By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Bird Song of the Day
Common House-Martin, Junzano, Huesca, Aragón, Spain. “Song.”
“So many of the social reactions that strike us as psychological are in fact a rational management of symbolic capital.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles
I guess it’s time for the Countdown Clock!
* * *
“Biden will sign an order seeking to protect birth control access a year after Roe was overturned” [ABC]. “President Joe Biden is banking on reproductive rights to be a galvanizing issue for voters in the 2024 election as he collects three top-level endorsements, hosts a rally and issues an executive order seeking to bolster access to contraception as the nation marks a year since the Supreme Court decision overturning federal abortion protections. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday are being endorsed by Planned Parenthood Action Fund, NARAL Pro-Choice America and Emily’s List. The groups are throwing their early support behind the reelection effort in part to highlight the importance of the issue for Democrats heading into the election year, the groups’ leaders told The Associated Press.” • How prescient Democrats were never to have codified Roe!
“Biden to sign executive order to expand free birth control access” [Axios]. Great. Why stop there? Do free health care “access”!
“The Death of ‘Deliverism'” [Democracy]. “Deepak had worked on various efforts to secure expanded income support for a long time—and was part of a successful push over two decades earlier to increase the child tax credit, a rare win under the George W. Bush presidency. His students were mostly working-class adults of color with full-time jobs, and many were parents. Knowing that the newly expanded child tax credit would be particularly helpful to his students, he entered the class elated. The money had started to hit people’s bank accounts, and he was eager to hear about how the extra income would improve their lives. He asked how many of them had received the check. More than half raised their hands. Then he asked those students whether they were happy about it. Not one hand went up. Baffled, Deepak asked why. One student gave voice to the vibe, asking, “What’s the catch?” As the class unfolded, students shared that they had not experienced government as a benevolent force. They assumed that the money would be recaptured later with penalties. It was, surely, a trap. And of course, in light of centuries of exploitation and deceit—in criminal justice, housing, and safety net systems—working-class people of color are not wrong to mistrust government bureaucracies and institutions. The real passion in the class that night, and many nights, was about crime and what it was like to take the subway at night after class. These students were overwhelmingly progressive on economic and social issues, but many of their everyday concerns were spoken to by the right, not the left.” • Commentary;
The big mistake here is assuming the minimum wage and the ACA represent delivering stuff people want. People don't want a higher minimum wage, they want higher wages. They don't want 'health insurance' they want health care.https://t.co/Qw53Ow6LJG
— Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) June 23, 2023
“‘Hunter is Resolved’: Washington Celebrates the End to the Biden Corruption Scandal” [Jonathan Turley]. “For years, the political and media elite have struggled to “resolve” the disaster that is Hunter. They have finally done so with a long-predicted “controlled demolition” of the scandal by having the president’s son plead guilty to a couple of minor tax violations without a serious threat of jail time. They even threw in a phantom felony allegation that will evaporate once Hunter completes a diversion program. The diversion program is particularly insulting to the intelligence of the American people. Hunter is reportedly no longer an addict, having attended treatment and taken up painting. Yet he will be treated like he is a junkie picked up in a drug sweep, and everyone will pretend that this is about addiction rather than corruption. The Justice Department continues to refuse to confirm what it means by an “ongoing investigation,” but it had often used this claim to refuse to share material with Congress. There is reason to be suspicious. First, no one can explain why it took five years for the investigation of two minor tax counts and a gun allegation that could have been confirmed in a month. Indeed, an IRS whistleblower alleged that Hunter was given preferential treatment and that the whistleblower’s team was removed from further work on the case by the Justice Department. Hunter also never faced any charges after videotaping himself engaged in interstate violations involving a host of prostitutes and drugs. That is now simply material for his scrapbook. There is a glaring omission of any charge under the Foreign Agents Registration Act despite the Justice Department using this charge freely against associates of former President Donald Trump like Paul Manafort. However, again, it would not take five years to establish this crime (which was done in little time with Manafort). Hunter seems to have been simply given a pass on what was likely the greatest concern for the White House. The most notable omission is the failure of any apparent investigation into the expanding scandal surrounding the influence-peddling operation of the Biden family. Despite the release of evidence by the House Oversight Committee showing potentially millions of dollars in transfers to Biden family members from foreign sources, Attorney General Merrick Garland has blocked any appointment of a special counsel.” • That’s quite a bill of particulars. It’s a lot like the “rules-based international order,” which is definitely not about the law, and nobody quite knows what the rules are.
