2:00PM Water Cooler 8/5/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Plain Martin, Lake Awassa, Ethiopia. “Two call types, higher-pitched alarm call and normal gravelly call” (which sounds more like a duck).

* * *

Politics

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

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

Capitol Seizure

“Fulton County DA links Lindsey Graham to Trump’s attempt to ‘find 11,780 votes’ in new court filing” [Raw Story]. “During his now-infamous phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, former President Donald Trump implored Raffensperger to help him “find” the 11,780 votes that he needed to overtake President Joe Biden in the Peach State. Now the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office is linking Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to Trump’s efforts to ‘find’ those votes, which Raffensperger had to repeatedly explain to Trump did not exist. Politico’s Nicholas Wu flags a new court filing from Fulton County DA Fani Willis’s office that states Graham’s ‘actions certainly appear interconnected with former President Trump’s similar efforts to pressure Georgia election officials into ‘finding 11,780 votes’ and to spread Georgia election fraud disinformation.’ The filing was written in response to Graham’s efforts to avoid having to testify before Willis’s special grand jury probe, and her office argues that Graham’s actions ‘fall within the investigative purview of the special purpose grand jury to investigate and determine the facts of potential interconnectedness, which should include [his] sworn testimony.’ The filing cites claims made by Raffensperger about a pressure campaign Graham conducted on Trump’s behalf in which he ‘implied for us to audit the envelopes and then throw out the ballots for counties who have the highest frequency error of signatures.’ Graham has since claimed that he was ‘only acting as a United States senator who is worried about the integrity of the electoral process’ rather than as a partisan trying to get votes thrown out so that Trump could remain in power.”

Abortion

“The Kansas Abortion Message” [Wall Street Journal]. “The press corps is making a big deal of the defeat of the Kansas abortion referendum on Tuesday, and for once they’re right. The 20-or-so point rout of the effort to strip abortion protections from the state constitution is a message to Republicans and the anti-abortion movement that a total ban isn’t popular even in a right-leaning state…. One message is that voters are wary of extremes on either side of the abortion issue. A majority of the public supports a right to abortion at least up to several weeks of pregnancy. This is disappointing to those who believe life begins at conception, but it means the pro-life side has persuading to do if it wants to win the abortion debate. That’s the burden of democracy, which is what the Supreme Court allowed to return on abortion in overturning Roe. Urging Congress to pass a national abortion ban, as some on the right want, looks like a certain loser—in addition to likely being unconstitutional. Abortion is an issue for the states to decide.”

Biden Administration

“How the Taiwan lobby helped pave the way for Pelosi’s trip” [Responsible Statecraft]. “[M]any of the nation’s top think tanks, including the Brookings Institution, the Center for American Progress, and the Hudson Institute have all received funding from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO), Taiwan’s de facto embassy in the United States. These same think tanks often push for expanded arms sales and trade agreements with Taiwan ‘without widely disclosing their high-level funding from TECRO,’ according to Clifton. More recently, scholars at some think tanks that have received TECRO funding have downplayed concerns about Nancy Pelosi’s controversial trip to Taiwan…. TECRO has claimed it does ‘not influence what experts publish; nor do we base funding decisions on what experts choose to write on,’ yet, there’s a pattern of the think tanks it funds being supportive of greater U.S. ties with Taiwan. It’s also clear that Taiwan’s registered foreign agents have helped to increase U.S. military and economic ties with Taiwan. This week their efforts culminated by helping to pave the way for Pelosi’s risky trip to Taiwan. This alone should merit greater attention on the impacts this small, but clearly powerful, influence operation is having on U.S. foreign policy.”

2022

* * *

95 days is a long time in politics:

Now all the country needs to see is Biden at his Churchillian best, standing up to not one but two tyrants (musical interlude).

“These Senate hopefuls won Trump’s endorsement. Now they are struggling” [Financial Times]. “Until recently, Democrats had resigned themselves to a brutal result in November’s midterm elections, with soaring inflation, signs of an impending recession and dismal approval ratings for Joe Biden threatening to wipe out their razor-thin majority in Congress. But now the party can see an unexpected glimmer of hope, at least in the Senate, where a roster of Republican candidates backed by Donald Trump is struggling to raise money in some of the country’s most competitive races. In four of the tightest contests — Ohio, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona — Democratic candidates outraised their Republican counterparts to the tune of roughly $60mn in total in the first half of the year. Sarah Longwell, a Republican strategist who conducts focus groups of the party’s voters, said the fundraising numbers reflected broader concerns about the candidates, in particular their decision to align themselves towards the extreme, pro-Trump wing of the party. At least two have echoed the former president’s claim that the 2020 election was stolen. ‘They’ve got these candidates that are kind of outside of the mainstream that I think are going to make what would be — in this difficult environment for Democrats — incredibly winnable [contests] now very competitive,’ she said. ‘And it’s not just Senate races. It’s the governors’ races too.'” • Well, it’s good we have Republican Strategists, too. More: “Longwell noted that while Trump’s endorsement might be a hindrance in general election races, it was often a key factor in helping candidates win their party primaries. ‘There’s a Maga establishment now,’ she said, referring to Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan. ;You still can’t say the election was free and fair and be competitive in any of these [primary] races.'” • To me, the really interesting question is what happens to “the MAGA establishment” after Trump chows down his final cheeseburger. Somehow, I can’t see them falling in line behind, well, anybody but Trump.

“Scoop: Republicans’ last-minute Cheney lifeline” [Axios]. “A handful of Republican operatives are quietly mounting a last-ditch effort to rescue Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) from a Trump-backed primary challenge… The previously unreported effort shows how some Republicans are trying to surreptitiously undercut the former president’s revenge campaign, which has so far claimed the political lives of a significant chunk of GOP critics. Cheney — the vice chair of the House Jan. 6 committee — could be the next casualty. She’s facing tough odds in her primary fight this month against Trump-backed challenger Harriet Hageman…. Their strategy is two-pronged: Persuade Democrats to cross the aisle and back the Wyoming Republican in this month’s open primary, and dent her Trump-endorsed challenger by portraying her as insufficiently loyal to the former president.”

2024

Dick Cheney on Donald Trump:

This from a guy who declared he was the Fourth Branch of government, back in the days of Bush The Younger:

“[T[here has never been an individual who is a greater threat to our republic than Donald Trump. He tried to steal the last election using lies and violence to keep himself in power after the voters had rejected him. He is a coward. A real man wouldn’t lie to his supporters. He lost his election and he lost big. I know it, he knows it, and deep down, I think most Republicans know it.

I like how Cheney swaps in “our republic” for “our democracy.”

