2:00PM Water Cooler 3/29/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Thanks to alert reader Lena, this is Northern Bobwhite week at Naked Capitalism!

* * *


“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

“Judge finds Trump ‘more likely than not’ committed felony obstruction in effort to overturn election” [ABC]. “U.S District Judge David Carter said in the ruling that Trump’s former lawyer John Eastman must turn over most documents he is withholding from the Jan. 6 House committee investigating the attack on the U.S Capitol. ‘Based on the evidence, the Court finds it more likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021,’ Carter wrote. The judge, who reviewed Eastman’s documents, ordered Eastman to turn over all but ten that the court found privileged…. In his ruling, Judge Carter, a Clinton appointee, provided a summary of several documents Eastman has sought to block. ‘The eleventh document is a chain forwarding to Dr. Eastman a draft memo written for President Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani,’ Carter wrote. ‘The memo recommended that Vice President Pence reject electors from contested states on January 6. This may have been the first time members of President Trump’s team transformed a legal interpretation of the Electoral Count Act into a day-by-day plan of action.'”

Biden Adminstration

“Former CIA chief and Obama Defense Secretary explains away Biden’s fiery unscripted remark calling for Putin’s removal on president being IRISH – weeks after Biden made a joke about it” [Daily Mail]. Panetta: “‘I happen to think that Joe Biden, you know, he’s Irish, really has a great deal of compassion when he sees that people are suffering. And I think it overwhelmed him in the sense of seeing all of the horrors that were resulting from this war. So, you know, from a personal point of view, I understand why he said it. But at the same time, when you’re President of the United States, you just have to be disciplined to make sure you don’t make comments that ultimately have to be clarified by the White House.” • Commentary:

Also, @BidenInsultBot getting a good workout:

“Saving Ukraine vs. Defeating Russia” [Spencer Ackerman, Forever Wars]. “Already, unchastened Iraq invasion advocates like Eliot Cohen are quoting gangster movies about how you need to put one of their guys in the morgue when they put one of your guys in the hospital. It is easy to see Ukraine becoming a battlefield upon which its supposed allies will be eager to fight to the last Ukrainian so long as it means deepening Putin’s chosen quagmire. Same goes for Biden describing the war as a ‘new battle for freedom‘ while standing on the soil of Poland, whose current government is the scene of substantial democratic backsliding of its own. Then there’s America’s own retreat from even the flimsy bourgeois democracy we’ve had since 1965. Atlanticist America is really high on its own supply at the moment.” • Yep. Now that Ukraine is a pipeline war with regime change as the goal — this seems strangely familiar — you’ve got to wonder how many chancelleries, world-wide, are wondering whether they ought to have signed up for it.

Moral clarity from a former Bush operative is always so amusing:

Whatever, whatever, whatever…..

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.

* * *

I have always hated that “need to” locution:

“Women’s March pushes for impeachment of Justice Thomas over wife’s texts” [The HIll]. • It’s certainly been awhile since we’ve heard from the Women’s March. How are they doing these days?


“The Corporate Threat In Dems’ Must-Win Senate Race” [The Lever]. “The super PAC, Penn Progress, says it is supporting conservative Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb in the Pennsylvania race because he represents the party’s ‘strongest chance to flip the seat’ — despite the group’s own polling data finding that Fetterman, the lieutenant governor, is trouncing Lamb in the primary and performing better than Lamb against at least one top Republican candidate, according to reporting by Politico. While Fetterman might actually be Democrats’ best chance to take the seat, Politico obtained a slide deck prepared for donors showing that Penn Progress is preparing to attack Fetterman as a “socialist” who supports a “government takeover of health care.” These are standard talking points used by Republicans and corporate health care propagandists — which makes sense, given the super PAC’s ties to the industry. Penn Progress’ executive director, Erik Smith, leads a communications firm that works for Cigna, one the nation’s largest health insurers, according to a corporate financial filing.” • Shocking!

“How Fetterman is pulling away in Pennsylvania” [The Hill]. “The gloves have yet to come off against Lt. Gov. John Fetterman in Pennsylvania’s Senate Democratic primary — and those waiting for a blue-on-blue bloodbath aren’t likely to get it. Tatted up with an outsized personality, a pile of cash and a playbook that mirrors past populist campaigns, Fetterman is pulling ahead in the party’s nominating contest. If he wins, he’ll face off against a Republican for an open seat in a state that could decide who controls the Senate. Liberals say he can do it. They see the over six-and-a-half-foot-tall Fetterman — bald, straight-talking, with a semi-permanent scowl — as an outsider capable of wooing voters in the battleground Joe Biden and Donald Trump each won by less than 2 points. On policy, he leans mostly to the left. But don’t call him Bernie Sanders, a socialist or even a progressive. He’s hard to brand, and that’s part of the appeal, some Democrats say. ;He is not adopting a lot of the litmus tests that you have seen progressives try to urge upon candidates,’ said Adam Jentleson, executive director of Battle Born Collective and former deputy chief of staff to the late Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). ;He’s managing to cross over into normie world in a way that I don’t think you’ve seen from other so-called progressives,’ he said. ‘That’s why I think the label doesn’t quite fit.’ An iconoclast he is not. Fetterman plays well with the establishment and holds some of their views. He propped up President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure plan and helped Terry McAuliffe try to win Virginia’s governorship. He’s against expanding the Supreme Court and supports fracking. He hasn’t criticized the party. He even gets the occasional retweet from White House chief of staff Ron Klain. ‘He’s not trying to check all of the boxes,’ Jentleson said. That’s not to say he’s a centrist, either. Fetterman, pro-union with a rotation of rolled up shirts to match, wants higher wages for workers and likes small-dollar donations for his own bid. His campaign’s average contribution is $28, just one dollar higher than the $27 that fueled Sanders’s first presidential run. He wants more government involvement on things like ‘Medicare for All,’ the universal health care proposal where even some progressives are divided [lol]. He sees climate change as a racial justice issue. He also wants weed to be legal, full stop.” • I suppose one thing to watch, if he wins, is whether Democrat loyalists gang up with Republicans to try to defeat him. I’m guessing yes. And speaking of Pennsylvania Republicans–

“Pennsylvania Senate primaries get personal” [The Hill]. “Senate primaries in Pennsylvania are getting nastier by the day, with Republicans launching personal attacks in a race to the right and Democrats seemingly laying the groundwork for assaults over electability. The battles are only expected to get tougher ahead of the May 17 primaries, when Republicans and Democrats will choose their nominees for a race that will help determine who controls the Senate. ‘Unfortunately, negative campaigning works or people wouldn’t do it,’ said Sam DeMarco, the chair of the Allegheny County GOP. ‘There’s two ways to win. One is to boost your positives. The other is to boost your opponent’s negatives. And these folks on all sides are using both methods to try to make their case.’ The top two front-runners in the GOP primary, former hedge fund manager Dave McCormick and celebrity cardiothoracic surgeon Mehmet Oz, have been at each other’s throats for weeks with accusations of insufficient conservatism or loyalty to former President Trump. But the recent back-and-forth over foreign entanglements has escalated the campaign to scorched earth. Oz has thrown barbs McCormick’s way over his former hedge fund’s ties to China, a top boogeyman in U.S. politics, and released ads highlighting past comments praising Beijing. McCormick and his allies have deflected the charge, claiming the business experience makes him better able to tackle issues surrounding Beijing, and ramped up his criticism of China. On the flip side, McCormick has made hay of Oz’s dual citizenship with Turkey, suggesting he could have split loyalties.”


