2:00PM Water Cooler 12/15/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Yucatan Vireo, San Miguel; Isla Cozumel, Quintana Roo, Mexico.

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“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

“So many of the social reactions that strike us as psychological are in fact a rational management of symbolic capital.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles

Biden Administration

“Biden administration makes at-home Covid tests available for free again this winter” [CNBC]. • The molasses-brained Biden administration is a seriously lagging indicator. So it’s too late.

Scranton Joe:

When I think about jobs, I think about how Biden screwed the railroad workers.

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.

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“Ocasio-Cortez under investigation by House Ethics Committee” [The Hill]. “Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee, the panel’s acting chair and ranking member said in a statement on Wednesday. The committee did not specify what exactly it was probing regarding the congresswoman and noted that its statement “does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred… the congresswoman’s case was also likely postponed due to last month’s midterm elections, as the ethics panel can also delay action if it is set to occur within a 60-day period before an election.” • What? She didn’t support Israel hard enough?

“Pennsylvania’s Governor-Elect Ran on Saving Democracy. Then He Appointed a Trump White House Lawyer” [The Intercept]. “Since his win in Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial race last month, Gov.-elect Shapiro has packed his transition team with Republicans, lobbyists, wealthy donors, and corporate executives from companies like Comcast, Aramark, and Independence Blue Cross. But one member of Shapiro’s transition personnel committee stood out: Though Shapiro’s entire election strategy was that he was the anti-MAGA candidate, his team included James Schultz, a former associate White House counsel under President Donald Trump. Shapiro’s team, which declined to comment for this article, framed Schultz’s appointment as an effort by the incoming governor to encourage bipartisanship, building a broad tent and bringing people together in an extension of his campaign messaging. During the GOP primary, Shapiro spent ad money publicizing Republican candidate Doug Mastriano’s pro-Trump positions; Mastriano said he owed Shapiro a debt of gratitude. Then Shapiro undertook a strategy of waving his centrist banner and beat Mastriano by almost 15 percentage points in the general election. Winning over Republicans that opposed Trump’s full-throated embrace of election denialism was a key part of the strategy, according to a memo released by the Shapiro campaign on Thursday.”

“Meet New York’s New Republican Voters” [New York Magazine]. “In significant swaths of Brooklyn and Queens, Republican voting is growing organically, driven less by reactionary white people looking longingly to the suburbs — a coalition that helped elect Rudy Giuliani twice in the 1990s — and more by communities of recent immigrants and Orthodox Jews. Some of these voters are conservatives who no longer wish to support Democrats at any level of government after spending years ticket-splitting. [Republican Lee Zeldin] ran up large margins in Chinese-speaking Brooklyn neighborhoods and, like other recent Republicans, dominated in Russian-speaking and Orthodox Jewish parts of Brooklyn and Queens…. Party affiliation is beginning to matter more than racial or ethnic identity in city voting: A white Republican with scant resources nearly defeated an Asian American Democrat for an Asian-plurality Brooklyn legislative seat last month. And it may have been liberal white voters, not Asian Americans, who saved her.” • Hmm.

“‘Little kids were starting to cry’: Inside the Kevin de León fight at Christmas gift giveaway” [Los Angeles Times]. “A video posted on Twitter on Saturday by RootsAction shows activists walking alongside De León inside the event calling on him to resign. Jason Reedy, an organizer with the People’s City Council, stands in front of De León, holding his phone in the councilman’s face. When De León reaches a door, someone pushes Reedy out of the way. The video shows De León going through the door into a back room and trying to close it. Reedy follows him, and the councilman appears to push him back. Reedy, holding his arms up, stands nose-to-nose with De León as others mob the pair. There’s a brief struggle, then De León grabs Reedy, throws him into a table and attempts to push him out of the room. Alan Ochoa, 36, was DJing the event when he said about five people walked in and started shouting ‘you’re a racist’ at De León. Ochoa, who grew up in Lincoln Heights, said he doesn’t watch the news and hadn’t been aware of the controversy with the leaked audio. De León was on the stage to give out toys to children when everything started.”

