2:00PM Water Cooler 7/28/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Mongolian Short-toed Lark, Sühbaatar, Mongolia.

* * *

Politics

“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

Capitol Seizure

“Former DOJ official labels Trump allies ‘malevolent nincompoops’ over fake elector scheme” [The Hill]. “Former Department of Justice (DOJ) official and federal prosecutor David Laufman on Wednesday called Trump allies who plotted to overturn the 2020 presidential election ‘malevolent nincompoops’ and said the DOJ ‘is going hard’ in its investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riots…. ‘From yesterday’s reporting, we now know that the Department of Justice is going hard. They’re going directly at Donald Trump. They’re asking witnesses specific questions about statements that came from Donald Trump’s mouth, what direction he gave to others,” Laufman said.” • We’ll see!

Biden Administration

So, we can dial back the flight to Taiwan?

Oy:

2022

* * *

“House Rating Changes: More Movement Toward Republicans” [Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. Key points: “We are making 10 House rating changes, 9 of which benefit Republicans. Our overall best guess at the net change in the House — a GOP gain somewhere in the 20s — remains unchanged. We don’t see a huge impact, so far, from the Supreme Court’s landmark abortion opinion.”

PA: “Dr. Oz’s Turkish Nationalist Pals Living in His Secret N.J. Condo” [Daily Beast]. “Bergen County records show that since 2006 Oz and his wife have owned the condominium in the borough of Fairview, a seven-minute drive from their mansion overlooking the Hudson River, where the county sent the unit’s property tax bill as recently as this year. Yet this apartment is oddly absent from the otherwise exhaustive disclosure Oz made in April as a candidate for the U.S. senator from Pennsylvania… What was possible to ascertain is who those tenants are: a pair of apparent longtime friends deeply involved in Turkish nationalist activism and connected to groups that have fought to prevent the United States from recognizing the extermination of Armenians on Turkish territory during World War I—which Oz himself has refused to describe as a genocide, despite a consensus among respected historians…. It was impossible to ascertain whether Oz received rent payments from the condo, as neither he nor his tenants replied to repeated requests for comment.” • Presumably Oz isn’t letting them live there for free. Or?

PA: “John Fetterman Enlists New Jersey Legend Steven Van Zandt To Troll Dr. Oz” [Yahoo News]. “Fetterman on Tuesday posted a video of the New Jersey legend, musician-actor Steven Van Zandt, telling Oz to ― and we’re paraphrasing here ― get back to where he belongs…. ‘Nobody wants to see you get embarrassed.'”

PA: “Poll: Fetterman, Shapiro Hold Commanding Leads” [Politics PA]. “Fetterman leads Republican challenger Mehmet Oz by nine points (48.9% to 39.6%). It is the largest poll margin that the lieutenant governor has held over the celebrity doctor and boosts his average lead to 7.1 percent.” • So if Fetterman’s winning strategy is to stay off the traill and make jokes about Oz’s geographical disabilities, more power to him; elections might be a lot more pleasant if others took the same path. (Note that Fetterman was able to do this because he criss-crossed the state and visited every county; he’s a known quantity to many, many people. (It also occurs to me, just now, that characterizing Oz as “from New Jersey” is the time-honored tactic of introducing your opponent yourself, when they haven’t already done it. Canny!)

2024

“Hawley book ‘Manhood’ set for release next year” [The Hill]. “Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) is reportedly penning a book about masculinity. ‘Manhood: The Masculine Virtues America Needs’ is poised to hit shelves in May, according to an Amazon sales page. … Available for pre-order ahead of its May 16 release by Regnery Publishing, ‘Manhood’ calls on ‘American men to stand up and embrace their God-given responsibility as husbands, ‘No republic has ever survived without men of character to defend what is just and true,’ the Amazon page states. ‘Starting with the wisdom of the ancients, from the Greek and Roman philosophers to Jesus of Nazareth, and drawing on the lessons of American history, Hawley identifies the defining strengths of men, including responsibility, bravery, fidelity, and leadership.'” • Hmm. “Responsibility, bravery, fidelity, and leadership” were all personal characteristics of Robert E. Lee, slaveowner and the dude who kept sending his troops uphill against Yankee guns at Gettysburg. Anyhow, that’s what this is all about:

Oh, great. Schoolyard taunting from Larry Tribe. That’ll change minds. And win votes.

“They Can’t Let Him Back In” [Compact]. “The people who really run the United States of America have made it clear that they can’t, and won’t, if they can help it, allow Donald Trump to be president again…. Anti-Trump hysteria is in the final analysis not about Trump. The regime can’t allow Trump to be president not because of who he is (although that grates), but because of who his followers are. That class—Angelo Codevilla’s “country class”—must not be allowed representation by candidates who might implement their preferences, which also, and above all, must not be allowed. The rubes have no legitimate standing to affect the outcome of any political process, because of who they are, but mostly because of what they want. Complaints about the nature of Trump are just proxies for objections to the nature of his base. It doesn’t help stabilize our already twitchy situation that those who bleat the loudest about democracy are also audibly and visibly determined to deny a real choice to half the country.” • Interesting article from the right. This on the “country class” is interesting; heaven forfend we should do class analysis based on economics!

Republican Funhouse

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.

* * *

“Wokeness isn’t why Democrats are unpopular” [Carl Beijer]. “Whenever we get a new clip of some Democratic official, journalist, social media poster, cartoon character, guy from another country, Republican, etcetera saying something woke, an avalanche of pundits make the same point: this is why Democrats can’t win. So when Kamala Harris gave us her pronouns and described what she’s wearing at a meeting on disabilities, it was only a matter of time until guys like Kinzinger above made the same point. And whenever I see this, I always think the same thing. Does anyone really believe that if Democrats were providing Medicare for All, universal childcare, UBI, free college, and so on — that voters would throw all that out the window because Kamala Harris talked about her blue suit? If you could have real economic security, would you actually trade that away because a politician said ‘birth giver’ instead of ‘mother’? Socialists have long insisted that workers are not going to accept egalitarian rhetoric and gestures as a substitute for real economic gains, and that Democrats are going to lose working class voters if they proceed otherwise. The right loves this point; they’ve been so aggressive about co-opting it in recent years that I doubt many of them even remember where they first heard it. But there’s a second half of this critique that you almost never hear: if you give voters real material security, people who get annoyed about wokeness will still support you.” • NC readers will be not unfamiliar with this line of thought.

“January 6 Was Scary. The Democrats’ Inability to Respond Has Been Scarier.” [Jacobin]. “We might sum it up this way: looking at the media sensationalism, misinformation, and political hyperbole, the reality of January 6 fell far short of what we’ve been told over and over again happened that day. But that doesn’t mean it couldn’t have been much worse than it was. And it doesn’t mean that it still couldn’t be — say, in two years’ time, when the country faces another presidential election, and the antidemocratic forces behind Trump have one dry run under their belt and years of prep time to do it properly…. Commentators can cry cynicism at those who look at the hearings with a jaundiced eye, but there’s no one more cynical than those supposedly leading the charge on saving American democracy. At the same time Democrats have turned the whole matter into a hours-long campaign ad for themselves, they’ve deliberately funded and promoted the very kind of right-wing extremists they say threaten American democracy. One of them, Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, would be in a prime spot to carry out election-denying shenanigans in a crucial state come 2024 if he wins. Does this sound like a party that believes its own messaging?” • Lol no, but since when has that ever been an option with Democrats? Maybe in Carter’s day. And an excellent point on Mastriano,

Mothership Strategies still hard at it:

I used to get these ads all the time, but I guess they’ve taken me off their list because I never gave them any money. But Democrats wouldn’t be running direct email campaigns like this unless they worked. What does that say?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Life After Bernie” [Ross Barkan, Political Currents]. “The question for the broad constellation that makes up the left in the United States—self-identified progressives, socialists, left-liberals, and their attendant organizations—is what kind of presidential campaign can come after Sanders and what value it will have. Sanders ran for president for two reasons, with one reason taking precedence for 2016 and the other for 2020. The first, a primary theme of his challenge to Hillary Clinton, was to raise issues that the Democratic establishment was neglecting and offer some kind opposition to a centrist pro-Wall Street campaign that had been anointed by every power broker imaginable. When Sanders announced his first presidential bid in 2015, he was mostly ignored by the press, and the momentum he gathered was a shock to journalists, pundits, and even fellow leftists. Since Sanders was such an underdog, there was never much of a plan for victory. For long stretches of the campaign, Sanders probably expected to be a popular protest candidate, not someone who could defeat Clinton in large states like Michigan. In 2020, Sanders ran to win. He was one of the front-runners in a race where expectations were much higher. For a time, after his victory in Nevada, it appeared he could run away with the race and succeed on Super Tuesday. Instead, Joe Biden pulled far ahead, buoyed by older Black and white moderates, the sort of voters who show up in greater numbers than Sanders’ cohort. It became apparent, too, that Sanders probably lacked the killer instinct to secure the nomination. In 2008, Barack Obama aggressively attacked Hillary Clinton’s record, particularly her vote for the Iraq War. It was one of the more nasty and bitter Democratic primaries in modern times, eclipsing even 2016, in which Clinton backers maintained Sanders, in highlighting economic issues and noting Clinton’s propensity for taking huge checks to deliver speeches, crossed some kind of line. In 2020, Sanders simply could not lash Biden in the way a young Obama would have targeted Clinton. Sanders felt an affinity for Biden and it showed.” • There was also Sanders’ move away from the “economic” message (universal concrete material benefits, of which #MedicareForAll was but one example).

“Lost in the Archives” [Systematic Hatreds]. “Democracy requires accountability; accountability requires record-keeping; record-keeping requires nonpartisan, competent, and upstanding administration…. The keystone of the Archives is the Archivist of the United States. One of the very few “OTUSes” in the system (along with POTUS and Chief Justice OTUS), the Archivist is a presidential appointee with an indefinite term.1 Like the FBI director, AOTUS is supposed to be above politics and chosen for their qualifications. That the AOTUS has occasionally been a political hack does not change those qualifications. At times, AOTUS choices have been inspiring but ultimately flawed; at other times, they’ve betrayed a potential White House confusion about the distinction between running a library system and running an archives. An archives is about the dynamic preservation of records that should be open eventually, while a library system is about the management of a shifting collection to serve various publics. One has a public-facing mission; the archives have a much less pronounced emphasis. The ideal Archivist would be resolutely committed to nonpartisanship and the collection of records. The past few years has shown that this requires a stepped-up presence and a willingness to pull the fire alarm. Executing that mission requires cultivating the assistance of allies in the public, the media, and especially in Congress. That’s a public-facing job that’s different from thinking about how to more efficiently run the vast Federal Records Centers, which account for the less-visible (and truly obscure) bulk of NARA’s work, but such is the difference between politics and administration: when you’re an agency head, it doesn’t matter if you follow the checklist for ordinary times during periods of extraordinary challenges. Separately, an ideal Archivist would campaign for massively stepped-up budgets.” • Sounds like “The Records Department of the Ministry of Truth” would have many advantages and be cheaper to run…

#COVID19

• Maskstravaganza: When you’ve lost (of all people) Taylor Lorenz:

• Maskstravaganza:

I confess I haven’t hammered on elastomeric masks as much as I should have; hammering on (K)N95 v. surgical was an enormous enough battle. Then again, I’m not in Dr. Fauci’s position! (Elastomeric masks are not disposable; hence, like athletic shoes, as opposed to (say) booties, they could be really be marketed as fashion items, which I have argued consistently is important.)

