2:00PM Water Cooler 2/24/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Quite the performance!

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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


I believe Sefcik is also a convoy organizer. He seems more serious than Bolus (which isn’t saying much):

Biden Adminstration

Lambert here: I hate to go all airport bookstore business section here and quote Sun Tzu, but nevertheless: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” Does our foreign policy establishment know its enemy? Do they know themselves? My answer is no, and no.

Of course, of course:

Let us consult The Great Runes:

Yes indeed. (Kaputtgehn is a good word; it suggests operational breakage.

* * *

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.

* * *


* * *

“Democrats, Speak to Working-Class Discontent” [Stanley Greenberg, WaPo]. “My plan is to focus on working-class voters—white, Black, Hispanic, Asian—and figure out every legal and ethical way possible for Democratic candidates to regain even a few extra points of support from them…. Today, the Democrats’ working-class problem isn’t limited to white workers. The party is also losing support from working-class Blacks and Hispanics—a daunting 12 points off their margin since 2016, according to Ruy Teixeira…. In our message tests, voters are surprised to hear that Democrats are dissatisfied with an economy where many of the voters themselves live paycheck to paycheck. They are surprised that Democrats prioritize big changes in the economy and who holds power. They are surprised Democrats worry about community safety and crime and want to fund and reform police.” • And no wonder. Chronicle of a debacle foretold. Worth a read for the timeline.

“Democrats are engaged in a ‘new politics of evasion’ that could cost them in 2024, new study says” [WaPo]. “The Democrats’ first duty, [Democratic policy analysts William A. Galston and Elaine Kamarck] argue, should be to protect democracy by winning in 2024; everything else should be subordinated to that objective. But they argue that the Democrats are not positioned to achieve that objective, that, instead, the party is ‘in the grip of myths that block progress toward victory’ and that too many Democrats are engaged in a “new politics of evasion, the refusal to confront the unyielding arithmetic of electoral success.’ ‘Too many Democrats have evaded this truth and its implications for the party’s agenda and strategy,” the authors add. ‘They have been led astray by three persistent myths: that ‘people of color’ think and act in the same way; that economics always trumps culture; and that a progressive majority is emerging.’ Galston and Kamarck served in the Clinton administration, and Kamarck is a long-standing member of the Democratic National Committee. Both are scholars at the Brookings Institution, and their new study is published on the website of the Progressive Policy Institute, where they are contributing authors…. ‘Democrats,’ they write, ‘must consider the possibility that Hispanics will turn out to be the Italians of the 21st century — family oriented, religious, patriotic, striving to succeed in their adopted country and supportive of public policies that expand economic opportunity without dictating results.’ They note that ultimately, ‘Italians became Republicans. Democrats must rethink their approach if they hope to retain majority support among Hispanics.’ They also use the case of Hispanic voters to make a larger point. ‘The phrase ‘people of color’ assembles highly diverse groups under a single banner. The belief that they will march together depends on assumptions that are questionable at best.'” • I so hate the use of the word “scholar” in contexts like this.

“Dems fear for democracy. Their big donors aren’t funding one of its main election groups.” [Politico]. “Democratic secretaries of state say they’re at the vanguard of protecting democracy, pushing back against election disinformation and attempts to suppress the vote. But while the party’s base has largely rallied behind them, its biggest donors have not. During the last six months of 2021, just one person, Democratic financier George Soros, gave more than $25,000 to the main association involved in electing the party’s candidates for secretaries of state, according to a review of the group’s filings. Four other individuals gave $25,000 precisely. The absence of more big checks is notable considering that the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State, a 527 organization, has no limit on the size of the donations it can receive.” • It’s almost as if…. the oligarchs aren’t all that worried about democracy.


“Rikers Guards, Newly Emboldened by Adams, Are Punishing Inmates Who Speak Out” [Curbed]. “When Eric Adams took office in January, he replaced [Vincent] Schiraldi with Louis A. Molina and rolled back the policy the former commissioner had implemented to reduce the abuse of the unlimited sick-leave policy by corrections officers, which had required a doctor’s note. He also fired a high-profile investigator who had begun tackling a years-long backlog of use-of-force allegations by guards against detainees and has not appointed anyone to replace her. While it’s difficult to say exactly how these changes have affected the jail in just one month, removing the policy to verify sick-leave requests likely did not help with the chronic understaffing. But the corrections officers are relieved. ‘We’re very happy that the sick-leave policy was reverted back to the way it was supposed to be,’ Boscio said…. ‘You can just die here waiting for court,’ says ‘L.A.,’ a 39-year-old who’s being held in a medical observation unit on Rikers. ‘It’s like torture.’ (He asked that we not use his name, for fear of retaliation.) L.A. and others in his unit have also been participating in a series of hunger strikes and other actions to draw attention to the conditions there.” • Yikes.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Redistricting and Competition in Congressional Elections” [Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. “In this article, I examine the impact of redistricting on the competitiveness of House elections over the past 5 decades. I show that, based on presidential voting patterns, the proportion of districts that strongly favor one party or the other has doubled while the proportion that are closely divided has fallen by 50%. However, this long-term decline in the competitiveness of House districts is not primarily a result of redistricting. In fact, the same trend is evident in U.S. states and counties, whose boundaries do not change over time the way congressional districts do. Despite the growing proportion of districts that strongly favor one party based on presidential voting, the actual margins of House elections have changed very little over the past 50 years, and partisan turnover has fallen only slightly, if at all. The explanation for these contradictory trends is that the personal advantage of incumbency has declined dramatically since the 1980s: The ability of House incumbents to attract votes across party lines and thereby insulate themselves from competition is now much more limited than it was in the 1970s and 1980s.”


Case count by United States regions:

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. I have added a Fauci Line to congratulate the Biden administration for having passed the former guy’s second highest peak on the way down.

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).

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:

What’s with Idaho? Not ski resorts, my first thought, at least from a cursory look at the map. Of course, Idaho is not populous, so a small rise in absolute numbers could be considered “rapid.” 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:

Yet more speckles of improvement in the solid red.

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Sea of green once more, except for the Northern Marianas. 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: 966,530 963,371. A continous drop in the death date, which is good news. Sadly, as of February 22, 1,000,000 – 960,157 = 39,843, and 39,843 / 6 days until Biden’s State of the Union Speech is 6,640.5, so I guess we won’t break a million in time. I was hoping for a ribbon cutting ceremony of some kind. Maybe the West Wing staff could have staged a photo op with funny hats and noisemakers. Walensky’s staff could have joined in by Zoom. Ah well, nevertheless.

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits decreased by 17 thousand to 232 thousand in the week ended February 19th, from a revised 248 thousand in the previous period and compared with market expectations of 235 thousand.”

National Activity: “United States Chicago Fed National Activity Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Chicago Fed National Activity Index in the US increased to +0.69 in January of 2022 from a revised 0.07 in the previous month, suggesting a pick up in economic activity. All four broad categories of indicators used to construct the index made positive contributions in January, and two categories improved from December.”

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Shipping: “Ukraine risk for shipping hinges on sanctions escalation” [Lloyd’s List]. “Financial markets wobbled on Tuesday in the wake of the Russian actions and the response from Western governments, but even as oil prices edged towards $100 a barrel the impact on shipping markets remained muted. Whether that continues to be the case depends on whether sanctions are escalated beyond the initial first tranche imposed by the US, Europe and the UK. The Western sanctions are not — yet — the “massive” response that the West has promised if Russia invades Ukraine. Restrictions on the sale of Russian debt, the freezing of assets of Russian oligarchs, banks and parliamentarians will not affect shipping operations beyond the watching brief already in place across maritime boardrooms.”

