2:00PM Water Cooler 5/24/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

This is Tanager week at Naked Capitalism. Splendid background of insect sounds, from the Dominican Republic.

* * *


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

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

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

Biden Adminstration

“Biden says no change on ‘strategic ambiguity’ as Taiwan overshadows Quad talks” [Channel News Asia]. “President Joe Biden on Tuesday (May 24) said there was no change to a US policy of “strategic ambiguity” on Taiwan, a day after he angered China by saying he would be willing to use force to defend the democratic island…. While Washington is required by law to provide self-ruled Taiwan with the means to defend itself, it has long followed a policy of “strategic ambiguity” on whether it would intervene militarily to protect it in the event of a Chinese attack – a convention Biden had appeared to break with on Monday.Some critics have said Biden has misspoken on the issue, or made a gaffe, but other analysts have suggested that given Biden’s extensive foreign policy experience and the context in which he made the remarks, next to Kishida and after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he had not spoken in error. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said on Monday that China had no room for compromise or concessions on matters relating to its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”


* * *

GA: “2022 midterms: What to watch in Georgia, Texas, elsewhere” [Associated Press]. “Georgia takes center stage in Tuesday’s primary elections as Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger try to fight back challengers endorsed by former President Donald Trump, who is seeking revenge for his 2020 election defeat in the state. U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia is testing Republican voters’ tolerance for controversy in her primary. On the Democratic side, U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath and U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux are facing off after McBath switched districts because of redistricting.”

PA: “Gisele Fetterman steps into the spotlight after husband’s stroke” [The Hill]. “Pennsylvania’s second lady Gisele Fetterman stepped into the spotlight this week and took on a central role in the campaign of her husband, Pennsylvania Democratic Senate nominee John Fetterman, after he suffered a stroke. Gisele Fetterman has long been a presence on the campaign trail, with her husband frequently citing her former status as a ‘Dreamer’ when talking about immigration. But being front and center on primary night when her husband couldn’t be introduced her to a far wider audience.”

TX: “The expensive and unscrupulous campaign to keep an anti-abortion Democrat in Congress” [Popular Information]. “Tonight, Cuellar faces a run-off election against Democratic challenger Jessica Cisneros, an immigration attorney, activist, and supporter of abortion rights. It is expected to be a close contest. In the March 2020 primary, Cuellar defeated Cisneros by a margin of 51.8% to 48.2%, securing the nomination. In the March 2022 primary, Cuellar received 48.7% to Cisneros’ 46.6%. (A third candidate, Tannya Benavides, received the remaining votes.) Since neither candidate secured 50% of the vote, a run-off was scheduled for May 24. Tonight’s results is a case study in the power of incumbency. Cuellar has been in Congress since 2005 and his reelection campaign has attracted extensive support from wealthy donors, corporate PACs, and Democratic leadership. Will it be enough to convince Democratic voters to overlook Cuellar’s policy positions? Since the March primary, an odd coalition of Super PACs, backed by a handful of very wealthy people, have spent millions on dishonest and misleading advertisements promoting Cuellar and attacking Cisneros.” • For example:


“Even” Teen Vogue my Sweet Aunt Fanny. At least Teen Vogue was willling to cover the labor beat.


“Eric Adams eyeing White House run in 2024: sources” [New York Post]. • Ha. Adams is Black, a cop, and has a million-watt smile. What more could any identity politics-driven, cop-loving, celebrity-worshipping liberal Democrat want? And who cares if he lives in New Jersey.

“Speculation over whether Biden will run again heats up” [The Hill]. “‘Everything is frozen,’ said one Democratic source who bundles campaign contributions.”

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.

* * *

Pass the Victory Gin:

I’m glad we have a President like President Manchin.


“FBI opened Alfa-Bank inquiry based on ‘referral’ from DOJ — but it came from Sussmann” [Washington Examiner]. “The FBI opened a full-fledged counterintelligence investigation into since-debunked Trump-Russia collusion claims just four days after Michael Sussmann pushed the allegations to the bureau…. The case identification was ‘Alfa Bank, Russia — Contacts / Agents, Sensitive Investigative Matter,’ and the opening document said it ‘documents the opening of a Full Field Investigation into the network communications between a U.S.-based server and the Russian ALFA BANK organization.’ Enclosed was a ‘White Paper.’ ‘On or about September 19, 2016, FBI received a referral of information from the U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, detailing an unusually configured email server in Pennsylvania belonging to the TRUMP ORGANIZATION,’ the FBI wrote in September 2016. ‘In that referral, the DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE provided the FBI with a white paper that was produced by an anonymous third party. According to the white paper, a U.S.-based server that is owned by the TRUMP ORGANIZATION has been communicating with the Russian-based ALFA BANK organization in Moscow, Russia.’ Andy McCarthy, a former chief assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York and now a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, told the Washington Examiner: ‘The investigation opening document is totally outrageous. It not only claims that the information came from the Justice Department. It suggests that the Justice Department commissioned and may even vouch for the white paper.’ The former federal prosecutor added, ‘To identify Sussmann as ‘the Department of Justice’ is especially outrageous under circumstances where (a) he is a lawyer for the Clinton Campaign, and (b) the representation that got him in the door to meet Baker was that he wasn’t representing anyone (which would include the Justice Department, if he had any such technical tie).'”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“A Conservatism Parasitic on the Liberal Tradition: Yoram Hazony’s Conservatism: A Rediscovery” [Matthew McManus, Liberal Currents]. “The ideological tendency of conservatism is to shift fluidly between caricaturing liberal universalism as defunct, unrealistic, and uncompelling when criticizing it and describing it as omnipresent, dangerous, potentially hegemonic, and even a nihilistic force threatening to sweep over the entire world. This tendency is irritating, but one needs to recognize that both sides of this ideological maneuver are necessary. Liberal modernity must be too stupid for anyone to buy into it while still threatening enough to pose a real danger. Tilt too much towards the former and one cannot mobilize, tilt too much towards the latter and one risks presenting it as a doctrine of such extraordinary strength and appeal it cannot be defeated. In the book’s better moments Hazony grudgingly admits that liberalism has proven attractive to many because some of its features may actually be appealing.” • Interesting article, though I suspect the number of actually existing liberals who conform to McManus’s notion of liberalism is vanishingly small.


Lambert here: I am but a humble tape-watcher, but if some trusting, non-realist soul tells you that “Covid is over,” you can tell them that cases are up, transmission is up, test positivity is up, hospitalization is up, rapid riser counties are up, and wastewater is up, too. And this is all from data designed to support the narrative that “Covid is over,” and gamed within an inch of its life. So, if signals like that are flashing red, consider what the real signal must be like. (Note also this is all with BA.2 only, and with what the establishment considers an “immune wall” made from vaccination and prior infection. Since semper aliquid novi Africam adferre, and we’ve let ‘er rip at the airports…. Well, I just hope we get lucky with BA.4 and BA.5. “God has a special providence for fools, drunkards, and the United States of America.” –Otto von Bismarck.

