2:00PM Water Cooler 6/7/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

White-throated Sparrow (hat tip, Randy). New York, United States. And whole chorus of other birds! If you have a suggestion for a sparrow species, please leave it in comments. I’m surprised at how different their calls are.

“Sparrow ID Guides from Macaulay Library and Bird Academy” [The Cornell Lab of Ornithology]. Free downloads. “Sparrows are a challenge to birders of all skill levels because they’re often skulky and hard to see. At first they seem like dull brown birds, but when you get a good look, they show beautiful and intricate patterns on their feathers. Because many species are hard to see, they are sought after by avid listers and those who appreciate the beauty of birds. Whether you’re at home or out in the field, these helpful four-sheet sparrow reference guides have full-color photos of eastern, central, western and widespread sparrows.”

* * *


“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

“In snub to Biden, Mexico’s president won’t attend US-hosted Summit of the Americas” [USA Today]. “Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Monday that he is skipping this week’s Ninth Summit of the Americas, a blow to President Joe Biden as he tries to unite the region to address migration. ‘There cannot be a summit if all countries are not invited,’ López Obrador said at a press conference Monday after the United States refused to invite Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela to the summit. He said Mexico’s foreign affairs secretary, Marcelo Ebrard, will attend the summit instead. López Obrador said he will meet with Biden in July. López Obrador has been threatening to boycott the summit if the United States didn’t invite every country in the region, including the autocratic leaders of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. The Biden administration said they do not want to invite countries that have not upheld democratic principles.” • I’m so tired of us moralizing about democracy (or “our democracy”). The A.A. slogan applies: “Clean your own side of the street first.”

“Legal claims shed light on founder of faith group tied to Amy Coney Barrett” [Guardian]. “The founder of the People of Praise, a secretive charismatic Christian group that counts the supreme court justice Amy Coney Barrett as a member, was described in a sworn affidavit filed in the 1990s as exerting almost total control over one of the group’s female members, including making all decisions about her finances and dating relationships. The court documents also described alleged instances of a sexualized atmosphere in the home of the founder, Kevin Ranaghan, and his wife, Dorothy Ranaghan…. Barrett, 50, lived with Dorothy and Kevin Ranaghan in their nine-bedroom South Bend, Indiana, home while she attended law school, according to public records… There is no indication that Amy Coney Barrett lived in the house at the time when the Carnick children were visiting or witnessed any of the alleged behavior described in the court documents…. Cynthia Carnick [the complainant] stated in the [affidavit] documents that she had witnessed Dorothy Ranaghan tie the arms and legs of two of the Ranaghans’ daughters – who were three and five at the time the incidents were allegedly witnessed – to their crib with a necktie. She also said that the Ranaghans allegedly practiced ‘sexual displays’ in front of their children and other adults, such as Dorothy Ranaghan lying with her clothes on and ‘rocking’ on top of Kevin Ranaghan in their TV room. Cynthia Carnick – who no longer uses Carnick as her last name – declined to comment but said that she stood by the statement she made at the time.” • Well, now we know!


* * *

“Even in a Great Year, Republicans’ Winnable Seats Are Limited” [Charlie Cook, Cook Political Report]. “Just as it is rare for rivers to reverse their flow, in the last six months before a midterm election the clear direction of that campaign almost never reverses…. With inflation running at nearly a 40-year high and fears of a recession growing, this is certainly a combustible situation for any party in power. A Quinnipiac University national poll earlier this month indicated that 85 percent of Americans expect a recession in the next year. This column has previously discussed “issue contamination”—that is, when voters are mad at a president on one issue, it colors their view of that president’s performance on other issues as well. The public’s memory of Biden and his administration insisting that there would not be an inflation problem is not hazy in the least bit. It’s akin to Trump’s dismissiveness about the coronavirus. It is hard for any other issue to provide any buoyancy when one big issue is pulling a president down.”

“House GOP incumbents battling primary challengers running to their right” [The Hill]. “Several House Republicans with primary elections on Tuesday face challengers running to the incumbents’ political right. These challengers have attempted to tie themselves to the policies and ideas of former President Trump. The result, in some races, are battles on the airwaves with incumbents shelling out to mount defenses through ads. Incumbents in these races have an advantage in polling — when it’s available — and in fundraising.” • We’ll see!

