2:00PM Water Cooler 2/17/2022

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 to recast and road-test economic message before State of the Union” [NBC]. “The White House is crafting a plan to refocus President Joe Biden’s economic message so that in next month’s State of the Union address he emphasizes more of what officials view as his best political asset and weapon against Americans’ angst: empathy. The still-evolving plan, according to administration officials, is for Biden to stress that he understands the economic pain many Americans are experiencing, particularly because of inflation, in an attempt to balance out his recent efforts to get credit for policy prescriptions the White House believes have been successes. The shift reflects a recognition by Biden and his aides that Americans aren’t in the mood to reward him for his signature achievements, such as the bipartisan infrastructure law, if they aren’t convinced he understands their day-to-day struggles, officials said.” • Biden does empathu well, it’s true; more important, the press believes it. Biden still owes me six hundred bucks, though. The best way to show me empathy would be writing that check.

“Biden is winning the war against covid. Is anyone noticing?” [Jennifer Rubin, WaPo]. “The White House has good reason to be wary of premature declarations of victory. It’s still possible that another dangerous variant emerges in the future, and the administration must remain prepared to respond quickly. Nevertheless, Biden should be able to claim credit for a public health triumph. Victory is tempered by the stunning, heartbreaking loss of 900,000 lives to covid over the past two years. But when the pandemic recedes, deaths diminish, life returns to normal and prices recalibrate, there will be plenty to celebrate.” • I’ll write that in my diary tonight.

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.

* * *

“Climate Catastrophism Is a Loser” [Ruy Teixeira, The Liberal Patriot]. “In the latest Gallup “most important problem” poll, climate change comes in at a whopping 2 percent (open-ended response). A new Pew survey asked the public about a lengthy series of policy priorities and whether they should be a “top priority” to address in the coming year. The result: climate change came in way behind strengthening the economy, reducing health care costs, dealing with the coronavirus, improving education, defending against terrorism, improving the political system, reducing crime and improving the job situation and also behind dealing with immigration, reducing the deficit, addressing the criminal justice system and dealing with the problems of poor people (whew). That’s 13 issues in front of climate change! The Pew report breaks down these ratings by education. Interestingly, among working class (noncollege) respondents climate change repeats its dismal 14th place finish in the policy priorities parade. But among the college-educated, climate change does much better, going up to 6th on the list. Hmm. Surveys have repeatedly showed that, while the public mostly acknowledges climate change is ongoing and they are at least somewhat concerned about it, the issue is not so salient that they are willing to sacrifice much to combat it.” • As with so much else, propaganda works.

“What AOC Learned From Trump” [Politico]. On AOC’s New Yorker profile: “What divides AOC and her allies from others in the party is above all a theory of power: How to gain it, how to use it, how to keep it. It is a difference grounded in a cultural mindset about how politics should look, sound and feel. It is a difference grounded much less in ideology than meets the eye…. The lesson many Democrats have learned from watching two previous Republican presidents — Donald Trump and George W. Bush, both of whom took office under disputed circumstances with a minority of the popular vote — is that political realities can be shaped by self-confident proclamation. Power can be seized by equally self-confident assertion. They did it on behalf of what the left saw as a benighted agenda that favored racists and the wealthy. No reason progressives can’t do it on behalf of an enlightened agenda — and awaken a robust majority that would be there if only people were presented sharp choices rather than blurry ones. Meanwhile, these same people see the last two Democratic presidents — Obama and Bill Clinton — squandering their opportunities and disappointing natural supporters through constant calibration and by pretending that it is still the 1970s, and that the political game as the establishment plays it is still somehow on the level. The Bush-Trump model is based on mobilization of natural allies. The Clinton-Obama model is based on a forlorn effort at persuasion of a dwindling group of people attracted by cautious, middle-of-the-road politics. That is why AOC in the New Yorker urged Biden to forget about congressional approval and simply cancel student loan debt by executive order…. As she evangelizes for one side of this argument, AOC is not just confronting moderate adversaries like fellow Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer (N.J.) She’s also confronting Obama. While she poormouths Biden’s win on public works infrastructure as small and disappointing, the former president lectured Democratic lawmakers the other day, according to Punchbowl News, to ‘take the wins you can get,’ and that ‘it doesn’t help to whine about the stuff you can’t change.'” • Shorter AOC: “Obama can’t get it up*” (heck, shorter Obama). Generally, I don’t think sexual metaphors are illuminating for the power relations in electoral politics. In this case, however, it might take something that crude to break through “the dazzle.” Can you imagine the exploding heads? NOTE * Or whatever the Millenial and pre-Millenial argot of AOC’s Tik-Tok watchers might be.

Republican Funhouse

“Is McConnell Finally Poised To Make His Move?” [Cook Political Report]. “Some see a fight bubbling up for the heart and soul of the Republican Party between former President Donald Trump and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. But despite Trump calling McConnell names like ‘old crow,’ don’t believe that this feud is fundamentally personal. Rather, longtime McConnell watchers suggest the Kentuckian’s motivations are just what we learned in The Godfather: ‘It’s not personal, it’s strictly business.’ After all, McConnell is well aware that Trump’s antics after the election—even before Jan. 6—almost certainly handed Democrats the two seats they needed in the Georgia runoff elections to assume control of the chamber. This in a state where Democrats had not won a Senate seat in 20 years, since Zell Miller’s victory in 2000…. There is little if anything that is more important to McConnell than Republicans winning and holding the Senate, perhaps not even University of Louisville basketball. When it was in the Republican Senate majority’s best interests, if it helped get more conservatives on the federal bench, he backed Trump. If it’s not in their best interests, he won’t. It’s not driven by ego or pique. If the data showed that Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey would have had the best chance of beating freshman Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, then Ducey is who McConnell would try to entice into the race, no matter that Ducey is one of Trump’s many sworn enemies. Republican polling is said to show Trump’s numbers are ‘upside-down’ by double digits in about half of the states with top-tier Senate races, meaning that the former president’s unfavorable ratings among voters are higher than his favorable. In each of these states, his numbers are as bad or worse than President Biden’s. Whichever party the 2022 midterm elections are ultimately about will lose. If the election is about Biden and what the Democratic majorities did or didn’t do, they will lose. But if the election is about Trump, or about Republican candidates (the kind I refer to as “exotic;” McConnell as “goofballs”) then this election will turn out very badly for the GOP.” Hence the Democrat focus on 1/6. More: “For an example, look to Senate candidate Jim Lamon in Arizona. His campaign ad, prepared to run around the Superbowl, featured him shooting at Kelly in a mock gunfight. (Kelly’s wife, former Rep. Gabby Giffords, was shot at a constituent event.) It was a textbook case of a candidate with more dollars than sense. This is precisely what happened in the tea-party days of 2010 and 2012. Republicans came up short of a Senate majority in each of those years, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory with ‘goofball’ candidates in Delaware and Nevada in the former year, and in Indiana and Missouri in the latter. One might say that the base nominated candidates based on their glands than their brains. (God knows Democrats have done that on occasion as well.)”


