. Although Hoover had admittedly messed up in other areas.

      1. Wukchumni

        The 1933 Bonus Army march was supposed to take place, but FDR came up with a good idea in that WW1 vets were allowed into the CCC, allaying the ‘army’s’ potential.

        They would’ve been around 40 years old, unlike the rest of the young CCC’ers who were 18-25.

      2. Robert Gray

        In 1932, Dugout Doug was not only a general but also Chief of Staff of the army — hardly a ‘young officer’. You may be thinking of Eisenhower and Patton but by 1932 they were both already field grade officers; again, not ‘young’.

      3. dcblogger

        the bonus army was marching for a benefit they had been promised to be paid early. The truckers are not asking for better pay or working conditions, the are protesting vaccine mandates (which do not exist for Canadian truckers, don’t know about US) and masks. Basically they are coming to be bullies.

        1. Wukchumni

          The WW1 Bonus Army wanted benefits that were to be paid in 1943, there was no promise that they’d be paid early-which was the whole basis for the march, even though they eventually were made good by FDR, in 1936.

        2. BlakeFelix

          I think that vaccines might be required at the US-CANADIAN border for nonessential goods truckers, both US and Canadian, but I don’t know if the Canadian government can do anything about it unilaterally.

    3. dcblogger

      the DC Mutual Aide is organizing to make sure that disabled people in the affected areas have groceries. we are also mobilizing to protect homeless people in the affected areas.

  5. drumlin woodchuckles

    There’s nothing wrong with those man-high front-end pickup trucks that can’t be solved by gas at $10.00 per gallon.

    1. Screwball

      I have a 2016 Chevy Colorado. It has a high front but not quite like that. Mine is a plain Jane truck with little extras. Equipped with a 4 cylinder that has plenty of pop when you want it. I get 21-22 mpg in town, and 25-26 highway. For a truck, and I’m a guy who needs a truck to haul things, that’s not too bad IMO. Mine cost $22,300 off the lot. Others, with all the goodies, can go for almost $100,000. If you spend that much on a vehicle, I doubt they care about $10 gas. Boaters too (they eat gas and it’s much more expensive around the water).

      1. griffen

        I drove one of the previous Colorado editions, circa 2009 used. This was just a basic 5-speed truck, which I never owned before. Worth mentioning to you, that at 50,000 miles there was some needed repair to the throttle body(?) due to a known malfunction.

        Basic white color, with roll down windows too. Reliable until the above mentioned part had to be replaced. Also, didn’t care for the traction system or driving on icy conditions.

      2. Señor Dingdong

        Call me crazy, but I like small pick ups. Friend of mine who worked on cars had a Chevy Luv a few years back. I would’ve loved to buy it from him but it was back in his shop every time I visited, so probably wouldn’t have been a smart purchase.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The problem isn’t so much small pickups, but people buying vehicles for cargo room, when all they need is a hatch back and two delivery fees a year. My dad use to load up four dogs into a chevette and take them to a park. Sometimes I would go. The big husky would sit on me because I was in his seat.

          1. Señor Dingdong

            Yep, I’ve loaded everything from furniture to lumber to sod in my old Subaru hatchback. I did wish I had something with an open air bed when I hauled away the road base I dug up after removing astro turf from our yard. After a year of our dogs going to the bathroom on it, it was not pleasant smelling.

            1. JBird4049

              The Ur-hatchback, the station wagon were pretty useful especially when the items were long. Modern hatchbacks seem short. SUVs are too large and pickups are inflexible. Admittedly, the early full size station wagons were somewhat hard to maneuver, but still not as monstrous as modern SUVs although nothing says boring or staid like the wagon.

              1. Bill Carson

                I have a 2001 Chevy Suburban. Bought it new and now it has more than 300,000 miles. When I first got it, someone commented that they saw my new SUV. “It’s just a UV,” I corrected them. There’s nothing sporty about it. That’s still true. I would get rid of it if it weren’t for the utility. I can get full 4×8 sheets of plywood or I can get 4 tympani and a host of other percussion equipment.