“The Press is Already Working Overtime to Elect Trump Again” [Matt Taibbi, TK News]. “[Trump] won because he had the most consistent disapproval of an increasingly hated Washington political establishment…. Suppressing the fringe became harder when it grew and started winning primaries. The distinguishing feature of Trump’s 2016 run was extraordinary media attention, which most analysts (including me, at one point) incorrectly assumed gave him an edge by allowing him to get his message out for free. But Trump’s candidacy only really took off when the press attention went sharply negative…. The legacy press is still in denial about these coverage strategies. They also still ignore evidence of a similarly impotent showing in the 2020 Democratic race. Efforts by outlets like Vanity Fair and New York to hype elite-approved candidates from Kamala Harris to Beto O’Rourke to Pete Buttigieg to Kamala again to Amy Klobuchar to Mike freaking Bloomberg all flatlined, as in zero-point-zero levels of voter response… Trump and Sanders both surged in 2016 when they described a country divided into a small corrupt establishment and everyone else, and declared themselves on the side of everyone else. The journalistic priesthood that’s spent the last 6-7 years denouncing these people and their voters has done the opposite, proudly aligning itself with the hated inside, celebrating credentialism, and worst of all, cheering a censorship movement that’s now proven to be an abject failure. That story is among the biggest taboos in media now.”

Republican Funhouse

“Orbán the Toe” [John Ganz, Unpopular Front]. “American right-wing intellectuals have long apologized for Orbán and fantasized about his soft-authoritarian regime as a possible future direction for conservativism in this country. In fact, Orbán hosted a CPAC conference and has been invited to address the same organization in Texas this week. They consistently mocked the left-wing claim that Orbán was embarking on the path of Europe’s pre-war dictatorships, even when he explicitly placed his regime in the lineage of Miklós Horthy, the quasi-fascist leader who aligned himself with Hitler and Mussolini, took steps to stack he constitution in his party’s favor and control the media and academia, or when he made thinly-veiled antisemitic attacks on George Soros as a kind of puppet master (which he repeats in the speech along with irredentist themes.) Now you would think, “It would be impossible to defend this speech, this is clearly over the line.” Of course not. Rod Dreher, despite being unceremoniously booted from Hungary for overstaying his visa, remains a reliable lickspittle. He claims that Orbán, ‘using the term ‘race’ as a symbol of religion and culture (and I wish he would not have done that, because it makes it hard to explain what he means).” • I’ll say.

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.

* * *

“Progressives”:

Realignment and Legitimacy

The quote’s from Jim Garrison. Nevertheless:

Interesting heuristic….

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

#COVID19

“The Origins of Covid-19 Are More Complicated Than Once Thought” [Wired]. Review of the Science article on the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market (linked to at NC here). Interesting argument: “There were actually two strains of Covid circulating in Wuhan in late 2019: Lineage A and Lineage B, which are just two letters apart in their genetic code… [M]ultiple introductions damage the lab leak hypothesis.”

“How long does coronavirus stay in the air after someone with COVID leaves the room?” [San Franscisco Chronicle]. “How fast air leaves a room depends on how quickly outdoor air can enter and mix with the indoor air. According to the FAQ, a 95% replacement can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 10 hours in a residence, 12 minutes to two hours in a public building, and as little as five minutes in a highly ventilated area of a hospital, like an isolation ward. The decline is marked by three factors, or what is known as ‘sinks’ in the indoor air quality field: ventilation (the provision of fresh air in a room), filtration (the capture of air particles by filters) and deposition (the process in which aerosol particles collect or deposit themselves on indoor surfaces).” • There’s no set number, which I would think implies caution. (It’s nice, however, to see that reporters are developing sources in the field of “indoor air quality” and that Corsi is one of them.)

* * *

“The politics and science of the monkeypox pandemic” [WSWS]. “Monkeypox testing is labor-intensive, requiring lab workers to swab the lesions, a risky procedure, then extract the virus DNA through multiple steps and amplify the genetic material through PCR (polymerase chain reaction) to obtain a result. The slow process takes two to three days for results while the patient waits. Additionally, such tests require a physician’s order.” And: “As for postexposure treatment, the vaccination of a person known to have been exposed to someone with a confirmed monkeypox infection must be carried out within three days of the exposure.” And so: “With the narrow clinical window in treating the exposed and delays inherent in confirmatory testing, a vaccination-only strategy is doomed to failure. Only implementing a broad-based contact tracing and isolation initiative, which must include the isolation of secondary contacts and an expanded ring vaccination program, which means the number needed to vaccinate grows exponentially to cover secondary contacts, can achieve the aim of eradication.” • Wheee!

* * *

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

Case count for the United States:

Lambert here: I am but a humble tapewatcher, but this the first time in a long time I’ve seen a lot of indicators improve simultaneously (and federalism + private data work against manipulating everything). Good news. But also modified rapture. Let’s focus on the case data, specifically at points A) and B) on the chart above, and at the “fiddling and diddling” (as I call it) delineated by the red boxes. At A), I remember having the sensation of Omicron going around the house, banging on doors, trying to get in. It did, then “up like a rocket, down like a stick”. At B), we have a pattern I’ve called “sawtooth,” not flat like A), but flat enough. Of course, we can’t see the real curves because our data is so bad (see discussion of the “Biden Line”). But if we make the assumption that the curves for actual cases are the same as for reported cases, the sawtooth pattern has been very persistent (note that deaths, which lag cases, have the same pattern). Now, if I were the sort of policy maker who believed in herd immunity and the Great Barrington Declaration and “everyone’s going to get it,” I might be rubbing my hands and congratulating myself right now, on having achieved a consistent and politically acceptable level of suffering and death that can continue indefinitely; I might even think that BA.5 had been very good to me. (The great lesson of the Covid pandemic would be that elites can slaughter a million people without civil resistance. They can even get people to slaughter themselves in the name of “freedom,” etc. Good to know!) We will see in the coming days and weeks.

• ”Covid has settled into a persistent pattern — and remains damaging. It may not change anytime soon” [STAT]. “Perhaps more worrisome is the fact that many experts don’t foresee much change anytime soon. While there will be ups and downs, some forecasts project 100,000 annual Covid deaths, if not more, for the next several years. Ignoring seasonal variation, that’s some 275 deaths a day. ‘It’s hard for me to see, barring any massive change in the way we’re treating the virus right now or trying to manage it, that anything inherent to the virus is really going to change much,’ said Stephen Kissler, an epidemiologist at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. ‘We’re going to continue to see the emergence of variants, we’re going to continue to see spread outside the winter months, we’re probably going to see more spread in winter months in temperate regions — basically any time people are crowding indoors. What that means, Kissler said, is that going forward, Covid could generate two to three bad flu seasons’ worth of deaths each year.” • Here’s a second source recognizing the “sawtooth” pattern.

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. The previous count was ~116,500 Today, it’s ~115,000 and 115,000 * 6 = a Biden line at 690,000. per day. That’s rather a lot of cases per day, when you think about it. (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. At least we have confirmation that the extraordinary mass of case anecdotes we’ve seen have a basis in reality. I’m not seeing the volume of anecdotes I did on the Twitter. What are readers experiencing?

Regional case count for four weeks:

The South:

It has not escaped my notice that big states are driving the national case count, and that DeSantis (Florida) and Newsom (California) are both Presidential timber, and Abbbot might consider himself so. However, we have other indicators than cases. In any case, Texas and Florida remind me of this Marx Brothers sketch:

The South (minus Texas and Florida):

The West:

California’s data underwent significant revisions, downward, from yesterday.

