2:00PM Water Cooler 11/17/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Yellow-throated Nightingale-Thrush, Montecristo–Bosque Nebuloso, Santa Ana, El Salvador. “Dos grabaciones separadas por un segundo de silencio.”

* * *


“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

“So many of the social reactions that strike us as psychological are in fact a rational management of symbolic capital.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles

Biden Administration

“The Hill’s 12:30 Report — Pelosi retires from leadership; will stay in Congress” [The Hill]. “In a House floor speech, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) just announced that she is retiring from Democratic leadership…. She said she plans to continue representing her constituents in San Francisco, Calif. … The Boston Globe’s Tal Kopan pointed out, ‘A few lawmakers are wiping their eyes.’… Politico’s Andrew Desiderio pointed out: ‘Looks like Pelosi’s daughter Alexandra, a filmmaker, is walking behind her recording her entrance into the Capitol.’

“Nancy Pelosi, Speaker Emeritus?” [Puck]. “Pelosi spent the last 24 hours helping to clear the runway for Hakeem Jeffries, I’m told, while working out ways to make sure that Adam Schiff, one of her pets, is taken care of and is therefore not inclined to challenge Jeffries. Politico reported that he intends to focus on a run for Dianne Feinstein’s Senate seat. An orderly succession has always been Pelosi’s goal. ‘It may seem like she’s backbench but it’s really putting the throne in a different area,’ said a Pelosi insider. ‘She’ll never get off the throne.’ …. Pelosi, who sees the role as vocational, will be there to steer her caucus from behind the scenes and play a role in her own succession in real time. ‘Given that she really didn’t lose the election and that the majority of her caucus is still obsessively in need of her leadership [authoritarian followers], she’s decided to stay,’ said the insider. ‘Plus she can still raise a shit-ton of money unlike anyone else in that caucus.’ She’ll also be on hand to help guide Jeffries and his expected lieutenants Katherine Clark and Peter Aguilar into their new roles. There’s been concern caucus-wide about how Jeffries might manage ‘The Squad,’ whom Pelosi has been able to keep in line with a deft touch, whereas Jeffries has a reputation for dunking on the progressive wing when their candidates lose in primaries. ‘She’ll be a critical pair of training wheels,’ the insider said.” •Jeffries is 52 years old. He’s also part of the New York Delegation, which is in large part responsible for the 2020 debacle, and not just in the House.

* * *

“‘YOU will sit’: Biden is caught with cheat sheet at G20 informing him when to sit, speak and take a photo” [Daily Mail]. • A photograher got a shot of a page in Biden’s three-ring binder at G20:

I don’t see any reason to dunk, here. First, good staffwork from Biden’s sherpas; I wouldn’t want to wander about a summit conference being spontaneous me. Second, Biden apparently has no reading comprehension, or eyesight problems. (That’s not to say they don’t juice him up, but when they do, the baseline, at least for following a script, seems adequate.)


“What Joe Biden Knows About America” [Franklin Foer, The Atlantic]. “Biden had more faith in the American people than the commentariat or his political adversaries did. He intuited that voters would rise above their economic self-interest to prevent election deniers from seizing power.” • Clearly, Democrats won’t be fixing our balloting systems anytime soon; exactly like abortion.

* * *

AZ: “Arizona voters reject effort to enact stricter voter ID law” [Associated Press]. “Proposition 309 also would have eliminated the ability of registered voters who do not have a state or federally-issued photo ID with them when they vote in-person to provide other proof of identity to cast a ballot. New tallies from Maricopa County and several smaller counties released on Wednesday showed there was no chance for the measure to pass. It had been too close to call in the eight days since polls closed on Nov. 8 and was the last of 10 measures on the ballot to be called by The Associated Press.”



“Donald Trump 2024: Why it will be harder for him to run this time” [BBC]. “The speech, which clocked in at more than an hour, was largely a mix of boasts about his presidential record and attacks on the first two years of Joe Biden’s presidency. sOn display were some of Mr Trump’s continued strengths. He has an unmatched sense of which issues are important to grass-roots conservatives, such as immigration and crime. His unpredictable and inflammatory style can drive news coverage and deny the spotlight to his competitors. He has a base of loyal supporters and can motivate typically unengaged Americans to vote. And after four years in office, many of those supporters hold positions of authority within the Republican Party. But his speech also highlighted some of Mr Trump’s key weaknesses.” • Worth a read. I know this is the BBC, but at least there’s no screaming and carrying on. Most of the US coverage is simply unreadable.

“Donald Trump is running again in 2024. Here’s what his second term in the White House could look like” [ABC Australia]. “Trump himself outlined his agenda for a second term in a speech at the America First Policy Institute in late July. He harked back to the convoluted ‘deep state’ conspiracy theory that roared into the mainstream consciousness during his presidency, of a secretive, elitist — and in extreme versions, reptilian — cabal working to undermine the US government. ‘To drain the swamp and root out the deep state, we need to make it much easier to fire rogue bureaucrats who are deliberately undermining democracy, or at a minimum just want to keep their jobs,’ Trump said… These ‘historic reforms’ could take the familiar shape of an executive order doled out in the twilight of Trump’s presidency, allowing him to effectively gut the public service. The month before the 2020 election, he signed off on establishing a new category for federal employees that would have stripped away protections and effectively made the positions much easier to terminate. The order would have reassigned thousands of civil servants in policy roles to so-called Schedule F status, paving the way for the administration to purge the public service at will. That didn’t come to pass, with Joe Biden reversing the order as soon as he took office. But Trump has already hinted that reimposing Schedule F could be on the cards if he steps back into the Oval Office. Axios reports those closest to Trump are working on plans that go even further than the usual conservative targets such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Internal Revenue Service. This time, they could set their sights on as many as 50,000 staff from all over, including the Justice Department, FBI, State Department and Pentagon. Trump has even gone so far as to suggest abolishing the Education Department entirely.” • Wellie…. No wonder the PMC is so upset with him. He’s coming after their meal tickets. Now, I don’t want to eliminate civil service protection. The EPA should be beefed up. But abolishing the Education Department? That doesn’t strike me as such a bad idea. And certainly cutting 50,000 staff from The Blob can only be a good thing. Note also that Trump, as usual, is of a different scale than the rest of the candidates. Short-bodied vulgarian DeSantis proffers only minor repairs by contrast. Nor do I see this as “National Conservatism” as The Federalist would have it. Donald, Donald. What are we going to do with you?

“Endorsements by Donald Trump” [Ballotpedia]. • You simply cannot trust what the press writes about Trump, not one single thing:

Not “the narrative,” eh? How odd. (Now, one could argue that quality matters too, and that Trump’s picks were easy wins, or whatever. The fact remains, he picked winners, and by that metric, 2022 was his best year.)

Trump and vaccines:

“As Trump blusters, DeSantis builds his case but tells people to ‘chill out’ with 2024 talk” [CNN]. “Speaking in Lee County on Wednesday, DeSantis called for people asking about his brewing rivalry with Trump to ‘chill out a little bit.’ He then pivoted immediately to touting his own performance in last week’s midterm elections compared to the ‘substandard performance’ of the GOP in the rest of the country, where Trump’s involvement has become the focal point of many Republicans’ recriminations. The day before, DeSantis spoke to a group of Republican donors in Orlando, Florida, where he touted his 19-point win in his reelection. DeSantis outlined his electoral strength in the suburbs, his rural turnout effort and his appeal among Latino voters in his victorious reelection effort, according to a person who was in the room. DeSantis didn’t bring up Trump, who days before the election had claimed credit for turning Florida into a red state. The group of about 250, which included donors to the Republican Governors Association as well as governors and their spouses, gave DeSantis a standing ovation at the end of his conversation with outgoing Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts. The person in the room told CNN that DeSantis walked through in detail where he performed well across the state, including winning traditionally Democratic Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.” • Clearly, short-bodied vulgarian DeSantis will be very popular with both the Republican apparatchiks and the press (who will be able to keep writing the same stories, i.e. preserve their social capital). However… Doesn’t this speech remind you of the sort of speech that Hillary Clinton would have given?

