Wednesday , July 15 2020
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Lambert Strether

Lambert Strether



Articles by Lambert Strether

2:00PM Water Cooler 7/14/2020

15 hours ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Readers, Happy Bastille Day! –lambert
#COVID19
At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. Our five problem states, with New York for comparison:

I’ll just keep doing this one until I see a peak followed by a decline. Congratulations, FL, you passed NY. Looks like CA’s big drop was an artifact; now TX is having one. (Seems like the “first wave” is geographically and chronologically distributed. It will be interesting to see if and when New York starts going up again.)
World cases, United States vs. Southeast Asia. On a log scale, because 50 vs. 50,000 doesn’t fit on the y-axis of a linear scale:

(I left out Vietnam because it doesn’t display well, but right now it’s confirmed case count is one

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2:00PM Water Cooler 7/13/2020

2 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
#COVID19
At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. Our five problem states, with New York for comparison:

I’ll just keep doing this one until I see a peak followed by a decline. CA had a big drop, but it could be an artifact. So did Florida. (Seems like the “first wave” is geographically and chronologically distributed. It will be interesting to see if and when New York starts going up again.)
World cases, United States and China highlighted:

Sure, China is China, but it would take data manipulation on a world-historic scale to get them into our league. USA! USA!
UPDATE “Official Covid-19 Statistics Are Missing Something Critical” [Elemental]. “At the moment, official record-keeping offers

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Links 7/11/2020

4 days ago

Hummingbirds Learn to Count to Find Their Favorite Flowers Smithsonian
Country diary: mighty oaks have sprung from the work of the lively jay Guardian
Famished NYC Rats Are Harassing Outdoor Diners Forbes
From payments to armaments: the double life of Wirecard’s Jan Marsalek FT (Richard Smith). Quite a lead: “It was early 2018 when Jan Marsalek, the young chief operating officer of German fintech champion Wirecard, held a meeting in his palatial home in Munich to talk about a new special project he was interested in: recruiting 15,000 Libyan militiamen.” Second paragraph: “Mr Marsalek has now vanished…” Richard Smith comments: “Wirecard just keeps on giving.”
Sovereign Creditors Must Not Rewrite the Rules During the Pandemic Project Syndicate
Most hedge funds to be allowed to keep equity

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2:00PM Water Cooler 7/10/2020

5 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
#COVID19
At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. Our five problem states, with New York for comparison:

I’ll just keep doing this one until I see a peak followed by a decline. (Seems like the “first wave” is geographically and chronologically distributed. It will be interesting to see if and when New York starts going up again.)
CA: “UC Berkeley has 47 new COVID-19 cases in a week, mostly from frat parties” [Berkeleyside]. “‘The majority of these new cases stem from a series of recent parties connected to the CalGreek system, which included students both within the CalGreek community and others, and led to some secondary spread within households and within other smaller gatherings,’

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Links 7/10/2020

5 days ago

One key solution to the world’s climate woes? Canada’s natural landscapes The Narwhale
Why Idaho Hasn’t Stopped Shaking Since March 31 Popular Mechanics (Re Silc).
Wirecard executive Jan Marsalek touted Russian nerve gas documents FT (Richard Smith). “Wirecard executive Jan Marsalek touted secret documents about the use of a Russian chemical weapon* in the UK, as he bragged of ties to intelligence services to ingratiate himself with London traders.” * Novichok. Of course. Smith adds: Financial fraud, a marijuana marketplace, plus porn, gambling and “dating.”
In north Michigan woods, feds raid an alleged upscale art forgery factory Detroit News. Manufacturing renaissance in the heartland!
The leveraging of America: how companies became addicted to debt FT
#COVID

Readers, I apologize for

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2:00PM Water Cooler 7/9/2020

6 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
#COVID19
At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. Our five problem states, with New York for comparison:

I’ll just keep doing this one until I see a peak followed by a decline. (Seems like the “first wave” is geographically and chronologically distributed. It will be interesting to see if and when New York starts going up again.)
CA: “Riverside County surpasses 20,000 coronavirus cases. That wasn’t supposed to happen yet” [Los Angeles Times]. “Christine Langenwalter, chief quality officer at Desert Regional Medical Center, attributes much of the case jump to summer gatherings and festivities that occurred before last weekend’s holiday. ‘Easter was one of the first holidays, but we were all

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2:00PM Water Cooler 7/8/2020

7 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
#COVID19
At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. Our five problem states, with New York for comparison:

I guess I’ll just keep doing this one until I see a peak followed by a decline. (Seems like the “first wave” is geographically and chronologically distributed.)