Commodities: “Oil Tanker Owners Avoid Russian Crude Amid Ukraine Crisis” [Bloomberg]. “Oil tanker owners are avoiding offering their ships to collect crude from Russia as they wait to see what sanctions the country might face after invading Ukraine. Two shipbrokers and three owners said owners are currently unwilling to make offers to collect Russian barrels. The owners said that oil-freight transportation costs are also very low anyway, making it even more unattractive to do so. Russia relies on tankers for about two thirds of its crude exports meaning that any prolonged disruption to shipping would be more serious. The country’s oil has already been already selling at the deepest discounts in years to an international benchmark as traders fret over how the Ukraine situation will play out.”

Commodities: “China lifts all wheat-import restrictions on Russia amid Ukraine crisis” [South China Morning Post]. “China has announced it is fully open to Russian wheat imports, in the latest sign of their strengthening bilateral ties as the Ukraine crisis is unfolding before a global audience and in the wake of fresh sanctions being imposed on Moscow….. China had previously restricted imports of Russian grain due to phytosanitary concerns – measures for the control of plant diseases, especially in agricultural crops – and China’s latest customs statement also said Russia would take all measures to mitigate infestation risks. China began allowing large-scale wheat imports from Russia’s far east region in October, with China’s largest agribusiness firm, the state-owned Cofco, buying the first batch of 667 metric tonnes (1.47 million pounds).”

Commodities: “Shipping braces for impact as Russia-Ukraine crisis intensifies” [Freight Waves]. “Military action could curtail ship movements in the Black Sea, a key transit point for dry bulk exports. In fact, Russian military exercises have already done so. VesselsValue analyzed ship-movement data and found that Russian naval maneuvers ‘visibly impacted traffic.; Russian and Ukrainian waters of the Black Sea and Sea of Azov were designated ‘listed areas’ by the insurance industry’s War Risk Council on Feb. 15, meaning higher war risk insurance premiums. According to BRS [brokerage], the Black Sea area was the world’s second-largest grain-exporting region in 2021, with 111.2 million tons of cargo; Russia and Ukraine accounted for 30% of global wheat exports, and Ukraine accounted for 16% of global corn exports. Ukrainian corn could be first in the line of fire. BRS noted that by the end of January, Ukraine had already exported 71% of wheat predicted for the current marketing period but just 32% of its predicted corn exports. Agribulk exports face risks on land as well, not just at sea. ‘An attack or land grab by Russia could sharply reduce grain production as farmers flee the conflict, agricultural infrastructure and equipment are damaged, and the region’s economy is paralyzed,’ said BRS. “A substantial part of Ukraine’s most productive agricultural land is in the east and therefore vulnerable to any potential Russian attack.’ According to Braemar ACM Shipbroking, this landside risk could affect the coming wheat marketing season. ‘The main grain-producing regions are notably located along the Russian border,’ said Braemar, which pointed out that the military threat coincides with the beginning of the spring wheat planting period.” • How fascinating that the insurance industry has a “War Risk Council.” I wonder if it works like LIBOR used to?

The Bezzle: “Ex-Goldman Sachs banker’s 1MDB trial to be paused on new evidence disclosure” [Financial Times]. “The trial of a former banker at Goldman Sachs charged in connection with the multibillion-dollar 1MDB scandal will be put on hold after US prosecutors admitted they failed to provide thousands of documents to the defence team. Prosecutors wrote in a letter submitted to Judge Margo Brodie late on Tuesday night that they had just learned a Department of Justice team had failed to provide them and Ng with approximately 15,500 documents from email accounts and a laptop belonging to Tim Leissner, a former Goldman Sachs partner and colleague of Ng’s who has been the government’s star witness. Prosecutors called it an ‘inexcusable’ mistake, according to the letter.” • Welcome to the Third World…

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 19 Extreme Fear (previous close: 27 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 38 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 24 at 12:35pm. Looks like Putin got Mr. Market’s attention.


“These So-Called ‘Casual’ Gamers Are Actually Hardcore Strategists” [Kotaku]. ” In the gaming community, anime gacha games were seen as cheap lotteries for people with more anime thirst than sense. Yet that description fit none of the gacha players I knew in real life. They were programmers and administrative assistants. They were college students and school teachers. And many of them were masterful strategists in the games they played. Despite being popularly maligned as “casual,” many mobile game players track in-game events, min-max using custom tools, and study the tactics of streamers to improve their gaming prowess. They think about mobile games on a deeply strategic level, and the games they were playing required just as much investment as the games played by mainstream console players. This is because fully leveling a character in a gacha game can take anywhere from weeks to months. And not all of the leveling materials could be collected every day. It’s common for one type of material to only be farmable on Mondays, and a different material farmable on Tuesdays.” • “Farmable”?

Zeitgeist Watch

“Thank you for inhaling our virions!” (1):

“Thank you for inhaling our virions!” (1):

Walensky is a fine example of elite upspeak; listen, if you can stand it. But listen also to her logic: She’s saying that college students have a higher tolerance for risk, and therefore should not have to wear masks. So, (a) drunken frat party in ill-ventilated basement room jake with the angels, but (b) wear a mask when you go home to see the grandparents after you’ve already contracted the virus. The stupid, it b-u-r-r-r-r-r-n-n-n-n-n-s-s-s-s!!!!!!

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“A “Tragedy of Capitalism”? BLM Faces Growing Questions Over Millions in Donations” [Jonathan Turley]., “The California Department of Justice recently issued a notice to Black Lives Matter not only that it was in violation of state law over the failure to disclose financial records, but also that its leadership could be personally liable for the resulting fines for failing to account for $60 million in donations. Indiana also is questioning the organization, and Amazon has suspended BLM donations due to concerns over the handling and reporting of donations by the group’s leadership. The problem is determining who that leadership is on an organization racked by internal conflicts, resignations and scandals. The move, however, highlights a glaring contrast to how state officials have treated BLM as opposed to the far more aggressive efforts targeting organizations like the National Rifle Association. New York is seeking to dissolve the NRA for some of the same allegations leveled against BLM, including the use of funds by BLM officials for personal benefits. I would oppose an effort to dissolve BLM, just as I oppose the efforts to dissolve the NRA. However, the favored status afforded to BLM by the news media, corporations and state regulators has magnified the problems for the organization. There are also obvious free speech and association questions raised by such selective or disparate enforcement policies.” • Hardly a tragedy for capitalism; in fact, an enormous success (and ia success in the same way that NGOs generally are a success, except with a virtually Trumpian crassness and disregard for cut-outs and money launderers norms). Well done, “voices.”

Class Warfare

“The PRO Act Won’t Solve Labor’s Woes” [Jonah Furman, Jacobin]. “he gist of the AFL-CIO response to this year’s predictably bad news was, “We need labor law reform. Pass the PRO Act!” That press release came out the day after the majority party’s own voting rights reform, backed by the president, had failed in the face of the filibuster. No major organizing drives to point to, no plan to build density in core industries, no reallocation of budgets, no member-to-member education or outreach programs — just a wish that the ruling class would change the rules. Let’s be real: the PRO Act isn’t going to pass anytime soon. We need a plan B where we figure out how to organize under current conditions. Besides, even if the PRO Act were enacted tomorrow, a union revival wouldn’t be automatic — it would take organizing plans, analyses, campaigns, budgets. So where are they? The labor movement is not dead; its 14 million members are a base to build from. But those who command the union treasuries can’t just whine for legislation — they have to get back on the horse and try to organize. And those of us who have their ear (and pay their salaries) must help them find the courage.”


