2:00PM Water Cooler 2/16/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

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“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 Adminstration

“Biden says he put a dead dog on a Republican woman’s doorstep while serving as a Delaware county official and promises to ‘work like the devil’ to bring down gas prices in National Association of Counties speech” [Dailly Mail]. “He recalled how he represented a middle class to working class district, with ‘one very wealthy neighborhood’ within its confines. ‘And I got a call one night, a woman said to me – obviously not of the same persuasion as I was politically – call me and say, ‘there’s a dead dog on my lawn,” the president said. ‘And I said, “yes ma’am, did you call the county?’ And she said, ‘yes, they’re not here.’ And I said, ‘well, I’ll get ’em in the morning,” he recalled. The woman wouldn’t accept that answer. ‘She said, “I want it removed now, I pay your salary,” the president said. ‘So I went over. I picked it up. She said I want it out of my front yard,’ Biden said. ‘I put it on her doorstep,’ he added, to laughs.” • A long time ago, I made the argument that one clear dividing line between Republicans and Democrats was the Republicans abused animals (including dead ones), and Democrats didn’t. (There’s quite a list at the post.) I guess I was wrong; it’s bipartisan.

“Democrats to Biden: Time to make changes at the White House” [NBC]. “A White House official defended Biden’s record on Capitol Hill when asked about some Democrats’ frustration with Klain. ‘The reality is there is a 50-50 Senate and four-vote margin in the House for Democrats,’ the official said. ‘Getting anything passed is incredibly difficult. The fact that we got the American Rescue Plan passed, as well as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed, is remarkable and speaks to the skill of the team we have led by the president, and BBB is a work in progress that we are confident we can still get done.” Zeints walking into Klain’s office with a measuring tape for the rugs. More: “Philippe Reines, a onetime top adviser to Hillary Clinton, said a staff shake-up wouldn’t be a magic bullet. ‘He’s not one staffer away from a higher approval rating,’ Reines said.” So why do it? More: “Reines attributed the high disapproval numbers to an electorate so polarized that half would never support Biden. The numbers, he said, also reflect discontent over an unrealistic expectation that the sheer act of ousting former President Donald Trump and electing Biden would shut off the noise and bring a semblance of civility back to politics.” • That was their pitch, ffs! Well, that and “ending” Covid, and certainly not having a massive Delta spike followed by an even more massive Omicron spike.

“Okay We Did What The Smartest Boys On The Internet Told Us To” [Eschaton]. “All the Dem governors are doing a high profile coordinated “RELAXING ALL COVID MEASURES,” because they are convinced this is what The People want. I’m not so concerned about the specific measures, but the brain worms that have led to the belief that it isn’t the ongoing stress of the reality of covid that is bothering people, but the meager measures to reduce spread. Since the restrictions barely exist anywhere, these big announcements are going to be followed by ‘um, nothing’s much changed?'”

“Americans’ Trust in Scientists, Other Groups Declines” [Pew Research Center]. “Americans’ confidence in groups and institutions has turned downward compared with just a year ago. Trust in scientists and medical scientists, once seemingly buoyed by their central role in addressing the coronavirus outbreak, is now below pre-pandemic levels. Chart shows public confidence in scientists and medical scientists has declined over the last year

Overall, 29% of U.S. adults say they have a great deal of confidence in medical scientists to act in the best interests of the public, down from 40% who said this in November 2020. Similarly, the share with a great deal of confidence in scientists to act in the public’s best interests is down by 10 percentage points (from 39% to 29%), according to a new Pew Research Center survey.” • I could also file this under 2022, 2024, Democrats en Déshabillé, or Realignment and Legitimacy, given that is a massive loss of trust in the Democrat base.

Democrats en Déshabillé

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.

* * *

I have said that I regret not having begun reading Bourdieu with Classification Struggles; I foolishly expected Forms of Capital to be something like The Bearded One’s Capital, and it isn’t. That said, Forms of Capital really is a scalpel to tease apart the rotting, impacted tissues of today’s discourse and its producers, so perhaps it is most useful in the present moment. Bourdieu has said that his worked example — a “top ten” ranking of French philosophers, with a list of experts who compiled the ranking at the end — is a “scale model” showing how his “method” (which I cannot yet summarize) can be applied to many fields. Let’s look at three examples, and see if Bourdieu can throw them into one bucket:

“Which one represents the real China?”

“Taking seriously as an intellectual movement”:

Games we might call “The Defense Department,” “Meritocracy,” and “Greed,” respectively:

Now, Bourdieu, from Forms of Capital, pp 46-47 (I am actually farther along than this):

[B]ehind the apparent object of the ranking [“top ten” –lambert] list, the real object is the establishment as judges of those people who are listed.

That is, the point of the Bordieu’s “top ten” list is not the philosophers at all, but who gets to be one of the experts picking them.

What I want to do is comment on the body of judges [I said “experts”–lambert] constituted. A constituent body is a body assembled aned named by an act of nomination; for example, the Conseil d’Etat [State Council]….. This constituent body is disguised by the product of its actions; your attention is drawn to the ranking list and diverted away from its authors, for whom the very fact of drafting it renders them legitimate drafters of ranking lists. In other words, there is an operation of self-legitimation by the list drafters, and this, it seems to me, is the real issue… If we accept what they are doing, it is because there are ranking list drafters in other areas too (for example, they tell you: “These are the top ten films”)

Or, in political journalism, the leading candidates.

It is always the same operation; the judges are self-legitimized and forbid you to ask who has the right to designate the judges.

Rather like little Napoleons crowning themselves:

For the avoidance of doubt, the above is not a portrait of Larry Summers. In any case, the examples above look at awful lot like Bordieu’s “scale model.” “[T]he real object is the establishment as judges of those people [or topics, or whatever] who are listed.”

* * *

“Left-Wing Staffers Bias Democrats Leftward. Hill Staff Unions Would Make This Worse” [Josh Barro, Very Serious]. “When Democratic politicians are swayed by the unrepresentative interests and values of staff, that isn’t simply a cognitive error. It’s a principal-agent problem: Political staffers have preferences, and as humans, they are inclined to use the influence they have to get elected officials to act in accordance with those preferences. Like activists or corporations or donors or voters, staffers are stakeholders with interests, and they will inevitably look for ways to use their power to get the party to serve those interests. So if you want to address the issue Matt describes, you will have to make the staff less influential over the political direction of the party. You need less worker power. And that is a very awkward thing to say in Democratic politics right now.” • Barro doesn’t define “left,” and by “left” I would bet he means identity politics a.k.a the successor ideology. Since the 2020 Sanders staff arguably diverted Sanders from his simple 2016 economic message, perhaps Barro should simply collect his winnings and sit down.

