2:00PM Water Cooler 6/16/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Patient readers, I beefed up the Capitol Seizure section.

Bird Song of the Day

Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. A chorus.

“Sparrow ID Guides from Macaulay Library and Bird Academy” [The Cornell Lab of Ornithology]. Free downloads. “Sparrows are a challenge to birders of all skill levels because they’re often skulky and hard to see. At first they seem like dull brown birds, but when you get a good look, they show beautiful and intricate patterns on their feathers. Because many species are hard to see, they are sought after by avid listers and those who appreciate the beauty of birds. Whether you’re at home or out in the field, these helpful four-sheet sparrow reference guides have full-color photos of eastern, central, western and widespread sparrows.”

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

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

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

Capitol Seizure

“Exclusive: Read Judge Luttig’s statement to January 6 committee” [CNN]. • I give credit to Luttig for telling Pence that the “Eastman Memo” on how the Vice President can throw out electoral votes was cray cray (and to Pence for following through). However, Luttig’s statement is fustian bombast. It’s worse than Thompson’s opener, which I would not have thought possible, not least because it’s longer. Just give me the theory of the case. This one, for example, fits on a postcard:

However, I don’t think, unless I’ve missed the memo, which is entirely possible, that a possible role for Ginny Thomas is part of the House hearing.

“Jan. 6 Committee Day 3 Rundown: How to Watch Mike Pence’s Lawyer, Chief of Staff and More Take the Stand” [Variety]. “[H]ere will be four main sections of the third hearing: the first will explore the theory brought by lawyer John Eastman [the “Eastman Memo”] that Pence could reject electors, the second will focus on the testimony of Trump’s lawyers who will refute that theory, the third will focus on the campaign from Trump to pressure Pence and the fourth will focus on the dangers that still exist regarding the number of people who believe the election was rigged.” • First coup organized by crooked lawyers. Lenin must be rolling in his grave. (The Republicans don’t seem to be able to work through cutouts like Perkins-Coei; it’s weird. A Democrat would never have contacted Pence directly.)

UPDATE “Chuck Grassley’s Last Act” [Vanity Fair]. “[O]n January 5, 2021, Grassley suggested he didn’t believe that Mike Pence would preside over the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory, that if Pence didn’t show up, he, as president pro tempore of the Senate, would preside over the process, and that ‘it would be really wrong for me to say I have my mind made up‘ about the election results. (At the time, Grassley’s team clarified the senator was mistaken, and that there was every indication Pence would preside—that the Iowa senator was merely explaining the Senate’s procedure if the vice president had to step away. Grassley and his campaign have repeatedly said they had no knowledge of a plan to overturn the election.)” • Grassley would have presided over the electoral vote certification if Pence had gotten in the car.

UPDATE “‘Devastating piece of evidence’: Filing reveals a Proud Boys plan to storm buildings Jan. 6” [USA Today]. “A document allegedly given to Proud Boys Chairman Henry “Enrique” Tarrio prior to the Jan. 6 insurrection lays out detailed plans to occupy more than half a dozen buildings surrounding the U.S. Capitol and describes tactics to be used by occupiers as they ‘Storm the Winter Palace.'” Which they did not do, although the dude in fur hat and horns did. “The full document titled ‘1776 Returns,’ attached as an exhibit in a court filing Wednesday by Tarrio’s co-defendant Zachary Rehl, was described by one former federal prosecutor as ‘an absolutely devastating piece of evidence.’ Tarrio, Rehl and three other members of the extremist group the Proud Boys face multiple felony counts, including seditious conspiracy, the most serious charge resulting from the Jan. 6 insurrection. The defendants are in jail in Washington, D.C., awaiting trial. Patrick Cotter, a former federal prosecutor in Chicago who has practiced criminal law for 40 years, said the ‘1776 Returns’ document is a bombshell for prosecutors, assuming it can be verified.” • Let’s remember that Tarrio was also a “prolific” FBI infomer, and the FBI has form. (Unless I’ve missed the memo, again entirely possible, the Proud Boys prosecution is proceeding along a parallel and unconnected track to the House hearing.

UPDATE “How the testimony of Trump aides differs from their public statements” [The Hill]. “The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol has built its argument that former President Trump is responsible for attack largely through video of his own former aides saying they told Trump his claims of election fraud were baseless. Former Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien, former Attorney General William Barr and Trump’s own son-in-law Jared Kushner are among the figures who told the Jan. 6 panel that they privately raised concerns to Trump about his behavior in the aftermath of the 2020 election. Yet their statements have also underscored another truth: While they have insisted they pushed back at Trump behind the scenes after the election, they largely avoided any public breaks with Trump and stood by him at the time. Barr told NBC in an interview in March to promote his new book that he hoped the GOP would move on from Trump and that he would support a different candidate. But if Trump prevailed in a Republican primary in 2024, Barr indicated he would still vote for the same man whose election claims he found to be ‘bullshit.’ ‘It’s hard to project what the facts are going to turn out to be three years hence, but as of now, it’s hard for me to conceive that I wouldn’t vote for the Republican nominee,’ Barr said.”

UPDATE “Will the Jan. 6 Hearings Change Anyone’s Mind? [ProPublica]. “The question that hangs over the Jan. 6 hearings is whether the emergence of similarly damning facts or documents would move either the Republican base or its leaders in Congress. The prevailing wisdom says no, and there are plenty of reasons to argue that a strikingly large portion of former President Donald Trump’s base will dismiss any disclosures by the media or members of Congress as ‘fake news.'” Why ignore independents? Or disaffected Democrats? More: “All of this is to say one should be cautious in predicting the effect congressional investigations will have on public opinion. Learning that Trump’s advisers were divided between Team Crazy and Team Normal, and that Team Crazy clearly had the upper hand, might disturb a fair number of voters. I’ve seen congressional hearings change minds, including my own.” • Clearly, the normal Repubicans should becone Democrats. Clinton/Cheney 2024!

