By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Bird Song of the Day
Golden Bowerbird, Queensland, Australia. I think sound like a shade rolling up is the Bowerbird display.
“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51
“Here’s food for thought, had Ahab time to think; but Ahab never thinks; he only feels, feels, feels” –Herman Melville, Moby Dick
“You can’t really dust for vomit.” Nigel Tufnel, This is Spinal Tap
“How Biden finally got to ‘yes’ on canceling student debt” [Politico]. “White House discussions for months were centered around how Biden could cancel $10,000 of debt for various populations of borrowers. White House advisers considered a wide range of permutations for income limitations and targeted relief for individual groups of borrowers, such as public service workers, according to people familiar with the discussions. Other discussions focused on whether to target relief only to borrowers with undergraduate debt, rather than include graduate borrowers, those people said. Officials also examined whether to treat debt accrued by borrowers at public universities differently than loans taken out to attend private schools.” • Liberal Democrats cannot think in terms of universals, it seems.
“Biden’s Student-Loan Forgiveness Is Good. It Could Have Been Revolutionary” [New York Magazine]. “Although Biden’s plan will be life-changing for many, it’s necessary to think about what could have been had he or his administration possessed the necessary imagination or will. Student-loan debt is not a natural disaster: It became a crisis because of political decisions made decades ago. In the debates over plans and proposals, the human toll of student-loan debt can become lost. Student-loan debt ruins lives. It delays or even prevents people from starting families or buying homes. It inhibits even the simplest acts of enjoying life. This is cruel and unnecessary. The repayment pause is proof that society can survive without millions locked into a predatory debt scheme. Given these circumstances, it feels more than a little insulting that Biden waited two years to put forward a student-loan plan that didn’t even fulfill all of his campaign promises. People deserve better solutions from the president, and they deserved them years ago. Further action will be necessary to dismantle the inhumane policy decisions that turned student-loan debt into such a crisis. Biden can’t address that all on his own. Congress will have to act, and one such solution would be to make public college free.” • Amen. Of course, that would mean that public colleges would need a lean administrative structure….
* * *
“Joe Biden comes out swinging as Democrats sense midterms momentum shift” [Financial Times]. “In an impassioned and combative speech in Maryland on Thursday night, Biden criticised ‘burn-it-all-down politics and Maga [Make America Great Again] Republicans’…. ‘What we’re seeing now, is either the beginning or the death knell of an extreme Maga philosophy,’ Biden said in separate comments to supporters before the speech. ‘It’s not just Trump, it’s the entire philosophy that underpins . . . I’m going to say something, it’s like semi-fascism.'” • Hmm. “Semi” meaning what? Presumably, there are some missing pieces. But what are they?
“Biden says ‘extreme MAGA philosophy’ is like ‘semi-fascism’” [The Hill]. “The fundraising event had about 100 attendees and raised $1 million for the DNC and the Democratic Grassroots Victory Fund, according to a DNC official.” • Sound like “semi-fascism” was for the funders, then, assuming that “separate comments to supporters” means comments to them. Odd.
“Biden’s Job Rating Rises to 44%, Highest in a Year” [Gallup]. “After hitting a record low in July, President Joe Biden’s job approval rating is up six percentage points to 44%, his highest in a year. While this uptick represents a significant improvement on the heels of several policy successes for Biden, he still remains underwater overall, with 53% of Americans disapproving of his job performance.” • Just do something, however meagre…….
* * *
“Election forecasters rethink their ratings” [Politico]. “The nonpartisan election forecasters who watch these House and Senate races closer than anyone else are sounding notes that the ‘red wave looks more like a red ripple.’ Respected outfits including The Cook Political Report, the University of Virginia’s Sabato’s Crystal Ball and smart upstart analysts like Split Ticket are beginning to revisit their initial race ratings and adjust them in light of recent developments…. In tweaking their individual race ratings and projections, these groups look at evidence such as the president’s approval rating and the generic ballot, but also metrics of voter enthusiasm like the special election in New York this week, Cook’s U.S. House editor Dave Wasserman told Nightly. ‘Just a few months ago, it looked like a Category 5 hurricane for Democrats,’ Wasserman said. ‘Now it looks more like a tropical storm or depression.’ If you had looked at Cook’s projections just a few months ago, the forecasters would’ve ‘put the odds that Republicans would flip the Senate at more than 60 percent, with a gain of as many as four seats possible.’ Now, Cook rates the Senate as a toss-up, ‘with the range between Dems picking up one seat, and Republicans gaining three.’ Split Ticket also updated its Senate ratings this week, writing that ‘Democrats may very well be favored to retain their majority in the chamber come January of 2023.’ In the last two weeks, Crystal Ball forecasters have upgraded Democratic prospects in two Senate races. As for the House, no one is projecting Democrats will hold onto power, but it’s no longer seen as a possible blowout of historic proportions.” • I think some of this is real — the Democrats won some races, after all — and some of this is setting narrative expectations for the horse-race, now that things are about to get serious after Labor Day. But all these national proxies, like the generic ballot, don’t translate directly to the margin in individual districts (which is the ground where elections are won). At some point in the near future, I’ll have to take a look at the closest House races and do a wrap-up. (For example, Fetterman has been fun, but now what happens when Trump campaigns in Pennsylvania and gives him a nickname that sticks?)