Democrats en Déshabillé

Patient readers, it seems that people are actually reading the back-dated post! But I have not updated it, and there are many updates. So I will have to do that. –lambert

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.

* * *

“Investigating the investigators: Dem strategists to launch counterpunch to House GOP” [Politico]. “A group of top Democratic strategists are launching a multi-million-dollar hub to counter an expected investigative onslaught by the likely incoming House GOP majority — digging into President Joe Biden, his administration and his son, on top of potential Cabinet impeachments. The newly relaunched Congressional Integrity Project initiative, details of which were shared first with POLITICO, will include rapid response teams, investigative researchers, pollsters and eventually a paid media campaign to put congressional Republicans ‘squarely on the defense,’ founder Kyle Herrig said in an interview.” • I’m not sure I get this. The Democrats, even in the minority, are legislators. They have a lot of power! And so we need this privatized thing? To do the work electeds will not do? (I looked at Herrig’s current vehicle. It doesn’t have a funding page. Odd!)

“League Of Legends Player AOC Mocks Crypto Disaster Bro For Being Terrible At Ranked” [Kotaku]. “Bankman-Fried never ranked higher than Bronze II. Dang. Pick a struggle, dude…. Tell me that your gamer heart wasn’t at least a little moved when she tweeted “[Venture capitalists] were impressed by Bronze III?” Gamer toxicity is okay when it’s being directed at cryptocurrency investors. Bronze III is one of the lower rankings on the League ladder. Only 14.75 percent of players rank at Bronze III or lower….. AOC even has the qualifications to tell the world that Bronze III ain’t shit. She last posted about her League ranking on July 13, 2020. ‘My small quarantine accomplishment: made it to Silver III,’ she tweeted. We don’t know what her current rank is, so it’s entirely possible that she’s risen or fallen since then. But at some point in her League career, she ranked higher than Bankman-Fried ever has. Even if she isn’t higher-ranked now, I’m okay with that. I’d rather lawmakers spent more time trying to pass bills than trying to improve their League ranking. If FTX’s CEO had spent more time on learning how finance worked, then he might still have a company.”

Republican Funhouse

“‘National Conservatism’ Is A Dead End” [The Federalist]. “Since a civil war is about to break out and destroy the modern Republican Party — fingers crossed — let me tell you what grinds my gears….. ‘National conservatism’ — granted, still in an amorphous stage — offers a far too narrow agenda for any kind of enduring political consensus. It lacks idealism. It’s a movement tethered to the grievances of a shrinking demographic of rural and Rust-Belt workers with high school degrees at the expense of a growing demographic of college-educated suburbanites. The ‘New Right’ loves to mock ‘zombie Reaganism.’ Well, the ’80s fusionist coalition, which stressed upward meritocratic mobility, free markets, federalism, patriotism, and autonomy from the soul-crushing federal bureaucracy, was by all historical measures more successful than the Buchananism that followed or Rockefellerism that preceded. Zombie Reaganism was a dramatic success not only in 1980 but also in 1994 and again in 2010 and 2014…. Too many conservatives misconstrued Donald Trump’s slim 2016 victory as a national realignment. It was a mirage. Trump, a uniquely positioned celebrity candidate, benefitted not only from Obama fatigue but, more than anything else, the cosmic unlikability of Hillary Clinton. Yes, the GOP needed an attitude adjustment, a stiffening of the spine. There is no denying Trump’s presidency achieved some positive results (most of them, incidentally, also on the “zombie Reaganism” front with deregulation and the judiciary), and he made inroads with working-class voters and Latinos. But Republicans have now blown three elections catering to largely incoherent NatCon populism…. There is no one reason or person culpable for the right’s failures in 2022, but there are certain types of candidates who have been finding success. Ron DeSantis, Brian Kemp, and Glenn Youngkin can call out crony capitalism without sounding like Ralph Nader’s comms director. All of them have been highly critical of lawlessness of illegal immigration, but none of them come off like chauvinists. All of them supported heartbeat bills and election integrity laws, and above all, they are competent administrators of government.” • Venturing into the fever swamp, here.

Realignment and Legitimacy

If Hayden is representative of hegemonic intelligence community opinion, and I see no reason to think that he isn’t, they think they’re in a war already:

And as serious people, they are going to act on their assumptions. In fact, already are.


Lambert here: I can’t call a winter surge, though we’ll really have to wait for Thanksgiving travel. However, high transmission (CDC), the elevation and continued increase in positivity (Walgreens), and the steady takeover of BQ.1* (CDC; Walgreens) are all a little unsettling (as is the apparent proliferation of variants). Stay safe out there! (As far as Thanksgiving travel goes, lacking CDC’s “Rapid Riser” counties feature, the best we can do, I think, is follow the news and look at wastewater. I would order risk from highest to lowest at JFK/LGA (New York), LAX (Los Angeles), ATL, Atlanta, and ORD (Chicago). Since New York — as of this writing, and of course all the data is delayed, making personal risk assessment an effort in delusion, but I digress — is a BQ.1* hotbed, I’d try to use EWR (Newark) not JFK/LGA. My $0.02!

* * *

• ”White House’s Jha isn’t predicting a severe Covid surge this holiday season” [STAT]. “Ashish Jha, the White House Covid-19 coordinator, predicted Tuesday that the United States will not be heading toward another Covid-19 surge driven by holiday gatherings akin to the Omicron wave in 2021. ‘We are in a very different place and we will remain in a different place,’ said Jha, who noted that roughly 90% of Americans have received at least one Covid-19 vaccine and ‘a large chunk of Americans have gotten infected.’ Jha, who was speaking at the STAT Summit in Boston, added the caveat that there’s always a possibility the virus could significantly mutate – like it did with the Omicron variant – but ‘I believe we are in a way better place no matter what Mother Nature throws at us.’ Jha also emphasized that the concept of major Covid-19 restrictions are largely off the table at this stage in the pandemic. ‘We are now at a point where I believe if you’re up to date on your vaccines, you have access to treatments … there really should be no restrictions on people’s activities,’ Jha said. ‘I’m pretty much living life the way I was living life in 2019.‘” • I love the “restrictions” framing, instead of protections.

* * *

• “COVID Communication Often Failed: How Health Policy Makers Can Do Better” [Scientific American]. “To limit the toll of disinformation in future pandemics, [behavioural economist Varun Gauri at the think tank the Brookings Institution] thinks public-health authorities will need to take a bigger, legislative approach to the problem. “If you’ve got a good regulatory scheme in place to prevent it, that’s really crucial,” he says. That could mean, for example, creating transparency laws that require online platforms to inform users of the source of suspect health content, without promoting active censorship of that content.” • Surely the most damaging information of all has come from official sources? The article itself leads with the masking debacle, but the denial of airborne transmission, and CDC’s constant efforts at minimization (especially the infamous “green map”) also played their part. Frankly, the whole piece reads like “jobs for the boys” in pandemic communications: nudge theorists, human-behaviour specialists, social scientists, anthropologists. and psychologists…. From five paragraphs in: “[A]s the mixed messaging around masks shows, honesty is a baseline requirement.” It’s probably not fair to all the well-meaning nudge theorists out there, but Rochelle Walensky is the proxy for all PMCs doing pandemic messaging, and for her, honesty is not a “baseline requirement” at all. What to do about that?