Biden Administration

“Biden’s New Pandemic Plan Could Shift Control From the CDC to the White House and Disease Experts Aren’t Happy” [Politico]. ” With researchers predicting there’s an approximately a 50 percent chance the U.S. will experience another Covid-like pandemic in the next 25 years, the Biden administration is working out the details of a new National Biodefense Strategy it hopes will do a better job at containing dangerous germs than the last time around….. here are hints that there will be a restructuring that will shift management for a crisis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the White House in an attempt to avoid the power struggles between agencies that gummed up the government’s Covid response.” It wasn’t a power struggle between agencies that caused CDC to butcher its test kit rollout. That’s on CDC alone. More: “It’s the shifting of power away from the CDC and to the White House that worries pandemic experts…. ‘The bottom line is it’s not a good idea,’ said Peter Hotez, a professor at the Baylor College of Medicine and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine. ‘This sends a vote of no-confidence in the CDC.'” So? More: “Hotez is most concerned about the possibility the White House ends up in charge of pandemic responses. ‘I think we’ve seen what happened with the Trump White House,’ he said. ‘It allowed political influence to affect the pandemic response. That’s one reason you want this based anywhere but Washington, DC.'” • Well, we do elect Presidents for a reason…

“VP Harris to launch task force on online harassment after shootings” [Reuters]. • Another project for Harris not to go anywhere with (unless it’s cutting a deal on antitrust in exchange for censorship, which won’t be Harris’s decision anyway).


* * *

GA: “Herschel Walker’s campaign acknowledges second son after report” [The Hill]. • Two? Typical American extravagance….

TX: “Texas Gov. Greg Abbot’s lead tightens over Democrat Beto O’Rourke, new poll shows” [Houston Chronicle]. “Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s lead over Democrat Beto O’Rourke has plummeted since December, a new poll released by Quinnipiac University shows. Abbott is leading O’Rourke 48 percent to 43 percent according to the poll of 1,257 Texas registered voters taken between June 9 and June 13. In December, a Quinnipiac University poll showed Abbott up by 15 percentage points, leading 52 percent to 37 percent. It is one of the first major polls in the race since the mass shooting in Uvalde last month, in which 19 children and two adults were killed….. Abbott’s lead is largely due to white men where he is winning 69 percent to just 26 percent for O’Rourke. And among independents, Abbott is winning 46 percent to 40 percent for O’Rourke.”

UPDATE TX: “Latino Democrats vent their fury after foreboding special election loss in Texas” [Politico]. “Republicans blew up more than a century of almost uninterrupted Democratic control in that region Tuesday night, earning a special election win in a heavily Latino border district they had rarely even contested since its creation in 2012 — but where the GOP has made rapid gains in the last few years. That trend has been on Democrats’ minds since former President Donald Trump cut deep into the party’s margins in the Rio Grande Valley in 2020. But national Republicans poured money into the special election in this 85 percent Latino district from the beginning. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and its allies, meanwhile, only made a small investment at the end, despite requests from members to get involved earlier.”


“Betting markets favor DeSantis over Trump for 2024 Republican presidential nomination, as Elon Musk voices support for Florida governor” [MarketWatch (Re Silc)]. “DeSantis has a 38% chance, ahead of Trump’s 36% and 7% for Nikki Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Former Vice President Mike Pence is at 6%, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina gets 4%, and other Republican politicians are at 3% or lower. Trump had the edge over DeSantis in March, April and May…. The former president’s prospects have edged down from 38% on June 8 in the wake of public hearings held by the House committee probing the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. The hearings have featured searing charges against Trump, painting a portrait of him as at the center of a conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election that was won by President Joe Biden.”

Democrats en Déshabillé

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

The Democrat Party is the political expression of the class power of PMC, their base (lucidly explained by Thomas Frank in Listen, Liberal!). It follows that the Democrat Party is as “unreformable” as the PMC is unreformable; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. If the Democrat Party fails to govern, that’s because the PMC lacks the capability to govern. (“PMC” modulo “class expatriates,” of course.) Second, all the working parts of the Party reinforce each other. Leave aside characterizing the relationships between elements of the Party (ka-ching, but not entirely) those elements comprise a network — a Flex Net? An iron octagon? — of funders, vendors, apparatchiks, electeds, NGOs, and miscellaneous mercenaries, with assets in the press and the intelligence community.

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

* * *

Republican Funhouse

“Where the 10 House Republicans who impeached Trump stand” [The Hill]. “In all, 10 House Republicans moved to impeach the former president, and while half of them have chosen not to seek reelection, others are taking their chances with voters this year.” • Pretty high mortality rate.

Holy Lord, the Mercatus Center?

Healthy conversations, brought to you by the Koch Brothers….

Clinton Legacy

“Hillary Clinton: “I don’t think the media is doing its job” (interview) [The New Statesman]. Clinton: “I don’t think the media is doing its job to be honest. I think you’ve got a right-wing media machine led by Fox and others, and a very potent right-wing presence on social media, and the so-called mainstream media hasn’t yet caught up to the reality we live in. They are much too reluctant to stand up for the truth in the face of massive lying – to call a lie a lie – to be on record as saying that we are in a struggle between democracy and authoritarianism, and it can’t just be business as usual.” • Holy Lord, RussiaGate?

Realignment and Legitimacy

Trump wasn’t the only one who spoke the quiet part out loud:

“Elephant In The Zoom” [The Intercept]. The deck: “Meltdowns Have Brought Progressive Advocacy Groups to a Standstill at a Critical Moment in World History.” • I ran this yesterday, but this additional commentary rings true:


Lambert here: In order to focus more on variants and rising watewaster, I’ve removed the MWRA wastewater chart, and the world cases chart. Today, frustratingly, my main source for case data, 91-DIVOC, has moved and changed to a new format that doesn’t work for what I want to do. I suppose this is a consequence of Covid being over.

I am but a humble tape-watcher, and I’m perplexed about the current state of play. Case data is showing the fiddling-and-diddling behavior characteristic of a peak; on the other hand, the South (home of Abbot and DeSantis) is rising. Further, nothing I hear in anecdotal case data tells me there’s any relief. Hospitalization data (trailing) is easing (and so the hospital-centric public health establishment probably thinks Covid is done). Positivity data (leading) has been fiddling and diddling as it too does at peaks (latest, down). Then again, waste-water data (leading) is up everywhere but the Northeast. The wild card is variants BA.4/5 (and I thought we were supposed to be giving names to these things). All the variant sources I have say BA.4/5 are up, but they differ as to how much and where, and the data is two weeks behind (hat tip, CDC; who could have known we’d need to track variant data?). I am reminded of the “stairstep” (see the Case count chart below: I muttered about this at the time) that marked the Delta/Omicron transition, just before Omicron’s amazing take-off. Perhaps a BA.4/5 transition will exhibit the same behavior. OTOH, I could be projecting patterns into clouds.