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“GOP plunges into season of ‘self-hate’ that will rewire the party” [Politico]. “In less than two weeks, the first primary election of 2022 will take place in the nation’s second-most populous state, and it’s a blockbuster: The state’s Republican governor, attorney general and agriculture commissioner all face spirited challenges, as do several GOP House incumbents. From there, fractious primaries will unfold across the electoral map in the coming months, cementing a more populist orientation for the GOP and Donald Trump’s status as the party’s lodestar, or setting a more traditionally conservative course. These aren’t simple match-ups between Trump and anti-Trump forces, or isolated intraparty feuds. Safely ensconced Republican officeholders are being bombarded by challengers from coast to coast, in many cases spurred on by Trump directly. Redistricting and retirements have further scrambled the established order in many places, opening up seats and drawing fields filled with combative candidates eager to move the party in a different direction. Combine that with high levels of energy — and anger — in the party base, and it’s a recipe to remake the party from the ground up.”

Trump Legacy

“The “Big Sort” Continues, with Trump as a Driving Force” [Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. “More than 20% of the nation’s counties gave 80% or more of its 2-party presidential votes to either Donald Trump or Joe Biden. Trump won the vast majority of these counties, but because Biden’s blowout counties are much more populous, he got many more votes out of his ‘super landslide’ counties than Trump got out of his. Trump’s blowouts were concentrated in white, rural counties in the Greater South, Interior West, and Great Plains, while Biden’s were in a smattering of big cities, college towns, and smaller counties with large percentages of heavily Democratic nonwhite voters.” • Worth noting, but white/non-white categories are so broad as to be useless.

Obama Legacy

Hope and change:

Our Famously Free Press

“Covid reaches the choose-your-own-adventure stage in America” [MSNBC]. “Over the past 23 months, the word “choice” has been wielded mostly by anti-vaccine advocates. They have repeatedly declared that their choice whether to wear a mask or their decision whether to get a vaccination should take precedence over the health of those around them. But now it is the vaccinated people who get to choose. After a terrifying spike in cases in early to mid-January, the omicron surge is in dramatic decline. ” • It’s hard to imagine a worse metaphor for an airborne disease than “choose your own adventure.” Everybody in the adventure is breathing the same air!

“Corona virus is a concern, but flu takes more lives” [Leana Wen, Baltimore Sun]. • From 2020. Wen is suddenly all over everything, shilling for the Urgency of Normal, etc. It’s exactly like Iraq: Everyone who was right is marginalized; everybody who was wrong was promoted.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Ukraine Crisis: Handle With Care” [Peggy Noonan]. Noonan was active under Bush the Elder, on whose watch the Soviet Union collapsed. The final sentences: “The Soviet republics did break off and forge their own paths, and with Western help the nukes [in Ukraine] were deactivated and sent back to Russia, where they were dismantled. It was one of the great and still not sufficiently heralded moments of the Cold War, and it was done by a political class that was serious, and even took a chance on speaking seriously.” • Left unspoken: Today’s political class is not serious. (Notice she doesn’t say “The Biden Administration.” She says “the political class.”)

“The Millions Of People Stuck In Pandemic Limbo” [Ed Yong, The Atlantic]. The deck: “What does society owe immunocompromised people?” And the text: “illions of people like Landon are walking around with a compromised immune system. A significant proportion of them don’t respond to COVID vaccines, so despite being vaccinated, many are still unsure whether they’re actually protected—and some know that they aren’t. Much of the United States dropped COVID restrictions long ago; many more cities and states are now following. That means policies that protected Landon and other immunocompromised people, including mask mandates and vaccination requirements, are disappearing, while accommodations that benefited them, such as flexible working options, are being rolled back. This isn’t a small group. Close to 3 percent of U.S. adults take immunosuppressive drugs, either to treat cancers or autoimmune disorders or to stop their body from rejecting transplanted organs or stem cells. That makes at least 7 million immunocompromised people—a number that’s already larger than the populations of 36 states, without even including the millions more who have diseases that also hamper immunity, such as AIDS and at least 450 genetic disorders…. Over the past year, as many Americans reveled in their restored freedoms, many immunocompromised people felt theirs shrinking. When the CDC announced that fully vaccinated Americans no longer needed to mask indoors, simple activities such as grocery shopping became more dangerous for immunocompromised people, who were offered no advice from the nation’s top public-health agency. When Joe Biden said in a speech that unvaccinated Americans were “looking at a winter of severe illness and death,” “I felt like he was talking to me,” Cheung said. And when commentators bemoaned irrational liberals who refused to abandon pandemic restrictions, many of the people I spoke with felt they were being mocked for trying to protect themselves and their loved ones.” • “We” don’t “owe” them anything. What’s wrong with this guy?

Less caustically, I’m pleased to see pushback against “Let ‘er rip.” Yong isn’t the only one doing it. But the hegemonic narrative it is not.


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):

Guam, dammit! 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 have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci line to show that the death rate today is at the same level as it was during the first surge under the former guy. 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

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits increased by 23 thousand to 248 thousand in the week ended February 12th, compared with market expectations of 219 thousand. It was the first rise in 3 weeks with Missouri, Ohio and Kentucky contributing the most to the jump.”

Manufacturing: “United States Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index in the US decreased to 16 in February of 2022 from 23.2 in January and missing market expectations of 20. The survey’s current indicators for general activity, new orders, and shipments declined from last month’s readings but remained positive. The employment index rose, and the price indexes remained elevated. The future indexes continue to indicate that the firms expect growth over the next six months.”

Housing: “United States Housing Starts” [Trading Economics]. “Housing starts in the US fell 4.1% mom to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.638 million in January of 2022, well below forecasts of 1.7 million, and the lowest in 3 months. Pandemic-related labour shortages, high material costs and supply constraints persist, leading to lower houses available on the market and pushing prices up, even as builders ramp up production.”

* * *

Ukraine: Gold marches toward $1,900/oz as mounting Ukraine tensions lift demand” [Reuters]. “Gold jumped to an eight-month high on Thursday and was within striking distance of the key $1,900 an ounce mark after a Russian news report of mortar fire in eastern Ukraine drove investors toward safe-haven assets.”

Ukraine: “Wheat and corn prices ride the Ukrainian rollercoaster” [Economic Times]. “NEW YORK: The crisis between Ukraine and Russia, two of the world’s biggest wheat and corn producers, has sent the commodities’ prices on a wild ride — with anything from a diplomatic statement to rumor of a maritime blockade roiling markets. Usually much less volatile than stocks or oil, agricultural commodities are now often subject to spectacular spikes and drops. ‘The market doesn’t know nuance: Either it’s war and it goes up, or it’s peace and it goes down,’ said Gautier Le Molgat an analyst at Agritel. The grains’ markets turned around three times in less than 24 hours this week: First on the Russian foreign minister’s optimistic tone Monday, then on news of the United States relocating its Ukrainian embassy, and finally on Moscow’s claims of a military pullback.”