“Will the GOP snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?” [The Hill]. Amusing. I thought only Democrats did that! “Why is there such a big difference between the forecasts for the House and the Senate? Why are Republican hopes for taking the House so high and so low for the Senate? The answer is simple. House races reflect national trends while Senate races are more judgements on the qualities of individual candidates. House incumbents operate in anonymity. Voters, especially people who live in large metropolitan areas know little about the people who represent them in the U.S. House of Representatives. Most House members in large metropolitan areas get little attention from the news media. The visibility for challengers is even worse. This information vacuum forces voters to rely on factors that are internal and personal like their feelings about the state of the nation. It’s much easier for people to answer questions about the nation’s direction than it is for them to reflect on the quality of their seemingly anonymous representation in the lower chamber of Congress. The dynamic in U.S. Senate races is completely different. Voters know much more about the incumbent and the challenger.”
“The GOP’s Abortion Problem” [Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal]. “The long-predicted GOP “wave” election may be crashing on an offshore reef, as abortion and Donald Trump energize Democrats. That’s the message Tuesday from New York state, where the GOP lost a special election for Congress in a district where they were favored, continuing a trend of recent underperformance. Republicans may still retake the House in November, but another term for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker can’t be ruled out. Republican Marc Molinaro was a strong candidate in New York’s 19th Congressional district. He’s the executive of Dutchess County, a large part of the district in the Hudson Valley north of New York City. But Democrat Pat Ryan won the special election with about 51% of the vote by making abortion rights his main issue. Democratic turnout exceeded expectations for a mid-August election. Democrats also came closer than expected hitting abortion in a special election in New York’s 23rd district, coming within about 6.5 percentage points of Republican Joseph Sempolinski. This is a solidly GOP seat that should have been an easy GOP win. These results are the fourth warning signal in recent weeks for the GOP. The Kansas abortion referendum lost in a rout, and while the GOP won special elections in districts in Minnesota and Nebraska, they did six percentage points worse than the party did in the 2020 presidential race in the districts. This isn’t the same political climate as last November, when a voter swing of 12 points from 2020 helped the GOP take the governorship in Virginia and come close in New Jersey. Democrats are clearly more eager to vote than a year ago.” • The pro-life dog finally caught the car (and stories like “Beauty YouTuber Forced to Carry Dead Fetus for 2 Weeks After Miscarriage Due to Abortion Ban” started coming out).
Of course, as we know from Trump v. Clinton, money doesn’t translate directly into votes. But this Financial Times chart is interesting:
Certainly the operatives will be feeling their oats.
“Liz Cheney Says New Political Group Will Target Trump Allies” [Wall Street Journal]. “‘I’m going to be very focused on working to ensure that we do everything we can not to elect election deniers,’ Ms. Cheney said on ABC. ‘We’ve got election deniers that have been nominated for really important positions all across the country. And I’m going to work against those people. I’m going to work to support their opponents.'” • Not a bad thing, actually, so I hesitate to characterize this as an outright grift (assuming Cheney follows through). But surely peripheral to the main themes of the midterms? Or maybe not–
“Moderate Colorado Republican switches parties, citing stolen election claims” [The Hill]. “Colorado state Sen. Kevin Priola announced on Monday he is switching to the Democratic Party, saying he could not “in good conscience” be silent about Republicans who baselessly cast doubt on the validity of the 2020 election and the existence of climate change.” • Priola represents SD13, which Republicans have initiated a recall.
