2:00PM Water Cooler 4/20/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

This is Lyre Bird week at Naked Capitalism. Prepare yourselves for eighteen minutes of sonic splendor. (One of the calls sounds like a pinball machine!)

* * *


“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 hosts military chiefs as Ukraine crisis intensifies” [Retuers]. “President Joe Biden will convene top U.S. military leaders on Wednesday in an annual White House gathering that takes on special significance as the war in Ukraine enters a risky new phase and the United States plans more military aid…. The meeting comes amid questions about the future of NATO forces in Europe, including whether to install a permanent presence on the defense alliance’s eastern border with Russia.” • Commentary:

“Everybody’s mad at Biden” [Yahoo News]. “That’s how Biden now finds himself pursuing two incompatible goals: Promoting a transition to green energy while temporarily seeking more fossil fuels to help bring down prices today. What nobody seems to have foreseen is the changing business model in the oil and gas industry, where several years of terrible financial returns, combined with worldwide pressure to abandon fossil fuels, changed the whole equation of drilling. Lenders and investors now want higher returns in shorter periods of time, which means less money spent on new capacity and more returned via dividends and stock buybacks. From the perspective of green energy, this should be terrific news. When fossil fuels are more expensive, wind, solar and other renewables become more attractive as an alternative and investors have a stronger incentive to back development projects. When one group of producers in any industry declines to expand capacity, it’s a chance for competitors to grab market share. What Biden and other green-energy advocates can’t say is that high fossil-fuel costs could be the best way to speed the green-energy transition. Urban progressives who use public transportation might not care, but drivers in the suburbs and vast rural areas don’t want to hear it. Nobody ever told them they were going to bear an outsize share of the cost of transitioning to green energy. Nobody said there would even be a cost, period. Biden is now stuck trying to explain, and his poor approval ratings reveal it’s not going well.”

Making the airlines happy donors:

Watching with the sound down (wait for the close-up):

This is childish and unfair of me, but Harris’s facial expresssions…. Something about them doesn’t add up. Or this:

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.

* * *

Biden and his vanishing youth vote, a good rant:


“Democratic Party weighs banning its consultants from anti-union activity” [Politico]. “The Democratic Party is considering banning its army of consultants from engaging in anti-union activity following a report that one of its pollsters had helped Amazon combat organizing efforts, according to a document obtained by POLITICO. A union-drafted addendum to any contract between a Democratic Party political committee and a consultant would forbid the consultant — or any of its parents, subsidiaries or affiliates — from participating in an array of activities involving unions. That includes union-busting, aiding an employer in a labor dispute or lobbying against union-backed legislation. A spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee said it is in the process of reviewing the proposal. But union officials indicated it was a sure thing. ‘We appreciate the Democratic Party committees’ decision to amend their contract and RFP processes in light of reporting that GSG had been working for Amazon as they sought to defeat the recent organizing drive,’ AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler said in a statement.” • We’ll need to see the fine print. The Democratic strategists won’t want to give up a fat, succulent host an important revenue source.


* * *


(More on this incident.)

OR: “Big Pharma Ally Rep. Kurt Schrader Distorts His Record On Drug Prices” [HuffPo]. “In a 30-second TV advertisement filled with footage of adorable dogs, Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), a veterinarian and farmer, touts his work to lower prescription drug prices. Referring to the dogs, Schrader says, ‘I’m making a real difference for their owners too — taking on drug companies to lower insulin costs, making sure Medicare can negotiate lower drug prices, expanding Pell grants and career and technical education. And I’m leading the fight to get big money out of politics.’ But Schrader is not being completely honest about his record on prescription drug price policy. He played a key role in watering down Democrats’ efforts to rein in prescription drug prices. And while Schrader portrays himself as a critic of ‘big money in politics,’ Big Pharma has stepped in with major financial support for Schrader’s bid as he seeks to fend off progressive primary challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner in Oregon’s 5th Congressional District. Schrader’s sleight of hand reflects the enduring influence of the biopharmaceutical industry in the Democratic Party, and the difficulty in exposing the sometimes complex ways that politicians advance the industry’s interests.”