Ukraine: “Dow down nearly 400 points as Biden warns Russia invasion of Ukraine could come in next ‘several days’” [MarketWatch]. “U.S. stocks fell Thursday, as investors dealt with renewed fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine as the U.S. and its allies accused Moscow of continuing to build up troop levels. Markets were whipsawed by Ukraine-Russia headlines, with NATO accusing Moscow of misleading the world over troop withdrawals, saying that country had instead moved in about 7,000 additional soldiers, though Russia still claimed it was withdrawing troops. Also, Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine have accused government forces of opening fire on them. The U.S. and its allies have accused Russia of planning to use false reports of attacks on separatists as a pretext for an invasion. ‘This is likely to be the bigger concern for NATO and the U.S., if separatist forces* try and goad Ukrainian forces into a counter-response, thus creating an excuse for a Russian incursion, and for all hell to break loose,’ said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, in a note. ‘The bigger risk for markets is that President Putin simply leaves the bulk of his forces on the border and simply plays a game of cat and mouse for the next few weeks and months,’ Hewson said.” • So, Putin was in gold, The Blob was short, and everybody who was in grain has a very bad hangover? NOTE * I still insist that U.S. mercs and State Department-sponsored Azov battalion types are the most likely to stage a false flag operation, and the most likely to get photos/videos into the hands of the U.S. press.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 39 Fear (previous close: 41 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 37 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 17 at 1:22pm. Back to flirting with Neutral!

The Conservatory

“Award-winning death metal band turns out to be dishwasher full of old nails” [Beaverton]. “‘I just can’t believe it, man,’ said 33-year-old Jordan Cartwright, part-time microbiology lecturer and full-time Japanese sword collector. ‘Their lyrics have gotten me through some dark times. When they sing that one chorus that goes arrrRRRRghaakklkLLIIIIII rraa9o0qqq p;jhvRRRR ngaAAAArr5, that just really speaks to me. I always assumed I was hearing the sound of a kindred soul crying out against the indifference of a heartless universe, and not the sound of old carpet nails getting swished around in a dishwasher cutlery rack.'”

Photo Book

“The Weird and Wonderful Black Hole Photographs: Censored Images From America’s Great Depression” [Flashbak]. “We’ve featured many pictures from the US Farm Security Administration’s (FSA) ambitious project to document the lives of farming families during the 1930s…. Now we can show you what the censors didn’t want you to see: the black hole photographs. These pictures each contain an inky black disc of nothing. A black sun hangs with pendant menace and mystery. But they’re neither objects nor stains, rather punch holes made by Roy Stryker, director of the FSA’s documentary photograph program, and his team of editors. The holes marked pictures as unfit for purpose. But what was the purpose of the Government program if not to show it all? The holes have become additions, extra points of interest. Why were these images killed? What is it about each image we see here that caused the editors to act as censors? Looking at the holes in the sky, we might put on our tinfoil hats and look for conspiracy, supposing the images have been redacted to remove traces of flying objects. What is the man picking up from the grass? Why is another man’s face obliterated? Who is the missing face in the crowd? At the final count, around 100,000 images by photographers like Gordon Parks, Russell Lee and Marion Post Wolcott had been ‘killed’.” • Here’s one:

Rather post-modernist; I wonder what would happen if the technique were used without destructive intent.

Zeitgeist Watch

“‘We conclude’ or ‘I believe?’ Study finds rationality declined decades ago” [Phys.org]. “Analyzing language from millions of books, the researchers found that words associated with reasoning, such as ‘determine’ and ‘conclusion,’ rose systematically beginning in 1850, while words related to human experience such as ‘feel’ and ‘believe’ declined. This pattern has reversed over the past 40 years, paralleled by a shift from a collectivistic to an individualistic focus as reflected by the ratio of singular to plural pronouns such as ‘I’/’we.’ ‘Interpreting this synchronous sea-change in book language remains challenging,’ says co-author Johan Bollen of Indiana University. ‘However, as we show, the nature of this reversal occurs in fiction as well as non-fiction. Moreover, we observe the same pattern of change between sentiment and rationality flag words in New York Times articles, suggesting that it is not an artifact of the book corpora we analyzed.’ ‘Inferring the drivers of long-term patterns seen from 1850 until 1980 necessarily remains speculative,’ says lead author Marten Scheffer of WUR. ‘One possibility when it comes to the trends from 1850 to 1980 is that the rapid developments in science and technology and their socio-economic benefits drove a rise in status of the scientific approach, which gradually permeated culture, society, and its institutions ranging from the education to politics. As argued early on by Max Weber, this may have led to a process of ‘disenchantment’ as the role of spiritualism dwindled in modernized, bureaucratic, and secularized societies.” What precisely caused the observed reversal of the long-term trend around 1980 remains perhaps even more difficult to pinpoint. However, according to the authors there could be a connection to tensions arising from changes in economic policies since the early 1980s, which may have been defended on rational arguments but the benefits of which were not equally distributed.” • 1980… Neoliberalism? Handy chart:

“A Vibe Shift Is Coming Will any of us survive it?” [New York Magazine]. “A vibe shift is the catchy but sort of too-cool term Monahan uses for a relatively simple idea: In the culture, sometimes things change, and a once-dominant social wavelength starts to feel dated. Monahan, who is 35, breaks down the three vibe shifts he has survived and observed: Hipster/Indie Music (ca. 2003–9), or peak Arcade Fire, Bloc Party, high-waisted Cheap Mondays, Williamsburg, bespoke-cocktail bars; Post-Internet/Techno Revival (ca. 2010–16), or the Blood Orange era, normcore, dressing like The Matrix, Kinfolk the club, not Kinfolk the magazine; and Hypebeast/Woke (ca. 2016–20), or Drake at his Drakest, the Nike SNKRS app, sneaker flipping, virtue signaling, Donald Trump, protests not brunch. You can argue the accuracy of Monahan’s timeline or spend hours over dinner litigating the touch points of each vibe era — it’s kind of fun debating which trend was peaking when, or which was just for white people — but the thing that struck fear into Ellen’s heart was Monahan’s prediction that we were on the cusp of a new vibe shift. It is unnerving because when you really consider it, you can feel people flocking to a new thing. You can see that he’s right; something has shifted.” • Simultaneously fascinating and horrifying. What do readers think?

Guillotine Watch

“Billionaire Charlie Munger: Critics of the ultra-rich ‘motivated by envy'” [Yahoo News]. “Billionaire investor Charlie Munger on Wednesday acknowledged worldwide ‘tension’ over wealth inequality but said critics of the ultra-rich are ‘motivated by envy.’ ‘It is the nature of our species that we look around us at other people and are envious of them if they have more than we do,’ added Munger, the vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway. ‘That envy has always been a big problem.’ Munger, 98, made the remarks in an exclusive interview with Yahoo Finance’s Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer ahead of the annual shareholders meeting at the Daily Journal, where Munger serves as chairman.” • I am totally not envious of the squillionaires. They’re psychos. Who wants to be a psycho?

Surprised these aren’t on Etsy:

Class Warfare

The giggiest gig work of all:

And truly international?

