2:00PM Water Cooler 1/5/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I must add a little 1/6 stuff… –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Who? Who?

* * *

Capitol Seizure

Greenwald is right:

Presumably, insurrection and sedition are crimes. It’s been a year. The small fry went to jail. If there are indeed big fish, where’s Merrick Garland?


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” –Hunter Thompson

Biden Administration

“White House embraces a manage-not-contain Omicron game plan” [Politico]. “When President Joe Biden took office last January amid a winter Covid-19 surge, he vowed an all-out federal assault aimed at vanquishing the virus…. The new reality has further darkened the mood among White House aides already frustrated by the lack of progress toward ending a pandemic many initially believed could be dispatched within a year. It’s also accelerated the administration’s pivot toward preparing people to live with the virus indefinitely. In interviews, officials described the next few weeks as a triage operation focused on containing the reverberations of the surge well enough to avert breakdowns in essential services, mass school closures and overrun hospitals.” • As I wrote back in August: Let ‘er rip.

“Ninety Miles Away w/Special Guest Gareth Reynolds” (podcast) [The West Wing Thing]. • Starts out with a truly impressive level of outrage and clarity on Biden’s Covid policy. If you don’t listen to this podcast, consider it. It’s also very funny. (Also, they have good voices, so I can fall asleep to it.)

“Lawmakers discuss additional Covid relief amid Omicron, but talks stall” [CNN]. “A senior Biden administration official poured cold water on any further stimulus at this time, leaving the possibility open to some relief for restaurants.” • Biden’s helped to kill more people than Trump. And his economics packages are worse (and don’t @ me on BIF; it doesn’t pay the bills). Plus he owes me six hundred bucks.

* * *

“Democrats eye same plays hoping for better results” [The Hill]. • If the Democrats were the Green Bay Packers running the Lombardi Sweep, this would make sense. But they’re not.

“Manchin floats modest Senate rules changes” [The Hill]. “Manchin said that Democrats were also talking about the idea of a talking filibuster, where opponents could slow down a bill for as long as they could hold the floor, but there were questions about how under such a change ‘how do you get off of it.’ Supporters of a talking filibuster want to structure it so that opponents can delay a bill for as long as they can hold the Senate floor. But after they are done talking senators would then be able to pass a bill with a simple majority, effectively nixing the current 60-vote threshold required for most bills to advance in the Senate. But Manchin indicated that he still wants to keep a supermajority requirement to end debate, but that he was supportive of changing it from requiring 60 votes needed to break a filibuster to three-fifths of senators present and voting. Under that shift, senators could break a filibuster with fewer than 60 votes if there were absences.”

“GOP-aligned ‘dark money’ group launches $1M ad campaign to pressure Manchin” [NBC]. “— A political ‘dark money’ group led by a former top aide to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is launching a $1 million ad campaign in West Virginia to pressure Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin to keep the filibuster rules intact…. ‘Call Senator Manchin. Tell him to keep his promise. Tell him to protect the Senate filibuster,’ a narrator says in the 30-second ad.” • Grifters gotta grift. Honestly, do any West Virginia voters care?


“BTRTN: The Biden Dream of a 2022 Comeback Is Over…Right?” [Born to Run the Numbers]. From earlier this month: “[On Thanksgiving, Biden’s] thought process might have gone something like this. Delta was on the rise again for sure, but would likely peak in January at a lower level than in 2020, and, as in 2020, fall quickly from there, perhaps even achieving ‘endemic not pandemic’ status by the spring, and life could return to normal. Inflation was forecast by many, including Goldman Sachs and Moody’s, to be a transient blip, driven by very strong consumer demand that had overwhelmed a ‘just in time’-oriented supply chain, which would ease once the holidays and the Chinese New Year were behind us – again, in time for the summer. And surely, given the House’s passage of the hard infrastructure bill, the pressure on Manchin and Sinema to find a way to ‘yes’ on the soft one would cause them to cave, perhaps even on Chuck Schumer’s ambitious ‘by Christmas’ timetable. Once the signing ceremony was over, the third Biden stimulus package would begin to roar through the economy in 2022. If all that fell into place, he might have hoped for “Biden Comeback” headlines by, say, June of 2022 – months before the midterms. It might not be enough to hold onto the Democratic trifecta, but it just might prevent the kind of bloodbath in the House that befell previous first-termers Ronald Reagan (who lost 26 House seats in 1982), Bill Clinton (-54 in 1994), Barack Obama (-63 in 2010) and Donald Trump (-40 in 2018), and perhaps even enough to hold the Senate in Chuck Schumer’s hands. That rosy scenario began to collapse that very Thanksgiving night, when word came from South Africa of the brand-new Omicron variant….” • I would like to imagine that 2022 would bring a “national conversation” [snort] on the Biden Administration’s Covid response. Do you see anybody advocating a strategy that’s better than “Let ‘er rip,” whether piggishly-lipsticked (Biden) or feral hoggery? No? Then what?


“Kamala Harris aide leaves vice president’s office for Capitol Hill on heels of other departures” [CNBC]. “Another key aide is leaving Vice President Kamala Harris’ office following the departure of two other advisors. Vincent Evans, Harris’ deputy director of public engagement and intergovernmental affairs, has taken a top job at the Congressional Black Caucus, he said in a statement provided to CNBC. A person familiar with Evans’ departure says he is leaving on great terms with the vice president, and that he plans to maintain his close relationship with her. The move, this person added, has nothing to do with the other recent departures. Harris, according to this person, supports Evans’ decision. The person declined to be named in order to speak freely about the job change.” • [nods vigorously]. Out of the frying pan into the cesspit….

Battleground states:

Democrats en Deshabille

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.

We sometimes tell ourselves that society is structured like a corporation or the army, where there is a “chain of command.” I don’t think that’s true. I’ve been reading — and I need to do a lot more reading of books than I do skimming of Twitter, how to find the time — Pierre Bordieu’s Forms of Capital (1983-1984). He has this to say, which helps me think about how to anatomize the Democrat Party:

I think one of the obstacles to thnking scientifically about the social world and providing an adequate construction of it us the architectural type of philosophy that Marxism [not equal to Marx], with its infrastructures, superstructures, procedures and apparatuses, so powerfully underpins….. [Our social unconscious] tends to represent the social world as a house where there are foundations (the infrastructure) and then superstructures. The social world then is construed as something well structured, something we could draw: society is like a pyramid…

Speaking of a “space of spaces” is to say that there is a universe of of spaces whose boundaries are not very clear — which is a nuisance: We like to draw lines around things. we like things to say in their place — and with no obvious hierarchies, since the hierarchies are in a state of constant flux. One property of these subspaces is precisely their struggle for their positions in the space. We might see this as a sort of artistic construction like mobiles, which move very subtly with a kind of imperceptible shift (by the time we have detected it, it is already over) or, sometimes, with an abrupt change of position.

Methodologically: To give an account of RussiaGate — that enormous Democrat Party operation — will I think be far easier to do using Bordieu’s style of thought than more conventional left approaches. (See Capital, Volume III, Chapter 52: “[Here the manuscript breaks off.]” I should say that by no means wish to erase real, material power relations, or even the notion of class; I just want to use a lens that can actual detect the cascading motions of the object of interest. For those still reading, here is an image of a Calder mobile:

(Here is a video about Calder; here is a video of how to make a Calder-style mobile. Good project!) Back in the day, I used to go regularly to the Fogg Museum in Cambridge. They had a Calder mobile on display; the wonderful thing is that I could blow on it — without a guard coming a-running, interestingly — and the mobile would move. The mobile was dynamic, and every part affected every other part. And I suppose if one wished to stop the mobile from moving, the schwerpunkt would not be that difficult to detect. Nor a correlation of forces. Not so with a monolithic, static pyramid… Adding, I believe a mobile could be represented as a force-directed graph, which IMNSHO has insufficient dimensions to model the Democrat Party structure, so there is much work to be done (which perhaps Bourdieu does) but that’s still better than a squat pyramid or an org chart.

