2:00PM Water Cooler 10/20/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Barn Swallow (White-bellied), Mpala Ranch and Research Centre–Vanessa’s Glade, Rift Valley, Kenya. Short, but the insect tremolo is terrific!

* * *

Look for the Helpers

September 1, 1939 (the date Germany invaded Poland, setting off World War II) isn’t one of Auden’s more cheerful poems. The opening lines always comes to my mind as representing the present day as well as Auden’s:

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade

Not that I’ve ever seen the inside of a dive bar. But the ending is rarely quoted:

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

Shout-out to irony, yo.


“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

“Full Transcript: Biden’s Speech on Israel-Hamas and Russia-Ukraine Wars” [New York Times]. This is the nuts graf:

[BIDEN:] American leadership is what holds the world together.

I have no doubt The Blob deeply believes this. It’s still nuts. This is nuts too:

In moments like these, we have to remind — we have to remember who we are. We are the United States of America. The United States of America. And there is nothing, nothing beyond our capacity, if we do it together.

Biden can’t be serious in his incantations, though I know he is. This from a country that can’t recruit an army, and can’t manufacture enough ammunition even for vassal states. At some point, submarines and SWIFT won’t be enough. What then? This thing is so shallow and delusional I’m not sure it’s worth pulling out my yellow waders.

Meanwhile, voters seem not entirely persuaded:

“What Biden did and didn’t achieve during his trip to Israel” [CNN]. “President Joe Biden left for home after seven hours in the Israeli war zone with an increasingly tense Middle East in worse shape than when he arrived…. But however much White House officials tried to downplay expectations, there was a clear imperative for Biden’s mission to tamp down tensions – a goal that was not achieved…. [B]y failing to make any immediate breakthroughs, Biden’s trip also showed the limits of US leverage in a grave geopolitical situation and therefore suggested, worryingly, that it may not be possible to stop events spinning out of control.” • Hmm.



Time for the Countdown Clock!

* * *

“Trump leads Biden, builds support among young voters: poll” [The Hill]. “Former President Trump leads President Biden by 2 points in a hypothetical 2024 general election match-up and is improving his standing among young voters, according to a poll released Friday. The Emerson College poll showed Trump ahead with 47 percent support to Biden’s 45 percent, with 8 percent undecided. That’s up 2 points for Trump compared to Emerson’s poll from last month, while Biden’s support remained the same. The results are the latest in a series of polls that have shown a close race in a hypothetical contest between Biden and Trump, each of their party’s most likely nominees, or have shown Trump ahead of Biden by some amount. Trump led Biden by 4 points nationwide in a CNBC All-America Economic Survey poll from Wednesday, and he led by 4 points in a Bloomberg/Morning Consult poll of seven key swing states from Thursday. Pollsters found Trump performing better than Biden among the youngest voters, leading the incumbent among 18-to-29-year-olds by about 2 points, 45.2 percent to 42.9 percent. The former president also leads among 30-to-39-year-olds by about 11 points, 49.6 percent to 38.5 percent.” • Naturally so. When you take six hundred bucks away from an 18-year-old, they really feel it.

* * *

“Biden’s Allies Say the Quiet Part Out Loud: This War Could Be His 2024 Reset” [Politico]. “In an interview with POLITICO Magazine, [Sen. Chris Coons] was emphatic that Biden’s lightning-fast trip to Israel was not about the 2024 election. But in the same breath, Coons laid out in lavish detail just how telling it was that while Biden was in Tel Aviv assuring the Israelis that America had their backs, the GOP was literally falling apart on Capitol Hill…. In some ways Wednesday’s historic visit and Thursday’s Oval Office address could be viewed as a kind of reopening of Biden’s already troubled re-election campaign. Above all, the 80-year-old Biden is trying to change the narrative on what has become his biggest liability, his age, which polls have shown may be the top concern of both Democratic and Republican voters. The internet is rife with memes and clips of Biden shuffling, falling and misspeaking. His campaign wants to turn that vulnerability into a strength by arguing that only Biden has the experience and wisdom to handle what is becoming one of the most perilous international landscapes since World War II, campaign aides say. The president himself seemed to sound that note repeatedly this week. On Air Force One heading home from the Israel visit, Biden made a rare appearance in the press section, admitting to reporters that the trip was a gamble and he and his team had argued over whether to go for “an hour or more” because “had we gone and this failed then, you know the United States failed, Biden’s presidency failed … which would be legitimate criticism.”• Again quoting Mearsheimer: “[T]he overall thrust of U.S. policy in the region is due almost entirely to U.S. domestic politics, and especially to the activities of the ‘Israel Lobby.” • The final quotes from the article are from “Elaine Kamarck, expert on American electoral politics at Brookings and a former senior aide to former Vice President Al Gore.” That being the same Elaine Kamarck who’s married to Steny Hoyer, often “allied with American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).” It’s a small, small world.

Republican Funhouse

“Jim Jordan fails to win House speakership in third vote” [CNN]. ” There were 25 House Republicans who voted for someone other than Jordan, who could only lose 5 votes today due to the roll call vote absences. He lost 22 votes on the second round of voting and 20 on the first.” • The count was 210 for Democrat Hakeem Jeffries, 194 for Jordan, R-Wrestling; no majority. Amazingly, McCarthy nominated him. I happened across a live feed from Reuters on the Twitter, starting with the roll call. It’s a quite a ritual:

1) I’m sure the Senate chambers in the late Roman Republic were equally impressive and commodious.

2) Represenatives stand to affim their vote when their name is called by the Clerk from the roll. This is slow, but more things should be slow.

3) The Clerk counts the votes on paper (be still my beating heart).

4) Temporary Speaker McHenry announces the result, way up at the tippy top, where all view lines converge, in front of the flag. And speaking of Patrick McHenry — c’mon, “Patrick Henry.” Really? —

“‘No. 1 draft pick for Wall Street’: McHenry’s rise thrills Washington-wary executives” [Politico]. “Rep. Patrick McHenry — the temporary speaker who may be tapped to be more than just a caretaker — is one of the House GOP’s top liaisons with the business community, thanks to his long-time leadership role at the Financial Services Committee. While McHenry began his career by throwing bombs and torpedoing bank bailouts, he’s emerged in recent years as a pragmatic, bipartisan dealmaker. He has served as a counterweight to his party’s predilection for economy-rattling brinksmanship over things such as the federal debt limit. The hope in the business world is that having McHenry at the helm of the House might add some stability as a government shutdown looms next month. ‘Patrick McHenry is the best,’ said Anthony Scaramucci, a financier and former Trump communications director. ‘He would be the No. 1 draft pick for Wall Street.’ McHenry’s rise comes as the finance industry has become increasingly accustomed to Washington dysfunction.” • Lovely to see Scaramucci in Politico’s Rolodex. So excellent.