Cases say one thing, wastewater another. What do California readers think?

Positivity

From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, August 3:

-0.1%. (I wonder if there’s a Keynesian Beauty Contest effect, here; that is, if people encounter a sympotomatic person, whether in their social circle or in normal activity, they are more likely to get a test, because they believe, correctly, that it’s more likely they will be infected.) Starting to look like positivity has peaked, at least for Walgreen’s test population.

Transmission

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. For July 21, 2020:

Some blue in flyover.

Rapid Riser data, by county (CDC), August 3:

Improvements everywhere (except New Hampshire. Tourism?).

Previous Rapid Riser data:

Hospitalization data, by state (CDC), August 3:

Volatile.

Variants

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), July 21:

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), July 16 (Nowcast off):

BA.5 moving along nicely. NOTE CDC restored the previous layout it had been using, so I used it. But the data remains the same.

Wastewater

Wastewater data (CDC), August 1:

Red dots improved.

Deaths

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,057,811 – 1,057,239 = 572 (1264 * 572 = 723,008; the new normal). Quite a pop. I have added an anti-triumphalist 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.

• Mission accomplished:

NOTE Readers, I introduced a new piece of arithmetic: The level of death that the CDC and the political class generally would like us to become accustomed to.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Unemployment Rate” [Trading Economics]. “The US unemployment rate decreased to 3.5% in July 2022, the lowest since February 2020, from 3.6% in the previous period, while analysts expected it to be unchanged. The number of unemployed persons edged down to 5.7 million. Meanwhile, the labor force participation rate, at 62.1 percent, and the employment-population ratio, at 60.0 percent, were little changed over the month.” • A lot of excitement about this:

* * *

Energy: “France to Curb Nuclear Output as Europe’s Energy Crisis Worsens” [Bloomberg]. “Electricite de France SA said it’s likely to extend cuts to nuclear generation as scorching weather pushes up river temperatures, bringing the energy crisis in the European Union’s second-largest economy into sharp focus… A heat wave is pushing up river temperatures, restricting the utility’s ability to cool the plants. The reductions threaten to further push up power prices, which are already near record levels in France and Germany.” • Well, I’m sure this was all priced in years ago. Ha.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 50 Neutral (previous close: 47 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 41 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 5 at 1:39 PM EDT.

Sports Desk

“The Bill Russell I Knew for 60 Years” [Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, The Atlantic]. “In 1967, when I was 20 years old, the football legend turned Hollywood actor Jim Brown asked me to join what became known as the Cleveland Summit. We were a group of mostly Black athletes—including Bill Russell, Carl Stokes, Walter Beach, Bobby Mitchell, Sid Williams, Curtis McClinton, Willie Davis, Jim Shorter, and John Wooten—tasked with determining the sincerity of Muhammad Ali’s refusal to be drafted by the U.S. Army based on his religious views as a Muslim. Several of the group were ex-military and did not look sympathetically on Ali’s stance. Bill was the most famous member of the summit, other than Jim Brown and Ali, but he never tried to leverage that to influence the rest of us. His approach was logical and dispassionate, encouraging us to listen with open minds to what Ali had to say. That reasonable approach proved to be much more effective than trying to sway us. He knew that Ali could speak eloquently and passionately for himself, and that if we were open, we would see the truth in what he said. That was a huge lesson in humility and leadership that guided me for many years after. The Bill Russell of the Cleveland Summit was who I wanted to be when I grew up. In fact, the Bill Russell of the Cleveland Summit made me grow up right then and there.” • Well worth a read, and a portrait of a vanished time. My father was a big Celtics watcher, because of Bill Russell.

The Conservatory

“The Half Man Half Biscuit Lyrics Project” [Half Man Half Biscuit]. • Following through on HMHB from yesterday: What a labor of love (and who needs all the cruft that happened to the Intertubes when JavaScript came in). Normally, I don’t put in full albums, but I love the title of this one, so here goes:

The Gallery

I don’t know if I would have seen the imperial subtext; now I do:

I also think that Bierstadt, as it were, “used the wrong lens.” When I’ve seen the Rockies, they always seemed of a different scale to the human entirely, even far away.

Zeitgeist Watch

“TikTok and Twitch Streamers Are Trading Sleep for Cash” [Wired]. “Every second Saturday between the hours of midnight and 4:20 am, 26-year-old Mikkel Nielsen is tortured with loud noises, flashing lights, and electric shocks. With a camera pointed at his cartoon bedding, the Dane tries to sleep while around 1,000 people watch live on Twitch. Typically, around a hundred of these viewers donate money during the stream—the amount donated affects Nielson’s environment. For $1, viewers can type a message that a bot will read aloud to Nielson, waking him up. For $95, they can zap him via a shock bracelet wrapped around his wrist.” • There are times when I think social media doesn’t bring out the best in people.

“Jordan Peterson’s Christian Problem” [The American Conservative]. “Unless you die in God’s mercy, your ark won’t help you in the lake of fire.” • Meant seriously and literally.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Black elders saved this couple’s Mississippi farm. Now they’re harvesting ancestral techniques—and tomatoes” [Scalawag]. Sorry for the length of the extract, but: “Now five years into stewarding their farm—dubbed TKO Farming, an acronym for Teresa and Kevin’s Oasis—they’re still just as awe-struck by what they’ve built by hand. As self-described city folks who met in July 2013 while working on criminal-justice reform in Miami, the couple never envisioned living on, much less operating, a farm. Now, they can’t imagine anything different than their lives on the 73 acres of flat, open fields surrounded by ponds and piney woods, peppered with mini-row crops. Their farmland is only accessible via dirt roads in McCool, Mississippi, a 118-person town about two hours northeast of Jackson…. The farm was once one of the central Mississippi farms that were stewarded jointly by Black families, formed out of necessity to share resources and know-how in the first half of the 20th century. Cooperatives have a long history for Black farmers in Mississippi of helping Black sharecroppers evolve into owning land and farms. In spite of systemic barriers, Black co-ops began to prosper and proliferate along the Mississippi Delta. Fannie Lou Hamer’s Freedom Farm Cooperative spearheaded them into the mainstream civil rights movement. ‘Each family owned hundreds of acres, there was really no need to go outside of the community, maybe only a couple times a year to get anything because the whole community supported each other,’ Teresa said. Some families raised cows and hogs, others grew produce; a few craftsmen like farriers made the rounds; and the whole community thrived together. From stories and photos passed down, Teresa said, ‘It was majestic.’ Within a week of moving to Mississippi, they connected with their local farm cooperative at the insistence of a local state extension agent, one of Mississippi State University’s agriculture specialists who offer informal farming education in all 82 counties. In 1985, building off the progress of earlier co-ops, a group of Black farmers formed The Winston County Self Help Cooperative to help formalize local knowledge sharing and community support. In the midst of increasing Black land loss and broken USDA promises to support small farmers, similar local co-ops popped up across the country. At his very first meeting in March 2017, Kevin uttered only a few words to this group: ‘We don’t know nothing and we need your help.’ That first week, they had to clear space on the overgrown plot for new growth. Kevin raked up 80 piles of leaves, then began cleaning up the ditches with a walk-behind push mower—their first farm purchase which drained the $200 they had to their name when they arrived in Mississippi. The co-op farmers, all community elders, also spent hours on the Springs’ property, bringing over tractors to till their first garden plot, helping install irrigation systems, and putting up fencing.” • It’s hard work being a peasant. It’s also risky. What is clear from this article is how co-operatives make the work easier and take away some of the risk.