* * *

• ”Outdoor Transmission w/ Dr. Theresa Chapple (06/09/22)” (podcast) [Death Panel]. “We speak with epidemiologist Dr. Theresa Chapple about how seemingly everyone became convinced that you can’t catch covid outdoors, common misconceptions about the pandemic driven by an overwhelming focus on individual risk assessment, and lessons from her work in the field during the first two years of covid.” • Interesting podcast, Choppie is good, and Death Panel is always great. That said, Chappie mentions, IIRC, that she’s aware of six cases of outdoor transmission, but gives information on the six. I would have preferred for them to be listed.

* * *

• ”‘Fear Is Spreading Faster than SARS’ – And So It Should!” [Risk = Hazard + Outrage]. From 2003, still germane: “Regardless of the hazard, fear is a tool, not just a problem. The purpose of fear is to motivate precautions – that is, self-protective behaviors that diminish the risk of bad outcomes. To be useful, then, the fear has to outrun the thing that is feared; fear that lags behind its object is useless. Yet somehow the public is being told that it is wrong, irrational, panicky, or hysterical to be fearful of SARS just yet…. Imagine a huge hurricane working its way toward town. It is three days away, and headed right for us. We know it may well change course or blow itself out. Or it may hit us full-force in about three days. Forethoughtful people go buy extra food and duct tape for their windows now – even though the weather today is clear and balmy. “Fear Is Spreading Faster than Hurricane”? Well, duh!… The three Golden Rules for addressing legitimate fears: 1) Don’t be contemptuous of our fear. Treat it as natural, inevitable, and appropriate…. 2) Don’t understate the risk in a misguided effort to allay our fear – which only leaves us alone with it and undercuts your credibility. … 3) Teach us what to do with our fear. Offer us useful things to do as substitutes for the not-so-useful things we may be doing. In the case of SARS, redirect our fear from ‘Will it kill me tomorrow?’ to ‘Could it devastate my community within months?’ – and then work with us on a prevention and preparedness strategy.” • Good thoughts, none of which we implemented.

• A thread on the various poxes:

* * *

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

Case count for the United States:


Lambert here: This tapewatcher is slightly befuddled by the case data. Set aside the worrying assumption that the curves for real cases are the same shape as the curves for reported cases, even though there’s nothing to prove this. We have a period of fiddling and diddling at A), after which Omnicron takes over and cases go through the roof. We are in the midst of another period of fiddling and diddling at B), in the era of BA.5/BA.4. But cases are not going through the roof, at least in terms of case reporting. Data artifact? “Vaccine wall”? Why this slow, sawtooth pattern when BA.5 is known to be very infectious? For example, even though wastewater data is patchy, we’d expect it to be coupled to case count. It isn’t, at least in San Fransciso (check the chart):

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 DNC-blue “Biden Line” at that point. The previous count was ~129,000. Today, it’s ~131,400 and 131,400 * 6 = a Biden line at 788,400 per day. That’s rather a lot of cases per day, when you think about it. At least we have confirmation that the extraordinary mass of case anecdotes we’ve seen have 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.

Regional case count for four weeks:

The South:

A slow upswing in the rest of the south, beneath the Florida and Texas gyrations.

The South (minus Texas and Florida):

North Carolina and Georgia, take a bow!

The West:

Positivity

From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, July 19:

4.8%. Up! (I wonder if there’s a Keynesian Beauty Contest effect, here; that is, if people encounter a sympotomatic person, whether in their social circle or in normal activity, they are more likely to get a test, because they believe, correctly, that it’s more likely they will be infected.) What we are seeing here is the steepest and largest acceleration of positivity on Walgreen’s chart.

Lambert here: I’m depressed. Walgreens has been so great, and now this data isn’t updating. What gives?

Transmission

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. Use the community transmission immediately below.

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. For July 21, 2020:

Status quo, i.e. it’s a totally not-over pandemic.

Lambert here: After the move from the CDC to the laughingly named ‘https://healthdata.gov,” this notice appeared: “Effective June 22, 2022, the Community Profile Report will only be updated twice a week, on Wednesdays and Fridays.” So now the administration has belatedly come to the realization that we’re in a BA.5 surge, and yet essential data for making our personal risk assessment is only available twice a week. What’s the over/under on whether they actually deliver tomorrow?

NOT UPDATED Rapid Riser data, by county (CDC), July 26:

Worse in California and Upstate New York (what’s up with that). Better in Texas. Status quo elsewere.

Previous Rapid Riser data:

NOT UPDATED Hospitalization data, by state (CDC), July 26:

Lots of yellow. Haven’t seen so little green (good) in quite some time.

Variants

Lambert here: It’s beyond frustrating how slow the variant data is. I looked for more charts: California doesn’t to a BA.4/BA.5 breakdown. New York does but it, too, is on a molasses-like two-week cycle. Does nobody in the public health establishment get a promotion for tracking variants? Are there no grants? Is there a single lab that does this work, and everybody gets the results from them? Additional sources from readers welcome [grinds teeth, bangs head on desk].

Variant data, national (Walgreens), July 14:

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), July 9 (Nowcast off):

BA.5 moving along nicely.

Wastewater

Wastewater data (CDC), Jul 24:

I found this chart hard to read, so I filtered the output to the highest (red) and next-highest (orange) levels (somewhat like Rapid Riser Counties, see on here). What’s visible is that a lot of cities are in trouble; but that coverage is really patchy. Illinois, for example, has always had a lot of coverage, but the dots stop at the Illinois border. This chart works a bit like rapid riser counties: “This metric shows whether SARS-CoV-2 levels at a site are currently higher or lower than past historical levels at the same site. 0% means levels are the lowest they have been at the site; 100% means levels are the highest they have been at the site.” So, there’s a bunch of red dots on the West Coast. That’s 100%, so that means “levels are the highest they’ve ever been.” Not broken down by variant, CDC, good job.

Deaths

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,053,969 1,052,935. I have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line. It’s nice that for deaths I have a nice, simple, daily chart that just keeps chugging along, unlike everything else CDC and the White House are screwing up or letting go dark, good job.

Stats Watch

GDP: “United States GDP Growth Rate” [Trading Economics]. “The American economy shrank an annualized 0.9% on quarter in Q2 2022, following a 1.6% drop in Q1 and technically entering a recession, the advance estimate showed. Most investors were expecting a 0.5% growth although some were betting on a negative reading. Inventories and business investment were the main drags.”

Manufacturing: “United States Kansas Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Kansas City Fed’s Manufacturing Production Index rebounded to 7 in July of 2022 from -1 in the prior month. Indexes for production, shipments, new orders, and order backlog grew from June’s readings, while inventory and supplier delivery time indexes declined slightly.”

Employment Situation: “United States Jobless Claims 4-week Average” [Trading Economics]. “Jobless Claims 4-week Average in the United States increased to 249.25 Thousand in July 23 from 243 Thousand in the previous week.”

Consumer Spending: “United States Real Consumer Spending QoQ” [Trading Economics]. “Final personal consumption expenditure in the United States grew by 1.0 percent in the second quarter of 2022, easing from a 1.8 percent increase in the previous three-month period.”

* * *

The Economy:

Worth reading in full.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 38 Fear (previous close: 37 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 41 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 28 at 1:34 PM EDT.

Healthcare

“Have breast implants? Israeli study warns they cause autoimmune, mental problems” [Jerusalem Post]. “The decision in the 1960s by the medical community to allow silicone breast implants for cosmetic surgery and reconstruction was a ‘historical medical error,’ according to researchers at Ariel University, Sheba Medical Center, Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation. ‘The medical society mistakenly considered silicone to be an inert material in relation to the human body and to the immune system,’ the team headed by TAU immunologist Prof. Yehuda Shoenfeld and Ariel University molecular biologist Dr. Gilad Halpert wrote in the latest issue of IMAJ, the English-language journal of the Israel Medical Association, under the title ‘Silicone breast illness [SBI] as a classical example of autoimmune/inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvant.’ 

Feral Hog Watch

“Pigs Can Breathe Through Their B*ttholes and So Could You, Scientists Say” [Vice]. “A team of scholars in Japan has found that pigs can absorb oxygen through the anus, in studies exploring treatment for people with respiratory conditions. By pumping oxygen and oxygenated liquid through animals’ buttholes into their intestines, the researchers found that they could survive without breathing through their lungs. ‘It’s so impressive because we never thought of breathing from the gut, but it’s possible,’ Takanori Takebe, an author of the study and a doctor at the Tokyo Medical and Dental University, told VICE World News. Last year, his team and collaborators from Nagoya University Graduate School and Kyodo University’s Department of Respiratory Surgery published their study focusing on mice. Now they’re looking to submit their research on pigs, which are closer to humans in physiology and genetic makeup, to a U.S. medical journal in August.” • Speech next, I suppose.

The Gallery

Subject matter not as bourgeois as it usually is for the impressionists, much as I love them. Unfair?

This is fun:

I’m not sure this digital artwork goes beyond technique, however.

The Screening Room

“The Movie Business Has a Supply-Chain Problem” [Bloomberg]. “Ticket sales are still down almost 40% from before the pandemic, and it’s about to get worse. At least in the short term. The reason? Not enough movies in theaters. Or, at the very least, not enough movies people want to see in theaters. The share of movies released on more than 2,000 screens is down more than 30% from both 2018 and 2019. Hollywood, like the rest of the economy, is suffering from a supply-chain problem. Production halted for months due to the pandemic, and was both slower and more costly when it resumed. Even when production finished, the visual-effects industry was often unable to handle all the product. There has been a full meltdown in the sector, according to executives at several studios. Visual-effects houses expected business to slow down during the pandemic. While that happened for a beat, the amount of work they had to do increased as soon as studios figured out the proper protocols. VFX houses weren’t equipped to handle it all. Many had transitioned to remote work, which made them less efficient. They lost talented staffers to the great resignation and poaching from companies like Meta Platforms Inc. (aka Facebook). Some of the movies mentioned above aren’t done because the visual effects aren’t ready.” • Oh, what a shame. Maybe — hear me out — the movies could go back to scripts, character, and plot? Instead of mind-numbingly stupid special effects?