“Illinois’ Oligarchy Offers Lesson for National Democracy” [RealClearPolicy]. “Big money has determined the past three gubernatorial election outcomes in Illinois. Gone are the days of the Illinois political machine and blue-dog Democrats who built patronage armies and rank-and-file majorities. Illinois politics is now, more than ever, a dollars and cents game run by an oligarchy of rich insiders. That means Illinois is on its way to being a state where special interests can outweigh the voices of the everyday people – unless the people do something about it. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker makes up the first half of that elite group. The wealthiest sitting politician in the country, Pritzker has broken records by spending a total of $323 million on his past two gubernatorial campaigns – approximately $70 per vote in 2022. Then, he spent millions more to ensure which opponent would win the Republican primary: Darren Bailey, a downstate, conservative farmer perceived as easier to beat than moderate Richard Irvin…. Then, there’s the second half of the Illinois oligarchy: special-interest government unions. Big labor spent over $16 million to win on Amendment 1, a constitutional change that elevates government collective bargaining agreements over state law, effectively outsourcing the legislative branch to a group of unelected political insiders who stand to benefit financially from this kind of power. The presence of this rich and powerful establishment is concerning for its potential implications. Activist government unions across the country now have a model to follow in Amendment 1: create similar laws and usurp the people’s legislative power in other states. Tim Drea of the AFL-CIO has said there’s already been ‘a lot of interest on this amendment from other states.'” • Categorizing unions as “special interests” is an old right-wing trope. Still, I’d feel a lot happier about the AFL-CIO if the railroad workers hadn’t just been thrown under the bus while union “leadership” stood idly by.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Over 400 Texas Congregations Exit United Methodist Church Over LGBTQ Issues” [The Roys Report]. That’s a lot. “That’s nearly half of all UMC churches in Texas. Many of these congregations are expected to become affiliated with The Global Methodist Church, a denomination started by conservative Methodist leaders in the wake of the UMC’s drift towards a liberalized stance on LGBTQ issues.” • Global? As in globalization? Not implausible: Back when I was an Episcopalian, I remember many African dioceses — Africa was a big growth area for Episcopalians, back in the day, and may well still be — vehemently opposed the ordination of women priests (some of whom went on to become Bishops). Global doesn’t necessarily mean cosmopolitan.

“How conspiratorial thinking is undermining democracy, and what we can do about it” [Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists]. “Polls show that despite all evidence to the contrary, more than two-thirds of Republicans and one-third of all Americans still suspect election fraud or believe that Trump was the real winner in 2020.” • Well, heck, it’s not like the Biden campaign, Democrats in Silicon Valley, and the intelligence community didn’t all combine to surppress a Republican October surprise. Oh, wait….

Bouley has been in the NGO world for a long time, so this is an interesting straw in the wind:

Bouley’s reasons are likely not my reasons, but I still agree with her. (I changed the order of the catchphrase to “Diversity, Inclusion, Equity” for a reason.)


Lambert here: Eric Topol has called a winter surge (or “wave”) of Covid. I am but a humble tapewatcher, but I’m reluctant to do so. (Partly because I know my temperament, and I have strong priors. So “I won’t because all of me wants to,” as Sam Spade says.) Topol’s view is the establishment view: Hospital-centric. Mine is infection-centric. I do not see the acceleration or doubling in cases that I would expect to see based on past surges. So we’ll see.

UPDATE Lambert here once more: I’m not calling a peak, because the last peak was Biden’s Omicron debacle, and that’s hard to beat. There is also the TripleDemic aspect, which I don’t know enough about. So I am calling “Something Awful.” Wastewater has taken off in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, right on time, two weeks after Thanksgiving. Those are not only in themselves large cities, they are all the sites of international airports (reminiscent of the initial surge in spring 2020, which emanated, via air travel, from New York). Wastewater is a leading indicator for cases, which in turn lead hospitalization (and death). In addition, positivity has begun to increase again (Walgreens), and BQ.1* has taken over. Stay safe out there. If you are planning to travel on Xmas, do consider your plans carefully.

• Symptoms:

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• A CO2 monitor is the perfect stocking stuffer:

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• Maskstravaganza: “The $949 price for Dyson’s air-purifying headphones is more absurd than the device itself” [The Verge]. “Regarding air filtration, Dyson claims that a combination of electrostatic filters within the Dyson Zone can capture up to 99 percent of the particle pollution (as small as 0.1 microns), and carbon filters target gasses associated with city pollution, such as nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide. These filters last for 12 months and are not reusable. Dyson doesn’t make any claims that the Dyson Zone can be used to prevent covid.” • Make it $99 and you might have something. Give that a couple of years. It’s not unstylish, either.

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• A good thread on risk:

This “personal risk assessment” thing the psychos in what passes for public health today are pushing is new and bad. It’s also going to roll back a lot of gains if allowed to persist.

• The same for “living with”:

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• “Long COVID: a ‘massive disabling event’” [Seattle Times]. “[W]hy, if an estimated 24 million people are still coping with long COVID, are we declaring the pandemic a thing of the past?” • Eugenics?

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Case Counts

From the last year, to get a better sense of Biden’s ginormous Omicron peak and today. As I once did, I’ve added a blue “Biden Line” to approximate the real case count, since “confirmed cases” are seriously undercounted because of home testing.

• What the national and regional averages will hide is a rise in cities:

But Christmas should spread a lot of virus everywhere!


Here is CDC’s interactive map by county set to community transmission (the “red map”). (This is the map CDC wants only hospitals to look at, not you.)

Previous version:

NOTE: CDC doesn’t say how often this updates.

Lambert here: Some readers seemed not to be aware of the difference between the “green map” (community levels) and the “red map” (transmission) so I am reintroducing the boilerplate I once used:

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. That the “green map” (which Topol calls a “capitulation” and a “deception”) is still up and being taken seriously verges on the criminal.


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, published December 13:

0.7%. Increasing again.


