This is Naked Capitalism fundraising week. 1176 donors have already invested in our efforts to combat corruption and predatory conduct, particularly in the financial realm. Please join us and participate via our donation page, which shows how to give via check, credit card, debit card, or PayPal. Read about why we’re doing this fundraiser, what we’ve accomplished in the last year, and our current goal, expanding our reach. By Lambert Strether of Corrente. Bird Song of the Day Warblers are much more mellifluous than penguins. This one is really worth listening to! Stalky the Kookaburra. The whole thread is worth a read: For anyone who came in late: the reason LB’s new brood is so amazing is bcs they’re his 2nd family. His 1st mate, 4 (pictured: 4, LB, Stalky) died &LB nearly pined to
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Lambert Strether writes Links 11/25/2021
Yves Smith writes Why Don’t We See Headlines Touting the Pentagon’s Hefty Price Tag?
Lambert Strether writes 2:00PM Water Cooler 11/24/2021
This is Naked Capitalism fundraising week. 1176 donors have already invested in our efforts to combat corruption and predatory conduct, particularly in the financial realm. Please join us and participate via our donation page, which shows how to give via check, credit card, debit card, or PayPal. Read about why we’re doing this fundraiser, what we’ve accomplished in the last year, and our current goal, expanding our reach.
By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Bird Song of the Day
Warblers are much more mellifluous than penguins. This one is really worth listening to!
Stalky the Kookaburra. The whole thread is worth a read:
For anyone who came in late: the reason LB’s new brood is so amazing is bcs they’re his 2nd family. His 1st mate, 4 (pictured: 4, LB, Stalky) died &LB nearly pined to death once kids grew &moved out. Most kookas would die or be killed at this point as kookas don’t thrive alone. pic.twitter.com/4zQI8PtNNO
— St Mary MacKiller (@StMaryMacKiller) November 14, 2021
Readers, Covid tapewatching, too, can be described as “hours of boredom punctuated by minutes of terror.” I find today’s case data disturbing, and so I’ve rearranged this section for today to highlight the case numbers. (I’ve also reworked a lot of the boilerplate, so please don’t skip it.)
Case count by United States regions:
I’ve been muttering about the national case count for awhile. First, I noted when the downward trend stopped, and the curve went horizontal (“fiddling and diddling”). Then I noted a “modest upward trend.” I was reluctant to call the kind of geometric increase we’ve seen before, because I’d never seen “fiddling and fiddling” go on for so long at this level of cases. Now we have an actual jump. Right before Thanksgiving travel begins. At a minimum, the official narrative that “Covid is behind us,” or that the pandemic will be “over by January” (Gottlieb), or “I know some people seem to not want to give up on the wonderful pandemic, but you know what? It’s over” (Bill Maher) is clearly problematic. (This chart is a seven-day average, so changes in direction only show up when a train is really rolling.)
One of the sources of the idea that Covid is on the way out, I would speculate, is the CDC’s modeling hub (whose projections also seem to have been used to justify school re-opening). “Here is today’s version of the chart from the CDC modeling hub, which aggregates the results of eight models in four scenarios, with the last run (“Round 9”) having taken place on 2021-08-30, and plots current case data (black dotted line) against the aggregated model predictions (grey area), including the average of the aggregated model predictions (black line). I have helpfully highlighted the case data discussed above:
(Note that the highlighted case data is running behind the Johns Hopkins data presented first.) Now, it’s fair to say that the upward trend in case data (black dotted line) is still within the tolerance of the models; it does not conform to the models’ average (black line), but it stays within the grey area (aggregated predictions) It’s also true that where we see an upward trend in the predicted case data (lower right quadrant) it’s much later than where we are now. It’s too early to say “Dammit, CDC, your models were broken”; but it’s not too soon to consider the possibility that they might be. But maybe we’ll get lucky, and the problem, if indeed it is a problem, will go away before Thanksgiving travel begins.
So where is the rise coming from? Let’s look at the state case data, starting with the West:
California was hot a couple weeks ago; now, not so much.
Now the South:
It’s a shame Texas flattened at such a high level, but they’re not the source of the case count jump.