Politics
“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51
“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune
“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord
The electoral map. As of July 8: Pennsylvania moves from Toss-up to Leans Democratic. Uh oh….

UPDATE “New July 2020 Electoral College

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Links 7/8/2020

7 days ago

What Can Bonobos Teach Us About the Nature of Language? Smithsonian
Why we need sharks: the true nature of the ocean’s ‘monstrous villains’ The Guardian
Italian mafia bonds sold to global investors FT
Fraud, Short Sellers & Media Investor Amnesia
Implications of financial market development for financial stability in emerging market economies (PDF) Bank of International Settlements
#COVID-19

Catching and killing of airborne SARS-CoV-2 to control spread of COVID-19 by a heated air disinfection system ScienceDirect. From the abstract: “This study paves the way for preventing transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and other highly infectious airborne agents in closed environments.” Big if true; here is the press release. HVAC mavens please weigh in!
Identification of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in Healthcare

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2:00PM Water Cooler 7/7/2020

8 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Readers, I hope your Fourth of July holiday was enjoyable — even if it did end on Monday morning, and not, as I thought, on Tuesday! I am not very holiday minded. –lambert
#COVID19
At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. Our five problem states, with New York for comparison:

And stop flapping your jaws, Red State h8terz, because California is tracking Texas very nicely.

Memento mori:

India, with 719k confirmed COVID cases and counting, recently overtook Russia to have the world’s 3rd-largest coronavirus caseload, behind only US & Brazil. It is lurking at bottom of mortality graph. If/when it “pops” it will inaugurate new phase of global pandemic. pic.twitter.com/w9jS5FWgsB
— Adam Tooze

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Can Davos Man Punch the “Great Reset” Button?

8 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente
“This place is getting to me. I think I’m getting The Fear.” –Hunter Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
I’m at a bit of a disadvantage writing about the World Economic Forum (WEF), because I’m not up on the details for the Bilderbergers, the Bohemian Club, the visitors to Little Saint James, Opus Dei, the Triads, the Masons, the Knights of Malta, or any of the other institutions that promote class solidarity among elites, especially global elites. I’m inclined to leave it with George Carlin: “It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it.” That said, the World Economic Forum seems especially worthy of attention, both as a newsworthy event, and as the home ground of “Davos Man,” a phrase coined by Samuel P. Hunting (of all people) in “Dead Souls: The

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Exiting the Vampire Castle

9 days ago

Lambert here: This classic post from 2013 retains its relevance today; somer readers may have been unlucky enough to recognize the dynamics on this side of the Atlantic. (Also, I mistook the structure of the Fourth of July. I wrote a Water Cooler on Friday, which was actually a holiday; so I will take today off instead. Water Cooler will return tomorrow.)
By Mark Fisher, who was the author of Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? (2009), The Weird and the Eerie (2017), and contributed to publications such as The Wire, Fact, New Statesman and Sight & Sound. He was also the co-founder of Zero Books, and later Repeater Books. He was Programme Leader of the MA in Aural and Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London and a lecturer at the University of East London. Reposted from

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Links 7/6/2020

9 days ago

Why Bald Eagles Are No Longer Endangered Treehugger (Re Silc).
New way to calculate dogs’ ages may unlock secret to aging ABC
The only catfish native to the Western U.S. is running out of water High Country News
Pink ice in Italy’s Alps sparks algae probe Agence France Presse
Why the crisis marks the end of the road for longstanding business lines FT
Minor League Teams Could Be Latest Casualties of COVID’s Disaster Capitalism Truthout
Court ruling ties SEC’s hands over investor fraud FT
The time for accounting reform has arrived Tax Research UK
#COVID-19
Identifying airborne transmission as the dominant route for the spread of COVID-19 PNAS. “Our analysis reveals that the difference with and without mandated face covering represents the determinant in shaping the trends of the pandemic