“Starbucks diversity chief seeks ‘a sense of belonging’ among workers amid union push” [Yahoo News]. “In an interview with Yahoo Finance, chief inclusion and diversity officer Dennis Brockman insisted the company — which has openly lobbied against the union push — is dedicated to making all its employees ‘feel valued’ and have ‘a sense of belonging’ while working at Starbucks.” They say that the best things in life are free….. More: “‘Starbucks is pro-partner, we’re not anti-union,’ said Brockman, a 14-year Starbucks veteran who’s held his current job for about a year who joined the company as a District Manager in Kansas City. ‘We want every single partner who works for Starbucks to love working for this organization,’ he added, using the term Starbucks calls its workers. ‘Our mission and our values is what has guided us for the last first 50 years and it will continue to guide us.’: • Key words being “every” and “single.”

“Guy Debord, an Untimely Aristocrat” [Theory, Culture, and Society]. Locked, so Abtract only: “This essay excavates the pre-capitalist influences of the thought of Guy Debord, French postwar critical theorist and founding member of the Situationist International. Tracing a lineage of what can be described as Debord’s aristocratic sensibility, we discover not simply an aesthetic approach to navigating social life, or guidelines for outmanoeuvring an adversary, but also contempt for honest labour, monetary transactions in cultural affairs, and conventional political gestures. Together these themes remain part of a legacy of an aristocratic past, one that, as will be examined here, informed Debord’s acrimony towards his own mid-20th-century moment. The following discussion will advance a genealogy of Debord’s thinking with these themes from late antiquity to the Italian Renaissance, and finally with an extended examination of the baroque, a concept that helps advance Debord’s diagnostic concept of the society of the spectacle.”

News of the Wired

“The Nocturnals” [The Atlantic]. “Many of the people I spoke with had felt trapped in contemporary life—depressed, on edge, and guilty for feeling that way in the first place. But then, each came to the realization: It doesn’t need to be this way. There’s already a time when the noise and chaos of society falls away. They just need to be awake for it.” • I guess I’ve got my own little form of identity politics here… But you don’t hear introverts screaming to “Let ‘er rip!”, do you?

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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 (TH):

Says Ms. Bee: “The bummer about these Chinese Lantern flowers is there’s no place to sit–you gotta hover to get the pollen.”

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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. Amfortas the hippie

        yeah, i thought it was the weed.
        and anyway, usually when i refresh a page here it jumps around for a while.
        something to do with the hamster needing a pee break.

        i’m just glad i heat with wood…even though it means i’m up at all kinds of weird hours and must be present to have a warm house.
        mom just informed me she spent $1k on propane in the last month or so.
        i reckon that’s gonna be much worse, and soon.

        1. JBird4049

          One thousand dollars just to heat the house? That’s just bananas. Just think about people living in the Northeast where they really don’t have much of a choice in the winter. Any I whine about my combined monthly gas and electric bill of over a hundred for my small apartment. Of course, it has been cold for California and PG&E wonderfully high cost for electricity because of they being allowed to pass on the cost of their messes including backlogged maintenance. Some of the maintenance was already paid for. They just did not do it, which means being paid twice for some of the same work.

          I just can’t wait until next Fall when I have to have a little heat all the time and lights early in the day. We are all just fraked aren’t we? At least, I do live in California where freezing to death is unlikely in most of the state.

          1. curlydan

            that $1,000 might be to fill the 500 gallon propane tank to 400 gallons which can last several months depending on geography and size of house. I spent about $650 a month ago to do that.

            1. Jen

              I probably use 500 gallons for the whole year. And I live in NH. Woodstove definitely cuts down on the use for heat and replacing the 40 year old water heater saved me 100 gallons a year.

              I get two deliveries – one in september/october, one in feb/march $744 for my last fillup, which was more than I paid for all of last year.

            2. Amfortas the hippie

              yep…great big tank.
              but she filled it first week or two of january…for $800, i think…and another $1000 monday.
              of course, she keeps it hot as hell over there…such that i cannot stay for long, given that i am geared up for outside when i’m over there.
              …and at our house when it’s cold, i layer up…i’m in 2 layers, head to toe right now, and all the fires are going.

              i also suspect that her ancient copper and steel gas pipes are leaky…hopefully into the dirt somewhere and not under the house….but anything i say is automatically dismissed,lol…so whatever.
              there’s insurance, at least.

              we stopped relying on propane a long time ago…too dern expensive.
              with wood, if need be, i can collect deadfall on the side of the road…and, indeed, me and the boys have often gone to the piles the highway department leaves for later burning: mesquite oak and what i think is ash.
              they’ll just burn it up after a while anyway.

              this last year, due to stepdad’s summer long health emergency, we neglected cutting up a very large oak that had fallen into the fence between us and the neighbor, due to a severe drought several years ago, then a few high wind events…and then died with last years’ ice age.
              so we finally got to that in october…had a woodcutting party, with boys and their buddies and beer and brisket.
              got about 5 cords out of that one tree…all seasoned, from being dead for so long.
              ..it was hollow, as old post oaks usually are around here…and the heartwood at the bottom of the hollow was infused with ancient honey…black and gooey.
              i kept that aside for cooking this summer.
              we’re running low, now…another exceptionally cold winter for here.
              so i’ll be out cutting a bunch of logs tomorrow that i have set aside…pecan, oak, mesquite…to get through the last of winter(i hope).
              running a bunch of woodstoves takes a certain level of skill…and when it’s cold, someone has to stay home to manage them, lest we come home to a cold house.
              but it’s worth it.
              because the only cost is our labor.
              there’s thousands of standing dead trees hereabouts…due to poison(!) or drought…and the big freeze last year killed a bunch, too.
              landowners usually welcome someone wanting to cut up and haul off…because everyone heats with gas and electric.

              1. Jen

                A friend of mine who is of the .01% is taking down 10 trees on her property. She wanted 1 cord of wood split and the rest gone. How to accomplish? Me: put a note on your town list serv – 10 trees for one cord of wood. Friend: but there are 10 trees. Me: exactly.

          2. Carla

            @JBird4049 — I lived in California intermittently (as recently as 4 years ago) and was amazed at how low the gas & electric bills were compared to here in the Rust Belt, where it is MUCH COLDER. Groceries were also much lower in Cali. But here in flyover, we have to make dramatically lower incomes pay for higher food and energy prices in a colder climate. Of course, we don’t have forest fires or earthquakes (so’s you’d notice) — so there’s that.

            1. JBird4049

              I would not be too sure about earthquakes. There is the New Madrid fault in the Midwest. You might be overdue for a earthquake.

          3. eg

            On piped natgas here in Ontario for heating, cooking, bbq and a couple of fireplaces. Propane is just for a decorative firetable we haven’t bothered to plumb.

        2. .human

          mom just informed me she spent $1k on propane in the last month or so.

          Ouch. I’m reminded of that quip from ’03: My country invaded Iraq and all I got was $3/gallon gas.

            1. Wukchumni

              There’s only one propane supplier in our cabin community and 698 significant curves on the 25 miles of driving a really big truck must do to get there, so we’ve been pre-gouged on the price of propane.

              I paid $5.95 a gallon (ouch!) in August.

            1. fresno dan

              February 24, 2022 at 9:10 pm
              I’m still capable of being vertical, which I guess is better than the alternative
              Though truth be told, I can’t say I really discern any improvement…

        3. Thistlebreath

          We are the last place in our canyon to heat w/wood.
          The second to last, now sadly gone, was 92 and still splitting wood.
          Warms you twice.
          Splitting is a nice Zen of defocus and then terrific force applied instantly.
          Back in ’73, one of the ACEP founders was a pal who stopped by and casually noted that if I came in w/a chainsaw injury, stitches were going to pretty much be useless. I’ve remembered that. No severed femoral arteries yet.