“Democrats in tough races distance themselves from Biden’s student loans decision” [NBC]. “The president may have just handed Republicans a new line of attack at a moment when Democrats were strengthening their positions in swing states and signs were emerging that the party could stave off what was to have been a GOP sweep in the midterm elections, campaign officials, party members, pollsters and national strategists in both parties say. Republicans are betting there will be a backlash against debt forgiveness in states or districts where college attainment is low. That includes Nevada — where Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto faces one of the toughest contests in the country and the state is second to last in the country for residents with four-year degrees.” • Hmm.
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AZ: “Election Denying Primary Candidates Are Crying Fraud, Win Or Lose” [FiveThirtyEight]. “In the days leading up to the Arizona Republican primary for governor, candidate Kari Lake warned that something was going very wrong. ‘We’re already detecting some stealing going on,’ Lake said at a campaign stop the week before the election. Hours before the polls closed, she hadn’t changed her tune. ‘If we don’t win, there’s some cheating going on. And we already know that.’ But when the race was over, Lake was the new Republican nominee for governor in Arizona. This created a bit of a logical pickle for Lake: How did she win an election that was rigged? ‘We out-voted the fraud,’ Lake said at a press conference the next day, adding that her campaign had evidence of fraud that she would not detail with the media, but would give to ‘the authorities.'”
FL: “Judge who denied Florida teen an abortion citing grades loses reelection” [The Hill]. “A state judge who, in a highly publicized case, denied a 17-year-old an abortion in part because of her grades lost his election in a Florida primary on Tuesday. Jared Smith, who was appointed to Florida’s 13th Circuit Court by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in 2019, narrowly lost his nonpartisan primary against attorney Nancy Jacobs. Jacobs received roughly 51.9 percent of the vote, beating Smith by about 3.7 percentage points, or roughly 7,900 votes. Smith had ruled in January that the 17-year-old, who was kept anonymous in court documents, could not receive an abortion, citing her grades.” • Citing her grades? Really? That’s just dumb. Perhaps the stupid did this judge in, not abortion at all?
NY: Nuance on Pat Ryan (see above):
Everybody is (understandably) focused on how Pat Ryan leaned into abortion rights to win his NY special election, but is missing another consequential dynamic.
Half (!) his ad buy went behind this anti-corporate monopoly price gouging spot pic.twitter.com/6LIRTYVSgK
— Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) August 25, 2022
TX: “Paxton legal opinion giving public immediate access to ballots jeopardizes election security and invites lawsuits, experts say” [Texas Tribune]. “Federal and state law require that ballots be kept secure for 22 months after an election to allow for recounts and challenges — a time frame Texas counties have had set in place for decades. Paxton’s opinion, which doesn’t stem from any change to state law, theoretically permits anyone — an aggrieved voter, activist or out-of-state entity — to request access to ballots as soon as the day after they are counted. Such requests have been used by activists all over the country as a way to ‘audit’ election results. The opinion from Paxton doesn’t carry the force of law, but experts say it will almost certainly serve as the basis for a lawsuit by right-wing activists. The opinion has already impacted elections administrators across the state, who told Votebeat that they’ve seen an onslaught of requests since Paxton released it. ‘[Paxton’s office wants] to throw a monkey wrench into the operations of vote counting, especially if they think they might lose, and Paxton is in a close race as far as I can tell,’ said Linda Eads, a professor at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law and a former deputy attorney general for litigation for the state of Texas. She said she was ‘shocked’ by the opinion.”
“Trump Mar–a-Lago affidavit reveals ‘handwritten notes,’ highly classified material led to warrant request” [Politico]. “Prosecutors submitted proposed redactions to the court on Thursday morning and Reinhart concurred with all of them. In an order issued a short time later, the judge said that prosecutors had shown ‘good cause’ to redact elements of the affidavit that would reveal ‘the identities of witnesses, law enforcement agents, and uncharged parties,’ as well as ‘the investigation’s strategy, direction, scope, sources, and methods’ and ‘grand jury information.'”
“Magistrate Judge Reinhart’s Non-Disclosure Disclosure Order” [Andrew McCarthy, National Review]. “Let me get to the intrigue. I find the most interesting part of the short order the revelation that the Justice Department argued that disclosure would reveal, and thus cause unfair prejudice to, uncharged parties. Of course, the major uncharged party here is former president Donald Trump. Now, maybe prosecutors said they were worried about causing such prejudice because it’s the standard thing the Justice Department says: DOJ guidelines prohibit comment on investigations of, and evidence against, people who are not charged; they are presumed innocent, and prosecutors should not tar people unless they are ready to file formal charges, which gives the charged person due-process rights to defend the allegations in court. On the other hand, maybe the Justice Department said this because the objective here is not to charge the former president with a crime. Clearly, it was appropriate for people to be stunned over the execution of a search warrant at the home of a former president. But the reaction, which spurred no shortage of outrage from many quarters, pales in comparison to what would happen if the Justice Department actually indicts Trump. Attorney General Merrick Garland knows this. My belief is that what the DOJ, the FBI, the intelligence agencies, and the National Archives and Records Administration wanted was to get the documents back and ensure that highly classified information is returned to its proper secure repositories. I don’t think they’re hot to make a criminal case out of this.” • I wonder whether McCarthy will change his mind, now that the affidavit has been released.