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2020’s Plague of Locusts Spreads to Indian Subcontinent and South America

9 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
I thought I’d lighten up the mood by posting on a plague that’s actually visible: locusts (here is a photo essay in The Atlantic. See also previous NC posts in February and March. Wikipedia has a country round-up). Since the locust swarms of East Africa are already well-covered (“Crunch, crunch: Africa’s locust outbreak is far from over“), I’ll look at the Indian subcontinent (Nepal, Pakistan, India) and Latin America (Argentina, Brazil). To review, locusts are bad. From NPR, “Locusts Are A Plague Of Biblical Scope In 2020. Why? And … What Are They Exactly?”:

Locusts are ravenous eaters. An adult desert locust that weighs about 2 grams (a fraction of an ounce) can consume roughly its own weight daily. And they’re not picky at all. According to the FAO, a

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Links 7/5/2020

10 days ago

Coral Sea’s deep-water reef secrets revealed as pandemic sees research ship redeployed ABC Australa
Locusts have hit east Africa hard The Economist. See NC in February and March.
The Rabbit Outbreak The New Yorker
Goldman Lowers U.S. GDP Forecast, Sees 4.6% Contraction in 2020 Bloomberg
Fourth of July Round-up

Fireworks (Los Angeles, CA):

Sky5 got a look at fireworks lighting up the skies for Fourth of July pic.twitter.com/nkFNUh4N8O
— KTLA (@KTLA) July 5, 2020

Fireworks (Oakland, CA):

There are fireworks shows and there are Oakland fireworks show. Don’t @ me. We the best. pic.twitter.com/xMccFqPtRW
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpears) July 5, 2020

Joey Chestnut (75), Miki Sudo (48.5) retain Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog-Eating Contest titles ESPN
Man offers to resign after showering during

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Three Strikes against the Fed

10 days ago

Lambert here: New hope for The Fed?
By Willem Buiter, Visiting Professor of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University and CEPR Research Fellow. Originally published at VoxEU.
The US Federal Reserve – the world’s most important central bank – is not in a good place. This column outlines three flaws in the operating practices of the Fed – (i) its refusal to adopt negative policy rates, (ii) the build-up of significant credit risks through non-transparent (quasi-)fiscal actions, and (iii) stress testing analysis which fails to account for the severity of the COVID-19 crisis. It proposes a number of ways forward, including a symmetric policy rate around zero, a temporary ban on dividend payments, new equity issuance, and conducting a comprehensive stress test of the financial

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2:00PM Water Cooler 7/3/2020

12 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
#COVID19
At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. Our five problem states, with New York for comparison:

Politics
“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51
“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune
“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord
The electoral map. As of July 2: Still no change. So, regardless of polling, the consensus (aggregating ten organizations) remains the same. And a Biden 10 point lead means a swing of five flips the race. Of course, that can’t happen….

So, taking the consensus as a given, 270 (total) – 204

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2:00PM Water Cooler 7/2/2020

13 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, stories keep popping up right before I’m going to post that I have to put together, in this case the arrest of Epstein’s madame, Ghislaine Maxwell (see below). I’ll fill in some blanks in a bit. –lambert UPDATE All done. Sorry for the delay.
#COVID19
At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. Our problem states, today adding Georgia, which seems to be tracking Arizona:

On the optimistic side, deaths with New York for comparison:

Now, deaths lag, but New York looks like it’s going to hold its big lead for some time to come. (And I’m not sure whether the death rate affects consumer — or worker — behavior that much. Regardless of whether it kills you, COVID is clearly a nasty

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Links 7/2/2020

13 days ago

Cloud cuckoo land? How one bird’s epic migration stunned scientists Guardian
Fed’s Bullard says risk of financial crisis remain FT
Russian Arctic sets ‘fantastical’ heat records: weather chief Agence France Presse
House Democrats’ Climate Plan Embraces Much of Green New Deal, but Not a Ban on Fracking Inside Climate News
Guest post: How climate change misinformation spreads online Carbon Brief
#COVID-19