“The Losing Democrats Who Gobbled Up Money” [The New Republic]. Remember Amy McGrath? ” By Election Day, McGrath had brought in a record-obliterating $94 million—$63 million more than had ever been raised for a campaign in Kentucky. McConnell dramatically stepped up his fundraising this time around, but she still outpaced him by $27 million… Modern political campaigns like McGrath’s are multimillion-dollar pop-ups. The operatives involved in them raise the money, spend it, shut it all down after Election Day, and move on. They are not accountable to a board of directors or to the donors who fund the campaigns. A big chunk of the cash raised from donors comes back to the campaign pros in the form of fees and commissions for creating TV and digital advertising—for placing those ads, which is known as media buying—and for the fundraising itself. McGrath’s campaign manager, Mark Nickolas, had stepped away from politics for six years before getting back into the game to work with her. He viewed himself as an outsider and was critical of the campaign ecosystem. ‘An incestuous f*cking orgy of money,’ is how he referred to it in one of our conversations…. McConnell routed her in the only metric that ever matters. When the ballots were counted, he had 417,000 more votes—58 percent of the electorate to her 38 percent…. The same pattern held in other states where Democrats challenged long-entrenched incumbents whom progressives regarded as archvillains. Donors gave and gave to the challengers, largely via ActBlue, an online fundraising platform that makes political giving as easy as one-click purchasing on Amazon…. In Maine, Sara Gideon, a Democrat running against Susan Collins, raised so much—$74.5 million—that there were not enough ways to spend it.” • There’s a lot of stupid money in PMC land, apparently. And then this: “Democratic candidates also raised money in highly deceptive ways. “FINAL CABLE PAYMENT DUE,” read the top of an email sent on the day before the November election from the Harrison campaign. “We just got a surprise bill from the cable company. So we need to raise $384,599 to keep our TV ads running until the polls close.” What, he was in danger of having his HBO cut off?” • Put down your coffee, grab a bucket and keep it near, and read the whole thing.

“How much members of Congress are spending on personal security” [Axios]. Handy chart:


* * *

Realignment and Legitimacy

“S.F. school board recall: Alison Collins, Gabriela López and Faauuga Moliga ousted” [San Francisco Chronicle]. “San Francisco voters overwhelmingly supported the ouster of three school board members Tuesday in the city’s first recall election in nearly 40 years…. The recall divided the city for the past year, with a grassroots effort of frustrated parents and community members pushing for the trustees’ removal over the slow reopening of schools during the pandemic and the board’s focus on controversial issues like renaming 44 school sites and ending the merit-based admission system at Lowell High School…. The recall drew support from a wide range of city officials, including Breed, state Sen. Scott Wiener, state Treasurer Fiona Ma, as well as current and former supervisors and school board members…. As of Monday, the pro-recall organizers had pulled in nearly $2 million, a jaw-dropping amount for a school board election. The opposition had raised $86,000, including $47,000 specifically donated to keep Moliga in office. Opponents of the recall, including the teachers’ union, described the effort as an attempt by billionaires to take over the school board, an attack on three people of color as well as a waste of money, given the upcoming election.” • Given Taibbi’s reporting on Loudoun County, I’d expect to see Asian voters coming out in support of the “merit-based admission system, but that doesn’t appear in this story. And while the recall supporters are presented as rebels, they also had the support of electeds and billionaires (who obviously one should trust with the public interest as far as you can throw a concert grand piano). Maybe Taibbi should take a trip to San Francisco….

“San Francisco recalls school board members seen as too focused on racial justice” [WaPo]. WaPo reports what the local paper doesn’t: “The board also argued that Lowell High School, an elite program populated overwhelmingly by Asian American and White students, needed an admissions system that would better represent the city’s Black and Hispanic residents. The board’s abrupt decision to alter the admission rules, switching to a lottery, incensed San Francisco’s large Chinese American population.” • If the Republicans are able to nationalize — I can’t think of a clever catchphrase, that’s a job for a strategist — “our failing schools,” that could make 2024 very interesting (not least if they peel off another identity vertical whose demographic growth was supposed to bring inevitable victory to Democrats).

Here is T.K. of Ask a Korean on American schools:

Seems like “a constant state of dread and terror” is the point?

“Kids Have No Place in a Liberal Democracy” [Elizabeth Bruenig, The Atlantic]. “We are building toward a series of portentous midterm elections that might as well be called the Kinderreferenda, with exactly none of the whimsy or charm that word entails. Whether the specific issues relating to children that parents, politicians, pundits, pediatricians, and peanut gallerists have spent the past several months debating—school closures, vaccine mandates, masking, appropriate reading material, classroom instruction and the role of families therein—appear on every or any ballot is irrelevant; the fate of the nation’s children is the engine of moral concern driving electoral activity local and national, left and right. If Glenn Youngkin’s surprise gubernatorial win in Virginia last year was secretly foretold in every fractious school-board meeting and town hall preceding it, then it was also a portent of things to come: It’s a childish world, and we’re all just living in it. This is in every way typical. America revisits certain arguments about children over and over again, litigating the same matters ever more viciously, sometimes in different forms, always with ulterior motives…. Our world is structured around the core notion that people are free and equal, and that ideally they ought to be left alone by state and neighbor to manage their own affairs, so long as their activities don’t impose upon others…. In that sense, children are a paradox for liberalism. On the one hand, it’s crucial that they obey adults in their daily life, because they rely on adult competence and judgment to stand in while they develop their own. On the other, the helplessness of children, coupled with the fact that they too are wholly human persons, obligates others to them—meaning, in short, that children both take orders and give them by nature of their very existence. Children are bundles of obligations, theirs and ours to them, and their vulnerability and needs leave little room for the sort of political freedom the imaginary liberal subject is presumed to have. What to do with such unusual people?”


Case count by United States regions:

I have again added a “Fauci Line” to congratulate Biden and his team — Klain, Zeints, Fauci, Walensky — for finally falling below their own second-highest peak. (Rise like a rocket, and fall like a stick; the slope of the downward curve is more or less the same as the upward curve. 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 unprecedented.) I wonder if there will be plateau when BA.2 takes hold. Since the Northeast has form, that is probably the region to watch for this behavior first.

The official narrative was “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) was completely exploded. What a surprise! This time, it may be different. But who knows?

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

Continues encouraging. No jump from the return of the students yet, which is even more encouraging, especially if you’re in “Waiting for BA.2” mode.

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 Reports (PDFs), “Rapid Riser” counties:

Continued improvement. Maine is a data problem. (Remember that these are rapid riser counties. A county that moves from red to green is not covid-free; the case count just isnt, well, rising rapidly.)

The previous release:

Here is CDC’s interactive map by county set to community transmission:

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Sea of green! From the point of view of our hospital-centric health care system, green everywhere means the emergency is over (and to be fair, this is reinforced by case count and wastewater). However, community transmission is still pervasive, which means that long Covid, plus continuing vascular damage, are not over. (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: 949,269 946,224. A dip, fortunately. I sure hope we break a million before Biden’s State of the Union speech. There’s still time.