* * *
“”No Labels vows to end presidential effort if polls show Biden ‘way’ ahead of Trump in spring” [Election Law Blog]. “NBC News reports on today’s statement by Ben Chavis, No Labels co-chair. No Labels will make a decision on whether to run a third-party presidential candidate after Super Tuesday and, according to Chavis, ‘If we find that the polls are changed and Joe Biden is way, way out ahead, and the person who the Republicans may choose — and if they continue to choose Donald Trump, even though he’s been indicted — then No Labels will stand down.’ Once again, I’m confounded by No Labels’ analysis…. If No Labels doesn’t want to risk being a spoiler, then it should ‘stand down’ even if the Trump-Biden polls are tight (as they currently are), not just if Biden is ‘way, way out ahead’ of Trump.”
“No Labels declines to reveal just who is funding its third party bid” [Politico]. “No Labels’ bid to run a third party presidential candidate in 2024 has sparked a number of questions about political motivations. Chief among them: Who, exactly, is paying for this thing? The centrist group consists of a constellation of entities, some of which disclose donor names. But the main one is a nonprofit which, unlike political parties, does not have to reveal the names of its funders. And in an interview with POLITICO, its CEO, Nancy Jacobson, declined to do so, saying simply that it was a ‘mixed’ pool of individual contributors including ‘people that want to help our country.'” • Oh. Is “our country” like “our democracy”?
* * *
“Why the 2024 GOP Primary Isn’t Like 2016” [Amy Walter, Cook Political Report]. “Former New Jersey governor and 2016 GOP candidate Chris Christie argues that the only way to beat Trump is to go directly at him. ‘If you want to be the nominee, you got to go through Donald Trump. I don’t think there’s any other way to do it.’ That may have been a good strategy in 2016, but it’s not all that clear that it will work in 2024. First, as a messenger, Christie is a flawed vessel. The June CNN poll found that 61% of Republican voters said they would not support his candidacy ‘under any circumstances.’ A recent Marist/PBS NewsHour/NPR poll found Christie’s favorable ratings with Republicans deeply underwater by 28 points. In other words, not many Republicans are even open to hearing what Christie has to say, nevermind agreeing with his message. Beyond the messenger problem, there’s a messaging challenge as well. When asked how they’d prefer other Republican presidential candidates to address Trump’s indictment, just 12% of Republican voters in a June CNN poll agreed that those candidates should ‘condemn Trump’s actions,’ while 45% said they shouldn’t take a stand on it either way. Another 42% preferred that the Republican candidates ‘publicly condemn the government’s prosecution of Trump.’ Overall, almost 75% of Republicans think Trump should continue his campaign for president despite his indictment, and almost 60% think he should continue to run even if he is convicted. That does not look like an electorate eager to support a ‘truth teller’ about the dangers of nominating Trump again. Another new poll, this one from Marist/NPR/PBSNewsHour, suggests that an ‘electability message’ is far from compelling to potential primary voters. When asked which was more important in choosing a nominee for president, a candidate who stands ‘on conservative principles’ or one who had ‘the best chance to beat Joe Biden, only 35% chose defeating Biden.”
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!). ; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. . (“PMC” modulo “class expatriates,” of course.) Second, all the working parts of the Party reinforce each other. Leave aside characterizing the relationships between elements of the Party (ka-ching, but not entirely) those elements comprise a network — a Flex Net? An iron octagon? — of funders, vendors, apparatchiks, electeds, NGOs, and miscellaneous mercenaries, with assets in the press and the intelligence community.
Note, of course, that the class power of the PMC both expresses and is limited by other classes; oligarchs and American gentry (see ‘industrial model’ of Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Jie) and the working class spring to mind. Suck up, kick down.