* * *

• “Intranasal COVID-19 vaccines: From bench to bed” [British Medical Journal]. “Recent studies indicate that [intra-muscular (IM)] vaccines are poor in controlling viral replication and nasal shedding in the upper respiratory tract, leading to asymptomatic or milder symptomatic infection that can still transmit virus to others. In contrast, [intra-nasal (IN)] vaccines have the potential to induce sterilizing immunity against mucosal pathogens. Antigens are exposed at the initial site of viral attack to induce potent immune responses at local or distant mucosa. Meanwhile, the systemic humoral and cellular immunity triggered by IN administration is comparable to or stronger than that induced by IM injection, suggesting a lower dose required to increase vaccine safety.” • Still waiting on Bharat’s BBV154.

• ”SII, Bharat Biotech halt production of Covid vaccines as demand slips” [Business Standard]. From April, and disturbing if still true: “India’s two major Covid-19 vaccine makers — Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech (BB) — have halted production of Covid vaccines, and will focus on non-Covid vaccines instead….. with demand for vaccination going down, both companies have halted production of jabs at their facilities. Sources indicated that there were no fresh orders from the Government of India, and their supply commitments have ended as of March 31. SII has accumulated about 250 million doses of Covishield stocks at its Pune facility, while Bharat Biotech said it had completed all its supply commitments.” • It would be a bitter irony indeed if the successful propagation of “Covid is over” prevented the development and introduction of a sterilizing vaccine, and left us with the inferior IM versions, good for only a few months.

* * *


• ”A Mechanical Engineer Becomes a Mask Nerd” [American Society of Mechanical Engineers]. “Attendees at the February 2022 Friday Night Mask Party could be excused for feeling a twinge of sadness when the Mask Nerd dropped his bombshell: That night would mark the end of his career as a mask reviewer; at least for now. ‘I know I said I was done last March,’ Aaron Collins said on his YouTube channel, where he’d been posting his reviews of KF94, KN95 and 95 masks for the past 18 months. ‘But, then, I never thought I’d be doing this in the first place.’ As ‘The Mask Nerd,’ Collins began posting his reviews shortly after it became clear that COVID-19’s hold would not be receding anytime soon. Before closing up shop in February 2022, he’d accrued a loyal following, trying out masks on segments that included the live-streamed ‘mask party’ and a Saturday morning ‘Coffee and Masks’ klatch, both of which routinely lasted more than two hours.” • Better than anything CDC ever did. Or the entire Biden administration, for that matter;.

• “Brookline reinstates indoor mask mandate for schools, town buildings” [WCVB]. “The town of Brookline has reinstated an indoor mask mandate for town-owned spaces, including schools, due to the recent increase in COVID-19 cases.” Too late, no doubt. More: “The mandate that began Monday requires everyone to wear a face covering over their mouth and nose while inside the library, senior center, all public schools and any other town-owned indoor spaces where the public gathers.” • I don’t know where that noxious phrase “face covering” orginated. For one thing, it suggests that abominations like gaiters are OK. For another, it’s false. Masks (at least for Covid) don’t cover the face (unless you’ve adopted the Darth Vader look). They cover — since Covid is airborne — the nose and mouth, and not the eyes. “Face covering”, besides being an appalling example of administrative jargon, falsely implies concealment, when in fact the purpose of masking is protection (of others as well as one’s self).

• ”Long Covid Is Dangerous. The Fear of It Still Shouldn’t Rule Your Life.” [Ross Douthat, New York Times]. “Doing the math and knowing the danger won’t keep me from showing my face on planes and in restaurants.” • New theory of transmission: Covid is spread by assholes. (I know I should try harder to persuade, etc., and I spend too much time on Twitter being triggered by the stupid, but crap like this is really exasperating and I think pushback is needed if and when nice doesn’t work.) Douthat’s face is not sufficiently callipygian to be worth a case of the sniffles, let alone Long Covid. And see above on “face.” Masks don’t cover the face. They leave the eyes (“the windows of the soul”) exposed.

• Confirmation for my new theory of transmission (1):

• Confirmation for my new theory of transmission (2):

• Another of many anecdotes:

* * *

If you missed it, here’s a post on my queasiness 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:

The train is still rolling. Biden has handily beaten Trump’s first two peaks, even accepting the data, which of course nobody does. (Remember these data points are weekly averages, so daily fluctuations are smoothed out. Also 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.) The black “Fauci Line” is a counter to triumphalism, since it compares current levels to past crises. The blue “Biden Line” shows what the case count would be if it were 108,000 * 6 = 648,000, i.e. not gamed.

Here are cases for the last four weeks:

A bit of a dip. We shall see. Worth noting that cases have doubled tripled in 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. That the “green map” (which Topol calls a “capitulation” and a “deception”) is still up and being taken seriously verges on the criminal.

• To be fair to CDC, their guidance is working exactly as intended:

From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker:

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

MWRA wastewater data:

Down (for both north and south systems). Readers suggest that this reflects the colleges and universities closing for the summer; commencement for BC was May 23, BU’s May 22; Harvard’s is tomorrow. May 25. So I think readaers are correct.

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.

Cases lag wastewater data.

From Biobot Analytics:

The South is up. Northeast retrospectively revised downward. I don’t like this at all, and maybe I should drop this chart. The other thing I’m not liking is that big time lag with the variants. April 27? I want to know about BA.4 and BA.5 (dubbed “variants of concern” by The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) last week, but not WHO).

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

Status quo.

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:

East coast, West Coast, and Midwest are all red.

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile). Back to normal, so yesterday’s debacle (this chart disappeared) was only an editorial screw-up (CDC drone: “That guy Strether is onto us!”):

More and more orange.

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,029,121 1,028,924. Now at the second-lowest “valley,” which is good. I have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line.

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

Big jump in the UK and France! Why both together? Coincidence? (Note the quality of these numbers varies wildly. For example, the UK is cutting back on testing data.

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Richmond Fed composite manufacturing index was at -9 in May of 2022 from 14 in the previous month. It was the first negative reading since September of 2021, and the lowest since May of 2020. The shipments subindex swung to -14 from 17, while the volume of new orders was at -16 compared to 6 in the prior month. The index for finished goods and raw materials deteriorated to a lesser extent, and firms expect that to persist in the foreseeable future. Manufacturers reported lower number of employees, even though wage levels were steady from the previous month. Also, firms noted a significant increase in prices paid, while prices received rose to a lower extent. Survey participants expect business conditions to deteriorate in the next six month, the fourth time in survey history that the expectations index was negative.”