* * *

Mastravaganza (1):

A nurse shouldn’t be applauding the spread of an airborne pathogen, especially in a hospital.

Mastravaganza (2):

What? You can tell?!

“Are face masks a problem for emotion recognition? Not when the whole body is visible.” [psyRxiv]. From 2021, still germane. From the Significance Statement: “Face masks have become a ubiquitous part of daily life in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. This has caused a sudden and stark change in our social interactions, not only limiting face-to-face contact with others, but also creating a physical barrier to seeing the entire face of the person with whom you are interacting. Several pieces of research have explored this issue in terms of the impact of a face mask on emotion recognition, social connectedness, memory and trust. The conclusion has been that face masks pose a potentially serious issue for cohesive social interaction, with emotion recognition in particular being affected by masks. However, these studies have shown pictures of the face in isolation, which is something one is rarely going to see in real life. Here by including the rest of the body and showing that emotion recognition remains largely unchanged by face-masks we hope to alleviate some of these fears arising from these previous studies.” • From this long thread which includes other studies:

* * *

Another PMC supersoreading event:

“Dr. Anthony Fauci tests positive for COVID days after visiting Worcester, College of the Holy Cross” [MassAlive (antidlc)]. “Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and President Biden’s chief medical adviser, has tested positive for COVID-19 just four days after traveling to Worcester to attend a ceremony at his alma mater, the College of the Holy Cross, officials said…. Fauci attended a building rededication ceremony at Holy Cross on Saturday, where the school’s Integrated Science Complex was renamed in his honor. Over a thousand people crowded into a tightly packed atrium for about 30 minutes to hear Fauci and college officials speak. Few attendees donned masks. Fauci wore a KN95 mask at certain points throughout the ceremony, but removed it to give a speech and talk with reporters.” • I wondered aloud if Fauci was infected at a superspreader event. And lo and beholdl!

If you missed it, here’s a post on my queasiness 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.

* * *

“Air purification — Luchtreiniging — Purificaton d’air — HEPA” [Carl Van Keirsbilck, Medium]. “In this document you will find an overview of studies on the effectiveness of air cleaning to remove SARS-COV-2 from the air in different settings (schools, gym, hospitals, …) and thus greatly reduce the chance of infection.” • A big round-up.

* * *

NOT UPDATED 91-DIVOC has moved and I don’t like the new charts; for example, I can’t get a US total on the same chart as the regional subtotals. Case count by United States regions:

More or less level. Remember that cases are undercounted, one source saying by a factor of six, Gottlieb thinking we only pick up one in seven or eight.) Hence, I take the case count and multiply it by six to approximate the real level of cases, and draw the DNC-blue “Biden Line” at that point. Yesterday, the count was 100,800. Today, it’s 106900, and 100,800 * 6 = a Biden line at 641400. At least we have confirmation that the extraordinary mass of case anecdotes had a basis in reality. (Remember these data points are weekly averages, so daily fluctuations are smoothed out.) The black “Fauci Line” is a counter to triumphalism, since it compares current levels to past crises.

• ”Florida undercounted COVID cases and deaths, failed to get test results, state audit says” [Miami Herald]. “Florida’s COVID-19 data was so inaccurate, incomplete and delayed during the first months of the pandemic that government officials and the public may not have had necessary information to determine the effectiveness of the state’s COVID-19 precautions and the best plan to fight the virus, according to a state report released Monday. Covering the state’s pandemic response from March to October 2020, the yearlong analysis by the Florida Auditor General found missing case and death data, unreported ethnic and racial details, and incomplete contact tracing as the coronavirus spread across the state. In addition, the report concluded that state health officials did not perform routine checks on the data to ensure accuracy and did not follow up on discrepancies.”

NOT UPDATED As above. Here are cases for the last four weeks:

More or less level.

From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker:

Down 2.8%. This tracker fiddles and diddles at peaks, but also not at peaks. (I’m leaving the corporate logo on as a slap to and check on the goons at CDC.)

NOT UPDATED Wastewater data from Biobot Analytics:

NOT UPDATED Variant data, regional (Biobot), May 25:

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (Walgreens), May 28:

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), May 28:

From CDC Community Profile Reports (PDFs), “Rapid Riser” counties:

Better on the West Coast, worse in the Southwest, status quo in the South and Midwest, quiet in the Northeast.

The previous release:

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. That the “green map” (which Topol calls a “capitulation” and a “deception”) is still up and being taken seriously verges on the criminal. Use the community transmission immediately below.

Here is CDC’s interactive map by county set to community transmission. This is the map CDC wants only hospitals to look at, not you:

West Coast, and Midwest are all red. Seeing some orange (“substantial”) on the East Coast. Great Plains speckled with yellow and blue. Go Vermont!

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Very volatile.

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,037,664 1,036,483. I have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line.

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index in the US dropped to -3.3 in June of 2022, well below forecasts pointing to growth of 5.5, signaling the first contraction in factory activity since May of 2020.”

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits decreased by 3K to 229K in the week ended June 11th, below market forecasts of 210K pointing again to the exceptionally tight labor market.”

* * *

Tech: “YouTube’s new corrections feature lets creators fix the record more easily” [YouTube]. “YouTube is introducing a new feature named ‘corrections’ that lets creators easily add more obvious corrections. After a video has been uploaded, creators can add corrections that will appear as infocards in the top right-hand corner of a video at the relevant timestamp (but only, it seems, for the first correction in any given video). Viewers can then click on the card to expand the correction notes in the video’s description.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 14 Extreme Fear (previous close: 20 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 31 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 16 at 1:25 PM EDT.

Zeitgeist Watch

“Andreessen on Learning to Love the Humanities (Ep. 152)” [Conversations with Tyler]. “Without understanding the deep patterns of human behavior, how can you know what to build, or who should build it, or how? For Marc, that means reading deeply in the humanities: ‘I spent the first 25 years of my life trying to understand how machines work,’ Marc says. ‘Then I spent the second 25 years, so far, trying to figure out how people work. It turns out people are a lot more complicated.’ Marc joined Tyler to discuss his ever-growing appreciation for the humanities and morel…” • If Andreessen truly loves the humanities, he’d be defending blogging and RSS with his dying breath, which he does not do. Change happens at the margins. The margins of Walled Gardems…. are walls.