* * *
Realignment and Legitimacy
“Physician and Biomedical Scientist Harassment on Social Media During the COVID-19 Pandemic” [JAMA]. N = 1028. ” In all, 238 respondents (66%) reported harassment on social media (Table 1). Of these individuals, 210 (88%) reported harassment due to advocacy, 107 (45%) reported harassment on the basis of gender, 65 (27%) race or ethnicity, 31 (13%) sexual orientation, 15 (6%) due to disability, and 74 (31%) due to other self-described reasons…. Of 359 respondents, 228 (64%) reported harassment related to comments made about the COVID-19 pandemic, 111 (31%) reported being sexually harassed, and 66 (18%) reported their private information had been shared (ie, doxxing)… At a time when physicians and biomedical scientists need support and their advocacy is vital to the national interest more than ever before, they are being badgered, doxxed, and sexually harassed. Institutions and companies should support those who are attacked and provide mechanisms to reduce harassment and provide accountability.” • If the public health establishment, along with many lab-coated squillionaire hirelings with M.D. trailing their names, had not played such a pernicious role as scientists in boosting infection, I would be more in sympathy with this complaint than I am. Similarly, Nature and Science have gotten themselves into identity politics; what did they expect? The demand for deference strikes me as… unbecoming. Not that I want anybody to be doxxed…
“I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.” –William Lloyd Garrison
Lambert here: Readers, thanks for the collective effort.
Resources, United States (Local): AK (dashboard); AL (dashboard); AR (dashboard); AZ (dashboard); CA (dashboard; Marin); CO (dashboard; wastewater); CT (dashboard); DE (dashboard); FL (wastewater); GA (wastewater); HI (dashboard); IA (wastewater reports); ID (dashboard, Boise; dashboard, wastewater, Central Idaho; wastewater, Coeur d’Alene; dashboard, Spokane County); IL (wastewater); IN (dashboard); KS (dashboard; wastewater, Lawrence); KY (dashboard, Louisville); LA (dashboard); MA (wastewater); MD (dashboard); ME (dashboard); MI (wastewater; wastewater); MN (dashboard); MO (wastewater); MS (dashboard);
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Resources, Canada (National): Wastewater (Government of Canada).
Hat tips to helpful readers: Art_DogCT, B24S, CanCyn, ChiGal, Chuck L, Festoonic, FM, FreeMarketApologist (4), Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JEHR, JF, JL Joe, John, JM (9), JustAnotherVolunteer, JW, KatieBird, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, MT_Wild, otisyves, Petal (5), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (11), tennesseewaltzer, Utah, Bob White (3).
Stay safe out there!
Look for the Helpers
“There’s a Name for What You’re Feeling. It’s Called Moral Injury” [Jessica Wildfire]. “Our cultural norms almost never give us the time or space we need to process our emotions. Our leaders don’t give us the tools to deal with the tragic events in our lives. More often, they deprive us of those tools. They try to convince us to hide our needs and plaster over them with fake smiles. They urge us not to feel. They teach us to minimize and trivialize the feelings of others. They want us to treat our anxiety and depression with consumer spending. They want us to keep hustling. It’s not a bad thing to stop and reflect on the moral injuries we’ve endured over the last several years. It’s necessary for us to heal. We can’t just do it once and then move on. For most people, it’s an ongoing process.”
Covid is Airborne
“Predicting building ventilation performance in the era of an indoor air crisis” (PDF) [Building Simulation]. “The COVID-19 pandemic clearly illustrated that there are enough poorly ventilated spaces in almost all countries and cities to sustain chains of infection. Given this reality, it was asked why such spaces’ ventilation was not improved immediately (Dancer et al. 2021). The answer is that achieving such improvements is highly challenging. First, there is a lack of ventilation performance data. Second, ventilation performance is not constant. Third, it is not the overall ventilation performance that matters, but ventilation rate per person at any time, and occupancy varies significantly, in both space and time. Therefore, a building must provide sufficient ventilation at its maximum occupancy. That is, its ventilation ability dictates its maximum occupancy; a higher number of occupants than the maximum should be avoided.