* * *

Commodities: “Legendary lithium riches from Bolivia’s salt flats may still just be a mirage” [Reuters]. “But the locals’ dreams of lithium wealth may still be no more real than the shimmering mirages that appear over the Uyuni flats. The landlocked country faces steep challenges to meet its targets, according to Reuters interviews with a dozen current and former officials, as well as scores of local residents around the salt flats. Among the key hurdles are technological challenges, simmering citizen resistance, a nonexistent legal framework for lithium mining, and looming infighting within Bolivia’s ruling socialist party over taxes and royalties, the sources said. ‘I see an exaggerated enthusiasm. It’s not grounded in reality,’ said Juan Carlos Montenegro, a former top Bolivian official in charge of lithium extraction under the administration of ex-President Evo Morales.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 9 Extreme Fear (previous close: 14 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 15 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 24 at 1:29 PM EDT.

Rapture Index: Closes down one on Volcanoes. After a very active first part of 2022, volcanic activity has slowed down” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 187. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.)

Police State Watch

Now all we have to do is scale this up:

The Gallery

Imaginary gardens with real toads in them:

Not all. however, agree that the “hesitant line” is all-important:

Some prefer prose!

Zeitgeist Watch

“panic: myth or reality?” (PDF) [contexts]. From 2002, still germane: “Panicky behavior is rare. It was rare even among residents of German and Japanese cities that were bombed during World War II. The U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey, established in 1944 to study the effects of aerial attacks, chronicled the unspeakable horrors, terror and anguish of people in cities devastated by firestorms and nuclear attacks. Researchers found that, excepting some uncontrolled flight from the Tokyo firestorm, little chaos occurred. An enormous amount of research on how people respond to extreme events has been done by the Disaster Research Center, now at the University of Delaware. After five decades studying scores of disasters such as floods, earthquakes and tornadoes, one of the strongest findings is that people rarely lose control. When the ground shakes, sometimes dwellings crumble, fires rage, and people are crushed. Yet people do not run screaming through the streets in a wild attempt to escape the terror, even though they are undoubtedly feeling terror. Earthquakes and tornadoes wreak havoc on entire communities. Yet people do not usually turn against their neighbors or suddenly forget personal ties and moral commitments. Instead the more consistent pattern is that people bind together in the aftermath of disasters, working together to restore their physical environment and their culture to recognizable shapes.” More: “Dispelling the myth of public panic highlights the sociality rather than the individuality of human nature. It leads to optimism about people. If people generally act well under the most trying of circumstances—precisely when it would be easiest to turn their backs on others—it gives us reason to look for the good and the sensible in them at other times as well. Jettisoning the myth of public panic could also increase elites’ trust of people. Politicians and corporate managers have a litany of responses after some mishap: ‘There was never any danger to the public.’ ‘Everything is under control.’ ‘There is no reason for concern.’ Behind such public pacifiers is the presumption that people cannot be trusted with bad news. Communications based on that presumption generate distrust and suspicion.” • As we have seen with Covid (and may be seeing with Monkeypox).

Allan Savory on science v. academia:

Reminds me of “evidence-based medicine” (which seems more like “document-based medicine,” the more I hear about it).

ZOMG the responses:

Class Warfare

“Why 2022 has been a dangerous time to retire — and what you can do about it” [CNBC]. • Shorter: Here’s how you can market time your way to retiring with dignity. Why not just increase Social Security?

News of the Wired

Some readers seem to have been uncertain about whether I meant “WHO” or “the Who,” so for the avoidance of doubt:

* * *

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 Late Introvert:

Late Introvert writes: “Shot from my front porch in Eastern Iowa. My neighbors have many more,
we are planning a group buy for tree services.”

* * *

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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. Mikel

    “Panicky behavior is rare. It was rare even among residents of German and Japanese cities that were bombed during World War II. The U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey, established in 1944 to study the effects of aerial attacks, chronicled the unspeakable horrors, terror and anguish of people in cities devastated by firestorms and nuclear attacks. Researchers found that, excepting some uncontrolled flight from the Tokyo firestorm, little chaos occurred…”

    Now do a study on a country where the citizens were well-armed beforehand.

  2. jo6pac

    He’s right.

    Oh boy this is a must watch and read. It’s great the sheeple are thick in the Science world and how sad.

        1. Wukchumni

          My occupation was based on very close observation with the objects of my desire rarely being larger than a few inches in circumference. I had to pay attention.

          I’ve been retired from pushing old metal for close to 20 years now, so I largely transferred those same skills to the natural world.

          For instance, 5 of us all noticed how diminutive some of the Sequoia cones on the ground were the other day-smaller than any of had seen, but that would never have come to us unless we all hadn’t all seen a plethora of Sequoia cones in our travels through the years.

          Sometimes you see them large enough to be a fill-in for an American WW2 hand grenade, but these were the width of peanut shell.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Is there any organization, university or whatever that you can report your observations too? That size shrinkage sounds very significant but of what, I have no idea.

          2. Greg

            Mature cones that were very small, or immature cones dropped prematurely? Both are interesting, but suggestive of very different things going on.

    1. IM Doc

      Just amazing video. He is exactly correct.

      In medicine at least, there is a very strong pressure for no independent thought. No questioning.

      Everything that goes in your mind must only be one of two things – 1) A multi-centered, randomized controlled trial with peer-review —- or 2) Anything in UpToDate brought to you by your friends at Wolters Kluwer – with absolutely no disclosure of any conflicts or problems with the authors. As one example, their current section on COVID that is digested by thousands of physicians daily as “thoroughly vetted and up-to-date and peer-reviewed” is just downright misinformation at so many levels. There are so many other examples. Basically up-to-date is the Bible of that which is authorized thought in medicine. Authorized by Big Pharma, Big Insurance and Big Hospital. It certainly has nothing to do with personalized patient care.

      I do not allow students or residents to present a thing or discuss anything from up-to-date. I try to encourage original thinking – just as it was done for me decades ago.

      The other big problem with evidence based medicine is the inability to reproduce most of what is being published today. This problem is becoming increasingly bad. This paper by John Ionaddis is considered a classic discussion of this problem and it was written in 2005. Things have only become much more problematic since then. Ionaddis is considered by many to be a troublemaker and does indeed have some “interesting” ideas. On this issue, however, he is completely correct.

      So as long as something is branded “peer-reviewed” or RCT – it is God’s word from heaven. If it cannot be reproduced in the lab, or if it is based on proprietary technology that you cannot have, well that is your problem, not ours – it is still “evidence-based.”

      And people wonder why we are in the mess we are in today?

      1. jr

        This seems to be the medical corollary of my comments yesterday on Gary Nolan the scientist and UFO researcher and those scientists who disparage the use of one’s imagination in formulating theories. Sure, you can’t let your imagination run wild…..but what if the data is faulty? Why should you unreflectively trust numbers?