  1. Andrew

    “The Nocturnals” [The Atlantic].

    When I read this the other day, the thing that stuck out first and foremost was how many of the people seemed to be basically showing classic symptoms of schizoid personality disorder, but the article seemed to refuse to even entertain the possibility of any mental illness at play, despite how such people e.g. “didn’t see their disposition as optional”. Real forest-for-the-trees.

    1. Wukchumni

      One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.

      Aldo Leopold

      1. FreeMarketApologist

        And his benches are wonderful. Well worth the time and low level of effort to make a few.

    1. RockHard

      While we’re at it, the Stanley Greenberg article is misattributed to WaPo, should be American Prospect

  2. jo6pac

    We can tell since we don’t medi-care for all. Then still have endless wars with Amerika starting new one. Then that $600 still owe us on Main Street. The child tax & etc.

    Jen Psaki: “We make national security decisions based on what’s best for our country’s national security, not on the latest polling.”

    What does ukraine have to do with Amerikan security?

    1. Samuel Conner

      Perhaps JB’s relations’ privacy is implicated. There might be national security consequences to that.

    2. hunkerdown

      A nation, to them, is the sum total of all property relations. Much of their mindset follows directly from that.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Only if you ignore the encroachment of NATO for 30 years, surrounding Russia with US military bases in Europe and Asia, the US sponsored coup in Ukraine in 2014, sending hundreds of millions or more in arms to Ukraine – but other than that, yeah it’s all Putin’s fault.

        1. Stephen V.

          Amen flora. He’s been on fire of late and become a must watch in our house. Speaking of Fox, they had a video we saw on Feb 12th with no chuckle head commentary or framing of any kind– just individual truckers making statements. It’s hyperbolic, but reminded me of Dorothea Lang’s work.

  3. Samuel Conner

    “Farming”: at least in what I have seen, is relatively low-difficulty repetitive in-game tasks that allow you to harvest resources.

    Not to be confused with ‘gardening’, which is done in real soil (or at least in growing medium).

    There’s an apposite quote from Jefferson’s correspondence:

    “I have often thought that if heaven had given me choice of my position & calling, it should have been on a rich spot of earth, well watered, and near a good market for the productions of the garden. “no occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, & no culture comparable to that of the garden. such a variety of subjects, some one always coming to perfection, the failure of one thing repaired by the success of another, & instead of one harvest a continued one thro’ the year. under a total want of demand except for our family table I am still devoted to the garden. but tho’ an old man, I am but a young gardener.”

    It’s sort of like gaming, but in real life, and you can eat, or savor the sight or scent of, the things you have ‘won’.

    (and, like in gaming, you can (often) repair mistakes with ‘do overs’.)

    1. Nikkikat

      Jen Psaki gets more of an attitude every day. I don’t think she needs to tell anyone Foreign policy is not based on polling. Nothing they do is based on polling. The democrats do not care what we want we or need. This nonsense with Russia and Ukraine is all about them.
      Like everything else.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      nice. Jefferson’s gardening journals are neat reading(i have a sort of compendium of them)
      i also recommend Hesiod, ‘works and days’…as well as Virgil’s ‘Georgics’…and my fave, “5 acres and independence”.
      this winter, since i have tomatoes, peppers and a bunch of herbs and celery and onions and flowers in my greenhouse, i’m hanging out there a lot to tend the fire(that woodstove has to be watched and fooled with constantly, which is why we replaced it for inside the house)
      …and reading back copies of Mother Earth News.
      thanks to mom, i’ve got them all the way back to the 70’s.
      25 outside, almost 60 in there, with wan sunlight barely getting through the stratus deck.
      already got 30 flats of stuff seeded out, as well as a bunch of rooted cuttings in pots…and the best organised seed vault in years.
      dorm room fridge for the beer, and 2 chairs…surrounded by green.
      about 20 x 12, and all it cost me was $75 for the corrugated clear fiberglass roof panels…everything else was shit people threw away..including that crappy, leaky woodstove.
      wired for sound, too.

      1. Samuel Conner

        If I can figure out how to do it without antagonizing the neighbors (who are close enough to notice what I do in the backyard), I’d really like to imitate you and have a cold-season growing enclosure.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          collect old windows for a few years.
          mine are all from a couple of old houses that some fedreal program replaced with double panes…including wife’s grandma(how i learned of this activity).
          intercepted them before they went to landfill, and stacked them under cover until i needed them>
          i had more than enough to do the roof with them, too…thus making the greenhouse cost-free…but was afraid hail would get the old single pane plate glass.
          also, if there’s a hardware store/”building supply”, turns out people often order funky sized windows and never pick them up…i got several from the local mom and pop hardware store that way, for a discount, because they were just taking up space.
          all the lumber was from the landfill and scavenging debris at remodels.
          2 black rainbarrels inside(passive solar) are usually all i need to keep it warm…until some damned arctic weather comes…then it’s a milkroom heater and the little woodstove.
          if it’s sunny, it can be 19 degrees outside, and i can be in there buck nekkid messing with plants. on those days, it helps heat the house, too.

        2. foghorn longhorn

          Build it as a lean-to against an outer wall of your home, southern exposure of course, also tall fences make for good neighbors.

  4. Toshiro_Mifune

    Games …. Farmable?

    Trying to think of a quick explanation for this….. It’s a repetitive action in a game (killing a boss, doing a certain mission, etc) so that the game rewards you with a specific item(s). E.G. You replay Level 3-2 in SMB because completing it has a %1 chance of dropping a Super Special Magic Item if you do. There’s almost always a bunch of mitigating factors as well.

    1. jr

      Farming in EVE involved mining, if memory serves. Players would open up two, three accounts but only use one for play. The others would be trained to mine only. Then they would be set up with super big mining barges in pirate-free high security systems to mine all day and night till their cargo holds are full. It’s low grade ore but lots of it.

      This ticked off a lot of the players who saw it as meta-gaming. On old uber-corporation “Goonswarm” took to sending in low level players from null-security space to attack and destroy these robo-miners. System security would destroy them next as there is no player on player fighting in high security space but Goonswarm could afford the tab. Led to a few wars, I believe.

    2. ChrisPacific

      Farming is the process of converting time investment into (scarce) game resources. Some games require it more than others.

      Gacha games tend to have highly detailed characters that they encourage you to become emotionally invested in. Typically there will be about four or five different dimensions in which they can be leveled up (character level, character ‘tier’, weapons, equipment, artifacts, talent levels, weapon levels, equipment levels…) and fully upgrading a character in every dimension can take a massive investment of time to gather all the resources needed. Typically you have the option to shorten the time or jump the queue by paying real money, and it’s how these games make most of their profit.

      It’s a little more complicated than that, though, because the vast majority of players will never spend any money on the game at all (or at most a minimal amount). These are called free to play (F2P) players. They’re more important than you might think, because they provide an active and dynamic community and contribute to the game being popular. You might not earn money from them, but if you don’t look after them and nurture and grow their community, your cash cows (or ‘whales’ as they are called) aren’t likely to stick around or spend much either.

      So typically you want character leveling for F2P players to be difficult, but achievable with some effort and planning. Figuring out how to do it optimally then becomes part of the challenge and appeal for those players. This can get very complex and detailed (for example, if there’s a point of diminishing returns then partially upgrading multiple characters could be a better use of resources than fully investing in one).