The power of prediction for determining the ventilation performance of buildings lies in the fact that a validated predictive tool can be applied at low cost to many buildings, provided adequate input data are available. Prediction is therefore an economic approach for assessing ventilation performance at a city or global scale, as it is cheaper to use a reliable predictive tool based on building, system, and climatic factors than to perform field measurements. Such a tool can be physics-based or driven by building ventilation system, envelope leakage, and weather data, supplemented by other monitored data, such as CO2 concentrations.” And: we call for national governments to consider mandating real-time indoor air quality monitoring in at least all public buildings, as people have a right to healthy air in the buildings they must use (Mølhave and Krzyzanowski 2000). We remain optimistic that future innovation will result in advances in economic monitoring and predictive tools for determining ventilation performance in the billions of indoor spaces worldwide.” • The ruling and governing classes know the score; they make their spaces #DavosSafe. Why then is there a requirement for a general solution?
“Long-term exposure to air pollution and risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 hospitalization or death: Danish nationwide cohort study” [European Respiratory Journal]. N = 3 ,721, 810. From the Discussion: “In this large nationwide study, we detected strong associations between long-term exposure to air pollution and contracting SARS-CoV-2 infection and developing severe COVID-19 resulting in hospitalization or death. People with chronic cardio-metabolic and respiratory diseases, dementia and prior ALRIs and those who are the most socioeconomically disadvantaged were most vulnerable.” And:
Although exact molecular mechanisms by which air pollution affects viral infection and pathogenesis of COVID-19 remain unknown, there are several plausible pathways. Exposure to air pollution may promote upregulation of the angiotensin converting enzyme-2 (ACE2) receptor relevant for viral entry, replication and assembly, and activate proinflammatory transcription factors, producing local inflammation. Furthermore, pollutant exposure reduces mucociliary clearance, promotes epithelial permeability, prevents macrophage uptake, and disrupts natural killer cell function, all of which can increase viral spread and inflammation. Subsequent enhanced inflammation can trigger neutrophil recruitment and further amplify inflammatory processes. Moreover, since pollution is believed to skew adaptive immune responses toward allergic/bacterial responses instead of antiviral immune responses, exposure to air pollution may result in enhanced virus-induced tissue damage and inflammation, promoting dysfunction of a number of organs, including the lungs, heart, kidney, and brain, resulting in death . Furthermore, air pollution likely additionally increases risk of COVID-19 severity and death indirectly by increasing risk of major respiratory and cardio-metabolic diseases, that in turn increase COVID-19 severity/mortality.
Lambert here: I’m getting the feeling that the “Something Awful” might be a sawtooth pattern — variant after variant — that averages out to a permanently high plateau. Lots of exceptionally nasty sequelae, most likely deriving from immune dysregulation (says this layperson). To which we might add brain damage, including personality changes therefrom.
* * *
I guess they don’t want to know:
Our NIH grant to study cryptic lineages was triaged this week.
Easy solutions: if you don't want to find something, don't fund anyone to look for it.
— Marc Johnson (@SolidEvidence) June 22, 2023
“Scientists are trying to find a mystery person in Ohio who has a new kind of COVID and is shedding it into the sewage” [Business Insider]. “Earlier this year, Marc Johnson, a professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at the University of Missouri School of Medicine, took to Twitter with an appeal: “Help me solve a COVID cryptic lineage mystery.” Johnson told Insider that he was looking through a database of COVID samples when he came across a brand-new version, or “lineage,” of the virus. There were massive amounts of this unique strain, all coming from one mystery person in Ohio. The viral material has been primarily found at two sites: The city of Columbus and 40 miles away in the city of Washington Court House — Johnson says the person may live in one city and work in the other. He says that this isn’t ‘an imminent public-health threat,’ and that the person likely has a form of “long COVID” that isn’t contagious. But finding these lineages, and identifying the people who spread them, could unlock new clues into how COVID mutates as well as why some people become super-shedders of the virus for long periods.” • And speaking of the NIH–
“Persistent serum protein signatures define an inflammatory subcategory of long COVID” [Nature (RS)]. “We have identified a serum proteomic signature using a broad-based screen that identifies individuals with PASC that have signs of persistent inflammatory disease. In our cohort, approximately 60% of PASC exhibited an inflammatory signature. Those with evidence of persistent inflammation had a broad range of clinical features that did not clearly segregate the group, suggesting the importance of overlaying biological and clinical readouts in this diverse condition. Our findings provide insights to potential molecular mechanisms of persistent inflammation in PASC and suggest possible therapeutic targets that may be efficacious…” • So the NIH spent a billion dollars on their worthless “12 symptoms” study, with not even the most half-hearted attempt at determining “molecular evidence of persistent inflammation,” which we now have, no thanks to them. What a farce!
