2:00PM Water Cooler 10/5/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Varied Solitaire, Darién, Panama. “Gen. Climate: Humid. Cover Density: Medium.”

* * *

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

“Here’s food for thought, had Ahab time to think; but Ahab never thinks; he only feels, feels, feels” –Herman Melville, Moby Dick

“The logic of the insult and the logic of scientific classification represent the two extreme poles of what a classification may be in the social world.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles

Biden Administration

“Biden’s Operation Warp Speed revival stumbles out of the gate” [Politico]. “They even had a name for the effort: Project Covid Shield. But months later, it’s barely taken off — stymied by fading political interest in prolonging a war against a pandemic that even the president has declared “over.” Mired in a standoff with Republicans over more Covid response money, the administration has yet to invest heavily in any of the promising vaccine targets it’s identified. The delay has compounded concern inside the White House over Americans’ vulnerability to future variants. More recently, administration officials have grown alarmed that the U.S. suddenly trails rival China in the global pursuit of new scientific breakthroughs aimed at curbing Covid. ‘The notion we’re going to sit on the sidelines and watch other nations build this stuff should be totally anathema to us,’ White House Covid-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha told POLITICO. ‘I think of this very much as a biosecurity issue as well as a pandemic preparedness issue.'” • Maybe they should call in the former guy to consult. At least he knew how to get the job done.

See, whatever is “emotional” is authentic and good:


Normalizing fascism is what this is. Nothing else. I hope these guys were told to take off their Confederate battle flag patches…..


* * *
“Why Vicente Gonzalez may not be safe in his solidly Democratic district” [Texas Tribune]. “In a twist, Gonzalez, a three-term congressman, is not the incumbent where he’s running, since he opted to run in a new district after redistricting. That distinction goes to Republican U.S. Rep. Mayra Flores, who won her special election and flipped the district red in June after a tsunami of support from national Republicans hopeful to make South Texas their new stomping grounds. Emboldened by that win, Republicans are relentlessly going after Gonzalez’s verbal gaffes and portraying him as an out-of-touch creature of Washington. Gonzalez’s aggressive spending in the race shows that he’s not taking anything for granted. His campaign has spent $2.2 million as of the end of June on a robust ground game — nearly twice the expenses of his past two campaigns combined — and that’s before he released his first TV ad in late September. With over $1.4 million in cash on hand, he’s on his way to surpassing his 2016 spending of $2.3 million. This year is his most robust operation since he first ran for Congress in 2016, he said. To Republicans, it’s an admission that their forays into the traditional Democratic stronghold of South Texas are scaring Democrats and that Flores’ special election was not the one-time, off-season fluke they’ve made it out to be. Flores stresses her message of hard work, faith and border security appeal to the socially conservative values of the region, saying Democrats took South Texas Latinos for granted even as the party became increasingly out of step with their values.” • Hmm.


“Senate Dems face brutal 2024 map with at least eight undecided incumbents” [Politics]. “Even as the caucus pushes to expand a 50-50 majority this fall, it’s bracing for a fight to defend 23 seats to the GOP’s 10 in the next election cycle — many of them in red and purple territory. Against that backdrop, at least eight members of Chuck Schumer’s caucus are agonizing over whether to run again, and a couple hail from states that may be lost to the GOP if the incumbent bows out. Several senators are waiting to see how the midterms shake out in a month before making any moves, according to interviews and statements from 22 of the 23 sitting Democrats up in 2024. And holding the majority this fall in a tough environment could help keep some incumbents happier about running for reelection.”

“DeSantis takes over the national conversation” [The Hill]. “No one has been at the forefront of the national conversation more in the last month than Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). DeSantis, seen as a top contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, is firmly at the center of the national news cycle. He made headlines initially by choice when he had dozens of migrants flown from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., in a bid to seize attention in the fight over the border. As that controversy continued to unfold, DeSantis found himself at the center over his state’s preparations and then response to Hurricane Ian, which hit Florida hard. Since then, DeSantis has remained in the national consciousness with daily news conferences carried live on national news networks, piquing the curiosity of viewers who are not only interested in the aftermath of the storm but also in the governor himself. ‘In politics, you want visibility almost more than anything else,’ one Democratic strategist acknowledged of the governor’s constant presence on the political stage in recent weeks. ‘And it’s safe to say he’s gotten that visibility more than almost any national figure these days.’ ‘People know who he is,’ the strategist added. ‘That’s the sweet spot.'” • I wish I knew what “the national conversation” was. I’ve never seen one, or participated in one.

Democrats en Déshabillé

Patient readers, it seems that people are actually reading the back-dated post! But I have not updated it, and there are many updates. So I will have to do that. –lambert

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.

* * *


• “WashU COVID-19 nasal vaccine technology licensed to Ocugen” (press release) [Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis]. The deck: “Aim is for commercialization in U.S., Europe, Japan” More: ” A nasal vaccine for COVID-19 – based on technology developed at Washington University in St. Louis – is on the path to becoming available in the U.S., Europe and Japan. The university has licensed the rights to develop, manufacture and commercialize its proprietary COVID-19 vaccine in the United States, Europe and Japan to Ocugen Inc., a U.S.-based biotechnology company focused on developing and commercializing novel gene and cell therapies and vaccines…. Ocugen intends to work closely with U.S. government agencies tasked with pandemic preparedness and response to initiate clinical trials and manufacture the intranasal vaccine. The company also is interested in the potential for the nasal vaccine to be a universal booster, regardless of a person’s previous COVID-19 vaccination history…. The Washington University nasal vaccine technology was previously licensed to Bharat Biotech International Limited in 2020 for development in India and limited parts of the world. This September, health authorities in India approved the vaccine for emergency use in that country, making it the world’s first intranasal vaccine for COVID-19 to be approved.” • Of course, if the eugenicist molasses-brained Biden Administration had built on the former guy’s Operation Warp Speed, we might have made the “shots in arms” paradigm obsolete by now. But then Pfizer wouldn’t like that, would they? So we’ll see how this goes.

* * *
• A layered strategy:


Two nits: I am not so sure about “non-contact” services, if that means payment. Cash payment make the line move faster, and that means less shared are. Also, “masks” and “respirators” are treated as two separate things, confusing, I believe, to the layperson. Otherwise, yes. More like this! (And I think we can safely eliminate an actual image of Swiss Cheese? I understand the metaphor that if the virus gets through a hole in one layer, the next layer won’t have a hole in the same position, but I think it’s a little strained. Nothing works 100% of the time and I think people know this. I suppose, though, that this is on a par with “the dreaded lifestyle change” said to help people lose weight. But we must try, and changes like this do happen (see smoking), though slowly.