    1. LifelongLib

      A while ago I saw some video of an LBJ speech and was struck by how much more intelligent it sounded than any political speeches you hear today. Not arguing that LBJ was any more truthful but he sure was more persuasive…

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        Listen to clips of Kennedy’s press conferences: sure there was schtick, but politics aside, the level of literacy and wit was immeasurably higher than anything we can find today. The average high school grad was more literate than your typical MBA of today…

        1. Robert Gray

          > The average high school grad [in the 1960s] was more literate than your typical MBA of today…

          About 20 years ago, we had a big reunion of our extended family. Before the event, everyone was asked to complete a questionnaire about his or her life and I was in charge of compiling all the stories into a little booklet. I was amazed; my experience was exactly congruent with the point you’re making here.

          One of the elders, Uncle Bob, graduated from high school in 1937 and had one year of ‘business college’ before joining his father in the family store. He wrote quite a bit but it was a joy to read and I only had to apply the lightest of editorial touches. That was in marked contrast to a couple of his grandchildren, whose texts needed correction for things such as subject-verb agreement and errors of the ‘me and my wife went …’ variety — and they are college graduates!

          In hindsight, it’s clear that even then (early ’00s) we were well into the post-literate age. Who needs to write well when you can podcast yourself or spurt out every thought in twitterese?

  5. amechania


    Went to do a take down of the latest chess prodigy. we write of the world champion as an honorary american. Chess has long been subject to grift and ‘inside baseball’ (nothing as bad as us football or the 1920’s, but maybe like corruption in Sumo wrestling or nascar.)

    Kid seems legit tho. 8 of 10 in the world kids championship, and thats real competition. I followed up and 4 or 5 of the top 10 or 12 were native Russians. 3 putative Americans. Purchased loyalty, not born.

    I heard an american won olympic gold, but under bought fealty to a foreign flag. A first but surely not the last.

    1. Darthbobber

      It really isn’t all that rare for someone to win a game against the world champion in the course of a tournament.
      And this was a rapid chess tournament, not at normal time controls.

      1. Harold

        This was the same reactions my chess player relative had. It was a rapid game and such things are not unusual.

  6. Andrew Watts

    RE: Sun Tzu

    Eh, there’s no shame in quoting the master of war. For every victory gained you also suffered a defeat is a decent response to people who think the US won the war in Iraq, Afghanistan, or even Vietnam.

  7. Hepativore

    So, putting aside the international political implications of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, I am afraid what this will mean for domestic priorities.

    Will Biden and the rest of the Democrats drag us into direct conflict with Russia, in order to allow Biden to brand himself as a “war” president like Bush Jr.? The Democrats might try to do this as a means to inflate their sagging midterm numbers and Biden’s moribund presidency.

    I am not sure if it will be enough to save either, but the real question is does this mean that the Democrats will also use war with Russia as a means of ducking out of any sort of domestic policy and another excuse for their refusal to govern? I know that at the moment, most Americans do not want to get involved with Russia, but our political leadership does not usually care what its subjects’ opinions are. As our kleptocratic government only has love for its donors, I am sure that the MIC is salivating at the money it can make and the policies it can push through if we do intervene on Ukraine’s behalf.

    1. Samuel Conner

      > a means of ducking out of any sort of domestic policy and another excuse for their refusal to govern

      The problem will be framed that we can’t simultaneously afford both buns and gutter, so we’ll have to focus on the 2nd of the two.

      1. Dr. John Carpenter

        Given the military budgets before this have been larger than the already inflated requests, with bipartisan support, and Joe Biden still owes me $600, I’d say that ship has sailed already.

    2. Darthbobber

      The omens are not favorable for such a maneuver. Effectiveness of the Mighty Wurlitzer is declining over time even as it gets cranked up more and more frequently. The drumbeat about WMDs and next Hitler Saddam was no more strident and thorough than this xenophobic campaign (may even have been slightly less so), but sufficed to produce at least a temporary majority in favor of invading Iraq. This one, however successful it may be in disseminating Putinphobia in a generic sense throughout the populace, or at least in silencing open disagreement, can barely muster a quarter in favor of even an undefined “major role”, and to even get that they had to keep punctuating the bellicose pronouncements that our fighting would absolutely not involve fighting.

      1. meadows

        o great… first TDS…. now PDS…. Putin Derangement Syndrome. There’s getting to be too many Derangement thingies to keep track of.

    3. David

      The trouble is there’s nothing to intervene with. It would take months to sealift heavy forces to Europe, and then they’d have to launch an attack from somewhere (Poland?) against a superior enemy. The biggest mistake, as Washington is finding out even now, is to threaten reprisals without the capability to implement them. Even the American public, one supposes, might realise this eventually.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        We’ll see how it plays out, but I’d bet the Russians would be done in Ukraine before months have passed. Per Putin’s most recent speech, they aren’t interested in occupying long-term, and if their recent intervention in Kazakhstan is any guide, they won’t. Kazakhstan asked for assistance according to the Russians at least, the Russians helped, and went home. I’d expect a similar scenario here, but who really knows? I thought Russia might be content with recognizing the two Donbass regions as independent republics and letting the dust settle from that.

        If Russia is successful in ridding the Ukraine of the US’ latest round of armaments so they can’t retaliate against the Donbass region, rounds up some Nazis, takes them back to Russia for a trail, leaves a garrison in Donbass, and then withdraws its military from the larger Ukraine, I really don’t know what the West would even be retaliating against months from now. They’d look pretty foolish launching an attack while Russia was having war crimes tribunals for the guilty parties in the Odessa massacre.

        No matter what one might think of anything happening today, the fact that those who perpetrated that massacre went unpunished is absolutely appalling, and I’d wager 99% of the US public knows nothing about it.

        1. meadows

          Good comment. Might even be just weeks, this is a decapitation, and although NATO is basically the US, the US still needs agreements from members, so slow action there. Russia planned for this IMHO. SWIFT “weaponized” not being used immediately is indicative of indecisiveness.

          This is why the moneyed classes realize the wheels of commerce will keep turning even while every sycophant of US empire is stamping their feet just so upset at Russia Russia Russia.

        2. JTMcPhee

          What a trip! Russia on the way to becoming the REAL world’s policeman, in the best sense of the title (not like Chicago and NY and LA, etc. cops, or the Fokkers and Fuggers of the CIA, MI6 etc.)?

  8. XXYY

    Jen Psaki: “We make national security decisions based on what’s best for our country’s national security, not on the latest polling.”

    OTOH, “we make Public Health decisions based on the latest polling, not on what’s best for our country’s population.”

  9. dcblogger

    not that anyone asked, but I have been reading Jane McAlevey’s No Short Cuts, about union organizing. It is fascinating, especially the takes of the Chicago Teachers Strike and the Tar Heel NC Smithfield organizing campaign. She pours scorn all over Saul Alinsky and Andy Stern.

      1. Donna

        Paul Jay at Analysis News has a 5 part interview with Jane. The first one about growing up with a politicking father in the 60s is great. She name drops Mario Cuomo and Anthony Blinkin’s Republican father who she, her father or both had difficulties with. Bill Moyers’s spouse actually came to her defense. All this before college graduation. Haven’t listened to the rest yet. Check it out here. https://theanalysis.news/get-organized-to-win-jhlevey-pt-1/

  10. Screwball

    On masks and schools. I teach a STEM class in a state funded college in Ohio. They just dropped the mask mandate this afternoon. None required, no matter your vax status.

    Just say COVID is over, don’t track and test, let people die. Great approach.

    Jen Psaki = the most condescending snot I think I’ve ever listened to. Some day the press corps should all bring squirt guns and drench her snarky ass. And while on this administration – I hope they get totally embarrassed at the mid-terms. If they themselves are not bad enough – I’m sick and tired of hearing their worshipers who think they can do no wrong. In a conversation today, someone said something along the lines of “this Ukraine thing is not something we should be getting our nose in, especially with someone like Biden who doesn’t seem to have all his marbles.” PMC rebuttable = shush, the adults are speaking now.