Now the Midwest:
Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota, and Illinois were rising until recently, although now their case counts have flattened at a high level. Wisconsin and Indiana, at a middle case count, are increasing, and with lower case counts, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska are increasing. The Midwest is part of the reason for the jump. It’s unsettling that the rise is so widely distributed.
Now the Northeast:
Holy moley, New York is going up, but look at Pennsylvania! (NOTE: There are few rapid risers in Pennsylvania, we could be looking at a reporting data discrepancy, nor do the rapid riser criteria flag steady rise, by definition. And even if we knocked Pennsylvania back to New York’s level, I’d still be worried. Here and here some Pennsylvania dashboards, in case anyone wants to dig deeper.) At a lower case count level, Massachusetts and New Jersey are also increasing. And speaking of Massachusetts:
Massachusetts is still exhibiting its oddball sine wave behavior, but to my eye the trend is up (as is the case data). It would be really bad if the case count jumped just as the students headed home for Thanksgiving.
The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) service area includes 43 municipalities in and around Boston, including not only multiple school systems but several large universities. Since Boston is so very education-heavy, then, I think it could be a good leading indicator for Covid spread in schools generally.
Holy moley, look at the change in Indiana and Michigan, in only three days. Minnesota’s not looking so good either. On the bright side, California and Arizona seem no worse. New Mexico is better. Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont are better.
The previous release:
What is most unsettling to me is that the states with rising case counts are broadly distributed nationally. There is no single location where everything went visibly and badly wrong (as in New York at pandemic start).
The numbers bounce back. (I have also not said, because it’s too obvious, that if by Bubba we mean The South, then Bubba has done pretty well on vax.)
58.8% of the US is fully vaccinated (CDC data, as of November 14. Mediocre by world standards, being just below Estonia, and just above the Czech Republic in the Financial Times league tables as of this Monday). We are back to the stately 0.1% rise per day. I would bet that the stately rise = word of mouth from actual cases. However, as readers point out, every day those vaccinated become less protected, especially the earliest. So we are trying to outrun the virus…
“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 Mice de Talleyrand-Périgord
“Bannon surrenders to FBI” [Politico]. “Bannon was indicted over his refusal to appear for a deposition or provide documents to the House select committee investigating Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election results, and the violent Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol that those efforts inspired. News reports suggest that Bannon was in touch with Trump in the crucial days before Jan. 6 — the day Congress is required to certify the presidential election results — and joined other key Trump advisers planning strategy on Jan. 5. The case is crucial for the Jan. 6 select committee — and congressional power in general. Contempt of Congress cases have rarely succeeded in history, however few targets have ever defied a congressional subpoena as brazenly as Bannon. He refused to engage with the Jan. 6 committee until after his deadline to appear, and he leaned on a theory of “absolute immunity” that has no legal backing and has only ever been contemplated for a president’s closest official advisers. But Jan. 6 investigators are hopeful that the real effect of Bannon’s indictment is on other potential witnesses — like former Trump adviser Michael Flynn — who might rethink outright defiance rather than risk prosecution.” • Fascinating to watch a Congressional Committee simultaneously playing at being a District Attorney and a Grand Jury. Presumably, Bannon’s no ham sandwich. So where’s the Justice Department? (On the original crime, if any, not the, as it were, cover-up.)