Class Warfare

“CEOs Discuss How Unions Have Affected Their Companies” [The Onion]. Walter Craig Jelinek (Costco): “Unions have fostered open dialogue with management, fair and equitable pay across the company, and high levels of employee morale, so, in all, a total nightmare.”

“UAW delegates increase leader salaries while rejecting ‘equal pay for equal work’ amendment” {Detroit News]. “United Auto Workers delegates on Tuesday rejected an opportunity to codify in their constitution ‘equal pay for equal work’ ahead of next year’s negotiations with the Detroit Three automakers, and increased the salaries of International Executive Board officers. The ‘two-tier’ system implemented during 2007 negotiations prior to the auto industry’s taxpayer bailout have long been a complaint of workers…. Later, following some procedural confusion and heated debate, delegates approved a 3% salary increase for IEB members.”

Welcome to the wonderful world of NGOs, a thread:

“Everyone smiles at crabs”:

A power relation, as I’ve been arguing.

“How Hybrid Working From Home Works Out” [NBER]. “This paper evaluates a randomized control trial on 1612 engineers, marketing and finance employees of a large technology firm that allowed odd birthday employees to WFH on Wednesday and Friday and kept even birthday employees full time in the office. There are four key results. First, WFH reduced attrition rates by 35% and improved self-reported work satisfaction scores, highlighting how employees place a considerable value on this amenity. Second, WFH reduced hours worked on home days but increased it on other work days and the weekend, highlighting how home- working alters the structure of the working week. Third, WFH employees increased individual messaging and group video call communication, even when in the office, reflecting the impact of remote work on working patterns. Finally, while there was no significant impact of WFH on performance ratings or promotions, lines of code written increased by 8%, and employees’ self- assessed productivity was up 1.8%, suggesting a small positive impact. Given these benefits for retention, job satisfaction, and productivity, after the experiment ended the firm extended hybrid WFH to the entire company.” • Lines of code is a terrible metric. IIRC, nobody knows how to measure programmer productivity.

News of the Wired

“Yankee Candle rival Confederate Candle smells of defeat” [Duffel Blog]. • Ouch!

“Am I an Idiot for Wanting a Dumber Phone?” [Wired]. • No.

* * *

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 DCblogger:

DCblogger writes: “Mushroom in a lavender container.” This photo documents two things: (1) it’s possible to grow plants in a very small space, like a porch; you don’t need land. (2) Life is, well, lively. Who would have expected that mushroom? “Reality is more cunning than any theory,” as The Bearded One said, if I am not misquoting him.

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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.

160 comments

  1. Jason Boxman

    I finally started unsubscribing from those and including, in the reason field, f*you in all caps.

    I haven’t gotten any in quite a few months now, so I guess that did work.

    Reply
    1. Terry Flynn

      This is peripherally relevant….. But it might take someone like Rev_Kev to agree or disagree as someone who seems most “aware” of the YouTube sphere.

      I HATE that the YouTube peeps who (often quite rightly) criticise the moves towards making everything LBGTQ+ whatever (and I’m one of the letters) use “left wing” and “alphabet oriented” (or similar intended-to-be-insulting) terms as synonyms. They totally don’t understand the distinction between the USA “real left wing” and the “PMC Liberals”.

      I lost ALL my Facebook “PMC LGBQT+” friends when I left FB. In retrospect I’m glad as it taught me who was an idiot. But we must deal with a LOT of idiots. So now I’m automatically part off the problem? Jeez….. Thanks alphabet people….. You destroyed progressive politics.

      Reply
      1. JBird4049

        So now I’m automatically part off the problem? Jeez….. Thanks alphabet people….. You destroyed progressive politics.

        Aside from job and funding opportunities in education and non-profits, this is why all those letters keep getting added. Divide and rule.

        Reply
      2. The Rev Kev

        More a case for me of just flicking through YouTube on my tablet when I have spare time. But I agree fully about this idiot idea of making everything LBGTQ+ which I sometimes refer to as ‘A-Z take your pick’. An example turned up here in Oz just earlier this week. There is football team called the Manly Warringah Sea-Eagles and they came out with a new uniform for their players that featured gay pride stripes. Only problem was that they never told their players as it was a big surprise.

        Well about seven refused outright to wear them on personal and religious grounds and nearly all of them were from Pacific islands where Christianity is still a thing so it was hard to attack their ‘white privelage.’ The new uniforms were about ‘inclusiveness’ but only for those that agreed that this was a good idea. But when you heard the ‘right people’ talking about this subject, it was all about how those guys had to be brought into line. The seven players eventually agreed to buckle but not before the team lost a vital match as they weren’t there. It was a mess from start to finish and none of it necessary-

        https://www.news.com.au/sport/nrl/des-hasler-daly-cherryevans-give-telling-press-conference-after-manly-pride-jersey-scandal/news-story/f9e3910d7f6da0319be7787b5c28209d

        Reply
    2. johnherbiehancock

      In 2020, I gave a substantial amount (for me) to Bernie’s campaign and a handful of other non-DNC-approved leftist Democratic candidates.

      For a while things stayed… quiet. and also more or less tied to candidates linked to Our Revolution.

      Then in the last year or so, they exploded, and the “centrism” of the candidates hitting me up kept increasing. After I got one from Nancy Pelosi, I finally decided it had gone too far, and started angrily unsubscribing from EVERYONE. They have seemed to slow down.

      Reply
      1. Big River Bandido

        Seems like they got hold of Sanders’ donor list after all. Fortunately I moved out of NYC four days before the 2020 election and left no forwarding address with the Post Office.

        Reply
  2. Thistlebreath

    Re: digital animation. Slow it down to frame by frame. It’s animation with edits. See if you can spot them.

    Reply
    1. Billie

      Supply-Chain Problem? They’re showing animated or politically correct crap. i.e Or streaming it, i.e. Mubi.

      How refreshing to watch American movies from the 1950s with real actors and actresses, writing, scripts and scenery. e.g. The Criterion Channel.

      The sooner Hollywood dies, the better. Thank god for independent artists and streaming.

      Reply
      1. Lee

        Some public libraries allow cardholders free access to a lot of films old, new, or generally unavailable on commercial streaming platforms. Kanopy is exclusively films, while hoopla offers ebooks, and audio books as well.

        https://www.kanopy.com/en/

        hoopladigital.com

        Reply
  3. Toshiro_Mifune

    Wokeness isn’t why Democrats are unpopular
    Well, it isn’t the only reason they’re unpopular but it certainly is a reason. Even if they were providing “Medicare for All, universal childcare, UBI, free college, and so on” it would still be annoying enough to get a STFU from me. I’m actually sympathetic to all most all of what wokeism is trying to address, but the tenor and tone with which they’re doing it (from the pulpit for the unwashed masses to obey) has increasingly made me dislike them.
    … You know, wokeism is increasingly all that the party has to offer. So Yes it is why they’re unpopular.

    Reply
    1. digi_owl

      Pretty much my reaction from the first encounter with it. I sympathize with the goals, but question the methods. But sadly voicing such a stance makes you a nazi in their eyes, and a commie in the eyes of the actual neo-nazis. Hurray for polarized politics…

      Reply
      1. nippersdad

        I have long held on my Congressman’s page that those who support socialism for billionaires and corporations don’t get to call anyone else a communist, and (more recently) those who support actual Nazis don’t get to project their problems on others.

        It works pretty well.

        Reply
    2. jr

      Yeah, I want to say to the author that yes, if the Democrats offer something other than pronoun puzzles and lectures about how you are a really terrible person, then people would be interested. But they don’t offer jack $hit. Everyone but the most deluded of Democratic zealots knows this. He’s got a really solid grasp of the patently obvious.

      Reply
    3. dcblogger

      mebbe from you, but delivering concrete benefits will win over most voters, Sanders has been making a career of it. Not everyone in Burlington was keen on his sister city program with Puerto Cabezas in Nicaragua. People used to joke about the Sandernistas. But they reelected him again and again.

      Reply
    4. marym

      As someone also sympathetic to what “wokeness” is trying to address, I don’t mind the language as used by people doing the work of equity, justice, community, etc. on the ground. What angers me is the accusation/mockery of “wokeness” as a cover by those who are unsympathetic/hostile; and of course use of the language without any substance by those with the power to do something about the universal material benefits.

      Reply
      1. Basil Pesto

        pretty much.

        And of course anti-woke is now itself a form of identity politics, every bit as tedious and banal as the real thing, regardless of who is pursuing it – reactionaries or tru progressives (contrast with, say, the work of Adolph Reed Jr, which is strong and well-reasoned critique of ‘wokeness’ without getting unduly bogged down in the thing itself).

        Take the word “woke” itself, originally a softly ironic word which helpfully underlined the silliness and self-parodistic quality of the people it was describing. Now it’s a deadly serious, completely boring way to describe a rival faction, stripped of all of its subtle ironic power. The correct response to such people has always seemed to me to be to simply roll your eyes and get on with literally anything else given how obviously intellectually bereft such “wokesters” generally are in this regard – or, if you know and are friendly with people inculcated with such silly beliefs, find some common ground on some other topic – rather than become obsessive and stewing in anger over what is ultimately going to be a temporary sociocultural fad. Like, I can’t really imagine anything other than just cackling at “pregnant people”, a conceit so obnoxiously stupid that it clearly has negative staying power. It’s hard to get angry at something like that, personally.

        Reply
        1. marym

          A progressive critique of “woeness” is inclusive – class, universal benefits, democratic processes. An idealistic hope would be that this would resolve or lessen many identity-related issues like disparities in healthcare, or representation in decision making. An approach with universal goals for benefits and participation would contribute to a culture of tolerance for resolving issues identity-related issues like recognition of gender non-conforming people, or special accessibility needs.

          The reactionary critique as it stands now in US politics and “culture wars” is eliminationist. It uses “woke” as an excuse for repression: “They” want neutral pronouns and schoolbooks about same-sex marriage families. “We” will ban the books, fire the teachers, and make the marriage illegal. “They” made us do it with all their wokeness.

          Reply
          1. marym

            edit: A progressive critique of “wokeness” would be inclusive – presenting instead an alternative based on class, universal benefits, democratic processes.

            Reply
    5. aj

      For some reason they think that if the people in charge are 50% female, 50% non-white, and we all use the correct pronouns, it won’t matter that they are all neo-liberal hacks. I’d take 100% old white men if they were all Bernie Sander’s types. That’s what the “Left” doesn’t get refuses to acknowledge. Remember during the 2020 primaries they were flabbergasted that Kamala wasn’t as popular as they thought even though she checked all the woke boxes. Not flabbergasted enough that they didn’t shoehorn her in as VP, though.