(I have updated my “Notes Toward” post with these musings.)

* * *

“The Real Reason Fans Hate the Last Season of Game of Thrones” [Zeynep Tufecki, Scientific American]. “Game of Thrones, in its eighth and final season, is as big as television gets these days. More than 17 million people watched the season’s opening. Judging by the fan and critic reaction though, it seems that a substantial portion of those millions are loathing the season. Indeed, most of the reviews and fan discussions seem to be pondering where the acclaimed series went wrong, with many theories on exactly why it went downhill. The show did indeed take a turn for the worse, but the reasons for that downturn go way deeper than the usual suspects that have been identified (new and inferior writers, shortened season, too many plot holes). It’s not that these are incorrect, but they’re just superficial shifts. In fact, the souring of Game of Thrones exposes a fundamental shortcoming of our storytelling culture in general: we don’t really know how to tell sociological stories…. At its best, GOT was a beast as rare as a friendly dragon in King’s Landing: it was sociological and institutional storytelling in a medium dominated by the psychological and the individual. This structural storytelling era of the show lasted through the seasons when it was based on the novels by George R. R. Martin, who seemed to specialize in having characters evolve in response to the broader institutional settings, incentives and norms that surround them. After the show ran ahead of the novels, however, it was taken over by powerful Hollywood showrunners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss. Some fans and critics have been assuming that the duo changed the narrative to fit Hollywood tropes or to speed things up, but that’s unlikely. In fact, they probably stuck to the narrative points that were given to them, if only in outline form, by the original author. What they did is something different, but in many ways more fundamental: Benioff and Weiss steer the narrative lane away from the sociological and shifted to the psychological. That’s the main, and often only, way Hollywood and most television writers tell stories.” • Political writing, too. The issue is not Manchin, not Sinema!!

Republican Funhouse

“The GOP’s masculinity panic” [Vox]. Forget the clickbait headline. An interview of David French, well worth a read. At least there’s material to contend with. French: “Aggression can be virtuous, or it can be deeply problematic. These things are characteristics, not vices, by and large. So what does a healthy masculinity do? It channels these characteristics toward virtue and away from vice. Not to get too stereotypical, but that’s essentially what you’re talking about when you’re talking about, say, how a Marine Corps boot camp turns a boy into a man.” • I’m with French until the final turn; I mean, let’s hope the “man” isn’t also a torturer, eh? That said, the notion of virtue (cf. Alasdair MacIntyre) is worth having a discussion about. But my view would be that although the 20th Maine’s downhill bayonet charge down Little Round Top showed great courage, as did the 15th Alabama’s uphill, the 15th Alabama’s virture was in service of a cause that was “one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse,” as Ulysses S. Grant put it. So where is the virtue?


Case count by United States regions:

Again, if anything, this count is an underestimate. Counts from the long New Year’s weekend look suspiciously low, and at least one state was so overwhelmed it didn’t supply data at all. (I wrote: “As happened in 2020, I would expect a second, higher peak, from Omicron if for no other reason.” Here we very are. This chart is a seven-day average, so changes in direction only show up when a train is really rolling.) It would sure be nice if “rise like a rocket (and fall like a stick)” applied, but we can’t know that yet. To be fair, previous peaks — how small the early ones look now — have been roughly symmetrical on either side. But the scale of this peak, and the penetration into the population, is unprecendented.

The official narrative that “Covid is behind us,” and that the pandemic will be “over by January” (Gottlieb), and “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 completely exploded. What a surprise!

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

The MWRA, too, needs a bigger chart.

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.

From CDC: “Community Profile Report” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties:

Even worse. Looks like the flying coals landed and caught everywhere. Quite a change from the previous release.

The previous release:

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

The tsunami is still coming in. (Note trend, whether up or down, is marked by the arrow, at top. Admissions are presented in the graph, at the bottom. So it’s possible to have an upward trend, but from a very low baseline.)

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 851,475 848,885. Well, we didn’t hit a million by New Year’s. So there’s that.

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

Might was well check out where we go, in case we bring something back (as from Italy to New York in 2020). This is a log scale. Sorry for the kerfuffle at the left. No matter how I tinker, it doesn’t go away. (The data is from 2019, and so subject to subsequent events, but this is the best I can find.)

The CDC modeling hub and excess deaths charts will appear weekly, on Friday.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States ADP Employment Change” [Trading Economics]. “Private businesses in the United States hired 807K workers in December of 2021, the most in 7 months and more than double market forecasts of 400K, as the fallout from the Delta variant faded and Omicron’s impact had yet to be seen. Hiring was broad-based, though leisure and hospitality led with 246K new jobs.”

Services: “United States Services PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The IHS Markit US Services PMI stood at 57.6 in December 2021, little-changed from a preliminary estimate of 57.5 and below November’s 58.0. The latest reading signaled a sharp upturn in service sector business activity, despite the pace of growth easing to a three-month low, helped by strong client demand. New order growth quickened to the fastest since July, amid customer acquisitions and contract gains, while the pace of job creation was only marginal and the slowest for three months due to labor shortages and difficulties retaining workers. Meanwhile, backlogs of work continued to rise sharply.”

* * *

The Bezzle: “DOL takes on data-miner over novel health insurance plan” [Reuters]. “A data-mining company and federal regulators will square off Wednesday before a U.S. appeals court over a 2020 ruling that critics say erases the need for employee-benefit health insurance to only be offered in a genuine employment context and encourages risky “junk” plans. The U.S. Labor Department wants the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a Fort Worth, Texas federal judge’s ruling that health insurance policies offered by Data Marketing Partnership LP are employee-benefit plans, not state-regulated private health insurance. According to DMP’s appellate briefs, the Texas-based company was created in 2018 to give internet users a financial stake in the booming data-aggregation market. Users join DMP’s limited partnership by downloading tracking software, with the chance of sharing in the profits from the future sale of aggregated data. The only immediate benefit, however, is the opportunity to buy low-cost health insurance through the company, at the users’ own expense.” • Imaginative!


Supply Chain: “Indonesia talks on coal exports postponed as scores of ships in limbo” [Reuters]. “Indonesian authorities postponed a meeting with coal mining companies on Wednesday, as scores of ships moored off the coast remained in limbo as they waited to see whether the government would lift a ban on coal exports. The government has said it would review the ban on Wednesday and was due to meet mining companies in the morning ahead of a decision, which is keenly awaited by top economies in the region that rely on Indonesian supplies. However, officials at the Indonesian Coal Miners Association (ICMA) said a planned meeting with trade minister Muhammad Lutfi had not taken place. They did not say why the meeting was postponed and added no new time had been agreed. Ministry officials declined to comment. Indonesia, the world’s top exporter of thermal coal and China’s largest overseas supplier, announced on Saturday a ban on coal exports in January to avoid outages at its own generators, sending coal prices in the region surging.”


* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 68 Greed (previous close: 67 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 54 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 4 at 12:05pm. Big switch to Greed over the holidays!

Rapture Index: Close unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 185. (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so higher is better.)