Wastewater data (CDC), December 11:

Yikes. After five days I come back, and this is what I see. I’ve circled the hot spots, and put airports next to them. JFK/LGA (New York), ORD (Chicago), SLC (Salt Lake City), SFO (San Francisco), and LAX (Los Angeles) are all red. (I assume SLC is from ski resorts, which spread a good deal of infection in the very first wave). Plenty of virus emerging, just about two weeks after Thanksgiving travel ended. The Covid train always leaves on time! And you know what? There’s always another train coming! (Good job on the Blue Cities, Democrats. Good thing they’re so heavily propagandized! Showed some foresight there, I must say.)

December 6:

And MWRA data, December 12:

Lambert here: Boston resumes its upward climb. Both North and South are up. Two weeks after the kids came home from Thanksgiving.

• And speaking of wastewater:


Lambert here: It’s beyond frustrating how slow the variant data is. 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? [grinds teeth, bangs head on desk]. UPDATE Yes. See NC here on Pango. Every Friday, a stately, academic pace utterly incompatible with protecting yourself against a variant exhibiting doubling behavior.

Variant data, national (Walgreens), December 2:

Lambert here: BQ.1* dominates, XBB coming up on the outside. Not sure why this data is coming out before CDC’s, since in the past they both got it from Pango on Fridays.

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), November 19 (Nowcast off):

BQ.1* takes first place. Note the appearance of XBB.

• As a check, since New York is a BQ.1* hotbed, New York hospitalization, updated December 14:

Lambert here: Looks like a plateau, for now. But hospitalization lags cases, so we shall see.

• Hospitalization data for Queens, updated December 10:



Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,111,664 – 1,109,983 = 1681 (1681 * 365 = 613,565 deaths per year, today’s YouGenicist™ number for “living with” Covid (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. If the YouGenicist™ metric keeps chugging along like this, I may just have to decide this is what the powers-that-be consider “mission accomplished” for this particular tranche of death and disease).

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.

• ”Death certificate records of long Covid are a ‘floor of an estimate,’ experts say” [STAT]. “Long Covid has begun appearing on death certificates for a small percentage of people who have died during the pandemic, but that tiny fraction of records only hints at the whole story, two experts told STAT, while another has doubts about drawing any conclusions from it at all. Death certificates listing long Covid as a cause of death numbered 3,544, representing 0.3% of the 1,021,487 Covid deaths in the United States from January 2020 through June 2022, according to an analysis issued Wednesday by the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To compile the report, researchers pulled a variety of descriptions of long Covid — including post-acute sequelae of Covid-19, long haul Covid, post-Covid conditions — from text entered on death certificates. Until recently, there was no specific diagnostic code for or agreed-upon definition of the symptoms that linger after someone’s acute Covid infection has faded. Eric Topol, director and founder of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, dismisses death certificates as unreliable across the board, not just in Covid. ‘It’s especially clouded because long Covid isn’t known to kill people directly,’ he said. ‘It’s a chronic condition that’s got a lot of ambiguity as to the multiple systems. It’s a mosaic of meaning, so quantifying the deaths is really difficult.'”

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell by 20,000 to 211,000 in the week ending December 10th, the lowest since the end of September and well below market expectations of 230,000.”

Manufacturing: “United States NY Empire State Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The NY Empire State Manufacturing Index dropped 16 points from a month earlier to -11.2 in December 2022, well below market expectations of -1.0 and pointing to the steepest deterioration in the New York State’s business activity since August.”

Manufacturing: “United States Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index in the US remained negative but rose 6 points to -13.8 in December of 2022, compared to market expectations of -10. This is its fourth consecutive negative reading and sixth negative reading in the past seven months. 31% of the firms reported declines in activity, while 17 percent reported increases. The majority (51%) reported no change.”

Manufacturing: “United States Manufacturing Production MoM” [Trading Economics]. “Manufacturing production in the United States fell 0.6% from a month earlier in November of 2022, after a 0.3% increase in October and worse than market expectations of a 0.1% decrease. The indexes for durable and nondurable manufacturing both declined 0.6 percent, and the index for other manufacturing (publishing and logging) slipped 0.4 percent. Within durables, increases were recorded by wood products, by computer and electronic products, and by aerospace and miscellaneous transportation equipment; these gains were outweighed by losses for other industries, particularly for motor vehicles and parts.”

Industrial Production: “United States Industrial Production MoM” [Trading Economics]. “Industrial production in the US decreased by 0.2% mom in November of 2022, following a 0.1% decrease in October and missing market expectations of a 0.1% gain as higher interest rates and prices weighed on demand.”

Capacity: “United States Capacity Utilization” [Trading Economics]. “Capacity Utilization in the United States decreased to 79.66 percent in November from 79.92 percent in October of 2022. It is the lowest reading since February, with capacity utilization falling for manufacturing (-0.6 percentage to 78.9 percent) and mining (-0.7 percentage point to 88.2 percent), while the operating rate for utilities increased 2.4 percentage points to 74.4 percent.”

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Tech: Twitter has an edit button:

When I click the highlighted link, I get to see the earlier version, which is how this should work. I forget which Twitter regime the edit button was implemented under, but I do know that the first example I’ve seen was under Musk. Users had been screaming for an edit button for years, possibly decades. Why the development team couldn’t deliver on it was always beyond my understanding.