“The Zen Playboy” [The Nation]. “After the [Whole Earth Catalog’s] success, [Stewart Brand] committed himself to realizing a new ideal: the “Zen playboy.” In 1986, while he vacationed on a colonial ranch in Kenya and dreamed of a book called Sleeping With Lions, the remainder of the Whole Earth team sent him a letter saying the project was broke and they would have to cut him off. Well into his 40s, Brand could still count on a check from Mom. But how to spend his time? What role could history offer him?mBefore he knew it, Brand was on a Shell oil platform, helping the company’s managers find an innovative way to restructure the workforce, despite the labor union’s objections. In the second half of his life, Brand betrayed everything he’d ever embraced in the first half, with the notable exception of capitalism, of which he’s remained in favor. Soon he and several others who worked for Shell began their own consultancy firm. From the mind that created the Whole Earth Catalog came the Global Business Network. Brand charged more than $100,000 a year to show up at the occasional meeting, where he was known for falling asleep.” • Ouch.

Book Nook

Joyce’s Ulysses takes place on June 16. This is Bloomsday:

Wall art?

I can generally hear Ulysses as spoken while reading. I’m sure I’m not alone:

Class Warfare

“West Coast port union, employers say no plan for strike or lockout” [Hellenic Shipping News]. “The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) employer group have been in negotiations since May. They said they do not expect to reach a deal before the high-stakes labor agreement, which covers workers at key ports like Los Angeles and Long Beach, expires on July 1. In a joint statement released Tuesday, the ILWU and PMA said that at a meeting in Los Angeles on Friday, they shared with U.S. President Joe Biden their commitment to reaching a deal. ‘Neither party is preparing for a strike or a lockout,’ they said. The news came just hours before the nation’s busiest ocean trade gateway in Los Angeles, which employs the lion’s share of West Coast port workers, reported near record imports for May. Import volumes at the Port of Los Angeles are easing from the levels seen during the throes of the pandemic, when home-bound shoppers binged on everything from exercise equipment to garden supplies. Still, they remain about 20% above normal – stoking shipper anxieties that any breakdown in the often-contentious labor talks could spawn work slowdowns, gum up cargo flows and send inflation-fueling transportation costs even higher.”

Have any readers seen notes like this?

News of the Wired

“If you’re renting, chances are your home is cold. With power prices soaring, here’s what you can do to keep warm” [The Conversation]. • Winter is coming, unless you’re Australian, in which case it’s already here.

“My crafting makes me a better engineer—but it took me a while to realize” [Science]. “Soon I was seeing more examples of connections between engineering and craft that I had previously overlooked. When working on the wheelchair project, I put my sewing skills to use creating cushioned grips for the handles. The engineering “design kitchen” where my undergrad classmates and I tested our ideas was stocked with inexpensive tools including felt, pipe cleaners, and popsicle sticks—materials that would not be out of place in a craft bin, I now realized. I saw how crafting taught me to persevere when my product didn’t match my initial vision and to consider the failed creation a learning and prototyping experience, just as an engineer must.”

“Watercolor Basics” [tombetthauser]. “Some personal stuff that I observed help frustrated and talented art students over the past 10+ years making, learning and teaching art professionally for no reason. Geared towards developing an everyday open-ended watercolor practice for expressive observational painting more than old-school illustration. Put together for a dev friend who bought some paints.” • This looks like a really, really good list (maybe could use some simplification for a beginner). Maybe something to do outside in the summer and fall?

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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. From AG:

AG writes: “I remembered to take a photo of the first Humboldt’s Lily bloom in our garden, and here it is. Grass Valley, CA, 2700 ft elevation.”

If you eat a lot of lemons (guurst):

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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. ChrisRUEcon


    > Another project for Harris not to go anywhere …

    She might as well be working out of a remote office in Barbados.

    1. ChrisRUEcon


      Wow … is this the second time for him, or the first??!

      Idiots, all of them … it’s the one thing that gives me mild comfort – COVID takes away much of the impunity from which our fetid ruling class benefits despite their sociopathy. They’ll all get it, many times over … because of their own hubris and stupidity.

      1. Acacia

        Fast forward to: “no, he wasn’t lying to us… his heart is in the right place… he’s just got a little… well… brain damage fog, you know?”

  2. hunkerdown

    Harris’ cult is primarily responsible for the political bullying on social media. This is a covering opportunity.

        1. hunkerdown

          Yep, I bet this op is to paper over the #Ukraine social media partnership which John Robb fingered as a #resistance production.

            1. hunkerdown

              I can’t confirm which video it was in, so I must walk back the attribution. Some analyst mentioned it somewhere and I recall feeling my own judgment validated. In any case, from the beginning the pro-Ukraine propaganda exhibited that characteristic #KHive sneer and their line-pushing terms of engagement, and coordinated use of talking points very similar to those of progressive door-to-door canvassers.

  3. red plaid

    I am really surprised that have not been more negative comments on the Pfizer data for Covid vaccinations for 2-5 year olds. For example, its efficacy data was only based on 3 cases in the vaccine group and 7 cases in the control group. There have lots of high-visibility experts who have said negative things about the FDA and CDC in the past, but why are they just giving the FDA a pass on their unanimous approval of the Pfizer 2-5 year old Covid vaccine? Forgive my ignorance, but Is it just that any questioning of vaccines is not tolerated?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Is it just that any questioning of vaccines is not tolerated

      You must be new here. Just give the link to back up your claim, and ditch the tendentious rhetorical questions.

  4. Thistlebreath

    S Brand has been touting nuclear fission and “the Long Now,” an expensive eon-counting time device, etc. for some time.

    Here’s a pretty good b’grounder: https://www.thenation.com/article/society/stewart-brand-whole-earth/

    Having met him in passing loooong ago when I toiled as an ink stained wretch around the Bay area, I keep writing to inquire when his affection for fission waste will lead him to chug a pint of Fukushima water. He never responds.

  5. FreeMarketApologist

    RE: Two? Typical American extravagance….

    No, it’s actually a conservative position, inherited from our royalist past: An heir, and a spare.