Class Warfare

Playing with FIRE:

Amusing thread.

“Flood” (podcast) [Trillbillies Workers Party]. • Whiteburg, KY, where several of the Trillbillies live, was one of the centers of the flood. Twenty feet of water downtown:

Tarrance Ray compares the 2022 flooding to Katrina. In terms of state abandonment, that’s certainly true. Not a lot of coverage in the media, either.

News of the Wired

“Why do Rich People Love Quiet” [The Atlantic]. ” It took me years to understand that, in demanding my friends and I quiet down, these students were implying that their comfort superseded our joy. And in acquiescing, I accepted that.” • What a weird example of question begging. Who said joy couldn’t be quiet? Or that quiet was mere comfort? I’m of two minds on this. I don’t see why, if I’m sitting at my garden desk, I should have my concentration shattered by loud music (unless it’s a holiday or Friday night or something). However, when I’ve walked through Cambridge north of Harvard Square, or suburban Wellesley, the stillness is so absolute as to be unnerving. It clear that I’m not meant to be there (and being a pedestrian doesn’t help).

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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 LawnDart:

Lawndart writes:

These are a lot of work to harvest, but here in North-central flyover, it’s peak raspberry season right now, with blackberries quickly following behind. The wild raspberries are tiny, maybe 1/2-1/3 the size of supermarket berries. The largest are found in thickets along wood-cuts, on slopes and hillsides near marsh, and on ground exposed to full to partial sunlight.

These are delicate berries, and need to be removed with a gentle touch. It’s best to move slowly through the thorny brush of a berry patch, stopping every few steps to squat down and look around, as you’ll find berries whose weight has dropped branches to near ground-level, plus it gives ample time for the rattlesnakes to move along out of your way (they’d rather slither-away than fight, if given the chance).

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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.

105 comments

  1. jsn

    “I like how Cheney swaps in “our republic” for “our democracy.””

    He understands that we select our representatives by first making them rich, making them Oligarchs by sending our money their way. Then they can hire whatever legislators they want to write whatever legislation they can outbid the other Oligarchs for to preserve “Their Republic”.

    Reply
    1. flora

      A Greenwald thread on “liberals” cheering the Cheneys.

      “LOL. If you spend 5 years praising and rehabilitating Bill Kristol, Nicolle Wallace, David Frum, Max Boot, Jennifer Rubin, John Brennan, James Clapper and Robert Mueller, it’s really not that far of a leap – in fact, it’s inevitable – that you’ll end up cheering Dick Cheney.”

      https://twitter.com/ggreenwald/status/1555614046803599360

      Reply
  2. ambrit

    Re. “…they (the rattlesnakes) would rather slither away than fight.”
    If only our politicos were as smart as rattlesnakes.

    Reply
    1. LawnDart

      The largest rattlesnake I’ve ever come across was near Lake Berryessa, in Northern California– an easy 8-9 foot-long, no exaggeration. And he was a fat f’er too. He was about a person length ahead of us on the trail when he slithered across and away from us across the trail and into the underbrush, in no rush, no hurry. I thought it was a really big bull snake, until I saw the rattles.

      I was stationed in Fairfield, not far from Napa. We used to get a bunch of us together, hit the wineries in the morning, toss the bottles we liked into a creek to chill and go hiking for the rest of the day. Returning, we’d light a bonfire, fish-out the bottles to pass-around and drain one at a time.

      We’d be filthy, sweaty, and dusty, and my god, wasn’t that wine nectar of the gods. A lot of love around that fire too.

      Naw, keep the pols away from that knowledge– they’d find a way to ruin it.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Yep. When I worked for the surveying company in Louisiana, we would carry side arms during the summer for the snakes. The copperheads were the worst. Rattlers would make a big noise and slither off. The biggest one I saw back then was about five feet long, still big for a Timber Rattler.
        True enough about the politicos. They would just give rattlesnakes a bad name.

        Reply
        1. John

          I have picture of the timber rattler I came with an ace of stepping on. Had seven rattles; more than four feet maybe five.

          I had an acquaintance in North Dakota who said, with feeling, the rattler is a polite snake. Let’s you know when you’re getting too close. Never wanted to test his theory.

          Reply
      2. jr

        Back in the 1960’s, my father’s younger brother worked on a crew clearing a mountainside in Pennsylvania in order to run those gigantic power towers down the side of it. Lot’s of moving boulders with bulldozers and such. Some worker’s disturbed a rattlesnake hibernaculum, in which they engage in brumation throughout the cold months. My uncle told me that a metric $hit-ton of them came out, enraged, from under a big rock and spread through the boulder field. Men were climbing up onto the bulldozers, swinging shovels, and running like the devil was at their heels.

        Reply
        1. LawnDart

          Washington County, PA, is reputed to have one of the largest populations of rattlesnakes on the East Coast, particularily on a hillside well-trod by tourists between a swimming-beach and a campground. Apparently they’re both tame and stealthy, and the tourists none the wiser, although an aquaintence bagged a personal best of 50+ in a morning on that hillside, a couple bag-fulls, catch-and-release. I’ve only seen a few rattlers near there (deliberately having avoided that particular hillside because my kid thinks all snakes are cool and should be captured and kept as pets, although they really are super-chill, ignore you as though you aren’t there– and I’m talking slither between your legs, if standing still) although I can tell you personally that the copperheads in those parts are carpet-thick, and co-mingled with water-snakes which themselves are very bitey if messed with. The snake migration in the Spring is a really a wonder to see. Only a foolish few get bitten each year, usually after having picked these up, a mistake that can cost a finger or arm.

          Reply
      3. Fiery Hunt

        Buddy and me driving along toward Black Butte Lake (central CA) see a rattler lounging in the middle of the highway, on the high point between most tire tracks.
        We pull over for a close gander.

        That monster had to be six ft with a 5 inch girth all the way from neck to tail.

        Closer we got, the more thoughts we had…
        How fast are these bas**rds? What’s the striking range?

        Couldn’t get closer than 10 ft from him without instinctual fear saying, “Yeah, that”s it.”

        Amazing creatures.
        Intimidating as hell.

        Reply
    1. Questa Nota

      Watching Bill Russell play on television in the old 1960s NBA, with one great play after another on that famous parquet floor, was a fond memory of childhood. His battles with Wilt Chamberlain really were epic. He was a class act and an inspiration well after his playing days.

      Reply
  3. TimH

    On quiet… an Indian friend who was brought up in Mumbai bought a house in Phoenix area with the back wall next to a road. Said it was unnerving unless sounds of city could be heard.