• Maskstravaganza: “Multiple Massachusetts colleges extend mask mandates indefinitely” [New York Post]. “Three Massachusetts colleges are extending their COVID-19 mask mandate — and a fourth is putting it to a vote — even as masking requirements are disappearing around the nation. Mount Holyoke College, Smith College and Hampshire College have all extended their mask mandates indefinitely, according to releases made in the past month. ‘I am sorry to say that because of the relatively high confirmed COVID-19 case counts on campus (approximately 50 per week since the start of the semester) we will need to continue our indoor mask mandate until further notice,’ Mt. Holyoke’s president, Beverly Daniel Tatum, said in an open letter last week. ‘It is clear that the current levels of infection have taxed our campus health care system and residential services to the limit.'” • Makes sense, given wastewater and hospitalization data.

• Maskstravaganza:


* * *
• “Hunting for Pi – the next variant after Omicron – in the toilet” [GAVI]. “Disease detectives are on the lookout for the next variant of COVID-19 and since the virus is still in such high circulation worldwide the virus is constantly mutating. This means it could be evolving to better evade vaccines and attack our immune systems. Although Omicron was milder than the variants came before it, scientists have warned the next variant – which will probably be called Pi – could be far more deadly…. As SARS-CoV-2 can be shed in faecal matter for weeks after the respiratory symptoms clear, wastewater is an obvious place to look for new variants…. Dr Marc Johnson, a virologist at the University of Missouri in Columbia, is working with O’Connor to trace wastewater lineages in Wisconsin. With their colleagues, they are hunting so-called ‘cryptic lineages’, which are viral lineages in wastewater that didn’t match anything in global databases of millions of sequences. These cryptic lineages were significant in that they often had several mutations in the spike protein that SARS-CoV-2 uses to enter our cells – and which our immune system targets. Dr O’Connor told Nature that such lineages could help forecast macro trends in SARS-CoV-2 evolution, which could in turn help the development of variant-proof vaccines and treatments. For these virologists, a lot is riding on early detection of the next major COVID-19 variant. ‘A lot of the lineages we are finding make Omicron look pedestrian,’ said Dr Johnson.” • Oh.

The virus is trying hard to escape:


So far, it’s had good success. And the last time Biden declared the pandemic was over, Omicron happened. That’s why I continue to watch this stuff….

* * *
• Took long enough. And the tweet is still up, continuing to damage and kill:


* * *
• Don’t worry, be happy:


* * *
• “High-Contact Object and Surface Contamination in a Household of Persons with Monkeypox Virus Infection — Utah, June 2022” [Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, CDC]. Case study from a two-person household. “Among the 30 specimens, 21 (70%) yielded positive real-time PCR results, including those from all three porous items (i.e., cloth furniture and blankets), 17 of 25 (68%) nonporous surfaces (e.g., handles and switches), and one of two mixed surface types (i.e., chair) (Table). No specimen yielded a positive viral culture result. During the period of isolation both residents of the home reported showering once or twice each day, performing hand hygiene approximately 10 times daily, laundering bedding and clothing weekly, and performing routine household cleaning (e.g., mopping and daily use of a multisurface spray on most high-contact surfaces). The cleaning spray used was not listed on the Environmental Protection Agency’s List of Disinfectants for Emerging Viral Pathogens. Monkeypox virus DNA was detected from many objects and surfaces sampled indicating that some level of contamination occurred in the household environment.” • So that’s fomites. Now do aerosols.

* * *
Lambert here: Walgreens, it seems, is dead. That’s unfortunate because now there’s no data on positivity and no check on CDC’s variant data. The interagency entity that produced rapid riser counties and hospitalization data is reducing publication to once a week. Johns Hopkins will also cut back on its feeds. I suppose this is how a pandemic ends, with sites simply going dark with no explanation? I’m bummed. In any case, at the end of the week, I’ll have to reconfigure this section, sadly. This section is a lot of work, but I did feel it was an effort that would bring some safety to readers in their “personal risk management.” So it goes.

Case Count

Case count for the United States:

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 nominal 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 ~45,800. Today, it’s ~43,300 and 43,300 * 6 = a Biden line at 259,800. (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. If you look at the Fauci line, you will see that despite the bleating and yammering about Covid being “over,” we have only just recently reached the (nominal) case level of the first surge in New York, in the spring of 2020 (after which the Times printed the images of the 100,000 who died, considering that a large number, as it was at the time).

Regional case count for four weeks:

The South:

Florida’s japery continues.

The South (minus Texas and Florida):

Frankly. the steady drop among all this smallish Southern states collectively gives me more hope than anything else.

The West:

This drop is the reason the national figures dropped. Every time there’s been a drop this large, it’s been revised away.


Wastewater data (CDC), October 1:

Lambert here: I’m pleased to see that there are now some live sites in New York City.

For grins, September 30:

An alert reader suggested taking a look at the MWRA data from the Boston area, and lo and behold:

Lambert here: Note that this rise is consistent with a rise in hospitalization in the Northeast.

This is a seven-day average, mind you, so the rise is no fluke. (MRWA is divided into north and south sewersheds. Both are rising.) Let us also remember that the Boston area is not only the home of many, many students, it’s also a PMC center, and we have already seen one ginormous superspreader event from the conference in Boston. Boston also has a major international airport, another cause of spread.


SITE DOWN From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, September 21:

-0.5%. Not so much down, as fluky. Something seems to have nuked the layout.


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.)

Lambert here: I have to say, I’m seeing more yellow and more blue, which continues to please. But is the pandemic “over”? Well….

Rapid Riser data, by county (CDC), October 4:

Previous Rapid Riser data:

Hospitalization data, by state (CDC), October 4:

See the NOTE below. It’s mind-boggling that this report is being cut back at a time when hospitalization is rising in the Northeast. I mean, I thought hospitalization was what these guys cared about?

NOTE: From CDC: “Effective September 23, 2022, the Community Profile Report will only be updated once a week, on Fridays. We apologize for any inconvenience caused by the delayed upload for 09/30/2022.” At top right, the Download is labeled “Updated: October 4, 2022.” The file name: “Community_Profile_Report_20220929.pfd.” Even in the smallest things, CDC just lies and lies. To be fair, this file is really produced by “an interagency team with representatives from multiple agencies and offices (including the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, and the Indian Health Service. So they’re all lying, not just the CDC. “The way to control and direct a mentat, Nefud, is through his information. False information–false results”. -Baron Harkonnen.


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].

SITE DOWN Variant data, national (Walgreens), September 10:

Still no sign of BA.2.75 at Walgreens, despite its appearance in CDC data below.

Variant data, national (CDC), September 10 (Nowcast off):


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,085,366 – 1,085,060 = 306 (306 * 365 = 111,690, which is today’s LivingWith™* number (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. Fluctuates quite a bit, but even the low numbers are bad). I have added an anti-triumphalist black Fauci Line.

It’s nice that for deaths I have a 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

Services: “United States ISM Non Manufacturing PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The ISM Services PMI came in at 56.7 in September of 2022, falling from 56.9 in August but beating market forecasts of 56, and still pointing to the growth above the historical average of 55.”