“‘My students never knew’: the lecturer who lived in a tent” [Guardian]. “Like many PhD students, Aimée Lê needed her hourly paid job – as an English lecturer – to stay afloat. But what her students never guessed was that for two years while she taught them she was living in a tent. Lê decided to live outside as a last resort when she was faced with a steep rent increase in the third year of her PhD at Royal Holloway, University of London, and realised she would not be able to afford a flat and cover all her costs on her research and teaching income. She recalls: ‘It was cold. It was a small one-person tent, which meant after a bit it did get warmer. But there were days when I remember waking up and my tent was in a circle of snow. When I wasn’t doing my PhD or other work I was learning how to chop wood or start a fire.’ She stored her books in the postgraduate office so they wouldn’t be damaged, and showered at university. She ‘didn’t quite tell her’ parents, saying to them that she was staying on an ecological farm so as not to worry them. Nor did she tell her university, which insisted this week that the welfare of all its students was paramount and that it encouraged anyone struggling to reach out for support. Lê says she led a double life, fearful that it might damage her professional reputation if people knew she was homeless.”

News of the Wired

“After disastrous performance, Kamila Valieva falls to fourth, Russian teammate wins gold” [USA Today]. • And no wonder. Valieva was a child, fifteen years old. The Olympics should really optimize the events for adult bodies. Same with gymastics, which also has a repellent factory farm system, rife with abuse.

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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 (IM):

IM writes: “Some fall foliage. I often photograph this tree. It looks like it is trying to join the sky in this one…my 5 year old daughter loaded the film and it was not wound completely tight, so the white at the top is fog from light leak, but I don’t mind it!” I too return to the same sites again and again. And the light leak does work.

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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. NotTimothyGeithner

    Re: Biden’s empathy

    Since Biden is fond of pointing out how great capitalism is, his handlers should remember the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition. One says “dignity and empty sack is worth a sack.” Obama pitched “hope and change”. Biden is just a continuation of that promise. In these kinds of cycles, bs promises work once, but if you don’t produce in the mean time, promises don’t work again.

    Where is my public option? I know its a scam, but they won’t even say it anymore.

      1. Synoia

        His best political asset and weapon against Americans’ angst: empathy.

        Really. Empathy from the Student Loan system Czar?

        A rock has more empathy.

        1. Skippy

          “A rock has more empathy.”

          As it should as an inanimate object where as noted in some studies that orthodox economics diminishes it at Uni- age and not to overlook people with high IQ tend to suffer low EQ so its a two’fer …

        2. fjallstrom

          In Biden’s own words:

          “So the younger generation now tells me how tough things are. Give me a break!”

          *laughter from audience*

          “No! No! I have no empathy for [inaudible]. Give me a break.”

          If I link any of the many videos featuring this clip I fear my comment will be swallowed by the machine gods. But if you search for videos of Biden and “I have no empathy” you can find many versions.

          Is this the flipped version of attacking your enemy at their strong point, claim you are defined by what you have literally said lack?

          1. Guild Navigator

            Brilliant “Kenny Powers”-like strategem. Mental note taken! I shall have to try that one on my wife!

    1. Carla

      Here’s your f–ing public option, NTG —


      Not content with denying healthcare to all Americans, Biden is following a Trump administration plan to utterly crapify and privatize the last vestige of hope: traditional Medicare for All.

      I have never been so relieved and glad about not voting for someone as Joe Biden continues to make me every day. Starting with Clinton, each Democrat president has disgusted me more than the last. I guess I should be relieved at the prospect of no more Democrat presidents, and no more pretense of democracy — but I’m not.

  2. griffen

    Come on, man, do you really still want that check!?! In the short run I remain a bit of a skeptic that our fine fellows in DC can turn the tide of inflation to begin a reversion. He could attempt to channel the old boss, #44, and just open the spigot on oil and shale exploration?

  3. Carolinian

    The still-evolving plan, according to administration officials, is for Biden to stress that he understands the economic pain many Americans are experiencing, particularly because of inflation

    So will he say “I feel your pain”? (c) Bill Clinton

    1. Margo

      So, is he going to cancel the sanctions against Venezuelan and Iranian crude oil being imported into the U.S. to help lower gas prices? Also,
      Grabbin’ Newsom raised gas taxes multiple times and is set to do it again July 1st in California.

      “According to the American Petroleum Institute, California drivers already paid the highest total gas taxes in the nation, ahead of second-place Pennsylvania at 77.1 cents per gallon. This latest gas tax increase will only solidify a number 1 ranking that no one should be proud of.”

      Meanwhile, the state is sitting on a 36 billion dollar surplus that is being doled out to pet ballot-harvesting projects and forcing the construction of hundreds of thousands of houses through grant money to reward the construction industry and labor unions, the biggest political donors.

      1. cpm

        He’s President Pop Pop.

        The vaguely affable old guy who loves you, but it’s hard to tell cause of his know-it-all attitude and his hostility when questioned.
        Just listen to his stories and shut up.

        That’s your Pop Pop.
        And you have to love him, just stay out of his lap.

  4. Samuel Conner

    > It’s hard to imagine a worse metaphor for an airborne disease than “choose your own adventure.”

    Perhaps the person who wrote “adventure” was channeling Dumbledore after Harry’s death at the hands of Voldemort. Death is just the next adventure.

  5. LadyXoc

    When is the SEC going to sanction the Biden Admin for stock manipulaton vis a vis the steady Ukraine War drumbeat? Ruh-roh, threat’s on (market tanks). Ah, invasion averted (stocks go up). In addition to my suspicion that the whole US foreign policy mess regarding Ukraine/Russia is being driven by US gas/oil interests in bed with the NatSec apparatus, both of whom oppose Nordstream2 for different reasons.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Its an alliance of two panicking heads of state. They might be cannibalizing the bones of past plots, but this is driven by the certainty of Biden’s single term and Bojo being replaced.

      Biden and the White House are desperate for a win, and they haven’t thought out anything. Miley said publicly China’s support of Russia has caught them by surprise. Its forever 1995 in their world.

      1. The Rev Kev

        ‘Miley said publicly China’s support of Russia has caught them by surprise.’

        That was a weird one. You had major politicians demanding that China line up with the west and attack Russia and Pentagon press secretary John Kirby was freaking out about this a coupla days ago. Did they seriously think that China was going to do this? Why would they when they now that they are next? The Pentagon must still have some of the good stuff that they brought back from Afghanistan and are still getting high on it.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I figure its a mix of the gerontocracy in DC and the go along to get along culture at the Pentagon. Culturally, they are stuck in the mid-90’s. Then there is a heaping pile of orientalism. The idea Moscow and Beijing aren’t jumping at Washington edicts is producing a full on meltdown.

        2. K.k

          They are tapping into the national strategic stockpiles for a seemingly endless supply of hubris.
          Hopefully they wont OD and get the rest of us killed.