* * *

• Maskstravaganza: Not a mask in sight:

Learning about neurological damage from experience, I suppose….

• Maskstravaganza: A play in three acts. Act I:

Act II:

Act III:

The author is a “writer and teacher,” so presumbly their “colleagues” are of the same class. I remain gobsmacked at the ease, the rapidity, the virulence, with which non-science, indeed anti-science concepts like “immunity debt” penetrate the PMC. How on earth does this happen? These are adults, with children in their care.

• “Claims of an Immunity Debt in Children Owe Us Evidence” [Office for Science and Society, McGill University]. “At the beginning of the fifth season of the television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, we the audience are introduced to a character, Dawn, we have never seen before. Intriguingly, every character around her acts as if she has always existed. We know that something is amiss, but her friends and relatives don’t. I feel the same way about the concept of an ‘immunity debt.’ It sprang out of nowhere, but so many people act as if this is an old chestnut in the field of immunology…. A query into PubMed, a search engine for papers published in the life sciences, resulted in 11 hits, all from the past two years. A Twitter user also did a thorough search of digital spaces, coming up with very little. It turns out that that infamous phrase gained life in a position paper from a French team published in the journal Infectious Diseases Now and first published online on May 12, 2021. I will refer to it as the 2021 Cohen paper, as its first author is Professor Robert Cohen…. The 2021 Cohen paper firmly asserts that immunity debt is real and it is caused by the lack of immune stimulation due to pandemic-related measures. There is no equivocation on the part of the authors… until the final page of their paper. All of a sudden, certainty gives way to a weaker position: that those pandemic measures ‘may’ have led to less training of children’s immune systems. In the following paragraph, the word ‘hypothesize’ is used for the first time in this context. The evidence presented for this immunity debt due to understimulation—advanced first as a certainty, then as a hypothesis—is lacking. But this paper, boldly asserting the existence of an immunity debt in children, opened the floodgates, and soon it was being quoted in other papers and in media reports, and now we are led to believe that our immune system is just like a muscle: stop working it out and it will atrophy. This is the challenge of science communication. Simple analogies stick in people’s minds, even when they are wrong. Our immune system is not like a muscle. It does not require constant poking and prodding from a germ to avoid lethargy. And even if it did, children during the pandemic were not kept in sterile bubbles. They were in contact with microorganisms from the food that they ate, the soil that they played with, and the adults in their lives. The idea that Zoom schooling created an aseptic environment is silly on its surface.”

* * *

• “It’s Really, Really Worth Trying to Avoid Getting COVID Multiple Times” [Self]. “The potential risks of COVID reinfection are very real, regardless of your vaccination status, new research suggests. Having COVID more than once boosts your risk of hospitalization, developing long COVID, or even dying from the virus, according to a large new study published in the journal Nature Medicine. The goal of the research was to determine whether the risk of complications goes up the more you’re infected with the virus, according to lead study author Ziyad Al-Aly, MD, assistant professor at the School of Medicine at Washington University in St. Louis. “The answer is absolutely yes,” he tells SELF.” • Note the source. Too bad there’s no magazine called “Self and Others,” but that’s a separate issue. (NC linked to this study back on November 11.)

* * *


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.)

• Readers, you have the right link, but not everyone is so lucky. Just trying to do the right thing before the holidays:

How on earth are people supposed to make a “personal risk assessment” if they can’t find tranmission levels in their area? And yes, CDC makes that very, very hard to do:


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, published November 15:

-0.3%. Down.


Wastewater data (CDC), November 13:

Lambert here: Queens County (JFK/LGA) is no longer orange, i.e., not increasing, so I thought I’d look at Cook (ORD) which isL

November 12:

Lambert here: An enormous number of counties have gone dark (grey dot, no data) in West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, Colorado, and Oregon. I don’t know whether that’s because they’ve dropped out of the program. or CDC butchered the data, or CDC’s contractor, Biobot, had problems. (Biobot’s data page includes the following disclaimers: “Not all locations may have submitted recent samples,” and “Biobot’s scheduled variant data update is delayed.” Maybe so.) I poked around to see if there was a reporter somewhere who had CDC as their beat. Apparently not.


Lambert here: It’s beyond frustrating how slow the variant data is. 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? [grinds teeth, bangs head on desk]. UPDATE Yes. See NC here on Pango. Every Friday, a stately, academic pace utterly incompatible with protecting yourself against a variant exhibiting doubling behavior.

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (Walgreens), October 25:

Lambert here: BQ.1* moving along quite briskly.

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), October 22 (Nowcast off):

BQ.1* moving along quite briskly. New York/New Jersey (Region 2) numbers are higher:

• As a check, since New York is a BQ.1* hotbed, New York hospitalization, updated November 16:

Lambert here: An almost imperceptible increase. Let’s wait and see. I have drawn an anti-triumphalist line to indicate that although this surge is not world-class, neither is it neglible.


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,101,370 – 1,100,631 = 739 (739 * 365 = 269,735 deaths per year, today’s YouGenicist™ number for “living with” Covid (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. If the YouGenicist™ metric keeps chugging along like this, I may just have to decide this is what the powers-that-be consider “mission accomplished” for this particular tranche of death and disease).

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.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell by 4,000 to 222,000 on the week ending November 12th, below expectations of 225,000, pointing to a continuously tight job market and adding leeway for the Federal Reserve to tighten policy, despite the surge in layoffs from large tech companies.”

Manufacturing: “United States Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index in the US fell to -19.4 in November of 2022 from -8.7 last month, the lowest since May of 2020 and well below market expectations of -6.2. The general activity index declined further, the new orders index remained negative, and the shipments index remained positive but low. The employment index declined but continued to suggest overall hiring, and the price indexes continued to suggest overall increases.”

Manufacturing: “United States Kansas Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Kansas City Fed’s Manufacturing Production index was at -10 in November of 2022, the second-lowest figure since May of 2020, solely behind the -22 from the prior month. The slower pace of factory growth in the period was driven by a decline in activity in primary metals, plastics and rubber products, chemicals, furniture, and fabricated metals manufacturing. Most month-over-month indexes decreased, with the current delivery time index reaching its lowest on record.”

* * *

Tech: “Elon Musk tells Twitter staff to commit to ‘hardcore’ culture or leave” [Financial Times]. “Employees have been asked to formally register their desire to be part of the new Twitter through a link in the email. Those who have not done so by 5pm EST on Thursday will receive three months of severance pay, according to the email seen by the Financial Times and first reported by the Washington Post.” • Oh the humanity. Of course, if these these engineers had a union (or a guild)….

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 63 Greed (previous close: 64 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 63 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 17 at 1:25 PM EST. Falling back to mere greed….