“Ron DeSantis Isn’t a Trump Clone. He’s Just a Republican” [Bloomberg]. “The accusation that DeSantis is an enemy of democracy rests heavily on exaggerated claims about an election law he signed; a ‘sweeping voter suppression law,’ the liberal Brennan Center calls it. It’s true that the law includes new restrictions, such as requiring that county employees oversee ballot drop-boxes. But it’s also true that the law leaves Floridians with greater ballot access, in key respects, than a lot of states run by Democrats. Florida has no-excuse absentee voting, unlike Delaware and New York. Finally, there’s the matter of DeSantis’s lib-owning style. He is obviously happy to annoy liberals for no reason other than pleasing conservatives, as when he smirked his way through a bill-signing in Brandon, Florida. But it’s absurd to take DeSantis to illustrate that Republicans now think smiting the left ‘matters more than achieving policy objectives,’ as one journalist put it. Even the ‘culture-war’ legislation DeSantis has backed, regulating classroom instruction on sexual orientation and on race relations, has been about more than upsetting his political opponents. Agree or disagree with those bills, they are a response to concerns some parents have about contemporary educational trends. And his administration has an extensive policy record beyond those issues. He has cut taxes, expanded school choice, spent money on protecting the Everglades and legalized medical marijuana. It’s not a record that appeals to most Democrats, of course, and they are entitled to make their case against both the substance and the style of DeSantis. They may find, though, that the Trump-clone attack falls flat — and that not every voter who disliked Trump disliked him for the same reasons they do.”

“Questions abound as Trump raises – and hoards – huge sums of 2024 cash” [Guardian]. “Donald Trump’s ferocious money-raising machine, powered in equal measure by grassroots giving and large individual and corporate donations, has never really stopped turning – and it is currently raising huge sums of cash. As of this month, Trump has $108,046,100 saved in his Save America political fund, more than the Republican and Democratic national committees combined, and 12 times as much as the fund – Pac for the Future – for the Democratic House speaker, Nancy Pelosi. And all of that has been raised while Trump’s own ambitions remain unclear. Though his grip on the Republican party remains tight – and he has waged an endorsement war against his opponents – the big question over whether Trump will run again for the White House remains unanswered. Without any declared candidacy, his war chest’s purpose and thus also that of its master, is unclear – and deliberately so.” • That’s a lot of money!


“The return of Hunter Biden’s laptop” [Vox]. “There is no obligation for media outlets to run with conveniently timed opposition research pushed by one presidential candidate’s team shortly before an election.” • Oh, hell no. Remember when the New York Times suppressed James Risen’s story on Bush’s (felonious) program of warrantless surveillance until after Bush was safely re-elected? This Vox “explainer” explains a lot, but perhaps not what Vox thinks it does. The sheer quantity of special pleading and rationalization is really impressive.

Realignment and Legitimacy

My heavens!

Explains a lot….

* * *


If you missed it, here is yesterday’s post on my queasiiness with CDC numbers, especially case count, which I (still) consider most important, despite what Walensky’s psychos at CDC who invented “community levels” think. But these are the numbers we have.

Case count by United States regions:

Fellow tapewatchers will note that “up like a rocket, down like a stick” phase is done with, and the case count– such as it is — is now leveling out. At a level that, a year ago, was considered a crisis, but we’re “over” Covid now, so I suppose not. I have added a Fauci Line. Perhaps this says more about my temperament than it does about the data, but occasionally I watch Japanese tsusami videos. The first signs, at least in the videos I’ve watched, are not roaring sounds or giant waves, but strange ripples in the water, boats rocking when they should not, and so on. And so, for those inclined to pick up on creepy little signals, we seem to be getting rather a lot of them, even leaving Europe out of the equation.

The official narrative is “Covid is Over.” In the fall, 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). That narrative was completely exploded. What a surprise! This time, it may be different. But who knows?

NOTE I shall most certainly not be using the CDC’s new “Community Level” metric. Because CDC has combined a leading indicator (cases) with a lagging one (hospitalization) their new metric is a poor warning sign of a surge, and a poor way to assess personal risk. In addition, Covid is a disease you don’t want to get. Even if you are not hospitalized, you can suffer from Long Covid, vascular issues, and neurological issues. For these reasons, case counts — known to be underestimated, due to home test kits — deserve to stand alone as a number to be tracked, no matter how much the political operatives in CDC leadership would like to obfuscate it.

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

The MRWA is divided into two sections, North and South. North is distinctly up, South is rising slowly. The rise has visibly affected this chart, which aggregates them. The aggregate of the enormous Omicron spike conceals change, but change there is. Of course, it’s a very small rise. Maybe this time the movie will end differently.

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:

Every so often I think of doing away with this chart. Then another state flares up, today upstate New York (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:

Continuing slow improvement, assuming the numbers aren’t jiggered.

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Again, I don’t like the sudden effloresence of yellow and orange. I don’t care that the baseline is low. 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: 1,004,244 1,001,175 . We did it. Break out the Victory Gin. Fortunately, the numbers are headed downward. I have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line.

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Job Openings” [Trading Economics]. The number of job openings in the United States was 11.266 million in February of 2022, little changed from an upwardly revised 11.283 million in January and compared with market expectations of 11 million. The number of available jobs remained near a record high of 11.448 million set in December as companies continued to struggle to find scarce workers.”

Housing: “United States House Price Index YoY” [Trading Economics]. “The average prices of single-family houses with mortgages guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the United States jumped 18.2 percent year-on-year in January 2022, the most in five months and following a 17.7 percent gain in December.”

* * *

Shipping: “Shipping container maker Singamas rides pandemic demand boom to post record 40-fold surge in profit” [South China Morning Post]. “Singamas sold some 347,000 twenty-foot equivalent units for dry freight, more than triple the 112,000 units sold in 2020. Net profit jumped over 40 times to US$186.8 million last year, from US$4.57 million a year earlier.”

Supply Chain:

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 52 Neutral (previous close: 49 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 44 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 29 at 1:32pm.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 188. (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so higher is better.)

The Stage

At last, a new take on Rock v. Smith:


“Elden Ring: The Kotaku Review” [Kotaku]. “I’ve long since made peace with the fact that reviewing Elden Ring—that is, providing an adequately thorough accounting of my time with the game—is nigh impossible, at least with my limited skillset. How do I make you feel the way I felt every time I encountered a merchant or enemy creating the most mournful diegetic music I’ve ever heard in a video game? What words can I use to bestow the same soothing nostalgia that rushed over me the first time I hit a wall with my weapon and it finally faded away to reveal a hidden path? How do I spell out the perfect onomatopoeia to capture my reflexive groan when I was ambushed by a nest of smoke-spewing basilisks, immediately aware of their dangers from encounters in previous Souls games? Everything in Elden Ring comes bundled with its own kind of friction, designed to rub you the wrong way until, finally, it rubs you the right way. And those rough edges cannot be sandpapered down without fundamentally changing the game’s entire raison d’être. Souls fans often make hay over the feeling of accomplishment that comes from overcoming the genre’s much-vaunted challenges, but it’s more than that. It’s like when my dad recently greased the hinges of an old screen door in my childhood home. The first time I opened it following his turn as a handyman, I fumbled with a brief weightlessness when I wasn’t greeted by the exact sound and sensation I expected. I heard nothing. I felt nothing. It was like I was in a void. All the texture, all the personality that door previously clutched in its creaking joints was gone, replaced by a whispery smoothness that hid its existence rather than adding flavor to the world. That’s Elden Ring without the learning curve, a process that sees FromSoftware essentially throw players into the deep end and encourage them to swim for safety.” • Any Elden Ring players care to comment?