“Biden celebrates rare win with US infrastructure bill signing” [Agence France Presse]. “Battered by critics and dire opinion polls, President Joe Biden signs into law the biggest US infrastructure revamp in more than half a century at a rare bipartisan celebration in the White House on Monday. The $1.2 trillion package will fix bridges and roads, as well as expand broadband internet across the United States, in the most significant government investment of the kind since the creation of the national highways network in the 1950s.” • The West Wing can’t be happy with that headline, and all the headlines are like that. Ever since Biden ended a war, the vicious journamalists turned on him…
“Exasperation and dysfunction: Inside Kamala Harris’ frustrating start as vice president” [CNN]. “Worn out by what they see as entrenched dysfunction and lack of focus, key West Wing aides have largely thrown up their hands at Vice President Kamala Harris and her staff — deciding there simply isn’t time to deal with them right now, especially at a moment when President Joe Biden faces quickly multiplying legislative and political concerns. The exasperation runs both ways. Interviews with nearly three dozen former and current Harris aides, administration officials, Democratic operatives, donors and outside advisers — who spoke extensively to CNN — reveal a complex reality inside the White House. Many in the vice president’s circle fume that she’s not being adequately prepared or positioned, and instead is being sidelined. The vice president herself has told several confidants she feels constrained in what she’s able to do politically. And those around her remain wary of even hinting at future political ambitions, with Biden’s team highly attuned to signs of disloyalty, particularly from the vice president. Few of the insiders who spoke with CNN think she’s being well-prepared for whichever role it will be.” • Willie Brown as much as said: “Kamala, don’t do this.” So why is anybody surprised? Commentary:
If the Democrats want to see a Black female revolt, go ahead and try this. You are GUARANTEED to lose. https://t.co/LW7vE9Vnqk
— rolandsmartin (@rolandsmartin) November 15, 2021
Maybe it’s time to have it out. The Black Misleadership Class gave us Obama, Clinton, Biden, and Harris. That’s the catastrophically bad President who gave us Trump, two wretched candidates (Harris’s 2020 delegate count: zero (0)), and… Joe Biden. Maybe it’s time for Roland Martin to sit down?
“Biden-successor chatter grows and Harris isn’t scaring off anyone” [Politico]. “As Vice President Kamala Harris grapples with a portfolio of seemingly intractable issues and responsibilities that have drawn her away from the national spotlight — she Zoomed into the infrastructure Cabinet meeting from Paris on Friday — other Democrats have raised their own national profiles. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is the point person on implementing much of the popular bipartisan infrastructure deal. This fall, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) boosted the mayor of Manchester, N.H., during her recent reelection campaign and is keeping in touch with allies in the critical primary state, according to people familiar with the calls. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) is on a book tour and campaigned in Virginia for Terry McAuliffe. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) endorsed left-wing and progressive candidates outside of Massachusetts this past year.” • Stoller comments:
There's really not much of a Democratic bench, so it's smart of Buttigieg to frame himself in comparison to Kamala Harris. https://t.co/IhQp73MdFZ
— Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) November 15, 2021
The only thing that qualified Harris was they love her in the Hamptons. The only thing that qualified Buttigieg was that he stabbed Sanders in the back in Iowa. Granted, that shows a pleasing opportunism on Buttigieg’s part, but does McKinsey consultant-level office politicking quality him for high level? As for Booker, Klobuchar, and Warren, carefully listed by Politico in alphabetical order:… Really?
Democrats en Deshabille
Lambert here: Obviously, the Democrat Party is a rotting corpse that can’t bury itself. Why is that? First, the Democrat Party is the political expression of the class power of PMC, their base (lucidly explained by Thomas Frank in Listen, Liberal!). ; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. (“PMC” modulo “class expatriates,” of course.) Second, all the working parts of the Party reinforce each other. Leave aside characterizing the relationships between elements of the Party (ka-ching, but not entirely) those elements comprise a network — a Flex Net? An iron octagon? — of funders, vendors, apparatchiks, electeds, NGOs, and miscellaneous mercenaries, with assets in the press and the intelligence community. Whatever, if anything, that is to replace the Democrat Party needs to demonstrate the operational capability to contend with all that. Sadly, I see nothing of the requisite scale and scope on the horizon, though I would love to be wrong. (If Sanders had leaped nimbly from the electoral train to the strike wave train after losing in 2020, instead of that weak charity sh*t he went with, things might be different today. I am not sure that was in him to do, and I’m not sure he had the staff to do it, although I believe such a pivot to a “war of movement” would have been very popular with his small donors. What a shame the app wasn’t two-way.) Ah well, nevertheless.