Civil War Studies

A true scholar:


“Thank You!” (podcast) [The Civil War (1861-1865)]. • The podcasters, Rich and Tracy Youngdahl, live in Boulder, Colorado. They had to flee their home when the Marshall Fire hit their neighborhood, but when they returned, their home was intact, although many of their neighbors homes were not. Note: These supremely dedicated amateurs actually know the year the Civil War began.

Zeitgeist Watch


“Stocked up,” perhaps, but not exactly Jackpot-ready:

Class Warfare

Since I mentioned that “breathing is a social relation“–

“Hidden Toxic Mold Lurking In Schools: Why No One Is Testing” [Good Day]. From 2019, still germane. “a state report to the legislature in 2004 found the majority of California schools surveyed reported signs of moisture or mold in their classrooms. The report linked mold spores to allergies and asthma, noting asthma was the ‘number one cause of chronic school absences, accounting for as many as 3 million missed school days a year.’ Fifteen years later, there is still no required testing for mold in schools and no law that regulates air quality in schools. However, the Department of Education tells CBS13 that mold concerns are the most common complaint that they get. The state reports the primary health hazards for mold in schools include asthma, allergies, respiratory infections, eye irritation, and rashes, like eczema. However, more severe symptoms ranging from tremors to memory loss.” • So school ventilation issues… have a history.

“America’s schools are falling into disrepair with no solution in sight, experts say” [NBC]. “While there have been significant associated health risks for decades, the Covid-19 pandemic has shed new light on the scale of the problem. For example, last summer the GAO estimated that 36,000 schools nationwide needed heating and air-conditioning repairs or updates for problems that, if left unaddressed, could lead to poor air quality and mold…. The disrepair in many inner-city schools is one of the starkest illustrations of inequality in America. Most school funding is tied to local tax bases, not formulas for equitable distribution.”

* * *

“The luxury air business is booming — as many Californians struggle to breathe” [Los Angeles Times]. From 2020: “Gregory Malin remembers the night he realized a breath of fresh air could help sell a mansion. The year was 2009. Some 2.8 million foreclosures were underway across the nation. Malin was hosting a party in San Francisco’s tony Pacific Heights, where his real estate development and investment firm, Troon Pacific, had bought a house for $6 million to gut and renovate it as a showpiece. They’d turned it into the greenest residence in the city, scoring super-platinum points on the LEED certification scale. Now they were showing it off. A woman approached him and asked: ‘Oh, my God. What do you do in this home? Do you produce oxygen? I feel so much better right now than I felt all year,’ Malin recalls. He had installed a state-of-the-art ventilation system for energy efficiency, but it also kept fresh filtered air moving through the building. Something clicked. ‘My late wife looked at me and said, ‘Truly, the greatest luxury in life is your health.’’ The house sold for more than $13 million, and Malin began marketing air as a health-and-wellness amenity, the same way builders of yore pitched hot tubs or home gyms.” • Gotta surf the waves of change!

“High-End Homes With High-End Air Purification Systems” [Wall Street Journal]. From 2014: “Alongside infinity pools and gourmet kitchens, more high-end developers and luxury-home builders are pitching a new amenity: freshly circulated, highly scrubbed air. Developers of 155 East 79th Street, a condominium under construction on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, boast that its ventilation technology first cleanses air via a hospital operating-room-grade purification system and then brings the fresh filtered result into each unit. In San Francisco, luxury developer Troon Pacific says it has built several speculative homes in the $5 million-plus range that fully exchange their indoor air at least three times a day.” • Three times a day is not enough, but get the super to crank those babies down in the basement…

Air in another sense:

Good call!

News of the Wired

“A trip to the doctors? Active ingredient in magic mushrooms could help treat mental health disorders including PTSD, research suggests” [Daily Mail]. “An active ingredient in magic mushrooms could help treat mental health disorders including PTSD, research suggests. Scientists say that small doses of the psychedelic drug psilocybin, found in ‘magic’ mushrooms are not only good at easing disorders resistant to treatment but they also have no short or long-term side effects in healthy people. Researchers in a study led by the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London, found that the drug can be given safely in doses of either 10mg or 25mg to up to six patients. The report, in partnership with COMPASS Pathways, is an essential first step for experts to prove the safety and feasibility of drug psilocybin as a treatment alongside talking therapies for a range of conditions including treatment-resistant depression (TRD) and PTSD. It is the first drug to go head-to-head with the traditional and often ineffective treatments on the market. Early research hailed the mushroom as a promising treatment but no human trials have been conducted until now. ” • Please, let them say mushrooms and not turn into pills….

* * *
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The exhilaration of a sunny, freezing day….

* * *

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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. cocomaan

    In interviews, officials described the next few weeks as a triage operation focused on containing the reverberations of the surge well enough to avert breakdowns in essential services, mass school closures and overrun hospitals.”

    Hate to see what it looks like when they’re not “containing the reverberations.” Who writes that kind of sentence?

    By the way, “Containing the Reverberations” sounds like the name of a piece of modern art that you’d find in an office building lobby. Lots of knobby appendages and maybe some flat plane surfaces. The artist probably has one name, like Prince or Banksy. Flobby, or Atswhile.

    This is such a wild time to be alive. Hold onto your butts. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKK4KmDlj8U

    1. clarky90

      “Professor Mattias Desmet talks about his work connecting past historical episodes, of what is called “Mass Formation” (aka Mass Psychosis) and current events. ……”


      These four conditions are:

      (1) Lack of social bond. Or a lack of meaningful relationships in their lives

      (2) A large amount of society feels a lack of meaning in the world (for example, more than 40% of people within a society feel that their job was completely meaningless)

      (3) Free floating anxiety in society. And in some cases, anxiety that the society cannot point to a specific reason for what exactly is causing this anxiety (overuse of anti-depressants etc)

      (4) Free floating frustration and aggression………

  2. griffen

    Historical inaccuracies, such a unique and educated perspective. Seems like that was discussed once before. Always fun to do it one more time, with feeling of course!

    Funnily enough, in the vintage year of 1996 my roommate dated someone and she had thought there were 52 states. No jokes about blondes.

      1. Massinissa

        I could see thinking there were 51 or 52 or something. But where the hell did 57 come from?

            1. griffen

              well done! It goes well with, wait a second. Is Heinz57 still an item for sale in grocery stores?

          1. rowlf

            Mrs. Iselin: Would it really make it easier for you if we settled on just one number?
            Sen. Iselin: Yeah. Just one, real, simple number that’d be easy for me to remember.
            [Mrs. Iselin watches Sen. Iselin pour Heinz Tomato Ketchup (with its “57 Varieties” slogan on its label) onto his dinner plate]
            [Cut to Senate chamber]
            Sen. Iselin: There are exactly 57 card-carrying members of the Communist Party in the Department of Defense at this time!

            The Manchurian Candidate (1962 film)

          1. Brian Beijer

            If I’m not mistaken, I believe Sweden was a late addition, joining the Union in 1986. February 28th to be exact.

    1. Late Introvert

      I met a young woman from Detroit who insisted that North Carolina couldn’t be in the South. It’s called “North” Carolina! she insisted.

        1. Clark

          I was born in North Carolina. During school days, but even into adulthood, I’ve met US citizens who did not know that NC and SC were different states. I’ve met people who believed that “New Mexico” was not a US State — like, it’s Mexico, right? …
          And the worst example: A lawyer I know stood up in open court and said (during a sentencing hearing) that the defendant was not a US citizen — “he’s from Puerto Rico, Your Honor.”

          Not 57 states. But these days, who can tell?