        1. ambrit

          I’m waiting for a US Coast Guard Patrol Boat to be ‘mysteriously’ sunk off of the harbour at Odessa. {If Odessa, Tejas, has a harbour, it will be news to me.}
          “Remember the ‘Maui!'”
          E-mail from Wolf Blitzer in Odessa to Jason Kilar in New York: “Nothing happening here. Send me somewhere that’s ‘happening.'”
          Kilar to Blitzer: “Stay there. You supply the video. I’ll supply the war.”

  6. madarka

    Update on Dominican Republic: The president announced last night the removal of all remaining public health measures against covid. No more mask mandates indoors, no capacity limits for events, no need to present proof of vaccination (this last was hardly enforced anyway), no mandatory booster. Vaccination here is mediocre by world standards, but the IFR is less than 1% and dropping steadily amid the waning Omicron wave. No data on long covid is available. Anecdotally, I know people who’ve had 2 or 3 bouts with covid, all of them with seemingly no long term effects so far; but all of them young, in their 30s.

    We shall find out what we’ve sown soon enough.

  7. Tom Stone

    That Jennifer Rubin quote from WaPo….
    hagiographic analingus .
    Never seen it done better, not even at the NY Times.

    1. ChrisPacific

      Wow. I was expecting to see some kind of evidence presented in the article in support of the headline. Eventually (more than halfway through) it showed up. Imagine my surprise to find the metrics were all economic! Apparently Biden is ‘winning the war’ against Covid because unemployment is down and retail sales are up. Not a public health metric to be seen, apart from an offhand mention of the deaths (almost a million of them).

      1. The Rev Kev

        Trump did the same. He never cared about the rising death toll at all except how it made him look bad. His metric for success was how well the stock market was doing, even though the stock market and the American economy had by then become disengaged from each other. And Trump paid for that mistake at the polls.

        Anyway this article was by Jennifer Rubin who describes herself as “a Pat Moynihan Democrat, a Scoop Jackson Democrat, an Andrew Cuomo Democrat. I’m not a Bernie Sanders Democrat”


        1. ambrit

          Mz. Rubin classes herself up there with Pat Moynihan and Scoop Jackson? The kindest explanation for that is that she suffers from Delusional Thinking Syndrome.

      2. Jason Boxman

        It’s not much consolation, but these boosters are probably going to get theirs, eventually, by aggressively encouraging a return to normal. Perhaps opinions will change once enough of these people suffer from long-COVID? Unfortunately many innocents will suffer grievously in the meanwhile.

        Elimination continues to be the only viable approach.

  8. Swamp Yankee

    Yes, the vibe is definitely shifting. My fellow history prof friend and I agree (both of us are 39).

    It’s hard to exactly put your finger on it, but, we have both resorted to calling it Roaring 20s 2.0, and the attitude towards sexuality among the youth does have a bit of the flappers-scandalizing-their-Victorian-elders feel to it.

    Standards of intimacy have changed in quite dramatic ways — when they are in unguarded moments, like when another colleague does his open mic night for the students, you pick up things that are pretty surprising. It seems to me that “making out”/open-mouth kissing has become more intimate again, but oral sex is now considered _less_ intimate (note — I do not know this from experience, only through hearsay — not that kind of professor!).

    Their music is also strange, Rock n’ Roll does not really exist for them even the way it did for us in the 2000s, the Indie era the article above points to. It’s mostly just over-produced auto-tuned and with an extremely low vocal range, I assume because “singers” are now primarily dancers and moving picture stars (again, Roaring 20s 2.0).

    Factors producing this — The Internet, first and foremost. They are terrified of making phone calls, won’t order food if they cannot do it online. Their dating, sexual life, social life, is mostly on their phones. Many try to write papers on their phones.

    Another, concommitant factor, cf. also the “believe” vs. “conclude” article. Super Hero/Comic Book movies. It may have been Lambert or someone in the commentariat on here who said they occupy the place Westerns used to, and that is true, but a key difference is that, as fanciful as a John Wayne Western was, it still took place in a world bounded by the laws of physics (mostly).

    Superhero movies (Scorsese thinks they should be thought of as more like video games than cinema, and I agree — “Boardwalk Empire” is more a movie than “Avengers XYZ: The Avengering,” even if the latter is released in theaters and the former is not), by contrast, explicitly involve magical inexplicable powers, powers that can be used as a deus ex machina to get the writers out of any plot holes they’ve dug themselves, which makes for a lousy movie if you aren’t into all the computerized action sequences (themselves made for non-Anglophone audiences, increasingly).

    Indeed, I see Superhero movies as part of the larger Flight From Reason we see in all aspects of American and indeed world life right now, from MAGA weirdoes to postmodernist Foucault-spouting academics.

    It feels like the Age of Reason ended around the year 2000 to me.

    1. johnherbiehancock

      I concur with the “Flight From Reason” … the link above about the decline of “rationality words” appearing in print vs. the increase in “intuition” words aligns with my own experience. A lot of people I interact with have seemingly lost the ability to think coherently or rationally. And in particular, the loss of respect or common sense about WHO to listen to.

      The number of people I know – many with post-graduate degrees, for what that’s worth – who’s first impulse when “researching” something is to go watch a Youtube video is horrifying. And I’m not talking about advice on how to fix a leaky faucet… like their first impulse if they’re sick, or their kids are sick is to go watch a youtube video, instead of going to the doctor.

      And even some who come off as competent professionally, when I hear about what they do in their private time, I’m shocked that it’s things like “my husband and I just put all our savings in Dogecoin” or the amount of truly frivolous travel people blow their money on. I just can’t wrap my head around some of it. Like people are spending $1,000’s on flights and hotels, presumably much of that charged on credit, just to go get drunk and binge eat in some foreign country.

      I don’t know when it started to get this noticeably bad; I’m not that old (early 40’s). I wouldn’t agree that the Age Of Reason didn’t end in 2000, that was certainly the beginning of the end.

      At least politically, George W. Bush’ presidency, both how it started and the “War on Terror” turned the idea of what it meant to be conservative on its side. When Obama normalized everything liberals had spent 2001-2009 squaking about over the first couple years of his 1st term, it was troubling to me, but I chalked it up to him still feeling pressure to win a second term. I guess after 2012 is when the Age of Reason really and truly died for me.

      Another trend I’m seeing around here (SE Texas), which maybe goes hand-in-hand with the “Flight from Reason” is more extreme & frequent road rage shootings. It’s perhaps predictable that it mirrors the increase in gun ownership during the pandemic, but what’s shocking is the lack of any concern from authorities. It seems not a week goes by without a road-rage murder – unsolved – getting mentioned in the news.

      1. jr

        One quibble: intuition is an abused word. Forgive the onanism but I am extremely intuitive. Not the “theatre majors failing physics courses” or the “if you think it, it’s real” fuzzy woo-woo kinds but the kind that can instantly recognize and manipulate certain patterns. It’s a thing!

        1. Jeff W

          “…the kind that can instantly recognize and manipulate certain patterns.”

          That’s an important point. All “intuition” means is that the person hasn’t—or maybe can’t—analyze those factors that have given rise to the intuition in such a way that he or she can verbalize them. (Almost all of language learning by native speakers is, in that sense, “intuitive.”) There’s nothing “woo-woo” about it.