* * *
Tech: “Latest Updates: Elon Musk, Twitter Continue Talks About Closing Deal” [Wall Street Journal]. “Elon Musk has offered to close his $44 billion deal to buy Twitter Inc. on the terms he originally agreed to. Twitter confirmed receipt of the proposal and said it intends to close the transaction at the original price of $54.20 a share. Should the parties agree to do so, the proposal would enable them to avert a five-day nonjury trial set to begin Oct. 17. There are no guarantees they will reach a deal and the trial could still go forward as planned.” • Ya know, for all the liberal Democrat sneering at Rumble, and Truth Social, Gab, Parler, etc., at least the right wing loons bootstrapped the platforms. It will be interesting to see if liberal Democrat aghastitude if, say, Musk gives Trump his Twitter account back will prod liberals into doing the same. I’m guessing now; liberal Democrats will continue to rely on censorship.

The Bezzle: I stumbled on this series of interviews by Mark Blyth (see here and here) the other day:

Well worth a listen!

Manufacturing: “Engine parts makers must cross ‘valley of death’ to reach EV era” [Reuters]. “Auto engine parts makers eyeing the promising electric-vehicle market are dealing with a severe case of delayed gratification. Until EVs truly take off, engine parts makers face a perilous few years where they must invest heavily in new machinery, while struggling with falling sales of fossil-fuel cars.”

The Economy: “Most CEOs are already preparing for a recession, with plans including laying off staff and cutting spending on environmental issues, a major survey shows” [Business Insider]. “Most CEOs are already preparing for a recession, which they think will slash earnings and stunt growth, according to a new survey by KPMG. Measures companies plan to take to weather the recession include cutting ESG spending and laying off staff, the survey, which canvassed the opinions of the CEOs of 400 American companies with annual revenues of at least $500 million, showed. The vast majority of CEOs – 91% – said they thought there would be a recession within the next year, and only a third said it would be mild and short. 80% said they thought it would affect their organization’s anticipated growth over the next three years. Goldman Sachs analysts said in August that there was a 30% probability that the US would enter a recession over the next 12 months, but that a recession in the Euro area was twice as likely. But data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that Americans have already spent almost a third of their pent-up savings, which Pantheon Macroeconomics said shows ‘the risk of recession is higher than we previously thought.'”

* * *
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 32 Fear (previous close: 30 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 19 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 5 at 1:46 PM EDT.

Photo Book

“‘A common ground for the advancement of photography’: Aperture celebrates 70 years” [Christies]. “This September, Aperture celebrates 70 years since its establishment in 1952. The founders were a consortium of photographers, thinkers and champions of the medium, including Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, Barbara Morgan, Nancy and Beaumont Newhall, and Minor White. The mission, as stated in the inaugural issue of the magazine, still resonates today: “‘Aperture has been originated to communicate with serious photographers and creative people everywhere, whether professional, amateur or student… Aperture is intended to be a mature journal in which photographers can talk straight to each other, discuss the problems that face photography as profession and art, share their experiences, comment on what goes on, descry the new potentials. We, who have founded this journal, invite others to use Aperture as a common ground for the advancement of photography.’” • I remember when my favorite bookstore on Brattle Street had a whole shelf of Aperture Books, squarish, with white covers. Robert Frank. André Kertèsz. Weegee. Many others. Glorious stuff. Anyhow, an interesting interview.

Sports Desk

“Pair accused in fishing scandal won thousands of dollars, boat in string of wins” [The Hill]. “The world of competitive fishing, where anglers battle for cash and prizes, is being rocked by a cheating scandal that unfolded at a tournament in Cleveland on Saturday. The tournament to crown the best walleye fishermen on Lake Erie took a scandalous turn when the local tournament director discovered that the two fishermen considered the team to beat inflated the weight of their catch by stuffing the fish with lead sinkers and then padding the inside of the walleye with fillets, preventing judges from discovering the added weight. Cleveland fisherman John Stewart witnessed the cheaters being caught red handed. ‘That was the shocking part, like ‘oh wow, you really did that.’ Like, it was just so blatant. It was just like they didn’t have a care in the world,’ Stewart said.” • First chess, now fishing. What next?

Zeitgeist Watch

“Why Everyone Is Suddenly Slamming Energy Drinks” [Wall Street Journal]. “Energy-drink sales in the U.S. were 17% higher in August compared with a year ago, and up 56% since summer 2019, according to analytics firm NielsenIQ.” • The following re-assuring photo appears with the article:

Down, boy!


I’m surprised it took so long for something like this to appear:


Or maybe I just missed it?

Groves of Academe

Correct, sad to say:


My impulse is to roll everything back. I wish I knew what a “roll forward” would look like. Because that’s what will happen.

Police State Watch

All is not well in Newton, IA:


Zoom in on that “victim statement” at left.

Class Warfare

“Railroad executives want to eliminate conductors — and exhausted rail workers are terrified” [Freight Waves]. “Norfolk Southern, like most Class I railroads in the U.S., is looking to whittle down crews to one person. Most freight trains in the U.S. currently have a conductor and engineer on board. The conductor typically monitors and stages freight cars, while the engineer monitors the speed and condition of the engines pulling those cars.” One guy running a mile-long train? This is nuts. More: “A recent study commissioned by the AAR explored these cases to show that one-person crews can be safe. Looking at collisions, derailments, and other employee injuries or fatalities, the study concluded that ‘major European operators using single-person crews appeared to be as safe as Class I multiple- person crew operations.’ However, there are key differences between those trains and Class I freight trains that make the latter potentially more challenging to operate with just one worker. Those trains are rarely as long as the ever-expanding Class 1 freight trains. And those trains tend to be far lighter, too — with the average European train around a sixth of the typical weight of a U.S. train.” • Freight Waves on the side of the angels, here. The article includes this photo:

“Maine Lobster Union Points the Way for Organizing Gig Economy Workers” [Bloomberg]. “Lobstering is an inherently individualistic pursuit. Most boats are crewed by just two or three people, and some captains go it alone. They leave harbor before dawn, spend the day hauling traps up from the seafloor , then motor back to the dock to sell the creatures for the best price they can get. It’s hard work that draws rugged, self-reliant people—in other words, not your typical union members. That’s what makes Local 207—the only lobstering union in the US—so unusual. The decade-old group in Maine represents about 200 lobstermen (as men and most women in the business call themselves). The union members own three 18-wheel trucks, a pair of smaller vehicles for hauling the produce from wharves, and a so-called tank room, a warehouse packed with tubs of refrigerated ocean water in which the crustaceans spend a final few days in something resembling their home environment before reaching their ultimate fate: a quick plunge into a vat of boiling water. ‘We work for the fisherman,’ says Jason Rizzitano, manager of the tank room near Bar Harbor. The lobster union offers a potential model for gig economy workers seeking to push back against large companies that siphon off the bulk of profits in many trades, says Rebecca Lurie, a professor of Labor Studies at the City University of New York. By working together, such groups have organized Uber drivers, home health-care workers, and cable-internet technicians. Moreover, they can get a big boost from organized labor, which ‘offers unparalleled support, as well as an air of legitimacy,’ she says. The union—more often referred to as “Lobster 207”—got its start after a crash in prices 10 years ago.” • Dirigo!