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

Good news here too.

Stats Watch

Retail Sales: “U.S. Retail Sales” [Trading Economics]. “Retail sales in the US jumped 3.8% mom in January of 2022, rebounding from an upwardly revised 2.5% drop in December, and much better than market forecasts of a 2% rise. It is the biggest increase in retail sales in ten months, as consumers continued to spend in spite of the surge in COVID-19 cases and hot inflation. Biggest gains were seen in nonstore retailers (14.5%); furniture stores (7.2%); auto dealers (5.9%); building materials and garden equipment (4.1%); general merchandise stores (3.6%); electronics stores (1.9%); food and beverages (1.1%); and clothing stores (0.7%). On the other hand, sales declined at gasoline stations (-1.3%); sporting goods, hobby, musical instruments and book stores (-3%); and restaurants and bars (-0.9%).”

Manufacturing: “United States Industrial Production” [Trading Economics]. “Industrial Production in the United States increased 4.10 percent year-on-year in January of 2022, following an upwardly revised 3.8 percent rise in December.”

Manufacturing: “United States Manufacturing Production MoM” [Trading Economics]. “Manufacturing production in the United States went up 0.2 percent from a month earlier in January of 2022, after a 0.1 percent fall in December and compared to market expectations of a 0.3 percent increase. Durable manufacturing, nondurable manufacturing, and other manufacturing (publishing and logging) each recorded increases of 0.2 percent. Within durables, miscellaneous manufacturing and machinery posted the largest gains, while motor vehicles and parts and nonmetallic mineral products posted the largest losses.”

Inventories: “United States Business Inventories” [Trading Economics]. “Manufacturers’ and trade inventories in the US rose 2.1 percent from a month earlier in December of 2021, after an upwardly revised 1.5 percent increase in the prior month and in line with market expectations.”

* * *

Inflation: “Inflation Will Be Exactly What People Expect It to Be” [Tyler Cowen, Bloomberg]. “Sometimes yesterday’s crazy idea turns out to be sane or even essential. For instance, Fischer Black, the late finance economist and co-discoverer of modern options pricing theory, argued that the rate of price inflation will be whatever we think it will be. If expectations are that inflation will be high, it will be high. If expectations are that inflation will be low, it will be low. For Black, who died in 1995, this was always true, at least for modern economies. I never agreed with Black on this point, but increasingly I have begun to wonder if he wasn’t on to something…. In Black’s view of the world, if people expected inflation to be high, they would spend and borrow more. Banks would create the money for this process to be self-sustaining. Under this framework, Black might have argued that no major inflation resulted after 2008 because Americans simply were not bullish enough, given the recent financial trauma.” • Or what people expect their friends to think it will be. Or what people expect their friends to think what Central Bankers think it will be.

Tech: “Which Vehicles Will Lose Safety Features After 3G Shutdown This Month?” [Newsweek (dk)]. “s part of the ongoing rollout of 5G wireless technology in the U.S., cellular carriers will begin phasing out 3G services later this month to make room for the faster network. As a result, a number of vehicles will begin losing safety features designed around 3G technology. Some vehicles will lose access to these features by the end of February, while others will lose them over the course of 2022.” • Cars are named, but this doesn’t seem to be an exhaustive list.

The Bezzle: “Elon Musk’s Neuralink destroyed monkeys’ brains before killing them” [Al Mayadeen]. “The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) filed a complaint against the research, saying it caused “extreme suffering” on the monkeys, as they ‘had their brains mutilated in shoddy experiments and were left to suffer and die.’ The complaint addresses both Neuralink and the University of California who partnered in this experiment between 2017 and 2020. In the experiment, researchers implanted small devices into the skulls of macaque monkeys. The PCRM, through obtaining health records and necropsy reports, said the documents reveal that the monkeys have been suffering “extreme psychological distress” as a result of the crude surgeries. Neuralink used something called ‘BioGlue’ which destroyed regions of the monkeys’ brains, causing devastating psychological effects, including anxiety, vomiting, poor appetite, hair loss and self-mutilating behavior. Some even removed their own fingers. In response, Neuralink called the complaint ‘misleading’, saying in a blog post that the company ‘did and continues to meet federally mandated standards.’ Addressing the deaths of the monkeys, Neuralink attributed the deaths to ‘terminal procedures’ where the monkeys were euthanized after surgery.” • Oh.

The Bezzle: “Money That Won Melania Trump NFT Came From Melania Trump Wallet” [Bloomberg]. “The source of funds for the winning bid in Melania Trump’s first NFT auction appears to be the creators of the project themselves. A series of blockchain transactions show that the cryptocurrency used to purchase Trump’s nonfungible token came from a wallet that belongs to the entity that originally listed the project for sale. The former first lady began an auction in January for a collection of NFTs on the Solana blockchain, with art from her first official state visit in 2018.” • Remarkable, when the whole point of cryto is to enable anonymouys transactions. The Republicans simply will not learn the value of layer of indirection! Very much unlike Democrats, I might add.

The Bezzle: “Why you can’t rebuild Wikipedia with crypto” (interview) [Molly White, Platformer]. Q: “Is there one story in crypto history that you regard as the quintessential ‘web3 is going great’ story?” WHITE: “I think I’d have to pick the Bitfinex hack. It’s got a little bit of everything! Multiple hacks, including of course the infamous August 2016 hack of almost 120,000 bitcoin (worth $72 million at the time, worth several billion today). There’s been tons of shady business by executives, some involving Tether, and some of which has led to huge fines in the past year. And of course it’s got the “reality is truly stranger than fiction” aspect that makes for some of the best W3IGG entries: the recent discovery of some of those stolen bitcoins as they were allegedly being laundered by a New York couple, one of whom moonlighted as an extremely weird rapper.”

Transportation: “BIF: The Growth of US Railroads” (podcast) [Congressional Dish]. “The infrastructure law provides the most significant investment in passenger rail in U.S. history, but substantial hurdles – including a powerful cartel – stand firmly in the way of a real national network. In this episode, learn the ways the infrastructure law paves the way for a better future for passenger rail along with the significant obstacles that it failed to address.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 38 Fear (previous close: 38 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 40 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 16 at 1:24pm. Back to flirting with Neutral!

Dear Old Blighty

Prince Andrew skates:

Our Famously Free Press

For Want of a Cup: The Rise of Tea in England and the Impact of Water Quality on Mortality (PDF) The Review of Economics and Statistics. From the Abstract: “This paper explores the impact of water quality on mortality by exploiting a natural experiment—the rise of tea consumption in 18th century England. This resulted in an unintentional increase in consumption of boiled water, thereby reducing mortality rates.” • Interesting! However, I’m filing it here because of Noah Smith’s comment:


Ha ha! Pretty funny!