“Republicans plot holdup of Biden’s anticipated $100 BILLION funding ask bundling Israel, Ukraine and sanctuary city ‘bailout’ funds, saying they must be separate” [Daily Mail]. • But since the House — where revenue bills originate — doesn’t have a speaker, there’s nothing much to do, is there?

“5 ways the House speaker drama could end” [Vox]. “5) It doesn’t end: Finally, for the sake of completion, one more possibility (albeit right now an extremely remote one) is that the House simply remains speaker-less until 2025. This would mean an unprecedented, devastating 13-month government shutdown with unforeseen consequences — something enough Republicans would likely want to cut short so they won’t be blamed for it. It would also mean an end to legislation for the next year, including perceived “must-pass” measures like aid to Israel. So it seems unlikely things would go this far. But there’s a first time for everything.” • But it looks like this meeting really did take place:

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.

* * *

“Time to Throw the Intersectional Left Under the Bus!” [Ruy Teixeira, The Liberal Patriot]. “Over the last number of years, huge swathes of the American left have become infected with an ideology that judges actions or arguments not by their content but rather by the identity of those involved in said actions or arguments. Those identities in turn are defined by an intersectional web of oppressed and oppressors, of the powerful and powerless, of the dominant and marginalized. With this approach, one judges an action not by whether it’s effective or an argument by whether it’s true but rather by whether the people involved in the action or argument are in the oppressed/powerless/marginalized bucket or not. If they are, the actions or arguments should be supported; if not, they should be opposed. This approach was always a terrible idea, in obvious contradiction to logic and common sense. But it has led much of the left and large sectors of the Democratic Party to take positions [like “Listen to Black women”?]hat have little purchase in social or political reality and are offensive to the basic values most people hold. The failure to unequivocally condemn the Hamas massacre as a crime against humanity is just the latest example of this intellectual and moral malignancy.” • The guy who sold the Democrat Party the identity politics bill of goods now has second thoughts on intersectionality? And seizes the opportunity provided by the Israel-Hamas war to indulge them? Hilarity ensues!

Realignment and Legitimacy

The account is from a former editor of The Atlantic, so he’s not dumb, exactly; perhaps just over-optimized for his current position:

Thing is, though, if you go down the list, you’ll see that they all apply to liberal Democrats (surely not a “radical movement”). For example: “Create a culture of snooping and denunciation.” Idpol and the censorship industrial complex to a T. And I’m sure the same could be done for Republicans; it’s just that I’m not familiar enough with them to say.

I was poking around search — I think I had the idea that symbols are like diamonds, formed by pressure, i.e. have history (along with cut, color, clarity, and carat, or the equivalent) — and ran across “Symbolic interactionism,” apparently invented by one George Herbert Mead:

Symbolic interactionism is a sociological theory that develops from practical considerations and alludes to humans’ particular use of shared language to create common symbols and meanings, for use in both intra- and interpersonal communication.

As for example, blogging! More:

Mind, Self and Society is the book published by Mead’s students based on his lectures and teaching, and the title of the book highlights the core concept of social interactionism. Mind refers to an individual’s ability to use symbols to create meanings for the world around the individual – individuals use language and thought to accomplish this goal. Self refers to an individual’s ability to reflect on the way that the individual is perceived by others. Finally, society, according to Mead, is where all of these interactions are taking place.

It occurred to me that all three elements of Mead’s triad are seriously deranged in our society, top to bottom, but few to none more than “Self” in our governing class, if that be defined as the ability to self-reflect. Biden’s ridiculous speech yesterday is a fine example of this, but examples could be multiplied.

Erving Goffman, who I read a ton of when I was a mere sprat (I think by way of Eric Berne), was a symbolic interactionist. Bourdieu is on that family tree as well. So I feel I’ve been speaking this prose all my life.


“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

Resources, United States (National): Transmission (CDC); Wastewater (CDC, Biobot; includes many counties; Wastewater Scan, includes drilldown by zip); Variants (CDC; Walgreens); “Iowa COVID-19 Tracker” (in IA, but national data). “Infection Control, Emergency Management, Safety, and General Thoughts” (especially on hospitalization by city).

Lambert here: Readers, thanks for the collective effort. To update any entry, do feel free to contact me at the address given with the plants. Please put “COVID” in the subject line. Thank you!

Resources, United States (Local): AK (dashboard); AL (dashboard); AR (dashboard); AZ (dashboard); CA (dashboard; Marin, dashboard; Stanford, wastewater; Oakland, wastewater); 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); MT (dashboard); NC (dashboard); ND (dashboard; wastewater); NE (dashboard); NH (wastewater); NJ (dashboard); NM (dashboard); NV (dashboard; wastewater, Southern NV); NY (dashboard); OH (dashboard); OK (dashboard); OR (dashboard); PA (dashboard); RI (dashboard); SC (dashboard); SD (dashboard); TN (dashboard); TX (dashboard); UT (wastewater); VA (dashboard); VT (dashboard); WA (dashboard; dashboard); WI (wastewater); WV (wastewater); WY (wastewater).

Resources, Canada (National): Wastewater (Government of Canada).

Resources, Canada (Provincial): ON (wastewater); QC (les eaux usées); BC, Vancouver (wastewater).

Hat tips to helpful readers: anon (2), Art_DogCT, B24S, CanCyn, ChiGal, Chuck L, Festoonic, FM, FreeMarketApologist (4), Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JEHR, JF, JL Joe, John, JM (10), JustAnotherVolunteer, JW, KatieBird, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, MT_Wild, otisyves, Petal (6), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (11), tennesseewaltzer, Utah, Bob White (3).

Stay safe out there!

* * *


“By some happy coincidence, you’re not sick, so take one for the team, wouldya?”

“Something Awful”

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.

* * *

Elite Maleficence

Some pre-HICPAC listening:

Imagine! A “Covid Inquiry”:

Of course, as with Grenfell Tower, just because the Brits have an inquiry doesn’t mean they’ll do anything. But at least they have the inquiry!