“NYC’s Financial District now blighted with spiking crime, vagrants” [New York Post]. “Once one of the hottest neighborhood in NYC, the Financial District is now simply a dumpster fire, residents and workers told The Post. In early September at least four trash fires were set along Cliff, William and Water streets.” • Yes, now the trash is on the outside. That is the problem.

Class conflict can be fractal:


News of the Wired



* * *
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 JU:

JU writes: “Fall colors, Three Rivers, CA.”

Readers, I could still use more plant photos (and honorary plant photos, like fungi or coral). Fall colors, garden yield, whatever you’ve got!

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Samuel Conner

    > I wish I knew what “the national conversation” was.

    Perhaps “the national conversation” is simply “what the MSM thinks is worth paying attention to at the moment”, or perhaps some subset of that.

    Sort of like “our democracy”.

    Perhaps we’ll find out what the people themselves think in a few weeks.

    1. hunkerdown

      The think-tankies are the nation, by their own lights. Therefore, when they talk to one another, it’s part of the “national conversation”.

      Alternatively, think of the totality of speech on the NYSE trading floor circa 1982.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        well, i did yell at a goat a little while ago…
        more information conveyed than the ten minutes i spent a bit earlier in the room with mom’s msdnc device.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Think-Tankies seems like a good phrase. Maybe it will get some usage.

          Maybe Spin-Millers will also become a phrase.

          Thinktankies and Spinmillers.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The think-tankies are the nation, by their own lights. Therefore, when they talk to one another, it’s part of the “national conversation”.

        Yes, they imagine themselves representative of the nation, but are not, and do not have the power to be. Though they have enough power to keep trying!

    2. Glossolalia

      I’m convinced that MSM news rooms are run a bit like the writers room at a network TV drama show. They know that they have to develop story lines that build up certain characters, get us invested in them, and then throw in twists for the next season. For hit shows this can go on for years. So I imagine the national conversation is basically just a particular season’s plot and sub plots.

    3. semper loquitur

      It’s a nimble thing, that’s for sure. A few months ago, I was talking with friends and they affirmed that Russia was getting it’s keister kicked but good. These folks are consumers of the MSM narrative. A week or so later, the narrative changed, some NC’ers noted that abrupt transition.

      I spoke with my friends not long after that and commented that Russia seemed to be doing well, all things considered. They scoffed and said something to the effect of “No kidding, everyone knows that!” The transition in their thinking was seamless; one day Russia was losing and a scant week or so later, they were winning. What didn’t come up was why the narrative had changed so fast it could break one’s neck while reading it.

      1. Randal

        “The past was alterable. The past never had been altered. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.”

      2. ambrit

        “We have always been at war with Deploristan!”

        I am a good consumer in Oceana. I always enjoy a good ‘Two Minutes Hate,’ especially those aimed at that class traitor Donald X.

    4. The Rev Kev

      With that “national conversation” you seem to have the same on an international levels. Developing countries were complaining at the last UN meeting that it was mostly western nations talking between each other and then making announcements how it was the international community making agreements.

  2. Mikel

    Zeitgeist Watch:Why Everyone Is Suddenly Slamming Energy Drinks” [Wall Street Journal].

    Ah…the smiling again in the pic.

    Zeitgeist Watch: No. 1 movie in the country..”Smile” – a horror film.


    “The very bloody and visceral nature of the deaths is offset by the weird, ethereal emptiness of its victims’ faces…” IGN review

    As I said last night, perfect movie for this time.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the smiling again in the pic.

      I didn’t make a connection to smiling (I mean, if that was a smile, and not some sort of weirdly fixed expression resembling a grin). Good catch.

      Honestly, the creepy smile enforcement is making me extremely suspicious and wary of smiling at all, except in private settings. Is anybody else — maybe somebody less introverted and with a more vivid social life than mine — having this experience?

      1. Angie Neer

        The prevalence of smiling people in advertisements gets on my nerves. They’re not just smiling, they’re joyful, ecstatic, that they own product X. Or at least they possess product X, having bought it on credit which somehow enhances their joy. But the one that really irks me is my credit union. What could be more pedestrian and joyless—in a good way—than a credit union? I want it to be as boring as possible. Yet they pay money (my money) to ensure that every interaction I have with them, whether on their web site or in the lobby, is saturated with images of people in ecstasy.

        1. semper loquitur

          It’s everywhere. Did I not notice it before? Or am I just too well informed as to the state of things and have been sensitized? Whether it’s buying a hamburger, winning a brand new car, choosing a doctor, taking the bus, applying for a second home mortgage: everyone is fu(king losing it they are so happy. And to JBird’s point below, it’s always perfectly gleaming dentistry. Inhuman.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > perfectly gleaming dentistry

            There are probably firms that do this. Lower-end firms digitally airbrush everything, higher-end firms specialize in teeth, blemishes, etc.

            Come to think of it, that’s one of the advantages of AI: All that stuff will be cleaned up automagically when the images are generated.

        2. ambrit

          Our bank is the same. It is probably an industry standard tactic. Make indebtedness appear to be a source of happiness. There are tons of pictures of “happy smiling [insert pseudo ironic ‘label’ here],” er, joyful, empowered diverse populations, filling the interstices of the bank’s web pages, grinning over their big ticket items, all bought on credit we assume.
          We used to comment at the end of the television car commercials; “Girls extra.”
          It’s all a bait and switch. The biggest ‘bait and switch’ of modern times was the Obama Administration, of which, the Biden Administration is but a continuance.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          > The prevalence of smiling people in advertisements gets on my nerves. They’re not just smiling, they’re joyful, ecstatic

          So I’m not the only one!

          The smile in the middle (circled) — I mean, I think that’s a smile, instead of my last full-on view of a predatory animal — is one that I see a lot in advertisements, though generally in group shots. I don’t recall seeing it in real life. Perhaps that’s being from New England though.

      2. Mikel

        When taking off the mask is the mask…

        Many people have seen the void of the “corporate nice” smile.