And while we’re at it: Think of the left’s programs, and lay them against the PMC’s interests. (1) Free College, even community college. Could devalue PMC credentials. Na ga happen. (2) MedicareForAll. Ends jobs guarantee for means-testing gatekeepers in government, profit-through-denial-of-care gatekeepers in the health insurance business, not to mention opposition from some medical guilds. Na ga happen. (3) Ending the empire (and reining in the national security state). The lights would go out all over Fairfax and Loudon counties. Na ga happen. These are all excellent policy goals. But let’s be clear that it’s not only billionaires who oppose them.
* * *
Beto throws his hat in the ring. And not standing on a table, either:
I’m running for governor.
Together, we can push past the small and divisive politics that we see in Texas today — and get back to the big, bold vision that used to define Texas. A Texas big enough for all of us.
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) November 15, 2021
“Medicaid expansion” is as far as he’ll go… (I don’t think the ad is so bad. I do think O”Rourke has yet to show a killer instinct, which he will need in Texas. Let’s see a little blood on that blue shirt…)
“Greg Abbott leads Beto O’Rourke by 9 percentage points in hypothetical matchup, UT/TT Poll finds” [KVUE]. • See above.
Realignment and Legitimacy
“Some clarifications on political labels” [Carl Beijer]. “Socialists have different ideas about politics than everyone else, so it only makes sense that we would think about political groupings and factions differently than they do, and categorize them accordingly. And yet we usually do not! And I include myself here: it’s extremely easy to slip back into popular terminology, even though these terms bring with them all kinds of baggage that socialists ought to object to. So for the sake of clarity, I thought it might be helpful to lay out how I think about the political labels that we use.” •From April, still germane. Handy chart:
Manufacturing: “United States NY Empire State Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The New York Empire State Manufacturing Index jumped to 30.9 in November of 2021 from 19.8 in October, beating forecasts of 21.2, pointing to a strong growth in business activity in the New York State. New orders (28.8 vs 24.3 in October) and shipments (28.2 vs 8.9) posted substantial increases, and unfilled orders rose (12.7 vs 18.5). Delivery times were significantly longer (32.2 vs 38). Employment grew at its fastest pace on record (26 vs 17.1) and the average workweek increased (23.1 vs 15.3). The prices paid index held near its record high (83 vs 78.7) and the prices received index reached a new peak (50.8 vs 43.5). Firms planned significant increases in capital and technology spending.”
The Bezzle: Peak Bitcoin?
"Bitcoin" comes from the old Hebrew "Beit Cohen", meaning "house of the priest" or "temple". Jesus cleansed the temple in Jerusalem by driving out the money lenders. The implications of this on Bitcoin vis a vis interchangeable fiat currencies are obvious and need no elaboration.
— Jakeup (@yashkaf) November 15, 2021
But elaborate he does!
The Bezzle: Philately, eh?
Retail: “McDonald’s just announced it’s completely changing the customer experience” [ZDNet]. • Robots. Sometimes I get the feeling that McDonald’s executives read Chris Arnade on the role of McDonald’s in the lives of the, sorry, marginalized, and decided they don’t want to do that any more. I hope not.
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The world's most valuable item by weight, the 1c Magenta, has been fractionalised for the first time so that anyone can own it.
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— ShowpieceTweets (@ShowpieceTweets) November 11, 2021
Tech: “From Automobile Capitalism to Platform Capitalism: Toyotism as a prehistory of digital platforms” [Organization Studies]. From the Abstract: “Challenging prevailing assumptions that the platform is a digital artefact, and platform capitalism a new era, this article traces crucial elements of platform capitalism to Toyotist automobile manufacture in order to rethink the relationship between technology and organization. Arguing that the very terminology and industry applications of the ‘platform’ emerge from the automobile industry over the course of the 20th century, this article cautions against the uncritical adoption of epochal paradigms, or assumptions that new technologies require new organizational forms. By parsing the platform into two types, the stack and the intermediary, this article demonstrates how the platform concept and data-driven production practice both develop out of the Toyota Production System in particular, and American and Japanese analyses of it. Toyotism, we show, is the unseen industrial and epistemological background against which the platform economy plays out. In making this case, this article highlights the crucial continuities between the data-intensive production of companies like Uber and Amazon – emblematic of digital platform capitalism – and the organizational paradigms of the automobile industry. At a moment when the automobile returns to prominence amit platforms such as Uber, Didi Chuxing, or Waymo, and as we find tech companies turning to automobile manufacturing, this automotive lineage of the platform offers a crucial reminder of the automotive origins of what we now call platform capitalism.” • Fascinating!