    1. Tim

      I remember watching some sports documentary about has been football stars, and there was an exceedingly brief comment about Herschel Walker doing 1000 (not a typo) pushups a day it what would have been his late 40s, and having been a former athlete, all I could think is that dude has mental issues. So consider me un-surprised to find he is running for office, something no mentally sane person would do these days.

      We’ll see how long he survives the process though, as he probably has a few more screws loose than most politicians.

      1. Appleseed

        This fitness regimen rumor has buzzed around Walker since he rumbled through the mid-1980s. 1k pushups AND 1k situps plus lots of sprints. No freeweights whatsoever, and the guy was totally yoked. But I don’t know if it was true.

  6. Toshiro_Mifune

    The Zen Playboy…. In the second half of his life, Brand betrayed everything he’d ever embraced in the first half

    He did also help start up the WELL, which was the place to be in the BBS days of the ate 80s.

    … he also helped Doug Engelbart on the Mother of all Tech Demos in `68. So…. IDK. Even proximity to that is pretty cool. Not saying he was a great guy or anything, just mentioning some stuff.

    1. ambrit

      As Jacob Browowski demonstrated in one of the episodes of his BBC television programme, “The Ascent of Man,” a way back when, people who make big breakthroughs are often cantankerous and despicable persons in private.
      That Brand “turned to the Dark Side” is not at all unusual. He may not have seen the contradictions involved, or not seen them as contradictions.

      1. LifelongLib

        I tend to the view that for people we don’t know, we should focus on their works and not their personalities, but the current trend is to make heroes or villains out of everyone…

        1. Joe Renter

          Well said lib.
          You could go further in saying, relate to people as souls and not personalities. Easy to say, and hard to practice when working with people.

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          Brand has done good works and bad works.

          We should not let his good works halo-effect his bad works.

          We should not let his bad works devil-horn-effect his good works.

        3. drumlin woodchuckles

          Here’s an example of some of the devil-horn bad work that Brand does nowadays, a celebration of the forced uprooting and slumification of millions of peasants and ex-peasants all over the Third World.

          And here is a Ted Talk ( but of course!) where Brand celebrates this forced slumification.

          And here is a brutal takedown of the Forced Slumification Project which Stewart Brand so lovingly celebrates. Brand himself is mentioned in passing in this old legacy post from Economic Undertow.

          So Brand’s celebration of evil today does not retro-evilise the Whole Earth Catalog.
          And Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog does not de-evilise his service to evil today.

          I am not going to move to a slum to validate Brand’s slum-worship.
          I am not going to throw out my Whole Earth Catalogs to protest Brand’s slum-worship.

  7. jr

    Seven states stand to lose access to the Colorado River’s water:


    “What has been a slow-motion train wreck for 20 years is accelerating, and the moment of reckoning is near,” John Entsminger, general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, told the Senate hearing. “We are 150 feet from 25 million Americans losing access to the Colorado River, and the rate of decline is accelerating.”

    1. Mikel

      I was just watching this the other day:
      This is Getting SCARY!!! Lake Mead is Drying Up! Part 2

      This boating/fishing enthusiast and his friend explore and explain the dryness.

      And all kinds of bodies are popping up too! (What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas?) Every barrel that pops up, people hold there breath.

      1. Shannon

        The Dept. of Interior is giving the 7 states 6 weeks to cut 2 to 4 million acre feet or else they will do it. That’s almost the entire allotment California takes in a year (4.4). Unfortunately this cut should have been done 30 years ago as the Colorado River has always been over subscribed and the Feds knew there was no way to quickly augment the supply during a serious drought.

        1. Glen

          Wow, how do you fix this? You would think all of the affected Water Districts would have acted as you say, decades ago.

          1- Desalination plants on the Cali coast?

          2- Give Nestle a long term exclusive rights to sell extremely expensive bottled water?

          With our current PMC, I will go with option 2, and they will import icebergs from AK, and glacier ice from Tibet.

          Hey, you think that’s far fetched and stupid? I present to you sanctions that cripple whole world regional economies.

          1. Shannon

            In the long run, it pits agriculture versus the real estate complex. So far, agriculture in central AZ is loosing water from the CAP and returning to groundwater. I suspect California will try to make AZ take the brunt of the cuts as they take the largest share of water from the system at 4.4 MAF.

            Interesting times ahead to say the least.

          2. JBird4049

            1- Desalination plants on the Cali coast?

            The PMC and adjacent in California seem to have a love-hate-love-hate affair with desalination. When there is water, why it’s expensive, the increase taxes we don’t wanna pay, we won’t always need it, and it’s baaaad for the environment; when it is year whatever during a drought and the reservoirs and rivers are going away, why then people start asking why don’t have desalination plants up and down the whole coastline, costs (and the environment) can go to Perdition! Then comes the rain and the push for those plants just goes away.

            All the problems I listed for the plants are true and perhaps we will have another miracle year of monsoon like rains, but all of those problems are easily solvable, if they were done before we go completely dry; I just wish that my fellow Californians and their state and local governments would get real and solve each of the issues. The state has always had periods of wet and dry. Add the forty million people living here plus the powerful water barons and the wasteful use of water to grow water hogging crops like pistachios, and we got problems. Desalinization would be an excellent extender of our supply even in a rainy year. At least we could have enough water to prevent people dying from thirst, if the drought continues, as the reservoirs dry up.

            We really, truly need to bust the water cartel and change farming in California, but this blasted corruption and short sightedness is like some monstrous vampiric squid constraining all movement towards reform; the people controlling the monster are feeling little discomfort, forget pain, so it continues.

            1. Wukchumni

              Desalinated water is really spendy, around $2-3k per acre foot, but what value does one place on something we all need in Cali?

              I like redundancy, and in the past the Golden State was capable of doing such an effort with LA securing water from the Colorado River, Owens Valley and Feather River, why not set up a series of desal plants from the Bay Area on down to SD?

      2. curlydan

        Right now, water managers appear to be watching Lake Powell more closely than Lake Mead. Lake Powell is at 3537.18 ft with a minimum power pool of 3490 ft. Luckily, its water level has been rising fairly rapidly thanks to a big release (500K acre ft) from Flaming Gorge Reservoir and (according to your video) maybe no releases downstream.


        Lake Mead is indeed falling fast now. It’s at 1044.91 ft with a minimum power pool of 1000 ft.