      3. Amfortas the hippie

        due to near poverty, distractions with farm and wife’s cancer, and a longstanding phobia regarding dentistry as a whole….my smile is pretty bad.
        attempting to get it fixed…but it takes time, and makes it worse in the interim.
        i never gave a shit, before…green teeth…yeah, so?
        but now i find myself keenly aware of just how frelling pretty all the ad models’ teeth are.
        literally everyone on the tv machine…
        going back decades.
        (this is akin, in my mind, to not seeing vw vans until i had one, and suddenly they were everywhere)
        and, from NC, i remain suspicious of the PMC smile crusade…even filtered down to out here, among the Hidden Dems…suddenly ostentatiously smiling real big all the damned time…
        like a memo went out, or something.
        my teeth have been “bad” since they gave me that antibiotic in the early 70’s…so closed mouth smiles are normal, unless i’m a happy drunk.

        1. JBird4049

          It is not smiling per se that bothers me. It is all the absolutely perfect and gleaming teeth that is the problem. Hey, I get that being able to have perfect and shinny teeth is a class status indicator, as well as showing good health, but at point, I get flashes of Jaws from the James Bond flicks. Maybe it goes with all the shark-like behavior I see in some people.

        2. John

          Baring ones teeth in the manner pictured above is not a smile. It looks manic, aggressive, forced. Have humans picked that up from dogs?

        3. Mikel

          In some instances, alot of those great looking teeth are just filters on the camera.
          There are simply things that change with age as well.
          Lots of coffee with sugar at an office job did a job on me. Never had a cavity until I was 40ish.

          Holding up fairly well…considering…

        4. Lambert Strether Post author

          > like a memo went out, or something.

          You have put your finger out on a mechanism I am trying to describe (as if in epidemiology).

          From alert reader semper loquitur:

          > It’s a nimble thing, that’s for sure. A few months ago, I was talking with friends and they affirmed that Russia was getting it’s keister kicked but good. These folks are consumers of the MSM narrative. A week or so later, the narrative changed, some NC’ers noted that abrupt transition.

          This is the same phenomenon. But I am really reluctant to ascribe it to handwaving causes like “hive mind,” “folly,” or even consciousness of class. Perhaps Bourdieu will help. But it’s so interesting. Has this mechanism/phenomenon always existed, or is a function of our political economy?

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            late, running ragged.
            “Has this mechanism/phenomenon always existed, or is a function of our political economy?”

            always there, but faster now, and with greater reach, given the communication tech.
            john robb’s scary version of the twitter enabled hive mind seems about right, to me.
            not woo woo at all.
            a deus volt! speech doesn’t just go into ears of those nearby, any more.
            and as is likely the nature of orthodoxies, the totalising imperative flows along whatever channels of communication are there.

  3. mistah charley, ph.d.

    Cash payment make the line move faster, and that means less shared air.

    My own experience is different – sticking the credit card into the chip reader is very fast – I can remove it before the cashier has scanned all the items – and not handling currency is convenient.

    1. Angie Neer

      Yes, I’m not a fan of the war on cash, but the electronic payments companies have undeniably made transactions faster than cash.

      1. Laura in So Cal

        My experience is different. Yesterday in the drive thru at McDonalds, the cashier and the driver did a dance waving the driver’s phone across a terminal in multiple directions apparently without success. The driver pulled the phone back into the car and did something to it and tried again and that time it worked. Took over a minute. My 2 dollar bill and getting a nickle back was much faster. Last night at a pizza place, the customer in front of me had their chip card rejected twice and finally was able to get their payment to go thru by swiping the cards magnetic strip. My $20 dollar bill and change took much less time.

        When non-cash payment works it probably is faster, but a not insignificant number of transactions have issues which negates that advantage. I think.

        1. Donna

          Can’t tell you how many times have been held up in line by some phone wagging idiot trying to use Apple Pay.

          I announce ‘I’M READY TO PAY CASH” usually the phone wagger turns on me, “Am I inconveniencing you?”

          ‘Yes, and everyone else in line. Figure out how to use an ATM to get cash.”

          The other option when this happens is to throw down cash rounded up to the nearest dollar on the counter for your merchandise and walk out.

          If the clerk protests, mention you’re leaving more than the item costs plus tax. “Keep the change for yourself.”

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        I think swiping a card may be faster, or at least not so bad. But the phones are absurdly bad. And I encounter mostly phones.

        In any case, can we agree that queues should be optimized so that air is not shared? If not for this pandemic, then the next respiratory virus that comes along?

        1. paul

          Have you ever witnessed the rage when the phone does not pay out?

          I’ve seen it a few times recently and I am struck by the user attention split between the non conforming electronics and the hapless vendor.

          They always seem to exit staring harder at their mobile electronics,and bearing grudges.

    2. hunkerdown

      Prepayment makes the line move fastest of all, and leaving stuff at the customer’s door obviates the line from the customer’s perspective. That’s what the “no-contact” stuff is all about: keeping the buying community distanced from the selling community.

      1. ambrit

        The hidden opportunity cost of the Delivery Experience is that a stranger gets to pick out the items for you. A personal shopper is different. That person has to at least try and learn your preferences. The Big Boxx Store employee is “doing a job” and generally, from my personal observations of the WalMart employees doing ‘remote shopping’, are not particularly ‘invested’ in picking and choosing among the available items for the best items.
        So, my supposition is that Delivery Shopping is a stealth program in retail crapification. Once people in general become inured to receiving inferior products, the standards will be lowered to meet those expectations. A lot more “marginal” product will make it to the market.
        As is usual, the Politicos lead the way.

    3. hk

      Yes. Counting money, whether customers paying exact amount for clerks counting change, takes time. Some chain stores really hate cash customers, it looks like.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Some chain stores really hate cash customers, it looks like.

        That’s not because of any putative customer benefit. It’s because they want the data from the transactions (as does everyone else, including the organs of state security).

        1. paul

          On my last trip to turkiye, there was,outside the larger supermarket chains, a dearth of loose (ex)change.
          The ATMs are terrible (6% transaction fee typically for non russians) so you end end up paying sub dollar amounts by card. The traditional dolmus system is, bar very local trips, almost completely carded.

          Also saw many transactions declined to russian tourists, leaving them scrambling angrily around for a clip joint ATM.

          My advice: give them plenty of room in that mood.

          In Fethiye, 8 out of 10 customers in the queue before us were denied a day trip to the greek island of Kos as they would require a visa.

          I don’t speak russian, but I can recognise fuck this in any language. The ferry operators reps, normally so forcibly breezy, were washed out.

          First noticed this in iceland, the girls serving at the bar said it was great, as they did not have to count change,ever, whatever.

          The only brightly printed currency I saw was in the hands of cruise ship tourists, (this was before the killer dot time) who,probably, had been clipped on ship.

    1. Tom Bradford

      Yeah, we had the full 5-minute obit on NZ’s main national news last night*, where I’d be surprised if >10% of the population had even heard of her. Still, I suppose they had to fill the time with something as there isn’t much else going on in the world.

      *Take ad breaks, weather and 20-minutes of sport out of the air-time and that’s 5 minutes out of 25 for ‘news’!