CA: “Six races to watch in the California primary” [The Hill]. District attorney recall election in San Francisco (Chesa Boudin), Los Angeles mayor’s election (Karen Bass, Rick Caruso), Los Angeles County sheriff’s election (Alex Villanueva), CA-27 (Garcia (R) via Smith (D)), CA-40 (Kim v. Paths), CA-49 (Levin v. Republican free-for-all)

PA: “Fetterman airs first general election ad on Fox” [Politico]. “The commercial, which was shared exclusively with POLITICO, portrays Fetterman as a political outsider who has pushed for policies that benefit the working class. Braxton White, an Army veteran and local school board member, says in the spot that for years ‘Washington, D.C. attacked towns like’ Braddock — a struggling steel town in southwestern Pennsylvania where Fetterman previously served as mayor — by writing ‘bad deals that sent away our jobs’ and approving ‘the drugs that kill our kids.’ And he’s not wrong. More: “The ad then draws a contrast in Fetterman, saying that ‘for 20 years, he’s lived in a place like this, building, pushing, fighting.’ It highlights his support for a $15 minimum wage, revitalizing the manufacturing industry, and ‘good American jobs.’ The 30-second spot, which begins airing Tuesday, will run on Fox News in the Pittsburgh, Scranton and Johnstown media markets. It will also air on broadcast television in Johnstown.” • Fox, eh? Right out of the box? Fetterman seems to believe that the establishment Democrats “have no place to go.” About time.

PA: “Fetterman’s wife says Democratic Senate candidate may be away from campaign trail until July as he recovers from a stroke” [CNN]. “‘I think he deserves a month break to come back as strong as ever,’ Giselle Fetterman said in an interview with CNN. ‘This is going to be a tough race and a really important race. I want him to be fully ready for it.’ Asked if John Fetterman, who serves as Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor, would return to campaigning by July in one of the nation’s marquee Senate contests, she replied: ‘Maybe. I think so. That’s my hope.’ And asked whether she could envision a scenario where he would not be able to return to the campaign in one of the nation’s most closely watched contests, in which he faces Republican nominee Mehmet Oz, she quickly said no.

‘I don’t see that, but more importantly, his doctors don’t see that,’ she said. ‘They are all confident he will make a full recovery.’ She also said the campaign was not opposed to more information being released by the team of doctors in Lancaster who treated her husband for the stroke, but said it is the policy of the Lancaster General Hospital to not talk about patient care. ‘We have asked, but that’s not the protocol of the hospital,’ she said. ‘It’s not up to us, we’ve asked. That’s up to their policies.'” • Hmm. Well, as I’ve said, I’d prefer an unrehabilitated stroke victim to any Establishment Democrat, so I retain my position of non-aghastitude. I also have to assume that Fetterman knows his voters; he ought to, having criss-crossed the state.


“Trump on the brink?” [NBC]. “Former President Donald Trump is bored at Mar-a-Lago and anxious to get back in the political arena — as a candidate, not a kingmaker — according to his advisers, who are divided over whether he should launch a third bid for the presidency as early as this summer. While many Trump confidants believe he should wait until after November’s midterm elections — and caution that he has not yet made a final decision about running — some say he could move more quickly to harness supporters and deny fuel to the busload of GOP hopefuls in his rearview mirror…. While he casts a longer shadow over his party than that of any former president in modern times, the footsteps of 2024 Republican hopefuls are growing louder. Several of them have visited early primary states, endorsed candidates in the midterms or delivered high-profile speeches designed to elevate their standing in the party. That pack includes Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, and Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas.” • 1/6 madness aside, who on that list would have the stones to do anything like Operation Warp Speed?

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.

* * *

“The Institutionalist” [Rebecca Traister, New York Magazine]. The deck: “Dianne Feinstein fought for gun control, civil rights, and abortion access for half a century. Where did it all go wrong?” And, looking at that list, it did. This is a really good profile of Feinstein, who really does belong to another place and time. FInal paragraph: “There is a great story in Roberts’s biography about how when Feinstein was on the Board of Supervisors, she got word that the headmistress of her old school, Sacred Heart, had been arrested protesting on behalf of farmworkers with Cesar Chavez. That headmistress, Sister Mary Mardel, told Roberts about how her former pupil had called the jail to speak to her. ‘Sister, what are you doing in jail?’ Feinstein had asked her in alarm. ‘What about all the white gloves?'” • Kinda the right question for Democrats generally.


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, wastewater detection is up, and hospitalization is elevated in many states. 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. But it’s starting to look like we won’t.

* * *

• A DIY project, useful for wildfires, too:

• More on Long Covid:


So the self-reported figures are, if anything, low?

• And more on neurological issues:

I guess the Yankee candles proxy has a competitor — but one with a much stronger odor. (And will people be able to detect gas leaks anymore?)

* * *

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 steady upward climb resumes. Remember that cases are undercounted, one source saying by a factor of six, Gottlieb thinking we only pick up one in seven or eight.) Hence, I take the case count and multiply it by six to approximate the real level of cases, and draw the blue “Biden Line” at that point. Yesterday, the count was 106,000. Today, it’s 117,300, and 117,300 * 6 = a Biden line at 702,000. At least we have confirmation that the extraordinary mass of case anecdotes had a basis in reality. (Remember these data points are weekly averages, so daily fluctuations are smoothed out.) The black “Fauci Line” is a counter to triumphalism, since it compares current levels to past crises.