Our Famously Free Press

“Interview: The ‘Sleuth’s Corner'” [Matt Taibbi, TK News]. “The first thing the members of the “Sleuth’s Corner” (colloquially, “the Corner”) want you to know is they’re not zealots, at least not in the way you think…. Despite only being mentioned as a group in passing in a few traditional press treatments (a multi-page section in Meier’s book is the closest thing to a full profile), the Corner has broken numerous major stories in the Trump era, specializing in putting names to unnamed figures in news stories. Among others, they identified Igor Danchenko, the primary source of the infamous ‘Steele Dossier,’ as well as Eric Ciaramella, the alleged ‘whistleblower’ in the Ukrainegate case, and Rodney Joffe, also known as ‘Tech Executive-1’ in Special Counsel John Durham’s indictment of former Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann. In return, they’ve been denounced as anti-vaxxers, QAnon adherents, Trump operatives, conspiracy theorists, and Russian spies, and that’s just for starters. When @Hmmm57474203, the blogger who outed Brookings fellow Danchenko as Steele’s primary sub-source, confronted New York Times national security reporter Charlie Savage on Twitter, Savage* answered with a reply that suggested ‘Hmmm was a foreign plant.” • This is very good reporting by Taibbi, well worth reading in full.

Guillotine Watch

“Inflation Stings Most If You Earn Less Than $300K. Here’s How to Deal” [Bloomberg]. The headline is wprse than the body: “Economists say the overall share of income spent on gas is lower than it used to be, and despite the increases, prices are still relatively low by historical standards. That’s true, but it offers little consolation these days for someone on the lower end of the income distribution who drives to work. Food prices are also up, posting their biggest monthly increase since April 2020. There, too, those making less than $19,000 spend much more of their income — almost 15% — compared with higher earners, whose total food spending is just 4% of their income. Households with income of about $50,000 spend 8.5% of it on food. The most recent barometer of consumer sentiment showed the highest-ever share of Americans expecting their finances to worsen in the coming year. About 54% think their incomes will lag behind inflation in the year ahead — a pretty high percentage historically.” But then: “When it comes to food, don’t be afraid to explore.” • No mention of bugs?

Class Warfare

“The Truth About Bama Rush Is Hiding in Plain Sight” [New York Magazine]. “A 2014 study from Cornell University found that despite the fact that only 2 percent of Americans join a fraternity, 80 percent of Fortune 500 executives and 76 percent of U.S. senators and congressmen were fraternity members.” • I’ve always hated fraternies. Now I really know why.

“What is it really like to be a digital nomad?” [Sifted]. “The life of a nomad has gotten considerably easier since Danchuk first packed his bags. When he first started out, there was no Airbnb, no Facebook groups, no Tinder, and Google Translate wasn’t as effective as it is today. The expat hubs of young, digital professionals that have sprung up in major cities such as Berlin, New York and Chiang Mai also didn’t exist back then, he says.” • Not clear to me if this will continue in Biden’s New World Order. Interesting ’til it comes to the “authentic relating” part….

News of the Wired

“Genetic Link to Fear Memories Found Hiding Within Mice’s ‘Junk DNA'” [Science Alert]. “Using a powerful new sequencing technique researchers have tracked down genes within mice that work towards soothing fear-related memories. These genes are hidden within relatively unknown regions of the mammalian genome we’d written off as ‘junk DNA’…. ‘Our findings suggest that long non-coding RNAs provide a bridge, linking dynamic environmental signals with the mechanisms that control the way our brains respond to fear,’ [University of Queensland neuroepigeneticist Timothy Bredy] explained. ‘With this new understanding of gene activity, we can now work towards developing tools to selectively target long non-coding RNAs in the brain that directly modify memory and hopefully, develop a new therapy for PTSD and phobia.'” • Or… other things.

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. Via TH:

I love poppies, but they I have never been able to photograph them properly! They catch the slightest breeze so easily, and I’m not willing to completely surrender depth of field for shutter speed. This poppy seemed quite cooperative, however!

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the recently concluded and — thank you! — successful annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:

Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated.

If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Water Cooler on by .

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. Marco

    “unscripted remark calling for Putin’s removal on president being IRISH”

    He has Irish Alzheimer’s, he forgets everything but the grudges.

    Verbal incontinence is, however, damned dangerous for a president playing chess with ICBMs.

    There’s always Kamala to fall back on, or barring that,
    Nancy Pelosi. :-(
    We are so F!

  2. Carla

    Re: the Women’s March. Lambert, I think they’ve been tending to “our democracy.”

    How’s that workin’ for ya?

  3. enoughisenough

    ‘I happen to think that Joe Biden, you know, he’s Irish, really has a great deal of compassion”

    lol essentially saying he’s too emotional to handle international diplomacy in a nuclear situation.

    hmmm. I think that’s true. He’s unqualified.

    However, I do not think the unchecked emotions are coming from compassion – it’s his own narcissism and he’s drunk on power.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Certainly, Biden is grasping for an excuse because of the US record. The Biden is Irish thing isn’t new. Cuomo and Pelosi are Italians. Warren is Cherokee. Isn’t this all kind of weird? I feel like it says something about these people’s insecurities.

      1. Rodeo Clownfish

        Warren is not Cherokee. That was a long con she employed to boost her career. It worked while she was a professor but came back to bite her in the end. The Cherokee Nation was not impressed and wanted nothing to do with her. They have a dislike of those who, regardless of their genetic heritage, grew up outside the cultural heritage and the real life difficulties of native american communities and attempt to label themselves as part-Indian. The term used is “pretindian “. Trump got a lot of mileage out of nicknaming her “Pocahontas “.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          How/when/where did Warren’s ” I am part Cherokee” help boost her career?

          1. Elizabeth Burton

            She used it several times to take advantage of diversity rules in her college career.

            1. Rodeo Clownfish

              Indeed, she filed her ethnicity as Native American for her job at Harvard – an official minority/diversity hire, despite no evidence of membership in any tribe or any specific ancestor who could be named of that ethnicity.

    2. Geo

      “The younger generation now tells me how tough things are—give me a break. No, no, I have no empathy for it, give me a break.” – Biden

      So compassionate.

    3. Mildred Montana

      Whenever someone (i.e. Panetta) credits a person of a certain ethnicity with “a great deal of compassion”, based solely on that ethnicity, he must be prepared for the logical response:

      “So, Mr. Panetta, what are the ethnicities that are lacking in compassion.”

      1. enoughisenough


        And, Kennedy was Irish, and he wasn’t floundering around and barking like a seal.

        This essentialism needs to stop. This is the fascist flip side of “identity politics”.

        It’s dangerous. I can’t believe how little people have learned.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          “I deeply apologize if I have offended someone: I have had too much confidence with people, men and women. As an Italian, I have always kissed and hugged in a casual way, ma I’ve never crossed the line with anyone“ -suffering immigrant from the wrong side of the block, Andrew Cuomo

      2. Mo's Bike Shop

        Top level comment.

        Identity politics sure kills humor as well. Once upon a time I could have just answered you with “Bloody Belgians!” and we’d all have a laugh. Now I have to point out I’m a six-foot-Pole before I can drag out the Pollack jokes. My German ancestry, derived from before there was a Germany, still seems to be fair game. But those jokes are rarely as funny as, say, Polandball’s “wörk wörk wörk”.

        Humor needs to kick up and kiss down guys thems.

  4. Samuel Conner

    > NOTE I shall most certainly not be using the CDC’s new “Community Level” metric.

    Perhaps a useful (or at least, an amusing) exercise would be to correlate the CDC’s preferred metric with a range of (suitably lagged) candidate advance-notice metrics, such as the wastewater viral loads, and determine which of the alternatives does the best job of predicting where/when the CDC will say “things are in trouble here/now”. One could then give the world ‘heads up’ notifications in time to make a difference.

    Just a thought for retired statisticians who have spare time from the effort of staying alive and uninfected.