        In addition to the various fraudulent actors you describe, I believe on another level some people just want a sense of certainty no matter the cost. A while back there was an article about developing databases to determine eligibility for tenure in academia versus departments discussing candidates and making “subjective” assessments. Setting aside the fact that databases are subjective, I found the author’s position in favor of them to be logically flawed. He provided a laundry list of problems inherent in their use but concluded they were “better than nothing”. As if discussion and assessment by one’s peers is nothing. It was pretty obvious he just wanted some numbers, any numbers, in front of him. It’s for the illusion of certainty, the comfort of “hard data”. Numbers, in fact, can be mistaken. So can researchers.

        1. digi_owl

          This is perhaps also the draw of “AI” and “machine learning”.

          That the outcome should be pure math and thus free of bias.

          Only that time and time again it ends up as garbage in, garbage out.

          1. Skunk

            And the “black box” of AI means you can’t always scrutinize how the garbage is even generated.

        2. lyman alpha blob

          Reminds me of what an administrator once told my math teacher friend – that faulty data is better than no data at all.

          Well no, no it isn’t.

          1. Screwball

            I worked in a test lab for a completely unrelated industry, but I think it still works the same, in one way or another.

            We had a saying “if it doesn’t pass the test, change the test.”


            1. Janie

              In my day it was called a sink test. If you didn’t like the results, down the sink…

      2. pjay

        I’m old enough to remember when Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions was being discussed and debated all over the place in academia. Kuhn’s actual message was very compatible with that of this video. Later, of course, it got corrupted and turned into some kind of post-modern relativism. An interesting study in the sociology of knowledge itself.

      3. JAC

        I am constantly frustrated when I bring up ideas about health, that when you connect the dots it is a great hypothesis, but I get confronted with people “Show me a research paper!!!” I tell them if it is a new idea there cannot be a research paper so then they say “See, you are wrong!”

        People have no idea where ideas come from.

    2. digi_owl

      I wonder if the issue is that we have confused peer reviewing (basically just another of the same field of study has read the paper and found no glaring errors) with hypothesis testing (like setting up a camera during a solar eclipse to measure the lensing effect of gravity).

      Never mind that in some sciences, like economics, testing a hypothesis is nigh impossible. Yet people behave as if the science of economics is as rigorous as that of physics (after all it has models and math and graphs).

    3. GramSci

      I repeat my Max Planck quote from this AM’s Links:

      “Science advances one funeral at a time.”

  3. Wukchumni

    Ask not what your countrymen can do for you, mask what you can do for your countrymen.

    1. LawnDart

      Please up this guy’s meds, and what’s up with Korea and Japan? Are they really so defferential to the elderly that they feel pressed to validate and entertain shear delusions?

      Joe Biden’s Asian Front
      US President expands offensive on China

      The Indo-Pacific Economic Agreement, an initiative first announced by Joe Biden in October last year, is a business cooperation framework designed to better connect countries in the region through common standards in areas such as sustainable commodity supply chains, clean energy, infrastructure and digital trade. Using the IPEF tool, the United States hopes to create a new mechanism for trade and economic expansion, lost after the previous president, Donald Trump, withdrew from [TPP].

      Notably, at least half of the ten ASEAN “Asian Tigers” will not be represented at the IPEF launch ceremony, which will be attended by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

      “This is not a cool, but a pragmatic reaction, given that the dividends from IPEF, which could include Washington’s reduction of trade tariffs for Asian partners, are not yet visible,” admitted a representative of the Japanese Finance Ministry, quoted by the agency.


      Most of the world ain’t ridin the Biden bus… DC must have that feel that the clique of popular kids in high school shares in May just before graduation– secretly knowing soon they’ll be nobodies and that their best years are behind them.

      I’m embarassed for USA, a country blessed to be spared the pain of self-reflection.

  4. antidlc

    Science vs. academia:
    “We’re going to kill ourselves because of stupidity.”

    I’d say we already are killing ourselves because of stupidity.

    1. digi_owl

      We have met the paperclip maximizer, and it is us.

      I really wish the Wachowskis had not pissed so massively on their earlier creation to score some social media points, as i think the crowning moment of the Matrix movie was when Agent Smith ranted about humanity behaving like a parasite.

    2. ambrit

      For those of us who have no say in the social messaging system, we are being killed by the stupidity of others. At this point, removing oneself from the “system” is the optimal strategy. Eventually, as appears to be happening now, the “system” comes after those who refuse to comply. What else is a police state for?

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      No, the stupid people are killing the rest of us because of their stupidity. Also their evil.

      And also, don’t forget, Plan Jackpot always operating in the background.

      1. ambrit

        Casting aside all pretensions of “gentility,” I will essay an egregious example of the transgression of Godwin’s Law and call The Plan “Fall Jackpot.”
        It’s still all about Lebensraum.

  5. Samuel Conner

    Re: the x6 “Biden line” in the reported case counts — that intersects the prior peak in early January, about 10 days before the peak.

    That intersection point is ~4.5 months ago, which is smack in the middle of the “chi by eye” estimate of 4 to 5 months between peaks that one gets from the historical US case counts going back to the 2nd peak in early 2020.

    Granting that accurate prediction is difficult, especially about the future …

    me thinks there is a hint of inflection in the US curve. Maybe the peak of the current wave is near. If the “4 to 5 months” pattern holds, we should be past the top of the current peak within 3-4 weeks.

    Then we can all breathe a sigh of relief through unprotected nostrils and go back to the habits that helped to fuel the current wave. One wouldn’t want to do anything that would interfere with that “4 to 5 months” pattern.

    1. lambert strether

      > there is a hint of inflection in the US curve.

      Could be, given the dip of 4 weeks. But I’m wondering if it’s some sort of weekend effect. There have been dips before. Then of course, when all the students leave the university… they go home. And party there. So we shall see.

      Also, B4 and B5 haven’t caught on here, for some reason.

      1. ambrit

        Do consider the, perhaps deliberate, absolutely disgraceful records keeping being “used” in today’s public health field. The monkeypox appears to already be in the “community spread” phase of pandemicity. I imagine that the usual suspects are involved.
        So, B4 and B5 may already be circulating freely, and are, even as we speak, concocting a new, improved, foul brew of mutations.
        The elites seem to be embracing the logical fallacy that if it isn’t looked for, then it will not be seen, and thus doesn’t exist.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > So, B4 and B5 may already be circulating freely, and are, even as we speak, concocting a new, improved, foul brew of mutations

          Assuming Biobot hasn’t been captured, no.

      2. GramSci

        On biobot.io/data , this wastewater peak for Arlington County, Va has now exceeded the Dec 2021 peak. My daughter in law here in Pentagonia just yesterday tested positive on two antigen tests but “negative” on an intervening PCR.

        Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

  6. Henry Moon Pie

    They leave the eyes (“the windows of the soul”) exposed.