Revealed: Covid-19 outbreaks at meat-processing plants in US being kept quiet Guardian
More than 40 Bay Area school principals in quarantine after in-person meeting San Francisco Chronicle
Hundreds of teens at ‘pong fest’ party exposed to coronavirus, officials say CNN
Newsom orders new shutdown of restaurants, other indoor business in 19 California counties Los Angeles Times
Ex-FDA Chief:

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2:00PM Water Cooler 7/1/2020

14 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
#COVID19
At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. Our problem states, with New York for comparison:

TX: “COVID-19 messes with Texas: What went wrong, and what other states can learn as younger people get sick” [The Conversation]. “The July 4 holiday weekend usually means cookouts and big gatherings in Texas, but right now, the state is facing a public health catastrophe…. It did not begin like this. Texas had lower COVID-19 rates and case counts than many other large states through most of the spring. When the pandemic arrived in Texas in early March, state officials provided clear messages that the virus was a dangerous threat and that public health safety precautions would be necessary.

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2:00PM Water Cooler 6/30/2020

15 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
#COVID19
At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. Our problem states:

Slamming on the brakes when the car is already hydroplaning (“the vehicle becomes, in effect, an uncontrolled sled”).
CA: “Holiday blues: 19 counties now on watch list for more COVID-19 restrictions” [CalMatters]. “Four new counties — Solano, Merced, Glenn and Orange — were added Monday to the list of hard-hit locales where state health officials are monitoring infection data, providing technical assistance and weighing new measures to slow the spread of the virus. Bars were already ordered to shut down in Los Angeles and six other counties on Sunday as businesses hit hard by the virus looked to the busy summer holiday to

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2:00PM Water Cooler 6/29/2020

16 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
#COVID19
At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. The United States as a whole:

Second verse, same as the first. (OK, I grant the two slopes aren’t exactly the same.)
“Analysis: Governing in reaction mode, and always a beat or two behind” [Texas Monthly]. “The Texas resurgence was predictable. Local officials who wanted stronger rules on masks and crowds and social distancing — in both big and small Texas cities and counties — were right after all. And Abbott, who blocked local governments from acting on their concerns about the coronavirus, waited until case numbers, infection rates and hospitalizations jumped. You can get ready when a storm is coming or wait until it blows your roof off.

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2:00PM Water Cooler 6/26/2020

19 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
#COVID19
At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. Back to the states:

Our problem states again, with New York included as a comparison. Much of the coverage frames the current spiking as a Red State v. Blue State thing, but California that makes framing a little problematic. Yes, California has a bigger population and more capacity, but the curve is worrisome in itself. Caliornia should have this under control by now, especially given that their early response was effective and vigorous.
“Data map reveals the 23% of US counties that are currently seeing an uncontrollable growth in COVID-19 – as new model predicts Phoenix alone could see 28,000 new infections a DAY by July 18” [Daily Mail].

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Links 6/26/2020

19 days ago

Effects of the characteristic temperament of cats on the emotions and hemodynamic responses of humans PLOS One. “The characteristic temperament of cats may be a key factor influencing the health benefits of owning cats.”
Brussels to call for probe into German regulator over Wirecard FT
Wirecard Auditors Say ‘Elaborate’ Fraud Led to Missing Billions Bloomberg
Pandemic causes ‘unprecedented’ fall in global trade FT
The shape of our recovery Felix Salmon, Axios
The Coronavirus Trade-Off Was Always an Illusion John Authers, Bloomberg
#COVID-19

Calcitriol, the active form of vitamin D, is a promising candidate for COVID-19 prophylaxis (preprint) bioRxiv
‘Serious Seven’: Local health experts identify high-risk locations for COVID-19 KJRH. “The Tulsa Health Department is advising the public to

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2:00PM Water Cooler 6/25/2020

20 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
#COVID19
At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart. The data is the John Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. The three main poles of our multipolar world:

If you’re asking which political system took better care of its citizens, and working class, in particular — China, Europe, or the United States — it’s not hard question to answer, is It? I hold no brief whatever for the CCP, and believe them to be as incapble of nobless oblige simple human decency as our own ruling class, and therefore I’d speculate that the balance of class power is different; China’s elites fear their working class in a way that United States elites do not.
AZ: “Fewer than 200 ICU beds available in Arizona as state reports more than 60,000 coronavirus cases” [ABC15]. “There are

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2:00PM Water Cooler 6/24/2020

21 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
#COVID19
At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart. The data is the John Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. States going up, with New York for comparison:

Ugly slopes.
Politics
“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51
“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune
“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord
Since we’re getting closer to the election, maybe it’s time to start looking at the electoral map. As of June 21: NPR and U.S. News forecasts added. And yet the consensus remains stable!