Class Warfare


News of the Wired

“Why Are Letters Shaped the Way They Are?” [Wired]. “[Max Planck Institute] researchers found that some symbols did evoke certain colors more than others, and the associations between symbols and colors were stronger in people who played regularly [on the Color Game app]. The Color Game did more than show how languages form over time, it violated a long-standing rule in linguistics: the rule of arbitrariness. In the subject of semiotics, or the use of signs and symbols to convey meaning, most students are taught about the theories of linguist Ferdinand de Saussure. He wrote that the letters and words in many writing and language systems have no relationship to what they refer to. The word ‘cat’ doesn’t have anything particularly cat-like about it. The reason that ‘cat’ means cat is because English speakers have decided so—it’s a social convention, not anything ingrained in the letters c-a-t. … But the idea that words, or other signs, do actually relate to what they’re describing has been gaining ground. This is called iconicity: when a spoken or written word, or a gestured sign, is iconic in some way to what it’s referring to. …. ‘It is now generally accepted that natural languages feature plenty of non-arbitrary ways to link form and meaning, and that some forms of iconicity are pretty pervasive,’ said Mark Dingemanse, a linguist at Radboud University, who said that he too learned in Linguistics 101 that ‘the sign is arbitrary.’ ‘Iconicity has become impossible to ignore.’… Voiceless consonants, or consonants that you don’t use vocal cords to produce like p-, t-, k-, and ch- are often associated with small sizes, and voiced consonants are associated with big ones; the unvoiced consonant k in korokoro is used to refer to a stone’s lightness and g- represents the rock’s heaviness. ‘Originally these were considered on the margins of language,’ Perlman said. ‘But now we’ve come to realize that these idiophones are in all languages. And they’re much more common than we realize.’ One of the most documented examples of iconicity is the bouba/kiki effect, similar to the takete–maluma effect. People associate bouba with round objects, and kiki with pointy ones. Most recently, in November 2021, this was demonstrated in speakers of 25 languages and 10 writing systems.” • Remarkable!

“Turning off my phone improved my science” [Nature]. “As I began to search for the cause of my struggles, I became increasingly aware that my ‘quiet time’ at the lab bench — for instance, when I was running chromatography columns or microscopy experiments — was anything but. Instead of thinking about science, I was watching television or interacting with social media on my smartphone. Although I could mask this inefficiency with longer hours, my work felt chaotic and disorganized. I was working more than ever, but getting less done. I would come home from a long day in the lab and respond to e-mails or Slack messages over dinner or in bed. This all came to a head last summer, when my inability to balance work and life led me to seek help from the university’s student mental-health services. Through a combination of counselling and personal reflection, I came to understand my problem: I was addicted to my phone.”

“The Legend of the Wartime Placebo” [McGill Office for Science and Society]. “There is a foundational myth in placebo research that has been repeated over and over again, sometimes with inexplicable flourishes, often with the variations one expects from a telephone game. You have probably read it in a mainstream publication. It’s the story of a doctor, working in dark times, who cannot do his job properly and accidentally discovers the power of the placebo to relieve pain. It is such a good story. And it might not even be true. What follows is a story of my own. This one is true, and it involves bad scholarship, the basement of a library, and an episode of the television show M*A*S*H. This is my story of the story of Dr. Henry Beecher who ran out of morphine while treating soldiers, and how it may never have happened.”

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Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant:

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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. Debbie

      At least they can make it an ad-hominem attack with Ortega.

      Here university take overs and censorship is called “equity.”

      1. Librarian Guy

        Yeah, the NYT has such a great history with their “coverage” of Central America, promoted Reagan’s genocidal wars in Guatemala against indigenous communities as “anti-Communist” and loooved them some Contra rapist-murderers, terrorist drug smugglers. Obviously a credible source for ad-hominem Red hunting . . . Too bad Uruguay has loosened up a bit from the old glory days of the 60s and 70s when German Nazi escapees from Hitler’s ranks had government ties, but maybe Expat will find some friendly Rightist pals there. Que se vaya bien, cazador de Rojos!! Richest of all, Expat is so ignorant s/he doesn’t realize that Nicaragua is in Central America, a couple of countries & several hundred miles removed from “South America” where s/he believes there is an Ortega “dicatorship”– typical PMC, Imperial hubris, like believing Juan Guaido runs Venezuela!!

        1. Expat2uruguay

          Wow, it’s hard to imagine that all that was really necessary. I’m making an effort to understand the area better and I’m really sorry that my ignorance is so triggering for you. I’m not the right-wing person that you assume I am, and I meant to say Latin America, but whatever. And I certainly did not intend to be the first comment on the post, when I wrote my comment there were already other comments there so I don’t know how it ended up the way it did.

  1. Carolinian

    Re the merits of boiled water–they also drank a lot of booze. We did the same thing here in the colonies–a 19th cent nation of drunks.

    And Flora put this up yesterday during that Canada discussion and may merit more chatting. It’s about the stealth nature of neoliberalism.


    Far from trying to preserve society against the unintended consequences of the operations of markets, as democratic liberalism sought to do, neoliberal doctrine instead set out actively to dismantle those aspects of society which might resist the purportedly inexorable logic of “catallactics,” and to reshape it in the market’s image. For neoliberals, freedom and the market would be treated as identical. Their rallying cry was to remove the foundation of liberty from natural rights or tradition, and reposition it upon an entirely novel theory concerning what a market was, or should be. They could not acknowledge individual natural rights, because they sought to tutor the masses to become the agent the market would be most likely to deem successful. The market no longer gave you what you wanted; you had to capitulate to what the market wanted. All areas of life could be better configured to behave as if they were more market-like. Gary Becker, for example, a member of the Mont Pèlerin Society, proposed a market-based approach to allow for a socially optimal level of crime, and advocated a revolutionary extension of marginal calculus to include the “shadow costs” and benefits associated with “children, prestige or esteem, health, altruism, envy, and pleasure of the senses.” Becker even proposed an economic model of the “dating market,” one consequence of which was the proposition that polygamy for successful, wealthy men could be politically rationalized. And voilà! The Sunday New York Times produced an article saying just that, as if it were real news. Classical liberals like Mill or Michael Oakeshott would be spinning in their graves.

    Masses working for the market rather than vice versa, government and business intertwined…add in heavy doses of propaganda and militarism and it’s starting to sound a lot like the “f” word. Do we have a Pinochet in our future? Of course some might say Trump was it, but hard to see how Trump had any ideology at all and if he did it would come out of a cereal box with his picture on it.

    1. Pate

      I thought so highly of Flora’s post and links that I cribbed a study sheet (thanks for the links,Flora!):

      Neoliberalism: The Movement That Dare Not Speak Its Name by Philip Mirowski

      “Neoliberalism is a political doctrine depending upon a strong state to pursue the disenchantment of politics by means of economics. – Will Davies

      Neoliberalism themes:
      (1) “Free” markets do not occur naturally. They must be actively constructed through political organizing.