      Reply
    6. dcblogger

      Sanders has made a career of this. Not everyone in Burlington supported his sister city with Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, his supporters were called Sandernistas. But he was reelected again and again. Give people concrete benefits, and they won’t care much about other things.

      I really don’t understand deriding every attempt at empathy and mutual respect as “wokeness”. In the mutual aid group I participate in we announce our pronouns. It makes a more welcoming atmosphere for trans members. Churches are beginning to drop brothers and sisters for siblings. It just makes things more inclusive.

      Reply
    7. lyman alpha blob

      Not that there wasn’t room to improve, but I’d thought we as a nation had made tremendous strides at the personal level at least over the last few decades (there are of course more systemic issues with racism in police departments, etc.). I gladly donated years ago to an equality group pushing for the legalization of gay marriage – that’s what the group was founded to do. Legalization eventually passed in my state and received majority support in polls all across the US, and yet the requests for more money didn’t stop coming from this group. The organization morphed into advocating for rights for trans and other identity groups – pretty much whatever IdPol issue they could cook up – and started coming off as some kind of grift, and we stopped donating.

      My better half received a job application the other day and the first paragraph of the cover letter just ticked off one identity group after another that the applicant and their immediate family belonged to. Since when is any of this relevant to a job and why would anyone think it is?!? Again, it just came off as clueless at best, and some kind of grift at worst.

      I’m quite sympathetic to the goals myself, but it really felt like a lot had been achieved and now enough is enough already, at least with the current holier than though tactics being used. To bad it’s all the Democrat party seems to have to run on.

      Then we get the rank hypocrisy of Jill Biden’s racist and presumably vetted comments the other day going right down the memory hole, because Democrats aren’t racist by definition or something. Do they really think people don’t notice this stuff?

      Reply
    8. flora

      If there’s one thing the down and out, underemployed, housing or food insecure need it’s the PMC’s class’s indifference (or worse) to them. (Eh, the Dems don’t want the down and out or the working class in the party. They want the successful, upper 10% strivers.) / oy.

      This latest from Taibbi seems like it sort of fits here, in a way. No paywall.

      “I’m just going to the heart of the inferno”: Interviewing Alex Moyer, Director of “Alex’s War.”

      https://taibbi.substack.com/p/im-just-going-to-go-to-the-heart

      Reply
  4. ambrit

    I forsee Confederate Candle being bought out by Neo-liberal Lighting LLC. Expect then some new and exciting scents: Wage Salvia, Floaty McBoatface (with just a whiff of oyster,) and that perrennial favourite, White Diamonds.

    Reply
      1. ambrit

        Definitely an app, one that you must pay to avoid, ie. an opt-out situation. [What could go wrong?]
        The boffins at the Institute refer to this as ‘Opt-E-Mal’ behaviour.

        Reply
    1. griffen

      I’m thinking they left some money on the table. Think of the cross selling opportunities available to the Nascar set. And my oh my, the Earnhardt collectible candles would be a huge hit.

      Plus the annual gift drive for that perfect seasonal gift. A monthly candle special, delivered to your door, with an endorsement from Ricky Bobby. These candles smell like winning. You’re welcome.

      Sadly the Deliverance line of candles are a perennial miss. No one is sure what dueling banjo smells like but they sure don’t care to know.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        As for the old style “Deliverance” candles; do notice the ‘peculiar’ shape of the “Squeal” line of candles.
        The line of candles with dibs and dabs of gunpowder mixed in, for that unexpected “excitement” effect, went over quite well with the ‘Goth’ crowd. The old “Stars and Bars” logo was quietly replaced with a ‘Kaiserliche Extreme’ version of the Prussian flag.
        And as for “Nascar cross selling,” well, how does ‘Clean Sheets’ sound? (Extremism in the pursuit of profits is the ‘Right’ vice, to paraphrase Goldwater. [Hillary will know all about that.])

        Reply
        1. Jack Parsons

          They had a “Prussian Blue” candle out for awhile, until they were sued by the record label for the defunct singing group. (Yes, go look it up.)

          Reply
  5. antidlc

    ““It’s frustrating and frightening because a mask like this can make the difference between life and death, but no one knows about them.”

    Well, gee, why is that? Maybe if the CDC would do its frikkin’ job, people would know.

    Thanks to NC, I know.

    And maybe if the CDC did its frikkin’ job, more people would be masking, since masks work.

    Geesh.

    Reply
  6. LawnDart

    Global Times

    Xi criticizes US rivalry policy in candid talk with Biden, warns ‘play with fire will perish by it’ over Taiwan question

    Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden spoke via telephone for over two hours on Thursday at a juncture of increased tension between China and the US due to the security situation around the Taiwan Straits and US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s reported plan to visit the island of Taiwan.

    During the conversation with Xi, Biden reiterated that the one-China policy of the US has not changed and will not change, and that the US does not support “Taiwan independence.”

    https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202207/1271696.shtml

    They’re laying this at Pelosi’s feet and tossing her under the bus.

    Reply
    1. nippersdad

      The question will be answered if/when they send the fleet in to protect her, at which point Xi will just call Biden a liar again.

      The most interesting part of that story was that Biden could stay awake for over two hours.

      Reply
      1. LawnDart

        The most interesting part of that story was that Biden could stay awake for over two hours.

        We don’t know that he did– it was by telephone: how hard would it be to get a voice-double to mumble “umm, err, yes” for two hours?

        Yeah, where is the fleet now heading and will Pelosi change her mind?

        Reply
        1. nippersdad

          The minds’ eye is picturing a Zoom call with an oxygen tube up his butt and a steady drip of uppers into his bicep.

          Hopefully the “technical difficulties” and voice double were plan B. Anything else would just be too embarrassing./s

          Reply
    2. Glen

      If Paul Pelosi starts inquiring how to buy futures for the DOE Pantex plant, get worried, it means Nancy is going to ramp up demand for nukes. /Sarc

      Nancy seems to be seriously out of touch with the reality of the state of our country. How can she be so badly informed?

      Reply
      1. paul

        I think it’s LICD, lady ice cream deficiency.

        For insight recall r denero and v kilmers exchange in heat(1995):

        (Val Kilmer) “Charlene’s gonna leave me.”
        (Robert De Niro) “Why?”
        (Val Kilmer) “Not enough steaks in the freezer.”

        Except with ice cream.

        (Val Kilmer) “For me the sun rises and sets with her, man.”

        Reply
  7. LawnDart

    I came across this during my morning wanderings and thought this might be appreciated by political news-junkies (I don’t think that this was linked-to or mentioned here yet)– some lighter-fare:

    Political animals: How politicians and apes topple their leaders

    The behaviors exhibited by politicians have much in common with some of our closest ape relatives.

    Like chimps, political big beasts will often use outright aggression to dominate weaker rivals.

    These interactions are typically aimed at making contenders think twice about taking a shot at the crown. But a successful leader needs more than physical intimidation to become an alpha. He or she needs the political skill to build a support base and to hang on to it.

    [4-minutes]

    https://youtu.be/rDhwpbwDUno

    Reply
    1. digi_owl

      Yep. In the end we are just another ape. Clever in our tool making, but still apes.

      Watching how young male chimps will gang up to go after neighboring groups brings to mind how gangs seems to form whenever you have idle youths somewhere.

      Reply
      1. hunkerdown

        Why do we need to compare ourselves to chimps? Because human origin myths are made to create certain kinds of people. Yes, even the human origin myths I favor. :)

        We can reject these norms and act like bonobos instead.

        Reply
          1. hunkerdown

            They solved the battle of the sexes with baby-dominance. Female bonobos step up to protect their offspring and defend against raids. War isn’t a manly-Manly will-extension party. It’s material. I respect that.

            Reply
            1. digi_owl

              Get me thinking of something i read from a guy giving self defense classes. His trick for motivating the ladies was to get them to envision that their opponent was about to harm their kids.

              Or as the saying goes in bear country, never get between mama bear and her cubs.

              Reply
  8. digi_owl

    Again and again i wonder how much of the current online brainrot had its gestation period over on Tumblr.

    And as for the fei, i seem to have read about them before but the connection to Keynes was unknown to me. And frankly Samuelson should have been tared and feathered for what he did to Keynes’ name, that is too late now.

    Reply
  9. IM Doc

    About the fiddling and diddling of the COVID case numbers…….maybe I could add some additional context from here on the ground. I would love to hear what the thinkers on this site would add to what I am about to say……..

    One of the things I have not really expounded upon is why I am so intent on commenting on current COVID issues in these comments. Well, I am a veteran of the AIDS crisis, and I am a medical historian. When historians look back at AIDS, believe it or not, there is not a single medical doctor who wrote a daily journal with granular details of what was going on at the time. There are all kinds of people who have recollections and general information, but nothing in any detail over days and weeks. At least that I know of. I have gone about doing all I can to make sure that does not happen during this time. Yves and Lambert will have all my comments and all my emails to share with the world when this thing is over. And someone 100 years from now will have a record to go over with granular details and what at least one clinician was thinking at any juncture. This is why I have not hesitated to criticize, to praise, to think out loud and to even make statements that turned out to be incredibly wrong. It will be important one day for future generations to have at least some comprehensive records to research to help during their pandemics.

    That being said, I would like to add a bit about what we are seeing here on the ground.

    I am much more comfortable at my age with card catalogs, microfiche, and Dewey Decimal. I however have a young employee whose heart’s desire is to go to medical school. He inspires me every day. And he knows all about computer databases and spreadsheets. He has helped me with the tracking of patient numbers in this clinical practice since Day 1. He is doing this for a publication one day to buff up his pre-med resume – and he has done an incredible job. I do everything I can to encourage those around me to be independent thinkers.

    We now have a daily record going back more than 2 years of every patient that is affected by COVID. This has become even more vitally important for me since the health apparatus in the country completely quit counting numbers during Omicron. We have not in my practice. Every patient is logged, their exact vaccine/dates logged, symptoms, problems, hospital status, etc. It is all updated daily in a gigantic database and spreadsheet. Very granular. When this is all over, I will be certain to place this database somewhere where it can be accessed by anyone doing research in the future.

    Let’s talk about fiddling and diddling. If we start this current wave about APR 15th or so when things really started to ramp up – we notice two things here ( I am also hearing stories from colleagues everywhere that are similar) – After about 2 weeks in, it became clear that WAY more patients were involved and secondly, we ramped up to a number in late June that was just astronomically high, compared to all previous waves, and it has just stayed there. Week after week, roughly the same number of patients. It is like a plateau – and so far there has been no indication of it going down. And it must be noted we are stuck at a level that is way higher than the Omicron surge which was our previous level. This is outpatient case numbers. The inpatient case numbers are right in line from a week-to-week perspective as what was happening in Omicron and Delta. But the outpatient case numbers are staying high. All other waves have seen a rapid ascent and a rapid descent. Not this time. Could this be the fiddling and diddling we are seeing nationally? Don’t know – we are not counting.