Here are cases for the last four weeks:

The steady upward climb resumes, especially in the South, which jibes with both the positivity and Rapid Riser counties.

• “Is the Covid pandemic finally nearing its end?” [Guardian]. • No.

From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker:

Fiddling and diddling. This tracker does this at peaks, but also not at peaks. I’m leaving the corporate logo on as a slap to the goons at CDC.

MWRA wastewater data:

Both South and North down.

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:

Another wild round of unexplained revisions. On the bright side, they’ve revised the variant data. Note that BA.4 and BA.5 are increasing in the South (as of May 18). Here is confirming CDC variant data as of May 21 for CDC Region 6:

I wanted to see Texas and Louisiana, so I picked Region 6; I haven’t been able to coerce CDC’s national map into providing data across regions.

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

This could be the breakout in the South I’ve been waiting for; look at Texas and Louisiana (and North Carolina). This would jibe with both case data and wastewater data.

The previous release:

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.

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. Great Plains speckled with yellow. (As has been the case for weeks, even while people were yammering that “Covid is over!”)

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Much improved, much more green. I think the hospital-centric goons at CDC are starting to think it’s all over. I doubt it.

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,033,830 1,032,862. I have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line.

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

Note the quality of these numbers varies wildly. For example, the UK is cutting back on testing data.

Stats Watch

Supply Chain: “United States LMI Logistics Managers Index Current” [Trading Economics]. “The Logistics Manager’s Index in the US fell for a second month to 67.1 in May of 2022, the lowest since December of 2020 and down considerably from March’s all-time high of 76.2. The reading showed the logistics industry continues to expand, driven primarily by strong growth in inventory (69.3 vs 72.3 in April) and warehousing metrics, as supply chains continue struggling to find the capacity needed to deal with high levels of inventory. Warehousing Capacity (45.9 vs 40.8) extended a streak of 21 consecutive months of contraction as shipping containers continue to be a chokepoint as they sit on docks due to a shortage in available space.”

* * *

Tech: “Vectorized and performance-portable Quicksort” [Google Open Source Blog]. “Today we’re sharing open source code that can sort arrays of numbers about ten times as fast as the C++ std::sort, and outperforms state of the art architecture-specific algorithms, while being portable across all modern CPU architectures.” • And we’ve got a lot of data to sort!

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 30 Fear (previous close: 29 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 26 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 7 at 1:09 PM EDT.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 187. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.)

Screening Room

Now do “It’s a Wonderful Life”:

The Gallery

I have to admit I love this stuff:

Somehow, despite the overwhelming complexity, it appears simple and ordered.

Zeitgeist Watch

“Better vaguely right than precisely wrong in effective altruism: the problem of marginalism” [Economics and Philosophy]. “We raise a practical problem for [Effective altruism (EA)], which is that there is a crucial empirical presupposition implicit in its charity assessment methods which is false in many contexts. This is the presupposition that the magnitude of the benefits (or harms) generated by some charity vary continuously in the scale of the intervention performed.” • If I interpret this correctly, this means that more money ≠ more good. Oopsie. Commentary:

Excel jockeys with MBAs again.

Class Warfare

“Most workers who died of COVID in 2020 had something essential in common, study finds” [Miami Herald]. “Most working-age Americans who died of COVID-19 during the first year of the pandemic were so-called essential workers in labor, service and retail jobs that required on-site attendance and prolonged contact with others, according to a recently published study led by a University of South Florida epidemiologist. The study looks back on COVID-19 deaths in 2020 and affirms what many had already known or suspected — that Americans who could not work from home and who labored in low-paying jobs with few or no benefits, such as paid sick leave and health insurance coverage, bore the brunt of deaths during the pandemic’s first year, said Jason Salemi, an associate professor in USF’s College of Public Health and co-author of the study. Salemi said the finding, while perhaps expected, left him with two takeaways: That essential workers need more protections during an infectious disease pandemic, and that society’s desire to ‘return to normal’ will mean different things for different people — with inequitable consequences.” • Sadly, education had to be used as a proxy for class. Nevertheless. Funny how you never saw anything about essential workers on those “In this house….” signs. Or workers at all. Here is the original study.

News of the Wired

“Bodily maps of emotions” [Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences]. “Emotions are often felt in the body, and somatosensory feedback has been proposed to trigger conscious emotional experiences. Here we reveal maps of bodily sensations associated with different emotions using a unique topographical self-report method. In five experiments, participants (n = 701) were shown two silhouettes of bodies alongside emotional words, stories, movies, or facial expressions. They were asked to color the bodily regions whose activity they felt increasing or decreasing while viewing each stimulus. Different emotions were consistently associated with statistically separable bodily sensation maps across experiments. These maps were concordant across West European and East Asian samples. Statistical classifiers distinguished emotion-specific activation maps accurately, confirming independence of topographies across emotions. We propose that emotions are represented in the somatosensory system as culturally universal categorical somatotopic maps.” • Cultural universals, eh?