From BioBot wastewater data from June 22:
For now, I’m going to use this national wastewater data as the best proxy for case data (ignoring the clinical case data portion of this chart, which in my view “goes bad” after March 2022, for reasons as yet unexplained). At least we can spot trends, and compare current levels to equivalent past levels.
NOT UPDATED From CDC, June 10:
Lambert here: Looks to like XBB.1.16 and now XBB.1.16 are outcompeting XBB.1.9, but XBB.1.5 has really staying power. I sure hope the volunteers doing Pangolin, on which this chart depends, don’t all move on the green fields and pastures new (or have their access to facilities cut by administrators of ill intent).
CDC: “As of May 11, genomic surveillance data will be reported biweekly, based on the availability of positive test specimens.” “Biweeekly: 1. occurring every two weeks. 2. occurring twice a week; semiweekly.” Looks like CDC has chosen sense #1. In essence, they’re telling us variants are nothing to worry about. Time will tell. Looks like the Walgreens variants page isn’t updating.
Covid Emergency Room Visits
NOT UPDATED From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, from June 17:
NOTE “Charts and data provided by CDC, updates Wednesday by 8am. For the past year, using a rolling 52-week period.” So not the entire pandemic, FFS (the implicit message here being that Covid is “just like the flu,” which is why the seasonal “rolling 52-week period” is appropriate for bothMR SUBLIMINAL I hate these people so much. Notice also that this chart shows, at least for its time period, that Covid is not seasonal, even though CDC is trying to get us to believe that it is, presumably so they can piggyback on the existing institutional apparatus for injections.
NOT UPDATED From Walgreens, June 19:
2.0%. Still chugging along, though the absolute numbers are still very small relative to June 2022, say.
NOT UPDATED Death rate (Our World in Data), from June 21:
Lambert here: Theatre of the absurd. I can believe that deaths are low; I cannot believe they are zero, and I cannot even believe that all doctors signing death certificates have agreed to make it so. Looks to me like some administrative minimizer at WHO put the worst intern in charge of the project. And thanks, Johns Hopkins of the $9.32 billion endowment, for abandoning this data feed and passing responsibility on to the clown car at WHO.
Total: 1,167,614 –
1,167,387 = 227 (227 * 365 = 82,855 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).
Excess deaths (The Economist), published June 22:
Lambert here: Still some encouragement! Not sure why this was updated so rapidly. The little blip upward?
Lambert here: Based on a machine-learning model. (The CDC has an excess estimate too, but since it ran forever with a massive typo in the Legend, I figured nobody was really looking at it, so I got rid it. )
There are no official statistics of interest today.
The Bezzle: “How printers keep us hooked on expensive ink” [U.S. PIRG]. “Martin Shkreli became a public pariah when he marked up Daraprim by 5,000%. Meanwhile, printer manufacturers regularly markup ink by some 10,000%. We shouldn’t tolerate price gouging on medication, nor should we turn a blind eye to the practice for other products. How can the ink in a name-brand cartridge cost 100-times as much as the same ink in a bottle? Manufacturers have designed an elaborate markup racket using anti-choice technology to cajole, push, and even force us into paying exorbitant prices for ink. For example, manufacturers design printers that reject cheaper third-party ink cartridges. These software locks push us to buy their name-brand expensive ink. As a result of these schemes, ink cartridges waste our money and become another unsustainable single-use plastic product.” • I don’t think any of this is new, but it’s still worth remarking on. Especially since one can well imagine a similar use case for water. Or air.