* * *

Case Data

Lambert: At some point, I’ll put the Verily dashboard here. In the meantime, here is CDC’s chart, which as you can see, is designed to obfuscate national and regional totals. From October 16:

Note the material inside the red box, which essentially explains why this is an untrustworthy chart. Particularly hilarious is the material highlighted in yellow: “Wastewater data showing the percent change in virus levels should be used along with …. clinical cases.” We don’t test, so clinical data is useless. In fact, CDC doesn’t even track it.

NEVER TO BE UPDATED From BioBot wastewater data, October 2:

Lambert here: Leveling out to a high plateau wasn’t on my Bingo card! Perhaps FL.1.5.1, high in the Northeast, has something going for it that other variants don’t have?

Regional data:

Interestingly, the upswing begins before July 4, which neither accelerates nor retards it.


NOT UPDATED From CDC, October 14:

Lambert here: Top of the leaderboard: EG.5 (“Eris“), with HV.1 a strong second, and XBB. and FL.1.15.1 trailing. No BA.2.86. Still a Bouillabaisse…

From CDC, September 16:

Lambert here: 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.

Covid Emergency Room Visits

NOT UPDATED From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, October 14:

Lambert here: Only a week’s lag, so this may be our best current nationwide, current indicator until Verily gets its house in order (and working class-centric, since I would doubt the upper crust goes to the ER).

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.


Bellwether New York City, data as of October 20:

Still decreasing. (New York State is now falling, too.) I hate this metric because the lag makes it deceptive (although the hospital-centric public health establishment loves it, hospitalization and deaths being the only metrics that matter).

NOT UPDATED Here’s a different CDC visualization on hospitalization, nationwide, not by state, but with a date, at least. October 7:

Lambert here: “Maps, charts, and data provided by CDC, updates weekly for the previous MMWR week (Sunday-Saturday) on Thursdays (Deaths, Emergency Department Visits, Test Positivity) and weekly the following Mondays (Hospitalizations) by 8 pm ET†”. So where the heck is the update, CDC?


NOT UPDATED From Walgreens, October 16:

-0.3%. Still dropping, though less than before. (It would be interesting to survey this population generally; these are people who, despite a tsunami of official propaganda and enormous peer pressure, went and got tested anyhow.)

NOT UPDATED From Cleveland Clinic, October 14:

Lambert here: I know this is just Ohio, but the Cleveland Clinic is good*, and we’re starved for data, so…. NOTE * Even if hospital infection control is trying to kill patients by eliminating universal masking with N95s.

NOT UPDATED From CDC, traveler’s data, September 25:

Back up again, albeit in the rear view mirror. And here are the variants for travelers:

BA.2.86 shrinks. Flash in the pan?


NOT UPDATED Iowa COVID-19 Tracker, September 27:

Lambert here: The WHO data is worthless, so I replaced it with the Iowa Covid Data Tracker. Their method: “These data have been sourced, via the API from the CDC: https://data.cdc.gov/NCHS/Conditions-Contributing-to-COVID-19-Deaths-by-Stat/hk9y-quqm. This visualization updates on Wednesday evenings. Data are provisional and are adjusted weekly by the CDC.” I can’t seem to get a pop-up that shows a total of the three causes (top right). Readers?

Total: 1,179,671 – 1,179,587 = 84 (84 * 365 = 30,660 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, October 20:

Lambert here: Based on a machine-learning model.

Stats Watch

The Fed: “United States Fed Funds Rate” [Trading Economics]. “The Fed is proceeding carefully and policymakers will make decisions about the extent of additional policy firming and how long policy will remain restrictive based on the totality of the incoming data, the evolving outlook, and the balance of risks, Fed Chair Powell said at the Economic Club of New York. Fed Chair added that tight policy is putting downward pressure on economic activity and inflation. However, additional evidence of persistently above-trend growth, or that tightness in the labor market is no longer easing, could put further progress on inflation at risk and could warrant further tightening of monetary policy. Powell also noted that inflation is still too high and that a sustainable return to the 2% inflation goal is likely to require a period of below-trend growth and some further softening in labor market conditions.” • “Softening,” because he’s beating on it with his rubber hammer?

* * *

Mr. Market: “BofA Sees Near-Term Stock Rally as Signal Flashes Contrarian Buy” [Bloomberg]. “Investor positioning in stocks has become so bearish that it’s triggered a “contrarian buy signal” in a custom Bank of America Corp. indicator, setting up the asset class for a short-term rally, according to strategist Michael Hartnett. The BofA bull-and-bear reading dropped to 1.9 from 2.2 in the week through Oct. 18, driven by outflows from emerging market debt funds, high-yield bonds and global equities, as well as a jump in allocation to cash, Hartnett said. A drop below 2 is seen as a contrarian signal of a near-term rally.” • I don’t play the ponies, so make of this what you will!

Mr. Market: Again, I don’t play the ponies:

“Shedding duration” sounds intriguing. I wonder what it means?

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 30 Fear (previous close: 28 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 33 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 20 at 1:52:32 PM ET. Updated. They broke in the new intern!

The Gallery

As photographic as Monet in the cropping (not something all painters evoke):

Reminds me of the Hill in Providence, RI.

Zeitgeist Watch

Readers, can this be true?

Our Famously Free Press

“With new declaration, luminaries warn that online censorship is destroying freedom” [New York Post]. “To that end, a group of 136 academics, historians and journalists from the left, right and center of the political spectrum have come together to warn President Biden that this rapidly growing censorship regime ‘undermines the foundational principles of representative democracy.’ In their ‘Westminster Declaration,’ released Wednesday, the international group points out that the best way to combat actual disinformation is with free speech. ‘Open discourse is the central pillar of a free society, and is essential for holding governments accountable, empowering vulnerable groups, and reducing the risk of tyranny … We do not want our children to grow up in a world where they live in fear of speaking their minds.'” • Oddly, a quick search on “Westminster Declaration” brings up nothing from the New York Times or the Washington Post (or the Associated Press, or any other American mainstream media outlet). I wonder why?