    It would be important to carefully choose the means one used to make one’s work known, since there might be a high risk of being cancelled for providing information that is actually useful to the public.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      It’s PowerPoint Town, Jake. The Biden Administration have reached the end of their bullet points, and therefore the pandemic is over. QED.

  5. Daryl

    > Any Elden Ring players care to comment?

    It’s a fantastic game. As a long time player I can’t really comment on the series, but it certainly seems a lot more accessible than their past efforts.

    1. aleph_0

      Yeah, I think it is more accessible because you really can just go elsewhere if you get too bogged down.

      It really is a masterclass in Japanese game design. It’s really a game about attention. It’s not super hard, but if you lose focus, you’ll stumble against even the weakest enemies. A lot of secrets (paths, items) that take deep consideration and careful exploration of the environment to find. The game spells very little out for the player, letting them discover the rules of the game, the fragmented lore of the world and connections between the characters. It’s a very confidently-designed game which trusts the player to find the fun, and it’s found an audience. It runs counter to the general trends in gaming which seek to sand the sharp edges off of UI/UX and overexplain.

      It’s really sparked a lot of discussion among my friend groups, and because there’s so much to discover, all of it unexplained, we get to have the same kind of water cooler discussions that any good mystery would. It’s been a delight, even though it’s not perfect.

      1. Bazarov

        I have a long comment in moderation about Elden Ring, but I have to say: I really don’t like the open world. The mini-dungeons are a worse version of the tedious Chalice Dungeons from Bloodborne, copy and pasted over the landscape.

        After the first couple areas, I longed for the tight interconnected levels of the other From Software games. I didn’t want to spend hours traversing a mostly empty world of copy pasted enemies, tedious dungeons, boring repetitive battles, and useless items. I would rather all the legacy dungeons just lead into one another and that there were more of them.

        That said, I’ve very much enjoyed the legacy dungeons and I generally think the game is good but probably my least favorite of the Soulsborne games. I disdain the “open world” bloat marketed as “discovery.”

        Generally, I think it’s a step back for From Software to emphasize quantity over quality.

      2. Soredemos

        Lambert may have an interest in exploring the type of environmental and fragmentary story telling the Souls franchise has taken. It’s something can really only be done in the form of a video game. There are entire communities that hyper analyze the clues, theory crafting and trying to fill in the gaps and ambiguities.

        Also George Martin helped with writing at least the outline of the setting in Elden Ring, if you want a clue as to why Song of Ice and Fire will probably never be finished.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          It wasn’t Martin wrote a fantastic soap/beach read that was turned into a big budget spectacle with a fantastic cast, leaving him with no exit that will live up to the hype? Given Sam’s ending, there is no way Martin has a different end in mind than the show.

          1. Soredemos

            That’s complete nonsense. The show ended as a trainwreck because the two hacks producing it didn’t remotely understand the material what they were working with.

            Whether the books ending is any good or remains to be seen, but it won’t at all be like the show.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > That’s complete nonsense. The show ended as a trainwreck because the two hacks producing it didn’t remotely understand the material what they were working with.

              As I understand it, they eliminated the world-building and went for personal dynamics instead. PMC to the bone. All that showrunning brilliance was just slipstreaming Martin, who knew.

    2. cocomaan

      I haven’t played Elden Ring but have loved Souls games (Dark Souls, Bloodborne, etc) for a long time. Some of the best games I’ve ever played.

      Kind of ruined gaming for me, nothing else measures up.

      Every time you fail in these games, it is your fault. The learning curve is incredibly steep and the game does not care if you suck at it. The path is there, you just have to have the will to climb it.

      1. aj

        Elden Ring is more accessible than the other Souls games because you have the option to just run around exploring and you can eventually level up and make the hard fights somewhat easier. On the flip side, I feel like the enemies have more random and area attacks that are way hard to dodge. The old Souls games where hard, but you always felt like if you got hit it was your own fault. In Elden Ring I feel that sometimes when I die I did everything as well as I could have but got killed anyway.

        From Software has taken the anti-Ubisoft approach. There are no checklists, no quest markers everywhere. The game gives you a general sense of what you should be doing and then just lets you figure it out on your own. Something that has been missing in gaming for a long time.

    3. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Speaking of games, Lambert, Fortnite recently uploaded its latest Chapter. And wouldn’t you know it, the landscape closely resembles the Ukrainian War.

      Added to the game for the first time are Tanks and Artillery!!! And guess where they are located??? Smack dab in the middle of Fortnites “Cities” like Tilted Towers.

      Gone are the “Forts” that players used to build and protect themselves from enemy fire. It’s a free for all which has leveled the game for those older millennial with slow fingers who can’t build the dam things quick enough on the Nintendo Switch!

      I haven’t seen any obvious Yellow and Blue stuff, BUT THE TIMING OF THE TANKS ET AL SURE IS CURIOUS!!!!!!

      And for the first time I’m seeing an uptick in verbally abusive squadmates in the multi-player option for Battle Royale. You and 3 randos against 20+ other squads.

    4. BlakeFelix

      Ya, it’s such a good game. I still haven’t beaten it yet. It’s bigger and more accessible. Maybe a tiny bit watered down, but still strong and pretty.

  6. super extra

    re: digital nomadism

    I worked briefly for a European startup that prided itself on its remote-first workplace and specifically recruited nomad types. My feeling was that the mentality of the type of person who was looking to arbitrage language and tech skills for a different lifestyle was also comfortable with the type of hustling required in most tech services jobs. It worked well for those who thrived on that environment and were canny enough to know their strengths and weaknesses where they were at. Most were not as adept as they thought though and I felt a strong whiff of precarity and loneliness from a lot of them. I think it works best for those who wish to marry into another culture while working remotely. Jetting from one city to another gets old when all air bnbs look the same and cost similar ranges no matter where you go. And you’re expected to work no matter what.

    1. jefemt

      I wonder for those doing the van life/ nomadland digital nomad lifestyle, how much escalating fuel prices are impacting, if at all. Parking longer, moving less?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Parking longer, moving less?

        For international digital nomads, I expect covid rules and new visa requirements would have resulted in a lot of hunkering down.

    2. Thistlebreath

      A casting director here in wicked H’wd once matter of factly said that upon awakening one morning after a couple decades of living in hotel rooms around the world, she couldn’t tell which city she was in. The ro-mance of being on location as a way o’ life had worn thin and then out. And she was still single.

      She doesn’t earn as much now but has a significant other, friends, a neighborhood, a cat and knows she’s in Ciudad Los Angeles. She figures she’s ahead in the deal.

  7. Mikel

    “A 2014 study from Cornell University found that despite the fact that only 2 percent of Americans join a fraternity, 80 percent of Fortune 500 executives and 76 percent of U.S. senators and congressmen were fraternity members.” • I’ve always hated fraternies. Now I really know why.

    Another aspect of all of this, in addition to being an incubator of lazy, hive minds: They get the dirt on ’em early and makes them easy to control.

    1. jr

      Anecdote on fraternal idiocy:

      When I was an undergrad, we had a parade in the small town my school was located in for some minor holiday. Firetrucks, cop cars, etc. As the cops rolled by, a neighboring frat began to chant: “Fork the cops!” at the top of their lungs.

      Later that night, they had a raging kegger with dozens of guests. About an hour in, the place was surrounded by the Fuzz. Lots of arrests for underage drinking and paraphernalia. Lost their charter and lost their house, which everyone in the neighborhood appreciated.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > lost their house, which everyone in the neighborhood appreciated

        Yep. Nothing like stepping into a pool of vomit on one’s way home from a late-night run to the store. (I grant this is an indictment of university drinking culture — which fraternities enable).