        2. ChrisPacific

          Yes, ‘intuition’ for a mathematician means it feels right. If it feels right then you should be able to prove it, and if you follow the feeling it will usually guide you in the right direction to said proof (at which point you’ve moved from ‘feels right’ to ‘provably right.’)

          Once in a while you’ll get the opposite result and end up proving it wrong, in which case the conclusion is that your feeling was wrong as well and needs to be recalibrated. Often this will come down to some mistaken assumption or point of logic, which you then need to understand to the extent that you ‘feel’ it and it informs your intuition for future cases. When done right, this improves both your intuition and your logical reasoning in the long run.

      2. Swamp Yankee

        I agree fully regarding road rage, though here in SE Massachusetts, the number of guns are no doubt lower. But the level of road rage insanity is genuinely disturbing.

        A lot of it I attribute to three factors: a) the loss of any agency whatsoever in most areas of their lives has left contemporary Americans eager to exercise it in one of the last places it exists, the road; b) the rise since 1980 of what, to borrow from Solzhenitsyn, you might call “savage” or “wild” individualism/capitalism; and c) a shift in notions of masculinity. A sense of restraint and old fashioned chivalric Gary Cooper noblesse oblige, while no doubt infuriating for people struggling against a very real patriarchy, is very different than the aggressive petulance and scowling truck-guy face you see now coded as “masculine.” In ages past, it would simply have been childish.

        Either way, these angry people, not exclusively men, are doing things like riding the a– of little old ladies in 1987 Volvos, hitting handicapped pedestrians, and all sorts of anti-social things, to little official response.

        Also, smart [sic] phones are causing unheard of rates of pedestrian death increases.

        1. grayslady

          a) the loss of any agency whatsoever in most areas of their lives has left contemporary Americans eager to exercise it in one of the last places it exists, the road;

          Interesting. A black girlfriend of mine once used almost exactly these same words to explain why black men drove so irresponsibly, in her opinion. Driving was the only activity in which they felt in control.

      3. Jeff W

        “… the decline of “rationality words” appearing in print vs. the increase in “intuition” words…”

        I’m not so sure I buy the premise of the study. Rather than viewing words such as think and believe as “intuition words”—and, therefore, being somehow opposed to “rationality words”—we could just as easily think of them as being “provisional” and, therefore, open to revision—which might reflect some sort of trend toward using language that creates supportive rather than defensive climates (which would probably be a good thing).

        That doesn’t mean that I think that there hasn’t been a decline in rationality over the decades, just that I’m not so sure that that particular corpus of “intuitive words” (or at least some of them) is a valid measure of it.

    2. XXYY

      I’m no fan of superhero movies, but if anything their dominance seems to be driven by changes in the movie industry itself as much as anything. Screenwriters now will tell you that it’s impossible to get a script green-lighted unless there is some other copyrighted property the script is based on. A book, a comic, a video game, some other previous movie or TV show, or something else that existed prior to the script. Original scripts are almost impossible to sell as features right now.

      One writer I know explains it by saying that the marketing department has taken over script approval, whereas in previous decades script approval was delegated to people who actually made movies.

      (OTOH, there are voracious new streaming companies that are beginning to produce their own material, in vast and almost incomprehensible numbers. I think this has its own problems since there are just not that many good writers and showrunners in the world, and especially in the Los Angeles area, and the quality of new material seems to be down precipitously.)

      1. Anthony G Stegman

        I nearly cancelled my Netflix subscription due to a dearth of decent programming there. I held back in order to watch “Emily In Paris” which I found to be delightful. Unless Netflix can provide more gems I may well cancel. Too much junk; everywhere in our lives.

        1. Michael Ismoe

          I cancelled my Netflix subscription when they gave the Obamas their sweetheart deal. I’ve given enough to the Obama Retirement and Land Speculation Company.

        2. clarky90

          MR. JONES – Official North American Trailer


          “Mr. Jones should be required viewing for every American. It’s a gripping historical thriller that tells the story of Stalin’s Soviet Union man-made famine, also known as the Holodomor. This is through the lens of Gareth Jones, a Welsh journalist who traveled to Ukraine to see it for himself and then was the first to report it under his real name and without equivocation. Estimates vary between 3 to 12 million were killed in the span of two years. The film should also remind us of how the Moscow editor of one of our own newspapers (The New York Times) covered it up.”

          This film is on Netflix.

      2. Basil Pesto

        One writer I know explains it by saying that the marketing department has taken over script approval, whereas in previous decades script approval was delegated to people who actually made movies.

        But then, why were there so, so, so, so, so, so many bad movies made on a reliably constant basis every decade before the 2010s, and now the 2020s (where it’s still happening)?

        (So many good movies were also made in all those decades, obviously)

    3. johnherbiehancock

      Another “vibe” shift that seems to have more staying power, but is (hopefully?) starting to die off, is the annoying “Foodie-ism” & frequent dining out, for lack of a better term.

      I recall around circa 2005?-2006? a rise in people I know – typically mediocre Gen Xers or older Millenials that either never “launched” or didn’t have the work ethic to make it in a corporate or small business grind – a sudden obsession with food, food trends, and eating out that seemed to take priority in their lives. I had a girlfriend around this time (late 00’s) that didn’t work out b/c she expected me to take her out to dinner whenever we went out, and it had to be somewhere she “wanted to try,” i.e. it had to be trendy with her friends in the industry (she quit her day job as an journal editor to go work as a prep-cook for a local farm-to-table restaurant/deli.)

      I also recall a lot of extremely pretentious dinners with her friends/colleagues where we all had to share our plates with eachother, because these wannabe Anthony Bourdains needed to try everything on the menu.

      I like food as much as anyone else, but the wastefulness and greed of the foodie crowd always seemed very WRONG to me, and I imagined, would be a painful memory in any potential future scenario where food was more expensive and less varied due to climate change, or breakdowns in international farming and trade.

      And the cost of this trend of more frequent eating out is insane too… I wondered how they afforded it. I remember googling that particular ex-girlfriend years later, and found out she had declared bankruptcy and moved back home to live with her parents in the mid 2010’s. Ooops.

      1. jr

        “Foodies” are despised in the culinary arts. They know everything about food except how to make it. The kind of idiot who asks you what you are making in order to launch a conversation about their trip to Italy last year…

      2. polar donkey

        I once read an article, probably here, about celebrity chefs and foodie behavior in ancient Rome. Coincided with decadence and decline in the civilization.

      3. clarky90

        I rarely eat out. When I cook food myself, I know what is in it.

        I drive to my local natural spring to collect water. I use extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil or beef drippings.

        The water in a restaurant’s soup, tea, coffee…… is out of the tap. Guess which oil is used in prepared meals? (soya, rape, corn…)

        How can one make food more delicious? And win cooking competitions? Get gold stars etc etc?

        Hmmmmm? What do the pros do? Follow KFC, McDonalds, Pizza Hut ….. And then spinkle gold flakes and drizzel truffle oil ……. (sugar + salt + cheap oil).
        Hey presto …… The dining room is packed tonight, again!