Tech: The first AI model:

Tech: “a native internet protocol for social media” [Jack Dorsey]. “The problem today is that we have companies who own both the protocol and discovery of content. Which ultimately puts one person in charge of what’s available and seen, or not. This is by definition a single point of failure, no matter how great the person, and over time will fracture the public conversation, and may lead to more control by governments and corporations around the world. I believe many companies can build a phenomenal business off an open protocol. For proof, look at both the web and email. The biggest problem with these models however is that the discovery mechanisms are far too proprietary and fixed instead of open or extendable. Companies can build many profitable services that complement rather than lock down how we access this massive collection of conversation. There is no need to own or host it themselves.” • Dorsey is correct.

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 50 Neutral (previous close: 60 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 55 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 13 at 12:29 PM EST.

Our Famously Free Press

“The Twitter Files and Writing for the Maw” [Freddie DeBoer]. “While I’m not really interested at all in the Twitter files as such, I am always interested in the meta-discursive details of how the media talks to itself. The large majority of our media that is not explicitly conservative seems to have fallen into almost total unanimity that the Twitter files are not worth paying attention to, that Musk’s leadership is bad, and that the people reporting on the Twitter files are bad as well. And I’m interested in how these orthodoxies develop within media. I’m interested, in other words, in the Maw. The Maw is, broadly speaking, the expression of the culture war as operationalized by the consensus opinions of media. The Maw is the aggregate of opinions of paid-up journalists and writers and pundits and, specifically, the opinions they will allow. When a big story breaks, there’s an initial feeling-out period where the media talks to itself and decides what the consensus opinion will be. As time has gone on, this process has gotten faster and faster, so that now the media consensus and the expectation that all decent people will glom onto it develop in a matter of minutes. What’s interesting about the Twitter files is that both an inciting incident (the Hunter Biden laptop story and its censorship by Twitter) and an eventual consequence of it (the release of the Twitter files) fell into the Maw with incredible speed. Immediately, in 2020, the enforced consensus within media was that there was no story to speak of regarding the Hunter Biden laptop story; it was not only not worthy of influencing the election, it should not have been reported on at all, and Twitter’s decision to artificially limit its spread was justified. So too with the Twitter files: as soon as Matt Taibi started tweeting about them, it seems, most in newsmedia were convinced they were unimportant. This is the Maw at work – it’s the expression of culture war in what the media sees as a respectable position to hold. In the Maw, nothing independent survives.” • The Maw. Not too bad!

Groves of Academe

I’m non-plussed:

From the invaluable Know Your Meme: “Honk Shoo / Mimimi are onomatopoeias of snoring popularized by television cartoons, particularly in the early and mid-20th century. In the 2020s, the terms became popularized in memes, with many jokes pitting the two against each other and referencing the sound effects from old cartoon shows.”

Guillotine Watch

“Nobody Who Went To Yale Could Be Bad” [Eschaton]. “I am rather hung up on the degree to which elites do not think other elites can be bad, or at least believe that, well, sure, elites are bad, but imagine what garbage people everyone who doesn’t have a Harvard degree must be!”

Class Warfare

“Rail workers air their frustrations with rallies, vote” [Associated Press]. “Railroad workers who are fed up with demanding work schedules and disappointed in the contract they received aired their frustrations this week at rallies across the country and in a leadership vote at one of their biggest unions. Workers gathered in Washington D.C. and nearly a dozen other locations across the country Tuesday to emphasize their quality of life concerns and fight for paid sick leave after Congress intervened in the stalled contract talks earlier this month and imposed a deal on four unions that had rejected it. And thousands of engineers voted to oust their long-time union president although that result won’t be final until next week.” And this: “[M]ore than half of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen union members who voted this week backed challenger Eddie Hall over Dennis Pierce, who had led the union since 2010. BLET officials say those results won’t be certified until Monday after any challenges to the vote are resolved. Pierce, who was one of the leaders of the large bargaining coalition that represented the unions in the contract talks with all the major freight railroads over the past three years, declined to comment on the election results. Hall said he thinks the vote clearly shows that engineers just aren’t ‘satisfied with our leadership,’* The win is remarkable given that Hall was little known among the union nationally before he was nominated by workers in his division in Arizona. ‘This is like a club fighter knocking out Muhammad Ali,’ Hall said. “I’m a vice local chairman out of Division 28 in Tucson. This is unprecedented. It’s never happened before and it’ll probably never happen again.’ Let’s be more hopeful. And: “Hall said there is definitely still a lot of work to do to help improve workers’ quality of life, but he doesn’t have a long plan of what he will do if he does take office. He said the first thing on his agenda will be getting out and meeting with engineers all across the country to listen to their concerns.” • What a concept. Talk to the workers. NOTE * That comma is in the original, so I wonder what was in the part of Hall’s quote that got deleted.