Good calls (legit):


* * *

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 ChiGal:

ChiGal writes: “Horse chestnuts are in flower.” I feel I should know more about chestnuts than I do. Do we have a chestnut maven in the readership?

* * *

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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. Samuel Conner

    Re: Wired and the ’90s, I think I recall an article from that magazine and era that argued that “the natural price of every commodity is zero”, or that commodity prices would inevitably tend toward zero over time.

    I don’t recall the details of the argument, but I think it must have been that technological developments would overcome resource scarcity.

    Lots of fun to read, but maybe not great counsel for planning the future of civilization.

    1. ambrit

      I have always thought that “planning” has nothing to do with the future, and everything to do with the management of the outcomes of past and present decisions.

    2. hunkerdown

      The Bearded One argued that, under a labor theory of value, that which is produced entailing no human labor has no value. Applied to the mineral extraction industry, assuming zero energy input and reserves well in excess of current orders, total automation of mining would bring mineral commodity prices down to zero at the mine’s loading dock. Two pithy phrases come to mind: “Amateurs think strategy, generals think logistics” and “The resources are here, just not evenly distributed,” to paraphrase in the form of a segue…

      The WIRED image posted by Gibson about challenges to the neoliberal eschaton was interesting mostly in the tendency of its attributions and the audacity of its encompassment (making claims on Russia’s patrimony already, were they). Particularly #6 attributes an unwillingness to reach out or open up to “terrorism” and “crime” blowing people up and ripping people off, rather than the rigged society and the rigged market doing much the same toward the same end. #10, for its part, is devoutly to be wished…

      1. Darthbobber

        Wouldn’t “total automation” of mining require totally automated building of the automated mining equiment, total automation of the mine building equipment building equipment, usw, usw, usw…and maintenance-free operation? Sort of the labor power version of the perpetual motion machine?

        And even then, while lacking value it would still have a price.

        1. hunkerdown

          WIRED heads of the time didn’t think that was such an outlandish long-term goal. Eventually they expected things like terrestrial mining equipment to be constructed in orbit using self-reproducing satellites mining asteroids and “air”-dropping finished manufactured products onto Earth. Eventually, the dead human labor input recedes into the noise of the cornucopia all that machinery was supposed to send Earth’s way. Imagine plowshares from heaven, too cheap to meter!

      2. eg

        But capital (which would be physical plant and machines in your commodity production example) is itself “crystallized labour” isn’t it?

    3. clarky90

      Re; “Today’s Fear & Greed Index: (100 is Extreme Greed!)

      Corporate jets to escape EU’s ‘green’ aviation fuel tax


      “….EU tax rate would not apply to cargo-only flights or to “pleasure flights” and “business aviation” – a term that covers executive jets.

      Business aviation in Europe has already climbed back above 2019 levels even amid ongoing travel restrictions, according to aviation consultants WingX……”

      1. Greg

        The perfect story if you needed any convincing that the EU is a totally captured market, owned by plutocrats (don’t call them oligarchs) which performs the rites of socialism without the substance

  2. fresno dan

    “Trump on the brink?” [NBC]. “Former President Donald Trump is bored at Mar-a-Lago and anxious to get back in the political arena — as a candidate, not a kingmaker — according to his advisers, who are divided over whether he should launch a third bid for the presidency as early as this summer.

    FIFY: “The MSM is bored that Former President Donald Trump is not a candidate, both for monetary and ratings reasons, as ginned up controversy is their only reason for being, and anxious for Trump to get back in the political arena – these are people who aren’t happy unless they are aghast, appalled, and alarmed

      1. rowlf

        Would Mike Pence running for president cause many news outlets to lose revenue and file for bankruptcy protection? Pence could be more boring than Biden but without the gaffes that have to be ‘splained, corrected, contexted, etc.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Mike Pence

          I will be interested to see if the 1/6 hearings give Pence a boost. (So far as I can tell from my limited reading, Pence acted responsibly; he consulted an excellent lawyer, he stayed on Capitol Hill instead of getting in the Secret Service car. Whatever one’s views of Trump’s culpability, “acting responsibly” isn’t the phrase I would choose to describe his behavior.)

      2. Michael Fiorillo

        The author, amid many factual errors that should make you wary, seems to take vindictive pleasure in the collapsing remnants of the public sphere in New York; the failure of the welfare state is the underlying premise, and he seems happy to report on it.