Book Nook

“Cold Comforts” (review) [Book Forum (AL)]. A new biography of Australian novelist Shirley Hazzard. “[The author] quotes friends who recall conversation with Hazzard as a spell, a magic web of erudition and quotation. The poet Edward Hirsch says she was ‘the most cultivated person’ he had met. Another poet, Michael Collier, recalls a lunch with Hazzard: ‘You just felt that you had moved into another landscape.’ There were, of course, some who could not be charmed. (According to one of Olubas’s sources, Elizabeth Hardwick and Hazzard ‘did not get along,’ though she doesn’t say why; possibly it had something to do with to the static between Steegmuller and Hardwick’s friend Mary McCarthy over a piece McCarthy wrote about Madame Bovary.) And it was pointed out occasionally, even by her friends, that Hazzard, who so loved to talk, was not an especially good listener. Annabel Davis-Goff said that conversation with Hazzard was a matter of ‘finding a moment when you could interrupt.’ Whether that tendency to monologue was due to temperament or was a consequence of having been intellectually stifled in her youth is not clear; probably it was both. In any case it recalls Hazzard’s short story ‘Harold,’ which concerns a quiet boy staying with his mother at an Italian villa much like Solaia. In the story it comes out that the boy writes poems, and someone says what people say in such situations: ‘I hope you will read them to us.’ To everyone’s surprise, the boy immediately goes upstairs to get his papers, and greater surprise still, the room is suddenly transported by his genius. Sharing his work makes the boy ‘self-possessed’: he gives no mind to the effect he has on the others, and does not look for their approval or commendation. The story is a kind of fantasy about a productive writer (‘There are more all the time,’ he says of the poems) being entirely sufficient unto himself.”

“… in that lair of the Deep Ones we shall dwell amidst wonder and glory for ever“:

The 420

“Hemp may get cows high, but will their milk do the same to you?” [Nature]. “It remains unclear whether such milk would get human consumers high.” • But that’s the most important question. A business model for a dairy industry that’s in trouble!

Zeitgeist Watch

They were careless people:

“Dead Ascending a Staircase” [The Baffler]. “The ‘Vessel’ [is] a dazzling sixteen-story monolith of interlocking stairs at the center of Hudson Yards in western Manhattan…. [But it has] become abundantly clear that the crown jewel of Hudson Yards—what [Related Companies, which co-owns and operates Hudson Yards with Oxford Properties Group] hoped would be ‘the new heart of New York’—is, in fact, a $200 million suicide machine. … Related’s chairman, Stephen M. Ross, had conceived of the Vessel as a quote-unquote ‘public monument,’ but he commissioned and funded it himself as a gift to the city of New York. Consider it the billionaire’s version of a conciliatory bouquet to taxpayers who subsidized Hudson Yards—the largest nominally private development in the United States—to the tune of $6 billion. But Ross’s largesse also exempted the Vessel from the standard vetting processes that other public structures must undergo. Gifts, after all, are to be greeted with thanks, not hearings. When it was formally unveiled with the help of Sesame Street’s Big Bird in March 2019, the Vessel drew near-universal mockery and condemnation (including in this magazine) for its utter pointlessness. But mostly, it induced indifference: if some billionaire wants to make tourists climb stairs, then that’s their business….. The objections of architecture critic Audrey Wachs stood out among the scoffs and the shrugs. On top of her many acute criticisms, Wachs admonished the Vessel’s designers for not having learned from NYU’s Bobst library. Only three years prior, its main atrium, similarly nestled between Escherian steps, saw a string of student suicides which forced the university to install floor-to-ceiling barriers. The waist-level handrails at the Vessel were too low, she prophesied in 2016: ‘When you build high, folks will jump.’ As Wachs’s warnings materialized—first in February 2020, again in December, for a third time less than a month later, and a fourth time in July 2021.”

Guillotine Watch

You’d think the Times would have made at least one change to its DealBook Summit, but apparently not:

But holy moley, what a horrid roster. Mike Pence — and I can’t believe I’m saying this — looks like the only non-grifter in the bunch.

Class Warfare

“On Red Cup Day, thousands of Starbucks workers go on strike” [NPR]. “Members of the Starbucks Workers Union are picketing outside more than a hundred stores across the country on what they say is the group’s largest single-day strike. The walkout falls on what’s known as Red Cup Day, when the coffee giant hands out limited-edition holiday reusable cups. They’re considered collector’s items and customers line up at the crack of dawn to get their hands on a decorated cup. It’s one of the coffee giant’s most profitable days on the calendar. But baristas such as Josie Serrano say it’s emblematic of one of the union’s fundamental requests: a call for better staffing. ‘It’s honestly one of those days that a lot of … baristas try to … ask for off because it’s always always a very insane day,’ said Serrano, who works at a store in Long Beach. Calif…. The walkout is intended to get Starbucks to bargain with workers in good faith as the two sides try to hammer out new contracts, Serrano says. According to the union, the company has retaliated against union leaders, and Starbucks lawyers have walked out on bargaining sessions or made last-minute rescheduling requests that make it challenging for members to participate.”

The Nanny, no longer a guilty pleasure:

“Jennifer Aniston Has Nothing to Hide” [Allure]. I’m being very kind and putting this here, not under Guillotine Watch. Final paragraph: “‘ feel like I’m coming through a period that was challenging and coming back into the light,’ she says. ‘I have had to do personal work that was long overdue, parts of me that hadn’t healed from the time I was a little kid. I’m a very independent person. Intimacy has always been a little here,’ she extends her hand an arm’s length in front of her. ‘I’ve realized you will always be working on stuff. I am a constant work in progress. Thank God. How uninteresting would life be if we all achieved enlightenment and that was it?'” • Who among us? Clearly, celebrity is very bad for people. Also, why do “dog people” think its OK for their pets to lick people? Or jump on them?

News of the Wired

Promoted into my timeline:

This sounds bad….

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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 CL:

CL writes: “Truck blood moon and tree over the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.” I’m not sure the resolution is all it could be, so let’s just go ahead and call it pointillist. Also, I stan for light trails (as a consequence of liking very long exposures).

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Screwball

    “Nancy Pelosi, Speaker Emeritus?”

    First off – good riddance
    Second – The gushing over Pelosi on Twitter is puke worthy
    Third – according to that paragraph, she is leaving, but not leaving. She is going to help guide the party from behind the scenes (paraphrasing). What’s up with that? Can’t these people do their jobs without her guidance? Why does she have so much power (raising money?) over all these people. Why can’t someone tell here to buzz off? She’s even trying to pick her own replacement, and taking care of Shiff? What’s up with that?

    They have sure came a long way from when AOC protested in front of her office to calling her Mama bear. I don’t get it, other than these people are just plain worthless and have no spine.

    1. Tvc15

      Peter Daou re: Nancy Pelosi

      “A master of performative opposition, she’s done more than any other Democrat this century to protect the corrupt status quo. Protected war criminals. Presided over massive military budget increases. Enriched herself with insider trading. Punched left at every turn.”

      Perhaps it’s covered under insider trader, but I’d add grift to her resume too. I will do my best to avoid the gross disconnected from reality 24/7 coming hagiography.

      1. Wukchumni

        Nancy strikes me as a X-Dresser and not that kind, but she’s had so much plastic surgery done on her mug that from 20 feet away she looks to be 56. er Gen X.

        1. Irrational

          Yes, it is remarkable. Except they can never fix necks. I assume that is why she wears scarves so often. Still looks like she is too old for the job though.

    2. flora

      She’s the money pivot. She can’t become a mere lobbyist. (Does anyone think Jeffries can shake the money tree the way she does? He’s still taking class. ) / ;)

    3. Jason Boxman

      other than these people are just plain worthless

      This. Basically. Liberal Democrats boil down to just this. Throw in some collective virtual signaling and market humping and you’ve got it.

    4. Dr. John Carpenter

      “I don’t get it, other than these people are just plain worthless and have no spine.”

      No, I think you get it. Add to that the money and that looking like you’re doing something is much easier than doing something and keeps the money flowing and I think that’s the size of it. Defenders of the Status Quo everyone of them.

  2. hamstak

    “Also, why do “dog people” think its OK for their pets to lick people? Or jump on them?”