      (2) “The market” is an information processor, and the most efficient one possible—more efficient than any government or any single human ever could be. Truth can only be validated by the market.

      (3) Market society is, and therefore should be, the natural and inexorable state of humankind.

      (4) The political goal of neoliberals is not to destroy the state, but to take control of it, and to redefine its structure and function, in order to create and maintain the market-friendly culture.

      (5) There is no contradiction between public/politics/citizen and private/market/entrepreneur-consumer—because the lat­ter does and should eclipse the former.

      (6) The most important virtue—more important than justice, or anything else—is freedom, defined “negatively” as “freedom to choose,” and most importantly, defined as the freedom to acquiesce to the imperatives of the market.

      (7) Capital has a natural right to flow freely across national boundaries.

      (8) Inequality—of resources, income, wealth, and even political rights—is a good thing; it prompts productivity, because people envy the rich and emulate them; people who complain about inequality are either sore losers or old fogies, who need to get hip to the way things work nowadays.

      (9) Corporations can do no wrong—by definition. Competition will take care of all problems, including any tendency to monopoly.

      (10) The market, engineered and promoted by neoliberal experts, can always provide solutions to problems seemingly caused by the market in the first place: there’s always “an app for that.”

      (11) There is no difference between is and should be: “free” markets both should be (normatively) and are(positively) the most efficient economic system, and the most just way of doing politics, and the most empirically true description of human behavior, and the most ethical and moral way to live—which in turn explains, and justifies, why their versions of “free” markets should be and, as neoliberals build more and more power, increasingly are universal.12

      Neoliberalism: The Movement That Dare Not Speak Its Name https://americanaffairsjournal.org/2018/02/neoliberalism-movement-dare-not-speak-name/
      And a longer article Hell is Truth Seen Too Late https://www.ineteconomics.org/uploads/papers/Mirowski-Hell-is-Truth-Seen-Too-Late.pdf

    2. BlakeFelix

      Ya, before tea if you wanted a safeish drink in England you had to drink beer all day, or cider, or wine. The Romans used to mix their wine with water in about the right concentration to sterilize it IIRC. Which is about a light beer level I think.

      1. Yves Smith

        My Shakespeare instructor stressed this point, that beer back in the day was safer than water and also had some nutritional value (I recall it was very yeast-y).

    3. Robert Hahl

      It seems that “neoliberals” are are just rebranded libertarians, who are mostly regarded as as being anti-social nuts. Why not characterize neoliberals the same way?

      1. Carolinian

        Read the article as it specifically talks about why neoliberals are not the same as libertarians. Libertarians believe in small government whereas neoliberals believe in large government intervention to support their pro market ideology. Example: the 2008 bank bailout that Obama and Dems supported but Republicans in my state opposed because they are libertarians and the Dems neoliberals.

    1. WhoaMolly

      What Star? Can’t find it on my ’88 Ford Ranger pickup… Will keep looking… right after I replace the starter and fuel pump.

      1. ambrit

        The 88 Ranger STX has two fuel pumps. One low pressure, in the gas tank, and one, high pressure, bolted to the frame. This is not shown in all repair manuals. Check online first. Good luck with the fuel tank pump, it’s a bit of a pain.

  2. NorD94

    saw this yesterday

    Russian parliament asks for recognition of breakaway regions in Ukraine https://thehill.com/policy/international/russia/594257-russian-parliament-asks-for-recognition-of-breakaway-regions-in

    The Russian parliament on Tuesday asked President Vladimir Putin to recognize two breakaway regions in Ukraine, a move that could raise tensions as fears of an attack rise. A vote in the lower house of Russian parliament was passed for the recognition of the areas, with the House Speaker saying the two regions in Ukraine need to be recognized as independent, Reuters reported. The State Duma wants the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, which have been supported by Russia, to be recognized as independent from the rest of Ukraine.

    DW version

    Russian Duma asks Putin to recognize Ukrainian regions as independent – Russian lawmakers have voted to ask President Vladimir Putin to recognize the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics in Ukraine as independent nations. https://www.dw.com/en/russian-duma-asks-putin-to-recognize-ukrainian-regions-as-independent/a-60783596

    this is far east side of Ukraine near Russian border and has been in the news before. Goes back to 2014 Crimea events.

    Feb 18, 2020: Ukraine conflict: Deadly flare-up on eastern front line https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-51543463

    1. Polar Socialist

      It seems that the purpose here simply to put pressure on the Ukraine, France and Germany to finally implement the Minsk Accords. The Communists, who initiated the bill a few weeks ago would likely do it just for the sake of spiting the West, but apparently United Russia managed to turn it to a tool for foreign policy.

      After all, until last week Ukraine’s position was that the Accords were an insult to Ukrainian sovereignty and unimplementable anyway, but this week they are literally begging France and Germany to save the Accords and Ukrainian sovereignty.

      After the whole “war that never was” hysterics the West doesn’t really have other options than start pushing helping Ukraine towards the implementation of the Accords, which should in the end reinforce the anti-Maidan elements in Ukraine and put a to rest the plans of joining NATO.

      1. wilroncanada

        “The Dead Dog Cafe” was a comedy show about a Native restaurant on CBC Radio/Radio Canada from 1970 to 2000, mostly written by the great AmerCanadian writer Thomas King. The comedy had an edge targeting the second-class status of Native North Americans.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Its Biden. He heard it from somewhere else. He thinks it sounds great, and it gets a yuk from people who hate dogs and kowtow to authorities making terrible jokes.

    2. Pat

      I’ve been trying to remember where I heard a version of that story before. IIRC that one was more about actually providing voter services rather than embarrassing and ridiculing the person who wanted more than was on offer. Could have been Biden, lord knows his stories shift depending on the moon and what he had for breakfast. But I know I have heard some version before.

  3. Pat

    Call me wild and crazy, but I don’t think Prince Andrew skated. He had to pay a massive amount of money, lost his day job, has been stripped of ceremonial titles that from reports meant a great deal to him. While he will never be destitute as we understand it. His life will be severely constrained by limited finances in a manner it has never been before this suit.

    Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with any of that. I just don’t see any of Epstein’s other friends and clients suffering any consequences whatsoever. THEY skated.

    1. Milton

      Until they start sending the members of the elite class to Federal Pound Me in the A$$ prisons, and there counterparts overseas, nothing will ever change as these criminals can and will pay any amount to stay in there comfortable positions. I’m sure Andrew (no title?) will console himself with the few odd million lying between the cushions at the castles he is still able to frequent.