  4. Wukchumni

    Tech: “Latest Updates: Elon Musk, Twitter Continue Talks About Closing Deal” [Wall Street Journal]. “Elon Musk has offered to close his $44 billion deal to buy Twitter Inc. on the terms he originally agreed to.
    In Chinese numerology, 44 = death-death

  5. Lambert Strether Post author

    I added a few orts and scraps. The Freight Waves article on railroads is important. The CEOs — no doubt encouraged by MBAs — have gone insane with greed + ignorance of how trains are actually assembled and driven.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Sounds like it’s time for a re-release of the 2010 Denzel Washington movie, Unstoppable.

      Unstoppable is a 2010 American action thriller film directed and produced by Tony Scott and starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pine. It is based on the real-life CSX 8888 incident, telling the story of a runaway freight train and the TWO men who attempt to stop it. Wikipedia

      (Emphasis mine.)

      GREAT movie, even for those who are not Denzel fans, if such people even exist.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      One sincerely hopes the RR workers will strike over this, and will stay struck until this plan is pronounced officially dead.

      That would give paleodemocrats versus neodemocrats a chance to show which side they are on.

  6. Wukchumni

    First chess, now fishing. What next?
    Where’s Captain Beefheart when you need him?…and yes i’m aware that the fish in question was a walleye, not a trout.

    1. Carla

      I just wish ‘muricans got one-tenth as outraged about being robbed–daily–by our political system as they do over getting cheated out of winning an annual walleye fishing tournament.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Good point. But it’s nicer to see that that sense of outrage is still there against cheaters. It is not to be dismissed and can be harnessed down the track.

    2. Randy

      The thing is they would have won without the added weight(s). Oh the irony. Sorry, the weights were lead.

    3. fresno dan

      Fishermen lying…Inconceivable!!!
      You know, I caught a 4 hundred and 73 pound walleye once. It was a titanic struggle, lasting for 3 days and 4 nights on the Kern river – I consumed13 cases of Anchor Steam during the battle. Which, actually, all that liquid entering the river probably helped in incapacitating the walleye…

  7. Wukchumni

    Varied Solitaire, Darién, Panama. “Gen. Climate: Humid. Cover Density: Medium.”
    The Darien Scheme was an interesting bubble that hardly gets talked about, and was largely the reason for the Scottish union with the UK after it failed spectacularly.

    The Darien scheme was an unsuccessful attempt, backed largely by investors of the Kingdom of Scotland, to gain wealth and influence by establishing New Caledonia, a colony on the Isthmus of Panama, in the late 1690s. The plan was for the colony, located on the Gulf of Darién, to establish and manage an overland route to connect the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

    As the Company of Scotland was backed by approximately 20% of all the money circulating in Scotland, its failure left the entire Scottish Lowlands in financial ruin. This was an important factor in weakening their resistance to the Act of Union (completed in 1707). The land where the Darien colony was built is located in the modern territory of Guna Yala, an autonomous indigenous territory home to the Guna people.


  8. digi_owl

    I’m really struggling with Naomi Wu these days. One day she posts cozy pictures of the dogs doing their thing, the next she rages against western feminists while also using talking talking points to go after some TV show. checking her tweets give me mental whiplash.

    Anyways, that engine parts “valley of death” sounds like textbook Innovator’s Dilemma.

  9. Jason Boxman

    Walgreens, it seems, is dead. That’s unfortunate because now there’s no data on positivity and no check on CDC’s variant data. The interagency entity that produced rapid riser counties and hospitalization data is reducing publication to once a week. Johns Hopkins will also cut back on its feeds. I suppose this is how a pandemic ends, with sites simply going dark with no explanation? I’m bummed.

    Just like Trump suggested in 2020. It’s funny that Biden is simply carrying out GBD, which at the time liberal Democrats claimed was abhorrent and evil.

    At least Trump gave us vaccines, however woefully inadequate they might be, and a proven model to rapidly fund and produce future vaccines, treatments, or other social goods.

    The loss of Walgreen is indeed a huge blow. Now we are truly flying almost blind. As I remarked in January, this is the most dangerous phase of the Pandemic yet, and I was more right than even I knew.

    Stay safe out there!

  10. Katniss Everdeen

    So, I don’t know whether this has been covered or not, but the inspector general for HHS has just released a report on the FDA “management” of its “accelerated drug approval process.”

    As reported by Medscape Medical News, last year, amid controversy generated by the FDA’s clearance of the controversial Alzheimer’s drug aducanumab (Aduhelm), the OIG announced its plan to take an in-depth look at how the administration manages its accelerated approval pathway. The goal of this process is to speed the approval of promising medications for serious and fatal diseases even though evidence of efficacy is limited.

    The FDA’s expectation is that drug companies will continue research in order to definitively prove the efficacy of medications approved via this process.

    “However, for a variety of reasons, sponsors do not always complete trials promptly. This can result in drugs staying on the market ― and being administered to patients ― for years without the predicted clinical benefit being verified and insurers ― including Medicare and Medicaid ― paying billions for treatments that are not verified to have clinical benefit,” the OIG said in its report.

    Surprise, surprise:

    The Medicare and Medicaid programs spent more than $18 billion over 3 years on medications for which there was no proof of a significant clinical benefit, a new federal report shows.


    1. jo6pac

      Not a problem but feature. Taxpayers and people like me and others on these programs paid and the criminals in congress and industry made out like the bandits they are.There will more this year added on so we on SS will not receive a nice raise.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        well, idk.
        tv machine spoke to my mother earlier this month, and insisted that she’ll be getting both a VA as well as a SS raise next year.
        she’s mentioned it numerous times, since.
        quite giddily, in fact.
        “substantial!” she squawks with a wink.
        i’m sure there’s furniture to recover that will mitigate any inflationary impetus, at least within the borders of the Realm.

        as for me, when i see talk about raises…whether in general, minwage or retirement…i immediately think that everythings fixin to get more expensive.

        1. JBird4049

          So, I might get a 10% COLA on my disability; fabulous, but since inflation is likely higher, just why should be so excited?

          If Congress ever deigns to give Social Security recipients an actual real increase in income or removes the amount that they take for medical, then I will celebrate.

          Hey, Brandon! Where’s my six hundred bucks?

  11. Roger Blakely

    I know that it is difficult at the moment to point to any data to refute those who say that COVID-19 is over. However, come December all of Europe and North America will be on fire again. There won’t be as many deaths as in 2020 or 2021, but there will be enough deaths and hospitalizations to send people back home for work.

    1. Objective Ace

      The thing about deaths and hospitalizations is that they are most likely to happen to those who arent as visible. Older folks who are out of the workforce and/or those with comorbidities who have a hard time getting out as it is. It wont be until long-Covid is more visible that the “Covid is Over” myth will be realized. I think that is/was starting to happen with regards to employers being unable to find workers while at the same time the participation rate never returned to pre-Pandemic levels. I’m not sure if/how fed policy might mask that trend going forward. Or what other symptoms of mass long-Covid may start appearing.. at some point one would assume a plummeting life expectancy would become newsworthy

      1. Roger Blakely

        Even though deaths and hospitalizations won’t occur within the healthy workforce, there will be enough people getting sick to cause disruption.