    Because dog people are narcissistic, attention-seeking, self-absorbed control freaks! [hissss] [clawed swipe] [stretch] [auto-clean]

    1. MaryLand

      It’s my husband’s pet peeve (lol) that dog’s “do not respect your personal space.” And dog owners too often expect that you bond with their dogs. He refuses to do so and they jump up on him and sniff in embarrassing places. I greet the dogs, let them lick my hands, pet them, and then promptly wash my hands. They leave me alone after that. He refuses to participate in this ritual and suffers the consequences because of it. I do like dogs and cats, but he doesn’t. We are both not comfortable with keeping their saliva on our hands for more than a few minutes. It’s not a problem for me, but basically he resents being expected to love other people’s animals.

      1. Jason Boxman

        Could be worse. A neighbor I don’t know’s dog finally bounded down the steep hillside to greet me after a year of barking at me. It was a big unknown in the seconds before confrontation if I’d get mauled or not, but the dog was friendly. Too friendly. After jumping on me, and this was a 100 pound dog, a few times, it settled down and decided to follow me on an hour walk, where I felt obligated to keep it from getting hit by cars.

        Eventually it followed me back to the neighbor, who wasn’t around, wandered onto the porch for water, and I ran off up the street. Fortunately it didn’t follow. Not a responsibility I particularly wanted. At least it was friendly.

      2. Randy

        When I had dogs the first thing they had to learn was to do their business outside. The second lesson they were taught was not to jump on people.

        A responsible dog owner teaches their dog basic manners. There is nothing worse than a dog jumping on people especially if they’ve been running around outside in mud season.

        It’s not hard to train a dog not to jump. When they approach (usually enthusiastically) just raise your foot, bend your leg so your knee is out in front of you and position your knee so when the dog jumps it contacts your knee with its chest. Shout “NO!” when contact is made. This results in a painful lesson in the disadvantage of jumping and doesn’t take many reps to sink in. Most dogs require only two lessons.

        1. CanCyn

          A more humane way to train your own dog is to simply turn your back and don’t give them any attention until all 4 paws are on the floor. They learn fairly quickly not to jump. It isn’t always a good idea to turn your back on a strange dog but dogs want attention, don’t give it to them and they will give up eventually.
          Always blame the owner for bad manners, not the dog. I can’t remember the stat or find the article now but there is a goodly, more than half IIRC, number of dogs in North America who have had no formal training at all. Unregulated as dog training is, it is still important to learn how to control your dog. And spend anytime learning about the world of dog ‘rescue’ and learn of the horrors committed against dogs by some people and you quickly begin to understand the ‘why’ of badly behaved dogs. Adding, I have similar complaints about badly behaved children and teenagers that most here have about dogs. Training takes work and dedication, people don’t discipline their kids, why would we expect them to train their dogs?
          We adopted our dog almost a year ago, she was a street dog in Mexico. I can safely say now that we had no idea what we were taking on. Through training and consistency, she has become a very good house dog and is loving and affectionate with us but is still very scared of strangers (not to mention neighbours that she sees all the time) and that fear makes her somewhat aggressive people with other dogs. Her unpredictability is scary (and I am made to understand may never be eliminated no matter how much training and behaviour modification we employ). I am teetering on the edge of returning her to the rescue group. Feels like a total fail on our part but my assumption that love and training and good nutrition would cure what ails her was not correct.

      3. Irrational

        I think the dogs and cats know this. In our household, I tend towards cats, husband towards dogs. What happens when we go for a walk? Cats come up to him, dogs to me. But really, it is unbelievable, it is like they sense it and have to ” convert” you! Disclaimer: I am not 100% terrible – there are cute dogs, re. my comment on the dachshund picture ;-)

    2. lyman alpha blob

      One of my favorite things to observe in my town are the crazypants dog people getting their knickers in a knot anytime someone suggests Fido might have to follow some rules. Year or so ago the town began getting complaints about off leash dogs murdering cats in public parks and jumping all over people trying to get a little fresh air. One city official sent out to monitor the situation got pounced on herself and ultimately had to go to the hospital to get checked out (nothing too serious) while the offending human ran away before she could write them a ticket. After an extremely brain numbing debate between the crazy dog people and sane human beings that went on for the better part if the year and took up untold hours of city officials’ time, the town changed the rules and cut one whole hour a day of offleash dog time. Not a ban of dogs -you can still bring Rover around on a leash – just a little less off leash time on one popular beach used by the whole town. To hear the ensuing barking and gnashing of teeth from the biscuit holes of the crazypants dogsmoochers, you would have thought someone took their puppy out and curbstomped it. A few of them immediately got together and took out a petition to repeal the egregious new ordinance (that failed). Then the ringleader decided to run for council, with the main plank on his platform being to get his offleash doggytime back. He also lost. Perhaps there really is a deity after all.

      The funny, or ironic, or terrible thing depending on your point of view is that our community has a large number of African immigrants right now who the liberal goodthinkers in town support helping wholeheartedly in principle at least, to the point they considered making it a sanctuary city. My sister-in-law is one of the immigrants and she does not like dogs one bit or any other pets for that matter. It just wasn’t something her culture did. During the seemingly interminable public debate, someone did bring this up and suggested it might be nice and welcoming to have some hours where no dogs at all were allowed to make the immigrants and current residents who just don’t like dogs either feel more comfortable going to the public parks. That was shot down by the dogkissers too, who although ostensibly liberal, won’t give up one bit of privilege voluntarily to cooperate with those they profess to support. Cue the Phil Ochs.

      1. hunkerdown

        Is it a Ruffhausen by proxy thing, I wonder, or is it just a matter of familiarity?

        * familiar n. “a supernatural spirit often assuming animal form, supposed to attend and aid a witch, wizard, etc” But see also “a person, attached to the household of the pope or a bishop, who renders service in return for support”.

        1. MaryLand

          “Ruffhausen by proxy”—hilarious. Might be borrowing this.

          Irrational: thanks for the info that they feel compelled to convert you! Hahaha.

      2. Margo

        Old ski poles, look on craigslist, with the basket removed, make good walking sticks.

        If a dog runs up to you, you can use the pole as a lance to keep them away. Very effective. Also, if you are civically minded, can use them to spear and pick up litter.

    3. Arizona Slim

      Oh, brother. Do I agree with hamstak to the nth degree.

      Right now, I am sitting in my living room with noise-cancelling headphones that are only partially blocking the sound of the yapping herd next door.

      After years of having this sonic sewage force-fed into my house, I have done a 180 on dogs. Used to be a dog lover, but no more.

      And don’t get me started on their owners. Just don’t.

      1. skippy

        The dogs are the victims here Slim. Many buy or get dogs like they would a hand bag or fill out the paint by number reality they want to project. Next is dogs are breed for specific things e.g. you don’t get a working dog and leave it in the back yard, will go nuts. Many smaller breeds are ratters or burrow hunting dogs and the same applies as well. Then you have the small chihuahuas or maltese shih tzu crosses which were originally breed as companion intruder alert dogs for fine ladies. Most don’t know it but Chihuahuas are the worst biters, just get triggered and bite away, never get your face in theirs.

        I mean even something as simple as walking a dog on a leash has to be trained properly, to the point they never put any tension on the leash and just like a horse can be directed by moving the lead softly to the right or left or full stop. Then again my dogs on a simple command will sit next to me with Rue on the left and Ralph on the right regardless of what is going on around us. Bloke a few blocks away was President of the state dog club here and the first time he saw me walking them stopped his yard work and came straight up to us, knew exactly what they were and commented on how good they looked, obvious care, and how well they were trained.

        So neglect by humans should never be projected on the dogs themselves.