    So NC-ers have had a lot of fun speculating about why the PMC has become so opposed to face coverings masks, and the answers have ranged from masks hiding deceitful smiles to the PMC wanting to show their class marker expensive caps. Another possibility is that masks remove most distractions from those eyes and the soul behind them.

    But the asshole theory may be the best of all.

    1. lambert strether

      Smiling allows the accumulation of social capital in the form of deference.

    2. DJG, Reality Czar

      Douthat’s face is not sufficiently callipygian to be worth a case of the sniffles, let alone Long Covid. Masks don’t cover the face. They leave the eyes (“the windows of the soul”) exposed. –Lambert Strether.

      Much to “unpack,” a jargon word of the moment. First, I will unpack the callipygian, being the beauty of the pyges. Masks don’t cover the pyges. And in this era of endless puritanism and fear of the eroticism of the body, one can barely mention the callipygian. [Well, there is that statue of the god Hermes in the Palazzo Altemps in Rome…]

      I subscribe to the idea that Anglo-American culture is steeped in a horror of “the gaze,” eyes.

      So one is left with the “smart mouth.” See: His Gloriousness, Sec’y of State Blinken and the address at Georgetown University.

      The problem is that the eyes are where the power is, and one may call it soul if one likes. The power and beauty are what matter. But the mask over the nose and mouth made life too uncomfortable for people used to ordering around their inferiors.

      1. ambrit

        The masks also make it well nigh impossible to tell with certainty who one’s “inferiors” are.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > The masks also make it well nigh impossible to tell with certainty who one’s “inferiors” are.

          I don’t know about that. We have clothing, uniforms, body language for that.

    3. antidlc

      I think it’s simply because they do not want to admit their vulnerability.

      Hey, I take care of myself. I won’t get COVID. Only other people get COVID.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        I think you’re right. And I think that first summer, the second wave, there was also the idea going around that “nice white people don’t get it.”

        AIDS has pretty much remained that way. It took a hell of a fight for it to be taken seriously.

        But agreed. For the PMCs, it’s like a duty to be personally resilient if not invulnerable. Stiff upper lip. Beneath every PMC, regardless of their ethnic background, there’s some Oxbridge via Ivy.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > they do not want to admit their vulnerability


          > Beneath every PMC, regardless of their ethnic background, there’s some Oxbridge via Ivy.

          True. Nobody can know my upper lip is stiff if it’s hidden by a mask.

  7. Samuel Conner

    > “evidence-based medicine” (which seems more like “document-based medicine,” the more I hear about it).

    don’t forget, ” ‘conflict-ridden research, funded in part by the patent-holders’ – based medicine”.

  8. Carolinian

    but other analysts have suggested that given Biden’s extensive foreign policy experience and the context in which he made the remarks, next to Kishida and after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he had not spoken in error.

    So there’s ambiguity about the ambiguity? How many dimensions is this chess game again?

    All this ambiguity may increase ambivalence when it comes to fearless leader–currently polling at 39 percent.

    1. Dave in Austin

      Please note that Biden’s answer was not to a “Boots on the ground” question. And he answered too quickly for an ad lib.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        Oh boy! You mean our favorite, the no-fly zone, is on the table?

        Does that mean they’re less afraid of Chinese anti-air than they are of the S-400? Their fear of that weapon seems to be determining a lot about the NATO response.

    2. Jacob Hatch

      Slowly priming the public pump. One of those old fashion hand/wind driven piston pumps, where one stroke moves the water up, then the downstroke sees a tiny drop in water level till the valve flap shuts. Rinse and repeat until the the water comes out of the spout and spreads arsenic contaminated water throughout the cropland.

  9. petal

    I was just at a lunch & learn talk about a new machine today at our local prestigious educational institution, and it was in a small lecture room, no ventilation, doors closed, room packed full of biomedical science PhDs and only 3 out of ~40 people were wearing a mask(incl me w/my N95). There was no zoom option, so if you wanted to learn about this machine, you had to go. And they were all eating. Feels like I’m in the Twilight Zone. “Because autonomy!” according to the College administration.

      1. petal

        Yes. From an email sent to everyone May 17th: “Testing and masking are effective ways to protect yourself and others from spreading COVID-19. While Dartmouth’s face-mask policy has shifted to provide increased autonomy for those in the Dartmouth community, we ask that you be prudent and courteous in your mask wearing. Please be respectful of those who choose to wear a mask or who request that you do so.”
        Sent by the College’s “COVID-19 Response Team”

        1. petal

          They just sent the very same email a minute ago, exhorting students and staff to pick up 5 masks and 2 RATs each for free from a location on the green tomorrow. Same paragraph(above) included.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > we ask that you be prudent and courteous in your mask wearing.

          What would “discourteous” mask or “imprudent” mask wearing be?

          A Reagan mask at the Tuck School?

    1. anon y'mouse

      will you somehow be informed, through official or back channels, if there is an outbreak resulting from that meeting?

  10. Wukchumni

    When I think of the workout these digits and so many others have gotten over typing casting in regards to Bitcoin and the other cryptocurrency limited edition pretenders to the fiat throne…

    …reckon I could deadlift a $50 bag of pennies using merely only my index finger

    1. curlydan

      I had to read the Douthat article to make sure he mentioned his long battle with Lyme Disease–which he did. But if he’s going maskless in planes and indoor restaurants, is his family taking hikes in Connecticut woods in flip flops, shorts, t-shirts, and no bug spray? Ross: I want to see your legs, toes, and bare arms!

      P.S. never let an op-ed writer do math… it’s just scary

  11. Wukchumni

    I’d by lying if I didn’t have apprehensions in regards to our trip to the Gulag Hockeypellago, especially in a year where Canada may actually win the Stanley Cup again after a long dry spell. One team from Alberta is a mortal lock to be in the semi-finals.

    It’ll be my first plane flight in 7 years (no, it has nothing to do in regards to the statute of limitations…) and also the longest time i’ll have ever worn a mask. (I know, sheltered life)

    1. WhoaMolly

      If my Canadian comrades are near winning the Stanley Cup I may head North just to see the outbreak of mass euphoria and the sea of smiling faces!

  12. BrianH

    I like the Teen Vogue article on Cisneros. She sounds promising. But how do you write that without mentioning the strong support from Pelosi and company that Cuellar is enjoying? The thrust of the article is her intent to shake-up the party, so where in research/writing/editing/publishing is the decision being made to leave this out of the article and why?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > How do you write that without mentioning the strong support from Pelosi and company that Cuellar is enjoying?

      I thought I had, in a past Water Cooler. Apparently not!

  13. Laughingsong

    That Leeds version of Magic Bus is our very favorite live Who version! Thanks!

    1. pjay

      I agree. Gives me a flashback to high school, late at night, earphones on and cranked up in my room. One of my favorite live albums.