        Based on history, it looks like Lake Mead likely will not drop much further this year–maybe that’s why managers are focused on Lake Powell. Although the area around Lake Mead is in an “Exceptional Drought”, so who knows? I noticed that Las Vegas has had 0.06 inches of rain this year–I mean that’s Atacama desert levels of rain. Ouch.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Whatever happens, the Soutwest must not be allowed any water from the Northwest or the Mississippi or the Great Lakes.

      NAWAPA must be crushed and destroyed when the aqua-subsidy belt tries to revive it yet again.

      1. chris

        I agree. Here’s a basic background link explaining the crazy that’s was proposed.

        The funny thing is they have no idea how much it will cost or how they’ll prevent oversubscription like they have with the Colorado. All the people who discuss this idea seem to say is, “why haven’t we done it already?”

        The sad truth is the Southwest needs to be drastically changed. It needs to either wither away or be drastically changed in how all resources are managed. But the problem is, much of the people who are in control out west make their money using the land and benefit from water rights. They can’t conceive of a world where the land is worthless and there is no water. So we’ll see more and more towns that need water trucked in before anyone can begin to discuss the sustainability of this disaster. The time to get out of Arizona, New Mexico, and a lot of California, is now.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Several years ago at an Acres USA conference I met an organic farmer who had been from Colorado but had just recently transferred himself and his operation to recently purchased land in Kentucky.

          His reason was to get out ahead of the water shortages he expected in the medium future, before the shortages got so big honkin’ obvious that farmland in Colorado could no longer be sold.

  8. Anon

    Hey Lambert and everyone,

    I think I found a Tweet to add to your long-standing blurb about the Democrat Party:

    Chris Hayes

    Over the time I’ve covered politics and the Democratic party there has been a very clear pattern: Democratic party leadership encourages intense grassroots mobilization when *out* of power and strongly *discourages* mobilization when *in* power.

    1. John

      I can think of no reason to vote for any Democrat or any Republican for a federal office. The suggested candidates for the republican nomination for president are an embarrassment. Biden? Harris? et al? for the democrats? You have to be joking. Schumer is running for re-election. Given the New York state electorate, he will be successful. This is not cause for celebration. Maloney is switching districts. Its an open seat. Since there is only a semblance of a local newspaper, it is a mystery who is running and does it matter since Congress is one big party in thrall to donors giving a kabuki performance for us proles. Since c.1980 when the corporations got firmly in the saddle and put their spurs to the politicians, the “privilege”, the “duty” of voting has become increasingly hollow. I grew up in an empire rising to its peak. I am an old man as the angle of decline ever steepens. Franklin said when asked, “A republic, if you can keep it.” We have not.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      What if the grassroots were to learn how to self-mobilize themselves and eachother for their own grass-roots goals and agendas?

      What would happen if all the Bitter Berners and the Young Sanderistas decided to get the band back together all on their own, with or without Grandpa Sanders himself? And what if some oder, sadder and wiser refugees from the brutally suppressed Occupy movement were to join them?

      Occupy your mind!
      Occupy your time!
      Occupy the Movement!
      Occupy the Future!

  9. hunkerdown

    In the other corner’s flashback montage, Netscape Negotiator 9mm: “I don’t want to run a company. I’m not good at managing people. You have a problem with the guy in the next cubicle? I don’t care. Shoot him or something.” -Marc Andreessen, Rolling Stone #759, May 1, 1997

  10. mjd

    Re the “short staffed” note: this exact thing (verbatim) is plastered on the drive-thru at the local McDonald’s (right above the talk hole). It also bears the golden arches (giving it a quasi-official look) and the logo of the family that owns the joint (plus several others locally).

      1. Stephanie

        Saw this note at a very, very understaffed Qdoba. I would guess it’s going around.

    1. petal

      Something similar has been posted at our hospital’s Au Bon Pain location for many months-essentially “Please be patient, we’re short-staffed and doing the best we can, abuse of staff will not be tolerated.”

  11. antidlc


    Long Covid Is Showing Up in the Employment Data

    More Americans in and out of the labor force are having trouble remembering and concentrating, a common Covid-19 aftereffect.

    The number of Americans applying for Social Security Disability Insurance rose sharply during the 2000s, a phenomenon that appears to have been driven more by the job market — which was pretty weak for most of the decade, especially for those without college degrees — than by people’s health.

    Lately, the job market has been quite strong, with the number and rate of job openings at all-time highs. Yet SSDI applications are (slowly) rising again, in their first sustained increase since 2009.

    Social Security field offices were closed to visitors from March 2020 until this April, which the Social Security Administration said led to a decline in disability claims. So some of what we’re seeing is just catchup. But there is something else that might also be playing a role: the lingering effects of Covid-19 infections, aka Long Covid.

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      Where the UK has trodden, so too will the US follow …

      #BoJo “let ‘r rip” in late 2021 and everything that has happened in the UK since has come to pass in the US since masking was dropped:

      • Omicron surge
      • Pediatric knock on effects (liver disease/failure)
      • And now, labour. From March “Analysis: Britain’s shrunken workforce hampers COVID recovery” (via Reuters.com)
      “Long-term sickness accounts for two thirds of fall”

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        its almost as if a deep undercover Nazi Cabal took over governance in US/UK and awaited its chance to get revenge on US/UK for having won World Battle Two.

        ( And the various fascists do consider it a battle, not a war. They lost the battle when Germany and Japan surrendered unconditionally . . . . but ” The Struggle Continues!”)

  12. super extra

    re: watercolor

    I’ve been a semi-serious watercolorist for decades now and that is a great list!! I concur with the suggested paint pan and if you want to splash out on extremely fine paints after you kind of know what you’re doing, Holbein makes very nice (if pricey) half-pan sets. I’ve used the same set for several years but they are definitely not as cheap as Winsor Newtons.

    Over the years I slowly drifted towards using inks more instead of watercolors at home with the full kit out. Inks are fun because you can graduate to nib and brush pens. If you like going out en plein air, there are fantastic hollow brushes – water brushes – that you can fill with water and take out instead of taking a full water well that work great with the pan watercolors. You can even combine these things and get into fountain pens with drawing-suitable nibs that are filled with a permanent waterproof ink so you can do the sweet sweet line-and-wash style.

  13. Mikel

    Oil futures climbed on Thursday, shaking off early losses from economic growth worries in the wake of the Federal Reserve’s latest interest-rate hike, to finish higher after the U.S. announced new economic sanctions on Iran.