          1. Robert Gray

            > A lawyer … said … that the defendant was not a US citizen —
            > “he’s from Puerto Rico, Your Honor.”

            heh heh I once worked in an English as a Second Language (ESL) program aimed primarily at foreign students in a big American university. On the first day of class they filled out a form, one question of which was ‘How long have you been in the United States?’ I had to chuckle when I saw that one Puerto Rican fellow had written: ‘All my life’.

            1. scott s.

              Raises the question of incorporated vs unincorporated territories, and what it means to be “in the United States” (see the Insular Cases). As it is, Samoans remain US nationals, not citizens, and I think CNMI residents (and maybe Guam?) could retain “national” status or citizenship.

  3. CarlosMagna

    “…Harris, according to this person, supports Evans’ decision.”

    When you are being run out of town, pretend you’re leading a parade.

    This floundering sinecure of color is just one heartbeat away from the presidency.

    1. Big River Bandido

      As Lambert would say, this goes under the heading “well of course she would say that”.

  4. Carolinian

    Re Game of Thrones–Hollywood Reporter? Film Comment? No wait Scientific American.

    Someone should tell the scientists that long running TV shows always run out of steam because you can only devise so many plot lines out of one premise and one set of characters. The remarkable thing about GOT is that it didn’t run out of steam sooner and that’s to the credit of the much pooped on showrunners. Some of us would say that even the final season was quite adequate given the hand that they were dealt. When it’s art versus commerce, extra money making seasons always win unless the creators insist on a fixed number at the beginning.

    1. JTMcPhee

      I’d think GOT whimpered out because the whispered promise of a resolution that would see an end to the killing and destruction, some Golden Age, instead produced just a promise that even Tyrion could not find a way out of the darkness.

      Reminds me of a joke:

      Senior partner in big law firm tasks associate, one Friday evening at 5:00, to write a speech for partner to present to a national gathering of lawyers, businessmen and politicians talking about the state of society. To be “something deep and meaningful, under 2,000 words, and have it on my desk Monday morning.” Associate had planned a quiet weekend with spouse, but such is the life of the weak.

      So associate buckled down and drew on long years of studious schoolwork, crafted a dense saga of the history of western civilization and culture and the massive problems now front and center. Typed it up in 20-point Times New Roman, bound it in a nice jacket and left it for said partner as ordered.

      Partner spends most of Monday schmoozing and business-developing, and without reading it, stuffs the speech into his briefcase and heads out to the his gathering. Accepts the plaudits from the emcee and crowd and begins his speech. He quickly is impressed at the perspicacity of the speech, and soars off on its rhetoric, building to a hinted-at climax that would knot all the twisted skeins together and tell what humans ought to do to resolve all the planet’s problems, and turns the last page to learn the outcome. And all that’s on the last page is “Okay, asshole, I got you this far — you’re on your own from here.”

      Also reminded of the endpoint of “Skinny Legs and All” by Tom Robbins, after the Dance of the Seven Veils that was supposed to reveal the Final Truth. Which turns out to be “you have to figure it out for yourself.”

      We do death and destruction and betrayal pretty well, but comity and conscience and homeostatic sustainability, not so much.

      1. Carolinian

        So George R.R. Martin is the speech writer? Having read the books I think he’s the one who ran out of steam.

        And there’s no shame in that. As long as it’s entertaining it doesn’t have to be a “well made play.”

        1. katiebird

          I read all the novels in the series and for a long time anxiously waited for the last volume. But it was so long ago I actually forgot there was supposed to be another one.

      2. R

        I had an acquaintance in College who was partial to recreational substance abuse. One time he was regaling the room with an account of a recent acid trip and it was poetic stuff. He built and built the tension as to what visions he had been vouchsafed as he ascended the astral planes and then finally he proudly declaimed that, at the top of the universe … “There’s a kind of hissing”.

        He’s not wrong, in terms if the microwave cosmic background radiation, but I don’t think that’s what he meant although he was a CompSci.

        Another anecdote about him that shows his accomplishments better is that a group of us were one time quietly getting boxed in someone’s room (that is, stoned out of our minds) and, after a while, he picked up a chess computer, took the pieces off and played a match against the machine holding the board in his memory. Eventually he gave up, too stoned to speak and went to bed. In the morning, we put the pieces on the board and he was one move from checkmating the computer.

    2. Synoia

      UK TV Series Coronation Street (1960 -) was or is very long running because it focused on a locale, not on a bunch of characters in multiple changing locales.

    3. ChiGal

      Zeynep is not just any scientist and I think generally the move from systems thinking to individual pathology is always worth highlighting even if other factors are also present.

    4. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      I thought D&D left GoT to write the new Star Wars film, but they fd up S8 so badly Disney dropped their contract.


      Listen. S8 first 3 episodes are decent. Then for whatever reason the characters start doing shit they would have never done based on their story arcs. Daenarys killing all those innocent civilians! No Fn Way! She’s spent her entire life trying to be Queen of the World and the downtrodden. Now, all of a sudden she snaps and goes cuckoo and Jon Snow has to kill her. Daenarys is literally about to win in Westeros when she loses it. Seriously shitty writing.

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The remarkable thing about GOT is that it didn’t run out of steam sooner and that’s to the credit of the much pooped on showrunners.

      Did you read the post? The credit goes to George R.R. Martin’s “sociological and institutional storytelling,” which the showrunners adapted. An imagined world drives the plot, not characters as such (which is why he could keep killing them off). Worlds tend not to run out of plots or characters. I have to track a number of stories in this world, and my sense is that we’re not going to be running out of plots or characters any time soon.

      1. Carolinian

        not going to be running out of plots or characters any time soon.

        And yet George R.R. did run out didn’t he?

        This is just my view of course but the reason Benioff and Weiss were good at their job is because they took something that appealed to a devoted, but because reading involved, limited number of fans and made it appeal to millions of people all over the world. And they did this the old fashioned way with story and character and the seed of Martin’s offbeat approach to storytelling. Those shocking twists where major characters are disposed of would lack impact if we didn’t care about the story and the characters.

        Also it’s one thing to create an imaginary world on paper and yet another to successfully visualize it and at this the showrunners were brilliant. They should get more credit, not less. And compared to what Hollywood usually does to book sources they did honor to theirs. People would not have been disappointed in the finale if GOT had not been so good through most of its run.

  5. ChiGal

    Reporting anomalies aside, the case count is clearly a Fibonacci sequence.

    Fascinating that it adheres to a formula so prevalent in the natural world despite all our efforts.

    1. R

      I am not sure if you are perceiving or trolling! I will take it as perception. :-)

      This behaviour (for prevalence rather than incidence, I.e. for total active cases) is inherent.

      Fibonacci sequence:
      1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21 etc.

      Assuming cases in step n are 2x cases in step n-1 (because they are infectious) and cases from period n-2 drop out of the count (because they have recovered), then the incidence and prevalence are, from a single initial case:

      2*1 =2 new cases
      -1 old case = 1 current case

      2*2=4 new cases
      -1 old case = 3 current cases

      2*3 = 6 new cases
      -1 old case = 5 current cases

      2*5 = 10 new cases
      -2 old cases = 8 current cases

      2*8 = 16 new cases
      -3 old cases = 13 current cases

      2*13 = 26 new cases
      -5 old cases = 21 current cases

      And so the current case count is the Fibonacci sequence, starting at the second place.

      Obvious, for different R values, recovery periods, you will get different sequences and then, in real life, the numbers are messy and follow a logistic curve (exponential growth in proportion of the while) rather than unbounded exponential growth. There’s probably some maths papers somewhere on this.