      4. Swamp Yankee

        We have had many similar experiences! It’s funny how this blog attracts birds of a certain feather…. And yes, foodies of a particular type (thinking like, Nate Silver and Yglesias here) were and are unbearable.

    4. Phil in KC

      Vibe change–I think we used to call it “zeitgeist,” spirit of the time” being the literal translation.

      What I notice–along with others, to be certain–is the disenchantment the young have with the capitalist system. In the immediate postwar period, in the US capitalism produced far more winners than losers. Sometime in the late 70’s this started to change, so that by now, many young adults (and some not-so-young) are quite angry, or dispirited, or just utterly depressed by the economic and social traps that immiserate them.

      In this regard, I heard someone recently say something very smart and pertinent: she was not a capitalist because capitalists don’t have to work to get money, their money works instead for them. The belief in the old system is crashing, but no one can quite envision what comes next.

  9. johnherbiehancock

    Re: Community transmission of COVID and # of cases

    What does “community transmission” measure if it’s still “High” but the number of new cases is plummeting? I see on the CDC’s site, there’s a link that’s headed “How is Community Transmission Calculated,” but it’s not very informative.

    If community transmission is high, but the number of new cases is dropping, is high community transmission a meaningful concern?

    1. curlydan

      I would say it’s a concern. According to the CDC, if 0.1%+ of the residents in a county gets COVID in the last 7 days (or 100+ out of 100,000K residents), they consider that high transmission regardless of the trends. I would think high transmission is harder to stop–people are still going to be spreading it around (esp with R0 possibly between 3 to 4 for Omicron) and contact tracing (hope springs eternal) is more problematic.

      Interestingly, low transmission is 0.01% or less for the CDC–or roughly 30K cases for the U.S. in a week. Wow, I would love that! But it’s probably impossible for the U.S. given our vax only strategy.

  10. drumlin woodchuckles

    ” Jory Micah, MA Biblical Studies
    Sometimes I think our government is intentionally trying to kill us off. ”

    ” Sometimes” . . . ? Well, you’re making progress.

    1. antidlc

      3,083 American Covid deaths yesterday.

      The pandemic’s over, you know.

      From ““The Millions Of People Stuck In Pandemic Limbo” :
      “That makes at least 7 million immunocompromised people—a number that’s already larger than the populations of 36 states, without even including the millions more who have diseases that also hamper immunity, such as AIDS and at least 450 genetic disorders.”

      And the people running the pandemic response are perfectly fine with throwing 7 million people under the bus.

      My. God.

      Someone, PLEASE, PLEASE, wake me up from this nightmare.

      1. Basil Pesto

        It’s seriously messed up – the apathy, the learned helplessness.

        and in the face of a genuine, universal moral crisis, the once voluble wokesters are nowhere to be found. Those brunches won’t eat themselves.

      2. skippy

        Got to knock off the deadwood built up from decades of negative externalities of corporatism before the sucking sound effects the stock market …

      3. Daryl

        > “That makes at least 7 million immunocompromised people—a number that’s already larger than the populations of 36 states, without even including the millions more who have diseases that also hamper immunity, such as AIDS and at least 450 genetic disorders.”

        Not to mention that number is probably growing faster than it has before with the poorly understood but most surely negative impacts of covid on the immune system.

      4. Juneau

        One word keeps coming to mind when I see this discussion, and given that I have a concentration camp survivor in my family, I hope I don’t offend anyone using it. The appropriation is meant to illustrate a concept only. The word is “Ubermenschen”. Some of the unafflicted, who take pride in luck, who want to spend our tax dollars some other way, are the new Ubermenschen. They feel superior and want the weak out of the way. I am stating the obvious here and I know it is not a new idea but no one is using the word (understandably). But it makes clear the consequences of that kind of thinking. My heart hurts for those being abandoned by this system.

  11. drumlin woodchuckles

    ” NOTE * I still insist that U.S. mercs and State Department-sponsored Azov battalion types are the most likely to stage a false flag operation, and the most likely to get photos/videos into the hands of the U.S. press. ”

    Yes. And they will try to disguise themselves as ” Russians badly disguised as Ukrainians”. It will be a double-reverse false flag operation.

    Remember when liberal opinion-staters used to tell us that whenever Gingrich or whomever accused the Democrats of doing something or planning to do something, that he was projecting his own present or planned behavior onto them with scientific accuracy? That Gingrich or whomever accusing the Democrats of something was proof of Gingrich doing or planning to do that very thing?

    Well, I think the same logic can be applied to the DC FedRegime and its NATO co-conspirators. Their constant talk of an impending Russian false-flag attack on Russian forces or interests is strong evidence that the DC FedRegime and/or its NATO co-conspirators is planning or has already planned in specific and operational detail a double-reverse false-flag attack on Russian forces or interests in or near Ukraine.

    Whenever anti-americanitic intellectuals whine about American hegemony and America’s “European lapdogs”, I would suggest remembering commenter Vlade’s comment about how Clinton was reluctant to expand NATO eastward and it took personal lobbying from the Sainted Vaclav Havel to convince Clinton to accept the (only?) East European desire to drive that expansion. I think Americans should view NATO as being a Euro-Brittanic conspiracy against America. I am no longer impressed by anti-Americanitic intellectuals who say “America” drives NATO forward.

  12. Anthony G Stegman

    Is the true COVID impact on society being suppressed? On the one hand we are all being told by the authorities (self appointed and otherwise) that case counts are down, deaths are down, hospitalizations are down. At the same time, at least here on NC, we are warned nearly daily about the horrors of reinfection, decreasing efficacies of vaccines, long COVID, and the like. How can good news + bad news = good news? It seems to me that this pandemic is akin to a long and dangerous mountain ascent. We may yet reach the summit, but there are still lots of challenges ahead. This is not the current narrative, unfortunately. Just lots of happy talk lately.

    1. Skip Intro

      Good metaphor, since it evokes not only a shroud of clouds, but also a false summit or two. I think it is very likely that the marks on society will mirror the effects of long covid on bodies, with long-term circulatory, cognitive, and nervous system impairment. In addition, we already have evidence that nominal public health agencies are pursuing mistaken and counterproductive strategies, analogous to the auto-immune over-response triggered in bodies. The happy talk may be a cognitive symptom or a counterproductive health measure.

  13. Tom Stone

    The pandemic is officially over in California.
    California is the first State in this great Nation to formally adopt an “Endemic Policy”, blessed by our beloved Governor Gavin Newsome.
    This policy is designed to improve community wide immunity to Covid-19.


    1. ambrit

      Very similar to the ‘Pol Pot System of Democratic Governance.’ With similar results demographically I might add.

    2. LifelongLib

      A few comments here have noted earlier attempts to develop vaccines against the common cold (also caused by corona viruses) which had similar outcomes to what we’re seeing now with covid — immunity fades after a few months. Getting a cold doesn’t confer lasting immunity either. Are there reasons to expect this will change?

    1. Pat

      And look at the options in the suggested similar items.