“I’m a Rail Worker, and Biden Screwed Us” [The Nation]. “A few days have passed since Congress and President Joe Biden foreclosed the possibility of a legal strike by railroad workers. The blood has had a chance to cool from a boil to a simmer. The facts of the situation can be viewed with some measure of detachment, and, despite what you may have read in news sources or seen on TV, this was never just a conflict over the number of paid sick days. About 115,000 workers represented by 13 separate craft unions, who keep 40 percent of the nation’s freight moving, got screwed. The coalition of interests that did the screwing includes: the executive boards of the seven class-1 carriers, most of Congress, and the president. Democratic action is not limited to voting in municipal, state, and federal elections every few years. Democracy also occurs in workplaces, as when a majority of workers come together and vote to engage in a strike after three years of working without a ratified contract with no raises, 10 years of cuts to the workforce through firings or layoffs or furloughs or attrition, and a brutal scheduling regime that forces some workers to choose between health, familial obligations, and unemployment. When the rail carriers, Congress, and the president swiftly came together to force railroad workers to eat another shitty contract, they subverted democracy to do so. All the excuse-making and promises to make good at some undetermined point in the future can’t change that fact. And it won’t change the fact that the carriers will continue to roll in profits, like hogs in mud; that the politicians will continue to speak out of both sides of their mouths from the safety of their offices; or that workers, who keep the freight moving, will go on doing their jobs while having their lives outside of work ground into dust. Wake up with a high fever and puking your guts out? Take the day off, and you can be fired. Your wife goes into early labor? Take the day off, and you can be fired. An elderly parent slips on some ice and needs help around the house? Take the day off, and you can be fired. When the operating directive is to maintain a functioning system with the fewest workers possible, then unscheduled time away from work, paid or not, is treated as a direct attack on company profits.” • Because it is.

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“The New School Faculty Reaches Landmark Agreement—Is It A Sign Of More Reform To Come?” [Forbes]. “The surprise announcement of the agreement between The New School and the striking adjunct faculty members on Saturday was heralded by labor activists and those in higher education as an important step towards fair compensation for all members of the university community. The strikes at both The New School and the UC system promise to bring new waves of labor activism on college campuses—earlier this year, the American Association of University Professors and the American Federation of Teachers, two of the largest unions in higher education, banded together to strengthen their advocacy for university workers, and Yale University graduate students are currently in the process of holding an election to form a union. Historic wins for unionized faculty and grad students on both coasts will almost undoubtedly embolden faculty and other academic workers and further stoke the flames of advocacy and activism in the months to come.” • Hopefully. Note that the contract has not been ratified; there’s really no “agreeement” until it has been, so the headline is deceptive.

“New School Adjunct Strike Ends with Tentative Contract Agreement” [ArtForum]. “The agreement arrived just as the schools’ fall semester draws to a close, more than three weeks after the adjunct faculty—who make up 87 percent of the university’s professorial ranks—rejected the administration’s “last, best, final offer” of 1.5 percent annual raises for the next five years. Gothamist reports that the new pay structure awards part-time professors sets wage increases in dollar amounts, rather than percentages, in order to assist the lowest-paid professors. According to the New York Times, those would be the teachersat Mannes Prep, the New School’s conservatory, who will receive a 31 percent raise in the contract’s first, the amount reflecting their current basement-level wages. The new contract awards the best-paid adjuncts a 13 percent pay raise in the first year, from the current $5,753 for a three-credit course—roughly $42 per hour, exclusive of unpaid labor such as counseling students and grading—to $6,520, the new salary ceiling. By the fifth year, the same adjuncts will be paid $7,820, marking a 36 percent raise over the present salary…. Artist Matt Spiegelman, a New School adjunct in the visual arts department told the Times that while the tentative agreement was not ideal, it did meet strikers’ demands on at least a rudimentary level. ‘Most importantly,’ he noted, ‘we opened the door for many more improvements in the future and for other universities to step up and treat their faculty with respect and dignity.'”

“After 25 days, strike ends at New York’s New School and Parsons School of Design” [The Art Newspaper]. “‘Like with any deal, you have to make compromises along the way,’ says Lee-Sean Huang, a union bargaining committee member and part-time faculty member at the Parsons School of Design. ‘But it is the most progress we’ve made in New School part-time faculty union history in terms of the gains we’ve made in this single contract, which is overdue since our last one was kind of frozen in time in 2018 since we had been extending it and then extended it through Covid….. The new five-year contract will be put to a vote this week to be ratified by the New School’s part-time faculty union, which is part of the ACT-UAW (United Auto Workers) Local 7902. The union represents over 4,000 adjunct teachers, student educators and healthcare workers at the New School and nearby New York University.”