    Reply
  4. fresno dan

    “The Press is Already Working Overtime to Elect Trump Again” [Matt Taibbi, TK News].
    Trump and Sanders both surged in 2016 when they described a country divided into a small corrupt establishment and everyone else, and declared themselves on the side of everyone else. The journalistic priesthood that’s spent the last 6-7 years denouncing these people and their voters has done the opposite, proudly aligning itself with the hated inside, celebrating credentialism, and worst of all, cheering a censorship movement that’s now proven to be an abject failure. That story is among the biggest taboos in media now.”
    ===============================================
    I think people have caught on that the market driven press has an agenda, and its to make the rich richer and screw everybody else. Who remembers weapons of mass destruction? Russiagate? The American media is simply not interested in objective truth anymore. And for the most part, believing the opposite of what they are advocating is the better option.

    Reply
    1. pjay

      Taibbi is absolutely right in this analysis. If the Establishment really wants Trump gone they should just ignore him. But they can’t. There is too much TDS, and the Dems have nothing positive to run on. So it’s the defense of “our Republic” against Evil Fascists everywhere; Trump here, Putin, Xi, Assad, and all the rest out there. As Taibbi suggests, the more hysterical they get, the better Trump’s chances for a return engagement.

      On your comment about the media and objective truth, here are two truths that seem very relevant to me:

      (1) Based on the quantity of human suffering his actions unleashed, Dick Cheney just might be the most despicable human being living on this planet today. As far as I can tell his daughter shares his worldview. These are our liberal heroes now. That’s where we are.

      (2) While I don’t think the election was “stolen” from Trump, just how unreasonable was his paranoia? After all, he was subjected to a rolling coup attempt for four years that included very powerful factions in the FBI, CIA, State Department, Justice Department, Democratic Party, and at least two foreign intelligence services — and all their media lackeys. If I was interested in objective truths, I’d tend to treat Trump’s doubts as pretty rational. You can add Trump’s giant ego and the sycophants telling him he was robbed to the mix if you want. But anyone who believes the biggest danger to “our Republic” is Trump rather than this Imperial National Security Establishment is a large part of the problem.

      Reply
      1. ChrisRUEcon

        > If the Establishment really wants Trump gone they should just ignore him. But they can’t. There is too much TDS …

        I will never forget the madness of seeing mainstream media cut from something Bernie was saying or doing to show an empty podium awaiting Trump (2016 primary election cycle).

        “Bow down before the one you serve … you’re going to get what you deserve”

        Reply
      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > just how unreasonable was his paranoia

        Not at all. And I don’t think this idea penetrated Trump’s inner circle, but election theft really is technically feasible.

        But you would need competent lawyers and excellent techs to nail that down — why on earth did Trump focus only on Dominion, instead of ES&S too, and why oh why wasn’t a demand for their source code ever made — and nothing shows better that there really is a class struggle between MAGA types (local gentry and adherents) and the PMC, is that Trump had a very hard time getting decent help: Lawyers and tech being PMC. Trump faced a “professional services” strike throughout his Presidency, hence washed up clowns like Guiliani, or the “release the kraken” lawyer, whoever she was. The sort of people who’d leave spelling errors in their briefs.

        Reply
  5. Wilhelmina

    “Newsom Presidential timber”???

    Never served in the military, owned by big oil money (The Gettys), left a legacy of disasters as mayor of San Francisco, barely graduated from mediocre law school, associated and promoted by the same Willy Brown machine that spawned the fruiting body of Kamala Harris onto the American scene, sleeps with campaign aides girlfriends,got special real estate deals no other American could, divorced and remarried with monetary gain, faced a popular recall…
    vs a married once married man, graduated from Yale University and Harvard Law School. DeSantis joined Navy, promoted to lieutenant before serving as an advisor to SEAL Team One, deployed to Iraq, the U.S. Department of Justice appointed DeSantis to serve as a Special Assistant U.S. attorney at the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Balsawood vs Oak.

    Reply
    1. JTMcPhee

      Oak? A lot of Floridians see De Santis as poison oak at best. Or maybe a “water oak,” shallow roots and rotting in the heartwood. Just another opportunist pol, whose soul is owned by nasty special interests.

      Obviously has some good PR, out there creating a virtuous image for him. “Bring us a man on a white horse, and we will submit to him…”

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I don’t like the set of Desantis’s face. He looks like a very angry, unhappy, and tense man. I understand that mirrors the state of mind of many Americans, including at times myself, but I’m not sure that persona is saleable in a President, even if his strategists start cranking out ads of him holding cooing babies. His skin is too tight. He reminds me of a small town auto dealer who can’t hold onto his help.

        Reply
    2. ambrit

      I would rather have a boozy adulterer than a steely eyed Military Industrial Complex apparatchik any day.
      What pisses me off is that this is the best America’s political class can offer? It makes one pine for the halcyon days of Chester A Arthur and Grover Cleveland. At least back then, Politicos stayed bought.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Chester A Arthur and Grover Cleveland

        I have never been able to find the National Lampoon cartoon history of the politics of the 1890s and the obese candidates of the time, which includes the memorable line:

        “If my opponent is serious, why will he not join me in a pie-eating contest?”

        Reply
    3. chris

      Candidate quality has degraded in the Democrat party at an astonishing rate. Mayo Pete doesn’t look that bad next to this mediocre people who think they should run for office.

      Reply
  6. gwfzx1@yahoo.com

    “Tarrance Ray compares the 2022 flooding to Katrina. In terms of state abandonment, that’s certainly true. Not a lot of coverage in the media, either.”

    Where’s Mitch??

    Reply
  7. Screwball

    Reading reports of another 1 billion in aid to Ukraine. Dick Cheney, the newest PMC hero would be proud. They have become card carrying members of PNAC. Maybe Robert Reich can endorse Liz and Dad next. They could fill their cabinet with Lincoln Project pedos, and see how many proxy wars we can be in at the same time. What’s not to like?

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      And the Ukraine is the perfect “hunting grounds” for pedos.
      The Paedofinder General should have a field day in Kiev!

      Reply
  8. Librarian Guy

    Thank you for the Jordan Peterson link, which I may have a look at, though it’s clear that he’s extremely insane, and not very smart. One of the better takedowns of JP can be found on RationalWiki, they go over most of his grotesque career in detail. Highlights include he may read some interesting people and claim them as sources (Nietzsche & Jung), but he clearly doesn’t understand them. Also his hospitalizations for getting mortally ill due to all Meat/salt fad dieting (promoted by his daughter) & drug problems (actually the latter may have been shared on Chapo Trap House and not in RW). Deeply reactionary instincts across the board, bolstered only by his largely imaginary professional & “academic” credentials. Fond of climate change deniers, e.g. And his relationship to the comic book villain “Red Skull” is well worth understanding. His “logical” pronunciamiento that “faith in God is a prerequisite for all truth” puts him clearly in the Medievalist metaphysics tradition. I have no problem that he is a critic of postmodernism (so are some smart thinkers at AdBusters) but I wouldn’t trust a word out of his mouth more than I would any patient in a mental institution. RWiki link at https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Jordan_Peterson

    Reply
      1. hunkerdown

        Contest is a children’s game that proves nothing of value. That you happen to celebrate an ideology of competition is of no value either. Nobody is entitled to be valued on their own terms, or even to be valued at all. And if you think middle-class petulance and sulking will gain you any converts, alas.