Tech: “The people paid to train AI are outsourcing their work… to AI” [MIT Technology Review]. So AI isn’t just autocoprophagous; it’s auto1…. n-autocoprophagous! More: “It takes an incredible amount of data to train AI systems to perform specific tasks accurately and reliably. Many companies pay gig workers on platforms like Mechanical Turk to complete tasks that are typically hard to automate, such as solving CAPTCHAs, labeling data and annotating text. This data is then fed into AI models to train them. The workers are poorly paid and are often expected to complete lots of tasks very quickly. No wonder some of them may be turning to tools like ChatGPT to maximize their earning potential. But how many? … They estimated that somewhere between 33% and 46% of the workers had used AI models like OpenAI’s ChatGPT. It’s a percentage that’s likely to grow even higher as ChatGPT and other AI systems become more powerful and easily accessible, according to the authors of the study, which has been shared on arXiv and is yet to be peer-reviewed.” • Because of course they are. BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!
Tech: “Should we fear or encourage mind control?” [Boston Globe]. • “Fear” and “encourage” are orthogonal. How about we just stop it?
Tech: “Canadians will no longer have access to news stories on Facebook, Instagram: Meta” [Anadolu Agency]. “Meta is ending Canadian access to news stories on Facebook and Instagram after the passage of a law forcing the media giant to pay news outlets for articles it uses, the company announced Thursday. Bill C-18 – the Online News Act – passed the Canadian House of Commons and Senate and will soon receive Royal Assent, at which point it will become law. Meta warned it would stop carrying news stories if the bill came into effect. ‘We have repeatedly that in order to comply with Bill C-18 … content from news outlets, including news publishers and broadcasters, will no longer be available to people accessing our platforms in Canada,’ said Meta in a statement.” • That’s a damn shame. What will Canadians do? And I love that incredibly perverted usage of “share.”
Tech: “Meta and Mastodon – What’s really on people’s minds?” [Technovia]. “What defines Mastodon is not the use of a protocol. The protocol is just an enabler. Instead, Mastodon is defined by allowing communities (instances) freedom of association. It is the ability of communities to choose not to federate with anyone else which gives Mastodon its strength. Mastodon is not a social network, which is where I think John and Dare start from. It’s a set of communities which may, or may not, choose to connect to each other. Those relationships are based on shared values and trust: my instance connects to yours because I trust you to moderate effectively, not allow spam, or whatever other ground rules we can agree on. Some communities choose to apply this loosely, and some more strictly (some communities, for example, won’t federate with others who don’t have the same expectations around moderation for everyone they federate with). For some marginal communities the freedom of association which Mastodon is based on is the difference between having a space that’s safe for them to express themselves and not having a space at all. It’s not about having the biggest possible audience – it’s about being able to share in a semi-public way with other trusted communities.” • Hmm.
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 75 Extreme Greed (previous close: 78 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 79 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 23 at 12:53 PM ET.
“Folk Etymologies” [The New Inquiry]. “A sensitive speaker of English could consider removing the phrase “rule of thumb” from their vocabulary. The term has its roots in domestic violence: a British law stipulated that a man could beat his wife provided he used a switch no wider than his own thumb. This was the history referenced by [(!!)] in a list intended for use in Stanford University’s IT department, which made the rounds online just before Christmas last year. In a column helpfully labeled ‘Context,’ the authors explained why ‘rule of thumb’ should be nixed from readers’ usage. ‘Although no written record exists today,’ the document reasoned, ‘this phrase is attributed to an old British law that allowed men to beat their wives with sticks no wider than their thumb.’ A similar text—this one circulated in 2021 by a student resource center at Brandeis—references the same claim, linking the phrase to domestic violence. The Brandeis list (which, like the Stanford one, was removed from official university websites following backlash) includes a similar disclaimer that ‘no written record of this law exists today.’ But it suggests, nevertheless, that speakers opt for ‘general rule,’ over ‘rule of thumb.’ The Stanford list favors both ‘general rule’ and ‘standard rule.’ As the hedging about the lack of records hints, there is no evidence that the expression ‘rule of thumb’ has its roots in spousal abuse. In fact, this claim has been consistently debunked by scholars for decades. It’s a folk etymology, and an incredibly persistent one at that, that arises with whack-a-mole insistence as fast as linguists and historians can challenge it.” • I have always understood “rule of thumb” to mean “heuristic,” which isn’t the same as “general rule” at all.