      2. The Rev Kev

        Hey Slim. You think that one of those electronic dog whistles might help out – though not letting your neighbours see you use it. Our dogs have a collar that, through a remote control, sound out a high pitched sound which has really helped stopped our dogs barking. But maybe you can get one that you can point from your side of the fence.

        1. Arizona Slim

          I have a handheld version of those dog whistles that I use when I have a direct line of sight with the dog. The stationary versions won’t work around my property because the major offenders are too far away or not in a direct line of sight.

          Oh, if you also have a problem with feral cats using your property as a litter box, the dog whistles work like a charm. All I have to do is activate the whistle and, boom, kitty cats are GONE.

    4. skippy

      The dog thingy is simple … training.

      Both my male black long coat straight back German Shepard and female Belgian Malinois/Oz Kelpie are both command controlled. I can walk them without leash, but always keep them on one regardless. I don’t do dog parks because most of the other dogs are not command controlled and not sure of the other dogs up keep and health status. If you want to see the Malinois in Rue just wait till and uncontrolled dog gets in her face. Ralph the German Shepherd is just to big and strong too play with most other dogs and then get a bit freaked out when he is chasing them down, like being hunted response. Yet both are the most affectionate and caring dogs I’ve known in my 61 years.

      Awhile back I cracked a rib and was a bit ginger but still working, after work I would lie down on the lounge a have a bit of a kip. My youngest daughter took a photo of me asleep with Rue lying with her muzzle across my neck and Ralph’s big body across my legs. Even then as my next door neighbor has found out twice that you just can’t walk in the front gate. He got a few meters in and Rue marched him out the gate and all the way across the front yard back to his driveway sat down and watched him for 5 minutes and then came back through the gate.

      So yeah its all about breeds and the how to train them starting from day one and never stopping. Per se both have spent time at a kennel for professional training whilst we were on holidays. 13 year military trainer loved Rue because how quickly and eager she was to train, not to mention a very pretty dog. Ralph on the other hand as described by another ex military trainer that was mates with a friend up the road said the first time he saw Ralph. I know that dog … long coat German Shepherd … takes about 3 years old before you can start really training them. Too big and strong and with the mind of an adolescent teenager = want equals do. People think he is either a bear or a wolf yet moves more like a lion, just his walk and watch out when he decides to run.

      Basically dog ownership is a responsibility to the dog for life and then everyone/thing else they might come into contact with. There are no half measures, food quality/portions, level 5 leanness to preserve joints, regular Vet visits, full medical insurance for both surgery and vet appt, daily training[fun], and lots and lots of affection.

    5. Jeff W

      “Also, why do “dog people” think its OK for their pets to lick people? Or jump on them?”

      One of my favorite TV shows—well, the only current TV show I can actually stand to watch—is Dogs Are Incredible, with the preternaturally gifted professional dog trainer Kang Hyung-wook—and I’m not even a “dog person.” (You can find full episodes online, including, if you have the right IP location, on YouTube.)

      Kang absolutely does not think it’s OK for dogs to lick people or jump on them. He frequently trains dogs to “have manners” (wait and not jump all over people) or hang out in their kennels, especially at those times when people come to the door. (“하우스!” [“House!”] is what Korean owners will say to get their dogs into their kennels.) Or maybe, really, he trains owners to train dogs to “have manners” or hang out in their kennels when visitors arrive.

  3. Wukchumni

    “Hemp may get cows high, but will their milk do the same to you?” [Nature]. “It remains unclear whether such milk would get human consumers high.” • But that’s the most important question. A business model for a dairy industry that’s in trouble!
    I heard stoner cows are ostracized by other bovines in that all they do is hang around all day and eat snacks.

  4. Tvc15

    Peter Daou re: Nancy Pelosi

    “A master of performative opposition, she’s done more than any other Democrat this century to protect the corrupt status quo. Protected war criminals. Presided over massive military budget increases. Enriched herself with insider trading. Punched left at every turn.”

    Perhaps it’s covered under insider trader, but I’d add grift to her resume too. I will do my best to avoid the gross disconnected from reality 24/7 coming hagiography.

      1. hunkerdown

        News of the Wired from Neo4j. Like Steve H., I’m waiting for the video. Whatever secret weapon might be more individually (or non-platform-aligned) usable.

  5. flora

    “You’d think the Times would have made at least one change to its DealBook Summit, but apparently not:”

    He’s a made man, imo. What’s to change? / ;)

  6. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Trump’s weakness

    I don’t think being pro-vaccine is it. A lot of family members in my parents’ generation (which is also Trump’s generation – 70s-80s) are card carrying, Fox News loving, Bible thumping conservatives. They were also first in line to get shots and boosters as soon as they were available. And if the conventional wisdom is any guide, these are the people who vote in higher percentages than younger generations.

    These stereotypes the media likes to promulgate are just that – stereotypes that don’t resemble actual people all that much.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Not sure if it’s the same study, but a friend sent me something about that – was it this? https://www.vice.com/en/article/v7vjx8/almost-twice-as-many-republicans-died-from-covid-before-the-midterms-than-democrats

        Haven’t read it all or looked directly at the study, but the overall premise seemed reasonable to me, but not necessarily due to vaccine rates by political party. What I didn’t see discussed were age demographics by political party. If the old saw about people getting more conservative as they age is true (if you’re 25 and vote Republican you’ve got no heart, and if you’re 60 and vote Democrat you’ve got no brain), then you’d expect more older people to be Republicans and it was overwhelmingly older people who’ve died from the rona. QED!?

        It is all quite confounding.

        1. Yeti

          Also social position as in income level seems to be a factor. Not sure where on income line either party is but would suspect possibly Republicans may be in lower income brackets. Could be my bias also.

        2. Acacia

          That article was also forwarded to me by a friend. It’s focused on vaccines only — no mention of masks — and gives off a strong whiff of confirmation bias.

  7. Samuel Conner

    > I remain gobsmacked at the ease, the rapidity, the virulence, with which non-science, indeed anti-science concepts like “immunity debt” penetrate the PMC. How on earth does this happen? These are adults, with children in their care.

    I have long thought that part of “the human condition” is that by the time we’re old and wise enough to be safely entrusted with the upbringing of children, we’re too old to produce them. PMCs are subject to this every bit as much as the rest; perhaps more so as they may be more inclined to complacency or even hubris. It’s an argument for multi-generational family arrangements. Let the grandparents, who are the wisest of the lot, raise the little ones.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > It’s an argument for multi-generational family arrangements.

      That is an argument totally orthogonal to current thinking, and hence attractive to me. It would be interesting, politically, to start advocating for it. Also, the Jackpot is going to hit the nuclear family like a bomb. I would imagine multigenerational families are much more resilient. Solves housing issues too, perhaps.

      1. Greg

        To convert it into a goodthink proposition is fairly straightforward.
        Those aging workers need to be replaced with less informed and less argumentative youth, rendering them useless mouths. By forcing them to take the childcare role, both parents are free to work and the government is spared the expense of subsidising childcare, and there is no need for a difficult conversation about the fate of useless mouths.
        However grandparents aren’t all good childcarers, so a large detachment of inspectors and regulatory enforcement agents are needed, at appropriate wages to ensure the quality of their essential work. These roles will of course be much more numerous than the minimum wage childcare roles removed from the market.

    2. hunkerdown

      Agreed. The nuclear family is an inherently authoritarian, individualist construct and a means of reproducing capitalism. With no nuclear structural hegemony, the constraining relations of private property and wage are no longer reliable means of disciplining the working class through economic exclusion.