    A visit by European leaders to Ukraine, meanwhile, was also likely supportive for oil prices as it signaled the potential for more sanctions against Russia’s energy sector….”

  14. smashsc

    Re: Youtube “corrections” features. Am I the only one paranoid enough to believe that this feature was requested by DHS’s Disinformation Board for future use to “correct the record”?

    1. Ranger Rick

      There are some legitimate uses though. I’ve seen people upload videos that they had to correct in post-production (often with some disclaimer subtitling), and videos that later needed to be corrected even after uploading with the old Youtube annotation feature (it was even used for an innovative choose-your-own-adventure video series that inspired that Netflix production). It’s especially useful when the video involved can be multiple gigabytes in size and require hours of encoding time. Now that annotations are gone, “corrections” are annotations by another name I guess.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      It doesn’t occur to high tech individuals to think in low tech terms. That’s why Low-Tech Magazine can have a mind expanding effect on people who see it for the first time. I first saw it through blogger Ran Prieur at his Ran Prieur blog.

  15. clarky90

    Re; “…..“Hillary Clinton: : “ …… the so-called mainstream media ….. are much too reluctant to stand up for the truth in the face of massive lying – to call a lie a lie – to be on record as saying that we are in a struggle between democracy and authoritarianism, and it can’t just be business as usual.”

    Hillary Clinton continues (with increasing impotentancy) to conjure up an ancient Magik Spell. Widdershins; The construct of this spell is simple; “inside out and upside down.”

    “Widdershins is a Scottish term meaning counterclockwise or against the sun. The Scottish Gaelic term is tuathal, which means “Northerly”. The opposite direction is deosil or, more correctly, deiseal, or sunwise (clockwise). The term Widdershins is also used to mean any direction that isn’t the proper or usual way.

    Traditionally, it is bad luck to move widdershins around a building or person, while walking deiseal confers good luck and protection. Walking widdershins around a church is especially unlucky. According to the fairy tale, Childe Rowland, running widdershins around a church may get you transported to The Land of the Fae. The story of Fairy Cross Plain tells of a boy who danced widdershins nine times around a faery ring and fell under their control……”

    Careful observersers have noted that Hillary Clinton has been tragically trapped in “The Land of Fae” ever since losing her etheric battle with Donald Trump in 2016.


  16. aleric

    If the real cases are higher than the reported cases, is the real mortality also higher than the reported covid mortality, considering the ongoing statistical fiddling. After some googling I found this chart of US excess mortality, which shows deaths coming down to the expected level in April, then sharply turning up in May and June.

    They are modelling data to fill gaps (the yellow zone on the graph) – if they are correct, excess mortality is currently increasing at rapid and growing rate, very sobering: usmortality .

    1. King

      North Carolina blowing out the scale on that usmortality graph at over 100 Z-score. What’s going on? That’s comparable to the numbers for early 2020 in New York and New Jersey. California and Arizona also posting high Z-scores recently.

  17. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Holy Lord, RussiaGate?

    C’mon man – RussiaGate was so pre-June 14, 2022 and also very likely post-June 14, 2022. On June 14, the day the article was written, RussiaGate was stuck down the memory hole.

  18. PKMKII

    Interesting wrinkle in the War on Cash: There was a thread on the NYC sub on Reddit from someone claiming to be a former employee of Van Leuwen Ice Cream (can’t find it now, might have been taken down) claiming that if you go to a location, order ice cream, and then when you go to pay, say that you only have cash, they’ll give you the ice cream for free. According to them, the store has gone cashless in violation of City laws (well documented issue), and that store policy is they’d rather give the ice cream away than deal with the fines from their violation of the law. No clue if it’s true or not, but does make for some interesting fiscal analysis if a business would rather take a complete loss on product than deal with cash or associated fines for not taking cash.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      If that is true, then thousands of people should order ice cream from them and show up with only cash, to either drive them extinct or torture them into accepting cash again.

      That’s the Global Guerillas approach. Rather than wasting time on the Good Government approach of compaining to the local “authorities”.

  19. ambrit

    Is it just me, or does that photograph of James Joyce look like an early version of Paddington Bear?

  20. Petter

    I was in the hospital with pneumonia last week. Physician who examined me in the examination room, no mask. Nurse who administered Covid test, no mask. No staff wearing masks.
    Oh yeah, I contacted Covid in the same hospital last November, while on the pulmonary unit.
    And the beat goes on. Scooby, scooby do.

  21. The Rev Kev

    “YouTube’s new corrections feature lets creators fix the record more easily”

    I can take a guess what that means. So if a YouTube creator makes a video saying for example that Russiagate was a Democrat/Hillary construct and that the west forced Russia into invading the Ukraine, instead of deleting that video or demonetizing it, they can tell that creator that they can “correct” their statements with one of those tags.

  22. John Beech

    Been awaiting an appointment with the dermatologist. So the day arrives as do we to the appointment (myself and my wife, both). So we sign in, make the payment for the deductible and sit, masked, with 6 or 8 of our closest non-friends – all masked. In walks a fellow and joins us. Immediately begins coughing. Strong barking coughs. I look at my wife with raised eyebrow or alarm. guy begins his fourth coughing fit and we go to the receptionists and tell her we’re leaving. Asks why, I look toward fool coughing his head off. Unsure if we’ve lost our co-pay. Sort that out later. Small price if that’s the case. New appointments made late July. Some people are so inconsiderate, sigh.

    1. Jason Boxman

      Yep. That’s like the Atlantic article the other day, as if a negative test for COVID when you’re clearly sick is somehow free license to get other people sick with non-COVID or whatever. Sure, do that, I guess.

      I recently upgraded to a half face respirator. P100 – 99.97% if properly fitted. No one masks anywhere around here, so I feel much much safer now. Kind of feel like a bad*** in it, too.

    2. chris

      I’m getting a TDAP booster soon because I want to visit a new baby in the family and the parents are concerned about an outbreak of pertussis in their area. I think the combination of anti-vax rhetoric plus the uninsured dealing with no help from anyone post-COVID means that we’re going to see a lot of diseases we’ve been ignoring surge. TB anyone?

      1. LifelongLib

        I have to grudgingly thank a TV ad for making me ask my doctor about pertussis (“whooping cough”). I’d thought it was a 19th century type disease that had been eliminated, but he said it’s still a problem. Got the immunization (bunch of grandnieces and nephews).