  11. Jason Boxman

    I don’t normally shout and air fist, but this:

    Justice Dept. Sues to Block $13 Billion Deal by UnitedHealth Group

    The agency’s lawsuit against the deal for a health technology company is the latest move by the Biden administration to quash corporate consolidation.


    One of the few things Biden is excellent on, although it bobbles the mind, is antitrust.

    Definitely more of this, if nothing else.

    1. jo6pac

      joe b. team is doing this until united health writes a bigger check to the joe b. retirement fund. It is DC after all.

      1. Jason Boxman

        But this isn’t in isolation; As Matt Stoller has documented repeatedly, Biden seems to really believe in antitrust as a principle. Well, who can say what anyone really believes? But his administration is consistently on the right side of antitrust, which is surprising, but encouraging. This might be the only real bright spot in the entire administration, so it is worth highlighting, because anything that benefits citizens and the working class in the United States is a rarity.

        Recall that the AT&T monopoly suits made the Internet possible, and the IBM antitrust suits made Silicon Valley possible, before the return of monopolies such as Microsoft and later Google killed any innovation that isn’t tied to regulatory evasion and outright fraud and rent extraction.

        Maybe this will be a pivotal moment that ushers in an entire era of real competition and creatively that starts to blossom in the next 5 to 10 years. One can dream. There isn’t much positive to grasp, so I’ll take what is offered here.

    2. JP

      I can’t remember his name or GOP state but the US senator’s family owned United Health. It might be a partisan pay back.

  12. griffen

    Rapture index moving higher on the actions to attack Ukraine overnight? I would think it to be the case. Not that I’m hurrying it up, but just a thought. I think the index has hovered about 186 for a good while.

    1. jr

      You will know the ice creams in the AC when the Galactic Federation begins suppressing the nuclear launch systems……………..let’s hope.

      1. meadows

        This is one of the few times when I think the word juxtaposition works.
        Thank you for the powerful images.

        1. urblintz

          I started watching it yesterday, probably about 2 or 3 hours after the “invasion” started. Given that it’s a feed from The Independent I assume it’s on the up and up. It’s title referring to explosions heard across Ukraine never materializes in the video itself as far as I can tell (which does not mean I’m suggesting nothing happened or is happening elsewhere).

        2. urblintz

          Checking the comments I saw reference to a siren going off at 5:46:34… it’s there… lasts about 5 seconds,

  13. Caffinated_AVGuy

    We still have a red-phone / hotline to the Kremlin right? Is anybody even talking to them? Trying to talk to them?

    1. curlydan

      No, we punish aggression by not talking to them. We have other strategies, though: we ignore or talk past them when they lay out their ideas, grievances, and demands. It’s really effective.

      1. anon y'mouse

        it works on the lower classes in this country, so why not the rest of the world since they are obviously of a lower class than our meritorious leadership?

  14. nippersdad

    The Ruble is now a penny stock!

    “The value of the Russian currency plunged to a record low Thursday, with 1 ruble now worth barely more than an American penny.”


    I had read somewhere the last few days that the Ruble was already undervalued as compared to the value of the Russian economy by about two thirds, but now this. Question for the investors out there: What is trading in currencies like? I’d be in for fifty bucks.

  15. anon y'mouse

    “farming” in gaming is when you pretty much go out in a collection mode and somewhat monopolize a resource (could be a mob or “bad guy” or could be a resource node, or even an entire zone or dungeon, depending). if you are 3d gaming, you will be going out into a game region and killing or collecting all of a particular spawn repeatedly until you feel sated in your need for whatever resource you’re collecting.

    it can cause problems if the resources are shared and you do not maintain awareness of whomever else might be in the region with a need for that item, and let them pass through. it is somewhat bad form to not allow others to collect something in a region you’re farming (you’ve set aside a certain amount that you need or a certain block of time where you’re collecting but other people may just have a “to do” list and be passing through), but if you’re really very on top of the spawn times, it can be a grey line as to whether you’re just “harvesting in time” or “kill stealing” or otherwise blocking other players from collecting what they need.

    and, all rules are customarily broken even if there is a “proper etiquette” and to go into worldchat whining about it will get quite a number of “what did you expect” responses, so it’s much like a free for all even if there is a standard of conduct that the more conscientious prefer to adhere to.

    very illustrative for covid prevention purposes (and probably lots of other things in life), no?

  16. ChrisPacific

    A colloquial translation of the Marx quote might be “All of the s— is f—ed up,” which does indeed work in almost any context today.

  17. Angie Neer

    The article about Rikers Island is germane to the recent post about bail reform. Some people (like me) are horrified when they hear about the conditions there, but others want it to be torture. “They wouldn’t be there if they hadn’t done something wrong” seems to have more fans than presumption of innocence, including among those who claim to love the constitution.

    1. anon y'mouse

      these people are in need of genuine experience—no amount of torturing those people who do wrong things can ever repair the wrong, and if those people who did the wrong are some kind of psychopath or sociopath (or even just a human who has justified the action to themselves for whatever reason), no amount will ever make them truly repent.

      wasted energy of revenge and legitimized violence of the so-called “righteous”, showing them to be possibly as depraved as those whom they desire the blood thereof.

      1. .human

        There are no more Christians. The bloodlust and revenge-seeking is off-the-charts. Where have the churches been in all this? They are conspiculously absent.

  18. Wukchumni

    What’s with Idaho? Not ski resorts, my first thought, at least from a cursory look at the map. Of course, Idaho is not populous, so a small rise in absolute numbers could be considered “rapid.”

    Idaho has more militias* than other states and they tend to be tight-knit far right anti-vaxers that glom together, could that be the reason?

    * Our nutty evang/militia/tax evader church here moved to Idaho five years ago to better fit in, and I noticed the other day that their old church is for sale.

    Anybody need a used house of worship that comes with a target range?


  19. Tom Stone

    The Biden Administration had a fair amount of goodwill when Biden took office and have pissed it away starting with the chickenshit cruelty of the checks that were short by $600.
    Stupid, arrogant, incompetent, sadistic and chickenshit.
    Objectively worse at governing than Trump.
    Which is not an easy thing to accomplish.

        1. ambrit

          Oh G–s. If it truly is Bud Lime, then the Nation is already in the Inferno.
          As it says above the door to the Bud Lime Tavern; “All Ye who drink here, abandon taste.”
          It used to be called “self medicating” to indulge heavily in spiritous liquors. Now it’s “self abuse.”

  20. Wukchumni

    Reservoirs in northern Mexico’s Nuevo León state are running dry once again and some of them are expected to run out of water entirely within months or weeks, or even days in some cases, leading local authorities to declare an emergency.

    Water shortages have been a recurring problem for the state and particularly the metropolitan area of Monterrey in the last decade, and state and federal governments have been looking at options to resolve the crisis for years.


    I’m quite a Topo Chico (bottled in Monterrey) addict, loves me the crazy carbonation of the best darn sparkling water i’ve ever come across, and yet according to another blog i’m reading, a gent from there says the reservoirs are down to 17 days of water left before going dry, yikes!

  21. Wukchumni

    I’d go apiary if another beekeeper was pinching my hives…

    It happens every year. As soon as pallets loaded with honeybee colonies hit the soil in California orchards to pollinate the almond crop, they are targeted by thieves. Authorities and others in the business say the culprits tend to be other beekeepers.

    Thieves are after the pollination rental income, which this year is $200 to $220 per hive, according to beekeepers.