So, taking the consensus as a given, 270 (total) – 204 (Trump’s) = 66. Trump must win 66 from the states in

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2:00PM Water Cooler 6/23/2020

22 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
#COVID19
At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart. The data is the John Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. A view for the primaries:

Swing states AZ, FL, NC, PA, and WI, with NY for comparison.
Getting tested in AZ, a thread:

Here’s a story of an ongoing personal journey of mine — that makes it clear to me the vastness of the COVID spread across Phoenix is still so little understood:
I have sought a COVID test after being around crowds the last week+ — with the desire to keep one’s own family safe.
— Vaughn Hillyard (@VaughnHillyard) June 20, 2020

“No, more testing doesn’t explain the rise of covid-19 cases in the U.S.” [WaPo]. “It is true that the United States has dramatically expanded testing for the virus that causes covid-19…. Tests can

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Links 6/23/2020

22 days ago

First rescued snow leopard cub in India returns to mother Third Pole
June snow in Siberia’s south as highest-ever Arctic heat is recorded in Russia’s coldest region Siberian Times
US dollar funding: an international perspective (PDF) Committee on the Global Financial System, Bank of International Settlements
China warned to prepare for being cut off from US dollar payment system as part of sanctions like Russia South China Morning Post
Global Markets Face Reckoning With Risks Coming True All at Once Bloomberg
#COVID-19

Coronavirus was already in Italy by December, waste water study shows The Local
Mysterious deaths of infants and others raise questions about how early coronavirus hit California Los Angeles Times
The Double Pandemic Of Social Isolation And COVID-19: Cross-Sector Policy

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Dogpiling Taibbi and the Dearth of the Free Press

23 days ago

“Belief is the disease that knowledge cures.” –Unknown
By Lambert Strether of Corrente
I am afraid that the headline will be the last coherent thing about this short and ill-organized post, but bear with me; I feel a bit like somebody with an undiagnosed illness must feel. A little off, so I’m checking my breathing, hefting body parts, listening to my internal organs, etc., filled with a sense of unease, but not able to name the cause. The source of my dread, my angst, is the media, our famously free press, whose work product I consume daily, inordinately, ceaselessly.
I’ve been doing the “media critique” for some time; almost since Atrios paraphrased American pundit Mickey Kaus in 2002:

All 1300 readers of the powerful and malevolent MWO and Buzzflash, however, are so mindlessly

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2:00PM Water Cooler 6/22/2020

23 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
#COVID19
At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart. The data is the John Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. A geopolitical view:

Not under control. At least in the West.
Politics
“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51
“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune
“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord
Since we’re getting closer to the election, maybe it’s time to start looking at the electoral map. June 21: NPR and U.S. News forecasts added. And yet the consensus remains stable!

So, taking the consensus as a given, 270 (total) – 204 (Trump’s) = 66. Trump must win 66 from the states in

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The Economy Isn’t About Money. It’s About Putting Food on the Table

23 days ago

Lambert here: I got into permaculture during the last Crash, as a hedge against not being able to buy food, and from there to plants (see, e.g., Michael Pollan’s The Botany of Desire and IN Defense of Food). So it’s not surprising to see titles like Meals Matter appearing in the zeitgeist again.
By Michael Symons, a restaurateur who turned to scholarship. His latest book, Meals Matter: A Radical Economics through Gastronomy, is now published by Columbia University Press. Originally published at Open Democracy.
Political leaders and economic commentators pronounced the coronavirus crisis a balancing act between “lives” (on one hand) and “the economy” (on the other). To save lives, “the economy” would have to contract, until it, too, needed saving – when we might have to sacrifice lives.
But

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