      1. R

        PS ignore the first entry 2*1 cases, I meant to write start the sequence from the third place of the series.

  6. Stillfeelinthebern

    Can Nakedcapers help me? I can’t find where I read this (it was long ago before Covid hit). If anyone could help me out with books, essays, etc on this topic I would greatly appreciate it.

    The idea is that having childhood infections leaves long term damage to the heart, other organs that leads to early adult deaths. You don’t die of the acute disease, but lasting damage shortens your life. Once we had better infection control, childhood vaccinations, etc. the numbers of adult deaths actually went down and this was more significant in extending life span that medical treatments later in life.

    If I remember right, it was more significant than all other medical treatment advances in the 20th century.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Dr. Malone

        Dr. Malone is in no sense an authority on this question. Your answer is at best unhelpful. I did a quick search and came up with these. Certainly if we have an pediatricians in the house they could do better.

        Does childhood health affect chronic morbidity in later life? Social Science and Medicine

        One in three survivors of childhood meningitis is left with “hidden” after effects, study finds British Medical Journal (2012).

        Long-term effects of pneumonia in young children British Medical Journal (2015). Review of the literature.

        Adversity in childhood is linked to mental and physical health throughout life British Medical Journal (2020).

        Hope this helps. I went with a lot of BMJ articles because I think their data gathering starts from a higher baseline due to the NHS.

    1. John

      I had all the childhood diseases except diphtheria and German measles. I am 85 and many of the people I went to grade school and of like age are still above ground. Proves nothing and I would have traded the experience for the vaccinations.

  7. Mildred Montana

    >Presumably, insurrection and sedition are crimes. It’s been a year. The small fry went to jail. If there are indeed big fish, where’s Merrick Garland?

    Big fish rarely indict big fish. Because, to a lesser or greater degree, they are ??? dirty, be it campaign funds shadiness, tax evasion, time-theft, or expense-account jiggery-pokery (the list of ways to steal is long).

    The big fish have many closets containing many skeletons—that’s how they came to be big fish—so their motto is, sensibly: ?????? ??? ???? ?? ?? ????????. Or, at the very least, be destroyed in the press for sexual indiscretions (see: Eliot Spitzer).

    The Trump investigation re: Jan. 6 will go the way of the demands for him to release his tax returns. Nowhere.

  8. Lakecabs

    Lake of the Ozarks shut down for one month. April 2020.

    We have been wide open ever since.

    We don’t wear masks,vaccinate,close schools or businesses.

    After almost 2 year of being told we were going to die our numbers are in line with the rest of the country.

    The people of power are seeing the light and following our lead.

    I just hope they have not destroyed peoples immune systems.

    We kept ours intact.

    1. MP

      2600 dead per million over just a two year period, with more pandemic to go, does not leave a society intact. Goes for there, goes for everywhere in the US.

      1. randal

        Now you’re just whining. Is the answer more draconian restrictions and vaccine passports? NO.
        How about demanding the medical bureaucracy Fauci et al allow/study early treatments for covid, and remove the financial incentives for hospitals to kill covid patients with remdesivir and ventilators. Lets put the blame where it really belongs and stop flagellating ourselves for not doing xyz harder.

        1. MP

          Just as there have been no restrictions in your state, there have been none in most of the country since May of last year, and almost all have removed all restrictions the second vaccines were available. There are no OSHA standards, no sick leave, no shipments to peoples’ houses of N95s and tests, no improvements to ventilation, no national test and trace, no option for a real quarantine when positive. The idea we did so much, and why do more because so much was done and it didn’t work, is not borne out by actually comparing what we did in comparison to other countries who have lower death rates than ours, the 20th worst in the world.

          1. Randal

            Again, have you ever considered that the standard of treatment in other countries isn’t as murderous as ours? Might that explain our irrationally high death rate from Covid?
            Think about it, it’s like we’ve forgotten how to treat INFLAMMATION in the USA. Budesonide fluvoxamine antihistamines etc, none of it being recommended. It’s a death cult.

  9. farmboy

    Garland gives some numbers on the scope of the DOJ Jan 6 investigation:
    – issued 5k+ subpoenas and search warrants
    – seized 2k devices
    – reviewed 20k hours of video footage
    – received over 300k+ tips from “ordinary citizens”
    – arrested & charged 725 defendants
    from Elizabeth Landers
    maybe naming names and indictments will fit into the next two election cycles.
    Man, this is good theatre!

    1. Tom Stone

      If you think this is good theatre just wait until “The People’s Choice” succeeds Brandon on July 4th.
      It’s gonna be a hoot!

  10. Bazarov

    An interesting development at Bucknell University, an uberbougie small liberal arts college, vis-a-vis N95 masks. From an email sent by the university today (I know someone who works there):

    Masking Policy

    Consistent use of properly fitted face coverings remains the most effective line of defense against the transmission of COVID-19. As such, the University mask policy remains unchanged as we begin spring semester. Please respect and protect the health of others by continuing to wear masks in all public and academic spaces on campus, including the library and the KLARC. To help keep our neighbors safe, please wear masks in local businesses as well.

    It is very clear that, by the end of fall, masking was not being fully observed in many spaces, including the library and even in some classrooms. This is totally unacceptable. I’ve asked all Bucknell employees to be vigorous in asking those without proper masking to do the right thing, and now I’m asking you to do the same — recall our fall 2020 mantra, ‘mask up or pack up.’ Now more than ever, everyone must commit to 100% masking in designated spaces. We also strongly recommend the use of N95 or equivalent masks, and we are working to secure a large supply of these for distribution on campus. Cloth and other mask materials are not nearly as effective.

    Emphasis my own.

    Calling out N95 specifically + the university procuring them (“or equivalents”–perhaps a way to weasel out of it?) for campus-wide distribution is a new development. What’s interesting about this development is that it sidesteps CDC guidelines that specifically discourage N95, even though the same email details how the university is choosing to follow the CDC’s controversial 5-day isolation period bullshit.

    It seems that N95-wisdom is finally breaking through PMC ignorance shields, given that there’s no more intense a PMC concentration than the Bucknell University administration.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Perhaps the PMC is not a monolith. Perhaps cracks in it can be found, worked with, and exploited.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        That is the point of conceptualizing class structure as (much like) a dynamic mobile instead a static pyramid. You’ve got to think relationally by considering the reactions of the mobile components to each other, and to exogenous forces.

    2. Sawdust

      For what it’s worth, I usually wear an N95 mask when I’m sanding and I still end up with brown boogers.

  11. drumlin woodchuckles

    We need a phrase to begin discrediting and down-statusing Zuckerberg’s Metaverse soon enough that millions of people are immunised from ever entering it. I can suggest a phrase or two. So could other people. Maybe one or another of those phrases could take off.

    Metaverse of sh*t.
    Peewee Zuckerberg’s Playhouse. Or maybe Peewee Zuckermark’s Playhouse.


    1. Mason

      Hasn’t facebook reached peak popularity? From what I understand Gen Z doesn’t use it at the same rates as previous generations. I can’t see how they can recover.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        If this is true, we can stand by, watch and gloat. Or we can do something to speed their fall, so they have less time to keep moving fast and breaking things on the way down.

      2. The Rev Kev

        I heard somewhere that the people that watch Fox, CNN, MSNBC, etc. are really an age group of people in their 60s or older and not young viewers. I suppose that the same will be true for Facebook and it will need to be propped up like the main stream media is by YouTube for example. But simply put, they are all losing relevancy in today’s society – and good riddance.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Black Hole of Markutta. ( For those who remember ” Black Hole of Calcutta”).