            2. BlakeFelix

              I had a trailer hitch installed in my WRX, so I can pull a little lawnmower trailer. Bigger than a pickup truck bed, it can only carry a couple hundred pounds, but I use it quite a bit.

    2. Eclair

      Here in Seattle, we don’t go for Man-high pickup trucks (having the highest number of Teslas per capita) but as I was waiting for the light to change on Aurora Avenue (main north-south route) this morning, I was riveted by the sight of one of those high and narrow Mercedes delivery vans. This one was decked out in matte military green, with tasteful matte black bumpers and trim.

      Thought at first it was an old van which someone had spray painted in their driveway, sort of a high end VW bus. But, as I walked past it, I noted a new vehicle placard in place of the front license plate. Thanks to the internet, I discovered that one can vinyl-wrap a van ($3000 to $5000).

      I admired this look: subtly law-enforcement/military, but in a kind of slimmed-downNordic manner. Great for taking to protests where you want to project solidarity with the protesters, but make law enforcement think twice about tossing a tear gas canister at you, in case you might be undercover.

    3. Altandmain

      Not if the left wants to stay in power in the US. Even if Bernie won in 2020, he’d be looking at a midterm disaster because of the high price of fuel, unless he managed to get the price down very quickly.

      In any event, gas is not as high a percentage of total ownership as you might think. Maybe a 30% increase in the cost of fuel.


      Worse, if the price of fuel were that high, food prices would also be very high, as would many other things. It would not hit those wealthy enough to buy trucks as hard as it would hit the poor who are already struggling to afford food.

  6. Ranger Rick

    I didn’t pay much attention to Ultima Online — my first exposure to what is commonly known as RMT (Real Money Transactions) came in the form of cheating in the popular game released earlier that year, Diablo. Cheats in videogames being available for money have a very long, and profitable, history, especially on gaming consoles. At the time, it seemed harmless enough since its effects were limited in scope to whoever you could convince to play with you.

    Later on, when the sequel to Diablo came out in 2000 with a vastly expanded online multiplayer component, Ultima Online’s example was rapidly adopted and items became “for sale” on non-eBay marketplaces as fast as they could be cheated in, collected, or stolen: it really was the Wild West back then. A whole barter economy grew up around it, where tokens (hmm) known as Stones of Jordan would be traded in lieu of currency both real and virtual. While most enthusiasts despised this activity, the common refrain was, like email spam, “they wouldn’t do it if they didn’t make any money.”

    By the time World of Warcraft came out in 2005, the RMT market became so popular worldwide that the vaguely racist stereotype of the Chinese gold farmer (a large proportion of the organizations running these schemes were apparently run out of net cafes in Southeast Asia) was invented and perpetuated with frightening speed.

    There are an incredible number of papers (EVE Online’s developer hired actual economists for advice), thinkpieces and rants written about the distortion RMT brings to in-game economies and the changes it causes in player (and business) behavior. That remark in the blurb above about game companies not getting a piece of the revenue is particularly stinging because, in 2012, it spoke to gamer paranoia about those things being officially promoted while publicly disavowed as being against the games’ terms of service.

    1. anon y'mouse

      what you’re talking about resulted in a lot of different servers with differing rulesets in Everquest.

      when the game started, i believe all rare and enchanted items were bound to the character. so people would level up and sell characters, even though this was supposedly against Sony Online’s TOS. early on, crafting was nearly useless so that kind of “farming” was not much in evidence.

      this kind of thing resulted in a lot of conflicts where certain players (with bots in tow at times, to complete the group which was often necessary to take out the mobs) or certain guilds camping rare and named spawns, which prevented those playing “for pleasure” and for the questing aspect from getting their kills within a timely manner.

      if you, for example, wanted the class specific epic quest item components, you had to kill certain of these spawns and yet the desired items did not always drop from those spawns, and yet other valuable things would be in the loot table. so not only did you have to face the difficulty of time availability (some of these NPC’s spawned at differing rates), social difficulty (finding a group that could take on and kill the mob or complete the dungeon to get down to try to kill it), but if you managed to get all of that done, you then had to fight off powergamers who played 60 hours a week with bots in tow in order to get to kill the thing for what you needed.

      of course, this then drove up the desire for some people to just purchase a character with these special items already bound to them.

      there were oftentimes many-layered systems of etiquette that the players arranged for themselves—a good botter or powerguild would at times be chivalrous and let someone pass because they knew they could be online and farming that spawn later. “bad” players, kill-stealers and perma-campers would generate a “reputation”, which was more enforceable before name changes could be obtained.

      later on, i believe some servers made all items tradeable or loosened up the tradeables, and also crafting began to make sense so levelling up other aspects of the characters (or just having an enchanter alt) filled out the economy and social aspects somewhat.