      1. Pat

        I guess Andrew got to be the whipping boy for the whole lot of them, and frankly he could have had to lose more. My thing is that there is a whole list of rich and powerful me who obviously enjoyed Epstein’s “hospitality” who aren’t even being embarrassed. As you say, being richer and more important than the spare royal accords them with protections they shouldn’t have. But personally I would rather a few of the others got the whipping. And so I am more outraged that they won’t rather then that Andrew didn’t lose everything.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Exactly. This whole thing was about misdirection. What was the point of law enforcement wanting to grab Andrew if he went to the US when they already had another Epstein Alumni walking around in America – Bill Clinton. Is there a single media platform that was pushing the whole Andrew story that said ‘Hey, how about we go get Clinton as he is exactly the same and we can grab him right now.’ As for Andrew, maybe one day he will be ‘rehabilitated’ as he is the Queen’s favourite son after all but everybody far and wide knows who he really is now. Only thing is that it is known who Joe Biden is but people still push their children forward to him on meet-and-greets.

        1. ambrit

          Social climbers will literally prostitute their children for ‘access’ to the Higher Realms.
          The entire system of sexualizing children is a cancer on the society.
          As for Bill Clinton, well, I am somewhat surprised that he has not been ‘Epsteined’ yet. As far as the Olde Guarde Elites are concerned, the Good Old Boy from Little Rock is a nuveaux riche, and thus expendable.
          “Don’t blame me, I voted for Kodos.”

  4. Pat

    I am an evil unthinking person. I have an Alexa and I have a plug that is Alexa enabled. It means that I do not have to fumble in the dark to get to and turn on the lamp I use to light my way to the restroom in the middle of the night. What I do need to do is ask repeatedly for it to be turned on and off. Probably every other time requires multiple requests.

    After this experience I do not know that I would trust any internet connected appliance to do what I want. It doesn’t work I can still use the lamp. I could see attaching a fan, that is on or off. But your refrigerator? An oven? A washer, dryer or dishwasher? I don’t have a car, but this also makes me even more wary of computerization, especially that which demands contact. It isn’t just that it makes it a pain to fix, I can see hiccups causing unnecessary repair visits.

    1. juanholio

      Have a look for a “wireless remote control outlet”, they are very cheap, not network connected, and you have a small remote to do the job of Alexa.

      1. Pat

        I used to have an X10 which died. I wasn’t finding anything like that or even the clapper. But I will check again. Thanks.

      2. WhoaMolly

        I use an ‘indoor outdoor remote control outlet’ to switch things on and off. 15 amp capacity. I think it’s intended for things like Christmas lights. Got it on sale for $10 as I recall.

    2. Tom B.

      “The door refused to open. It said, “Five cents, please.”
      He searched his pockets. No more coins; nothing. “I’ll pay you tomorrow,” he told the door. Again he tried the knob. Again it remained locked tight. “What I pay you,” he informed it, “is in the nature of a gratuity; I don’t have to pay you.”
      “I think otherwise,” the door said. “Look in the purchase contract you signed when you bought this conapt.”
      In his desk drawer he found the contract; since signing it he had found it necessary to refer to the document many times. Sure enough; payment to his door for opening and shutting constituted a mandatory fee. Not a tip.
      “You discover I’m right,” the door said. It sounded smug.
      From the drawer beside the sink Joe Chip got a stainless steel knife; with it he began systematically to unscrew the bolt assembly of his apt’s money-gulping door.
      “I’ll sue you,” the door said as the first screw fell out.
      Joe Chip said, “I’ve never been sued by a door. But I guess I can live through it.”
      ― Philip K. Dick, Ubik

  5. Robert Hahl

    Placebo Effect: I once saw a placebo effect work on me and it was obvious why. I woke up one morning and lay in bed for a few minutes experiencing unusually bad (for me) sinus congestion from hay fever. I always took Sudafed for this and it always worked in about twenty minutes. So I took the stuff, and lay down to wait, but this time it worked immediately. The irritation mostly went away, and I could breathe almost normally. I realized that I had been struggling to overcome the congestion by breathing hard and blowing my nose and generally bothering myself, but after taking the pills I just laid down quietly to wait, knowing I would feel better soon, and just stopped making the problem worse.

  6. jsn

    “…. Our world is structured around the core notion that people are free and equal, and that ideally they ought to be left alone by state and neighbor to manage their own affairs, so long as their activities don’t impose upon others…. ”

    But, because these “freedoms” are formal rather than substantive, all of us being bound by the permission money gives or denies by its distribution amongst the formally “free”, we end up arguing ceaselessly about public funds to pay for the cultural reproduction of the constraints imposed by that distribution of money.

    The discourse of “freedom” so deployed is dazzle camouflage for a system of rapidly expanding social control. “Children are bundles of obligations, theirs and ours to them, and their vulnerability and needs leave little room for the sort of political freedom the imaginary liberal subject is presumed to have. What to do with such unusual people”, when they don’t have money? The entire framing is to avoid the issue of re-distribution for a Public Good.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > dazzle camouflage

      I like this metaphor because the dazzle is not coherent in itself; indeed, its very incoherence conceals the object it has been painted onto. So the dazzle is a lot like propaganda, yes.

      The Bezzle and The Dazzle, that’s what we’ve got going for us. That’s what we’re best at. That’s what we produce.

  7. Jason Boxman

    During the 2020 campaign cycle, Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who died in January 2021, and his wife, Miriam, contributed $218 million to Republican candidates and conservative groups. Charles Koch and his late brother, David, with a fortune rooted in the oil and chemical industry, have given untold millions to Republicans over the last several decades, as have other fossil fuel and corporate interests. The Democrats historically have not had the same number of deep-pocketed backers, but ActBlue helped create a whole new generation of political givers—small donors rather than fat cats, many of them ardent progressives from Democratic strongholds who donate to races in swing states. (The website OpenSecrets reported that Democrats in the 2020 cycle caught up with and surpassed Republicans in attracting “dark money”—dollars from anonymous donors passed through PACs.)

    What’s most interesting about this is what isn’t said, because it isn’t the subject of the story, which is funding to build up an intellectual project. Conservative donors of wealth fund think tanks and donate to universities, building intellectual legitimacy and hegemony of conservative or neoliberal ideas. No amount of small dollar fundraising by liberal Democrats is gonna match that, and anyway, liberal Democrats mostly accept conservative framings anyway. (How else to appeal to those suburban Republican voters?)

    It’s a shame the left can’t small dollar fundraise for think tanks and the like.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > It’s a shame the left can’t small dollar fundraise for think tanks and the like.

      Even today, the industrial unions could fund such a thing. It wouldn’t need to be lavish.

    2. Jessica

      Unfortunately, such left think tanks would so easily become infested with careerists, as is most of the “left” already.

  8. tommys

    The SF recall election was extreme low turnout. Less then 30%. So I wouldn’t suggest taking any clues from it whatsoever. Also remember way back, Chris Daly got huge support from ‘asians’ in that district, even though he was considered very left. There is a working class Asian vote in the Bay Area, and just like the white or black, Latino/a, working class vote, it doesn’t turn out except maybe ‘big’ elections. On the other hand, when Chesa Boudin got elected, that was also a very ‘off’ one. But still people voted for the supposed ‘leftist’ DA. SF, despite massive expulsion of at least 40,000 workers since the 2009 crash, still has a very unpredictable left and progressive aspect. I’m just saying, avoid Matt references when, who I love to read, starts that political boxing in of the ‘Asians’. ….