PA: “2022 Pennsylvania Senate Overview” [Cook Political Report]. “The open Pennsylvania Senate seat is Democrats’ best offensive opportunity on the midterm map. But given the headwinds they’re likely to face this November, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be an easy flip. Over the weekend, former President Trump threw a major wrench into the race when he endorsed celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz over former Bridgewater CEO David McCormick — a decision that earned the incredulity of even many MAGA loyalists with roughly a month until voters head to the polls. This is also the rare contest this cycle where both parties’ primaries on May 17 are competitive and will tell us a lot about the direction of each. However, on the Democratic side, recent polling has shown Lt. Gov. John Fetterman pulling away from U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta. That has Republicans grinning and some in-state Democrats grimacing. To Pennsylvania Democrats, some of those worries about Fetterman’s statewide electability in a challenging political year eased up after Trump chose to back Oz. The Republican primary field, however, remains more muddled, and the wealthy McCormick isn’t going to back off. It’s also no sure thing that Trump’s blessing can guarantee a primary victory. In a more neutral year, Pennsylvania is the type of place where Democrats should be able to make inroads. Four years after Trump carried the state by 0.7 points, Joe Biden won it by 1.2 points in 2020. But the state became ground zero for Trump’s unfounded claims that the election had been stolen from him. That posturing may play well in a Republican primary, but it’s risky in a general election. Nonetheless, polling clearly shows it’s the economy, inflation, crime and other issues that are atop voters’ minds. And President Biden — a proud Scranton native — has seen his approval rate crater in his home state. That gives Republicans more optimism that they can hold onto this vacant seat than they had back when incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey announced he wouldn’t run again. ”

PA: It’s 4/20!

PA: “John Fetterman Is Just a Dude” [Bulwark]. “Back to that picture up top. Standing with his arms crossed like a bored bouncer. The scowl. It points to what Fetterman isn’t: He isn’t a needy, blow-dried, grip-and-grinner. He isn’t on the make. He isn’t the kind of phony who turns on his TV smile in public or is playing a role as part of his quest for power. He’s just a dude who happens to be running for office.” • I’m not a Fetterman maven. I recall that the Pennsylvania regular Democrats hate him (maybe not so much this year), a point in his favor. And authenticity is a slippery concept (and may not even be important). But I’m quite taken with his Jesse Ventura-like affect. I think he would be inclined to take Hunter Thompson’s advice: “Don’t take any guff from these swine.”

Republican Funhouse

Because freedom isn’t free:

(To be fair, fundraising is an explicit requirement for committee chairs in both parties. Still, kudos to Brooks for saying the quiet part out loud.)


More on the CDC’s new Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analysis (CFA) (see Yves here). I went to their home page at CDC. First, you shouldn’t expect whatever it these people are going to do to improve your personal ability to assess risk, since you’ll probably never see the results:

Second, as advised, I went to the CFA’s “Who We Are” page. It turns out their operations director is a spook:

(In-Q-Tel is the CIA’s VC arm.) So I would imagine we’d see CFA heavily involved in “perceptions management,” which, to be fair, the CDC could certainly use some help with.

“CDC remains silent on unexplained 25 percent cut in child COVID-19 deaths” [WSWS]. “On March 16, 72,277 deaths, including 416 pediatric deaths, disappeared from the age demographics section of the COVID Data Tracker website run by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This resulted in the CDC’s official COVID-19 pediatric death count dropping by nearly 25 percent. No substantive explanation has been given by the agency for this drastic reduction of age-demographic data…. The major broadcast news and print publications, including the New York Times and the Washington Post, have not reported this development, nor have they reported on the rise in pediatric COVID-19 deaths during the Delta and Omicron waves. The handful of outlets that did report the changes to Data Tracker had also previously ignored the rising child death toll…. The agency’s lack of transparency falls in line with systematic efforts by the political establishment in the US and internationally to blind the population to the spread of COVID-19, while funding for essential surveillance and treatment programs runs dry, and the BA.2 subvariant of Omicron has initiated another surge of the pandemic across Europe and other parts of the world.”

* * *

If you missed it, here’s a post on my queasiiness with CDC numbers, especially case count, which I (still) consider most important, despite what Walensky’s psychos at CDC who invented “community levels” think. But these are the numbers we have.

* * *

Case count by United States regions:

Fiddling and diddling. Remember, it’s 100% certain the cases numbers are significantly understated. They’ve always been gamed, but it’s worse than before. One source said they though cases might be undercounted by a factor of six. Gottlieb thinks we only pick up one in seven or eight. Yikes. But how do we know? Here are the cases for the last four weeks:

NOTE I shall most certainly not be using the CDC’s new “Community Level” metric. Because CDC has combined a leading indicator (cases) with a lagging one (hospitalization) their new metric is a poor warning sign of a surge, and a poor way to assess personal risk. In addition, Covid is a disease you don’t want to get. Even if you are not hospitalized, you can suffer from Long Covid, vascular issues, and neurological issues. For these reasons, case counts — known to be underestimated, due to home test kits — deserve to stand alone as a number to be tracked, no matter how much the political operatives in CDC leadership would like to obfuscate it.