  12. JBird4049

    >>>“Hidden Toxic Mold Lurking In Schools: Why No One Is Testing”

    Well, perhaps one of the greatest source of lead poisoning in the United States is in the water of many schools. It is like police homicides. People knew there was a problem, but it was only after Ferguson, Missouri that it was discovered that no more than half of the deaths were actually reported to the FBI. That got the FBI, the news media especially the Washington Post and the Guardian, as well as many independent organizations and individuals to do their own, independent, checking. And with the schools, people only really became curious after Flint, Michigan.

    I mean, if nobody looks, it is not a problem and problems cost money. So, why look? Right?

  13. ChrisRUEcon


    Well then, ole chap! Wot’s that you say?!! Neither party won 50% or more of the vote in the 2020 Presidential election in AZ, NC, WI & GA?!! ;-)

    Maybe that’s a first step goal for a 3rd party, instead of say, trying to field 535 candidates all over the place. Start small and focus on states where dissatisfaction with both parties is high. I was going to suggest that a 3rd party could have leverage if it garnered enough votes to prevent both the Republican and Democrat candidates from winning a general election outright, but then I decided to check, and found this at the archive.gov FAQ:

    = = =

    What happens if no presidential candidate gets 270 electoral votes?

    If no candidate receives a majority of electoral votes, the Presidential election leaves the Electoral College process and moves to Congress.

    The House of Representatives elects the President from the 3 Presidential candidates who received the most electoral votes. Each State delegation has one vote and it is up to the individual States to determine how to vote. (Since the District of Columbia is not a State, it has no State delegation in the House and cannot vote). A candidate must receive at least 26 votes (a majority of the States) to be elected.

    The Senate elects the Vice President from the 2 Vice Presidential candidates with the most electoral votes. Each Senator casts one vote for Vice President. (Since the District of Columbia is has no Senators and is not represented in the vote). A candidate must receive at least 51 votes (a majority of Senators) to be elected.

    If the House of Representatives fails to elect a President by Inauguration Day, the Vice-President Elect serves as acting President until the deadlock is resolved in the House.

    = = =

    So the House decides if there are up to three viable candidates, but the Senate decides if there are only two?

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      Sorry, poor student of American history here. I guess this has happened twice – 1800 and 1824 (contingent election)

      1. JBird4049

        No reason to be sorry as the last it happened was two centuries ago before even the American Whigs, the predecessors to the Republicans were around. I think that the Federalists were the Whigs’ predecessor. How many people are informed about American history from that time?

        I am going to have to reread some history as it might be important somewhat soon. I keep waiting for some of the smaller parties like the Greens to step up or even the DSA even though that party is to the Democratic Party like the United Kingdom is the United States’ fifty-first state; on paper, a completely independent entity, but in practice, politically subsumed amoeba-like into the United States.

        1. ChrisRUEcon


          > … but in practice, politically subsumed amoeba-like …

          #YMMV … so yep, needs work.

          1. John

            The odds of there being three candidates with electoral votes are slim. I suppose an elector or electors could stir the pot in a close election by casting their vote for anyone they choose; that would be quite legal. In 2000 had the Supreme Court, especially in the person of Justice Scalia not gotten involved, the election might well have gone to the House in which case GWB would have been elected as the Republicans controlled more than 25 states. While I did not favor Bush’s election, I would have preferred that outcome as it would have been in accord with the Constitution whereas the intervention of the Court was not. The best outcome there would have been to throw it back to Florida for a full recount, but political partisanship intervened. Gore had the grace in the end to concede and not precipitate a crisis. The precedent of graceful concessions in my memory (1960, 2000) has unfortunately been cast aside in the interests of a bruised ego.

            1. ChrisRUEcon

              Yes, this I remember … and the “Brooks Brothers Riot” … ;-)

              Bruised ego’s gave is #RussiaGate in 2016+ and #J6/#StopTheSteal in 2021 – opposite sides of the same coin.’



              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                > the “Brooks Brothers Riot” … ;-)

                The Brooks Brothers riot in Miami 2020 was mostly Republican operatives. The national press in Florida “covering” the story recognized them, but kept silent until well after the event.

                The contrast between a Brooks Brothers riot and the disgruntled and clownish lumpen petty bourgeoisie of the Capitol seizure is pretty stark. No doubt there’s a story arc to be found there….

        2. 430MLK

          I think 1824 was the Corrupt Bargain. Three or four main candidates emerged (Henry Clay, Andrew Jackson ,John Quincy Adams and 1 other fella), none with a majority of popular or electoral college votes. Ultimately, Henry Clay (as House Speaker) pushed the election to John Quincy Adams, despite Andrew Jackson winning a plurality of both the popular vote and electoral college vote. The published rumor was that Clay traded his vote for JQ Adams in exchange for becoming Secretary of State.

          At the time, all four candidates were Democrat-Republicans. As I understand it, this was the post-Jefferson anti-federalist party (the “era of good feeling”) that formed after Washington’s initial two terms and dominated politics for several decades.

          In the following election, 1828, Jackson ran and won in a landslide, calling himself a “Democrat” and enraging most of the era’s banking and commercial elite located in the federalist Acela corridor. He held a big grudge against Clay for his Corrupt Bargain vote. The Whigs, led in part by Clay, formed soon thereafter (1832?) as a reaction to the norms-breaking Jacksonian Democrats.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          > the American Whigs, the predecessors to the Republicans were around

          The Whigs, as a Party, were not really “predecessors” to the Republicans. The Whigs split over slavery. Some former members left public life. Others joined the (anti-slavery) Republicans. The Whig Party disintegrated; bits of it were not absorbed by other parties.

    2. Arizona Slim

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but ISTR reading that here in Arizona, there are more Independents than there are Republicans or Democrats. I think the registration breakdown goes like this:

      1. Indies
      2. Republicans
      3. Democrats

      1. ChrisRUEcon

        Oooooh! Thank you for that tidbit! It’s actually confirmed (via Ballotpedia) for AZ (which is among the 31 states that make voter registration information public).

        More potential Neither targets!

        OR, CO, CT, MA, NH, ME & AR!

        1. petal

          So in NH, I believe we are termed “undeclared” or “unaffiliated”. Independent Party is an actual party.

    3. ChrisRUEcon

      #2024 #Kamala

      Her slow yet inevitable fall (or return) to irrelevance is like that of a feather dropped from a bell-tower – gently grazing the sides and protruding edges of some religious edifice on its way down … maybe resting on the head of a gargoyle for a moment, till a gentle resignation breeze sets it forth on its way again. But hey – another member of the black mis-leadership class got their wings! Joy.

      Polling USA is popular today! (via Twitter)

      Bernie won’t run … can’t see Liz going again either … I guess the big question is whether NOT_Joey_Badass decides to run again. If he doesn’t, whom exactly do they have? Please … please … not Mrs 6%.

      1. ChrisRUEcon

        #2020 #TheOtherK

        And now a brief retrospective opinion – Joe Biden really wanted Amy Klobuchar as his Vice President. There was her brief Freudian slip about “being on the ticket” after she quit the race IIRC; and initially, Biden telegraphed a woman as a VP possibility, but it was Clyburn, looking to cement his power and influence after the SC primary, who really grabbed the reigns and made it clear that “woman” alone was not going to cut it. I miss Klob’. There’s something about her … a certain je ne sais quoi … well, ackchually, je sais bien – she freakin’ hates #ButtItItch … LOL … and I embraced her partly because of that animus. Crap … she doesn’t even make that early Dem polling list. Shame. She coulda been a contenda

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Clyburn

          From CNN:

          (CNN)House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said Saturday that he had privately urged President-elect Joe Biden to pick a Black woman as his running mate before Biden chose Kamala Harris, America’s first female, first Black and first South Asian vice president-elect.