Here is the (redacted) affidavit (PDF). “4. I am a Special Agent with the FBI assigned to the Washington Field Office [redacted]. During this time, I have received training at the FBI Academy located at Quantico, Virginia, specific to counterintelligence and espionage investigations.”
* * *
New York Times pitchbot still on fire:
Opinion | Put the student loans on the block chain.
by Andrew Yang
— New York Times Pitchbot (@DougJBalloon) August 25, 2022
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!). ; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. . (“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.
The Bush Legacy
“George W. Bush Gives a Moment-by-Moment Breakdown of 9/11 in His New MasterClass Course” [Daily Beast] • Following in Hillary Clinton’s footsteps….
Realignment and Legitimacy
“‘Our plan might have paid off’: How FPL dollars secretly funded a spoiler vs. Levine Cava” [Miami Herald]. • Florida Power and Light playing both ends against the middle. Complicated and really ugly.
• News you can use:
End of the summer means fans are on clearance, so they don't have to be stored for next year. It doesn't get any cheaper than this to build a #CorsiRosenthalBox for a large space. $14🇨🇦 at Walmart Canada for a box fan. pic.twitter.com/cbTVwOg1t6
— David Elfstrom (@DavidElfstrom) August 25, 2022
• “Monkeypox Is a Sexually Transmitted Infection, and Knowing That Can Help Protect People” [Scientific American]. “In the past few months, there has been considerable backlash to naming MPX an STI out of the usually well-intentioned but ultimately misguided belief that doing so will increase stigma. One objection, as medical anthropologist Harris Solomon has put it, has to do with how people in the U.S. treat sex as an identity and not as an action. Because we often conflate sex with who you are rather than seeing it as something you do, many people think diagnosing the risk of an action says something about people. But while sex is a necessary part of life, it is also an action like riding a bike or smoking, with its own risks and pleasures—and it must be studied rigorously while trying to protect public health. The other dynamic is believing that gay sex is so bad and shameful, it must not be spoken about, let alone highlighted during a public health emergency. Intended as such or not, this is homophobic.” • Except we’ll never know, will we, since the CDC eliminated any possibility of recording aerosol transmission on its case report form. And so the familiar debates roll on. (To be fair, we might ultimately know, if there are other entities more science-driven than the Centers for Disease.)
• “America’s Fall Booster Plan Has a Fatal Paradox” [Kathryn Wu, The Atlantic]. “‘We know nothing yet about the efficacy or effectiveness of these Omicron-focused vaccines,’ [Gregory Poland, a vaccinologist at the Mayo Clinic] said. Researchers can’t be sure of the degree to which the shots will improve upon the original recipe. And public-health officials won’t be able to leverage the concrete, comforting numbers that have been attached to nearly every other shot that’s been doled out. Instead, communications will hinge on ‘how much trust you have in the information you’re getting from the government,’ [Deshira Wallace, a public-health researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill] told me. ‘And that is very tricky right now.'” • For good reason.
• ”Individual freedoms versus collective responsibility: immunization decision-making in the face of occasionally competing values” [Emerging Themes in Epidemiology]. From 2006, still germane: “There are situations where there can be a real or perceived divergence between individual and community benefits of vaccination. This divergence may occasionally be based upon current scientific evidence and may exemplify the need for overriding individual autonomy. Use of the oral polio vaccine (OPV) in the US in the early 1990s is such an example. The sustained use of OPV led to the elimination of polio in the US, with the last cases of wild polio reported in 1979. While OPV is extremely safe and effective, the vaccine very rarely caused vaccine associated paralytic polio (VAPP) resulting in 5–7 cases of VAPP annually with near universal use of OPV in the US. Once polio had been effectively controlled in the US, preventing the indigenous transmission of polio, the risks of the vaccine (VAPP) may have been greater than the risk of disease. Assuming the individual does not travel to a region where polio is still endemic, a roughly one in a million risk of VAPP is highly unlikely, but still greater than the risk of wild polio. Yet, if a substantial number of individuals were not vaccinated because of this individual risk/benefit analysis, polio would likely have been reintroduced into the US, as the disease is only a plane ride away, leading to a tragedy of the commons . While this divergence in individual versus community benefits was short-lived (the US switched to the inactivated polio vaccine that can not cause VAPP), such a situation can cause a dilemma for parents, health care providers and policy makers.”