From the Walgreen’s positivity tracker:

I’m leaving the corporate logo on as a slap to the goons at CDC.

STILL NOT UPDATED MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

As usual, the crisis of the past is the normal of the present.

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 Biobot Analytics:

Cases lag wastewater data.

From CDC Community Profile Reports (PDFs), “Rapid Riser” counties:

The Northeast seems improved today, especially Massachusetts, though I’m super-unhappy that the only reliable source of case-adjacent data we have, MWRA’s wastewater, has done dark for six days. (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. This is the map CDC wants only hospitals to look at, not you:

The Northeast remains stubbornly and solidly red.

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

if anybody tells you hospitalization is down, tell them “No, it very isn’t,” as today’s chart shows even more emphatically than yesterday’s. (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.) Oh, and

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,016,159 1,015,790. We did it. Break out the Victory Gin. have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line. Numbers still going down, still democidally high.

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

Not sure what’s happening with Spain.

Stats Watch

Housing: “United States Existing Home Sales” [Trading Economics]. “Existing home sales in the US fell 2.7% mom to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 5.77 million in March of 2022, the lowest since June of 2020 and compared to forecasts of 5.8 million. It is the second consecutive month of falls in home sales as the housing market starts to feel the impact of rising mortgage rates and inflation on the purchasing power although median existing house price hit an all-time high of $375,300. Sales fell in the Northeast, South and Midwest but were unchanged in the South. The inventory of unsold existing homes increased to 950,000. That would support 2.0 months at the monthly sales pace.”

* * *

The Bezzle: “Shameful: Insteon looks dead—just like its users’ smart homes” [Ars Technica]. “The smart home company Insteon has vanished. The entire company seems to have abruptly shut down just before the weekend, breaking users’ cloud-dependent smart-home setups without warning. Users say the service has been down for three days now despite the company status page saying, “All Services Online.” The company forums are down, and no one is replying to users on social media. As Internet of Things reporter Stacey Higginbotham points out, high-ranking Insteon executives, including CEO Rob Lilleness, have scrubbed the company from their LinkedIn accounts. In the time it took to write this article, Lilleness also removed his name and picture from his LinkedIn profile. It seems like that is the most communication longtime Insteon customers are going to get.” • Never eat at a place called Mom’s; never buy a product called “smart.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 40 Fear (previous close: 44 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 46 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 20 at 1:35pm.

Zeitgeist Watch

“architensions takes to coachella to create a ‘playground’ installation in the desert” [DesignBoom]. “At this weekend’s opening of Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, eleven installations transformed the vast desert site into a playful new landscape. With the colossal pieces ranging from of sculpture to architecture, one work creates a colorful space of leisure and play — ‘The Playground’ was designed by the team at Architensions to merge the urban piazza with the vibrancy of Southern California….. At Coachella (see more here), Architensions builds each of The Playground’s four towers as a stack of geometric shapes. These block modules are playful and unique in their form and color, and are finished in a dichroic film in either cyan, magenta, or yellow. The bold hues bathe the surrounding area in color as the sun shines through them. Meanwhile, other modules are finished in a mirrored surface to festival-goers to interact with them. At night, these mirrored blocks glow with the light of the surrounding performances and activities of the event.” Here’s a photo of one of the towers:

I think those blue circular structures are benches. If so, the design team arranged for people to be able to sit but not in the shade. This, in a desert. Playful indeed!

“Should you charge friends to eat at your place? We investigate” [Los Angeles Times]. “It’s a question that comes up again and again despite being almost always summarily dismissed as not a good idea: Is it OK to charge your friends for dinner at your home? One of the latest examples involved Amber Nelson, an L.A.-based podcaster, who turned to Twitter to ask, ‘Got invited to someone’s place for dinner and they charged me for it….this is weird, right?’ Yes it is, and nearly 400,000 people on Twitter seemed to agree. As Nelson explained, she’d had a couple servings of penne alla vodka for which the bill was $20; predictably, the horrified responses ensued. (Even actor Kristen Schaal got in on it.) So did the choruses of ‘it happened to me’; ‘It peeves me when someone Venmos me $9 for a drink after I just bought a round,’ wrote one person. ‘Boss offered tacos. Later charged each of us $17. They weren’t even good tacos,’ added another. There were parties where guests had to cough up $5 to use the bathroom, or $400 just to attend. There was pizza at the “multimillion-dollar new home in the suburbs” for which the guest received a payment request. There was the baby shower planned by friends who later emailed the guest of honor a bill for the event; the BBQ given by wealthy pals who asked for money when the guest departed. In one disturbing incident, a friend was invited to another’s house and offered only water because she hadn’t brought her own alcohol; meanwhile, the friend who lived there made herself a Manhattan.” • Neoliberalism in decay. One hopes.