    1. dcblogger

      a Black Lives Matter protester was murdered in Portland a few days ago. 2 other protesters were shot. somehow Greenwald never notices that sort of thing.

      1. Art_DogCT

        Quite the non sequitur, gentleperson. That he has not written sufficiently on police murders for your satisfaction does not, in my view, in any way invalidate anything else he has written about over the years. I fail to see a connection between his not writing about the events in Portland last night somehow leading to the implied dismissal of his well-argued and well-documented work on the ongoing mutation of the Dems into McCarthyite zealots of censorship and BFFs with the agencies of State Security. You may be of the camp that considers Greenwald some kind of crypto-conservative for the heresies of appearing on Fox and publishing occasionally with the Cato Institute, and for his clear refusal to eat the neoliberal dog food. A profoundly wrong assessment, I think.

        1. aletheia33

          who says the protesters were armed?

          is someone saying that the homeowner was shot by the protestors?

          the account i read by a protestor, whose friend was killed, as i recall said that they thought or heard from others that the shooter was shot by the police.

          1. lyman alpha blob

            The Portland PD is saying they were armed, recounted by the AP and Reuters in both links above.

            Reuters citing the Oregonian from the 2nd link –

            “The Portland-based newspaper said that at least one protester shot back at the man who had opened fire. Of the five wounded in the incident, the man is one of three people who suffered life-threatening injuries, the newspaper said.

            The police believe the man acted alone and is not affiliated with any political group, the Oregonian said.

            The protester who shot back at the man was initially arrested on assault and weapons charges but will likely be released and the charges dropped, the newspaper said.”

            – If they’re dropping charges, could be the cops did shoot him and not the protester. Details seem fuzzy, but considering the purpose of the protest, there’s some irony in there somewhere once you get past all the violence.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Thanks for both of the links flora. It’s encouraging to see Greenwald continue to speak out on this issue, and he’s been consistent with his criticisms of governmental overreach for the better part of 20 years now.

  7. jr

    re: NYT unmasks their incompetence

    “ Should You Still Wear a Mask?”

    Yes! Definitely! Just not the useless surgical mask in the illustration.

  8. John

    The question is: How big is Putin’s pickup truck? And are Amrika’s big enough? Size does matter in late stage empires.

  9. Sub-Boreal

    The dry valleys of Antarctica seem to be the motherlode for amazing ventifacts. Some examples:

    Closer to home, I’ve picked up smaller (gravel- and cobble-sized) examples of polished and faceted rocks from soils in the unglaciated parts of the Yukon Territory. These are best developed in hard, fine-grained rocks like cherts that don’t disintegrate from frost action. During periods of glaciation elsewhere, these parts of YT would have been cold, dusty, wind-swept places.

  10. Mikel

    Odds are China will stay as vigilant about the spread of Covid after the Olympics, but it’s still something to keep an eye on.

  11. NotTimothyGeithner

    Re: Youngkin

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Youngkin is fostering a less than welcoming environment with an insufficient staff in keeping with a run it like a business philosophy. I skimmed the old Virginia blog roll, and Lowkell is on the polling which makes sense. Lowkell is a less charismatic Markos, so there is only so much I can read over there. The Republicans are on CRT and Ukraine.

    I imagine having to help delegates get on zoom every time takes a toll. Its a part time legislature. The Republicans in lower priced areas probably have a proper full time staffer who can handle issues, but then again, they have majorities. They might be working, so they are likely dumping every computer issue on this guy. Democrats are hit or miss on what they bring to Richmond. I’m aware of his job. But I’m also aware of what part time legislators do with their time.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      Since when have any Republican Administrations ever tried to make a government run more efficiently? Their goal is to kill it, not reform it. The IT guy probably looked at all the patchwork computer programs from 1968 and said, “Let’s go Youngkin.”