        Reply
    1. aj

      I once heard Jordan Peterson described as “what dumb people think a smart person sounds like” and now I can’t help but think that every time I hear or read him.

      Reply
    2. eg

      I remember Peterson from when he was still relatively sane in the early oughts and used to appear on TVO’s “The Agenda.”

      The intervening years have not been kind.

      Reply
    3. k.k

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hSNWkRw53Jo

      An over two hours long takedown of Peterson by Some More News. Its pretty funny. The man is a total moron and a fraud. Worth sharing with younger members of family which may be susceptible to the bs he peddles. I wish i would had this video to share with someone a couple years ago who was falling into Peterson reactionary proto fascist cultish nonsense. It took many, many conversations for him to realize how much of a buffoon Peterson really is.

      Reply
  9. Randy

    Wild raspberries are 1/2 the size of the tame varieties but they have 10 times the flavor.
    It takes a lot of time and effort to pick enough to preserve but what a treat in winter!
    Around here their leaves are the Japanese beetle’s favorite food.

    Reply
    1. barefoot charley

      The most evil buck ever to destroy our garden has deleafed lower branches of our beloved mulberry tree, but spares the berries just as they’re coming ripe. So the birds get them faster, and I still want to kill him.

      Reply
  10. 430MLK

    The Lexington Herald Leader has given pretty good coverage to the EKY floods. Here’s an editorial they circulated from the Whitesburg-based Mountain Eagle that appeared today.

    The horrifying history of Eastern Kentucky floods began with search for cheap energy:
    https://www.kentucky.com/opinion/op-ed/article264210311.html

    For connection to KY politics, here’s a Louisville Courier Journal piece by their longtime Global Warming correspondent James Bruggers that focuses on our Dem Governor Andy Beshear’s resistance to using the two word cluster, “climate change.”

    Kentucky flooding: Gov. Andy Beshear wonders ‘why we keep getting hit.’ 4 experts explain:
    https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/local/2022/08/02/climate-change-experts-weigh-in-eastern-kentucky-flooding-andy-beshear/65388310007/

    Beshear’s daddy, also a recent KY governor, oversaw much of the state’s growth in mountain-top removal that’s cited in the Mountain Eagle editorial. I think Biden is visiting the region this week along with Andy Beshear.

    Reply
      1. 430MLK

        According to one piece I read in the HL, some of the area’s coal slurry ponds flooded, too. This may have been covered in the Trillbillies episode, too.

        At some point this weekend, I’m hoping to float and maybe dive into those waters as they move downstream and pass through central KY. That’s if the rains let up.

        Reply
  11. Karl

    RE: “How the Taiwan lobby helped pave the way for Pelosi’s trip”

    Thanks, Lambert, for that link. The “de facto Taiwan embassy” (TECRO) funding U.S. NGOs (e.g. DC think tanks) seems problematic when they engage in PR with a well-coordinated message, i.e. propaganda. Other countries do this too (Ukraine has been cited for this practice). Israel is perhaps most aggressive in its involvement in U.S. policy influence, and also political influence (campaign funding) down to the grass roots level.

    Do countries that the U.S. “doesn’t like” (Russia, PRC) have similar “legit” avenues to propagandize to the American public and pressure Congress, or just certain “allies”? If the latter, who are they?

    Of course, the CIA often does the reverse with its NGO fronts overseas. Probably USAID does the same, and perhaps other U.S. government agencies. What goes around comes around.

    Reply
  12. FlyoverBoy

    Open question: I want to get a license plate frame for my car that says “Black Lives Matter.” Given the grifting around the organization of the same name, who sells that item AND is worthy to receive my money?

    Reply
  13. Judith

    What is it necessary to connect the love of quiet with being rich? Why is it always about id politics for the Atlantic?

    The woman restoring the farm in Mississippi (from the Scalawag article) says it all:

    Teresa feels calm after a day of digging and planting in the garden, like she had released something. Too, only eating from the homestead and knowing exactly what’s going into their bodies has helped improve their overall health, she says. The soil between her toes was also healing, Teresa said.

    “When I came here, I had to disconnect in every way possible to stop the stress and anxiety voltage from coming to me—I had to let it all go,” said Teresa. Being away from the noise and air pollution, Teresa began to find solace and safety amid the big open space surrounded by trees that bent in the wind to the same song the birds and bees sung to her and Kevin.

    The quiet days with fresh air on beautiful land was healing, but the land alone couldn’t have sustained them.

    “If we didn’t have the community aspect of this, I don’t know if I would have stayed. The loneliness could have made me separate from the land and Kevin,” Teresa said. “Taking care of this land needs so much, the land gets all your attention. But the shared community piece saved our farm and probably our marriage.”

    Reply
    1. hunkerdown

      Because George Stigler’s ideology of mass attention depends on noise to distract from the voidness and disingenuity of neoliberal ideas. Philip Mirowski:

      That brings us back to the modern frenzy over fake news. They could not have anticipated it back in the 1960s, but the marketization of the Internet turned out to be the culmination of Stigler’s vision of an ecology of mass attention. Basically, the political project is not to directly convince anyone of the superiority of the market for society in any didactic sense; it is rather to use the market as an amplifier to recycle the vulgarity, twaddle, gibberish and overall noise back into the public that generates it in the first place, in a cybernetic feedback loop, to such an extent that they have no clue what is actually going on in their own world. As the neoliberal journalist Jeffrey Lord was quoted in 2016: “I honestly don’t think this fact-checking business — as we’re all into this — is anything more than, you know, one more sort of out-of-touch, elitist, media-type thing. I don’t think people out here in America care. What they care about are what the candidates say.”52

      The aim is not nihilism for the hell of it, but rather, represents the pursuit of two objectives dear to the [Neoliberal Thought Collective]: [1] The transformation of the endless befuddlement of the masses into a lucrative source of recurrent profit; and simultaneously, [2] the rendering of the populace more docile in the face of neoliberal takeover of the government.53 These same objectives are pursued whether they occurred in the East Bloc or the West. Instead of ignorance presenting an obstacle to the neoliberal project, as Buchanan had worried, the marketplace as information processor transforms it into one of the primary instruments of neoliberal dominance.

      Reply
      1. Michaelmas

        Instead of ignorance presenting an obstacle to the neoliberal project …the marketplace as information processor transforms it into one of the primary instruments of neoliberal dominance.

        Correct. This is the secret truth of neoliberalism. Real neoliberals don’t actually think human individuals make rational choices that maximize their economic utility, etcetera, though they pretend to believe that. Real neoliberals not only believe human individuals are cr*p and ignorant at that, but the more ignorant they are the better. Because otherwise individuals might be tempted to believe they can do better than the wisdom of the market, which by definition they cannot.

        You may be moved to ask: How can a market composed of ignorant human components possibly sum to a supreme information processor?