Class Warfare

“Silicon Valley’s COVID windfall raises alarms about region’s economy” [Mercury News]. “An unprecedented flow of riches is concentrating wealth among Silicon Valley companies that capitalized on the world’s locked-down lives amid the pandemic, raising fears that a dramatically lopsided recovery will warp the economic future for the Bay Area….. The massive influx of wealth into a handful of tech companies poses wider risks, said Institute for Policy Studies researcher [Omar] Ocampo. Median household wealth in the U.S. has fallen since 2019, Ocampo said. ‘Compare that to how the tech industry has done,’ he said. ‘The pie is growing but the vast majority of people are getting a smaller and smaller slice.'”

News of the Wired

Faster than today:

* * *

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. From TH:

TH writes: “This may be too grainy to print but it’s kind of my favorite of this Pink Ball tree because it shows it’s size better than others I’ve taken of it and I like where the tree is. I want a bench, a good book, and maybe a cup of coffee.”

* * *

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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. ambrit

    As I’ve said before, I often see K Harris as a cartoon character. Like, totally, one of the Pussycats. Kewl! I can see she wants to be a mash-up of Velma and Daphne, but, No Way! She, like, is Hollywood.

      1. ambrit

        Oh, oh! I can see her “branding” for the Trump wing of the One Party. Harris Hunting Tweed, or, Kammo.
        If she ends up in the White House, which could happen if Dr. Jill takes her eyes off of the prize for very long, then we can have fun with an endless series of Kamala Mart jokes.
        “Lobbyists, there is a special on the Infrastructure Aisle. Look for the flashing Blue Light.”
        Let us not forget that, as “Creepy” Joe was called the reincarnation of FDR, Miz K will be the reincarnation of JFK. So, be prepared for an endless stream of references to Kamalot on the Potomac.
        As I asked earlier; does Marine One qualify as a light aircraft?

  2. Jason Boxman

    Good news on the IVM front; I found a NP that follows FLCCC and prescribes. I asked a general question about the experimental treatments, and she said that she’s had patients come to her that were able to get Paxlovid in the ER, but ultimately it wasn’t helping and she prescribed IVM after which there was a recovery. Says so far none of her patients have gotten long-COVID. The hospitals in the triangle area apparently do not allow IVM prescriptions for patients.

    Looks like I can finally thumb my nose at the CDC with my very own horse paste.

    Stay safe out there!

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      jo6pac: Good article.

      To quote Baraka: “U.S. authorities and the U.S. and Western European press understood that Ukraine had an active problem with white supremacist ultranationalists and literal neo-Nazis. Nevertheless, in order to engender support for Ukraine and to set the stage for the performance of a lifetime by Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s actor president, Ukraine had to be recreated, minus the ultranationalist influence and Nazis.”

      Borne out in today’s LaStampa, in which a media worker named Monica Perosino writes about the siege of Azovstal Works, relying on the Azov Battalion to feed her lines. There is no objectivity–she quotes some commander Palamar who insists that the Azov battalion will fight on. Suddenly, though, to add to the manipulation, LaStampa has a picture of some kids “sheltering” in the underground levels of the steel works. Of course, those nice nazifascists wouldn’t have human shields, now would they?

      And so: Many in the West think that freedom means supporting the Azov Battalion. If one thinks otherwise, well, people are making lists of wrongthinkers.

  3. cgregory

    Re: Mo Brooks and those “$1 million prime committee chairmanships.” Here’s a letter to the editor about them:

    I am puzzled why nobody discusses “pay to play” during this campaign season. What does any of our House candidates feel about being compelled to shovel money into the maw of their political machine?