    And my employee pointed out something extraordinary today. From today all the way back to APR 15 when the wave started, fully 49.8% of my entire practice has reported having COVID. And even more alarming, 9% have been REINFECTIONS just since APRIL 15th. I knew we were having a lot – but nothing could prepare me for that number. I have been troubled since he pointed this out to me. Half of my patients in a community that has a greater than 80% vaxx/boost rate are infected during this wave and a staggering number are re-infections just within the wave. And the proportion of vaxxed/boosted among these people compared to the unvaxxed is way higher. In other words – the vaxxed seem, at least here, to be more likely to be infected than the unvaxxed.

    A few conclusions. This is concerning to me that this vaccine program has been a complete failure as far as transmission is concerned. They do not seem to help at all. I am doing all I can here to make sure my vaccinated patients who think they are bullet-proof know this. ARE THE NATIONAL MEDIA AND HEALTH AUTHORITIES DOING THE SAME? All of you who think the American people were never promised that the vaccine would make them bullet proof – THINK AGAIN. The tenacity of this attitude among the vaccinated who were promised this for months lays waste to your misremembering ignorance. TO THIS DAY – THE INFORMED CONSENT DOCUMENTS FOR THE VACCINES CLEARLY STATE THE INJECTION IS FOR THE PREVENTION OF COVID.

    And after the vaccine program, the actual level of infectivity is way higher than in any other wave. The vast majority of these patients are not that ill – just head colds, etc, But this is very concerning that we are having this burden of infection and propagation with a very mutable and obviously highly contagious virus.

    About inpatients – I admitted from my practice 6 patients this past week – it has been roughly about the same give or take a few for the past few weeks. Almost all of the admissions are now vaxxed/boosted, elderly, comorbid and not nearly as sick as previous waves. Very quick admissions. I have had no intubations or critical patients and certainly no deaths. A surprising number of COVID positivity is found in the hospital in patients there for other reasons. I mean surprising. And I am certain this is going on everywhere. The COVID surcharge for hospitals in 2020 when all elective stuff died was totally appropriate. THIS SURCHARGE IS NOW A GRIFT and is absolutely ridiculous to continue on. But I see our press as usual is not mentioning this at all. They truly are a joke.

    Just a missive from a small town. If anyone has any ideas – please – I cannot wait to read them.

    And I will say again – be healthy. I hope we are not generating a more toxic variant in the world, but the way things are looking, I cannot be assured of that. Therefore – Get out in the sun. Get less fat. Exercise hard. Sweat. Sleep well. De-stress. Laugh and smile with your family. Get your A1c and blood pressure down. Play with abandon. The people I see doing all these things are the ones who do not end up sick not only from COVID but so many other things that life throws at us.

    Reply
    1. ChristopherJ

      Thanks Doc for this and all your efforts to inform people in this place.

      Here in Oz, it seems we are also seeing very high case numbers, mostly among the vaccinated and boosted. Hospitals and ambo services are stretched. Very little masking outside of medical settings. Winter of course doesn’t assist. Anecdotally, it would seem that air travel is causing a lot of transmission, as neighbor caught is from trip to Tasmania. Refused to test, so expect a lot of under reporting in our systems too. Not much of anything from our governments, but that was to be expected. In our, mostly for profit, nursing home sector, it is not surprising that staff and residents are catching and spreading covid. Numbers are so bad, lots of elderly are dying, that the Defence forces are in there assisting with care, now extended to September. Staff are getting sick and fewer people want to work in that sector, or yours for that matter. A factor also present in many other countries, I would reckon.

      Thanks to you and my own research, I am 60 and remain healthy and unvaxxed. Fortunate, I guess, that I don’t have to do risky work anymore, so my exposures are brief and limited. Cheers again from Cairns, Queensland.

      Reply
    2. Space Station 11

      Thanks for those observations. I have nothing nearly so granular to report on my end. As a reminder I work in the emergency department at an urban teaching hospital/level 1 trauma center in a large west coast city.

      We continue to see a high case count, especially incidental cases of ‘you are here for X, and we found Y (meaning Covid)’. I still have not seen a notably ill Covid case this year- nobody requiring admission, supplemental oxygen, certainly nobody on the trajectory towards ECMO as was the case with some previous waves. The current strain seems to produce, as you say, an irritating head cold in most, an uncomfortable flu-like illness in some. On a personal level, nearly everyone I know who has flown on an airplane in the past few months has tested positive shortly after their trip.

      The most amusing/maddening element to the Covid environment at my shop is the inconsistency w/r/t seriousness. For example: last week, my wife (also an ER doc) walked into one shift and was told by our charge nurse upon walking through the door that every staff member who had worked since July 12 was required to immediately test, at work, as management was observing an increasing number of call-outs d/t illness. She was required to test before she could start her shift. I walked into my own shift the next day, and nobody asked that I test (I was later told that it was simply ‘encouraged’), and I spent the entirety of my shift with an unmasked Covid positive patient in a ‘hallway bed’ (stretcher in an empty space in a high traffic hallway) directly in front of the workstation for my team- less than 6 feet away from where we sit for charting with no physical barriers between us. When I asked about this I was told that there simply was no other place to put the patient. This is characteristic of my hospital’s response: spasms of seriousness followed by /shrug/.

      To be fair, we are dealing with a series of overlapping crises that have pushed Covid aside: near record levels of ‘boarding’ patients in the ED likely due to a lack of available inpatient beds and staffing shortages, incredibly high turnover among our nursing staff (I’d estimate at least 50% of our experience trauma nurses have quit since the beginning of the epidemic), rotating pharmaceutical and supply shortages, a very real and evident uptick in violent crime, a fentanyl overdose epidemic which, amazingly, grows worse by the month when it seems it couldn’t possibly, the sudden appearance of monkeypox and the need to develop a risk stratification/testing protocol…with this as a backdrop, and the current clinically mild version of Covid, it simply doesn’t register as a particularly pressing concern.

      Reply
    3. The Rev Kev

      Thanks for all the hard work that you are doing recording this. You would think that somebody would be taking care to record the Pandemic in real time like the WHO or the CDC but I would guess not. I am very much surprised that nothing was done for the AIDS epidemic. And having read up on the great flu pandemic of a century ago, I know how valuable all those accounts can be, especially if backed up by hard data. I seem to recall that the US military was fighting in ‘Nam for years before somebody realized that they were not recording what they were doing so it appears that this is not problem just in medicine. I would note that your comment could almost be a preface for all your recorded work. And as I have learned (from a movie) a long time ago, when you are in the middle of a catastrophic mess, try looking at it from a historical viewpoint. Sometimes it is all that you have left.

      Reply
    4. flora

      Thank you for all your comments over the past two years.

      Your para about keeping detailed records for future historians to review struck a chord. I was thinking the AIDS crisis of the 80’s-90’s is probably best covered for a general audience in the book “The Band Played On”, and I wondered who would write an equivalent or better book in the future about this crisis, and what data and reporting they would have for references. (And if they would mention Dr. Fauci’s roll in both?) Your self-assigned historical record project from a clinician’s point of view is a very important addition to the reports from the MSM and govt statements, imo.

      adding: hope you and NC are keeping a hardcopy of your comments. I know how search engines can ‘vanish’ data considered ‘old’.

      Reply
      1. flora

        adding: you mention April 15th. Aside from the 15th being the IRS tax filing deadline date (always a bit stressful), did anything else medical happen around that time or around April 1st? April is when we’re coming out of winter and out of the flu and resp. viruses season in the northern hemisphere…usually. This April’s increase in infections seems oddly timed for a resp. virus.

        Reply
    5. Luckless Pedestrian

      “Therefore – Get out in the sun. Get less fat. Exercise hard. Sweat. Sleep well. De-stress. Laugh and smile with your family. Get your A1c and blood pressure down. Play with abandon. The people I see doing all these things are the ones who do not end up sick not only from COVID but so many other things that life throws at us.”

      Word to live by. I appreciate that you reinforce the behavioral aspect of staying healthy, as well as sharing your knowledge.

      Reply
    6. LawnDart

      I’ve dropped from a tight-38 to a loose 36, cut drinking down but not off, quit anything fried, make sure I move every day, and a few more bits. I was anti-social before, but now am downright offensive to most company– the present not included. Except Yves.

      Not saying that you’ve saved my life or anything like that, but I’m listening to what you are saying and passing it on, here in flyover country.

      Reply
      1. Tvc15

        “And the proportion of vaxxed/boosted among these people compared to the unvaxxed is way higher. In other words – the vaxxed seem, at least here, to be more likely to be infected than the unvaxxed.”

        I think this is the second time IM doc has mentioned this point. Yet, my future employer, a large public international bank is requiring a vaccine or exemption. I’m also a remote employee. Am I missing something?

        I paid $279 for a 10 minute phone call with an MD in another state to write an exemption for me. I’m still waiting for my offer package to determine if an MD exemption will suffice. The MD said I’m not exempt if the company uses the CDC guidelines. I mentioned cardiac concerns due to a history of borderline hypertension and genetics. If we didn’t live in a dystopian combination of Brave New World/1984 and Animal Farm then this wouldn’t even be an issue.

        Reply
    7. John Zelnicker

      Doc – Ya’ll oughta write a book.

      But seriously, someone who has the time and energy could put your reports together with others here who report from trenches and have a great start for a contemporaneous history of how the pandemic played out on the ground.

      It might take a while to reach some kind of conclusion since we seem to have been told that we are “going to be living with COVID” forever.

      Reply
    8. Skippy

      Hi IM Doc …

      Want to hear a ripper …

      So my son of 18, 6’4, 240lbs [fit] has had a persistent sore throat for two weeks, initially a mild fever and hoarse voice, vaccinated 2 times and had covid once, anywho finally decides to see the GP down the road. Put it off because they changed the laws/rules with medicare over hear where a patent does not have to pay up front to up front or reimbursement post consultation payment. So the first GP consultation was done without any examination, only his self reported symptoms and given a script for some antibiotics, days went by and no improvement, went for a second opinion from another GP. Stated his symptoms in the phone call to set up the consultation yet when he arrived and spoke to the receptionist was informed that they don’t do throat examinations in person and only via video consultations. Again was handed a script for antibiotics.

      Now if this is the SOP going forward, more than likely too, with ratchet like effect, be the new public health administrative perspective … wow …

      I mean I personally I’ve seen heaps of industry sectors self lobotomize for the – life is a short balance sheet game – but this is on a whole new level e.g. the old saw about killing your customers for a pay day is not going to end well i.e. hay all that knowledge we had … yeah naw … this line item needs $$$$$ …

      Reply
    9. lambert strether

      > We now have a daily record going back more than 2 years of every patient that is affected by COVID.