Supply Chain: “How Our Online Shopping Obsession Choked the Supply Chain” (interview) [Christopher Mims, GQ]. Mims: “Your sneakers started life, potentially, as fracked natural gas in the panhandle of Texas, and then it’s liquefied and shipped to China. There are these very specialized plastics manufacturers there that synthesize the hydrocarbons and natural gas into synthetic thread, which is then going to be woven into a special fabric. And only then does it go to wherever it’s going to get sewn into something. So [if] you think of that point as the beginning of the journey, it’s not. [T]he first bottleneck happens before the thing is even really made. It’s difficult to overstate the impact that China, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia’s zero-COVID policies have had on global supply chains. The famous example is the 30,000 people that just got locked in Shanghai Disneyland. What happens is, they see a single case, and they’ll shut down a city of 4 million—they’ll shut down factories, they’ll shut down whole ports. The seven busiest ports in the world are in China. So imagine the effects of shutting one of those down for a day, much less a month. So, the first real problem is that people can’t even get their stuff made.” • Can you imagine? We can’t get our sneakers because these governments are protecting their citizens. The audacity!
Supply Chain: “James K. Galbraith attributes the supply-chain problem in the US to a system that was built for efficiency, not resilience” [James K. Galbraith, Interest]. “None of these interpretations withstands scrutiny. The excess demand story fails on a glance. After all, there is no shortage of goods. Ships bearing the supply – 30 million tons of it – are sitting right now outside US ports, with more on the way. Nor have production prices risen by much. Most of the “inflation” so far has been in energy (driven partly by a rebound from the pandemic slump) and in used cars and trucks, previously produced goods that are in demand because of the semiconductor shortage affecting automakers. And no, that particular shortage is not the result of “excess demand,” either. During the pandemic, chipmakers predicted a bigger shift in the composition of demand – toward household gizmos and away from cars – than actually occurred. Now they have too much of one kind of chip and not enough of another. As for the “central planning” jibe, that is to be expected from certain circles. The implication is that all would be well if only the Biden administration had not been paying attention. Never mind that the extent of Biden’s intervention was merely to urge port managers to work “24/7” to get the boats unloaded – an idea that one assumes would have already crossed their minds. The point about “efficiency” gets closer to reality, except that the problem is not too little efficiency, but too much. To be precise, the extreme efficiency of today’s global supply chains is also their fatal flaw. Well-run ports are models of high throughput and low costs. They incorporate docks, railheads, truck bays, storage areas, and heavy-lifting equipment to suit the traffic they expect. Building capacity beyond a small margin of safety would be a waste. In normal times, any excess capacity sits idle, yielding no revenue while interest on the debt issued to build it still must be paid. Over time, efficient operators will minimize the excess and keep the docks and machinery they have humming away. The spectacular success of global supply chains – up until now – reflects the relentless operation of this principle…. A supply chain is an entire ecology, a biophysical entity. It requires all of its parts to function smoothly all of the time. Failures are not isolated to one segment, nor can they be fixed with a simple increase in prices or fees, or by some rapid change in techniques. Instead, they cascade through a system that was built in a specific way; a breakdown in one part can become a general one.” • Well worth a read. Here is a parable of optimization:
Hatton turned in a design, and Bayless went about cutting every corner and ignoring whatever parts of it were too expensive, despite Hatton's protests. Bayless assured everyone it would hold. Here is the finished dam, with the earlier dam behind it in the distance. pic.twitter.com/GpnEFnDdhr
— November (2017 Film) (@bombsfall) November 13, 2021
You’ll never guess what happens next! (Start of thread, a history of Austin, PA.)