Class Warfare

“They can and will ruin everything you love” [Welcome to Hell World]. “In March of 2022, Bandcamp was acquired by Epic Games, the folks behind Fortnite and Unreal Engine. While the change in ownership raised eyebrows and triggered endless jokes, the site seemed to stay running much the same at first. Just over a year later in May of 2023 it was announced that Bandcamp’s employees voted 31-7 to unionize as Bandcamp United and were to be recognized by Epic. All the while Bandcamp Daily’s distinctive editorial coverage continued. Their popular Bandcamp Fridays – an initiative started in 2020 in which the site forgoes their 15% fee of sales on the first Friday of each month – also continued. So far so good. Then at the end of September 2023 it was announced that Epic would be selling Bandcamp to content licensing and service company Songtradr. As of their initial statement regarding the acquisition, Songtradr is planning to continue Bandcamp Friday, keep Bandcamp Daily, and maintain all current features, but they were clear that not all employees would be retained. As with all layoffs, this decision was presented as a necessary evil – there’s simply no way they could run this company with all those employees! – but they swore to you, their darling consumer, that you would feel no effects. Needless to say, having observed one single corporate acquisition before, Songtradr didn’t recognize Bandcamp’s union, and employees remained in limbo for weeks before it was finally announced who would be let go – 60 of the 118 employees, slashing 50% or more across all departments, including half of the Bandcamp Daily editorial staff and 70% of the vinyl team. SFGate reports that the layoffs disproportionately impact those eligible for union membership, including every member of their 8 person bargaining team. But don’t worry about that! Songtradr loves your community! Their CEO is a “passionate musician” himself. You can trust him.” • “Passionate” is another one of those words….

News of the Wired

“Mathematicians Found 12,000 Solutions to the Notoriously Hard Three-Body Problem” [Popular Mechanics]. “In 2017, for example, researchers from China discovered 1,223 solutions to the three-body problem by testing 16 million orbits using a supercomputer. Now, researchers from Sofia University in Bulgaria have further expanded upon that 2017 algorithm and discovered more than 12,000 additional solutions. The lead researcher Ivan Hristov told New Scientist that access to even more powerful supercomputers could discover five times as many solutions to the infamously tricky three-body problem…. Understanding the extremely subtle movements among three orbital bodies is important for space travel—when space agencies need to send satellites, landers, or spacecraft to a distant planet, they need to know how all the pieces of a system will play together. Hristov’s three-body solutions start with three bodies at rest before entering free fall and being pulled by one another’s gravity. The ‘solutions’ were instances when these three bodies found a way to maintain an orbit around one another. Many of these solutions look like a jumbled mess of lines. In fact, other than a few known solutions (including one that introduced the concept of Lagrange points), it’s highly unlikely that any of Hristov’s three-body solutions exists in nature. That’s because, in most cases, three-body problems quickly become two-body ones as the object with the smallest mass is ejected from the system.” • So, ok….

“Why You Don’t Need to Rake Leaves” [New York Times]. “But that pile of leaves is home to an entire ecosystem filled with critical organic matter. In fact, those leaves probably shouldn’t be piled at all. In recent years, some naturalists have called for an approach known as ‘leaving leaves’ when they fall to the ground, which would return organic materials back to the soil. ‘A forest has the richest soil there is, and that happens because leaves are falling off the trees and decomposing right there and organic materials are going back into the soil,’ said Susan Barton, a professor and extension specialist in landscape horticulture at the University of Delaware. ‘We should be doing that in all of our landscapes, but we’re not.’ However, because of local ordinances, homeowners’ associations and personal preferences, that option is not always realistic. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, naturalists say.” • The ordinances, and the HOA agreements should at the very least read: “Let no organic matter leave the property.”

* * *

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 KM:

KM writes: “It’s pawpaw season in Virginia and I went hunting for some along the James River last weekend. It was rather hot for the occasion, but I came home with some of the tasty, if slightly odd fruits.
Thought you might enjoy this image I took looking up at my quarry from below.”

* * *

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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. Mikel

    A rush now to shed durations in bonds.

    Seems like a lot of people fell hook for BS pivot narratives.

    1. The Rev Kev

      By shedding durations, I took it to mean to dump any long-term bonds and go for short-term ones instead. That is not a good sign that.

      1. Wukchumni

        First they came for the long bonds, and I did not speak out-because I was not a bond investor…

      2. Mikel

        I’m saying that there was a delay by some to dump the the long-term bonds because of about a year and a half of narratives saying the Fed would pivot.
        The 2022 Jackson Hole “Pain” Conference was pretty straight-forward.

  2. Fred

    Will maga voters learn from this? I hear from so many that they want to shut the government down. So I guess this is what they want. I don’t know why, because like everyone they complain when their roads don’t paved.

    1. chris

      LOL. Will MAGA voters learn from this? That’s not any more likely than Blue Anon voters no longer swallowing the feigned impotence of Democrats. To take just one example that you’d hope would wake people up…

      Yellen: we shouldn’t shut down crypto, we need to support banks not investors, single payer health care is too expensive, the government shouldn’t try to tamp down inflation, we should be conservative with the recovery options post GFC…

      Also Yellen: we can afford to fund two simultaneous wars indefinitely. No strings attached.

      Funny how there’s always a way to fund war, isn’t it?

      Also, the federal government doesn’t help with road paving very much. That’s largely on the states and local towns. Which is why a number of rural jurisdictions are eliminating their roads.

      As far as I can tell, we are safer and better off with the House paralyzed. No way to pass any legislation that will further hurt our country or wreck our defense.

  3. notabanker

    just because the Brits have an inquiry doesn’t mean they’ll do anything. But at least they have the inquiry!

    In the US we call them Congressional Hearings.

    1. Pat

      Most of the British Inquiries I have looked at have been more comprehensive and have far less whitewashing than our Congressional hearings.

    2. The Rev Kev

      First rule of politics is not to hold an inquiry or a hearing unless you know exactly what will be found out.

  4. IM Doc

    [BIDEN:] American leadership is what holds the world together.

    Says the man who cannot have keep his own dogs from attacking Secret Service agents.

    Sometimes, you just have to laugh.

    1. griffen

      It’s Friday and just entering the 3pm Eastern time slot. I’m gonna need a refresh on a sipping whiskey if we start the drinking game anytime soon. Laugh, drink, cry.

      I am so happy the adults of the Biden administration have been in charge since January 2021!

  5. griffen

    Shedding duration. Longer term moves on those long maturity terms are really leaving a mark, so on the one hand the selling of say a 30yr UST maturity begets more selling. And the selling begets…wait for it, more of that.