        A real neoliberal would never ask that, but just takes it on faith that it does. And that’s because neoliberalism at its purest is a religious doctrine.

        Reply
      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        The eternal question: Stupid, or evil. I am having a great difficulty coming to grips with how stupid our rulers and governors are; but they are, except in one thing: The quest for personal advantage*. There, they are as quick as lizards.

        Suppose, for example, we wished to dismantle and our foreign policy establishment. We wish to restructure it, and we wish put to people who are not stupid in positions of authority. But where are these non-stupid people to be found? The NGOs? The corporate world? Silicon Valley? Harvard, Yale, and Stanford?

        Reply
    2. Louiedog14

      I had the same two-minded response as Lambert. I think if you’ve never had access to proper quiet, you would naturally fail to appreciate its’ beauty. Quiet/noise is more of an rural/urban, introvert/extrovert issue.

      But there’s no question that the wealthy are extremely good at enforcing norms in a “one just doesn’t do that” sort of fashion. And since those norms are variable and can be shifted to suit the needs of their bearer (also wielded with great confidence), they’re slippery and hard to combat The same nitwit who told the author to use his Indoor Voice one night, is just as apt to be shattering the peace with their awesome Yacht Rock playlist at the harbor the next day.

      The author had it right, he was being dissed. But it’s always a bit trickier than just one thing like “noise”.

      Reply
      1. North Star

        There is a perfectly quiet and, as it happens, also a light-less spot for the rich: a solitary confinement prison cell at the Port Arthur penal colony (now a park) in south-east Tasmania. Visitors can enter the cell and when the door is closed most find it too difficult to take after only a few minutes.

        Reply
    1. ambrit

      What about the side order of Freedom Fries?
      (Oh, yeah. He supposedly opposed starting wars overseas. Darn!)

      Reply
  14. chris

    So many good links today!

    I wonder if part of the desire to make the status quo a perception of decreasing life expectancy stick is to manipulate expectations with respect to social security? If on average you’re dead at 78, and we raise the retirement age to 72, then there really isn’t much need to eliminate the cap on taxed income for SS. Perhaps I’m giving our people too much credit in having a plan as opposed to an deeply rooted need to ignore their fellow citizens? But I can imagine people like Bill Gates saying stuff like we have a supply side problem when it comes to the elderly. I can also imagine them figuring out how to solve that problem for the poor while excluding their own families.

    Reply
  15. aj

    RE: Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan.

    I haven’t see this brought up anywhere, but I’d like to point out an interesting coincidence. Let me just paste straight from the headlines

    1) Nancy Pelosi’s husband buys millions of dollars’ worth of Nvidia stock ahead of vote on chip-manufacturing bill
    2) Currently, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. builds the bulk of Nvidia chips

    Reply
    1. chris

      What’s really head scratching about the Pelosi trip is she had options for going that wouldn’t have upset anything. Like, she could have gone after Xi’s upcoming election and after the November mid-terms (when she likely not be speaker anymore). There were options to prevent this from embarrassing President Biden and not upsetting the status quo on Taiwan. Her timing was reckless. Which makes me think people wanted this to happen.

      And once again, we see Biden and his people not doing anything useful even though they had reasonable intelligence about what would happen. No one listens to Biden’s handlers when it comes to things like Taiwan or Ukraine. I wonder what that says about the current state of play inside the white house?

      Reply
      1. digi_owl

        I suspect what is more important to her is to get reelected at all.

        Even if the Democrats was to lose their majority, she would still have a strong position within the party.

        Reply
    2. digi_owl

      Err, last i checked it is Samsung that is making Nvidia’s latest.

      That said, TSMC is on schedule to make Nvidia’s next series of GPUs (Alongside Apple’s CPUs, AMD’s CPUs and GPUs, and Intel’s new GPUs as well).

      Reply
  16. Eureka Springs

    I tuned into the trillbilly podcast without knowing it so much as rained ever, anywhere, anymore. Bless their hearts. The shock in one of the guys voice brought me back to times just like that. A couple of tornadoes, one in Omaha and one in Little Rock I don’t know how I survived, and the big quake in San Francisco. It was so frustrating to hear them try to figure out how to ask for help and yet stop short because collecting funds to help others was too risky and costly in our death by spreadsheet system. Maybe Thatcher was right, there is no such thing as society when you cannot help each other out of fear.

    Then the other guy who has a voice with less telling emotion saying he couldn’t bring himself to tell his mom in the hospital who wanted to come home, that there is no home.

    When it all calms down I wish I could tell them from my drying river valley that in the last twenty years we’ve had one 300 and two 500 year floods. Get a flat bottom or at least a canoe and move to higher ground.

    Reply
  17. Bugs

    “The Origins of Covid-19 Are More Complicated Than Once Thought” [Wired]. Some nice science writing here. The narrative is compelling.

    Reply
  18. KD

    The line between Hungary and the U.S. is complex. Arthur J. Finkelstein, the gay conservative Republican operative, worked for Orban and Netanyahu, and was the political brains behind the whole targeting of Soros. [And I have to call b.s. on claims that criticism of Soros = Anti-Semitism, as we are talking about a billionaire who backs a bunch of NGO’s that meddle in international affairs the world over, anymore than mentioning Gates or Gates money means you hate WASPs.]

    https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/hnsgrassegger/george-soros-conspiracy-finkelstein-birnbaum-orban-netanyahu

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I have to call b.s. on claims that criticism of Soros = Anti-Semitism, as we are talking about a billionaire who backs a bunch of NGO’s that meddle in international affairs the world over,

      Thank you for calling out this ridiculous talking point.

      Reply
  19. Mikel

    Re: Science/Politics monkeypox

    “With the narrow clinical window in treating the exposed and delays inherent in confirmatory testing, a vaccination-only strategy is doomed to failure. Only implementing a broad-based contact tracing and isolation initiative, which must include the isolation of secondary contacts and an expanded ring vaccination program, which means the number needed to vaccinate grows exponentially to cover secondary contacts, can achieve the aim of eradication.”

    Everybody is acting like it won’t hit China and we don’t know what they’re going to do.
    Supply chains, supply chains…

    Reply
  20. ChrisRUEcon

    #COVID19

    Case Number Fiddling & Diddling

    Looks a bit like a “clipping function” (via researchgate.net)

    I believe the clip is created by the lack of free testing. Given that:
    • Many people lack health insurance
    • Many people are seriously economically impacted during the pandemic
    • Many people cannot afford to take time off work
    … you’re losing an awful amount of data if those folks can’t just walk into a CVS or a Walgreens and get a free test if they suspect they are ill. Many of them may have gotten the free government tests, but +ve results from those won’t get reported.

    The sawtooth, I suspect, has to do with inconsistencies in when various states update numbers and so on. Barring a jackpot-like variant (dear ${DEITY}, please no) I don’t think we will see another steep rise so long as there is home testing or no-testing. The government desperately needs to revisit making testing free again, but apparently President Zelensky got all the COVID money.

    Reply
    1. ChrisRUEcon

      #COVID19

      Lambert, I’m sorry if I missed the explanation for the new calculation you’re showing on deaths, but what does the “1264” represent?