  14. Val

    Emerald ash borer?

    Science vs. academia:
    “We’re going to kill ourselves because of stupidity.”

    Intelligence, if I have ever encountered it, is incredibly varied, context specific and hard to quantify. Humans are fascinating this way. In my experience, “A” students are generally privileged kids who happen to be very motivated by perceived authority and status. There’s all manner of second order effects that come from cramming buildings full of similar personality types eager to have a pre-approved body of thoughts. I suspect this phenomenon extends well beyond my experience in the research cave/academic warrens, as “smart” and obedient are so often conflated in our perfectly titrated authoritarian nudge culture.

    I’d write it up but the smart kids would hate it, it would require a thorough tumble through the psych literature, and the birds are singing down by the creek.

    1. Late Introvert

      Yes, Emerald Ash Borer. That tree was fine about 3 years ago and now is nearly dead.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        In fall, after all the leaves were gone, if that tree were cut down below the lowest level of borer damage, would new branches sprout up from the stump, somewhat like coppice? If they would, would that be a way to keep the roots alive, and new sapling branches alive?

    2. Pokhara

      I agree. After 15 years of teaching in schools, and a few years in universities before that, I’m convinced that ‘intelligence’ is a pure abstraction, as is ‘learning’. Fortunately, here in the UK, teachers no longer have to bother about such things anyway, as any real thinking about education was longer ago replaced by ‘performance’, ‘outcomes’, ‘quality’ (= test performance, test results, frequency and rigour of testing) and so on. And that stuff is so much easier.

  15. Wukchumni

    The real estate bubble is clearing imploding, and short term vacation rentals didn’t exist when housing bubble numero uno blew up real good back in the day.

    Does AirBnB et al buck the trend, or does tourism get hit just as hard-a daily double of hurt in need of bleeding out?

    1. super extra

      I think it depends on how long countries are willing to put up with rising deaths due to unfettered international arrivals without quarantine or if the success of china (multiple times) in stomping it out with hard lockdowns is seen as worth it to avoid the deaths. A lot of countries’ economies are overly-reliant on tourism income that isn’t easily replaced.

        1. super extra

          I hunted down an article to read their full rationale and they say they’re going to focus on the regional travel done by Chinese ex-China. Which sounds to me like two bets: no kinetic action in East Asia in next year, and more Chinese travel outside of the country than so far since China embraced zero covid. I would take neither of those bets personally given recent Chinese warnings to their people to reduce their foreign travel and exposure to foreign assets.

          One of the ways I chill out is by watching videos of walks in exotic places on youtube. Lately I’ve been looking for walks in places with dense tourism industries that have been filmed in the last six months or so. I look for how locals vs tourists are masking. I’ve noticed that Mexico City has a very high rate of masking among locals, high tourism, and low rate of masking among tourists. Same for Bangkok in Thailand. These are places I would expect to see attempts at reducing international arrivals and increasing quarantine on arrival, and places I’d expect a big dramatic hissy fit from AirBnB in response.

          1. The Rev Kev

            The media here in Oz is thrilled, thrilled that ocean cruise liners are returning to our waters. I can see the death toll actually rising and yet people believe that the Pandemic is over now because our leaders and media act like it is.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > One of the ways I chill out is by watching videos of walks in exotic places on youtube.

            YouTube is really good for non-psycho escapist fare like that. (I watch British steam engines, for example.)

  16. antidlc

    Post–COVID Conditions Among Adult COVID-19 Survivors Aged 18–64 and ≥65 Years — United States, March 2020–November 2021
    Early Release / May 24, 2022 / 71


    What is already known about this topic?

    As more persons are exposed to and infected by SARS-CoV-2, reports of patients who experience persistent symptoms or organ dysfunction after acute COVID-19 and develop post-COVID conditions have increased.

    What is added by this report?

    COVID-19 survivors have twice the risk for developing pulmonary embolism or respiratory conditions; one in five COVID-19 survivors aged 18–64 years and one in four survivors aged ≥65 years experienced at least one incident condition that might be attributable to previous COVID-19.

    What are the implications for public health practice?

    Implementation of COVID-19 prevention strategies, as well as routine assessment for post-COVID conditions among persons who survive COVID-19, is critical to reducing the incidence and impact of post-COVID conditions, particularly among adults aged ≥65 years.

    1. Jason Boxman

      This is essential. I’ve been saying for 2 years that we need routine, randomized testing of those that had and recovered from COVID, for some definition of recovered. We need to know about lung function, heart function, kidneys, and so on. Just how much damage has been done to our overall population health? This is essential, to plan for the deluge of people with ongoing morbidity from this.

      So naturally we won’t, and our best sources of information will be from abroad, such as the UK and Israel.

    1. super extra

      god forbid he deny the world his genius and bad comic art!! to keep others healthy and safe!

      Lambert’s new theory of transmission is really growing on me..

  17. Wukchumni

    A Swedish Sequoia hunter (he uses a 3-D printed old German 88 with that flat trajectory and air bursts) was lamenting:

    On another note: Sweden has just applied for membership in NATO (having been neutral for 200 years) due to war in Ukraine. What will the upcoming fire season do the sequoias left to burn. Will the world catch fire? Two questions on my mind. Come to think of the telling sign we saw in 2011, near the Springville ranger station, saying: A forest is no match for man with a match! The guys in power these days have really big matches in their arsenals…

    Things are so crazy these days, I heard from a confederate in the Pentagon that the Salvation Army is trying to get in on the gravy by supplying $100,000 kettles to the proud freedom fighters of Ukraine.

      1. Jacob Hatch

        Probably already CIA/NED compliant, at least their operations in Canada, Australia, etc.

        1. WhoaMolly

          I understand the administration has appointed Hunter Biden to be in charge of all Ukraine funds.

          He is both experienced and qualified.

  18. lyman alpha blob

    Seeing a lot of dunking on Nina Jankowicz for the DHS “Disinformation” Board being mothballed due to public outcry, and justifiably so – it’s a stupendously bad idea and she was quite clearly a merchant of mendacity for years herself.

    However, just because it’d been publicly mothballed doesn’t mean it’s over. Anybody else remember when the Total Information Awareness program was run up the flagpole by pardoned Iran-Contra criminal John Poindexter about 20 years ago? It too was mothballed after tremendous public outcry, and then the Bush administration just went ahead and did it anyway in secret, with no consequences once it was later discovered. My guess is the same will happen here, especially since Obama created an actual budget for the US government to propagandize against the US public about ten years ago.

    1. jsn

      I can’t remember when, but Congress passed legislation that ended the restriction on CIA domestic psy ops, I think during Cheney/Bush.

      Since then, MSM has been totally repopulated with spooks (you’re never an ex spook the same way you’re never an ex mobster).