      Brilliant.

      Please convey our collective thanks to your associate. Also, we have offshore servers.

      Reply
    10. QR

      IM Doc, heartfelt thanks for your work and integrity, and for sharing your observations and insights with us.

      Reply
  10. chris wardell

    Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) is reportedly penning a book about masculinity. ‘Manhood: The Masculine Virtues America
    Masculine?? HAHAHAHA
    THANK YOU FOR THE BELLY LAUGH

    Reply
    1. griffen

      grow a decent beard, drink beer in moderation, be morally uptight and walk upright. be sure you are born on second base. \sarc

      We can crowdsource this bad boy!

      Reply
        1. griffen

          I had thought Caitlyn was perhaps still authentically…born with the varied male apparatus remaining articles attached. I am most fearful of what I see if I dare to search such a topic. I don’t need a “Buffalo Bill sequence” to cause nightmare visions.

          And, this is a family blog…I was joking above about someone being birthed to the right parents and getting born on second base. A little on the nose with that, as it turns out.

          Reply
  11. Lex

    I don’t know of a NIOSH approved respirator with filtering exhaust valve (my knowledge is not exhaustive). In that respect, they are very much personal protective equipment while the varieties of Ns are more weighted to community respiratory protection. Also, the number of people who will wear a real respirator correctly or not quit using it is extremely low. This is the case even in hazardous material remediation where the hazards are well understood and there’s professional training.

    In the current situation, people choosing to use them because nobody who makes decisions is doing anything about this makes total sense to me.

    Reply
  12. Mark Gisleson

    I don’t remember “Crabitalism” at all, but I instantly knew that it was a Berkley Medallion SF paperback just by the cover art and colors.

    Then I clicked to embiggen and only then realized how thoroughly I had been hoaxed. None of the blurbs or text phased me, but “A Paperback Paradise Book” was not any Berkely imprint I remembered and the final copy at the bottom of the back cover confirmed the hoax. Which I should have guessed because back in the day I totally would have read a novel about giant crab overlord alien invaders and now that I think about it I do kinda remember Phil Dick writing a book like this. I think it was an Ace Double.

    Reply
  13. Screwball

    The Fauci interview.

    Interesting tidbit about The Hill’s Rising. According to a Glenn Greenwald set of Tweets, Rising (used to be hosted by Krystal & Saager) interviewed Dr. Fauci the other day. One of the regular hosts, Kim Iversion, which I’m guessing many here don’t like, was not allowed to interview Fauci.

    Let’s say she has not been a fan, and has questioned many of the “science” calls made by the “science” people, including Fauci himself. I found her refreshing in that context to so many others. I would have paid to see that interview, but didn’t happen.

    So she quit, and is no longer with Rising. He didn’t say who was calling the shots behind the scene not allowing her to interview Fauci. Could have been The Hill or perhaps Fauci, but I’m only speculating.

    You will only be told what they want you to know, nothing else. What a sad state of affairs.

    Reply
    1. flora

      I like Iverson. She’s a good, well-prepared counterpoint to many official narratives. I often disagree with her but I like her presentation of the facts in support of her arguments. She is always friendly and courteous and has a sense of humor about politics. They wouldn’t let her join the Fauci interview? well well. Is Rising joining PBS? / ;)

      Reply
  14. MT_Wild

    The American Red Cross just sent me an email advertising that I could donate blood for a chance to win gas for a year.

    Pretty much sums up where we are right now in the USA.

    Reply
  15. JBird4049

    I helped a local organization secure significant funding to launch a project partnership related to disability history, and after accepting the funding it offered me half the amount of compensation I agreed to work for, on a project I created.

    You know, aside from wanting to make a comment about how California was, IIRC, second last in abolishing (legal) sterilizations, reading about the NGO’s melange of a f***up of self-destructive backstabbing, lying, fraud, incompetence, greed, and stupidity was entertaining.

    And I now, I have another book to add to my collection of books on racism, genocide, and eugenics; Elizabeth Catte looks like she might be a good writer. I had thought that it was North Carolina that was the last state to have (again legal, note that word) sterilization.

    Reading unexpurgated American history veers between hope, melancholy, and horror, but currently it seems more like a very dark satire. If the book publishing industry was not so monopolized, centralized, and propagandized I would expect to read such a book on the nonprofit industry, but they are the designated good guys, so I don’t expect to read it anytime soon. There are good reasons beyond just neoliberalism for the destruction of the arts and the media, and their replacement by stuff like the 1619 Project.

    Reply
    1. upstater

      Another legacy of Andrew Cuomo. And the legislature. Great choices for governor and even worse for state and congressional representatives.

      Reply
      1. Big River Bandido

        This anti-democratic behavior by Democrats is national and is happening in several states at once. It is clearly planned. Andrew Cuomo was a hideous governor from his first term, and deserves a special spot of shame.

        But this is not just about one bad apple. The bad apple is the entire Democrat Party.

        Reply
  16. nippersdad

    Re the pigs breathing through their butts story: I wonder if this is the plan for our Congress critters after they lose the ability to breathe through their mouths due to long Covid?

    Aside from the serious problems we have with torturing animals for no rational reason, this did seem like a good thing to practice on our congressional delegations. If they must stay in office until they are a hundred and fifty years old we are going to need to retain our options.

    Reply
    1. digi_owl

      Well if nothing else they would no longer have to wear those unsightly oxygen nose tubes while napping during sessions.

      Reply
      1. nippersdad

        I can’t but feel that there would be many advantages to this idea. If Nancy were to be pumped up like this….

        https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1GCEA_enUS926US926&source=univ&tbm=isch&q=trump+blimp&fir=XfvGXZxoM2c1qM%252Cem7EGniZ440kYM%252C_%253B0xNOY2VisjhLKM%252C6kyn_e2ESXjoTM%252C_%253BFiiDhR4UiEMC-M%252Cj4GPoxjtYdB4HM%252C_%253Bq2Korp7EPqOiqM%252CU6GfG26v1xF0BM%252C_%253BCts-H0SCdekErM%252CfXTMVhf6nUw6lM%252C_%253Bnir_kpJ-u65JaM%252CE70RvCK2MooTPM%252C_%253BDxEnH7LBbc32AM%252C1KbO9baQtzIa8M%252C_%253BtSYxhPB4WJktQM%252Cx5jTsd8g0soYwM%252C_%253BuFEfLhjtGLamJM%252Cqr4IUBF-loQkFM%252C_%253BkJS_9KiCNZyzfM%252C9Z7rYWWlpoLc2M%252C_%253BLTi5bZ0PQIFI2M%252C_1QONf31cxF-hM%252C_%253BYUYBdDzss-7uMM%252Cy2qk5pSz4usY1M%252C_%253BidXRfbE1jLZkKM%252CMLEbV_RfiXZXzM%252C_%253B5YR3DwEHZ4v1BM%252CTdGT4MY_3xHGHM%252C_&usg=AI4_-kRncypvOxU3Xf_bQsR66MOUZDewpA&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwin0P7mxZz5AhVZoWoFHT9sC6wQsAR6BAgCEAM&biw=1366&bih=657&dpr=1

        ….it would prolly lower both her carbon footprint and the Navy that was sent to China after her; just tie that aircraft carrier to the blimp and let them be blown across the Pacific.

        Win/win!

        Reply
        1. Late Introvert

          Sorry, but that is one wicked tracking URL. Reference that Faceborg is now encrypting their links so you can’t strip away everything after the “blimp&” part.

          Reply
    2. Big River Bandido

      I wonder if this is the plan for our Congress critters … ?

      Why not? They already speak from their holes.

      Reply
  17. LawnDart

    Speech next, I suppose.

    You mean that isn’t their butth– ? Their eyes seem big enough, or do I have these confused too?

    Reply
    1. JBird4049

      I wanted to share this rant by john Stewart about how screwed up the senate is.
      It’s talking about the PACT act.

      I wonder whose money was used to pay them off.

      Reply
    2. Skippy

      Stewart rebranding his media image – ????? – excessive use of the term heroes to boot … wow … someone get him a mirror …

      Reply
      1. JBird4049

        Jon Stewart has been working on this legislation for something like a decade, let’s not be a pill. And the PACT Act was cancelled because the Republicans got butt hurt over the CHIPS Act being passed in someway they didn’t like. Something about Reconciliation, the SALT tax and CHIPS, which I don’t fully understand; it was not bribery, but some congressional manbabies having a tantrum by blocking the veteran burn pit victims’ medical care.

        We’re ruled by the small-souled.

        Reply
        1. Skippy

          Stewart has been – working on it – like a decade, sorry but I don’t think stumping for PACT is actually working on it, never the less that does nothing to detract from my points above.

          I mean does the world really need more media celebrities to gain eyeball share for some pet cause or charity. Especially when its obvious they are in costume for the gig and speak in mannerisms to suit the audience – oops I said a bad word because I’m so emotional about the topic = facts and honesty. Repetitive use of hero.

          You know maybe if he had a, lets say, dual cause and did a depleted uranium cause for kids and pregnant women in Iraq I might be swayed about his position. Basically his position is, regardless of personal passions about it, conflicting. One one hand he’s upset about service members being flicked onto the rubbish pile once they are no longer fit for duty or out of the service. Yet on the other hand seems completely oblivious to the plight of so many others in the same fix that never did military service or are just economic victims of neoliberalism.

          Then on top of it all is the redress of why these service members are all maimed in the first place, does he question why they were ordered to fight overseas, what are his ideological beliefs, geopolitical thoughts …..

          Oh yeah –

          Jon Stewart said the mainstream media is “actually built for” coverage like war — and they’ve been doing an outstanding job covering Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

          “When they are matched with their purpose and there is a story equal to it, boy do they deliver,” Stewart said Thursday on his The Problem With Jon Stewart podcast. “They have done a magnificent job of bringing the reality of this story to the public.”

          https://www.mediaite.com/podcasts/jon-stewart-gushes-over-medias-ukraine-coverage-they-have-been-on-motherfcking-point/

          Yeah so Stewart is all broke up inside about U.S. service members treatment post going off to fight in MIC et al wars yet at the same time promotes the very mind set that gets them maimed in the first place. Too compound injury he then promotes himself as some sort of intellectual thinking man that just happens to be a comedian just like Zelenskyy –

          ““What this dude is doing, it is incredibly moving,” Stewart said of Zelenskyy. “I mean, we’re watching Shecky Greene transform into Churchill,” referencing the legendary comedian.” – John Stewart

          So I think your umbrage and suggestion that “I not be a pill” is unwarranted.