        Yeah, without a doubt, NYC is fraying, and the impending collapse of the high-rise commercial tax base is potentially apocalyptic, but it’s not because of an overly compassionate government and private sector. Aside from the spontaneous obsolescence of commercial high rises in Midtown, much of the basis for the current crisis was in place before the pandemic; Covid has accelerated and intensified it. As for the cops, militarized robocop theater in Times Square aside, I mostly observe them with their heads buried in their phones, willfully oblivious and indifferent.

        1. Carolinian

          Well it is The American Conservative (paleocons). I only linked to see what persons such as yourself might think. I lived there briefly back in the 70s and before Disney NY–which seems to have returned to “Ford to NYC drop dead”? I have to admit I have no great affection for the place other than the Metropolitan Museum. But no malice here.

        2. Pat

          As someone who was actually in the Wall Street area in and outside of trading hours, I can flat out tell you that most of what he is describing there was the same condition it was in two decades ago. It just became more obvious after dark. Apparently the high costs of Ubers has made him walk more rather than step outside a car once he got to his destination.

          But otherwise largely agree, Michael Fiorillo. I cannot speak to any difference in the subway not having spent any time in them recently, but the homeless, mentally ill and hungry have been present and hanging on for not just Adams but the three mayors prior. I did see an uptick in the amount of people lined up for the nearby church’s food bank days during and after the lockdown, but from all reports that was a nation wide phenomena. Petty crime has held steady, gun crime (shocking I know) is down in the city. Hate crimes and assaults are up. I would bet that is also more wide spread.

          We are going to face a huge problem with the glut of empty offices and the diminishing tax base. No question. But the author clearly had never opened his eyes during previous visits or had an axe to grind or both.

      3. TBellT

        Looking at the author’s photos, maybe his true problem with NYC is it’s a place where you have to walk.

    1. Alex Cox

      Lambert asks “who on that list would have the stones to do anything like Operation Warp Speed?”

      Josh Hawley seems anything but stupid on foreign policy. Whether he possesses “stones” is unclear. What if Orange Man Bad picked him for VP, second time around?

  3. Mildred Montana

    NBC article: “…the busload of GOP hopefuls in his [Trump’s] rearview mirror…. While he casts a longer shadow over his party than that of any former president in modern times, the footsteps of 2024 Republican hopefuls are growing louder.”

    Who writes this stuff? And why? Are they blind and/or deaf or being deliberately obtuse? Can’t they see that the “busload of GOP hopefuls” is in reality a clown-car of no-hopers? And those “footsteps…growing louder”? They will soon be silenced by Trump’s dust as he laughs at them in his “rearview mirror”.

    Trump, if he chooses to run, is a shoo-in for the Republican nomination. Not only that, but a betting site I sometimes go to has him as the 2/1 favorite to win the 2024 presidential election (Joe Biden is 4/1, Ron DeSantis is 5/1, and nobody else is close).

    None of the current roster of Republican “hopefuls” (notice the writer uses that word twice in two consecutive sentences, almost like an incantation) have a prayer. They are, for lack of a better word, hopeless.

      1. Nikkikat

        Lol! Chucks a toad. The stupidest most moronic of right wing dips on TV. Even worse than Jake tapper.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Whenever I see the GOP, I see a bunch of weenies who can’t play a tough guy on tv. Shrub pulled it off, but he was a drunk who found Jesus. DeSantis is fighting with Disney World, not even Disney, just a now minor wing of the Disney empire.

  4. Val

    “psychology is against people admitting that they have Long COVID symptoms”

    Perhaps there are corresponding institutional and personal psychologies against vaccine injury?

    Given currently available documents and testimony, pre-2020 spike vaccine studies, the super-sketchy/goofy NEJM rollout paper, the dreadful anecdata, autopsies and intense thought-policing, the state-mediated advertiganda and scarlet lettering? The probability is not zero, and of course we will have to check with the statisticians of institutional affiliation who genuinely aspire to an office with a window..

    Same applies to standard fudgey neodarwinian-style handwaving i.e., discerning positive selection vs Blob maniac-directed mutagenesis? Ask a neutralist–they don’t know either but are somewhat less prone to myth-making.

    Not drawing conclusions, merely reminding that unfalsifiable hypotheses are not, it turns out, hypotheses.

    That is to say, the passion of the jabbernaut begins with fear, and I have heard “that means it’s working!”

  5. Lex

    Obrador’s statement on refusing to attend might be the best encapsulation of the new, multipolar world order that’s been uttered so far:

    “I am not going to the summit because not all American countries are invited and I believe the need to change the policy that has been in place for centuries: The exclusion, the desire to dominate without any reason, the disrespect of countries’ sovereignty (and) the independence of each country,” López Obrador said at a news conference in Mexico City.

    Mexico is sending the foreign minister. Quote pulled from CNN coverage:

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The US isn’t the country it once was.