    2. hunkerdown

      They learn to hunt in packs and dominate the out-group with confidence, too. If everyone could have four years of training in assertive discourse, the PMC couldn’t take such pride in their insufferability.

  8. Randy

    I would love to comment on the Kotaku article about Elden Ring, but I have no idea what it’s trying to say or why a review about a video game needs so many words about stupid crap unrelated to the video game.

  9. hamstak

    Only two percent of Americans* join a fraternity. Only two percent of Ukrainians consider themselves ultranationalist. It doesn’t require a majority to do a lot of damage, just positions and connections.

    * I presume they mean 2% of those Americans who attend college.

    1. John Beech

      Whether it’s 2% of all Americans or 2% of the college set is immaterial. What gets glossed over is what fraternity/sorority life does, which is positive. So just because what makes the press (if it leads it bleeds) are charitably referred to as the excesses of youth, also remember the positive things, like engaging in team building and participating in good works. These are praiseworthy much like when they’re defining characteristic of those who participate in organized sports. Ultimately, traits that make people a better fit in the corporate world. Thus, to expect corporations to ignore such an obvious indicator as a selection criteria would be contraindicated for corporate survival just as successful traits are passed forward in nature. Finally, don’t hate the messenger. Ponder instead how civilization is a cooperative endeavor and try to understand. And yes, at the University of Alabama I was a fraternity member, and I was paying more than tuition for hers whilst my daughter attended university, also. Money misspent? I didn’t think so.

      1. Greg

        I think implying that four? years of fraternity membership instills so much advantage as to justify a 40-fold increase in promotion to executive level is a little bit of a stretch, no matter how wonderful a team building environment you think it is.
        I’d also question whether “team building skills” fit within the scope of attributes found in our current crop of executives, the psychological profiles in the literature suggest otherwise.

  10. Randy

    Last week was Woodcock Week in Water Cooler. This week is Woodcock Week at my house. Lambert is always timely.

    Last night my wife wanted to know what the bird was under the window. A woodcock! It must have jumped the gun on its migration. The south yard is half bare and the frost is out while everything else is mostly snow cover. Maybe it thought it could pick up some earthworms for dinner there but I didn’t see it get any. It was back this morning. We have several inches of snow coming so it might hang around for a while, or it might have to reverse its journey.

      1. Randy

        Mine must have been sitting there digesting its dinner. It took a dump just before it flew away which might support my theory.

  11. digi_owl

    From Software games seem to attract two kinds of players.

    Those that wants to revel in the inscrutable story drip fed from the most unreliable of narrators.

    And those that stake their self worth on being able to overcome simulated adversity of the most arbitrary kind.

    For once though the story line can’t be blamed on western philosophy filtered though some fevered Japanese mind.

  12. Daryl

    > Any Elden Ring players care to comment?

    It’s a good game. As a long time player I can’t really say much about how regular game players perceive it, but it seems much more accessible than the Souls titles. It’s a masterpiece of a game.

    1. Ranger Rick

      My favorite review comes from the old curmudgeons at Penny Arcade, perhaps the most constant feature of the gaming commentary landscape since they started chronicling it via comics for the past twenty plus years.

      From Software doesn’t need to do it, they’re running this shit – they can make a horror game about a Lovecraft-tinged Victorian England where the character’s weapon is a giant straight razor and still win. But in the same way that I trust Larian to make a legitimate heir to Baldur’s Gate 3 for a modern audience, refounding the series with more literary and mechanical richness than its ancestors ever dreamed, I think that only From could build a D&D action adventure that felt true. I don’t simply mean including a reference to Magic Missile. In the same way Torchbearer puts fantasies about noble martial prowess into the fucking ground, exposing “adventuring” itself as a craven endeavor whose adherents would rightly be considered monsters themselves in any context, From actually understands and models the kind of terror that would necessarily accompany these excursions into realms inimical to mortal meddling.

    2. Soredemos

      Regular game players love it. It’s already sold 12 million copies, which is absolutely insane. That puts it well past the lifetime sales of many other best sellers, games that have more than justified their production costs and turned a huge profit. And it reached that 12 million in about a month.

      Its runaway success is sort of hilarious, in light of the fact that from a technical standpoint the game is kind of a trainwreck. FromSoftware have never exactly been considered technically proficient, but Elden Ring is a complete mess from a programming standpoint. It just doesn’t run well, on any platform, including massively overspecced PCs. Clearly players don’t really care though, they still love it. Even at its worst it still runs better than Blighttown did in the original console release of Dark Souls.

      1. Bazarov

        Cyberpunk 77 sold more than that–both games benefitted hugely from the modern consumer hype engine, which is a powerful driver of sales. It also helps enormously that Elden Ring has a PC port–games like Breath of the Wild were exclusives.

  13. EquallyWrong

    Elden Ring comment:

    I’d normally roll my eyes at a seemingly overwrought review like that, but I think it is in large part reflecting the reality of the game…or the potential reality of its open ended nature and seeming philosophy of design. Grew up playing videogames, decided they were trashy skinner boxes in large part, but played Elden Ring because games by that studio at least seemed to be trying to transcend a lot of what I find so trashy and time wasting in videogames. I take time out to see what seem to be the good examples.

    I sort of was impatient and wanted to be a basic tourist, but even the act of personally deciding I’m going to look stuff up on the internet and do things “cheaply” so I could return to real life and satisfy fear of missing out was its own reflective experience. This is in contrast to the numbness of pretty much getting hooked by the tricks of most other videogames where the deeper motivation is largely avoidant and self destructive (for me). There are the more obvious artistic accomplishments that set it apart, like the art and musical details/vision, but the design of it and how intentional that design is with regards to its focus on the player psychology I would say is a legitimate non-derivative breakthrough of some kind that it is ok to talk about in those terms. I mean, unless you have sacrificed a large part of your life to the these things, whatever treasures this one has are inaccessible to you, so there is that weird sense of being initiated in some way even if like me you are very ambivalent about that. I’m sure there is something to say about that and why a lot of people with an interest and aptitude for videogames are embracing this thing that basically breaks all the rules of the medium and should on paper be a tedious chore.

    1. Soredemos

      There seems to be an incredible amount of disdain for video games as a medium in this comment. Elden Ring is amazing (it’s From firing on all cylinders; it, alongside Bloodborne, is the peak of the Souls formula), but it’s far from unique in terms of aesthetic achievement among video games.

  14. Jeff W

    “I have always hated that ‘need to’ locution…”

    Me, too.

    Ben Yagoda in Slate called it the “kindergarten imperative” over 15 years ago, which is how I think of it. It’s not just, as Yagoda mentions, infantilizing—it arrogates to the speaker that certain knowledge of what another person’s or group of people’s “needs” are, when, in fact, it’s really all about what the speaker wants or demands.

    I can’t even stand those ubiquitous “news explainer” headlines, e.g., “Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now,” and dismiss them, more or less automatically, with an unspoken “Well, no, no, I don’t, actually.”

    1. Robert Hahl

      I think it’s from further back. It sounds like the famous murder defense when the victim was a known public menace: “He needed killing.” (Generally only effective for male defendants.)

  15. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

    “Former CIA chief and Obama Defense Secretary explains away Biden’s fiery unscripted remark calling for Putin’s removal on president being IRISH – weeks after Biden made a joke about it” [Daily Mail].’