      It almost makes me want to pierce my ears again. Only thing holding me back is no one seems to be offering changeable bottom charms. I would want to be able to select daily from among our many public figures who deserve an appointment with the bloody blade.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “The Weird and Wonderful Black Hole Photographs: Censored Images From America’s Great Depression”

    Looking at those old photographs, a lot of them could be digitally restored but why would you punch holes through the negatives rather than a sample piece? You could have had a stamp made up saying ‘Rejected’ and used that on sample photograph. But here is the Wiki article on the guy responsible for doing this-


    But can you imagine if he had access to Dorothy Lange’s 1936 photograph ‘Migrant Mother’?


    1. griffen

      Those were some fairly depressing images, especially the family photos in front of their home or the migrant worker photos near Fort Bragg. One had a marking that “kids had few toys”. Well yeah, if the family had little money or income sources available. The black punch hole was a pretty weird practice to reject the photographer’s work.

      I’ve got a decent collection of family photos in black and white, early to mid 1930s when mom & her sister were small. Military brats as the photo location varied from CA to the east coast.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “After disastrous performance, Kamila Valieva falls to fourth, Russian teammate wins gold”

    Unfortunately the 2022 Winter Olympics is going to remembered as the one where a young 15 year-old girl was deliberately sabotaged for geopolitical purposes and it won’t be just the Russians saying this. Who knows what performances she might have turned in without this staged controversy? The whole thing was just disgusting. This week, U.S. sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson tweeted that the only difference between her not being allowed to compete in the Olympics last summer after a positive drug test and Valieva’s clearance to compete now is that “I’m a black young lady.”


    1. Tom Doak

      Agree 100%. If she had been an American teenager in a local event her treatment would be considered child abuse. What I want to know is why Simone Biles didn’t rush to her defense.

    1. Aumua

      I mean it’s pretty much every president, every year that it gets bigger. But sure, vote blue I guess. It hardly matters at this point.

  16. Carolinian

    FYI masks. Today I went to Walmart and they are giving their government issued N95 masks away at the entrance way (where the checker guy/gal sits) rather than the pharmacy. These are different from the Honeywell masks I got the other day and are 3M (inventor of n95) made with a horizontal fold flat design, around the head straps, wired foam strip to make snug at the nose. Unlike the Honeywell these didn’t fog eyeglasses on this humid morning. I got three more to go with those already acquired so I could give some to my brother and you are allowed to do that. Seems the government just wants to get the millions of masks they bought out to the public.

    1. Clark

      Replying to Carolinian @ 7:38 pm: Wow! Your description of these free masks are consistent with the 3M “Aura” brand masks that I scooped up about a month ago from area building-supply stores. You’ve confirmed my n=1 view; they are the only respirators I’ve found that didn’t fog my glasses. …

    1. Thistlebreath

      Usually last day on set, one of us wears a guillotine earring, that has a thoughtful and tasteful addition of a tiny dab of red nail polish and a nicely wrought tiny head. Since it’s wrap time, no fear and loathing from the spuds in charge. Just a few jittery side glances. They know.

  17. Senator-Elect

    A report from a professor who has been on the ground in Ottawa.

    Some of the comments on the protests here at NC have been off base. Locals are also stunned by the inaccuracy of recent commentary on the subject by the NYTimes and Economist. One interesting point is how close these events are happening to the House of Commons and the Senate of Canada–literally a stone’s throw away and just outside the doors, respectively. All the more reason that the lack of police action has been surreal.

    In addition, more than 20,000 people are living (or trying to) in the midst of the protests. Many have moved out of their homes to escape the chaos. I don’t think there’s a government or citizenry on earth that would put up with such protests for as long as they have.

    As of now, arrests of some of the key organizers have been made, and the area has been sealed by police checkpoints. Hopefully this can end without too much violence.

    1. eg

      Yeah, I think Lambert’s bit on the “misleadership” of the convoy crowd was excellent, but many of the comments have been less than convincing where the legitimacy of the protests are concerned.

    2. Brian Beijer

      ” I don’t think there’s a government or citizenry on earth that would put up with such protests for as long as they have.”

      You do realize there was another option that Trudeau had on the table, right? He could have listened to the protesters, and science for that matter, and decided to compromise on some of his mandates. Why is it that Canadian commenters on NC have focused on the inconveniences of the protest instead of examining why these people are protesting in the first place. Yes, one might say that some of their positions are “wrong-headed”, but even someone like Trump raises some very valid points on occasion. For example, why mandate a vaccine that doesn’t prevent the spread of Covid? Why mandate a vaccine for even those who have already been infected with Covid? The latest research from the CDC examining the “immunity” of the unvaccinated in California and New York and who have been previously infected show that it provides better protection than the vaccine alone. I’m not arguing that this provides real immunity, only that it seems to be better than the vaccine itself. Why doesn’t Trudeau use what scientific data is available about this and suggest a compromise? To me, Trudeau seems to be making an old-school, “strong man” argument, meaning the strongest man is always right. I don’t understand why Canadians are supporting this. They seem to be even more brain-washed about the pros of neo-liberalistic government than even Swedes are.

      1. Yves Smith

        To add, and here I fault their protestors and any allies in social media: why not propose targeted remedies?

        The quarantines are to protect Canadians (and on the other side, American) from trucker Covid cooties even though the vaccines don’t do that. But unvaccinated truckers can gander about Canada.

        Would it be feasible to have the truckers effectively quarantined while in the US? They have to stay in their trucks and come straight back. Pee in a bottle, wear diapers, I really don’t care what they do but don’t leave that damned truck and have anyone who goes near them (to have them sign docs, pay for fuel, bring food and water, remove trash) hazmatted up. Maybe they can get out but only if no one gets closer than 20 feet away.

        The details are above my pay grade but you get the gist.

  18. eg

    What Munger characterizes as “envy” I call 100,000 years of human evolution to address the free rider challenge among pack animals.

  19. Jason Boxman

    Senate Passes 3-Week Spending Bill, Averting Government Shutdown

    The bill, which now goes to President Biden’s desk, will give lawmakers until March 11 to finalize a deal on spending levels for the remainder of the fiscal year.

    So the war fervor has reached such a fevered pitch, I didn’t even realize we’re playing budget brinkmanship again. NY Times asleep at the wheel.


    1. griffen

      Film satire in real life, aka Mel Brooks and Harvey Korman in Blazing Saddles. They must protect their phony baloney jobs. Harumph, harumph!!

  20. griffen

    The article linked below is a recently reviewed write up of the Rivian truck offering. The company launched their shares through an IPO offering in the past 3 or 4 months, to much fanfare. With less fanfare, the stock price has been declining.

    In 2/17/22 Thursday’s Links and comments, an article discussed the EV charging station and subsequent need for repairing these charging stations. I caught a brief discussion of this truck on CNBC this morning, and the odd factoid about charging requirements with a full payload being towed.
    Apologies if I had missed this before.


    Any new vehicle enthusiasts might enjoy this. It is a really heavy truck with a healthy bit of horsepower.

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