      DHS Disinformation Board was just an attempt to sell subscriptions for it like Hulu or Netflix. Kind of like the CNN app that went belly up a few weeks ago trying to get people to pay again for crap they already bought with their cable box, but targeted at Congress critters instead of the general public, to get them to pay again for crap they’d already got in the Black Budget.

      1. Paradan

        I think it was Obama, he cancelled a long standing rule/regulation(?) that State Dept/CIA’s propaganda programs could not be used on US citizens. When they cancelled the rule, they said it was just a to cover a legal technicality that US citizens/expats would often be listening to Radio Free Europe, etc.
        This is of course total BS, and your right about the media environment being changed since then.

  19. Louis Fyne

    got my natural gas bill, $1.10 per therm– 3x more than the Before Times, 2.5x more than the early days of the Biden admin.

    US industry will not survive the summer without passing on the costs. Some people literally may not survive this winter

    1. Glen


      I just went and looked up the numbers on use to see how this breaks out by sector in 2021*:

      Electric Power 37%
      Industry 33%
      Residential 15%
      Commercial 11%
      Transportation 3%

      The Industry component is where natural gas is used to provide heat during the manufacturing process, everything from making cement for concrete to baking cookies.

      So let’s game this out with a bang the corners hard scenario:

      Things go really bad for the human raced and it’s down to a guy and a gal. The gal hasn’t had a drink in days and is close to expiring. She asks the guy for a drink. “Last I checked, that’s $20 for this bottle, do you have $20?” She does not, later dies. End of the human race.

      Admittedly, I banged the extreme end of the scenario there, but if the “free market” (I seriously object to calling the rigged game we have now a well regulated market, but whatever) starts killing a significant portion of your citizens, do you just blindly go along with that? Oh, yeah, right, we’re living that one now, how dumb of me…

      I’m sure that the solution offered by Biden will amount to some way to delay all natural gas bills until after the midterms, and Nancy will no doubt know exactly when to buy/sell shares based on the bill she passes.

      *Numbers from here: https://www.eia.gov/naturalgas/

    2. super extra

      we had YoY increase of 106% on ours here in OK (claimed to be due primarily to effects from the Texas Freeze, which also impacted us). The relative who tracks this was a statistician by training and tracks the cost changes of everything “for fun” and he says everything is up worse than he’s ever seen in the decades he’s been crunching the numbers.

  20. flora

    re: plantidote.
    Is that a photo of a mature Ash tree’s trunk? The tree bark looks to me like a mature Ash tree, not an Elm tree or a Walnut tree.

    1. Louis Fyne

      yes, definitely ash/ash borer. looks just like the backyard 60 y.o. ash which was cut down this spring.

      on looking at the main trunk post-felling, it was still in good shape. the branches however were hollow, from rot and borer.

    2. Randy

      My guess is Boxelder. Bark looks similar to White Ash but unruly growth (suckers and small branches are not the way white ash grows. It is short lived and considered an undesirable tree.

        1. Randy

          OK, that is a tree fighting to stay alive. Emerald Ash Borer isn’t quite here yet but will be soon, dammit.

          1. Late Introvert

            I’ve lived here 16 years and it’s right outside my window, so I feel its pain for real.

            On the bright side, maybe we can grow food in our front yard once it’s gone.

            1. stukuls

              They will all be dead. We have lost 70 ash trees on our property in Ulster County New York, maybe one or 2 left may service but I doubt.

  21. Jason Boxman

    I was ignorant of our Haitian occupation; We’ve occupied so many countries, I guess I can’t be too embarrassed that I was unaware of this:

    In the drowsy hours of a December afternoon, eight American Marines strolled into the headquarters of Haiti’s national bank and walked out with $500,000 in gold, packed in wooden boxes.

    They drove the loot by wagon to the shore, past American soldiers in civilian clothes who kept watch along the route. Once at the water, they loaded the boxes and sped to an awaiting gunboat.

    The gold was in the vault of a Wall Street bank within days.

    The operation took place in 1914 — a precursor to the full-scale invasion of Haiti. American forces took over the country the following summer and ruled it with brute force for 19 years, one of the longest military occupations in American history. Even after the soldiers left in 1934, Haiti remained under the control of American financial officers who pulled the country’s purse strings for another 13 years.

    (bold mine)

    And this under Wilson, who later championed self determination for all nations after WWI, and world leaders were shocked when this rhetoric was taken seriously by those nations!

    Invade Haiti, Wall Street Urged. The U.S. Obliged.

    1. JBird4049

      IIRC, Haiti did not finish paying France for its “lost” property, aka the Haitian slaves who had revolted, until after the Second World War. Whenever Haiti fell behind the French navy blockaded it.

      Heck, the earthquake “relief” was just a grift. The Haitians got whatever coin slipped through the various organizations’ net onto the floor.

      And this just starts to show the pillaging of the country.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      I suspect Wilson only ever meant the “European” ethnations of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire.

      I doubt he ever for a moment meant any of the AfroAsian colonized nations.

  22. Mikel

    “Why 2022 has been a dangerous time to retire — and what you can do about it”

    Why not just suggest they take the rest of their cash to the Vegas casinos as a switch up from casinos?

    But not joking:
    File under class warfare.

    1. The Rev Kev

      No good that idea. You could have the police seize your money under Civil Forfeiture Laws where guilt is presumed and it is up to you to appear in distant courts to prove the innocence not of you but of your money. Then, like that Michigan couple, you might have to buy those police a new police cruiser to get the rest of your money back again. If civilization ever broke down in America, I suspect that the remnants of the police would organize themselves into gangs who would roam and seek a payment fee on every traveler along the roads between towns and cities. Straight out of medieval times.

      1. ambrit

        Uh, sorry to point this out, but you just did describe the present day state of play.
        “Civilization” began breaking down in America several decades ago.

      2. JBird4049

        And both the mayor and the police chief did the initial “impromptu” safety inspection.

  23. drumlin woodchuckles

    Here is a hot-potato question which a clever reporter could ask Adams if he goes on the Presidential Campaign trail . . .

    ” Mr. Adams, in light of the ( name-check a bunch of Blue-on-Black murders), what do you feel should be done about the epidemic of Blue-on-Black violence in America today?”

    1. Pat

      I don’t know how he’ll manage it, but somehow it will all be the fault of bail reform.

  24. Mikel

    • Another of many anecdotes:

    ” My daughter too. This is her first infection and she’s done everything possible to stay safe….”

    Another milestone is indicated in this response. People are now talking in terms of 1st infection…etc.

    1. Wukchumni

      The 18 year old mass murderer comes from a generation who has only known the veneration of guns, sad as it is.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I hate to dismiss any individual calamity, but Matt Stone, co-creator of South Park and native of Columbine, had just a fascinating interview in Bowling for Columbine. He’s ticked about the animated part which I get, but his interview is just fantastic.