      Reply
      1. Samuel Conner

        I think it’s a typo for “365”, the number of days in the year. 1264 is Thursday’s incremental death count; perhaps present in the “boilerplate” used for that part of today’s W/C post.

        Reply
    2. ambrit

      Well, President Zelensky and his benighted country got a bad case of the Russian Hypersonic Flu. That required a massive investment from the West to isolate it in the east side of his country.

      Reply
    3. ChrisRUEcon

      #JobsReport

      Let’s go inside the numbers

      By the way, the jobs report (via bls.gov) is for everyone, not just Econ grads! ;-) #DoReadItAll

      I found this tidbit really interesting:

      Employment in government rose by 57,000 in July but is below its February 2020 level by
      597,000, or 2.6 percent. Over the month, employment increased by 37,000 in local government,
      mostly in education (+27,000). Employment in local government is below its February 2020
      level by 555,000, or 3.8 percent, with the losses split between the education and
      non-education components.

      Still below by over half a million sounds awful to me. In addition, for those of us who bemoan lack of support during the pandemic for things like vigorous contact tracing – especially with Monkeypox (!) – wouldn’t it have been nice if the government could have created tens or even hundreds of thousands of job to marshal the unemployed into service for the highest of causes?

      Instead, we got warehousing and transport jobs (sounds like Amazon); leisure and hospitality jobs (summer bump, but still below 2020) … I dunno. I’ll be paying attention for future downward revisions.

      Reply
  21. Tom Stone

    As a Californian I would put more faith in the wastewater data than anything coming out of the State agencies.
    Gavin Newsome is running for President (Unofficially,so far) and that will affect what comes out of Sacramento until the 2024 primaries at least..

    Reply
  22. The Rev Kev

    “Orbán the Toe”

    Say what you will, he is a smart politician. He makes oil deals with Russia as he pays attention to mathematics that tells him that Hungary needs it as a matter of vital necessity – unlike the leaders of other countries. And he knows how to play to a crowd. He was just at the American Conservative Convention in Texas and told them – ‘…but we want a different future for ourselves! So let the globalists go to hell and I came to Texas!’ And they would have lapped it up.

    Reply
  23. The Rev Kev

    ‘I also think that Bierstadt, as it were, “used the wrong lens.” When I’ve seen the Rockies, they always seemed of a different scale to the human entirely, even far away.’

    It may be that the painters who came from the east to paint such scenes found nothing in their experience in how to depict it. That scene for example I doubt was similar to what you could see in the eastern States. This region was so alien to them. People who were on the wagon trains and who were familiar with rivers like Rhine and the Thames, for example, were shocked to see that full-on rivers could just disappear.

    You had the same in Oz in the early days of the Colony. The very first painters saw the alien landscape of the Australian landscape with its harsh colours and khaki greens – and balked. So those first painting were done to make it look like an English or European landscape scene. It was quite a few years before you had artists who accurately painted what they saw and sent those paintings back to England for the public to see.

    Reply
    1. JBird4049

      It’s been far, far too long and I need to go visit them again. But I am not sure really what would be the right lens as how does anyone show the true size or reality of something else like the Great Basin? Even Death Valley or the Redwoods are more relatable even if overwhelming. Still, if you have not been anywhere like that, I think it is difficult to understand.

      I sometimes think that too often Americans from different parts of the country, never mind people from outside, do not understand just how their different environments shapes their views. Hell, to understand just how vast and varied it is. To most people in in the Bay Area or to people in New York City it is just obvious why infrastructure or public transportation is so important or to favor gun control; driving the (empty) Plains or going to some county that as a many people as some city neighborhoods elsewhere is not disturbing really, but it can make one uneasy. Nobody near you. Nobody to distract you from yourself or save you if something goes wrong. And the dangers of guns in such places? Hours from police?

      Having thousands of people a mile of you or nobody near you for hundreds, or being where you can barely see the sky either because of the skyline or forest or where it’s so empty that there is nothing but the sky…

      If one is not use to it, the former makes it difficult not to go insane from screening the noise and chaos and the latter can make a mind beg for stimulation.

      Reply
      1. lambert strether

        > the first representative artists

        The aborigines! Kudos. From the Amazon summary of Gammage’s book:

        Across Australia, early Europeans commented again and again that the land looked like a park. With extensive grassy patches and pathways, open woodlands and abundant wildlife, it evoked a country estate in England. Bill Gammage has discovered this was because Aboriginal people managed the land in a far more systematic and scientific fashion than we have ever realised.

        For over a decade, Gammage has examined written and visual records of the Australian landscape. He has uncovered an extraordinarily complex system of land management using fire and the life cycles of native plants to ensure plentiful wildlife and plant foods throughout the year. We know Aboriginal people spent far less time and effort than Europeans in securing food and shelter, and now we know how they did it.

        With details of land-management strategies from around Australia, The Biggest Estate on Earth rewrites the history of this continent, with huge implications for us today. Once Aboriginal people were no longer able to tend their country, it became overgrown and vulnerable to the hugely damaging bushfires we now experience. And what we think of as virgin bush in a national park is nothing of the kind.

        Like Amazonia (see 1492). This approach is a possible post-Jackpot future for humanity, very much unlike Gibson’s reactionary fables, or even Kim Stanley Robinson’s.

        The famous quote from Apollo 13: “What do we got on the spacecraft that’s good?” If the answer is, virtually nothing*, then the answer might look a lot like “land management” (need a more romantic name than that, or “edible forests”).

        NOTE * Soap? Potable water?

        Reply
  24. HotFlash

    RevKev,

    This is most fascinating. Have never considered such a thing, but it seems as if it should be quite real. Could you please, of your courtesy, cite some names and/or other sources that we could research on? I would love to see this, perhaps there is similar in That Other Colony, Canada.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Hi HotFlash

      My information is from books and long ago read articles but here are two links that might help you. Not that I do not know that much about art being a barbarian and all. The first is one that shows the pastoral landscapes that were typically painted in the early colonial period-

      https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/essay/joseph-lycett-the-pastoral-landscape-in-early-colonial-australia/

      The second link gives examples of later examples and you can see the difference in works from the late 19th century-

      https://www.wentworthgalleries.com.au/news/great-australian-landscape-painters

      Hope that these may be of help. Oh, and that anecdote about the rivers is from Alistair Cooke’s “America: A Personal History of the United States”-

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/America:_A_Personal_History_of_the_United_States

      Reply
  25. digi_owl

    TMNT, making sewer living look fun since 1984.

    What is funny is that most people associate the cartoon with the characters, but the original comic was far darker in theme.

    Reply
  26. digi_owl

    I have long held that Twitch seemed like something akin to modern colosseum games.

    Only with games replacing the wild animals.

    Often the games that get the most attention on there, outside of the major PVP titles, are unforgiving games to the point of absurdity. Yes they can be completed, but often the number of attempts, and the hand eye coordination expected, is just downright stupid. These are not games you play to entertain yourself, but to entertain others that can sit in chat and jeer when you fail for hours on end.

    Reply

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