    The increase in UST yields, just by example since the end of September is pretty remarkable. Bond fund managers needing to rebalance positions daily is also going to pose concerns. Added, Jerome Powell didn’t deliver in a speech yesterday, so there’s that. No cuts for you !

    And on dive bars, I was going to incur the wrath of Waffle House fans and insist that entering a Waffle House after 12 midnight is a near facsimile. And I am a fan of the chain, and of breakfast at all hours!

    1. ambrit

      In many “deplorable” locales, ‘Dive Bars’ are also known as “Titty Bars.” Most medium to large towns have one. Plus, often to be found near Military Installations. [We have one such near the main gate to Camp Shelby.]
      I wouldn’t call Hooters “dive bars” because the prices are too high.
      There is a distinction to be made between Sports Bars and Dive Bars. Dive Bars often have the sports showing on oversized television screens behind the bar. Sports Bars usually have sports showing on Jumbotrons all around the joint. There will be a Football Corner, and a Baseball Corner, and the ever popular Basketball Corner. In a Dive Bar, the bookie sits at the bar and does business out in the open, chatting with the regulars etc. In Sports Bars, the wagering is usually hidden away. Decorum and propriety rule in Suburbia. Not so much in the “real world.”
      Stay safe and take the points. It’s all a gamble nowadays anyway.

      1. Dr. John Carpenter

        Just a point of pedanty titty bars and dive bars are two separate things A titty bar is where you’d go to see topless dancers and have overpriced drinks. A dive bar is a dark, dank place with a decor that dates back to the Ford administration at least and is well stocked with professional barflys doing their thing because of the cheap booze.

        Now, a titty bar can be a dive bar, but they’re not interchangeable terms. I’m not much a fan of the former and the ones I’ve been in have been the opposite of a dive bar: bright, loud and expensive.

        Just a little clarification from one who’s done a bit of research in this area. ;)

        1. ambrit

          Oh my! A Pedanterast! Stay away from the Itty Bitties!
          I remember South Park sending up Hooters as a place called ‘Raisins.’ All underage, all of the time.
          You make a good point. I too have done my research and been run out of the former and slouched off to drown my sorrows in the latter.
          Stay safe. Stay lubricated.

  6. thousand points of green

    New food idea . . . feta blue cheese.

    Some time ago I wondered what would happen if I mixed a little crumbled blue cheese in with a bunch of crumbled feta cheese. It took and the batch rapidly became feta blue . . . strong blue taste with a deep feta undertaste. I thought it was good. I still think so.

    I tried it again but let it go too long and it became an ugly moldy mess. It might still have been good to eat but I did not try it.

    Which brings me to the idea part. If I ever try this again, I will divide the feta blue into recipe-sized doses, and freeze each dose and see if they retain their taste upon thawing back out. How I will probably do it is to put a dose-sized layer in the bottom of a container, a sheet of wax paper ( oiled if necessary) on top of that, then another layer of feta blue, then another sheet of wax paper, and so on up to the coverable top of the container. And take out one dose-sized layer at a time as I want to use them for something.

    1. Keith Newman

      @thousand points of green
      “crumbled blue cheese in with a bunch of crumbled feta cheese”!!
      Sounds yummy!! Gonna try it myself.
      Tasty food tips by a commenter at Naked Capitalism! Yay!

    2. thousand points of green

      Well! This much kind words encourages me to offer another idea I had a while ago but never have tried so don’t really know if it would work.

      But it seems to me that the taste of hummus and the taste of miso could work well together if done right.
      Maybe some day I will try mixing different amounts of hummus and miso together into one uniformly mixed paste-spread. If it really did work and there was a best proportion of hummus and miso to be mixed together to get a new best taste, I would call the mixture . . . hummiso.

      If somebody else wants to try that experiment and they get it to work and it is really good, they can go right ahead and call it hummiso if they want to. I give the word away in case the reality ever emerges to go with the word hummiso.

  7. ThirtyOne

    “That’s because, in most cases, three-body problems quickly become two-body ones as the object with the smallest mass is ejected from the system.”
    So it’s politics then.

    1. MaryLand

      Good point! Highly recommend The Three-Body Problem sci-fi trilogy. I like it even more than the Ursula Le Guin books and that’s saying something.

      1. Jason Boxman

        Beat me to it although as it progresses it gets more and more far farfetched. Still worth it though.

      2. Darthbobber

        I like it, though it’s very cold, reminding me of Hesse’s Glass Bead Game in that respect. Sort of a crystalline, hyper-intellectual feel.

  8. aj

    Too bad about Bandcamp. As an amateur musician, it was nice having a place to post your music that gave you so much control over how to monetize it and asked for very little in return. Streaming is a joke and nobody owns CD players anymore. The community was good and the team tried hard to get people interested in new music.

    1. Daryl

      Pretty good example of a company that would have been fine employing <100 people and staying private indefinitely getting acquired w/ no plan and then slammed.

      1. John Beech

        Better example of a company that should have taken itself private by its employees and raised money from musicians à la Mondragón Cooperative.

        Product would get the right price quickly, then.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      RE: nobody owns CD players anymore

      Speak for yourself! Nobody who doesn’t own CDs really owns any of their music, and it can be taken away on the whim of big tech music nazis. No Snoop for you!

      People have been predicting the demise of CDs and books, yet one of my college acquaintances about 30 years ago started a whole chain of stores selling CDs, DVDs, books, video games, etc. They have persisted and been growing, and about ten years ago a big box Blockbuster video rental place down the street went under, and this company ignored the trend away from physical media, took over the space, and have been doing great there ever since from what I can tell. They even have a small section of cassette types for sale if that’s your thing.

      I do like Spotify as a way to find new music. If I like something enough, I either go to the local music store to buy the CD if it’s somewhat popular, or if it’s more obscure, I’ve been ordering from bandcamp.

      My latest find, with CD purchased from bandcamp – Black Sabbath-y but more melodic space rock from They Watch Us From the Moon.

      I wasn’t aware of the first corporate takeover, so hopefully this 2nd one won’t kill them off. But I will think a little longer before ordering from them again due to their anti-union stance. It would be nice to be able to directly support the artists and unions at the same time, but capitalism doesn’t allow nice things like that.