        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Pretty much. Because to do anything would demand action on too many issues. He’s just going to do foreign trips.

      2. Mikel

        Only 1 generation in the USA venerated guns?


        It’s something that is passed down from generations as well.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      all over the local news in my part of the world….Uvalde is the other side of San Antone from me, but we have peeps down there.
      14 kids dead, and one teacher, and apparently the shooter shot his abuela, first, which got the law after him, and he thought to barricade from them inside the elementary school.
      “thoughts and prayers” from the gun nuts in texas gooberment so far.
      and shock that this keeps happening, in spite of their long term policy of moar guns for evrybody, no social support for anyone but the already rich, and no public mental health system to speak of(that’s what church is for, no?).
      the good news, i suppose, is that i no longer need a permit to go about heavily armed…in case a good guy with a gun(s) is required.
      failed state…let us get the Burning Times over and done with, please.

      1. marieann

        Yes, I heard that “thoughts and prayers”….what is happening and why are solutions not being found.

        I live in Canada…just a mile away over the river from the US….what is going on??? for god’s sake these are just little kids.

      2. Henry Moon Pie

        “the good news, i suppose, is that i no longer need a permit to go about heavily armed…in case a good guy with a gun(s) is required.”

        And a sidearm might come in handy in case there’s anything you need that’s subject to hoarding, which may soon be a whole lot of things.

        When I was a kid, we heard about those awful shortages in the USSR, but I’ll bet they never had citizens striding up and down grocery aisles with sidearms, threatening each other with death over a case of baby formula. How long will it be before that’s a common occurrence?

      3. Daryl

        There’s an NRA convention in Houston this weekend where Abbott and a lot of the other bigwigs are scheduled to speak.

  25. jonboinAR

    re: the Magic Bus: freakin’ awesome! Thanks! One question: Is that the Bo Diddley Shuffle (or whatever it’s called) they’re playing in the middle?

  26. flora

    Manchin is WEF. All I need to know. (Specially love his high dollar, fashion style , pseudo athletic shoes.)

    1. The Rev Kev

      With apologies to the citizens of West Virginia, how does their rep rate a trip to the WEF? No, seriously? Was the same true of the reps for the other 49 States? He has a background in business so now he knows all about geopolitics? One might suspect that as he is there, that he is blob-adjacent which might have to do the region that he lives in. But here is the thing. When he was sabotaging Biden’s legislation, was he doing so off his own bat or was he doing so on behalf of blob-friends who gave him a trip to the WEF as a partial reward for “service rendered”?

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      Nope. I heard some ex-Gov/spook guy on the Fox Five say what was needed was a “wall of steel around every school.”

      So I guess that even in this increasingly brutal market slide downward (and that’s the real measure of how things are in ‘Murca), at least going long razor wire might be a way to beat the bear.

      And does anyone remember? Does the “welcome” sign go above or below the razor wire?

      I can begin to hear that hard rain on my roof, and there’s not a cloud in the sky.

  27. mikel

    ”A Mechanical Engineer Becomes a Mask Nerd”

    The medical establishment and authorities are pushing the flimsy surgical masks so hard because they never did nor do they ever plan to have sufficient stock of the better kind.
    A pox on all their houses….

  28. Mikel

    What’s the tally now for Americans gunning down people in America vs Russians shooting Ukrainians?

    The year is barely halfway over…

  29. Alyosha

    Thanks for the link on panic behavior. From personal experience i find mostly true. The 5th percentile does panic but the 95th leads. The key is to “win” the middle towards the 95th. And this is the reason that emergency response actions are critically dependent on communication to the public being consistent and actionable.

    Covid has been maddening to me, because I come from doing emergency response professionally. We’re all trained and used the guidelines from the USG. They work. They work really well and are flexible enough to be applied to any type of emergency. Yet from day one, I’ve watched US “leadership” break every last rule of effective emergency response. The big one being communication, because that’s the one that leverages the conclusion of the link.

    1. Rod

      Yet from day one, I’ve watched US “leadership” break every last rule of effective emergency response
      Sort of like a panicked response would, no?

      1. Alyosha

        Yes and no. Some of it was panic but some of it was the jostling for political position and media exposure as normal. That led to different people saying different things. Even politicians having their personal opinion is not necessarily destructive to an emergency response but without any clarity of what the official position is, the message gets fragmented.

        Some of this is that in collective response there is variation, so communication to the public has to be guided by addressing the middle of the bell curve (you’ll never get the 5th percentile to not panic, but you want win the 50th). It also has to be truthful. Blowing smoke becomes problematic because it erodes trust. I don’t think we heard panic about Covid, but panic about how Covid fit into personal and party politics.

      1. Rod

        Well now, that is some very, very fine parsing of ‘dishonesty’ that I never thought about. At all.
        Mom used to say “Honesty is the best Policy” and I guess I never recognized the amount of ‘grey’ some include in what I thought was black or white.
        I do recognize how critically linked Trust is to Communication.
        And I believe Trust is so important, and complex, that Kidd gloves(The precautionary principle) are required in handling it.
        No ‘Jostling’ considered.

    1. The Rev Kev

      You don’t get more basic as a nation than to secure your food, water and energy supplies. Gawd, how was this allowed to happen? Something tells me that the core problem here is going to be corporate malfeasance like happened with the baby milk supply lines. I read that Russia is expecting a bumper crop this year but will DC decide to go ahead and embargo it as well? Russia would probably sell it but demand payment in Rubles first.

  30. Amfortas the hippie

    regarding Matt McManus…
    i first found him at Areo, and he has a standing invite to the campfire at the Wilderness Bar. i consider him a Real Philosopher…a ‘lover of wisdom’…ie: a seeker after wisdom.
    and, unusual in the field, today, he carries around a palpable sense of humility…a Socratic “I don’t Know”…that i find refreshing.
    here’s another from him, which, aside from some quibbles about the labeling, i could get behind:
    “Liberal socialists seek to combine important elements of both doctrines together. From socialism we take a deep wariness of possessive individualism, a belief that each person is entitled to a very high level of material well-being, and the conviction that social cooperation and democratic deliberation are superior to competition in all but a narrow set of spheres. To invoke G. A. Cohen’s seminal essay “Why Not Socialism?” we believe a camping trip rather than Wall Street at high noon is a better model for the kind of relations and interactions most of us want to have on a daily basis. From liberalism, we take the expressive individualist’s belief that each of us should be free (and empowered) to pursue differing visions of the good life, a wariness of unchecked state and market power, and a belief that socialist reforms must be carried out democratically and without trampling on liberal rights. However, we regard the key liberal rights to be those foregrounded by expressive, rather than possessive, individualism.”

    this gels with my own rather nebulous outlook: sitting on a log with a keg of beer, Heraclitus and Diogenes, watching Nietzsche wrestle in the mud with Jesus.

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