      Here in Arizona, our illustrious Republican Administration has cut school funding that we just came in 50th place, right below Mississippi. Yes, Mississippi is now better than Arizona in school funding. A Republican trifecta since 2010.

      1. dday

        Arizona public education just dodged a bullet when the Republican Senate agreed to lift a $1.2 billion spending cap.


        On the other hand, Arizona Republicans are wanting to expand school vouchers to up to 85% of all students.


    2. EricT

      I think the IT guy resigned because Youngkin was shooting for the Mitt Romney’s IT program where state business is done on computers owned by the administration not the state. I still think that Romney was secretly looking for private companies for the vulture fund strategy. We won’t know since all the computers contents are on private computers not state computers and probably destroyed by now.

  12. Jason Boxman

    Still, recent polls indicate that an overwhelming percentage of Americans are unsatisfied with the direction the country is headed. The sour mood — fueled by soaring inflation rates and national fatigue over the COVID-19 pandemic — has tanked Biden’s approval rating, which stands at just 41 percent. Among modern presidents, only Trump was more unpopular a year into his tenure.

    It’s important to recognize that the Biden administration is a failure on its own terms. As the adults in Washington, the Biden administration promised to end the pandemic and restore civility and competence to government.

    Biden failed.

    At this point, he and his administration would do well to resign in complete disgrace.

  13. IMOR

    “Does Crypto Have Value?”
    Pretty sure N. Stephenson dealt with this origin story and its mechanics in his “ReaMde” from about 2012.

  14. Wukchumni

    Happy birthday Ansel!

    When I walk in the High Sierra, it’s tantamount to a moving canvas and I see everything that Adams did-very little has changed in the backcountry where most of his famous photos were composed.

    He eschewed having humans mar his masterpieces by being in them, the landscapes not needing their presence.

    1. Carolinian

      He photographed a few humans. Grand Central Station once had a giant backlit transparency in the main hall sponsored by Kodak and called a Kodarama. Ansel shot a few of them and in color no less.

      One can debate his importance to the art of photography, but as a person and environmentalist he was hard to beat. When he and his Sierra Club gang went hiking they put on impromptu performances at the end of the day and one of his–for you punsters–was called Trudgin’ Women. There’s a whole book of his letters to family and the famous. Recommended like all his books.

      1. Wukchumni

        Adams playground was Yosemite and he dabbled in Sequoia.

        I’ve walked by Precipice Lake maybe 20 times, which was the subject of a photo of his in 1932.

        The lake has a steep cliff on one side of it which kind of looks like a WW1 battleship in camo, to me. It also shades the lake from the Sun, allowing it to be frozen longer than other lakes in the Sierra due to proximity.

        I’ve seen every color of blue you can imagine from the lightest hue to deep cobalt and every kind of blue in between, a magnificent lake.


        The same lake, but a modern take:


    2. debug

      “Holy moley, what an S-curve!”

      You can stand in the exact spot AA took this photo of the Tetons. It’s a roadside stop, or at least it was in 1986. I had to explore a bit to find the exact spot, it’s toward the “right” end of the roadside area as you look toward the mountains, IIRC. I took a photo there to commemorate my visit and pay homage.

  15. Wukchumni

    “California Has a Feral Hog Problem. We Have Some Suggestions” [Texas Monthly]. “If what happens here happens there, Californians will likely be failing to put a dent in their pig population for many years to come. So, happy for any opportunity to Texsplain something to the coastal elite, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to draw up a list of suggestions.”
    We had feral hogs here and it wasn’t uncommon to hear something along these lines:

    “Did you hear Steve got his lawn pigged?”

    Translation: The hogs uprooted Steve’s lawn, with the puerco ricans using their manual roto-till skills in making a mess of it.

    For whatever reason, the pigs have disappeared at just about the same time wild turkeys took over tiny town, coincidence?

    I think not.