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.
Case count for the United States:
Slightly down, due to California and the small states of the South.
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 nominal case count and multiply it by six to approximate the real level of cases, and draw the DNC-blue “Biden Line” at that point. The previous count was ~88,400. Today, it’s ~84,200 and 84,200 * 6 = a Biden line at 505,200 per day. (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. If you look at the Fauci line, you will see that despite the bleating and yammering about Covid being “over,” we have only just recently reached the (nominal) case level of November 1, 2021, and we are very far from that of July 1, 2021. And the real level is much worse.
Regional case count for four weeks:
Florida Man returning to normal.
Tennessee returning to normal.
On California, this shows a big backward revision, which I don’t like. And I’m not sure I like the current big drop, with anecdotes about big outbreaks at LAX and Google.
NOT UPDATED Wastewater data (CDC), August 20:
Not happy with the grey dots in California, or virtually no dots in Texas and Florida. We have no check on case numbers in critical states.
For grins, August 19:
What I’m really worried about is an increase in grey dots (“no recent data”). because that would mean the effort is being shut down or defunded.
• O Canada:
If Ontario loses its fantastic wastewater dashboard it will be a great loss and makes the justification for do-it-yourself public health “personal risk assessment” process impossible. https://t.co/CjkzbcZtxC pic.twitter.com/zCdcUEggeZ
— David Elfstrom (@DavidElfstrom) August 26, 2022
From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, August 26:
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.
Rapid Riser data, by county (CDC), August 26:
I suppose that if case counts are indeed level, it’s likely there would be few rapid risers.
Previous Rapid Riser data:
Hospitalization data, by state (CDC), August 26:
Lots of green, which should make the hospital-centric goons at the Centers for Disease happy.
NOTE: Rapid Riser and Hospitalization data are updated Wednesdays and Fridays.
Lambert here: It’s beyond frustrating how slow the variant data is. I looked for more charts: California doesn’t to a BA.4/BA.5 breakdown. New York does but it, too, is on a molasses-like two-week cycle. Does nobody in the public health establishment get a promotion for tracking variants? Are there no grants? Is there a single lab that does this work, and everybody gets the results from them? Additional sources from readers welcome [grinds teeth, bangs head on desk].
NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (Walgreens), August 13:
No sign of BA2.75 at Walgreens, despite its success in India and presence in Bay Area wastewater.
Variant data, national (CDC), August 6 (Nowcast off):
No sign of BA2.75 as yet.
Death rate (Our World in Data):
Total: 1,068,111 –
1,067,549 = 562 (562 * 365 = 205,130; today’s LivingWith™* number (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, thought they can talk themselves into anything. Fluctuates quite a bit, but even the low numbers are bad). I have added an anti-triumphalist black Fauci Line. It’s nice that for deaths I have a simple, daily chart that just keeps chugging along, unlike everything else CDC and the White House are screwing up or letting go dark, good job.
Personal Income: “United States Personal Income” [Trading Economics]. “Personal income in the United States increased 0.2 percent from a month earlier in July of 2022, easing from an upwardly revised 0.7 percent rise in June and well below market expectations of 0.6 percent.”
Manufacturing: “Tesla Steering Yokes Are Disintegrating Before 30,000 Miles” [The Drive]. “Several owners have posted photos on Twitter showing the coating on the yoke disintegrating, leaving unsightly bald patches on the surface. While steering wheel coatings do degrade over time, the key problem is the short timeline over which the Tesla yokes are falling apart. … A variety of theories have been put forth by the Twitter community to explain the issue. Many posters quickly turned on the owners, accusing them of causing the problems through their personal vices.”
The Economy: “Gross domestic income (GDI), explained” [MarketPlace]. “The latest [GDP] estimate says the economy contracted the equivalent of 0.6% per year in the second quarter. That’s better than the originally estimated shrinkage of 0.9%…. There’s another measure of the economy out there known as GDI, or gross domestic income. And according to that, the economy hasn’t been shrinking at all…. ‘These should get to the same answer, because everything that’s spent is another person’s income,’ Pearce said.”