    3. Bugs

      I’ve bought tons of music through Bandcamp. In every format, new bands and old, but the best part is that you get a permanent unlocked master digital copy download in the highest quality when you buy a vinyl or CD, cassette, Blu-ray disk, whatever. And you can bump up the payment if you want to help the musicians. Which I’ve done plenty of times because I know them or just want to contribute or think the music is worth more than the asking price. This is a real nightmare for so many. The mantra about platforms strikes once again :(

  9. Pat

    I’m the contrarian here. What I don’t see being pointed out is that It isn’t just the so-called MAGA folk who are being stubborn. Everyone is willing to shut down the government. This minority has proven they will not give in. They don’t buy the arguments. If it is so important to have a speaker, perhaps those “adults” need to accept that the minority not only get to make demands they get them met period. But I don’t see any movement to do that. The Democrats and supposedly sensible Republicans are just as willing to burn it all down.

    And quite frankly, I don’t think the things they are holding out for will be all that popular in the event of further economic distress for the majority of Americans because they had to shut down the government.

    1. albrt

      One solution that I think is increasingly possible is for a group of, say, 10 republicans and 10 democrats to quit their parties, plan on running as “no labels” or whatever next year, and nominate one of their own for speaker. McHenry might refuse to put it to a vote, but I think he’ll cave when things get desperate enough.

      I am not a fan of so-called centrists, but anything that weakens the legacy parties at this point is probably for the good.

    2. Jason Boxman

      This is like liberal Democrats under Pelosi shutting down the government over Trump’s wall funding and then Biden builds it anyway. These people are useless. As Fetterman said recently many of these people aren’t smart at all.

  10. lyman alpha blob

    RE: The Westminster Declaration

    Among the signers is the inimitable 83 year old John Cleese. If you weren’t aware that he’s a comedian, just check his signature line at #11 on the list. Perhaps he’s referring to this, which does require some physical dexterity.

    1. digi_owl

      He was also recently angry at BBC for withholding a Fawlty Towers episode, The Germans, from their streaming service. The episode included Cleese doing a Hitler impersonation and some rather exaggerated goose-stepping.

  11. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Let no organic matter leave the property

    Reminds me of a talk on real sustainability I saw several years ago by seed saver and heirloom potato preserver Will Bonsall at the Common Ground Fair. He explained that on his property, he didn’t bring in anything for his gardens from far away (don’t remember his exact limit off the top of my head, but I think it was not more than a few miles) because that wasn’t really “local” and thus not sustainable, and he composted everything so that any nutrients removed from the soil were cycled back in. But he said he wasn’t so hardcore about it that he required dinner guests to use the head before leaving for the evening – they were allowed to wait until they got home.

    1. Darius

      If you have a lawn, keep mowing the grass and the leaves with it. It shreds the leaves into fragments that decompose into the soil by spring. Always adjust the mower to the highest setting.

  12. Cat Burglar

    Texeira is consistent. He was a political technician prescribing identity politics (remember, “Medicare For All won’t end racism?”) back when that seemed a useful tactic, and now that it is not useful, he prescribes another.

    Universal values has been tried before, and didn’t work out so good — too much work to carve out exceptions for whatever the powers want to do: witness the problem with supporting the Ukrainans against invasion while perpetuating the Israeli occupation. Texeira has run out of new ideas, it looks like.

    1. The Rev Kev

      In that tweet they more or less admit that a small group in the White House is trying to run the world but it is too big. The answer of course is to prioritize what are US national interests but from what I can see, everything to them is a national interest. I suppose that with a thousand bases scattered around the world, every country that hosts even one of these things becomes a national interest. Same with any country that has a resource that the US wants. Or any country that is friendly to Russia or China for that matter. Or any country that has an influential exodus in the US like those Cuban-Americans. So in the end, every country is a national interest and as I said, it can’t be done.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The answer of course is to prioritize what are US national interests

        The Blob conflates retaining their social capital with maintaining the US “national interest” (as if one were a proxy for the other (“playing fields of Eton,” and so forth)). That can work, and will until it doesn’t, but now it’s not*.

        NOTE * I’m sure Vicky Nuland believes that “I alone can solve it.” As do many of the Blob’s pseudopodia, convinced they are essential leaders; in the same way that America is “the indispensable nation,” they are the indispensable officials.

        1. ashley

          anytime i bring up nuland’s role in ukraine under the obama admin im referred to as a maga supporter and russian troll. we literally couped ukraine in 2014 and installed a right wing government with the support of fascists…

          i am of russian jewish descent, but im the third/fourth generation living here… and i am so far left im like the boogeyman of right winger’s nightmares.

    2. ChrisRUEcon

      Thanks for sharing! I would only say that I’d abstract the regency council as a pluto-kleptocratic construct. Does anyone remember that leaked CitiBank memo from years ago that essentially said that the west world was headed toward “plutonomy”? (Thank you Brad Delong for saving for posterity!)

      Well, we got it!

      And this dovetails with what professor Hudson calls the three pillars of oligarchy – military industrial complex, finance and real estate. The plutocrats own western governments, and the job of the kleptocrat regency council is to execute the will of the plutocrats!

      There is no public good that can be given without concessions to the plutocrat class. These two classes – plutocrats and kleptocrats – lie at the root of most if not all of society’s ills. It is because of these classes that we have had such a fetid pandemic response. It is because of these classes that we have proxy wars on multiple fronts.

      However, it’s not just that there’s too much coming down the funnel. The regency council is so blinded by its own hubris that it can’t see that the foundations of its own power are crumbling. I’ve been thinking a lot about “the writing on the wall” recently. The west’s kingdom will ultimately be divided. It will take some time, but when all is said and done, historians will point to this current administration as the one under whose watch America’s hegemony quickly became undone.


  13. JM

    I really love Edward Hopper, the melancholy he captures feels incredibly on point for America in a way I haven’t seen from anyone else.

  14. Willow

    > How do you make people join radical movements?
    Is this the Greens? Particularly in Europe? Greens created to break the Marxist Left but now have become a political cancer.

  15. David Jacobs

    Bond duration is a measure of how sensitive a bond’s price is to interest rate changes. Longer term bonds are more sensitive than shorter term bonds (i.e., rising interest rates cause prices to fall). So “shedding duration” means selling longer term bonds and buying shorter term ones to reduce your portfolio’s volatility due to interest rate changes.

  16. JBird4049

    If we are bring in poetry to describe our situation, may I suggest W. B. Yeats’ Second Coming?

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
    The darkness drops again; but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

    I would think the first stanza is more apropos, or maybe it is just easier to parse. Our own “Spiritus Mundi” is a very threadbare green after all, it being more of an impression than a reality with money being our reality and god. So, just how can we understand anything, today?