    “Unfortunately, it’s other people in the beekeeping industry who are desperate during almond pollination, and they steal from other beekeepers to fulfill their contracts, and it’s disgusting,” said Claire Tauzer of Tauzer Apiaries. “It’s a horrible violation of our industry and all of our hard work. The majority of our industry are honest, hardworking people, and there is a small, desperate minority who steals from people this time of year, and it’s got to stop.”

    Tauzer Apiaries, a family beekeeping business in Northern California, reported that 384 of its hives were stolen from the Hopland area in Mendocino County between Jan. 19 and Feb. 1. Those hives are valued at $150,000, plus $80,000 in pollination rental income.

    A day after the hives were reported missing last week, a tip led law enforcement to a residence in Yolo County, where they recovered the stolen colonies. The suspects were allegedly transferring the frames of Tauzer’s bees into their own boxes, Tauzer said. Law enforcement also located the company’s custom, $50,000 forklift, stolen a year ago in Woodland. An arrest was made in connection to the alleged theft of the forklift. The investigation is ongoing.


    1. The Rev Kev

      Or…we could set off a few volcanoes with nuclear bombs to set off sulphur and the like into the atmosphere to cool off the climate. Just sayin’.

      I know. I know. Don’t give them any ideas.

  22. Utah

    That covid blip in Idaho looks like Blaine county. This is the county Sun Valley resides in, a prominent ski town, lots of wealthy people/ Hollywood-types winter homes, and lots of conventions. Blaine county has gotten too expensive to live in (the mayor of Ketchum last year talked about setting up a tent city in the park for nurses and teachers), so surrounding countries are the commuter counties.

  23. Copeland

    Plant pic:
    Looks like Flowering Maple – Abutilon rather than Chinese Lantern – Alkekengi.
    The former has colorful flowers, the latter has colorful fruit.

  24. flora

    Thanks for the links today. Sun Tsu (also Clauswitz), Psaki (also Tucker), the working class (also neoliberal market “religion”), etc. Someone has lost the plot. / ;)

  25. Josef K

    Lambert, your efforts re COVID alone are admirable and much appreciated*, even if I have yet to demonstrate such monetarily. When I get some extra scratch I’ll send you some. Considering that the Pacific brand boxed soup I like to eat has gone from $2.69 and often on sale to $3.29 oops $3.49 now $3.79 and never on sale, I may however just die of starvation like my boy Franz before I can follow through.

    Anyhoo…..yes to more Guy Debord in the zeitgeist. We are truly floating like blobs in a lava lamp inside The Spectacle, and what a nightmarish, dystopian version it is.

    *never mind the other great links and analysis on other issues.

  26. ambrit

    Mini Zeitgeist Report.
    We had our first case of door to door begging for the spring. I recognized the man. He is a ‘pick up semi skilled labourer.’ His wife is a bit like Medea meets a Church Sister. They live a few blocks away from us and have just applied for Food Stamps. He said that work has become very hard to find. Even those who call him, his “specialty” is working under raised houses, have fallen on hard times. He’s a solid, reliable fellow. (I have done under floor work quite a bit in and around New Orleans and can attest to the often quite claustrophobic conditions of said work venue.) The couple were accepting actual food donations. We gave them some of our older Prepper supplies. (The local food pantries have been running very low on supplies lately. Get there an hour before the doors open to score anything at all.)
    As Mrs. Handyman put it when they were leaving the porch; “Everyone is too proud to ask for help, until they miss eating for a day or two.”
    We can clearly see our region falling back into an early 1900s level of existence.

  27. lyman alpha blob

    Funny stuff – https://www.yahoo.com/news/how-the-us-helped-ukraine-prepare-for-a-russian-invasion-210407079.html

    Somehow the following is portrayed as “helping” and not a provocation against one of the larger militaries in the world –

    “The support has included billions of dollars in military aid; enhanced intelligence sharing between the CIA, the National Security Agency and Ukrainian spy agencies; anti-corruption assistance; and enhanced cybersecurity coordination.

    As Yahoo News reported in January, the CIA has also conducted paramilitary training for Ukrainian special operations forces at a facility in the Southern U.S. as part of a secret program that began in 2015, and has sent agency paramilitaries to the front in eastern Ukraine to advise their counterparts there.”

    – the article fails to mention how much of the military aid and training went to avowed nazis…

    1. Tom Stone

      “Anti corruption assistance”?
      I’m really glad I didn’t have a mouthful of coffee when I read that.
      Run by the Podesta Brothers with a little assistance from R. Hunter Biden?

  28. T_Reg

    Not just Pharma management, but everyone involved, especially at the FDA. And there needs to be clawback of those billions in profits, including dividends, because these companies will end up as empty shells worth nothing.

  29. Tom Stone

    Sun Tzu is well worth a thoughtful read, however I am surprised that you did not mention John Boyd whose genius surpassed him.
    Boyd is best known for the “OODA Loop” whose nuances are often overlooked, however his essay “Creation and Destruction” is both extremely dense and deserving of intense study.
    It’s a work that Amforta’s could spend a winter chewing on.

  30. FDW

    On “farming” and “strategy” and “minmaxing” in mobile. All I can is yeah. As a veteran of Fate/Grand Order (an absolute masterpiece of gaming narrative, done by the group may well the Japanese Anime Industries counterpart to Marvel), there is no better way to give the FGO fanbase a heart attack than for them to find out that they need 200+ of an common item, or half that of a rare item to fully upgrade their servants (unit) capabilities.

    You see, Fate Grand Order has an energy system, like all mobile games, which are called Action Points. In FGO, selecting a node to fight will consime Action points. But not all “fighting nodes advance the story, way more of them give you some of the games “premium currency”, Saint Quartz. So there’s an incentive to revisit every story node you encounter on each map you go through, especially if you’re not a “whale” player (I wasn’t). These maps also have a random selection of the (I think over 100 at this point) items that you need to upgrade your servants.

    Now choosing what servants to upgrade had major strategic implications, as certain servants in combination with one another could make the process of farming much easier and predictable, especially the quartet known as Zhuge Liang, Tamamo no Mae, Merlin, and Skadi, and others. One thing that made FGO a buit different from it’s contemporaries was how you didn’t need to OWN A UNIT TO BE ABLE TO USE IT. There was a system of Friend Lists that you could exploit to be able to use those top line support units, or combat units. This combination of Friend list, the progress of the story, and numerous side events meant that dedicated players could get a chance to see how just about every unit could function in actual combats, which also further streamlines the process of farming.

    The stupid amounts of grinding have turned a lot of historical and mythical figures into memes. Arash is now an absolute legend amongst FGO fans because of how strategically useful he is (despite being weak at first glance). The name Barbatos has become a reflection of the sheer greed of the FGO fanbase, because of all the good loot he would drop when defeated.

    I stopped playing FGO back in 2020, at a time where I also assembled a game breaking set of “Quick” servants, but the phone I was playing on broke and I didn’t have the money to repair it. It didn’t matter, because Virtual Youtubers (mainly Hololive) filled that gap in my life.

  31. VietnamVet

    Europe is in for hard times; not just fear of the Ukraine War slipping its borders. A radioactive cloud from Russia seizing Ukraine’s 15 running nuclear reactors plus Chernobyl is possible. But there are also high prices, food and energy shortages, and Europeans freezing if this spring and next winter are not mild. The USA already has high inflation, shortages, a pandemic, and missing workers.

    All of this is caused by a weird ideology proselytized by Thomas Friedman in the 1990s; ‘no two countries with McDonald’s franchises have ever gone to war with each other. People in McDonald’s countries, he said, “don’t like to fight wars. They like to wait in line for burgers,” and “countries with middle classes large enough to sustain a McDonald’s have reached a level of prosperity and global integration that makes warmongering risky and unpalatable to its people.”’