  16. Bill Carson

    Random rant to the PMCs in my Twitter feed: if you’re going to compare Putin to anyone, compare him to Stalin. Always comparing people you don’t like to Hitler indicates that you are intellectually lazy.

    1. judy2shoes

      Thanks for posting this. I read Mountains Beyond Mountains, too, and like you and petal, I am deeply saddened by his death. He exemplified what public health should be. Amazing human being.

  17. JBird4049

    >>>That’s a damn shame.

    It’s almost as if omertá and loyalty to their fellow made men is more important to the Democrats (not forgetting the Republicans here) than doing their jobs and following their oaths of office.

  18. Wukchumni

    My “usual Saturday tennis matches”? Really?

    Every time I drive by a bank of a dozen tennis courts @ a school or public place in Cali, it’s as if the players got raptured-nobody home, as in vacant.

    I played in the 70’s, but didn’t everybody?

    There’s an incredibly low bar to entry, I was at the sporting goods dept @ Wal*Mart the other day and rackets were $15-20 and a can of 3 balls $10

    1. Joe Renter

      Picklball is taking place of tennis. Four Pickleball courts on one tennis court. I’m totally hooked. One of my Picklball friends has a bumper sticker on his truck that says, “Picklball, making tennis great again.“

    2. Joe Renter

      Picklball is taking the place of tennis. Four Pickleball courts on one tennis court. I’m totally hooked. One of my Picklball friends has a bumper sticker on his truck that says, “Picklball, making tennis great again.“

  19. The Rev Kev

    ‘Joe Weisenthal
    This 45% decline for Facebook is really astonishing. That’s a lot of wealth that people probably thought was highly safe just vanished.’

    Facebook is not cool with kids as even grandma is on it. And with all the censorship, it is not cool with more and more adults. Wait until somebody leaks how many people actually use it and advertisers learn how many people really see their ads.

  20. Wukchumni

    Building houses and war are about our only avenues left where another country can’t do it cheaper, faster and better, and it isn’t as if we’d outsource waging war to somebody else.

    That’s what our economy is based on now.

  21. The Rev Kev

    Curiouser and curiouser. The Ukrainians sent over a sabotage group into Russia itself but were detected. A firefight broke out and the Ukrainian military sent over two BMPs to retrieve this group but were themselves destroyed. And another saboteur was caught elsewhere. A US official hinted that there might be ‘incidents’ in Russia itself and advised Americans to get out so was this threat of explosions and sabotage in Russia itself the final straw?


    1. nippersdad

      Re: “A US official hinted that there might be incidents in Russia itself…”

      I am beginning to love the Russians dry sense of humor. Last week they were asking for a comprehensive list of invasion dates so that they could plan for their vacations, this week they were telling the US that if they had information about terrorist incidents in St. Petersburg then it would be nice if they could provide intelligence so that they could stop them.

      One hears so much about stolid Russians, but clearly they have a better sense of humor than we do.

      1. rowlf

        An uncle of mine was a professor of Russian history and loved Soviet humor so much he wrote a book collecting and explaining all the jokes he could collect during his many research trips to the Soviet Union and later Russia, broken down by periods in Soviet history. The Dilbert cartoon has nothing on the people in the Soviet Union.

  22. Wukchumni

    Why does it seem as if most every ex-Navy Seal is rules challenged?

    Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke ignored his ethical obligations by continuing to work on a private development in his hometown of Whitefish, Montana, while serving as Interior secretary, the Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General found.

    While Zinke resigned from the foundation in 2017 after he was confirmed as Interior secretary, the OIG investigation recovered by subpoena dozens of emails and texts between Zinke and the project’s developers during his time as Interior secretary.

    “We obtained approximately 64 emails and text messages dated August 21, 2017, through July 30, 2018, in which Secretary Zinke communicated directly with the developers about the 95 Karrow project,” the OIG report said. “These communications, examples of which are set forth below, show that Secretary Zinke played an extensive, direct, and substantive role in representing the Foundation during negotiations with the 95 Karrow project developers. Many of these communications contained substantive discussions about specific design issues related to the 95 Karrow project, including the developer’s proposed use of the Foundation property for a parking lot and Secretary Zinke’s apparent interest in operating a microbrewery onsite.