          “Joe and I talked about it several times when he was trying to make his decision,” Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat who’s the highest-ranking African American member of Congress, told CNN’s Dana Bash on Saturday. “He had said it would be a woman. And I don’t mind saying now, I said to him in private that I thought that a lot of the results would turn on whether that woman (would) be a Black woman.”

          Clyburn’s comments came hours after CNN projected that Biden will become the 46th president of the United States as a victory in Pennsylvania, the state where he was born, put him over the 270 electoral votes needed to win.

          Hilarious CNN story erases Obama’s role on “The Night of the Long Knives,” when he consolidated all the candidates behind Biden to stop Sanders.

          Meanwhile, if Harris is all that Clyburn got out of the deal, he didn’t mastermind himself into a fortune, did he?

          1. ChrisRUEcon

            > Hilarious CNN story erases Obama’s role on “The Night of the Long Knives,” when he consolidated all the candidates behind Biden to stop Sanders.

            Indeed … looks like someone was sage enough to realize that openly admitting to Obama’s interference in the primary after four years of non-stop #RussiaGate “interference” nonsense would have been an election-turning gift to Trump.

            We know the truth, though! :)

        2. Pat

          Much of this is who has been in people’s faces recently. Klobuchar has not been in the news. I dislike her, but she really was a contender which is more than Harris was. My point being, she throws her hat in the ring, she will start at Sanders/Warren level and go from there.

          Regarding Mrs 6%, that is really lame for someone who has clearly been trying to insert themselves in the narrative, almost gives me hope that the Democrats won’t be that stupid.

          1. ChrisRUEcon

            > almost gives me hope that the Democrats won’t be that stupid.

            To use a quip from the movie “Dumb & Dumber”:

            Almost = “So You’re Telling Me There’s A Chance … Yeeeaaaaah!”


  14. Robert Hahl

    That Walmart saleslady is another Clippy. She appeared on my screen for just about as long as he ever did.

  15. BradK

    Des Moines, IA participates in the national program to test wastewater for the presence of COVID-19. Results are distributed bi-weekly.

  16. marym

    AZ – Maricopa County response to ninja audit 01/05/2022

    Jen Fifield @JenAFifield
    “Here we have it. Months in the making, a full @MaricopaVote breakdown/analysis of Cyber Ninjas claims of 50,000+ questionable ballots [Link below] Found fewer than 100 potentially fraudulent or double-counted ballots. 37 cases of potential fraud to be reported to AG.”

    The 93-page report, months in the making, studied every question the contractors raised about the election and analyzed thousands of individual voter records. It explained that the contractors made faulty assumptions and false accusations, in part because of mistakes they made during their analysis but also because they were inexperienced and misunderstood how the county and state’s elections work.

    Summary (paywall) (per J. Fifield she will be updating the summary): https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/elections/2022/01/05/maricopa-county-responds-each-cyber-ninjas-election-claim/9083810002/
    Full report (93 pages):

  17. ScoFri

    I used to like Taleb, and I read two of his books, but now he is so arrogant I can barely watch him. It is very easy to cherry pick your predictions and say “look I was right” when you talk as much as he does. I have a friend who said the same thing to me back in 2008, he was a big prepper and left his job and bought a ton of land out west.

    Also, many people caught Taleb being misleading a thread on Twitter about the rate of myocarditis after vaccination, cherry picking the data even though the data showed a much higher risk in men under 40. His response was to block them or not respond.

    And he has the nerve to say that obesity is irrelevant regarding COVID outcomes.

    1. TBellT

      And he has the nerve to say that obesity is irrelevant regarding COVID outcomes.

      Not necessarily irrelevant but it’s kind of weird how people treat this as some sort of slam dunk. More than 40% of American adults qualify as obese and it’s almost 75% if you consider just overweight. Guess only the lucky 25% should have the privilege of not having to worry about the virus? (Even though they probably should worry somewhat since the relative impact on their mortality likelihood is similar to others)

      Americans had poor health before the pandemic and the virus has preyed on that. Do I wish we invested more in public health even before the pandemic, sure, but it’s also not some instantaneous solution. It takes time for people to lose weight, quit smoking, get diabetes under control, etc. Time you don’t have when a virus is doubling every 3-15 days.

      1. Kfish

        We’ve had two [familyblogging] years. The obesity-Covid link has been known for at least one. That’s plenty of time for a public-health initiative to get going, if any government in the West still considered public health a common good.

        1. TBellT

          Tobacco Use in the US was at 40% in 1965, now around 13.7%, 2018. That’s about 0.5% per year for one of the more successful campaigns in the US. I’m curious how do you plan on beating that success without intruding on “freedoms” American’s love so much.

    2. R

      UK ICU admission and outcome dara show that:

      37% ICU admissions were obese (30-40 BMI) versus 27% of age and sex-matched general population being obese. So about 33% increase in risk of ICU admission but this is NOT adjusted for comorbidities so these could all be diabetic or immobile etc.

      However, the survival rate of ICU patients was higher in BMI >30! 71% versus 66% in BMI <25 and 68% in BMI 25-30.

      Where Taleb is right is the morbidly obese, BMI >40, where
      population is 13% of ICU admissions versus 3% of age and sex-natched population.

      However, for outcomes, there is no separate outcome data, all subsumed in BMI >30 but that tells us that:
      – either morbid obesity is not worse than obesity for outcome
      – if it is, the advantage of simple obesity over normal and low BMI is more pronounced….

      You can check all this data at ICNARC, the UK ICU reporting entity. The data above are from Sept 2020 onward but the data for 2020 were similar.


      1. megrim

        Maybe once someone is in the ICU, some extra padding is beneficial, just from a resource standpoint. Extra fat to burn during a difficult time for the body.

    1. Duke of Prunes

      Not sure why this is being reported so breathlessly, both my daughter and her friend tested positive for flu and covid before Christmas (and they weren’t together, but 150 miles apart). They were both sick for a few days, and are now better. Seems like they are just cranking up the fear. Stick with the commentator GM if you want real things to be scared about.

    1. griffen

      I often think that the satirical nature of a film like Blazing Saddles would be unlikely to be made today. Or if it were, many parts would be taken out completely. His role as the governor, with Hedley as his right hand, quite often hits the nail on the head. Let’s protect our phony positions and appearances matter / results can vary.

      1. Robert Hahl

        Mel Brooks said this a few times about what the studio wanted to cut from Blazing Saddles. After negotiations they insisted on only one cut. In the scene where Lilly and the Sheriff are underneath bed covers and the screen is black, she says, “Is it true what they say…about how you people are gifted? …. It’s true! it’s true!” And he says, “Your sucking on my arm.”

        1. skippy

          Even with my admiration for Brooks I still think the editorial antics associated with the end scene of Gilliam’s Brazil and how the marketing dept wanted to change it after pre-release showings in the U.S. and income expectations on a broad market approach is more àpropos.

          Then faced with that market dynamic[tm] he was faced with having to smuggle it into the country so it could be seen in its unaltered honesty – without some marketing or MBA treatment.

  18. Big River Bandido

    Thank you for posting that tweet from Polling USA. Makes me think of this, which is hilarious if you can understand the Portuguese. (The title means “is this to laugh or cry?”).