    “Pay to play” was first revealed in a 2011 article by Thomas Ferguson in Lou DuBose’s The Washington Spectator newsletter. A creation of Thomas DeLay and Newt Gingrich for the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee in the mid-Nineties, it was quickly adopted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Council. In April 2021, Thomas Neuberger gave an update on how the latter uses it:


    Here’s the schedule:

    House members’ “dues”       $125,000
    and an additional         $75,000
    Subcommittee chairs’ “dues” $150,000
    and raise an additional        $100,000
    Members of the most powerful
    committees “dues”        $200,000
    and raise an additional        $250,000
    Subcommittee chairs of each of the
    power committees and chairs
    of non-power committees
    “dues”          $250,000
    and raise an additional          $250,000
    Chairs of the 5 power committees
    “dues”           $500,000
    and raise an additional $1,000,000
    House Majority Leader, Majority
    Whip and Caucus Chairs’
    individual“dues”           $800,000
    and raise an additional $2,500,000
    The 4 who are the “extended
    leadership” each pay    $450,000
    and raise an additional            $500,000
    The 9 Chief Deputy Whips each pay   $300,000
    and raise an additional             $500,000
    House Speaker pays     $800,000
    and raises an additional $25,000,000

    Neuberger omits to mention the GOP’s hand in creating the system. He does credit the groundbreaking work of writer Marian Currinder, author of Money in the House, (2008), as does Ferguson.

    Isn’t this something the [newspaper staff] ought to be asking all the candidates about? I hope you are able to pass this along to someone who can look at this.


  4. Mildred Montana

    Re: Christian songster on airplane“

    From the link: “It’s about courtesy & respect for others. Something you are obviously lacking in.” Courtesy and respect for others. Also known as social intelligence.

    He and his fellow choristers should be crucified for inflicting themselves on a captive crowd. For Christ’s sake!

    1. jr

      In my experience, fundamentalist Christians are quite often rude and entitled. Years ago I worked in a restaurant ran by a fundie couple. Once a week they featured a local Christian rock band. They were extremely rude to the staff for one thing. Also, they would literally steal the music of popular performers and rewrite the lyrics with their own moronic takes. One of my coworkers, a talented guitarist, took to applauding them but shouting things like “Kiss rocks!” and “All right Jimi!” Fortunately, no one wanted to hear their crap and they faded away after a month or two. The restaurant itself folded when the wife discovered the husband was being picked up every lunch to have sex with the local male florist. I was gone at that point but learned that they had cheated all the staff out of their last paychecks.

      1. Милтон

        Try taking the Tecate train ride and sharing your car with a Mariachi quintet. There are no headphones on the planet that can deaden that sound.

    2. chukjones

      Most of the online comments responding to the video appear to be negative. One netizen wrote, “As a person of faith, I implore you: don’t do this…This kind of thing just turns people off, and rightly so.” while another wrote, “It’s about courtesy & respect for others. Something you are obviously lacking in.”

      But one person wrote in support of Neo’s action, saying, “I love Gospel music. Get some ear plugs if it bothers you.” (ear plug mandates?)
      ear plugs but only one mask in sight!!!

    3. Wukchumni

      My Grocery Outlet in the CVBB plays a steady diet of contemporary evang music, and from years of forced listening on my part, You’d better have ‘praise’ in your diddy, what if the big cheese was listening and caught you holding out on him?

      1. Sardonia

        I’d be more in favor of a Tod Beamer “Let’s roll!” where a bunch of big guys take action – hauling the singer to the back of the plane and crucifying him.

    4. The Rev Kev

      Anybody notice how that camera panned to the window as if to seek any avenue of escape? Once you let this sort of thing happen, it opens the doors to all sorts of other nuttiness. Like what? How about Republicans or Democrats later in the year making campaign rallies in the air as the midterms heat up? Maybe drug companies pushing their wares using salespeople at 30,000 feet? The military making recruitment pitches to the younger people on board. You don’t think that airlines would not be tempted to lease their airliners to any group/organization that would pay them good money to let them do this?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I don’t know why you wouldn’t usually admit this. The first one is hysterical. Jan’s actress deserved an Oscar.

  5. Questa Nota

    Food and beverage billing isn’t new, and is still tacky.
    I know a kid who was invited to a friend’s house for a play date, just before the turn of the millennium, and she was charged for a juice box.

    How does one charge a kid for a juice box, for example, while keeping a straight face?

    1. anon y'mouse

      the parents did this, or the kid did it as some kind of “enterprising” scheme to expand the allowance monies?

    2. newcatty

      It’s the new taking candy from babies. The parent who charged for the juice, is teaching their child, through example, how to be selfish and without any social grace. Start them while they are young.