What the heck could have happened in 2020? Something big, I guess:
An analysis estimates that as of April 2023, there were approximately 2.4 million U.S. retirees in excess of what would have been predicted from demographic and economic trends https://t.co/zHeFlmufES pic.twitter.com/gM24TVroUu
— St. Louis Fed (@stlouisfed) June 23, 2023
“Creating the Musical Canon” [JSTOR Daily]. The deck: “When you look at the canon of popular music, who’s on the list looks very much like those who made the list.” • Bourdieu would love that. After all, the point is not whose on the list, but who has the power to make the list (as demonstrated by the fact of having “made it,” as it were.
“On The Dialectics of Socialism and Western Marxisms’ Purity Fetish” [Gabriel Rockhill, Midwestern Marx]. “The relationship between capitalism and socialism is not a simple relation between two fixed socio-economic systems, as if there would be capitalism over here, which would be ‘A’ and socialism over here, which would be ‘B.’ On the contrary, socialism is a collective project that is built out of the skeletal system of capitalism in its decline. Therefore, socialism inherits so many of the problems that plague the history of capitalism. And it is tasked with doing something that is nearly impossible, which is moving from a system that is based on profit over people to one in which people are put at the center of the socio-economic system. One of my favorite jokes that I’ve heard about the socialist project is the following: socialism looks good on paper, but in reality… you just get invaded by the United States. This, of course, addresses the fact that we’ve never had a free socialist country emerge in the history of the world. We have only had what Michael Parenti calls “socialism under siege”: every single socialist experiment has been the target of imperialist destruction. This means that socialism as it emerges in the very real world has to deal with these concrete material factors that it does not control, because it is coming from the bottom up, within a world-system dominated by capitalism. Moreover, socialist countries need to develop by starting out from a position within the geopolitical world of structural under-development. They have to do this without relying on many of the principal mechanisms of development under capitalism, such as colonialism and extreme forms of racist super-exploitation. Finally, socialists inherit all of the political and moral injustices of the capitalist system—baked in racism and homophobia, misogyny and gender oppression, all of the ideologies of the capitalist world—as well as ecological degradation. I think that Carlos’s book does a good job of bringing to the fore this dialectics of socialism and the fact that we should never expect a pure and perfect socialist system to spring forth fully formed as if from the head of Zeus. Instead, we should actually anticipate that socialism will be wracked by a whole series of contradictions related to the fact that it is born out of a system of human and environmental degradation, which is the capitalist system.”
News of the Wired
“Tape Heads” [JSTOR Daily]. “The Mellotron was at the right place at the right time to become a distinctly British instrument. Part of this was practical: tape loops were heavy, and therefore difficult to export or take on tour. Very few of them left Britain. But the Mellotron’s swift adoption by British bands may also have to do with the country’s musical history, which has always gravitated toward novelty. Beatles scholars have noted the influence of British music hall on the British Invasion catalog, a campy, silly style that hearkens to Victorian Britain’s industrial and colonial prowess. The Mellotron’s debut also coincided with a British trend of marrying American blues with a predilection for the nostalgic and the absurd; this sonic union asserted a quintessential, mostly invented national identity. The Mellotron’s popular flute setting is unsettling in its imperfections but can also be described as ‘pastoral’—as in the gentle, lilting introduction to ‘Strawberry Fields Forever.’… On another Mellotron-powered album from the late ‘60s, The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, the flute tape helps weave together Ray Davies’ idyllic world of small-town churches, steam trains, and other emblems of treacly nostalgia. These examples in addition to The Who Sell Out (a concept album containing fake radio jingles for real British products), and even, to a degree, high fantasy-inspired works by Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd have informed how many Americans see the United Kingdom today—a place of rolling green hillsides, cozy pubs, and coal-stained cities where people speak in rhyming slang. It goes without saying that there’s far more to the country than what’s reflected on the Village Green. The dreamy sounds of the Mellotron provided the perfect vehicle to export a British sense of self, however one-dimensional.” • I’m not sure whether this is pastoral or not:
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EH writes “Here is a dogwood tree, a native understory tree of our eastern woodlands, blooming in front of a brownstone in Park Slope Brooklyn, NYC.”
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