Supply Chain: “Wild Bidding Wars Erupt at Used-Tractor Auctions Across the U.S.” [Bloomberg]. “The used tractor business is quickly becoming a crucial marketplace that’s allowing farmers to keep harvesting corn, wheat and soy day and night at a time of insatiable demand from buyers in the U.S. and abroad. With the four-week-old strike at Deere & Co. factories exacerbating an already acute shortage of new tractors, the used market is the only place for many desperate farmers to turn. Peterson, known to all as Machinery Pete, says this is the most frenzied he’s seen the market in his 32-year career. At every single auction he’s attended in the past month, records have been smashed on all kinds of makes, models and vintages.” • Bring back the days of steam? From Iowa’s Old Thresher’s Reunion:
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 82 Extreme Greed (previous close: 83 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 86 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 15 at 12:26pm.
Rapture Index: Closes down one on Anti-Semitism. “The lack of activity has downgraded this category” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 185(Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so higher is better.)
“‘COP26 hasn’t solved the problem’: scientists react to UN climate deal” [Nature]. “The final 11-page document, called the Glasgow Climate Pact, says that greenhouse gas emissions must fall by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 for global warming to be maintained at 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. It notes that, under existing emissions reduction pledges, emissions will be nearly 14% higher than in 2010 by 2030. Countries acknowledged the need to reduce emissions faster, and also agreed to report on progress annually. For the first time in a COP text, nations agreed to begin reducing coal-fired power (without carbon capture) and to start to eliminate subsidies on other fossil fuels. However, following objections from China and India, a promise in earlier drafts of the text to ‘phase out’ coal was changed to ‘phase down’. India’s climate and environment minister Bhupender Yadav told the conference that richer nations should not expect poorer countries to stop subsidizing fossil fuels such as gas. The lowest-income households rely on these to keep energy costs down, he said. The deal also includes commitments from some countries on ending deforestation, reducing methane emissions and a pledge from the financial sector to move trillions of dollars of investments into companies that are committed to net-zero emissions. However, modelling suggests that the promises will still not be enough to limit global warming to 2 °C above pre-industrial levels, the goal stated in the 2015 Paris climate agreement. If countries meet their 2030 targets, global temperatures will still rise 2.4 °C above pre-industrial levels by 2100, according to an analysis by Hoehne and colleagues that was published on the website Climate Action Tracker during the first week of COP26.:
“Serious about climate change? Get serious about peat” [WaPo]. “These waterlogged, acidic, low-nutrient ecosystems are the most carbon-dense lands on Earth. You want to safely store carbon for a thousand years? Nothing beats peat. It’s nature’s vault.” • See NC here and here on peat.
“Invasive pythons slither north in Florida Everglades: May mean snake ‘population is expanding'” [USA Today]. • Funny, I hadn’t thought Desantis had declared… [rimshot, laughter]. Very wrong of me, but I couldn’t resist.
“Anger, grievance, resentment: we need to understand how anti-vaxxers feel to make sense of their actions” [The Conversation]. “[C]ommon ground is found in opposing public authorities whose attempts to counteract the spread of the virus have been interpreted as the first steps toward tyranny.” • I don’t think the content delivers on the headline.
“Cannabis Is Now The Fifth Most Valuable Crop In The US” [Seedsman]. “Legal cannabis sales have gone through the roof in the US, yet the Department of Agriculture refuses to acknowledge or track the value of annual harvests like it does for all other crops. To fill this data gap, Leafly has just published its inaugural Cannabis Harvest Report, revealing that the crop now pulls in more money than cotton and is the fifth most valuable agricultural product in the US. According to the report, American growers produced and sold 2,278 metric tons of weed in 2020. The authors explain that this is enough pot to roll more than 2 billion joints or fill 57 Olympic-size swimming pools. For lovers of ridiculous units of measurement, that’s also around 1.7 million washing machines’ worth of weed. It’s worth noting, however, that this doesn’t even take into account the entire cannabis crop produced in the US last year. For simplicity, the researchers only included data from the 11 states where adult-use cannabis is available to purchase at licensed dispensaries. Combined sales from these states amounted to $6.2 billion, and supported a total of 13,042 licensed farms in 2020. To put that into perspective, this makes cannabis the fifth most valuable crop in the US, ahead of rice and peanuts and behind only wheat, hay, soybeans and corn. In Alaska, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Oregon, cannabis was the single most valuable crop on the market last year, and it ranked second in Arizona and third in Michigan and Illinois. Amazingly, the year’s cannabis harvest in Alaska was worth more than double the combined value of all other agricultural products.”