          I’ll add I might have more respect of him if he did a combat stint on the front in the Ukraine and lived this thoughts projections, rather from the safe confines of his abode or media interviews

          Reply
          1. JBird4049

            My apologies. I just like Stewart because he seems to be not quite as captured by the Borg Media Collective as most of them seem to be. That and his humor is not as shrill and unfunny as Colbert or Kimmel.

            Reply
            1. skippy

              I liked his comedy when he was giving the Bush … cough Channey admin some stick, but it wore off during the Obama 3rd Bush administration. I feel I learned from the experience aka he’s a neocon with the gift of gab in the comedic sense, but is all about American exceptionalism and only has issues with which brand of neoliberal administration is running things.

              Per se I would love to see the look on his face at home when he gets the information that too – pay for – his pet cause that he will get taxed at a punitive rate of 90% of all income post some dollar number.

              No need to apologias as I was not specific enough about my thoughts on the matter and thank you for taking the time to reply.

              Reply
          2. The Rev Kev

            In another timeline, comedian Jon Stewart – like Zelensky himself – became President of the United States through hidden factions, again just like Zelensky. And if you think that unlikely, then consider how an elderly man with obvious signs of approaching dementia could become President of the United States.

            Reply
            1. Skippy

              Is that an upgrade from a late stage alcoholic with evangelical tendencies … asking for a friend …

              Reply
              1. ambrit

                I go back to the actor entering senile decline while his Deep State #2 and wife with attached Court Astrologer “ran” the country for a second term. Makes me pine for the ‘simple’ days of Coolidge and Harding. /s

                Reply
            1. Skippy

              Off all the people I think you better than most would understand how absurdist and tortured that proposition is … lmmao the Ukraine is the plucky country [U.K. monarchist] fighting fascists totalitarians [Nazi] in the garb of national socialists taking money from the IMF … oh I could go on and on …

              Reply
  18. Mikel

    “The Movie Business Has a Supply-Chain Problem” [Bloomberg].

    “….Some of the movies mentioned above aren’t done because the visual effects aren’t ready.” • Oh, what a shame. Maybe — hear me out — the movies could go back to scripts, character, and plot? Instead of mind-numbingly stupid special effects?

    These days, what used to be called “make-up” may as well go under the banner of “special effects.”
    A great deal of time is spent on those personal touch ups.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Lambert was saying ‘Oh, what a shame. Maybe — hear me out — the movies could go back to scripts, character, and plot? Instead of mind-numbingly stupid special effects?’ and straight away I was thinking of an old film like “12 Angry Men” as an example. But the Critical Drinker put out a video recently talking about this trend and he was really fired up about it-

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DY-zg8Oo8p4 (10:25 mins) – Heavy language alert!

      Reply
      1. paul

        How about ‘The Apartment’, inspired according to its creator, by the absent character in Brief Ecounter.

        ‘A matter of life and death’ from an earlier time was a magical syntheses of hgi* and script.
        I defy anyone to watch the opening scene without a tissue or handkerchief available.

        An excellent example of unenhanced melodrama comes, as usual, from S Korea:

        High Society is a 2018 South Korean drama film directed by Byun Hyuk

        *human generated images**
        ** watch any credits, those cgi computers need a lot of humans.

        Reply
  19. Michael Ismoe

    What do you do when your policy doesn’t work? Double down:

    Looking ahead, there is no path out of economic oblivion for Russia as long as the allied countries remain unified in maintaining and increasing sanctions pressure against Russia, and The Kyiv School of Economics and McFaul-Yermak Working Group have led the way in proposing additional sanctions measures.

    Defeatist headlines arguing that Russia’s economy has bounced back are simply not factual – the facts are that, by any metric and on any level, the Russian economy is reeling, and now is not the time to step on the brakes.

    https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4167193

    Reply
    1. Tom Stone

      I wonder how many tons of cocaine flow through Greater DC in a week?
      A fair amount of what’s coming out of the blob reminds me of the cases of cocaine psychosis I encountered when younger…

      Reply
      1. hunkerdown

        It’s the Chief Executive school at Yale. I think they like the labor/popular discipline too much. It is fear, not just toot, inspiring those noses.

        Reply
      2. LawnDart

        I wonder how many tons of cocaine flow through Greater DC in a week?

        Isn’t wastewater testing a thing now? Talk about a corruption-index.

        Reply
  20. shinola

    Interesting comparison:

    https://www.sciencenews.org › article › yap-stone-money-bitcoin-blockchain-cryptocurrency

    (I doubt this comes up as a direct live link – just something to check out that might be of interest to NC readers)

    Reply
  21. Carolinian

    Memo to the movie special effects industry–Casablanca had a little toy airplane at the end and nobody cared. Watch and learn.

    Meanwhile a story this morning says Zuckerberg going all in the virtual reality trend. Similarly technology is always the movie biz’ great hope exemplified by the periodic revival of 3d. But it never lasts. Stars and story have always been enough or, as the live theater folk say, “two planks and a passion.” People have imaginations and enjoy using them. It’s the current moguls who seem to have no imagination. They long for “tentpole” franchises so they don’t have to try very hard.

    So yes the product pipeline is drying up

    Reply
    1. notabanker

      When you filter out the foreign agent/terrorist propaganda, the woke messaging, murder in a small town and remade comic books, there really isn’t much left to choose from.

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        I’m not claiming that CGI has no value if intelligently used, just that it’s not the main event–movies are not a “supply chain.” All that “production value” is also expensive and a further barrier to creative risk.

        Reply
    2. Big River Bandido

      Carolinian, along the lines of your point: The Beatles recorded their first 5 singles on a 3-track machine made by British Tape Recorder — in 1949. Occasionally in the historical literature you’ll find an argument that they “should have gone to L.A.” or mused on what would have happened if they’d gone to Stax in 1966.

      These arguments rather miss the point. They are correct insofar as they go, which is to note that the American studios of the 1960s had “better” gear, and as a result the Beatles might have made “better” sounding records.

      But I think, more likely, they would not have.

      There’s something in the sound of those early captures: the “outdated” gear actually highlights the musical aesthetic — the grittiness and the edge in the music itself is perfectly presented in the supposedly “inferior” quality of the captures. The captures also enhance the sense that one is listening to music of historic import — the recordings have a “vintage” sound. As comparison, one can swoon to the rich sound of Abbey Road…and yet still feel that the record is a mere shadow or spectre of their pre-1967 output.

      All this perfect compliments the Beatles’ authenticity — and of course, the lack thereof is what’s causing such grief throughout the entire “entertainment industry”. That very usage draws attention to the real problem — the “industry” stopped caring about or making authentic art a long time ago.

      Reply
      1. Greg

        Very interesting argument. I’ve often felt that creative endeavours are easiest when there are arbitrary limitations in place – the need to work with the limited tools helps to generate more ideas and makes for a better final result.

        Reply
        1. Big River Bandido

          I agree, Greg. As a composer, “forced choices” and restricted options also make my work go faster because I don’t have to consider all possibilities.

          Reply
  22. drumlin woodchuckles

    Someone should do a life-like exactly-the-same-sounding parody song of Brave Sir Robin about Senator Hawley. Maybe with appropriate video even. Make it good enough that it can go viral.

    Brave Sir Hawley ran away. Bravely ran away. When danger reared its ugly head, he bravely turned his tail and fled, etc. etc.

    Reply
    1. Sardonia

      Looks like song parodies are no longer welcome. Haven’t seen any, and the one I’ve tried posting today about Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan gets rejected immediately. Oh well….

      Reply
  23. drumlin woodchuckles

    If the CDC’s real secret job was to spread covid far and fast enough to make it into an unstoppable permanent pandemic, then the CDC’s malicious suppression of knowledge about elastomeric masks would make sense in terms of the CDC doing its secret real job.

    Hundreds of CDC people deserve to be convicted and put to death for crimes against humanity during the Covid Nuremberg trials which deserve to be run, but which won’t be run. Many thousands of secret covid-spreaders in government and non-government authority and leadership would be put to death after Covid Nuremberg trials if this were a healthy country with a healthy society able to handle the truth.

    Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        They knew they couldn’t keep it secret forever. But they didn’t have to keep it secret forever. Just long enough to help get the pandemic unstoppably entrenched. Same as with suppressing any and all discussion of airborne spread to make sure that people who limited their info-input to strictly what the CDC ( and WHO also) offered would not know about that. There too, they knew they couldn’t suppress it forever. But they didn’t have to suppress it forever. They just had to suppress it long enough.

        Reply
  24. MT_Wild

    Maybe late to the party but the mushroom in the plantidote looks like an Amanita. Don’t eat that one.

    Reply
  25. marym

    Union protest against Amazon takeover of One Medical

    California Labor Federation @CaliforniaLabor
    We’re calling on One Medical shareholders to REJECT THE AMAZON TAKEOVER! Keep Jeef Bezos OUT OF HEALTH CARE! #UnionStrong2022
    https://twitter.com/CaliforniaLabor/status/1552058127784165376

    Alyssa Kang @1alyssakang
    ICYMI @amazonlabor prez @Shut_downAmazon led the @CaliforniaLabor @sflabor march to protest Amazon’s plans to expand to healthcare by trying to buy One Medical. This would be disastrous for patients and workers! P.S. Stop union busting! Fair contract for ALU NOW! #Hotlaborsummer
    https://twitter.com/1alyssakang/status/1552293931227918336

    Here with 2 dynamic & powerful union presidents — @Shut_downAmazon of @amazonlabor and Sandy Reding, RN of @calnurses P.S. Close up of Chris Smalls’ shirt and my #MedicareForAll mask bc we all need a union and healthcare should be a right for all #UnionStrong2022 #1u
    https://twitter.com/1alyssakang/status/1551738885633216513

    Reply
  26. The Rev Kev

    “Life After Bernie”

    Yeah, about that. Some people are already thinking about that. So last night I came across an RT article about a third party called the Forward party being launched created by former Democrats and Republicans who vow to stand against “political extremism.” I think that they mean populists and real progressives.The article says-

    ‘The new party, called Forward, is co-chaired by former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang and Christine Todd Whitman, the former Republican governor of New Jersey. Although Yang’s Forward Party was initially established in October 2021, it has now merged with two other organizations: the Renew America Movement, of former Republicans, and the bipartisan Serve America Movement.’

    I may live a coupla thousand kilometers away but I smell a rat. This sounds like nothing more that an attempt by establishment people to corral actual progressives & leftists and to shepherd them into political oblivion in the next election. Andrew Yang being present isn’t exactly a confidence-builder so colour me cynical-

    https://www.rt.com/news/559745-forward-party-us-yang/

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Its like Third Way and No Labels and other ways to give neo-liberalism a spray-on face-lift; after the shine has begun wearing off of the DLC Clintocrats themselves. And yes, also designed to appeal to those “can’t we all just get along” kumbaya types.