News of the Wired

“New Human Metabolism Research Upends Conventional Wisdom about How We Burn Calories” [Scientific American]. But it’s not the metabolism that’s the interesting part of the article: “Around 2.5 million years ago things took an unlikely turn. Early populations of the genus Homo stumbled onto a new way of making a living, something unprecedented in the history of life. Instead of pursuing a career as a plant eater, carnivore or generalist, they tried a strange, dual strategy: some would hunt, others would gather, and they’d share whatever they acquired. This cooperative approach placed a premium on intelligence, and over millennia brain size began to increase. Our Paleolithic ancestors learned to knap delicate blades from round stone cobbles, hunt large game and cook their food. They built hearths and homes and began changing the landscape, developing an ecological mastery that led eventually to farming. These evolutionary shifts reverberate today. The cooperative foraging that pushed our hunting, gathering and farming ancestors to flout long-established ecological rules didn’t just change the foods we eat. It altered fundamental aspects of our biology, including our metabolism.”

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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 BB:

BB writes: “Great fall color — fiery yellow with a touch of orange.” Something about the shape of the corner, and the siding, make me think this is distinctively North American (the US or Canada).

* * *

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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. Screwball

    Market Watch headline a few hours ago “Nancy Pelosi portrait unveiling at Capitol brings John Boehner to tears.”

    Brings me to tears too, but probably not for the same reason.

    1. Carolinian

      Is she holding a designer ice cream cone in one hand and a clutch of stocks in the other? Just asking.

        1. Wukchumni

          Has it been around 40 years since stock certificates were issued, maybe longer?

          My dad told me that in the go-go years of the late 60’s stock market run-up, his firm employed 3 vault custodians whose entire job was mating up stock certificates with trades.

          When volume got out of hand, sometimes it would take a few days to physically consummate the deal.

    2. Val

      nancy portrait

      Paging Senor Goya…

      Francis Bacon to the white courtesy phone…

      One of Goya’s Black Paintings has the two guys in the misty field about to clock each other in the head with…hammers?

      1. Old Sarum

        I prefer Ralph Steadman for this task for the obvious reasons.


        ps “Paging”: Does anyone born in this century know what that was?

    3. NorD94

      a bit more on the tears

      Former House Speaker John Boehner tears up at Pelosi portrait unveiling

      Boehner, R-Ohio, who had a reputation for frequently tearing up when he was speaker, offered warm words for Pelosi, D-Calif., the outgoing speaker, who has often been demonized by GOP lawmakers.

      “You’ve been incredibly effective as the leader of your caucus. The younger generation today has a saying: ‘Game recognizes game.’ The fact of the matter is no other speaker of the House in the modern era — Republican or Democrat — has wielded the gavel with such authority or with such consistent results,” Boehner said, calling Pelosi “one tough cookie.”

      “My girls told me, ‘Tell the speaker how much we admire her,'” Boehner said, choking back tears as he spoke. “As if you couldn’t tell, my girls are Democrats,” he said to laughs at the ceremony in the Capitol.

      1. Wukchumni

        Normally reliable sources have indicated that Boehner is in negotiations with the state of California, who wants to get all of his ducts in a row and pipeline it back to the golden state to alleviate the drought, which is probably why he’s so chummy with Nancy.

    4. cnchal

      Tear jerker politician. It’s a typical narcissist’s shtick to grab attention.

      He feels your pain, boo hoo, while simultaneously stabbing you in the back.

      Narcissists are grossly over represented in politics, and once in office are surrounded by psychopaths that lead them around by the nose.

  2. Jason Boxman

    I’d venture that if measles didn’t have a sterilizing vaccine available, we’d still be “living with” it, because markets. We’re “living with” COVID because any serious elimination strategy is going to damage American neoliberal capitalist norms, which is unacceptable. And it’s going to require certain restrictions in perpetuity, like 14 day international travel quarantines, and mandatory masking at some times of the year. Our political class is too pathetic to command this level of action. Someone might have a sad.

    And when you can murder a million people and there’s no protest, well, why bother?

    1. Pelham

      As someone who has never had Covid — I gather only about 10% of Americans now fall into in this category — I remain determined not to get it. But I find it exceedingly strange to contemplate a lengthy future air-gapped from nearly everyone. I feel enbubbled and oddly furtive, and I’m not liking it. It’s as if, at age 69, I’m quietly dodging the Eugenics Police.

      1. John Beech

        We join you Pelham, and feel the same at 64 and 66 respectively. Nevertheless, I (we) remain determined not to get it and cross my fingers hoping for a breakthrough.

        Perhaps something like the Dana-Farber Mass General decoy-drug, maybe. Lot of money for whomever comes up with the sterilizing drug.

    2. JBird4049

      >>>And when you can murder a million people and there’s no protest, well, why bother?

      Ain’t propaganda wonderful? However, often, eventually, reality overwhelms the BS, but what happens thing depends on how much destruction happened before that moment.

      The greater the destruction, the greater the rage, the more violence is done, and the more violent is the counter-response, which causes even greater destruction.

      Protests, reforms, war?

  3. FlyoverBoy

    Re Illinois:

    RealClearPolicy cements its credentials as right-wing toilet paper with this one.

    I”m a Bernie Bro and not going to wave the Democratic Party corporate flag until my arm is tired, but they left out the third part of Illinois’ oligarchy: billionaire Ken Griffin, the richest man in the state (with several times JB Pritzer’s personal fortune) until he bailed to Manhattan this year.