    The free movement of people, goods, capital and services is the foundation ideology of the European Union. Except the dismantling of democracy and its nation states has led to the subjugation of the Greeks and the Euromaidan Coup in Ukraine. The failure to close national borders and impose 21 day quarantines on all incoming travelers enabled coronavirus to become endemic in the West.

    Literally, Russia is attacking the foundations of neoliberal globalism. What is frightening is that the global oligarchs will fight back and they have shown absolutely no concern for the little people caught in the middle. If the USA is to survive the re-partitioning of the world, democracy, the working middle-class, and strong borders must be restored and a nuclear war avoided.

    1. Jason Boxman

      Russia births its share of oligarchs during the 1990s with the help of the US. So I don’t know that they’re necessarily attacking the foundations of neoliberalism.

      1. VietnamVet

        Russian Oligarchs aren’t globalists unless they’ve cashed out in the City of London. They are nationalists much like Donald Trump. Those in country kowtow to Vladimir Putin after he put a few in their place. German multi-nationals thought they could get Russian energy on the cheap. No more. Russia seizing Ukraine is an existential threat to globalists – to the Empire.

        Once again, “an iron curtain has descended across the Continent”. With the pandemic, food, fertilizer & energy shortages, inflation, worker unrest, death and illness stalking the west; the existing plutocratic order simply cannot continue as is. Either democratic nation states with strong borders and supremacy over the plutocracy are reborn to secure the peace, address climate change and assure the people’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; or western civilization collapses.

        Ignoring public health, public safety, public utilities and public education to exploit a nation’s citizens is innately destructive.

    2. lance ringquist

      the founding fathers of the free trade E.U. included former Nazis, an Italian fascist, and a French collaborator

      nazi lawyers even stated that the roots of fascism can be traced back to free trade, and fascism is based on free trade

      the nazis knew there was no evidence at all that free trade helped people, its exactly opposite


      Robert Tombs – Perry Anderson: A Devastating Indictment of the EU
      January 26, 2021 EU politics, EU-Institutions, National Politics

      The prominent Left-wing intellectual Perry Anderson has just published a comprehensive and crushing indictment of the EU from its beginnings to the present. Robert Tombs provides a summary for those who might balk at reading the whole 50,000 words.
      Robert Tombs is Emeritus Professor of French History, University of Cambridge

  32. Carolinian

    OIFVet linked this youtube this morning, and for those who want a sensible (but highly familiar around here) explanation of the Ukraine crisis this is it. The zoom interviewee is folksy Chicago Professor Mearsheimer and the forum seems to be British college students.


  33. Old Sarum

    Re: Airport Bookstore Wisdom

    Never having been through a private airport I don’t know whether the power-elite would even have the opportunity to pick up such gems of wisdom.

    If you are ushered from car to ‘plane in a moment I should imagine that you are not a prisoner of consumerism for a moment.


    ps I watch Dan Gryder’s Probable Cause on YT and I am not sure that I would take up the offer of a seat on a private jet. https://youtu.be/hX8V0WCWllM

  34. Jason Boxman

    I can report that retail therapy has a very short shelf life; Buying gifts for others has not yet run its course. Parting with money does seem to be the best use of it.

  35. Jason Boxman

    Fun trivia. The first NC meetup I went to in Boston, Yves Smith wore hammer and sickle red shoes, perhaps in honor of the Prop or Not nonsense. She’s a great speaker and doesn’t suffer any BS, and it was a privilege to meet those of you that were there that night in Boston. (I actually went to two, in 2017 and 2019?) If I’d known what would befall us all, I would have bought everyone a round.

    God speed!

  36. michaelismoe

    Diesel fuel here in Southern Arizona is now $4,59 a gallon, only a 60 cent increase in two days.


  37. lance ringquist

    trump did more for the deplorable and the labor movement, than all four nafta democrats combined.


    “We Are Fed Up”: A Second Mexican Auto Plant Moves to Organize Independent Union
    Maquiladora workers in a border city are trying to oust their employer-friendly union, and switch to a truly independent one.
    Luis Feliz Leon February 22, 2022

    1. The Rev Kev

      Unbelievable. And like you said, Mr. Market is going to have a sad. I checked and 27% of the oil that the EU uses comes from Russia. Certainly the Russians will do counter-sanctions like they did in 2014. Maybe they will demand that all future purchases of oil by the EU be now done in Rubles.

      1. LawnDart

        Maybe they will demand that all future purchases of oil by the EU be now done in Rubles.

        I think you’re on to something there!

        Both the Ruble and Russian stocks are getting creamed at the moment, but… …think it’s too early to exchange US dollars for Rubles? Maybe 2024? Surely before we see a 1:1 exchange-rate?

        1. LawnDart

          Russia Has $630 Billion To Spare As It Considers Cutting European Gas Flows


          Europe cuts Russian oil, Russia cuts Europe’s gas…

          Now’s no better time for Iran to make a move? OPEC – (minus)? Maybe USA better get a move on and finally invade Venezuela– we may as well, as it sure looks like the Four Horsemen are already saddling-up for a day at the races.

          1. LawnDart

            The fresh sanctions target Russia’s two largest banks, which will be cut off from US dollar transactions, while state energy giant Gazprom and other major companies will not be able to raise financing in Western markets.


            Does this mean that OGZPY is toast? Booted from NYSE or just barred from commercial banks?

            It’ll be amazing if all these sanctions don’t add up to a collapse of the global economy within the next few weeks.

  38. LawnDart

    Banks, too– more EU sanctions on Russia detail:

    Russian banks, oil refineries to face EU freeze

    Some 70 percent of Russian banks will be blocked from capital markets and Europe will ban exports of “unique” components used in Russia’s refinery sector in response to its invasion of Ukraine, EU leaders agreed at an emergency overnight summit in Brussels.

    EU sanctions will also ban sales of aircraft parts to Russian airlines, go after energy and defence firms, and more oligarchs – with details expected to be unveiled on Friday.


  39. Jessica

    German speakers, is this correct German (from above):
    Die ganze Scheiße ist im Kaputtgehn.
    Wouldn’t it be,
    Die ganze Scheiße ist im Kaputt gegangen.

    1. BillS

      My take –

      >>Die ganze Scheiße ist im Kaputtgehn.
      = The whole (pile of) sh1t is on its way down the gurgler.

      >>Die ganze Scheiße ist kaputt gegangen.
      = The whole (pile of) sh1t has gone down the gurgler

      1. The Rev Kev

        Reminds me of another saying that I heard in Germany-

        ‘Ich geh kaputt. Kommst du mit?’

        I suppose that you could translate that as

        ‘I’m going down the gurgler. Ya wanna come?’

  40. LawnDart

    Yay, capitalism is riding to the rescue! Maybe the Ukies can fight North African and Middle Eastern refugees for the jobs Western Europeans don’t want?

    How EU can prepare for a Ukrainian refugee crisis

    In exchange for this European hospitality, these Ukrainian migrants could help boost the European economy. Many European states have struggled to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. Introducing these Ukrainians into the workforce would help revamp their economies.

    …Ukraine has one of the world’s highest literacy rates… …Ukrainians are also very well-educated… …Ukrainian engineers, computer scientists, and information technicians are highly regarded.


    But bonus for Russia too: Zelinski might have a hard time building his bomb if his physicists have left the house. And at this rate, Western Ukraine will have nothing to offer the world except wounded nazis, impovershed pensioners, and a lot more mail-order brides.

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