        At least at this point we are seeing that COVID-19 costs are mounting for employer-paid health care.

          1. JBird4049

            I do not think that my lungs completely recovered from pneumonia thirty years ago. I still have a tendency for an illness to sit in my lungs.

            I hate to think of those people who have Long Covid or even regular flu or cold with the dense smoke. Where I live most of the fires were 200 miles north, maybe more, of me and yet the sky would get red and sometimes rather dim.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The thing about deaths and hospitalizations is that they are most likely to happen to those who arent as visible.

        Or, in the original German, Lebensunwertes Leben.

        > I think that is/was starting to happen with regards to employers being unable to find workers while at the same time the participation rate never returned to pre-Pandemic levels

        At some point, Long Covid will work its way through our medical coding system and the insurance companies, especially the life insurance companies, will raise an eyebrow.

  12. Pat

    Every once in awhile I see something, and wonder what planet is the author from.

    Shame? I think perhaps the expert needs to get out more

    Now the headline is somewhat misleading. This criminologist isn’t saying that self checkout theft is entirely about shame, but that self checkout has less deterrence for theft because the thief faces less shame than looking at person. Which is still reaching, imo. The truth is that it is simpler to fool the machine and therefore easier to do at a time when the costs in the store are increasing faster than pay checks. Complicating it is just bloviating in this case.


    Blyth delivered my all time favorite economics lecture here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJoe_daP0DE seriously worth a listen with the new context of where our economy sits after Covidnomics.

    Also with MWRA -> keep in mind that when students left it dropped of a cliff. Wonder if this is concurrent with their return in Boston (and will thus flatten and isn’t the beginning of an exponential surge)?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Wonder if this is concurrent with their return in Boston (and will thus flatten and isn’t the beginning of an exponential surge)?

      Or they’ll bring it home with them for the holidays, eh? If only we had a national tracking system for this sort of data. Oh, wait….

  14. NorD94

    google/NYT data for CA covid cases don’t show the same big dip, but last update was yesterday Tues Oct 4. Following png is screen capture.


    In the chart, the “blue bars” show data updates have regulator pattern. Up through Sept 10 there were 2 big updates/week on Tues and Fri and smaller updates for other weekdays. Looks the pattern has switched to 1 big update/week on Thurs starting Sept 12. No idea why CA has changed update pattern.

    Google/NYT does not show today’s update (Oct 5), will look tomorrow. But suspect this is part the story for the 91-divoc.com dip.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks very much. I figured it was data (making California under the Democrats as bad as Florida under the Republicans, only the Republicans are crasser about it, as it their wont).

      As I keep saying, the case data that really encourages me is the smaller states in the South, because they show a consistent downward trend (even though the big states, like California, Florida, Texas New York) drive the national curve). Residents may correct me, but I find it very difficult to believe these states could coordinate their data. Also, their governors aren’t running for President.

  15. cfraenkel

    FYI – The photo of the police incident report in the police state tweet says “State of Iowa, Jasper County”, so not Newton, MA.

  16. Exiled_in_Boston

    ‘All is not well in Newton, MA:’
    Living in Newton, MA, I was surprised that I had not heard of this incident. Now I know why…It appears to be in Newton, IA

  17. nippersdad

    So Chris Murphy is in Poland, high fiving them over the bombing of the NordStream pipelines no doubt, and comes up with this jewel:

    “What’s the point of looking the other way as the Saudis chop up journalists [and] repress political speech inside Saudi Arabia if, when the chips are down, the Saudis essentially choose the Russians instead of the United States?” Murphy said, referencing the 2018 assassination of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

    “We’ve been very clear with them; we need them right now … and it seems like either the Saudis aren’t willing to stand with us………. “I think you have to be very careful doing business with the Saudis these days.”


    Because maybe the Saudi’s hadn’t noticed our habit of stealing other countries foreign exchange funds or trying to sanction them into oblivion? What is it about attacking their business model that has escaped Murphy’s notice? OPEC+ is a cartel, Chris. If you attack one member you have just attacked the integrity of the whole.

    Maybe foreign policy just isn’t his thing.

    I think I am going to enjoy these mid-terms very much.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Did he just tell the Saudis that either they are with us or against us? Like you pointed out, that is putting the entirety of OPEC on notice. Is that wise? He may be high-fiving over the blowing up of those Baltic Sea pipelines but the epic blowback for that has not even begun to happen yet. And I suspect that some of it will be happening just in time for the midterms. So I ask you. Is there much difference between the arrogance of the Democrats at the moment and a nut-job Republican like Pompeo? If so, I am not seeing it.

      1. nippersdad

        If there is a difference I am not seeing it, either.

        Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.),….went further, telling CNN the Saudis are “actively fleecing the American people and destabilizing the economy.”

        “The Saudis need to be dealt with harshly. They are a third-rate power. We are the most powerful country in the world I don’t know why we kowtow to them,” Khanna told the network.

        He can consort with Nazis and Israelis, but being beholden to the House of Saud is just a bridge too far. Ro, who I believe is going to run in ’24 for the presidency, is just about to find out why he is not ready for prime-time.

        The good news is that at the rate they are burning bridges we are going to be nationalizing our fossil fuel industry in the near future. We won’t have a choice; It will just be us and Canada up here on our island all by our lonesomes.

          1. Young

            What this idiot is saying that the Kingdom is just like Russia, a gas station, but without nukes.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Is there much difference between the arrogance of the Democrats at the moment and a nut-job Republican like Pompeo?

        I think there’s no difference in arrogance. But the Democrats have more, er, access to the levers of power, like the press and the intelligence agencies. So they’re more dangerous….

  18. Thistlebreath

    Consultant Watch: Ever since P. Thiel vengefully eviscerated Gawker for outing him, it just hasn’t had the same bite. But they do nibble at the edges of things, like their bigger, richer relative, Vice.


    Since NYT staffers wrote the book under review, their take on the subject has a predictably limp summation, even the Gawker reviewer is disappointed.

    Who’s next in the sights, Bain?

  19. John

    Just looked up annual flu deaths. It varies of course but the site I looked at showed 310,000 in the last 8 years. I have kept track of COVID on first a daily, now a weekly basis since April 2020. According to the site I have consulted this entire time there have been a bit more than 31,000 COVID deaths in the last ten weeks which extrapolates to about 160,000 a year. That site shows a total of a bit more than 1,080,000 since the Pandemic began. It would appear that more deaths from COVID in two years than from flu in eight years leads the president to state that the pandemic is over. I guess “over” means a steady state of around 3,000 deaths a week is just fine.