    Griffin bankrolled the gubernatorial run of Pritzker’s disgraced predecessor, Bruce Rauner. Rauner rewarded the investment by snarling the state budget for over 2 years, during which the state’s debt deepened and its credit rating crashed to junk grade, all to postpone the inevitability of a tax hike. During that time, Griffin’s personal wealth more than doubled (if memory serves, from about $4B to $9B).

    Since Pritzker took office, I personally think he’s done an admirable job of betraying his class in several ways. He took big-time heat for closing down public places including merchants and eateries at the start of the pandemic and held out as long as he feasibly could. He also poured over $40 million into a referendum for a constitutional amendment to replace the state’s flat income tax with a graduated one, but Griffin spent even more and defeated it.

    Hilariously, just this week I read a story from a GOP organ that said “Illinois under Pritzker is losing businesses.” One of them was Griffin’s own. It reminded me of the old one about throwing yourself on the mercy of the court because you’re an orphan.

    1. FlyoverBoy

      One additional, centrally relevant note: Pritzker ran in the first place because the Democrats witnessed the Griffin/Rauner carnage, saw they could do nothing about it with pop-gun weapons in the Citizens United era, and recruited their own billionaire as an anti-missile missile. Obviously this is a horrible way to choose candidates for office, and the fact that Pritzker has actually turned out to be a remarkably good governor is a lucky coincidence that the party clearly has not reproduced at the national level.

      1. CGKen

        That piece was written by somebody from Illinois Policy Institute, which claims to be non-partisan but is right-wing.

        And I had the same thought, wondering how somebody could write about Illinois oligarchs without mentioning Ken Griffin. He spent $50 million to defeat a law that would have instituted progressive taxation in Illinois. If it had passed, his taxes would have gone up by that amount each year according to ProPublica. He ended up moving to Florida anyway, but the damage is done.

        1. FlyoverBoy

          Oh hell, that explains everything. The Illinois Policy Institute isn’t just any right-wing organization. It’s Ken Griffin’s.

  4. Carolinian

    Re “media consensus”–Pulitzer and Hearst didn’t have a consensus. They wanted to drive each other into the ground. Which didn’t mean they were good journalists but at least it wasn’t a big club “that we ain’t in.” Clearly these hanging on newspapers of today–owned by legacies or absentee landlords–are more like hobbies than newspapers. There’s no killer instinct–unless the story is about Trump or Putin of course. No lack of consensus there.

    1. Ranger Rick

      Lambert occasionally refers to hypothetical Slack channels that journalists must be using to talk to each other. The collaboration is of course in addition to the media handling that is mentioned in several previous communication leaks, of which the Twitter Files are but the most recent. To cite an infamous event from eight years ago with a name that still haunts games journalism, it turned out that the reason over a dozen outlets all put out an op-ed with the same theme at the same time was because they all were written by authors who belonged to a discussion mailing list. To some, it sounds like conspiracy theory, but it has precedent. Lots of precedent.

  5. Samuel Conner

    Thanks, Lambert, for your patience and perseverence in tracking and interpreting for us “the state of the pandemic”.

    I’ve kind of made by own “capitulation” recently, in the sense of “outlook”. I’m discouraged but settled in my mind that this is likely going to be with us forever and it will likely never be safe to relax precautions.

    From now on, it’s going to be “2PM Watching COVID” for me.

    Now, back to the garden projects; for brief snatches of time they distract me from the world I live in.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Thanks, Lambert, for your patience and perseverence in tracking and interpreting for us “the state of the pandemic”.

      You’re welcome. There are times I feel nobody reads that section, but it’s really the biggest story going (except climate, I suppose) and wonderfully clarifying.

      1. tegnost

        I always read it, and timed my xmas travel for last week so as to be away from thanksgiving and xmas mass travel…here in the Southland (Ca.), it seems the workers are masking, but the general pop is not… I’m now a bit over 6 weeks since the covits, it really messed me up, high blood pressure (same reaction the vaccines gave me, interestingly, or not…correlation not causation and all) I think I had the no yawning thing which imo was somehow connected to the not necessarily arrythmia, but very regular heartbeat that needed concentration to abate, waking every 3 hours and resultant anxiety which spawned a couple of panic attacks. This all seems much better, but were I a person with an arrythmia problem I certainly could see a worst case scenario. Now I’m halfway to 90 days and I’ll be monitoring at least until then. Thanks and I really appreciate the knowledge which is really not available anywhere else. I expect a mammoth mountain surge over the next few weeks

        1. agent ranger smith

          Well, the mRNA ‘vaccines’ offer the body the very same spike proteins in isolation that the covid virus offers the body as part of the virus. So if it is the spike proteins that the body is responding to in either case, it might make sense that one’s own very same body might react in the same way to the same spike proteins however they were delivered into the one’s own very same body.

      2. The Rev Kev

        Considering the fact that so many of the comments in today’s water Cooler have to do with the pandemic, I am sure that your section has a greater influence than you may think. Just being there forces people to consider the fact that no, it has not gone away and is something to be dealt with daily.