    At this late date in human social evolution it should not even have to be mentioned that the foregoing deliberately obscurantist remarks, as above, are still presumably filed under the assumption that you can even now confidently and shamelessly fool and deceive (direct and manage the thought of) the entire targeted audience all of the time. Further, the Biden “unscripted remark’ has an eerie similarity to the James Woolsey “unscripted remarks” that start at approximately 0:00:36: “. . . . it was for the good of the system . . . mmmmm, yum yum, yum . . . ”

    “Overthrow: 100 Years of U.S. Meddling & Regime Change, from Iran to Nicaragua to Hawaii to Cuba”


    To be compared and contrasted with, as an example

    “Noam Chomsky – Thought Control in Democratic Societies – (excerpt of 1990 interview)”


    1. anon y'mouse

      it wasn’t unscripted. it was him saying the quiet part out loud, and the press (for once) noticing.

  16. Pat

    I know we have somewhat moved on from the Oscars, but before the slap heard round the world, there was more cringe inducing things. Not only does this skit make fun of Covid protocols, it also is deeply sexually harassing.(And it cuts before Regina Hall feels up Josh Brolin and Jason Moma on her way out (and I think she got a little too deep on Josh Brolin who despite originally going along suddenly had a reaction).

    So for the record it wasn’t just mask vs no masks…

    Regina Hall Covid Test skit

    1. Pat

      That was should be a were, obviously I cannot tell the difference between singular and plural any more. I realized it even as I hit “send”, but today there was no editing allowed for me.

      1. Duke of Prunes

        My wife’s comment: “Oh, so sexual harassment of men by women is OK, now? If it was a guy feeling up the women, he would be scorned and cancelled by these same people”

        1. flora

          an aside:

          Will Packer leads first all-Black production team in Oscars history

          “I’m someone who always believes ‘I can show you better than I can tell you.’”

          ‘ With big shoes to fill, Packer had to shake the table and make some big decisions. Packer and the Academy have received criticism following the announcement a few weeks ago that eight categories, three shorts and five artisan, will be pre-recorded and edited into the live telecast for viewers at home. The producer defended his decision by saying he is thinking of the award show “as an entertainment property.” ‘


          People are still talking about it so it was a … success? / ;)

          1. ambrit

            We’ll get back to you when we get an idea of the ad buy rates for next years “event.”

        2. Elizabeth Burton

          The neo-feminist movement that came to the fore in the Seventies has always been about women being given the opportunity to be like the men, as opposed to the real feminist movement that’s about eliminating all the toxic “rules” that separate the genders and creating equality.

          1. Yves Smith

            Huh? As someone who went to college in the 1970s, that statement is nonsensical as well as ahistorical.

            First, the big preoccupation of feminists in the 1970s was the Equal Rights Amendment. Tell me how that is tantamount to women “being like men” and not explicitly about equality. Tell me what feminist in the 1970s pushed for having more women hunt or act like they could drink like men.

            Second, the push for women in sports, which IMHO is about women being like men (men are advantaged in muscle mass and having less joint laxity, women’s sports of necessity is a women’s ghetto), didn’t become A Thing until the 1980s, and it was pushed by men much more than women. I was in the last class where Radcliffe, a women’s school, had admissions separate from Harvard. Radcliffe did have its own endowment but aside from admissions and some extremely limited optional Radcliffe activities, the campus experience was Harvard: co-ed dorms, Harvard classes, Harvard degrees.

            When Radcliffe had its own admissions, it went for the smartest women it could find. By contrast, the first year Harvard ran admissions for both genders, you suddenly saw a lot of girl jocks in the class.

            One Harvard grad of the 1960s who later became a prof, said to me, “You don’t know what women lost when Harvard took over admissions. When I went to a class full of women, I knew it would be a tough class.”

            1. Dave in Austin

              Part of what Yves experienced was driven by Title 9. Radcliffe as a woman’s school didn’t have to worry about Title 9. But when it became part of Harvard, Title 9 came into play. Harvard had to institute a program to recruit female athletes at the same rate as male athletes. Big problem; men are more obsessed with sports than women are. And of course that meant selection for size. In the early years I got a bunch of big, smart girls (friends’ daughters) into the Ivys and a certain technical school in Boston by simply introducing these girls to rowing and the erg machine used for resistance training then making sure the girls let the coaches know they were applying. Hard working girls; they all graduated..

              Here at the University of Texas whole sports have been introduced as scholarship sports for women and some men’s sports have gone to club status. Wrestling in particular was basically eliminated at the college level and thus we never win medals anymore at the Olympics. And of course cheerleading isn’t a sport although there are some serious athletes, both men and women, and real competition over there.

              By my eyeball numbers, places like Stanford which need a football team now have roughly 1/4 to 1/5 of the undergrad women on NCAA teams. I tell average-sized girls today… play golf. I tell the gymnastics girls… take up diving. I personally like most of the athlete-girls I meet, but this isn’t exactly the message I think we should be sending kids. Want to go to an Ivy? Have your parents spend money on sports camps. The Chinese are laughing all the way to the bank.

              Some schools have eliminated men’s swimming and kept women’s swimming. I keep waiting for a boy to do a walk-on and demand the right to swim. Since there are non-scolarship girls on the team, at a school with only a women’s swim team he is being “denied the right to participate”.

              Even more interesting is who created Title 9 at the last minute as part of the legislation. Funny story there.

  17. Ranger Rick

    That tweet about regime change reminds me of something I read while researching the history of the Soviet nuclear program. Truman and Stalin were at the Potsdam Conference, and Truman famously threatened Stalin with the “official” reveal of the atomic bomb’s existence. In the account I read, that night Stalin phoned the head of the NKVD, Beria, and expressed how important it was that they have their own atomic bomb, and quickly.

    We create our own worst enemies.

  18. djrichard

    Marketwatch watching the 10Y yield go up: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-dam-finally-broke-10-year-treasury-yields-spike-to-breach-top-of-downward-trend-channel-seen-since-mid-1980s-says-deutsche-bank-11648492268 . Suggesting it might be breaching the channel it’s been in since 1982. If it is, this is huge in that all corporate and mortgage debt is indexed to the 10Y. But I’m thinking 10Y yield will go back down, as I don’t see how money velocity could be increasing and 10Y yield correlates with money velocity of MZM: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=NyPQ .

    Article also notes how at some point there’s nowhere else to go since the 10Y yield is not (?) going to go negative. I just assumed the 10Y yield would keep doing a dead cat bound around 0, just like money velocity would.

    At the very end also speaks to the 13 week treasury as a comparison. “The spread between 3-month and 10-year yields in the U.S. Treasurys market has been another reliable indicator of recession, but it’s “useless right now because we know the Federal Reserve plans a long series of rate hikes and these extend beyond a 3-month window,” Colas said. “. Not sure where Colas is coming from; still seems relevant to me. And 13 week treasury is still on its upward trajectory. Which matches what the Fed Reserve has been saying about doing a 25 basis point increase at every upcoming meeting. So it’s just a matter of time before they catch up to the 10Y yield and invert the yield curve. Of course, this is assuming the 10Y yield doesn’t continue its trajectory upwards which has recently been at a faster clip than what the 13 week treasury has been doing.

    1. John Beech

      A very astute observation. So all Sturm und Drang, then? Housing inventory is where we see the public display of pain writ large as rates breech 5% and the 15-20% YoY price gains go in reverse. Then we’ll see what Powell is made of.

  19. Anthony G Stegman

    Jonathan Turley will very likely disagree with me, but I feel that Biden’s “gaffe” regarding regime change in Russia is an impeachable offense. Russia is not Iraq or Libya. Not only is Russia a nuclear armed nation it also provides various raw materials that are vital to the global economy. It is not at all unreasonable to equate “regime change” with assassination. The two often go together. For Biden to call for the assassination of the head of state of one of the most significant nations in the world is reckless beyond belief. His remarks pose a clear and present danger to this country as well as the wider world. In my view the charges levied against Trump in the House impeachment pale by comparison.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > For Biden to call for the assassination of the head of state of one of the most significant nations in the world is reckless beyond belief.