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 46 Neutral (previous close: 48 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 51 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 26 at 2:07 PM EDT.
Only in America:
Went to visit my new classroom. The retired teacher it belonged to assured me that all 30 of my students could fit in this closet. The door auto-locks. Only teachers in the US would offer that information up so quickly. And only teachers in the US would know why it’s important. pic.twitter.com/9aGVmUP126
— Mrs. F (@ms_frazzled) August 26, 2022
— Georges Braque (@artistbraque) August 21, 2022
I like Braque a lot, though there’s no denying Picasso is a world-historical figure. Braque isn’t showy. He just paints.
As a data structure, association by proximity is even worse than association by yarn. But here we are:
Thanks to the Hate Mailer who sent me this comprehensive COVID conspiracy "map" (read: like someone puréed Alex Jone's brain and gave it to Jackson Pollack… um, too graphic?).
This is from an outfit called Deep State Mapping Project. They sell t-shirt, mugs, and crystals! pic.twitter.com/mORRswaZyW
— Timothy Caulfield (@CaulfieldTim) August 25, 2022
The time-scales at left and right are innnovative, though!
Saying the quiet part very loudly:
Student loan forgiveness undermines one of our military’s greatest recruitment tools at a time of dangerously low enlistments.
— Jim Banks (@RepJimBanks) August 25, 2022
“Kin-based institutions and economic development” (PDF) [SSRN]. “Here, focusing on an anthropologically well established dimension of kinship, we establish a robust and economically significant negative association between the tightness and breadth of kin-based institutions—their kinship intensity—and economic development.” More: “European and European-descent societies, such as the English, who are characterized by love-based marriages (but often with taboos on cousins) that form small, monogamous nuclear families in which new couples reside neither with the bride’s or the groom’s families but establish a new residence. Descent is not a source of identity and is traced roughly equally through both mothers and fathers. With such tiny, ephemeral families, individuals must necessarily build their own network of friends and partners and seek out voluntary groups for economic production, religious devotion, and political activity.” • Hmm. I’m sure that “descent is not a source of identity” applies to oligarchs, whose wealth crosses generations.
“The Case for a Participation Income” (PDF) [A. B. Atkinson]. “First, the means-tested approach necessarily penalises personal effort. Even if the poverty trap no longer involves marginal tax rates in excess of 100per cent, the marginal rates are still higher than those levied on the rest of the population. Perhaps more importantly, it is not just the individual’s efforts that are penalised, but those of that person’s family. Unlike individualised social insur- ance, social assistance discourages the partners of those out of work from earning income. I find it strange that a government so concerned with incentives should not see that reliance on means-testing has such a counterproductive effect. In the case of pensioners there is the ’savings trap’, which applies to pension income and capital income. For a range of such income, there is little or no net gain from saving on account of the withdrawal of means-tested benefits. People with capital in excess of a specified amount are not eligible for income support, and, if they realise this in advance, they may decide that there is little point in saving. The second major objection to means- tested benefits is that a significant minority of those with incomes below the assistance level do not claim the benefits to which they are entitled. There is a recurrent problem of incomplete take-up. The reasons are doubtless manifold, but the failure of suc- cessive take-up advertising campaigns indicates that it is not simply a matter of inadequate information. There are deep-seated objections to claiming means-tested benefits. Unlike non-income-tested benefits, where take-up is thought to be close to 100per cent, in the case of family credit only some two-thirds of the potential benefit is claimed. Thirdly, the means test can only make sense when applied to the family or the household as a unit. As such, it runs counter to the desire to have a social security system which ensures independence. This is particularly important for women, but it also applies to young people, as has become clear with the problems of young adults and income support. In short, means-testing is economically inefficient, provides an incomplete safety net, and takes social policy backwards rather than forwards.”
News of the Wired
This is a perfect joke. pic.twitter.com/LeaewElnoW
— Live Fast Si Young (@iamsimonyoung) August 25, 2022
Not just millennials:
for all my fellow geriatric millennials. sound on pic.twitter.com/T5oFebaKgH
— Sam Ro 📈 (@SamRo) August 24, 2022
It does make you wonder how much the our personal soundscapes have changed, and whether we are even aware of the change: The replacement of physical clunks and snaps with digital beeps and chimes, textureless and always demanding.
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 TH:
TH writes: “Back at Roger’s Gardens in Newport Beach, we have these lovely Delphiniums. I love the color! Yes, they are a bit obscured by other foliage—I’m calling it artistic framing.”
Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the 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!