    Hearing the Democrats crow over their supposedly floor-wiping 2020 performance, that single tweet with those four states as mere pluralities…tells you that Biden only won there because his opponent got even fewer votes than he did. All of these states will go to the Republicans this year.

  19. Noone from Nowheresville

    Thank you for the mobile reference. Now all we need to do is find the Borg’s sleep and other non-essential routines. I like it. I like it a lot. Back to roof raking.

    For my visual, I turn to artist Larry Barth. His Out of the Blue is a flock of Ibis. Really cool. Yes, a technical term. The video is him talking about the piece and a few tidbits of how he made it. A Birds in Art 2021 piece.


    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Thank you for the mobile reference

      You’re welcome. I do know Bourdieu is strong stuff* and I need to read a lot more and sharpen my understanding against current events, but something needs to be done MR SUBLIMINAL Ha ha, trying to fix the discourse. Will they never learn? Here is a Bourdiesian analysis of the infection control community’s willful refusal to save lives by accepting airborne transmission, for example.

      As a caveat, I remember, years ago, the great E.P. Thompson demolishing French theorist Althusser’s oeuvre by calling it an “orrery” — a model of the solar system that moves only when cranked by hand. He meant that Althusser’s lovely structures had no internal motivating force (“and then, a miracle occurs!”), that force being, to Thompson, class struggle. If Bourdieu’s work turns out to be an orrery, I will be disappointed. I am hoping that Bourdieu’s discipline being sociology keeps him grounded. We shall see!

      NOTE * Although French, he’s not one of those deconstructionist loons, or an unfortunate character like Foucault.

  20. dcblogger

    labor activism gives me hope.
    I can’t remember if I posted this before, but just in case, in support of Amazon workers:

    January 12 & MLK Weekend: Send Amazon A Message – No to Union Busting!
    January 12 is Jeff Bezos’s birthday, send him a birthday message:


  21. chuck roast

    Thanks for the Calder. The boy bridged the whole left-brain/right-brain thing. I sent the link off to my sister with apologies for disseminating MOMA trash. There is always an exception to the rule. Even where John Cage is concerned.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Thanks for the Calder

      I think Calder is under-rated. In general, I care about paintings and photographs, not sculpture, but Calder’s mobiles and wire-frames are really great. The stabiles don’t do it for me, but that’s probably me.

  22. giantsquid

    India has approved phase 3 trials of an intranasal spray vaccine (BBV154 aka ChAd-SARS-CoV-2-S) for protection against infection by SARS-CoV-2. In rhesus monkeys this vaccine has protected against both intranasal and intratracheal infection.


    “Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech on Wednesday received “in principle” approval from Drug Controller General of India (DGCI) to test its intranasal COVID vaccine as booster shot. The Subject Experts Committee (SEC) of India’s drug regulator DGCI granted “in principle” approval to Bharat Biotech to conduct “Phase III superiority study and Phase III booster dose study” trials for its intranasal COVID vaccine.”


    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > India has approved phase 3 trials of an intranasal spray vaccine (BBV154 aka ChAd-SARS-CoV-2-S) for protection against infection by SARS-CoV-2. In rhesus monkeys this vaccine has protected against both intranasal and intratracheal infection.

      Does anyone know if nasal sprays will be sterlizing against Covid?

      1. giantsquid

        It is sterilizing, at least in animal models.

        “In this preprint, Hassan et al. show that local immunization with the ChAd-SARS-CoV-2-S vaccine, based on a chimpanzee adenovirus, confers sterilizing protection in mice engineered to express human ACE2. Intramuscular delivery of ChAd-SARS-CoV-2-S protected against lung pathology but did not clear the infection of the upper respiratory tract after SARS-CoV-2 challenge. However, when administered intranasally, it induced local neutralizing antibody and T cell responses that provided superior protection to both the upper and lower respiratory tract, with no signs of viral replication 8 days post viral challenge.”


        “In work completed at NIAID’s Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, Montana, scientists immunized six macaques with ChAd-SARS-CoV-2-S and six with an inactive control; the immunization was delivered into the nose [of rhesus monkeys]. Three weeks later, scientists detected protective antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in animals vaccinated with ChAd-SARS-CoV-2-S, but not in the control animals. Four weeks after immunization, scientists exposed all 12 animals to high doses of SARS-CoV-2 delivered to the nose and trachea. Throughout the following week scientists checked animals for disease, virus growth in the lung and virus transmission from the nose. The overall data shows that ChAd-SARS-CoV-2-S protected the upper and lower respiratory tracts of the vaccinated animals from disease and virus transmission compared to the control animals.”


  23. Michael Ismoe

    “Lawmakers discuss additional Covid relief amid Omicron, but talks stall”

    Wait a minute. Didn’t they just kill the child tax credit because it was “too expensive” but now we have another $100 billion for Uber drivers and bowling alley owners?

    The Democrats must be trying to lose the midterms by historic proportions.

    1. Tom Stone

      I may vote for a Democrat at the local level again, but I will NEVER AGAIN vote for a Democrat at the State or National level.
      I’d as soon vote for Pol Pot as I would Joe Biden or Kamala Harris.

  24. Tom Stone

    If you judge a Society by the way it treats its weakest members, the Children,the Elderly, the sick and the infirm then America is a failed State.
    The Biden Administration’s very blunt message that “You are on your own,your life does not matter and neither do the lives of your Children” will have consequences that will take time to play out.
    The structures of American Society depend on a high degree of Trust to function, there is a certain inertia and parts of it are still working,however that trust has been pissed away and it is only a matter of time before things come apart.
    And not much time if I am reading the entrails properly.
    Build on the community you are a part of, whether it be a Church, a quilting group or a bowling society if you want you and yours to survive.
    Be lucky, too.

  25. The Rev Kev

    ‘But my view would be that although the 20th Maine’s downhill bayonet charge down Little Round Top showed great courage, as did the 15th Alabama’s uphill, the 15th Alabama’s virtue was in service of a cause that was “one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse” ‘

    I wondered about those troops and it certainly was a hard day. The 20th Maine charged because they were nearly all out of ammo and it was really their only option. That or bug out. And the 15th Alabama? A company from the 20th Maine along with some sharpshooters had captured the Confederate water party earlier so those Alabamans fought without water which was a feat in itself. This was hinted at in the film “Gettysburg’ when a captured Confederate officer asked Chamberlain for some water. But what did those troops fight for on that day? The Union? State rights? At this stage of the war, I suspected that they mostly fought for their Regiment but what I mean is that they fought for each other as part of a ‘family’ group. Probably true of a lot of the Wehrmacht formations of WW2. Their cause was beyond the pale as was that for the Confederacy. But on the battlefield and in the camps, it was mostly about each other-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCQoQUQje_s (4:45 mins)

    1. jimmy cc

      in the Civil War regiments were all from the same locale.

      At times, it was actual family you were fighting with.

      why did they fight, like many soldiers, duty and honor compelled them fight imo.

      1. jimmy cc

        i had a couple friends join after 9 11, and they were old for recruits.

        they joimed because they couldn’t have someone else fight their war. I

  26. griffen

    Sports desk commentary, vaccination status edition. For the first tennis major of 2022, defending men’s champion and general world beater Novak Djokovic has been requested to leave Australia. He does not meet the required vaccination status to remain in the country and participate.

    I imagine he is alone and kept in a room with large and muscular security types. Not sure if he has the skill set of a Macgyer or a Macgruber.

    More details at link below.

  27. CoryP

    We are so screwed.

    Headline from CTV News (Canada) : Coughing downward can reduce spread of droplets, study finds

    I haven’t read the article, I just cursed loudly when I saw it on the homepage.

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