      How about weddings? Last two invitations to weddings had a specific gift registry and both listed an option for cash outright. One was to help the adorable couple pay for their honeymoon’ s upgrades or extra goodies. One was to pay home improvement projects’ costs. Somehow, it didn’t sit right with me. Think that IIRC that some couples charge for reception food and drink. One could say that the behaviors are practical and, in these difficult economic times, it is ok among friends. Just seems arrogant and entitled in some way. I remember happily gifting a couple with something that I put effort into that we thought was thoughtful.

    3. Culp Creek Curmudgeon

      I recently saw a meme praising Elon Musk for having parties and charging people to attend while he was in college. I thought it was just Musk, but clearly it’s not. I don’t really like to use the term “decadent” but what else fits?

  6. hunkerdown

    River Rouge, Michigan is the one community in the downriver Detroit suburbs which did not opt out of the state recreational marijuana licensing system, and therefore is host to several recreational provisioning centers. Here’s what I saw today:

    There were lines out the door at most centers. The deals are pretty good, with good prices on some high-end products in their autumn months, and the celebratory swag was fine. Cinnabon trucks were parked in front of two of the centers, presumably offering buns with the first n purchases. The bigger center’s line was roughly 80 deep, with parking taken over from neighboring businesses. (Did she pay them to close?) Here were one of the Cinnabon trucks and also a Mediterranean food truck. The smaller center across the street with a tiny lot, apparently of the same owner, had about 15-20 waiting out the door.

    Budtenders at my regular, with about 15 ahead of me, seemed harried, which means they had the normal deportment of an unstressed, pleasantly urgent clerk at one’s service, without the “Hey!” or the lilting “I got choo”s common during slower times. Maybe they just hadn’t had a smoke break yet.

  7. SD

    I had to lol at the “Should you charge friends to eat at your place?” write-up in the LAT.

    From the Iliad and Odyssey to Jane Austen to the great Russian novels and beyond, hospitality–the provision of room, or board, and/or other things without the expectation of payment–is at the center of almost all of the action. It was a more or less sacred duty to offer hospitality not only to one’s friends and family, but especially to travelers, strangers, or anyone in distress who crossed one’s path. There was the expectation that you would be provided the same consideration in the event you found yourself in similar need. It was a social contract everyone understood, and the consequences of breaching it were inevitably severe.

    I wonder whether the people described in the article even know what it means to have “friends.”

    1. jr

      “It was a more or less sacred duty to offer hospitality not only to one’s friends and family, but especially to travelers, strangers, or anyone in distress who crossed one’s path.”

      Absolutely. I found this article a bit shocking but not surprising. I believe it was Marx who noted that under capitalism everything degrades into the cash nexus. Were
      someone to ask me for payment in such an occasion, I would drop the money to the floor and spit to one side then turn my back on them for good.

      1. amechania

        The biblicall horseman of Famine carries a scale, to ensure fair dealings… Of course he takes venmo

    2. The Rev Kev

      Those people don’t have friends in the usual sense. They have “transactional” colleagues and fellow-travelers. This is even true on the marital level. How you behave with friends and family is done in consideration of what you can get from them in return.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        Transactions are inherently good
        Ergo, maximising the quantity of transactions equals moregood

    3. CuriosityConcern

      Just have a potluck. Or if you absolutely must charge guests visiting your home or coming on your invitation to celebrate something with you, make sure to disclose your plan well before the doors open.

    4. AndrewJ

      I’ve had to rely, or try to rely, on my fellow American citizens’ hospitality over the past fifteen-plus years of proper and broke-as-heck adulthood. I can tell you that it barely exists. I was raised – maybe by my extensive reading as a child – to have a reverence for hospitality to travelers and those in need, and still provide for anyone that comes to my door or across my path. My experience is that I am an outlier. The vast majority of people here do not care at all. They want you out of their sight.

    5. aletheia33

      yes it is a sacred duty. and, often a canny preemptive defense/delaying tactic/diplomatic move against unknown outsiders who may not be coming in peace. worldwide. societies have had mutual traditional agreements that to kill one’s host in his own dinner hall, especially at dinner, is absolutely verboten and in defiance of the gods and the balance of the universe. nonetheless, it has happened, and the reports have come down through the ages. humanity is human.

      1. gc54

        The only reason those meetings have value was because Russia was invited in recent years. So, now good riddance to the meetings and to the G20.

    1. Jason Boxman

      I thought it was a temper tantrum. We’re truly ruled by adults in the room; well, except they walked out of the room?