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I’m just saying, avoid Matt references when, who I love to read, starts that political boxing in of the ‘Asians’

      Yes, fifty lashes with a wet noodle for lambert for ignoring the class angle. I was, I suppose, seduced by Taibbi’s writing. (The story also implicitly treats Loudon Country as representative, which it is not, being the wealthiest county in the US “by a wide margin.” So it’s likely the working class population, let alone the Asian working class population, is small.)

      That said, I would have thought working class Asians were Tiger Mom-level aspirational for their children, and so would have opposed closing Lowell High School. Am I wrong?

      1. tommy s.

        You could be completely right in this situation. ..and add… there was huge media attention about these school board people trying to rename schools (I’m sick of that, I want class and pro-POC economic demands, not performance shit)…during the closure/pandemic.

  9. upstater

    re. Maybe we can slip Covid vaccines into the antivaxxers’ fentanyl

    Now I have a really valid reason to not read Noah Opinion. Perfectly awful, beyond words, really.

    1. clarky90

      Covid-19 Omicron convoy protest: Govt in crisis meeting over protest, MP Michael Wood (Labour Party) speaks out on dark undercurrent
      17 Feb, 2022 11:39 AM


      “We feel for those people. But underneath all of that, there is a river of filth. (yikes!) There is a river of violence and menace. There is a river of anti-Semitism. There is a river of Islamophobia. There is a river of threats to people who work in this place and our staff. Those are things that we should not in any way be condoning……” Michael Wood, MP

      IMO The NZ Government appears to be working itself up into a murderous lather, against it’s own peaceful citizens?

      Tour Guide of Freedom Convoy Home
      Feb 16, 2022

      Welcome to your new home (the protest encampment, in front of Parliament, Wellington, NZ). All are welcome. No discrimination nor judgement …..

      Meet some of the diverse and indigenous people identified as the “dark undercurrent” of NZ, by Michael Wood. (A member of our ruling party, who categorically refuse to meet with the protest’s representatives)


    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Now I have a really valid reason to not read Noah Opinion. Perfectly awful, beyond words, really.

      That was just vile. Combine that with him going “the full Cleveland” on crypto in this morning’s links, and I dunno. Smith is curious, and collects a lot of bright shiny objects, but yeeeesh. I can find bright shiny objects in a lot of places.

  10. Mikel

    “Neuralink used something called ‘BioGlue’ which destroyed regions of the monkeys’ brains, causing devastating psychological effects, including anxiety, vomiting, poor appetite, hair loss and self-mutilating behavior. Some even removed their own fingers…”

    So they were practically “zombiefied”?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > “Neuralink used something called ‘BioGlue’

      From the Annals of Thoracic Surgery, “Bioglue: A Word of Caution” (2008):

      The two components of Bioglue (Cryolife, Inc) can have a number of additional potential adverse consequences that have not been listed by the authors:

      1 Primary hypersensitivity and allergy to the components.
      2 Immune response on repeat application in persons in whom it has been previously used.
      3 Transmission of infectious agents via bovine albumin.
      4 Mineralization and deformation of tissues.
      5 Foreign body reaction.
      6 Concerns of use over infected, contaminated, and inflamed areas.
      7 Circumferential application in pediatric cardiac surgery in relation to structures with future growth prospects.
      8 Absorption of unpolymerized and depolymerized glutaraldehyde from the surface of application.
      9 Unreacted glutaraldehyde has been proven to have mutagenic effects in laboratory animals.
      10 Handling safety hazards for personnel during surgery.

      We have a few more interesting facts to add about the components of Bioglue. Glutaraldehyde is a pungent, colorless, extremely toxic liquid that causes severe mucosal and lung irritation on contact, and central nervous system manifestations of intense headaches, drowsiness, and dizziness on systemic absorption, even in small amounts. Even at concentrations of 0.1% to 1%, it can kill cells very quickly. It has been known to cause phrenic nerve injury and myocardial necrosis that can extend into the conduction tissues of the heart. It is chiefly used for sterilization of medical equipment, as a tissue fixative for electron microscopy, for study of oligomeric proteins by fixing them, for use in embalming fluids, and for leather tanning. All of these uses stem from its ability to cause cross linkages, fixation of proteins, and coagulative necrosis.

      Monomeric glutaraldehyde can itself polymerize by aldol condensation to form polyglutaraldehyde. It can then cross link other proteins that it comes in contact with, independent of the clotting cascade.

      Exactly the sort of substance I would expect Musk to use. Does Neuralink remind anybody else of C.S. Lewis’s That Hideous Strength?

      Oh, and “A word of caution…” is pleasingly understated.

      1. caucus99percenter

        Bingo! Indeed, upon reading that, the N.I.C.E. in That Hideous Strength was what instantly came to mind.

        Does Neuralink remind anybody else of C.S. Lewis’s That Hideous Strength?

  11. Claire

    “Biden promises to ‘work like the devil’ to bring down gas prices”

    OK, then lift the sanctions on Iranian and Venezuelan oil.

    1. John

      Can’t do that or something would fundamentally change. The bedrock of what is not changing is the stubborn retention of what is demonstrably unworkable and provably stupid.

    1. Sailor Bud

      Wow, blast from the past. I haven’t been to Alternet since the Obama era, after they pumped and pumped for the ACA. Since I was one of the early voices yelling that it would be a scam, I boogied. I also remember Maddow’s writings being there back then, before she joined MSNBC, before fame and infame.

      Surprised alternet hasn’t gone the way of Kos, Huffington, Wonkette, etcetera, where it’s just degenerated into an almost purely neoliberal readership.

  12. clarky90

    Re; “Overall, 29% of U.S. adults say they have a great deal of confidence in medical scientists to act in the best interests of the public, down from 40% who said this in November 2020. Similarly, the share with a great deal of confidence in scientists to act in the public’s best interests is down by 10 percentage points (from 39% to 29%), according to a new Pew Research Center survey.”

    “The Apocalypse”. The disclosure of something very important, that had been hidden …
    An Awakening, and in OUR lifetimes!

    1. clarky90

      As opposed to The occult, from the Latin word “occultus”. Meaning; (1) clandestine, (2) hidden, (3) secret……. yikes!

    2. The Rev Kev

      Didn’t Fauci claim to be the face of medical science – but then would bounce from one stance to another, depending on the demands of the market?

  13. Sailor Bud

    ‘Kids have no place in a liberal democracy’:

    We live in a world where adults are not only okay with making and normalizing child-targeted advertisements, but also where masses of quite willing parents sit their own kids in front of the glowbox to receive them, and don’t think twice about it.