    1. Vicky Cookies

      Love the trend! To jump on it, here’s some Brecht:
      “We have been living, a light generation,
      In houses that were thought beyond destruction.
      (The lanky buildings of Manhatten Island and the fine antennae
      That amuse the Atlantic Ocean are of our construction.)

      Of these cities will remain that which blew through them, the wind.
      The house makes the dinner guest merry. He cleans it out.
      We know we’re only temporary and after us will follow
      Nothing worth talking about.”

      Have been reading Hesse’s WW1 stuff, and Arendts Men in Dark Times (from which this Brecht snippet is clipped) for guidance, but, when I really want to get in touch with the spirit of the age, I read Kafka.

      1. Hepativore

        I have always liked Road Movie To Berlin by They Might Be Giants, as it has a melancholic 1930’s-era Broadway musical feel to it as if a famous and extravagant theater was shutting down and this was its last performance as the end of an era.

        As our country is basically in the “end credits” stage of its showing, here we are…


        We’re in a road movie to Berlin
        Can’t drive out the way we drove in
        So sneak out this glass of bourbon
        And we’ll go

        We were once so close to heaven
        Peter came out and gave us medals
        Declaring us the nicest of the damned

        Time won’t find the lost
        It’ll sweep up our skeleton bones
        So take the wheel and I will take the pedals

        We’re in a road movie to Berlin
        Can’t drive out the way we drove in
        So sneak out this glass of bourbon
        And we’ll go

  17. flora

    re: “Biden’s Allies Say the Quiet Part Out Loud: This War Could Be His 2024 Reset” [Politico].

    What? Is this a remake of Wag the Dog ? / oy

    1. Darthbobber

      If they seriously think they can run Biden as a Churchillian figure they are mightily deluded. The actually existing Joe Biden is an insurmountable obstacle.

      1. ChrisRUEcon

        > If they seriously think they can run Biden as a Churchillian figure they are mightily deluded.

        Yep. Q.E.D.

        These numpties can’t “read the room” … they’re not feeling the groundswell of people fed up with “money for war, but none for the poor” … and Americans are increasingly impoverished – living paycheck-to-paycheck; working multiple-jobs; being preyed upon for the horrible gig-economy-complex.

        Biden’s gonna lose and “this war” is going to be like a millstone around his neck.

  18. Smith, M.J.

    More WW2-era Auden, speaking to our times:

    In the nightmare of the dark
    All the dogs of Europe bark,
    And the living nations wait,
    Each sequestered in its hate;

    Intellectual disgrace
    Stares from every human face,
    And the seas of pity lie
    Locked and frozen in each eye.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        On the idle hill of summer,
        Sleepy with the flow of streams,
        Far I hear the steady drummer
        Drumming like a noise in dreams.

        I have always associated the “steady drummer” with the sound of artillery on the Western Front, which could be heard on the other side of the Channel, in England (although not I think in Shropshire, in the West).

        However, “A Shropshire Lad” was published in 1896, well before World War I, and so we have one of those weird science-fiction-y echoes of the future into the present.

  19. Wukchumni

    Err Jordan knew he was going to get progressively less votes as his journey went on, but it didn’t sway the Red Scare from their appointed rounds of acting like they really really tried to fill the Speakership.

    a 13 month shutdown would be the equivalent of a ‘Bakers Dozen Year’ no?

  20. Joe Well

    Re: raking leaves

    The problem with not raking leaves is that the rich ecosystem the leaves foster can include a lot of ticks (as the article mentions but then blows off) and mosquitoes (as it fails to mention).

    So many environmentalists seem to just ignore the actual reasons people do what they do rather than answering their concerns.

    1. i just dont like the gravy

      Alas, we must appease the Children of Empire! For their comfort and pleasure the flesh of Mother Earth must be given. No opportunity for life other than their own must be allowed.

      It is cannibalism until death, I’m afraid.

      1. JBird4049

        >>>It is cannibalism until death, I’m afraid.

        That is a bit gruesome, wouldn’t you say?

        The ticks and the diseases that they spread are largely due to climate change and the disrupted ecosystem particularly in predators. Just bringing back the right combinations of (deep breath) all mountain lions, brown and black bears, wolves, coyotes, foxes, bobcats plus all the prey species that were locally extirpated would greatly reduce the ticks. This would change the composition of the plant and animal life making it less friendly to ticks. Particularly the oversupply of the hoofed rats called deer, which the ticks love. Heck, add opossums, chickens, and anything else that loves ticks.

        From what I understand, it is possible to solve or greatly improve the problems in our ecosystem, but it takes planning, time, and money. People are afraid of the Big Bad Wolf, Grizzlies, and Mountain Lions are going to eat them as well. But if we want our children to be able to hike without becoming tick hotels we will have to do these things.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > The ticks and the diseases that they spread are largely due to climate change and the disrupted ecosystem particularly in predators.

          Also deer, a pest in the burbs (so yet another zoonotic transmission issue).

          1. thousand points of green

            If we decided to do what the Indian Nations did, we could transform our view of deer in the burbs from pest to renewable food resource.

            The Indian Nations managed huge landscape areas as live-in game-gardens to foster the growth of deer, turkey, etc. Which they then hunted and ate.

            The burbs are America’s own deer gardens. We could have organized deer-roundups and deer-kills and deer-meat butcher-outs and distributions to all the burbanites.

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      I rake mine to the edge of the lot where all my trees and plants are, and call it xeriscaping.

      1. ambrit

        I’ll occasionally go on out and collect some of those big plastic bags of pine needles and leaves. Then I dump them on a big pile in what was a hollow in the back yard where a big tree went down in Hurricane Katrina. That’s separate from the kitchen scraps compost pile. Cover the ground with torn up paper and cardboard before applying a layer of leaves so as to encourage the earthworms.
        We have a heavyish clay soil here, so amendmentation is the order of the day.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > big plastic bags

          I piked those plastic bags round the foundation of the house, where it was exposed. This made a measurable difference in the temperature indoors (the coldest room became the warmest). Then in the spring, I emptied the leaves out onto soil, especially round the trunks of new trees.

          The leaves have to be fluffy and dry, though.

          1. ambrit

            There are so many “passive” ways to do things and avoid unnecessary expenditures. Alas, if there is no “profit” to be made, many otherwise wise methodologies are “smothered with silence.”