        -deindustrialization, even the decline during the Obama years was staggering.
        -electronic banking. Its been possible, but now, that deals are being made in non-dollar currencies, people aren’t as afraid to use those currencies. The threat of DC throwing a tantrum isn’t the same as before.
        -over extension. The US is still only a country of 300 million.
        -R&D in the US is a joke.

        Mexico is the size of the US South. Its a real country and has more in common with the RF than the US these days. Unlike Canada, its population isn’t on the border with the US. Its down in the Yucatan. Then the Empire has a problem brewing with Brazil in Lula. AMLO knows this.

      2. Nikkikat

        Since he threw the DEA out of the country and made them take their plane with them, I salute Mr. Obrador. But, I agree with Stegman. Mr Obrador just lined up for the next coup.

        1. Alex Cox

          AMLO didn’t eject the DEA. Just a small and disgraced portion of it. The DEA, CIA, DIA, FBI, and US military attaches all remain present at the American Embassy in Mexico City and throughout the country, to take up the slack.

          I wonder if the president of Argentina will attend Biden’s meager bean-fest. A refusal there was also on the cards. Meanwhile, even if the president of Venezuela were invited he would be unwise to go, as the US is offering a bounty of $15 million on his head…

    1. The Rev Kev

      Another self-inflicted defeat just to keep a bunch of crazies in Florida happy. Or maybe it was a matter of party donations. So the Democrats were told if they let Cuba in, that all those political donations for the midterms would go to the Republicans instead.

    2. flora

      If the US thought its pharma vaz access demands would replace the strength of the US petrol dollar they were much mistaken, imo, especially considering the extortionate contracts for vaz access the US pharma pushed on Latin American countries last year. My 2 cents. (but what do I know)

  6. Lex

    Love seeing analytical field data on the Corsi-Rosenthal box. The key is going to be the MERV rating of chosen furnace filter; however, at a high enough MERV or if one tries to adopt HEPA filters the design will fail due to static pressure drop across the filter and the box fan’s inability to maintain enough static pressure.

    I’ve commented before that an improved Corsi-Rosenthal box would use HEPA and an inline centrifugal fan. The cost for this unit probably falls between C-R boxes and the manufactured air purifiers with improved filtration and higher air exchange (likely louder operation too). Put a bucket of water inside your C-R box, maybe with a humidifier replacement wick and you’ve built a filtering humidifier!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Put a bucket of water inside your C-R box, maybe with a humidifier replacement wick and you’ve built a filtering humidifier!

      Interesting idea!

  7. Jen

    COVID update from my neck of the woods. Three co-workers went down with it this week. One had a “COVID is over” Memorial Day celebration at a seaside resort, where he learned to his extreme chagrin that it is not. He said it was the sickest he’s ever been. His daughters, both under the age of 5 both have it – they got it in daycare. This is now their second round. Their pediatrician told him they could not return to daycare without a negative RA test. He was livid. He wanted to know how this was being policed, since his buddies are sending their kids back to daycare without testing them. Apparently one of the other coworkers, who caught COVID during his trip to a different vacation destination, sent his son to school despite the fact that he had his wife both had it. Kid tested positive the next day.

    I know of at least 3 more people who have been exposed but are so far testing negative.

    The PMC enclave to my south still has more than 30 cases. The parish nurses are keeping track. I’m thankful to have one reliable source of local data.

    1. petal

      PCR testing at the College ends after this Friday. Just in time for graduation.
      Current case #s for the College(updated 6/3): UG 39, GR 25, Faculty/Staff 83. Good times.

      1. Jen

        And apparently the biweekly reporting is ending a bit sooner. Updates are supposed to be posted on Tuesdays and Fridays, but, I guess, why bother.

        1. petal

          Yes, they have been very lax about updating the dashboard twice a week like they said they would. Pandemic’s over! /s

  8. BillF

    I’ve lived in Columbus for a long time, so I can safely say that a horse chestnut is more commonly known as a Buckeye!

    1. lyman alpha blob

      And to Lambert’s question, horse chestnuts aren’t true chestnuts. They are a separate genus and they don’t taste good – https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/whats_the_difference_between_horse_chestnuts_and_sweet_chestnuts

      …the term “horse chestnut” is sometimes used to describe an unrelated tree in the genera Aesculus; trees in this genus may also be referred to as buckeyes. Trees in the genus Aesculus produce toxic, inedible nuts and have been planted as ornamentals throughout the U.S. and are sometimes incorrectly represented as an edible variety.

      Very soothing to hold on to though – stress balls made by Mother Nature.

  9. jax

    Rococo Interior, Bavaria – I have to admit that when I see this stuff, I think of the iron grip the Catholic church had on Europe. The Spanish Inquisition was going on during the time this cathedral replaced the Romanesque wooden ceiling with the gothic vault, and some writers postulate that more than 10,000 women died in Germany during its version of the Inquisition. (Obviously not all in Bavaria.) All of this is separate from “the burning times” which got going in 1450 with god knows how many women and men burned at the stake for being witches – separate from the Inquisition, but very much attached to various religions and their version of superstition.