    Not quite sure what to make of Bruenig’s take, when I think of the above.

      1. Sailor Bud

        You know it doesn’t matter, right? Anyway, not the point. You might also notice that I didn’t say “Liz is wrong,” but “I don’t know what to make of her take.” Those adults won’t change any time soon just because you switched out “liberal democracy.”

  14. The Rev Kev

    ‘I am sorry to see the @nytimes taking MMT seriously as an intellectual movement. It is the equivalent of publicizing fad diets, quack cancer cures or creationist theories.’

    I am here to say that I respect Larry Summer’s opinions as much as I do those of Thomas Friedman. And this respect is matched by my respect for main stream media publications which continue to give platforms for these two people to continue to give their thoughts and ideas to the world. Maybe somebody should ask Larry what the CARES Act of 2020 was all about and who got the bulk majority of the trillions of dollars in it. In a way, both Larry and the Mustache are like a reverse Canary in the Coalmine. So long as they are out there in the MSM giving their opinions, then you know that the media still has a foul and toxic atmosphere.

    1. Thomas Friedman, International Man of Metaphors

      Larry Summers is playing chess, while other economists play checkers. Competing with his vigorous intellect is like having an opponent who always lands on the best properties and builds hotels. When I was dining with Larry at a little cafe in central Mumbai, he said to me, “Tom, the future of the world lies in the hands of Modi.” I thought briefly about whether Modi’s hands were really that large, but then decided that the Trumpist paradigm of killing our sacred cows wasn’t applicable to this Hindu nation flattening our world.

    2. farmboy

      Every once in a while a book comes along that captures the moment. Kelton’s book and explainers open the door to understanding of possibilities not widely known or circulated. I’ve bought and distributed maybe 20 copies. timing is everything.

  15. james

    Famous Canadians quiet as mice about the Truckers

    I guess some very famous Canadian actors and singers would like to forget where they were born. They want to avoid the current “trucker controversy” at all costs.

    They’re not taking sides. Unless I’m missing their statements, the silence is deafening.

    What? Not interested?

    No balls?

    They’re Americans now, with amnesia about their pasts?

    Here is a partial list of Canadian stars I’m hearing nothing from:

    William Shatner. Jim Carrey. Keanu Reeves. Dan Aykroyd. Ryan Reynolds. Mike Myers. Ryan Gosling. Donald Sutherland. Kiefer Sutherland. Rachel McAdams. Seth Rogan. Martin Short. Bruce Greenwood. Nathan Fillion. Matthew Perry. Justin Bieber. Hayden Christensen. Kim Cattrall. Neve Campbell. Avril Lavigne. Stana Katic. Pamela Anderson. Celine Dion. Michael Buble. A lot of hockey players.

    Maybe I’m not reading the right tweets. Or maybe all these people were actually born in Antarctica and they’re living there again, and they don’t get news reports.

    Nothing? No strong support for Trudeau? No words of encouragement for the truckers? Just total avoidance?

    Meanwhile, little rich boy Trudeau is seizing bank accounts of people donating to the truckers…

    Reuters: “Justin Trudeau on Monday activated rarely used emergency powers…Under the Emergencies Act, the government introduced measures intended to cut off protesters’ funding…”

    “The financial measures bring crowdfunding platforms under terror-finance oversight, authorize Canadian banks to freeze accounts suspected of funding the blockades and suspend insurance on vehicles in the protests, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said.”


    There it is. Trudeau removes all doubt. He declares the truckers terrorists, and will freeze bank accounts of people who are donating to “the terrorists.”

    So I guess the truckers are throwing bombs and shooting people and kidnapping government officials and burning down hundreds of churches and schools.

    They’re not peacefully protesting the vaccine passports, mandates, and other brutal and useless COVID restrictions laid on by the government of Canada.

    Trudeau isn’t a little punk who sold himself long ago to betrayers of Canada. He’s a staunch defender of justice.

    Sure. Obviously. Of course.

    Actually, he is the terrorist. He just happens to be the prime minister of Canada, which gives him extraordinary cover in his role of insurrectionist.

    If he were just a little whacko on a street corner telling passers-by the banks should freeze accounts of people who want FREEDOM, no one would pay any attention to him.

    And now, if the banks of Canada had any balls, they would refuse the little rich boy’s order and stop colluding with him and his ilk. But no, the banks are terrorists and insurrectionists, too.

    The majority of Canadians know the government’s COVID policies have been a fascist sham since the beginning. Now they’ve had enough. They’re rising up.

    Trudeau, who supposedly represents the people of Canada, is trying to put them down.

    He’s betting that his bank thefts and shock troops will win.

    He’s betting he can sell the idea that the truckers started “the insurrection,” instead of indicting HIMSELF as the perpetrator.

    Everything now depends on how many Canadians support the truckers as their real representatives.

    I’ve stated this many times: no declared state of emergency, such as this latest farce, has the legal right to stand without an open examination from all sides of the FACTS and MERITS.

    Trudeau is counting on using his wartime powers to quickly disperse the truckers and their convoy—after which he’ll lift the emergency.

    Then things will return to normal, meaning he and other political leaders can re-impose however many COVID restrictions they believe they can get away with.

    —Restrictions based on the fact that Trudeau, like Biden and Trump and Macron and Morrison and Johnson and other pols, know nothing about science or COVID or vaccines.

    But that doesn’t stop them.

    I don’t believe the Canadian freedom convoy is going away, even if cops and troops clear off all the trucks. Something has started, and it has momentum.

    A fire has been lit. It’s ignited the hearts and minds of an extraordinary number of Canadians. Bending down and taking to a knee to the government and entering a state of amnesia about what has just come to pass isn’t possible.

    Trucks and blockades aren’t the only available strategy.

    People find answers when they’re up against the wall.

    And they know who stayed silent when help and support were needed.

    by Jon Rappoport

    February 16, 2022

    1. juanholio

      That’s a new one! A right winger angry that effete Hollywood celebrities haven’t chimed in with their worthless opinions on an issue!

    2. Basil Pesto

      If he were just a little whacko on a street corner telling passers-by the banks should freeze accounts of people who want FREEDOM, no one would pay any attention to him.

      lol, thanks for the laugh

    3. eg

      I reject the use of the term “truckers” to describe the participants in the incidents in Ottawa and along the Canadian border — they represent neither the industry nor its employees.

      As for the obsession with Trudeau where public health measures are concerned I note the failure to apprehend the Federal nature of Canada and calibrate my credulity accordingly.

  16. Another SF passerby

    Regarding the SF school board recall- there is a streak of wokeism involved- Last year one of the members (Collins) was on the news almost ondaily bases for “being a racist” because of some old tweets…. Walking around the Asian majority neighborhoods, one would always accosted by petition request to recall the said member…. (and manned by Asian Americans)

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