  23. VietnamVet

    Yes. Government by and for corporations is problem #1. Everything else follows from it. It is not just juicing this quarter’s profits to increase bonuses, managers don’t look back, and believe that “invisible hands” run the economy. There is no such thing as “public good”. Only money has value.

    There is no rational explanation for France wanting victory for Ukraine to include Crimea. This whitewashes history that France/England in the 19th and Germany in the 20th centuries captured and occupied Crimea before Russia regained possession of Sevastopol Naval Base. Russia cannot — will not give it up any more than the USA would give up San Diego or Pearl Harbor.

    Even if USA/NATO avoid a shooting war, the proxy world war can not end without an armistice. The conflict will escalate to levels of destruction of WWII and end with the use of nuclear weapons like 1945 especially if China is provoked into invading Taiwan. Raising interest rates will have no effect on the food and energy shortages due to the war and corporate profiteering. Is it just a coincidence that there are shortages of tampons and baby formula? Or is it misogyny, industry consolidation, and offshoring caused by problem #1.

    The only chance for peace is the restoration of government by and for the people, an armistice, and a DMZ separating Ukraine from Russia.

  24. Jason Boxman

    Shower thought: We should sell bet on America’s future bonds. It’s patriotic. That’ll get inflation out of the system, if we can encourage everyone to ‘invest’ in some kind of future, and drain spending from the economy. Obviously this ignores the fact that federal spending has nothing to do with taxation or raising money, but whatever, it worked to redirect resources during WWII, it can work today, if our institutions weren’t so atrophied. If we call them beat China bonds, maybe both parties will be on board.

  25. Clark

    In flyover country, we received this company-wide email:

    “As time has gone on, we have all relaxed a little regarding COVID.  There are several people on the team who have tested positive for COVID, and several others have either tested positive or been exposed to those who have tested positive.

    “Please remember that if you test positive for COVID, you will need to stay out of the office for 5 days, and you may return after that as long as you are at least 24 hour fever free without the use of fever reducer. 

    “Once you return you will need to mask for the remainder of two weeks.  Also, once you return, please fill out a [leave] form for the days you were out, note your time off was due to COVID, and it will not count against your [leave] days.
    If you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive (close contact for 15 minutes or more), you may still come to work as long as you are asymptomatic, but will need to mask.

    “Please let me know if you have any questions.”

    “We have all relaxed a little …” Yes, and we are all still “relaxing” from what I can tell. The discerning NC reader will notice the chiding / blame-shifting — including the “15-Minute Rule” — then a recitation of outdated CDC guidelines of what to do if “positive.” Of course, no advice about universal masking or improved ventilation, etc.

    This email was distributed recently, and I see no difference in office behaviour.

    1. eg

      I have no intention of changing my behaviour (masking; avoiding indoor group settings; minimizing travel) until the Fall/Christmas season is over — if only because I want proof of an end to seasonal cyclicality before any alteration to routines.

      For the record, I am not hopeful …

  26. eg

    I have two university degrees in English and I look askance at Joyce — “Finnegans Wake” makes me suspicious that the corpus is an extended, elaborate joke …

  27. JBird4049

    I do not believe that our intelligentsia has to be such a waste. It was molded into a toxic mess by the Grift. Let me explain.

    Before the Black Death killed most of the highly educated priests, monks, and nuns, most of those in the areas of medicine, writing, teaching, and the bureaucracy were them. Or one could say that those areas was the church; one of the ultimate causes of the Reformation was because of the church never being able to bring back to the same pre pandemic levels its people. All the best people both as individuals and in training died often while attending the sick and dying. The replacements, while usually sincere, were often quickly trained and shoved into positions. Rather like poorly trained conscripts in many desperate wars. The continuing reduced quality of the clergy was a major complaint even centuries later.

    All this is a long winded way of showing that a class of people being well educated or religious does not mean that they have to be as feckless or tendentious as the current intelligentsia including the arts, music, and philosophy. (Although from limited experience much of the Church’s scholastic philosophy during the Middle Ages is not bad just a bit… dry, stodgy, and formulaic.) Also what happens when a class can no longer do it duties. (That is not to say that the Church was unwilling or completely unable. Just not as competently.) You can also say that the Church became a grift. Between some of the popes who acted as mafia bosses and such things as the sale of indulgences, and other things, much of the church was a grift. Quality went down while the need for ever more money continued.

    However, I think that the real difference is in the expectations even if those expectations are not explicitly stated or even met. In their occupations, those medieval priests, monks, and nuns were expected to do good work and even if I much of Scholastic philosophy annoying, it is still seriously better than what passes for thought or ideology in our educated elites.

    Not only our modern elites expected to be facile in reasoning and debate, tendentious in manners and actions, and generally feckless weasels, they also drive out everyone else who is not. This is not to say that past elites (and I am speaking specifically about Americans here, which I have the best knowledge of) were fantastic, or saints, or even very good either in their work, or as individuals, but they felt an obligation or had a sense of duty for their stated occupation whatever that was; as a class, our current elites might say that they are doing their obligations or duties of their stated occupation, they are doing those of their unstated occupation, which is the Grift: acquiring what ever they earn, beg, borrow, or steal.

    A individual might believe that they are doing good, but not only is their individual organization perverted by the Spirit of the Grift, they are influenced by it. This is why modern economics is separate from reality and is no longer political economy. Why the Democratic and partially the Republican Parties do not want to have the responsibilities or obligations of actually governing, but instead try to be incapable of doing so, while having the appearance of being able and so keep the Grift going. Why the CEOs make ungodly amounts of money while the United States can’t make any thing as their obligation is to extract whatever wealth they can by stripping the marrow from the bones instead of building the muscles or refrigerators. If they do have a company making something, it is to build it a poorly as they can even if it drives customers away.

    I can say similar things about the military, education, the arts, nonprofits, and religion: keep the grift going, never put yourself or the organization in danger by actually doing anything or solving a problem. This does explain why we keep having and losing those wars. They were not wars. They were grifts. Or why there are so many homeless Californians or no public toilets despite the money spent. The city governments of San Francisco and Los Angeles seem to have plenty of money for everything else including the various government sinecures.

    Our educated class’ job, the PMC true occupation is to serve and perpetuate The Grift, not in actually doing their declared occupations.

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