      1. John

        Many children above the age of three have better manners. Disagree with a policy as vociferously and substantively as you wish, but these petty demonstrations of pique are akin to, “I don’t like the way you play so I shall take my bat and ball and go home.” And it is an insult to the public at large for the “elites” to think that these histrionics are seen as anything but shabby performances.

  8. GramSci

    Re: CDC spook

    Lambert wrote:

    “So I would imagine we’d see CFA heavily involved in “perceptions management,” which, to be fair, the CDC could certainly use some help with.”

    I’m sure the oligarchs think that the CDC is doing just fine with “perceptions management”.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I think that that was a message in response to something that we are not seeing. Maybe NATO is seriously thinking of going into western Ukraine for example or something equally daft. And with that missile test, the Russians are reminding them of how it could – literally – end.

      1. John

        With a decent respect to the security concerns of Russia this entire mess could have been avoided. My conclusion is that the West, USA/NATO, wanted a confrontation with Russia in furtherance of its larger geopolitical aim … the continuation of “Western hegemony.” That train long ago left the station and no amount of sanctions or military pressure is going to call it back.

  9. Art Vandalay

    Re: Insteon and the disappearing smart home. I had to check their website:https://www.insteon.com/news2022

    Looks like they’ve shut down, and made an assignment for benefit of creditors, i.e., pieces of insolvent entity to be sold off.

    Love this part:

    The pioneering work in smart lighting and world-class products have created an extraordinary following and community. Clearly, all Smartlabs’ employees who have worked so hard to produce such world-class products and technology hope that a buyer can be found for the company.

    Although incredibly difficult, we hope that the Insteon community understands the tireless efforts by all the employees to serve our customers, and deeply apologize to the community.”

    I’m sure folks locked out of their houses or unable to turn on the lights will be deeply comforted by the tireless efforts that allowed them to have this experience.

    1. jr

      Here is a particularly revealing bon mot:

      ““The new slogan for RT [Russia Today] is ‘question more,’” said Paul, a senior social scientist with the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research organization. “This kind of nihilistic war on information, suggesting that somehow normal professional journalists are compromised — but I’m going to share with you information that they’re unwilling to share — well, they’re unwilling to share it because it isn’t true. But that subtext is left out.”

      So asking more questions is “nihilistic”. The RAND corporation is just another NGO staffed by people with no last names. And “normal” journalists cannot be compromised. Also, when people lie to you they should include the “subtext” that they are lying. Cause that’s what honest liars do, I guess.

      We have blown through the Looking Glass and are heading for the Twilight Zone at 100 mph.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        rand has a long history of being the Justifyer of Empire.
        to their credit, they generally post their methodology.
        the mindfuck i s subtle.

  10. digi_owl

    Tech has slowed down for multiple reasons.

    First is that we have pretty much peeked out the IC, at least on cheap silicon wafers. The high end stuff now is bordering on monoatomic.

    Second is the change in company policies come the 80s and the raiders. Where previously companies would entertain long term projects with uncertain payoffs, as long as the company itself was running in the black, now all divisions had to run a profit or they would be shed in a heartbeat.

    Third is the overall shift of focus from hardware to software, at least in the proverbial west.

  11. Andrew Watts

    RE: Big Pharma Ally Rep. Kurt Schrader Distorts His Record On Drug Prices

    Schrader is about as right-wing as they come in Oregon that doesn’t involve wearing a hood. At least outside of the Timber Princess who’s running for governor. There aren’t many politicians that have a D- next to their name and adopt the same positions as a far-right Republican and get away with it. That said, Big Pharma buys a lot of influence around here and that would include somewhat respected politicians like Wyden. The difference is that the latter practices harm reduction and knows how to take a dive when the opportunity arises.

  12. Wukchumni

    THIS IS ONE OF THE oldest functioning post offices in the United States. It’s in the tiny town of Three Rivers, just outside the south entrance to Sequoia National Park.

    Built from local cedar and redwood in 1910, the building measures just 12 feet by 15 feet. It has remained in almost continuous operation since then—though as of 2010, it is no longer a full-service post office. Today the office is manned by volunteers and serves about 50 people who hold mailboxes in the little outpost.

    There is also a monument to the Kaweah Colony at the front, commemorating the Kaweah Cooperative Colony, a small settlement that made the first roads into what is now Sequoia National Park.