      The presence of Yang and Whitman makes it seem that this group also wants to be basically Libertarian/Marketarian while trying to smell a little more cool and groovy than the Libertarian Party itself.

      Its not the New Deal Reactionary Party I keep hoping for, by whatever name.

      Reply
    2. ChrisRUEcon

      > co-chaired by former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang

      Stopped reading right there …

      Reply
  27. Jason Boxman

    I haven’t seen this yet, but it seems note worthy:

    After Clash, Manchin and Schumer Rushed to Reset Climate and Tax Deal

    The abrupt announcement of a deal suggested a potential reversal of fortune for Mr. Biden and the Democrats, who had resigned themselves to the demise of the climate, energy and tax package. They had been preparing to push forward with a scaled-back pairing of the prescription drug pricing measure with an extension of expanded health care subsidies.

    “This thing could very well, could not have happened at all,” Mr. Manchin declared on Thursday morning in an interview with Hoppy Kercheval, a West Virginia radio host. “It could have absolutely gone sideways, so I had to see if we can make this work.”

    I can’t tell from what I’ve read if the bill is really legit or not. Based on the Times, it sounds transformative, which means it probably is not much of anything in practice. No money for transmission lines? Who’s gonna build green then?

    I guess we’ll see if it makes it to Biden.

    Reply
  28. Big River Bandido

    coverage is really patchy. Illinois, for example, has always had a lot of coverage, but the dots stop at the Illinois border

    Apparently Iowa does not monitor or report this data. But Davenport dumps into the Mississippi across from Rock Island, and Council Bluffs across the Missouri from Omaha. Red dots on both those areas, meaning the Iowa cities are just as affected; the Quad-Cities, in particular, is a fully integrated bi-state region.

    Which leads me to wonder…in these stats, where is the wastewater measured? At the point where the municipality dumps it into the river, or from the river itself?

    Reply
  29. LaRuse

    Covid anecdata and masktravaganza – After 2.5+ years of being a house full of COVID virgins, my husband (4 moderna shots on board) came home from a 3 day work trip with COVID.
    He’s miserable but alright. We are keeping distances, but with the heat index being around 110 today, opening windows isn’t really an option.
    Every photo he sent me from the conference was of a ballroom full of dozens of people, nearly every single one over the age of 60 (mostly education retirees in their second careers) and not so much as a surgical mask among them. All elbow to elbow for 3 days, eating and drinking and riding in cars together. It’s hard not to be a little angry. If he had been wearing a mask and still caught the virus, it would have been easier. He just keeps saying “This was all really inevitable anyway…”. It didn’t have to be.
    Why didn’t he wear the N95s I bought him? Why didn’t his company ask people to wear masks given the high risk population they employ? As of last night, we knew of 4 confirmed illnesses among his coworkers. Those are just the people who called personally to let him know “Hey, we hung out and I wanted to let you know …”
    Here’s the anecdata of interest to Lambert and other tape watchers. He tested as soon as he got home Wednesday – first rapid test was negative and he had only a sore throat and headache. But his symptoms grew worse and worse all day, so we got him a PCR test at the local CVS at 5pm last night. Then he got the calls from other CV+ coworkers and took another rapid test at 8pm. It came back positive. No surprise.
    Then an hour ago we heard back on the PCR test. It was negative.
    What do you get when someone pops a negative PCR test and a positive rapid test? Messy and unreliable numbers. From VA Health Department perspective, he’s negative. From his doctor’s perspective, who immediately called in a script for Paxlovid, he is positive and very high risk because of all of his comorbidities (high BP, chronic lung problems, obesity, diabetes).
    Living this in real time, it really hits home how much we (the US at large) does NOT have any sort of handle on actual COVID numbers, the long term problems we are setting the population up for, and how hard this “living with it” really is on people.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Living this in real time, it really hits home how much we (the US at large) does NOT have any sort of handle on actual COVID numbers, the long term problems we are setting the population up for, and how hard this “living with it” really is on people.

      Everything’s going according to plan!

      Reply
  30. jr

    I just got off the phone with the son of a good friend who works for a major non-profit that you know. Let’s call him Junior. He works as an office manager and he shared a really dark picture of how things are going. He asked me to keep everything anonymous, so apologies for that.

    The organization’s state level office installed a new high level executive officer about six months ago. Let’s call her the Exec. According to Junior, the first thing this person did was to begin to sap responsibilities away from a very popular and competent VP who was overseeing two regional offices. He started overseeing, say 15 projects, when he left recently in a cloud of confusion and anger, he had only two projects. The two he was left with were the one’s that required hours of driving, basically the one’s that sucked the most.

    Now, he was never disciplined or told that he wasn’t doing a good job. He was in fact doing a very good job. This new executive simply began to take over his accounts. Right before he left, he spoke with Junior and said that basically he doesn’t know why he even has the job as he doesn’t do anything all day long. After he left, the Exec immediately hired two new underlings, Junior reported that it was obvious that she had planned to do this in advance as the job position ads were already prepped and ready to go.

    Junior now has to deal with the Exec directly. Everyday he finds himself bombarded with micromanaging emails and gross errors on the part of Exec. But that’s not even the worst of it.

    He recently started receiving email from colleagues informing him that, without his knowledge, he is being put forward as being responsible for things he was never responsible for in the past. The Exec never tells him, she just tells people that he is responsible and to reach out to him for anything they need. He has had to do some tap dancing to cover his a$$ because departments are emailing him like “Where the heck is X and Y?!” and when he says that that isn’t his job they tell him the Exec said it is.

    A recent exchange is revealing. Junior was sent some information and was told to create a pdf and return it to the Exec. He did so. The Exec emailed him and told him that he had made mistakes and the data wasn’t correct. Junior wrote back and said that he had simply cut and pasted the data the Exec had sent him. The reply was literally a repeat of the first email: you made mistakes and the data isn’t correct. Junior wrote back yet again and repeated that he had just cut and pasted and included the original email as evidence. No reply for a while, then an email accusing Junior of altering the shared files. The fact that the timeline of the emails demonstrably disproved this was simply ignored.

    This is not only happening to him. It’s happening to a lot of people. And as a result, mid-level management are quitting in droves, many of them without new jobs in the wait. Just leaving because they cannot take the chaos and the blame games that go on. The Exec has:

    -Created unnecessary deadlines that lead to rushed work, bad data, and confusion that must be reworked.

    -Laid off staff and heaped more work onto those who remain, with no additional compensation.

    -Added unnecessary and complicated steps to processes that improve nothing and lead to chaos and resentment.

    -Lots of duplication of work due to poor communications.

    The Exec demonstrates some traits that have been widely discussed on NC in the past, including micromanagement, a reliance on corporate-tease speak to appear informed, kicking down, rudeness to staff, carpet-blaming, and ignoring experts in their fields and interrupting them as they try to explain things to her with vapid questions in an effort to look better informed. Nothing new there, pretty standard for your average MBA bearing professional position-justifying parasite. But this incident was really odd, relays Junior:

    The Exec called for a large conference of all the department heads. Junior was tasked to secure a large conference room and set up everything. It was a major inconvenience to both him and the department heads.

    Then, a few days before the conference, the Exec tells Junior that she will be attending the conference virtually from her home. A whole new debacle ensued as Junior had to juggle two different tech systems to make this possible. Enormous amounts of time and energy wasted because, for reasons unknown, the Exec decided to mail it in instead of attend the conference she had called together.

    At this point, Junior has begun to suspect that some of this chaos is intentional. We spoke about operatives from political parties and aligned organizations infiltrating non-profits to run them down. He cannot be sure but his gut tells him it’s not all incompetence and stupidity. Although there is a lot of that, to be clear.

    Junior staff have voted to unionize. Junior reports that the executives pulled out all the tricks to derail the effort and, having failed that, now just play nice while talking smack behind closed door and plotting to throw any monkey wrenches they can. They will no doubt spend more energy fighting the union than doing their jobs.

    Which is all part of a bigger trend. The mission of the non-profit has by and large been abandoned. Nothing seems to get done. Except fundraising, always fundraising. Even as the offices empty and the mission falters, the senior executives continue to shop around for donors.

    Reply
    1. griffen

      You have just described a professional hell, and working for either a for profit private employer or a non profit employer the outcome is the same. This executive is a useless zit on the face of humanity. Failing upwards is not equivalent to success.

      For you see, that depicts a reality for many including myself. Starting about mid year 2020 into March and April 2021. Send things to me half baked and I get to fill in the blanks. The data is crap, companies merged but not the databases; and making it work takes a hell of a lot of effort. Didn’t read what I send. “Oh, That project is no big deal.” Don’t review when I damn explain you have to review this.

      Run. Run far. Polish the professional cv / resume and post it.

      Reply
    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      What if Junior were to share his suspicions that the Exec is a secret undercover political operative-saboteur with trusted co-workers , and suggest they all secretly co-raise enough money to hire a private investigator to do a study on the Exec to see if she has any past associations with any political or other potentially sabotage-generating organization? Would that make sense to do? If they could do something with the information, depending on what it is?

      Reply
  31. debug

    ‘“Reality is more cunning than any theory,” as The Bearded One said, if I am not misquoting him.’

    The exact phrase appears in: Alexander Spirkin. Fundamentals of Philosophy. Translated from the Russian by Sergei Syrovatkin. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1990

    “First, Kant raised the question here of the basic limitations of
    human experience, and second, he recognized that reality goes be-
    yond the limits of any knowledge: reality is more cunning than any
    theory, and it is much richer than any of them.”

    See the full text linked at https://archive.org/stream/FundamentalsOfPhilosophy_913/Spirkin_Fundamentals_of_Philosophy_djvu.txt

    or the pdf at https://archive.org/details/FundamentalsOfPhilosophy_913

    Reply
  32. The Rev Kev

    Well this was unexpected-

    ‘Ukrainian troops shelled a prison housing POWs in Yelenovka early Friday morning, Donetsk People’s Republic Deputy Information Minister Daniil Bezsonov wrote on his Telegram channel.

    “There was a direct hit at a building with prisoners,” Bezsonov wrote. “The results as of now: 40 killed, 130 wounded.”’

    Apparently these prisoners were guys captured at Mariupol. And a stranger twist is that it was supposedly HIMARS rockets which hit them which means that it was not random or accidental but deliberately done-

    https://www.rt.com/russia/559817-ukraine-shells-prison-holding-pows/

    Reply
    1. Acacia

      Why would they shell their own guys being held in prison? Inadequate training with HIMARS? Botched prison break? …?

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        Maybe they want those guys to be kept quiet what they know about the regimes inner workings. Who knows? Rumour has it that it is Americans aiming those HIMARS as they need a lot of training so I am calling it intentional.

        Reply

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