  20. fresno dan

    So I had a covid test at a hospital – apparently squirrels are making a nest in my heart, so had to find exactly where the store of nuts are… Anywho, the covid test was much, much gentler than the last one I had at a hospital, where they rammed a swab down my nose into my lungs. This was just barely inside the tip of my nose. kinda makes me doubt it could find any germs, but they seemed ok with it. Everybody at the hospital was masked…
    I have been vacinnated and boosted, but I have not yet gotten the latest booster. I was really thinking there might be a nasal vaccine by now…boy, am I dumb…

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I was really thinking there might be a nasal vaccine by now…boy, am I dumb…

      Bharat’s nasal vaccine has received regulatory approval in India. No data published yet. No doubt my next task will be to follow Ocugen, and see how Pfizer attempts to use its political clout to cripple them. Sorry to be Debbie Downer, here, but I thought the same.

  21. The Rev Kev

    “Railroad executives want to eliminate conductors — and exhausted rail workers are terrified”

    Just wait until the same sort of executives start to ask ‘Do we really need two pilots on each plane? Can’t we let those computer-thingys do the job?’ They do such a great job on those self-driving cars, don’t they?’

    1. Angie Neer

      A friend in aviation pointed out how at one time, commercial aircraft had a pilot (with command authority), a co-pilot (assistant and backup to the pilot), an engineer (to look after the machinery), and a communications officer. Maybe a navigator, too. Over the years, more and more roles have been taken over by improved technology and automation. Nowadays so much of the flying is automated that there’s some concern about whether pilots will remain able to fly when something goes wrong. The forecast is that soon cockpit crew will be just a pilot and a dog. The dog’s job is to bite the pilot if he tries to touch the controls.

    2. hk

      Getting rid of the flight engineer (while, admittedly, transitioning to metric cold turkey) was one of the contributors to the Gimli Glider incident.

  22. The Rev Kev

    ‘Commanders of Ukraine’s celebrated Azov Battalion have held an emotional reunion with their families in Turkey, Ukrainian officials said, honoring the fighters released from Russian confinement last month.’

    At the moment those Azov guys and their wives could break out in a stirring rendition of the Horst-Wessel-Lied but the New York Times would claim that it was in fact a traditional Ukrainian folk song.

  23. Jason Boxman

    From Lessons Never Learned

    Van Riper, however, did not act according to the expectations of the desk-jockey analysts in the Pentagon. Rather, he waited until the naval task force had transited the Strait of Hormuz, and then he launched salvos of land-based ballistic missiles, anti-ship missiles launched from low-flying planes and helicopters, and swarms of elusive “fast boats” against the flotilla of ships. This attack entirely overwhelmed the defense capabilities of the fleet, and in a matter of mere minutes, all nineteen ships in the task force had been sunk, along with their entire complement of 20,000 sailors and marines.

    What’s interesting is the most effective strategy, what we know the British naval commanders most feared during the Revolutionary War, was this kind of attack with small boats against British warships. But the leaders of the fledgling revolutionary navy were obsessed with large warships, and quite a few were constructed… and quickly captured by the British!

  24. ChrisRUEcon


    Hi Lambert! I only saw your response to my comment on your CDC article yesterday.

    Check out the HHS YouTube channel … there are some really short ones there I recall, but I still don’t see the some that have popped up as ads. Some pop up on Twitter, so I’ll try to pay more attention as to whether I can save of link when I see.


  25. britzklieg

    Ro Khanna has something to say to Ukraine…

    ““White supremacy and neo-Nazism are unacceptable and have no place in our world,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), an outspoken critic of providing lethal aid to Ukraine, said in a statement to The Hill on Tuesday. “I am very pleased that the recently passed omnibus prevents the U.S. from providing arms and training assistance to the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion fighting in Ukraine.”

    oh, wait… that was 4 years ago

    3/27/18 The Hill: Congress bans arms to Ukraine militia linked to neo-Nazis

    ” A little-noticed provision in the 2,232-page government spending bill passed last week bans U.S. arms from going to a controversial ultranationalist militia in Ukraine that has openly accepted neo-Nazis into its ranks.

    House-passed spending bills for the past three years have included a ban on U.S. aid to Ukraine from going to the Azov Battalion, but the provision was stripped out before final passage each year.

    {mosads}This year, though, the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill signed into law last week stipulates that “none of the funds made available by this act may be used to provide arms, training or other assistance to the Azov Battalion.”


  26. britzklieg

    “How America Lost Post-Soviet Russia” Stephen Cohen interviewed by Demetri Kofinas (Hidden Forces) from a couple of years ago, touches on just about everything from Kennan’s prescience to Clinton’s BS, with some intriguing personal history while expressing, in remarkably sober tones, what he was seeing develop into a most dangerous nuclear confrontation, the precipice upon which the world now teeters. It’s worth a listen: https://hiddenforces.io/podcasts/stephen-cohen-nuclear-crisis-russia/

    and a brief 4 minute clip from 2010 at the Carnegie Council “Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: from Stalinism to the New Cold War” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mciLyG9iexE

  27. Lambert Strether Post author

    > the HHS YouTube channel …

    [makes warding sign]

    I randomly checked out this one.

    The question is: “Ask a Doctor: Do kids get long-term side effects from COVID vaccines?”

    The answer is: “We’re not anticipating any….”

    Which even the dullest deplorable could see doesn’t answer the question.,…

    So if you come across anything really appalling, feel free to let me know!

  28. Acacia

    An article of possible interest to NC readers:

    The Cult of Cedric Robinson’s Black Marxism: A Proletarian Critique

    It has been over four decades since Cedric Robinson published his widely-acclaimed study, Black Marxism. In recent years the work has enjoyed a celebratory renaissance. It has become increasingly influential among the liberal and race-centric academic establishment and beyond, with a second edition published in 2000, followed by a third edition released in 2020. It is not surprising that the work has gained so much acclaim among academics. After all, Robinson provides these liberal academics with an outstanding affirmation of their hostility towards class analysis. What is surprising is the seeming embrace of Black Marxism by much of the socialist left, given that the book is above all a broadside attack on Marxism. In the 40 plus years since its publication, there has been a remarkable dearth of critical reviews of the book. The notion of “racial capitalism” that Robinson advances as the underlying scaffolding of his historical and theoretical edifice has become a sort of master narrative held as common sense among much of the left. The text, it seems, has come to achieve a virtual cult status, its core assumptions defended as sacrosanct on U.S. university campuses, while its critics are shunned as heretics. This is all the more remarkable, as we shall argue, given that behind a seemingly radical critique – indeed, the book’s subtitle is The Making of the Black Radical Tradition – is an essentially conservative political essence.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Maybe the socialist left didn’t understand or even see what you see in the book. Maybe they thought it was an attempt to spraypaint some blackness onto the “bearded one” and Make Marxism Great Again.

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