      “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?”

      Perhaps so… Who bells the cat, though?

  20. Bazarov

    On “Elden Ring”–

    Game journalism is hyperbolic. You have to take it with a grain of salt. Video game fanboys are very passionate–and the game reviewers are close to the industry (given perks and access), which tends to butter up their reactions to AAA or hyped up releases. For example, Cyberpunk 2077–an ultra-hyped game–has an 87 Metacritic score. You’d think that would mean it’s very good. It’s abysmally bad.

    Elden Ring’s score is even higher, 97!

    I’m a devotee of From Software (the studio that made Elden Ring). The studio’s games are renowned for their difficulty and are often credited with creating a whole genre called “SoulsBorne” games after their two most popular titles: “Dark Souls” and “Bloodborne.” These games drop you into a world with no direction or hand holding, expecting you to grind against it until it clicks and you “get good.”

    In fact, they did not create this genre–it’s been around since at least the original Zelda for the Nintendo Entertainment System. I remember starting that game not know where to go or what to do. You sort of just bumble around until you figure it out after dying over and over again. Soulsborne games are similar, except they have very high production values in terms of music and art direction.

    Elden Ring differs from other Soulsborne games in that it incorporates an “open world” to explore rather than a carefully designed series of interconnected levels. In Elden Ring, such levels are separated by vast expanses for players to traverse.

    I’ve been playing this game for quite a long time now and am pretty far into it. I’ve played all of From Software’s other games. Elden Ring is a decent entry, but I think it’s the worst of the From Software titles precisely because the open world means more emphasis on quantity and less emphasis on quality. Those tightly interconnected levels meant that From Software could precisely tune each encounter. The result is tense, rewarding gameplay.

    The “open world” means that From Software falls victim to the great sins of modern game design: repetition, bloat, copy and paste. Elden Ring dungeons are repeated ad-nauseam, as are enemies and bosses. Eventually, what seemed fun and interesting at the beginning of the game turns into: “Oh, another version of a boss/monster I’ve fought 10 times, only this time it’s a different color.”

    Most of the stuff you can “discover” in the open world is unexciting in that it’s useless to your particular character or useless because it’s so bad. There’s significant padding.

    The “Legacy Dungeons” that offer some of that tight level design are pretty good and fun, but none are high points of the series–none are even close to Central Yharnham or Anor Londo, centerpieces of other From Software games. In fact, From Software seems to crib from past entries (Stormveil Castle in Elden Ring reminded me quite a bit of the first level in Demons Souls, for example). I think this is evidence that From Software’s running low on creativity, resorting to recycling old content. Another example of this: many of the Elden Ring enemies are copy and pasted from other From Software games!

    It’s very weird to see Kotaku praise the music–it’s the worst in the series for sure and very repetitive.

    Last but not least, the boss encounters–a very important element of From Software games (similar again to Zelda’s original design)–are a huge disappointment. Most are overtuned slug-fests wherein the bosses conjure ridiculous and exhausting combos. Some show design laziness, like creating difficultly by forcing players to fight two of the same annoying boss or larding a boss with way too many hit points. The boss battles take too long and begin to bore the player.

    An honest review of Elden Ring, which brings nothing new to the already exhausted “open world” genre and dilutes Soulsborne strengths, is probably something like a 7-7.5/10. A good game certainly but nothing special and probably a step back overall for From Software.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The “open world” means that From Software falls victim to the great sins of modern game design: repetition, bloat, copy and paste.

      So, 100% in tune with the zeitgeist?

  21. Roquentin

    I’m a big Soulsborne/Miyazaki fan, consider Dark Souls to be my favorite game series ever, and not surprisingly I consider Elden Ring to be a masterpiece. It leaves most other games in the dust. The gameplay always had been tough but fair, if you don’t win it’s because you didn’t play well enough. Simple as that. There’s even a community of people known as “Onebros,” people who beat the games without ever levelling up. Some people have a hard time with it, admitting that you just weren’t good enough to succeed, but that’s also the beauty of it. With enough time, practice, and attention you can.

    It’s an important lesson. Try and fail and try again until you get it right. It doesn’t shock me that some find it off-putting.

    1. ChrisPacific

      I’m not quite sure why the reviewer felt the need to defend the ‘Souls’ gameplay style. It’s an established commercial success and has spawned countless sequels and spinoffs. Clearly there is a player base out there that likes it (I’m one, if I’m in the right mood).

      Those of us old enough to have cut our teeth on permadeath roguelikes generally view the whole argument as silly. Yes, punishing games with a learn by doing mechanic can be good if done right. No, they aren’t for everyone. Yes, there are many similar options for players that want a more forgiving play experience. No, those of us who enjoy them the way they are shouldn’t have to change as well. Next question, please.

  22. Tom Stone

    How soon will BA.2 really hit the USA?
    I know the impact will be downplayed to the extent it can, but based on the almost total lack of mask wearing here in Sonoma County it is going to be ugly.

    1. Lunker Walleye

      We had to make a quick trip to Chicago to get a car — husband’s very old Volvo is no longer reliable. Nobody was masked in hotel in western suburb except food staff and cleaning staff. Nobody masked where we picked up a used car at a dealership. Saw masked folks waiting at bus stops and some folks on the streets of Chicago proper. Odd that at the hotel and car dealer there were explicit signs that asked people to wear a mask upon entering. But 99% did not have them on — even as a chin strap.

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      Only if those who contract it don’t get immediate treatment and wait until they’re deathly ill and require hospitalization. I had the first version, and it was just a nasty case of the GI flu. Of course, at that point I had acquired natural immunity from a previous bout with what I suspect was Delta, which was unpleasant but, again, nowhere near the Black Plague everyone is now convinced it is. And for the record, I’m in two of the “high-risk” categories.

      Had SARS-CoV-2 been addressed like any other infectious illness, with doctors treating it using existing appropriate medications, that “herd immunity” they kept saying we’d get if everybody would just let themselves be a guinea pig for Pfizer and Moderna would have developed naturally, with only those unable to obtain early treatment or stay home long enough to fully recover at real risk of severe illness. That’s how a normal immune system adapting to a new kind of pathogen works.

      And now they’re threatening another lockdown and vaccine mandate, in the face of the science they keep insisting we should all follow. ?

      1. ambrit

        The problem is that Sars Co-V is a coronavirus. So far as I know, no “herd immunity” of any sort has been developed to combat any coronavirus.
        As for the “flu” analogy; no flu that I have heard of gives it’s sufferers any version of a “Long Flu.” The Sars Coronavirus does give it’s sufferers a “Long Covid,” and in a fairly high percentage of the cases at that.
        This Coronavirus is a “game changer” in the human versus virus contest.
        We are at the very beginning of this. Nothing is “over” about any of this.
        Stay safe and take good care of yourself.

        1. Late Introvert

          Yes, her comment made me feel sorry for her. Two bouts and already asking for policies that will guarantee a 3rd, at high-risk. Wow.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Yes, her comment made me feel sorry for her. Two bouts and already asking for policies that will guarantee a 3rd, at high-risk. Wow.

            And a fourth, and a fifth, and so on, with deterioration cumulative.

      2. Jason Boxman

        Except SARS-COV-2 is a corona virus, and there is no such thing as long term immunity to such viruses. So you can expect many such infections throughout the course of your life, each time rolling the dice that you won’t get long-COVID.

        Best of luck to you!