    “In light of these communications, we found that Secretary Zinke failed to abide by his ethics obligations in which he committed not to manage or provide any other services to the Foundation after his appointment as Secretary of the Interior,” the report continued. “We also found that Secretary Zinke did not comply with his duty of candor when questioned by the DOI’s then Designated Agency Ethics Official about his continued involvement in Foundation matters, including the 95 Karrow project. In addition, we found that Secretary Zinke misused his official position in violation of Federal regulations by directing his subordinates to assist him with matters related to the Foundation and the 95 Karrow project.”

    Zinke, his wife, and others involved in the 95 Karrow project declined to be interviewed by the OIG.


  23. griffen

    Sports desk commentary, college men’s basketball coaching edition. Head coaches are expected to display civility and reasonable decorum as supposed leaders of young men. At the ending of a contest on Sunday between the visiting Michigan team vs the home Wisconsin team, two head coaches exchanged unpleasantness which went quickly sideways and south. It turned into a moderate level scrum. So much for winning with class or losing with some grace.

    All this after about 15 or so remaining seconds on the game clock. Wisconsin was comfortably leading to their ultimate victory. Exemplary sporting attitudes was not on display.

  24. Stephanie

    One wonders how hot the summer of 2022 will be:

    2020 wasn’t too hot in MN, at least compared to 2021, but it was boring. My foily side wonders if the push to “open up” and go back to work after five days is at least in part an attempt to keep people from making their own fun/being productive in service to themselves.

  25. The Rev Kev

    It takes a Harvard law professor to say something like this – ‘The Fox News host could face prosecution if Russia invades Ukraine, a Harvard law professor has claimed ‘ and ‘If Putin opts to wage war on our ally, Ukraine, such ‘aid and comfort’ to an ‘enemy’ would appear to become ‘treason’ as defined by Article III of the US Constitution.’


    The war on dissent continues.

  26. VietnamVet

    “Putin orders troops into two separatist Ukraine regions.”

    I really didn’t think Russia would exploit the fall of the Western Empire to do this. This vastly destabilizes the world. Europe does not have enough stored natural gas to get through the rest of Winter. Russia is the second major supplier of oil to the USA. Cut off Russia’s energy supply and Dick Nixon’s and Jimmy Carter’s gasoline lines are bound to reappear. Saudi Arabia has not — cannot increase oil production as promised. Fracking is no savior.

    As much as military contractors want more war profiteering, defending Odessa or Kiev from invading Russian troops with NATO fighting for air superiority over the battlefields would literally lead to their corporations’ destruction. No doubt they know they are near the top of the Russian nuclear missile target list.

    As posted earlier here earlier, the CDC is intentionally not releasing all of the data they are gathering on the coronavirus pandemic in order to protect pharmaceutical profiteering by injecting the greatest number possible of non-sterilizing mRNA vaccines and to avoid spending tax money on non-pharmaceutical interventions. Unlike unreported COVID-19 death and illness data; gasoline lines, shut off of natural gas, and skyrocketing energy prices are very noticeable. This could be a world ending energy crisis on top of an ongoing pandemic.

    Restoring community, good government and democracy is the only way to assure that western civilization survives beyond 2022.

  27. Terry Flynn

    The “Queen takes it on the chin” type headlines are taking a big gamble. How will they walk back on that if she doesn’t make it? I emphasise that I really don’t want that. I’m very mildly pro-monarchy given what elected heads of state have given the world.

    I am certainly a believer in major reform, however. I just doubt it’ll happen until William but in meantime using HM as a reason to “just live with covid” is really distasteful. Of course any “walk back” could easily be piggy backed on issues surrounding her “allegedly favorite” child…..

  28. ObjectiveFunction

    Re “Linguistic Detectives Find Fingerprints”, in 2018, the NYT also reported on an independent researcher who used academic antiplagiarism software to support a thesis that Shakespeare cribbed a huge number of his passages and plot points from another author, Sir Thomas North. It seems plagiarism was fairly universal among authors and playwrights in those times, and carried no stigma:


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