    I can’t even walk into these monstrous cathedrals in Mexico or Central America. There the ostentatious overlays of gold and silver soaring to the skies was paid for with the dead of indigenous slaves. All I see is blood dripping down the nave.

    On a more objective note, Rococo is not my favorite artistic period.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I suppose its an art and artist thing. I went to Russia a few years back, and when visiting the cathedrals (some were just wild), the guides mentioned the Soviet renovations and restorations, ignoring the small churches they destroyed. The Soviet approach was these were still works of art built by people, and so they mattered. Much of the modern restoration work was copied from what the Soviet restorers managed.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I have seen a coupla of these places and they leave me in two minds. On one hand they are beautiful but on the other, it is like they really went over the top – too much so. But faced between a Rococo style and a Brutalist style, I’ll always opt for the former style first as it is all about beauty.

      1. c_heale

        Having been to The Church of Light in Ibaraki, Osaka, which is built in a brutalist style, I would say it’s not so simple. From the outside it looks like a cube of concrete (in fact we weren’t even sure it was a church at first). But from the inside it is one of the most amazing buildings I have ever seen.

        1. Acacia

          Ando Tadao retrospective at National Art Center, Tokyo had a full-scale replica of the Church of the Light (hey, Shinkansen to Osaka is fast but pricey).

          This very minimal work is pretty much the polar opposite from the cloying exuberance of Rococo, but really shows that you don’t need such excess to create a profound experience.

          Another option would be the “playful” modernism of Corbusier’s Notre-Dame du Haut at Ronchamp, which brings together some of the austerity of béton brut (tho actually, the walls are gunite — sprayed concrete — while the roof is rough concrete), colored glass, and almost expressionist forms.

      2. c_heale

        Having been to the Church of Light in Ibaraki, Osaka, I would say it’s not so simple. The outside is just a cube of concrete (in fact we didn’t realise it was the church at first). But the inside is completely amazing. You can look at the photos on the internet, but it is much better being there.

  10. Louis Fyne

    Long Boom pic’s #3 should read: the US turns into a kletopocracy or (klepto-gerontocracy) run by the D-R mafia….

    and guess what, almost everyone important in power today was in DC in 1997. Pelosi, Biden, McConnell, etc.

  11. Jason Boxman

    No, this isn’t from that NY Times parody twitter account, it’s an actual column.

    A physician wants to know if it’s OK to withhold care from a patient who used bigoted language.

    Offered without comment.

  12. jr

    Phun with Philosophy

    An amusing anecdote: So I have endeavored to crack my skull against Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Representation, my second attempt. This time I read the preface. In it, A.S. recommends:

    1. Read it twice.
    2. Read the preface.
    3. Don’t bother reading it if you haven’t read my essay on causality.
    4. Don’t bother reading it if you haven’t read my essay on optics and color.
    5. Don’t bother reading it if you haven’t read Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason.

    So I’m meeting him half way and reading Kant. Wiki will have to suffice for the other two for now. So I grabbed a copy of Kant and find that the translator writes in a foreword:

    1. Amateurs won’t make heads or tails of this.
    2. Most academics give up too.

    I have no hope of a comprehensive understanding of either of these Titans. So I’m going in in the spirit of an archeology dig, finding bits and clues to try to glimpse a whole. I must remember too, on the advice of the translator of Kant, to do as many who have read the Critique and take walks for some air. Some, apparently, never return.

    1. Acacia

      Indeed, the archeology dig can proceed to China, but you could also make do with summaries of the Critique of Pure Reason. There are quite a few available, but I can recommend §2 of Werner Pluhar’s introduction to his translation of the Critique of Judgment (available from that *cough* Russian site), because its aim is to put the Critique of Pure Reason into the context that Kant proposed, viz. his project of critical philosophy. In this way, you can get an idea of the overall project that informed Schopenhauer’s own inquiry, but without trying to slog through the entire CPR.

      1. jr

        I wish I had thought of that first, having spent 20$ though I must drive on. I’ll check out that reference too. Thanks!

  13. Swamp Yankee

    The Towhee is a great bird! Agreed, MT_Wild. Juncos are great in general.

    And Lambert, there have been a few “Thank You Essential Worker’ signs among the virtue signallers here, I should note in fairness. Only a few, though.

  14. Wukchumni

    My Kevin (since ’07) was up for reelection & taking my best ABK stance, voted for some other loser on the ballot who managed to garner 27% of the vote compared to McCarthy’s 53%.

    Forget it, Jake, It’s the CVBB.

  15. Jeff W

    Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first woman she meets and then teams up with three complete strangers to kill again.