    1. Amfortas the hippie

      amen and damned straight!
      glass houses and all…

      that’s my experience with both NPR and WOAI, which i;ve been sampling…being in the car so much(700+ miles this week…sepsis, of all things)
      2 sides of an utter bullshit machine’s product, laid out, for all to see(let him who has ears…)

      i should also note: the catholic hospital my wife is currently in is suddenly overrun with Ukrainian nurses!


      (should also note that ukranian and russian sound suspiciously alike, to redneck hippie texan ears…almost as if if they’re essentially the same language…..again, weird)

      1. GramSci

        USian hospitals fighting Covid to the last Ukranian nurse?

        Amfortas! Die Wunde! Die Wunde!

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          woke up and couldn’t decide if i was one, giant charliehorse…or one, giant inflamed joint.
          is Ukraine similar to Cuba, and known for it’s overproduction of healthcare professionals?
          byproduct of the imperial gamesmanship…a sort of side-hustle solve to the nursing shortage?
          out of the maybe 15+ folks working the floor she’s on, perhaps half have such an accent(i didn’t interrogate, of course…only asked one nurse who had a particularly thick accent).
          the 3….”eastern europeans”…who were in and out of her room while i was there all sported subtle trappings of catholicism(St Chris, etc…it is a catholic hospital, with crucifixes on literally every wall, nuns flying around everywhere,and big signs saying, in essence, “drop off yer unwanted babies here, no questions asked!”).
          all in all, it was a strange phenomenon to notice.
          but once i was aware of it, hard to miss.

      2. super extra

        I did three years hard study of Russian under a private tutor twice a week for three years and can sort of understand Ukranian (written better than spoken, but spoken it’s mostly an accent/vowel shift difference like deep Texan vs Coastal American). They’re more similar than, for example, Mexican Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese, which among stupid Americans are often considered similar and are very not.

  13. NorD94

    About 30% of COVID Patients Develop “Long COVID” – Here’s Who Is Most at Riskhttps://scitechdaily.com/about-30-of-covid-patients-develop-long-covid-heres-who-is-most-at-risk/

    New University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) research finds that 30% of people treated for COVID-19 developed Post Acute Sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC), most commonly known as “Long COVID.” People with a history of hospitalization, diabetes, and higher body mass index were most likely to develop the condition, while those covered by Medicaid, as opposed to commercial health insurance, or had undergone an organ transplant were less likely to develop it. Surprisingly, ethnicity, older age, and socioeconomic status were not associated with the syndrome even though those characteristics have been linked with severe illness and greater risk of death from COVID-19.

    Of the 309 people with long COVID studied, the most persistent symptoms were fatigue and shortness of breath (31% and 15%, respectively) in hospitalized persons, and loss of sense of smell (16%) in outpatients.

    *** from the Impact section ***

    Our study also raises questions such as: Why were patients with commercial insurance twice as likely to develop Long COVID than patients insured through Medicaid?

    ** my guess is people with private insurance are better able to deal with copays, lost time at work, and other healthcare/insurance frustrations and problems

    study link from article

    Factors Associated with Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 (PASC) After Diagnosis of Symptomatic COVID-19 in the Inpatient and Outpatient Setting in a Diverse Cohorthttps://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11606-022-07523-3

  14. The Rev Kev

    Just came across an appeal by the commander of that Azov remnant in Mariupol to world leaders to arrange for them to be evacuated to a third nation – where of course they will be flown back to the Ukraine. The sob even mentioned their human shield of 500 civilians as part of his appeal-

    https://www.bitchute.com/video/fIZxBfyZ2Qxp/ (1:01mins)

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      The Rev Kev: This has been reported “as journalism” in LaStampa the last two days. Some young warmongering journalist is quoting the Azov types directly. As usual in LaStampa these days, there was a photo of some blond kids inside Azovstal. Must exploit the blond kids.

      Today, the Azov types also appealed to religious leaders.

      No one seems to recall (conveniently) the story a few days back of the big controversy that broke out in the Greek Parliament when Zelensky on his world tour introduced an Azov thug via Zoom to address the parliamentarians. Obviously, the revulsion expressed by the large Greek left isn’t convenient.

      And here we are.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I think that that officer talking is from that Ukrainian Marine Brigade which surrendered a few days ago so probably they chose him to make the appeal rather than an Azov officer who might have an easily researched *ahem* history.

  15. Anon

    Harris always reminds me of roadkill, as it’s crossing a highway. A deer, on Xanax. She chose the wrong time to be brave, and doesn’t realize the highway is for cars.

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