    3. Soredemos

      Age giving wisdom is largely a myth, with the biggest difference between children and adults being that adults don’t have any excuses left for their abject stupidity.

  8. Tim

    Regarding Pelosi: All the political capital in the world could not get her to relinquish her role as speaker, instead all it took was a hammer of an upset electorate.

    One could say this does not bode well for the bourgeoisie going forward. If the masses figure out that concrete material violence actually creates change it could be real trouble.

  9. Tim

    With regards to immunity debt, I don’t believe that particular theory, but this school year it’s been non-stop spreading of sickness in schools, including my children, whereas my kids hadn’t caught anything the past few years.

    My theory is ridiculously unscientific, despite being an engineer: We are simply catching up (pun intended) on everything we should have caught between March 2020 and the first half of 2022 when all covid restrictions were lifted from schools. It has nothing to do with a change in immunity, it just has everything to do with the levels of exposure. There is more hanging around that hasn’t had it’s day in the sun like it was supposed to before and they are finally getting their turn.

    1. chris

      I mean, we know measles and other viral diseases wreck your immune system. We know COVID can also wreck your immune system. We know kids of all ages are suffering from anxiety and varying levels of nutrition, which also effects the immune system. We know many schools have either eliminated pandemic protections, or a seriously scaling back, and that includes HVAC maintenance. We also know many of these viruses will mutate and change to better infect new hosts.

      So why is it so hard to believe that there is now a population of children in our schools who have weakened immune systems from any of a variety of factors AND they’re spreading newer viruses within their cohorts? Why worry about any kind of natural level of sickness as a way to compare where we are now to where we used to be?

      I think what we’re finding out is no matter how badly we want to, we can never go back to how things were pre-2020.

    2. Basil Pesto

      Except there were more confirmed RSV infections in the equivalent period last year than there have been this year in the US, but not the same number of severe cases.

  10. Expat2Uruguay

    Today in Links there was a study that said that adults under 30 are putting a lot of trust in social media as a source for information.

    But I don’t understand, how is social media a source for news? I thought social media was just a place where people shared articles, videos and podcasts that were produced by different professional media. Or are they talking about something like Reddit being a source of information? Most of what shared on social media seems to be mainstream news anyway, so I feel like I’m definitely missing something here. I read the story and nowhere did it describe what was meant by social media….

    Headline: U.S. adults under 30 now trust information from social media almost as much as from national news outlets

    source: Pew Research Center

  11. Jason Boxman

    Also, why do “dog people” think its OK for their pets to lick people? Or jump on them?

    Or while we’re on about it, defecate in my presence? Why is that actually totally cool and okay? Like, in public spaces, not in someone’s backyard that I can see from across the street. This seems like it should honestly be not okay, but it’s some kind of accepted fact of reality for some perverse reason. Why?

    1. Duke of Prunes

      It’s OK because dogs go when they go. A dog owner doesn’t have much control over this. Also, dogs seem to have to go at the most inappropriate times. It never fails, I can walk my dog for 20 minutes and not see anyone, but as soon as a car comes by, he starts to squat. If it bothers you, don’t look. As long as the owner cleans up, what’s the problem?

      1. Jason Boxman

        Why? What makes it okay? Because it would be inconvenient to train your dog otherwise? Just because some behavior is widespread and accepted doesn’t mean it’s beyond reproach.

    2. Otis B Driftwood

      Good grief. So much ridiculous whining in this afternoon’s comments about dogs. But this one takes the prize.

      It’s like Nextdoor here today.

    3. semper loquitur

      Is this for real? Because they are dogs and don’t understand human inhibitions or social norms? As a dog owner, I dearly wish I could get my dog to defecate on command but she doesn’t seem to get it. Have you addressed the squirrels and birds as well?

      1. CanCyn

        You actually can get your dog to defecate and urinate on command. We go out first thing every morning and my dog does both, on our property. We started out by establishing a schedule going to the same area every time, and praising when said activities happened, this allows the dog to learn the words. Now we can say ”Go p**” or “Go p**p” and she generally does. It is not 100% because dogs can be stimulated by the smells left by other dogs, so I keep p**p bags handy on walks just in case.
        Mostly it is the humans who are responsible for bad dogs.

  12. Carolinian

    Re Trump–if it’s Biden or Trump I’m voting Trump. Don’t even have to think about it.

    And re DeSantis–he did say “folks” the other day so perhaps more Obama imitating Hillary and her wonk speak.

    Ron Paul has an interesting article saying the Tea Party was why the Repubs did so well in 2010. In other words if you give the public some populism–any populism–and the public will go for it. Mitch McConnell is not populism.


    You don’t have to agree with everything about Ron Paul but I think he has a point.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      On the fiery hourglass, this is neat:

      Despite the chaos that L1527 causes, it’s only about 100,000 years old – a relatively young body. Given its age and its brightness in far-infrared light as observed by missions like the Infrared Astronomical Satellite, L1527 is considered a class 0 protostar, the earliest stage of star formation. Protostars like these, which are still cocooned in a dark cloud of dust and gas, have a long way to go before they become full-fledged stars. L1527 doesn’t generate its own energy through nuclear fusion of hydrogen yet, an essential characteristic of stars. Its shape, while mostly spherical, is also unstable, taking the form of a small, hot, and puffy clump of gas somewhere between 20 and 40% the mass of our Sun.

      As the protostar continues to gather mass, its core gradually compresses and gets closer to stable nuclear fusion. The scene shown in this image reveals L1527 doing just that. The surrounding molecular cloud is made up of dense dust and gas being drawn to the center, where the protostar resides. As the material falls in, it spirals around the center. This creates a dense disk of material, known as an accretion disk, which feeds material to the protostar. As it gains more mass and compresses further, the temperature of its core will rise, eventually reaching the threshold for nuclear fusion to begin.

      The disk, seen in the image as a dark band in front of the bright center, is about the size of our solar system. Given the density, it’s not unusual for much of this material to clump together – the beginnings of planets. Ultimately, this view of L1527 provides a window into what our Sun and solar system looked like in their infancy.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the male fantasy

      Turning into the wrong lane? I mean, I suppose…. If it were a dream, not a game.

      (I continue to be stunned at the quality of the artwork — unimaginable amounts of labor must go into it.)

  13. fjallstrom

    Regarding “immunity debt”, it’s not a concept I have come across at all in Sweden.

    Closest was an increase in non-covid respiratory illnesses among small children in the autumn of 2021. It was at least in part explained as delayed infections, as in infections they would have gone through earlier if not for Covid restrictions. The delay as such was seen as a good thing, as growth in the first years makes you better able to fight of illnesses (which is also the stated reason for recommending all breastfeeding the first year.)

    So, I would be interested if other non-US readers share the same experience or if “immunity debt” has entered the vocabulary where you live.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > what’s the deal with the extra ‘y’ all of a sudden

      I believe that’s the Ukrainian spelling, like Kyiv for Kiev (though I don’t get why not “Kyyiv”; these guys got no logic at all).

      Has the added benefit, I suppose, of breaking search (or forcing Google et al. to incorporate a mapping).

  14. Milton

    I’ve tried searching but haven’t found what I was looking for in that there was more going on with Tom Brady and his no tell vacation to the Bahamas at the start of the NFL season. Was he forced by Gisele to go on the trip to save their marriage? Was he being proposed in a new FTX venture? Was he try to extricate from it? Was he visiting the latest “health lab”? Lots of possibilities for uncovering some juicy Intel.

    BTW, there some tiktok hits but I don’t understand that platform.