      2. Keith Howard

        I’ve had my place in NW Denver for 30 years, and because it was quite naked when I arrived, I’ve concentrated on establishing trees and shrubs. I’ve never raked the leaves, of which the place now produces a great volume. The winter winds move them around, and snow shoveling also concentrates them in planted areas. I’ve never noticed any bad consequences of this benign neglect, and I love to watch the occasional Spotted Towhee in early spring scattering the leaves about in a noisy flurry. Although ticks are a terrible May-June problem in Wyoming, I’ve never noticed them in my yard. I think livestock and domestic animals must be significant vectors of the wretched things.

        1. Joe Well

          Insects vary by climate. I imagine insect populations are smaller at elevation, not to mention in drier climates.

          Here in New England, the land is a garden of Eden for every kind of plant and animal life, makes California, at least, look like a desert.

    3. Amfortas the Hippie

      i know i say this every time ticks(or Lyme) is mentioned…but, you really need a possum or 5 in your yard.
      i hear people talking about ticks at the feed store, on occasion…so they’re in this area.
      but those people also shoot and or remove possums.
      i, on the other hand, have been coexisting with the extended possum familia under my house since i built it.
      and numerous other possums before that.
      i’m out under trees and in the brush literally all the time.
      havent seen a tick since i moved here, almost 30 years ago.
      none on the various dogs, sheep or goats in all that time, either.
      (fleas, however,lol)
      (and this is backed up by science, not mere anecdote)

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          a little, in my experience.
          in order to get under the house, at least.
          usually, they seem to like sleeping in trees.
          (although i’ve never once seen them hang by their tails, like in old cartoons)
          (they are really, really good at “playing dead”, however)
          (and they’re marsupials…tiny, tiny babies in their pouch…and when at rest and not knowing they’re on camera, the little nubs come out and climb around on momma)

        2. Joe Well

          My guess is that possum populations are growing in Massachusetts (and presumably the rest of New England), based on the number of dead ones I see on the side of the road lately in the burbs.

          P.S. something about a dead possum’s face is…brrrr…uncanny for someone who is not used to it.

      1. Joe Well

        The dog at a relative’s house just nearly killed a possum in the backyard.

        I think dogs and cats might be another big factor in the balance of backyard wildlife?

    4. Tom B.

      If not removing the leaves, best to run over them with a mower on mulch setting to shred them so air can penetrate. Otherwise you can end up with an impermeable layer of packed leaves on top of patches of dead lawn. Happened to me last year due to unfortunate timing of the first major cold/wet/freeze spell.

      1. nippersdad

        The problem with shredding the leaves is that so many insects fall and overwinter in them. If you want moths and butterflies then it is best just to leave them be. I just rake them into the shrubs.

  21. Mo's Bike Shop

    Google is telling me today that I should look for ‘Electronics Recycling Near Me’.

    Is there a betting pool on them using that for data scavenging?

  22. southern appalachian

    – appreciate the poem. This “ Lost in a haunted wood“ called to mind this “ middle of the journey of our life I came to myself within a dark wood where the straight way was lost.” also reminded me of a part of David Jones’ Parenthesis, believe. Which is all good company. Thank you.

    1. ambrit

      It recalled to me the far reaching meme of the “Demon haunted wood.”
      Being haunted by Demons has escaped from it’s literary ‘prison’ and entered, or better, re-entered the World of Phenomena.
      Characterizing the “persons” who are driving us relentlessly towards the existential cliff as Demons is accurate and enheartening. We all remember from our old horror movie days what we do with and to Demons, don’t we?

      1. Alex Cox

        Doom poets, I’ll raise you an Ancient Mariner:

        Like one who on a lonely road
        Doth walk in fear and dread
        And having once looked back
        Walks on and turns no more his head
        Because he knows a frightful fiend
        Behind him close doth tread.

  23. bwilli123

    Interesting thread on Israel’s ‘strategic paralysis’
    by Nemesis Respecter 40K
    …Israel (is) in a position very close to check mate. It cannot attack, because to do so is to expose itself on two fronts (And) It cannot not attack, because to not attack would be to embrace the reality that America’s “Rhodesia” can no longer win against the natives…”
    As a result
    “..the IDF and the Israeli government will simply wallow in strategic paralysis until their hand is forced. They’ll keep denying aid shipments, not because it’s a workable strategy, but because letting them in is an admission of defeat.”


    1. Kennan Barbie


      No idea who this guy is or how accurately the predictions will turn out, but the analysis is absolutely stellar.

      I hope it gets the attention it deserves.

    2. Daryl

      Is genocide not a strategy? It seems to me like it is part of the plan.

      Even if their plan is to really deploy to Gaza, starve out Hamas, or they are totally undecided what they are doing doesn’t make sense. Blowing up churches & murdering the family of US legislators, basically doing things that are collapsing the support of Western populations (yes the gov’ts are still fine with this, apparently). I can’t make it make sense unless I consider that genocide is the intended outcome.

  24. The Rev Kev

    “Full Transcript: Biden’s Speech on Israel-Hamas and Russia-Ukraine Wars’

    Just got around to reading his speech and it is kinda a dud. You would think that it would be about the Gaza war and America’s aid but again and again he keeps on coming back to Putin and implying that Putin and Hamas are the same. Maybe he does not want to let the war in the Ukraine get pushed off the political map but you suspect that for him, Putin personally has become an obsession with him. I think that if Project Ukraine collapses during his political run, that it might unhinge him to see Russian troops rolling across that country and cause him to strike out.

  25. ashley

    In moments like these, we have to remind — we have to remember who we are. We are the United States of America. The United States of America. And there is nothing, nothing beyond our capacity, if we do it together.

    we cant solve homelessness, we cant get socialized healthcare, we cant get socialized higher education, but we can subsidize israel’s socialism with another $100 billion for genocide!

      1. caucus99percenter

        Going to the moon in 1969?

        Even this leftie hippie anti-war radical who lived down the hall was enthusiastic, if a bit theatrical, about it. I remember him grabbing an oblivious-looking fellow longhair’s arm, trying to shake him out of his indifferent stupor. Pointing up at the moon, he burbled out the effervescent exclamation, “There are three guys up there!”

        That still seemed like such a violation of common sense in those days. Flesh and blood, soft-bodied people? Up in the heavens? “For all mankind” even though down here, we’re at war with each other?

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