Not Francis Bacon:
Granted, a different palette. Nevertheless, that brushwork. In 1660?! (From this Tweet, which won’t load for some reason.)
Black Injustice Tipping Point
“A Black Woman Invented Home Security. Why Did It Go So Wrong?” [Wired]. “Surveillance technology always “finds its level.” Its gaze is always going to wind up focused on Black folks—even if that was not the “intent” of the inventor. Surveillance, first and foremost, performs a carceral function by attempting the capture and control of marginalized populations. That it may serve additional functions is somewhat beside the point. Surveillance systems, no matter their origin, will always exist to serve power. Earlier this year, at Amazon’s annual device launch, the company focused on how it would like us to think about security. A security robot named Astro, essentially a roving Alexa with a camera and big “eyes” to enhance the sense of “cuteness,” will roll around your house and scan the faces of people in your home. A security drone will fly around the house in a predetermined path. This is alongside a host of other initiatives built on existing products: Ring Alarm Pro, Ring Always Home Cam, Virtual Security Guard. Safety, Amazon would have us believe, comes in the form of cameras, or to be more precise, cameras everywhere pointed at everything all the time. Amazon is not the only one.”
“Iowa Poll: Majority of Iowans support Deere workers over the company as strike enters second month” [Des Moines Register]. “Fifty-eight percent of Iowa adults say they mostly side with Deere workers. Sixteen percent of respondents say they mostly side with the employers, while 19% are unsure and 7% support neither group…. Striking UAW members have a majority or plurality of Iowans’ support regardless of political party, age, gender, educational attainment, religious affiliation, income bracket or whether they live in a rural or urban area. Selzer & Co. conducted the poll of 810 adults in Iowa from Nov. 7-10. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.” • Commentary:
Worth emphasizing that this Des Moines Register poll of Iowans support for the Deere strike was conducted *after* the members rejected the second agreement (that included an immediate 10% raise).
Not only is there still money on the table, but the public support is there… pic.twitter.com/IrlxqqayBx
— Jonah Furman (@JonahFurman) November 15, 2021
“The Hoffa Era Is Over as a New Top Negotiator Is Coming to the Teamsters” [Wall Street Journal]. “The International Brotherhood of Teamsters is set to elect this week its first new leader in more than two decades. With nearly 1.4 million members, it is one of the largest unions in the country, representing workers from delivery drivers to airline staff to warehouse employees…. The election comes when workers are demanding more from their employers amid one of the largest worker shortages in years, rising inflation, sharp wage gains and supply-chain snafus…. For the Teamsters, the election marks the end of the reign of James P. Hoffa. The 80-year-old son of former Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa has been general president of the union since 1999. He isn’t running for re-election, meaning his successor stands to instill fresh blood into the top leadership spot.” • To track the vote:
This is a super cool results tracker for the Teamstets upcoming election! https://t.co/FtTQL0Wlt7
— Daily Union Elections (@UnionElections) November 14, 2021
@UnionElections is another useful union account.
“When a Hyundai is also the family home” [NPR]. “In eastern Pennsylvania, Veronica Vargas and her longtime partner Alex put their sons to bed most nights in their car in the Walmart parking lot where they work. They’re doing it to keep their 11-, 13-, and 14-year-old boys in a sought-after public school district that’s nearby. We aren’t using Alex’s last name or the children’s names because of his concerns about people learning about their not having a home. But it’s in an area where affordable rentals can be hard to get. So, the family’s Hyundai Santa Fe has become a bedroom, living room, and kitchen for five people.”
News of the Wired
If you want your brain to look like this building, go to this clinic:
— Massimo (@Rainmaker1973) November 15, 2021
Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) 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. Today’s plant (Re Silc):
Re Silc writes: “From morning’s paddle, Clarksburg State Park, Massachusetts.”