  15. semper loquitur

    re: PMC sciencey-ness

    COVID has been a real eye-opener for me in terms of the incredible power of groupthink, magical thinking, and delusion that runs through the PMC $hit-libs. Science means nothing to them, it’s just another tool to moralize with and to try to buttress their ever so precarious yet ever so entitled position in society. It’s all just wordplay and illusion, just another class marker to try and set themselves apart from the people they are terrified they may become someday. From the media to the politicians to the intelligence community, they think they can just talk away real world problems. It’s all narrative control. It’s worrisome to think of them as parents. Who knows what other reality denying anti-science insanities they would inflict on their children?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > It’s worrisome to think of them as parents.

      Exhibit A: SBF. Parents were two Stanford Law Professors. One shouldn’t, I suppose, generalize from such a small sample, but I also think of the parents cheating on their children’s college applications (Varsity Blues); at some level, the children have to know, or work hard not to know. Or the Newton parents (Walensky; Jha) who protected their own children but nobody else’s.

      And on delusion, yes; I’m gobsmacked by it still. (Of course, one must always consider the possibility that even now a parasitical Theodorus Nitz commercial is inserting its ovipositor into the back of one’s neck, in a few days in a few days to bring about a bad case of brain worms, as the creature’s hatchlings work through their lifecycle… And how would I know this is not happening?

  16. chris

    Very amused by an email my mortgage services sent me today, offering to save me so much money if I refinanced to a higher interest rate! They showed me what my payments was now, at the current rate, and then they showed me how current market rates were more than double, and what the increased payment would be because the interest rate was so much higher. But then, they took the difference between the two payments and declared that was how much I would save each month. The email I received later in the day apologizing for the confusion was also hilarious.

    I remember around 2007 when different news organizations began to actually attempt journalism and tried to investigate the housing bubble. They discovered that the calculators and tools on all the websites, even FHA and HUD, couldn’t accept a negative value for home price appreciation. They were build in to assume that house prices would always go up. And now it seems whatever clunky form generator mortgage services use today still have the same problem. They’re always taking the absolute value of the difference and assuming it represents a savings. Because interest rates always go down and house prices always go up. It seems people have learned nothing from the last 15 years.

    We are screwed when these banks get hit by another significant shock or downturn. They don’t even have the tools to describe what to do when their assumptions change. How could they possibly be prepared for the deep recession or depression so many are warning about in 2023?

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      i note that that assumption of ever rising valuations is built in to whatever algorithm the local property tax office uses.
      because of late stepdad’s Veteran Status…which devolved to Mom…she hasnt had to pay prop tax for a long while(has become ocd “Conservative”/rabid about taxes due to being exempt…which deserves study)…but i pay them on the trailerhouse/Library.
      went from #3k valuation to $12k in 2020, but i was so busy with pandemic and wife’s cancer that i missed the complaining window…but i went down there and yelled at them anyway.
      lots of obfuscatory…and rather incoherent…recital of catechism regarding how Market(holy, holy) determines valuation…and i retort that since i’d hafta actually pay to get rid of that old trailer, shouldn’t the “Value” be negative, by now?….blank stares, wheels turning behind them…then lapse once again into orthodoxic unconsciousness and recital.
      but with a subtle intensity, as if they had to pray harder to drive out the doubts thus introduced.
      me adding gleefully that well, how come the valuations didnt go down during the GFC?
      …and for that matter, aren’t 30 year old trailer houses supposed to Depreciate?

      by this point, the local ….priest?(tax assessor himself)…was in the prayer circle…and he suddenly blurted that they were sorry for the mistake…it’s the algorithm, you see…and we’ll drop it back to $3k valuation…but they cannot by statute go any lower…

      and i say…so much for the omnipotence and omniscience of Market(world without end…)
      they were glad to be rid of me…and i imagined them sacrificing a chicken or something and intoning solemnly about “efficient markets” or some such.

      so yes…we’re screwed.
      when gravity asserts its power at some point.

      1. caucus99percenter

        Given that those parts of the system that really matter — the Pentagon / MIC? the banks / the Federal Reserve? — seem always to be shielded from normal audits, transparency requirements, bookkeeping standards, scrutiny, and accountability, we can probably revise the saying around here that “everything is like CalPERS” to “everything is like FTX.” As will be revealed when the Jackpot finally hits…

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > he suddenly blurted that they were sorry for the mistake…it’s the algorithm, you see…and we’ll drop it back to $3k valuation

        Congratulations. That’s a not insignificant return for a little yelling.

        Makes me wonder how many other algos are running the town, how it nets out, and for whom.

  17. Amfortas the hippie

    i am intrigued enough that i’m considering spending $ on a subscription for the first time ever:

    i am more of a tolkien nerd than one of lewis…just happened that way.
    (recent retelling of the second age (bringing appendices to the small screen, remarkably,lol), and i didn’t even need the subtitles for quendi, sindarin or black speech(a nerd herd unto myself, indeed!))
    i’m reminded by things like this just how much tolkien’s universe has influenced me…and am thinking right now that the early and simultaneous exposure to tolkien and neitszche were complimentary.

  18. digi_owl

    Again and again i find myself thinking about the overlap between late imperial china and USA. This down to a opium epidemic and people chopping off their dangly bits to climb the power structure.

  19. griffen

    I generally do not care myself that much for celebrity coverage and glossy scribbling from fan magazines. Jennifer Aniston has been a favorite of mine for years since first catching early episodes of Friends before, or just prior to the show hitting really really big. If you have not tuned into it or it’s been awhile, the Thanksgiving episodes are just some of the best holiday comedies wrapped in a half hour.

    Oh and to add, she is like a fine wine. Getting better with age.

  20. Glen

    The month before the 2020 election, he signed off on establishing a new category for federal employees that would have stripped away protections and effectively made the positions much easier to terminate. The order would have reassigned thousands of civil servants in policy roles to so-called Schedule F status, paving the way for the administration to purge the public service at will. That didn’t come to pass, with Joe Biden reversing the order as soon as he took office. But Trump has already hinted that reimposing Schedule F could be on the cards if he steps back into the Oval Office.

    Having worked both in the US military with civil servants, and in major corporations, I can tell you that depending on how this is implemented, it can have a huge impact and not in a good way.

    It is true, I have seen it, it is very hard to fire a civil servant. I saw a couple that were “fired” several times that kept getting their job back after hearings in Federal Court, but I have also seen something worse.

    In the corporations I have worked at, the policies, rules, etc, are all clearly published, and we receive refresher training, and sign agreements that we understand and abide by these rules, but as you work on larger and larger projects, you repeatedly see that corporate “rules” become Calvinball, with corporate executives free to do nefarious stuff, and everybody else clearly understanding that they can speak up and will probably just get fired. And the real trick is to do it all before the finance and accounting people even get involved. That $100M contract for a new production line that Engineering has slaved over with specifications, bids, proposals, technical reviews, a rigorous down select process to get the best technology at the best price? I’ve seen project managers award the contract only to find out that the contract was awarded to a DIFFERENT COMPANY a week later. No explanations, nobodies talking, it just HAPPENS and everybody gets to deal with the resulting carnage.

    Now, bad things can happen in the government too, but it’s much, much, much harder to pull shenanigans like I discuss above when even the lowest GS-7 can pick up the phone and make a report because they are not afraid they are going to lose their job. Or, the companies can file a complaint. There are rules and procedures in place which do actually work. And when the “rules” are broken, it’s Federal law, not some mutable pile of documents that can be re-written over the weekend to fit whatever has happened.

    So be careful what you wish for with regard to civil servants. If it ends up like corporate America where the rules and compliance with those rules seems to vanish as you go up the food chain, well then the crap that happens in our government will get worse, much worse.


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