    Rick Polito, who wrote that description for the Marin Independent Journal in 1998 (but is rarely properly credited for it), said to Jim Romensko in 2012, “That line is going to follow me to the grave,”—which he repeated a few days later in a podcast on KTRS with Paul Harris (who was trying to give him credit).

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the finnish PM Sanna Marin has come down with Covid after returning from Bilderberg meeting.

      Clearly no mask requirement. Marin with assistant::

      Marin with Draghi:

      (Draghi has already had Covid, which of course doesn’t mean he couldn’t be reinfected.)

      NOTE I still can’t find the venue, or I’d try to dig up something on ventilation, to see if it was any better than the Gridiron Club. Various croppings of the photo above still don’t yeild a hotel from Google image search.

      1. Polar Socialist

        The picture with assistant was taken in Finland (a place called Pikku-Finlandia), not Washington. Which doesn’t change the fact that Finland has indeed given up the mask requirements everywhere. It’s still recommended in crowded places, but very few bother with it anymore.

        The article linked to in the latter picture is actually very critical of almost every aspect of the Bilderberg meeting and Marin’s participation. Could be because Suomen Uutiset is an opposition news site, so they’re really milking this since in general Finns dislike secrecy and usually see it as only for people that are up to no good.

      2. fjallstrom

        I have picked up somewhere – and a quick search seams to confirm – that they were at the Mandarin Oriental in Washington D.C.

  16. griffen

    Sports desk commentary. I think this might get a closer look for any sport or golf mavens among the well informed here. The breakaway tour funded by the Saudi government and headed by golf great Greg Norman has landed some really big names in professional golf.

    Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, respectively are getting not just bag money but a flipping cargo plane full of money. I have been a fan of both of their careers. But everyone has a price, I get that. I just can’t fathom that $100 million equals the cost of what remains of one’s professional integrity. I might not rest easily knowing the source of that money, but that’s just my take.


    Bonus! A former Bush administration official gets a mention too.

    1. Basil Pesto

      the pro-sports side of golf twitter has certainly been blowing up in the last 24 hours.

      I haven’t been following it super closely so I don’t have anything much to add about recent developments. The story and cast of characters are colourful enough that I’m sure a middling cable miniseries will be made about it at some point in the next ~5 years.

      I’m all for a shake-up of the PGA Tour, which I find boring and lame as a weekly thing when there’s so much scope for more interesting formats and courses (like, who wouldn’t want to watch more match play à la the Ryder Cup every year for example? It’s just better than what the PGA Tour serves up every week). But like this? nah.

      And yeah, KSA’s terrible, I understand that, but there’s more than a whiff of hypocrisy at the moralising here. For example I’m sure the PGA Tour does all kinds of rah-rah support the troops bullshit for the US armed forces at many of its events. Hardly a paragon of ~human rights~ themselves, and part of a military-industrial complex that is willingly helping with the barbaric subjugation of Yemen undertaken by… Saudi Arabia. People seem more outraged by the Khashoggi thing than that and actually, if it hadn’t been for the Khashoggi story, I’m not sure the LIV story would be making quite the same splash as it is now.

      There’s not a lot of love for Greg in Australia at the moment; generalising a bit but we don’t really have a huge tolerance for behaviour like his I don’t think. My Dad has always hated him on wanker grounds and because of his reputation as a choker which is kindaaaaaaa unfair, as I’m sure you know as well as I do that golf is really hard, lol.

      1. griffen

        I think Mickelson in particular will regret making this move and then explaining it’s not about the money when it is so very obvious. Johnson is a more polarizing individual, supremely talented but sometimes one must wonder what happens between his ears.

        And these guys trot out the “family” line and a desire to spend more time just living life and not having to grind on the PGA tour. Back in the days of Nelson, Snead, Hogan, those cats didn’t jet around; they often car pooled across California, Texas and so forth. Times have changed, yes I am aware.

        I didn’t really play golf as a child or teenager, just sorta played once or twice a year with family. But after college I got into the game heavily, mostly walking 18 to 27 holes at el cheapo or municipal courses. I still enjoy my practice sessions to hit at a driving range. The history of golf is pretty interesting to me. This is not a good look for that history.

      1. griffen

        Well put! Thinking it through further, the PGA Tour (at least in the US) is a very structured organization, and there are actual tiers of play for young men and women alike to pursue professional golf as a career. Granted the purses are minimal in comparison.

        I don’t believe these players that are signing up for the new Saudi-sponsored tour have truly considered the blowback. US sponsors have already dropped players; aka, see RBC who has dropped both Dustin Johnson and Graeme McDowell as tour ambassadors (or however they categorize the terms of being a sponsor). Workday dropped Phil Mickelson. The lesser known players are just going where the wind takes them, I think.

        At least here in the US, a path to sponsorship riches and possible eternal fame is winning more than 1 major tournament. Most of the time, not always.

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