      3. Basil Pesto

        And now they’re threatening another lockdown

        lol no one is threatening this. it is a complete non-starter in the west at this point.

        and vaccine mandates are scarcely on the cards anymore either as the realisation dawns that mandating them is like mandating a flu vaccine – rather pointless. As the penny drops that they’re not a solution to the pandemic, R&D for new vaccines seems to have fallen off a cliff; the updated strain-matched mRNA vaccines we were promised in a matter of days are nowhere to be seen (we’re told we might see an Omicron version in September – who knows?)

        and “Had SARS-CoV-2 been addressed like any other infectious illness”, it would have been dealt with in 2020 using the tools at our disposal for controlling such things (ie nothing to do with “existing appropriate medications”), and we would not be discussing it on a daily basis as we are today.

    3. ChrisRUEcon

      How soon will BA.2 really hit the USA?

      It’s already here. Today is Tuesday, so the CDC Variant Proportions page has been updated (via cdc.gov). BA.2 now constitutes ~55% of all reported cases. In terms of real effect, I concur with Lambert’s post yesterday that the numbers being reported by CDC are below reality. Wastewater monitoring is showing a more accurate trend – rising as opposed to staying flat. In addition, the effects of home testing and unreported asymptomatic/mild spread constitutes a loss of data. As someone tweeted today:

      “We’re winging it until our hospitals are full,” is not an effective public health policy.

      1. eg

        Here in Ontario the mask mandate was lifted a week ago and now hospitalizations are up.


  23. jr

    re: Matthew Dowd and the Legion of Doom

    Did a quick wiki check, Stalin didn’t have the Bomb until 1949. Perhaps Mr. Dowd is unaware that the Russians currently have several thousand and many can hit the U.S. Oh, right, the $hit-lib take is that no one would ever use them. I wish I had such faith in my fellow humans but faith is in really short supply these days. Due in part to idiots like Mr. Dowd.

  24. drumlin woodchuckles

    Perhaps we should stop referring to ‘junk’ DNA. Perhaps we should start calling it ‘dark’ DNA.

    1. Greg

      AFAIK we stopped referring to “junk DNA” in the biological sciences decades ago. It’s only the media who have yet to catch up, and the occasional story that references the previous “junk” category to make a point about yet another new function within the poorly understood regions of genomes.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        Good to know. I first heard ‘junk dna” when the Human Genome Project was finishing up in 1999 and thought it was a terrible way to approach emergent systems.

        The media also totally failed to report anything close to reality about Y2K at the same time. I was into the Gell Mann Amnesia Effect before it was a thing, dude.

      1. ambrit

        Unless you hail from a Spanish speaking country. I believe that Ignacio will back me up on that. /s

  25. flora

    Thanks for the Spencer Ackerman, Forever Wars article. yep.

    Thanks also for the Taibbi article.

  26. Mikel


    A former administrator at the Yale University School of Medicine has pleaded guilty to stealing $40 million from the school in a nearly decade-long computer and electronics purchasing fraud….

    The School of Medicine of all places…(facepalm).
    A credentialed mediocrity of the PMC strikes again!

    1. Tom Stone

      Dumb, those cars and houses are easy to find and seize.
      She had to “Wash” the $ anyway, run it through the Caymans, then a Nevada LLC, then Panama and Cyprus,some to a bank in the Jersey Isles and some to Delaware Corp that pays you a “Consulting” fee.

  27. Mikel

    “Inflation Stings Most If You Earn Less Than $300K. Here’s How to Deal” [Bloomberg]

    “When it comes to food, don’t be afraid to explore.”

    Maybe they can explore the writer’s kitchen and refrigerator?


  28. John Beech

    I know it’s unpopular in this day and age to say this, but the only thing I disapprove of Will Smith doing was jumping out of his seat to make his ire public when instead he could have handled business in private. This, because it would be wise for anyone insulting my wife of 44 years to watch out for me, also. True, even if she ‘chose’ to shave her head!

    1. Tom Stone

      A response has to be proportionate to be reasonable, battery is not a proportionate response to words no matter how offensive the words are.

  29. Soredemos

    No insult, to you or someone you care about, justifies physical assault as a response. Ridiculous.

    Also, Jada is a grown woman. She can handle being the butt of a joke. She doesn’t need to be ‘defended’.

    1. ambrit

      From what I read, the internal dynamics of the Smith family are, shall we say, complicated.
      W Smith could have just been acting out on internal tensions. Rock didn’t overreact, so, one big “transactional event point” for the Oscars.
      As Hollywood consognati say; “There is no such thing as bad publicity.”
      Now, watch out for hecklers climbing the stage and “correcting” actors and comics etc. It could get as anarchic as back in Shakespeare’s day when audience members, if not happy at the quality of the swordplay on stage, would climb up to “learn” the actors in the proper handling of point and edge.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        W Smith could have just been acting out on internal tensions

        Not that I would know, but the complete absence of stories of previous physical altercations leads me to agree with this conclusion. Part of our reaction is that it was Will Smith and not say Sean Penn.

      2. Thistlebreath

        A waggish suggestion for next year’s Dusty Closet awards show was for it to be set dressed as a TX roadhouse stage, w/chainlink between audience and performers to intercept incoming longnecks.

        It was also suggested that the likes of Yeez and Mr. Smith would be slowed down before they could scale it to gain the stage. Maybe get Taylor Swift to consult on the install.

        1. tegnost

          , w/chainlink between audience and performers to intercept incoming longnecks

          If we can’t have free college, can’t we at least have free rotten tomatoes?

  30. jr

    Breaking Points presents a parade of $hit-lib reactions to the Will Smith incident:


    Trump, the Ukraine, 9-11, Biden’s recent fumbles: all of this and more are examined through the lens of the Slap. If you are looking for brain worms, here’s a bait shop full of them.

  31. Jason Boxman

    The COVID test reimbursement debacle continues apace, from an employer I’m familiar with:

    The representative I spoke with told me that this letter was sent in error, and that all [company] associates are not going to be reimbursed for OTC/at-home COVID tests by Cigna due to a policy change in March. She directed me to resubmit all my claims to CVS, saying it should be covered by our pharmacy insurance rather than medical.

    I told her I hadn’t heard anything like this from company communication, and that to the best of my knowledge, the [company] benefits team directed associates to use Cigna’s online form for COVID-19 test reimbursements. Does anyone know what’s going on?

    (bold mine)

    True insanity.

  32. Tom Stone

    Brandon doesn’t seem to be happy with his current job, he’s been real testy lately and I think it’s time for him to seek a happier life style.
    It’s a bit “Out of the Box” but I think he’d really enjoy being a girl scout den mother, with his health insurance a sex change operation would be easily affordable.

    1. tegnost

      He could be Brandi!
      I’m ok with it and will accept her as just another regular joe…um…sephine?
      They will be so happy when they can be themself
      There’s a lot of hostility out there, I’ve had a number of PMC tell me they are “done with homelessness”
      Kind of like “done with covid” but interesting to me at least is the high mask usage including in outdoor settings at U of Washington where I’ve been occasionally lately
      The cherry blossoms are epic for anyone near campus, go tomorrow, behind suzzallo library

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > done with

        This “done with” locution seems ubiquitous in the PMC and it’s bugging me. Reminds me of this from the horrid Barbara Bush, back in 2003:

        On her decision not to watch much TV during the run-up to the Iraq war being led by her son, George W. Bush: “But why should we hear about body bags, and deaths, and how many, what day it’s going to happen, and how many this and what do you suppose? Or, I mean, it’s, it’s not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that? And watch him suffer.” (March 18, 2003)

        What else are they “done with,” one might ask?

  33. whosaidthat

    Researchers add that they tested the nasal spray against the original COVID strain and the Delta variant. Although they didn’t examine its effectiveness against the more recent Omicron variant, the Cornell team is optimistic the results will remain the same.”
    Just one small problem: Omicron relies MUCH less on TMPRSS

Comments are closed.