        1. Joe Renter

          Yes, thank you Lambert. I read it daily. Little snap shot in Vegas… it’s going around definitely. Local community here has lots of activities for the retirees. An email came through the other day reporting 8 folks playing cards together all came down with Covid. I was invited to an Xmas party, and without thinking, I said, yes. Silly me. Going to back out of the invite though. I am taking care of my 90 year old Mother and it’s not worth the risk to her and myself. Back to an invert state of mind. I can deal with that. Covid free, it’s more than a way of life, it’s a battle.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Just being there forces people to consider the fact that no, it has not gone away and is something to be dealt with daily.

          Thank you. I could wish — and I know this sounds suspiciously like a work assignment — for more comments on the snippets with bullets in front of them, even if only anecdotes, sightings, other links, personal experiences, tips and techniques… That’s because with the data so bad, anecdotes assume a disproportionate importance, especially when aggregated. And it’s so evident that the press (along with the 1%) just want us to be lazy and unthinking (which is what “living with it” means, operationally) that it’s all the more important that people who are taking action and protecting themselves and everyone else help each other.

          “Look for the helpers,” as Mr. Rogers would say.

          1. No Party

            Small anecdote from my humble corner of the universe:

            I manage a division of 15 people at work (two branches of seven people each). “Knowledge workers” – most telework three days per week, in the office two days per week (organization policy). Since the start of November, every single person has been out sick at least once, some multiple times. Only three confirmed COVID cases, but everyone using at home tests, so tough to know what they actually had. One person confirmed for flu type B.

            Based upon my observations, this unprecedented wave of sickness was driven by three vectors: 1) One employee returned from two weeks of international travel in India and Dubai at the end of October with a “cold”, which started the first wave; 2) One employee works part-time at a hospital on weeknights and weekends, got COVID and started a second wave; 3) A third employee has kids in school (ages 9 thru 16), got Covid and started a third wave.

            I’m no expert, but I’m pretty certain these are the origins of our mini-outbreak in my division at work. Mind you, these three waves were (are) overlapping, so no doubt whatever viruses we had (have) are mixing and mutating into some super-virus worthy of the end times.

            And there is more fun to come. This week we had an on-site meeting at work to discuss strategy. Seven people in a smallish conference room, six feet of distance between us, but only three people wearing masks. First day (Monday), one employee (wearing a hospital mask hanging off his face) was coughing and hacking away all day (said he tested negative multiple times over the weekend using at home COVID tests, so “we shouldn’t worry”); by the second day he was too sick to participate in-person. Second day, a second person shows up coughing and hacking, with their voice a few octaves lower than usual (not wearing a mask). By the third day he’s too sick to work at all (later confirmed he has COVID, this is their fourth time having it so far). So I’m expecting a fourth wave to break out from this mini-superspreader event.

            What’s ironic, and frankly terrifying, is how docile everyone in this situation remains. Nothing to see here, no problem at all. COVID is over, immunity debt, masks don’t work – just a sampling of the buzz words I’ve heard in discussions with my co-workers recently. Propaganda definitely works. Crazy to see the staying power of this propaganda, when all of us have been basically sick for a month-and-a-half and still counting. And it’s not like this is the first time we’ve been sick – the majority of the people in my division have been sick with COVID or something or other since Biden declared the pandemic over. Before then, everyone had been COVID-free and healthy.

            But there are hopeful cracks starting to show in this shiny veneer of propaganda. My coworker who got COVID from the hospital they worked at is very angry because she had just received her latest booster a few weeks before then (she is immunocompromised so up-to-date with her shots). She said to me “how come the booster didn’t work” and I quickly explained that the vaccines/boosters don’t actually prevent transmission, and provided her with some info to read. She’s now exploring a whole new world of enlightening info that was before unknown to her about the sham that is our country’s COVID policy.

            Another coworker is a self-proclaimed country boy, die-hard Republican and Army veteran. He loves military history, so one day we got to talking about COVID and I told him “did you know that COVID has killed more Americans than any other event in history, including the Civil War?” He was shocked when I said that, but I pointed him to the info to prove it was true. He doesn’t think COVID is that big a deal, but my comment about COVID and the Civil War got his attention. As a military history buff, to him the Civil War was an existential crisis in American history due to the sheer number of deaths. Now he’s trying to wrap his head around the meaning of COVID in that context.

            And all of my co-workers are united against Congress! The Biden/Trump divide is always forefront, but surprisingly everyone despises Congress equally “because their job is to help people and they don’t.” So I think there is opportunity there.

            Bottom line: life is complicated, people are complicated, and while I’m very concerned about our current trajectory, I see signs of hope that normal, regular people will start to wise up the the elite’s shenanigans. I just hope it happens in time to save us all from permanent debilitation from repeated infections throughout the year. There’s opportunity to organize regular Americans if you’re just willing to talk to them.

          2. LilD

            In California central coast
            Last Monday afternoon card game canceled as host had COVID
            Thursday gig canceled as drummer and mandolin and bass players had COVID leaving just us two guitars…
            Tomorrow’s tennis shrank from 12 to 8 because
            Wait for it
            Three players with COVID (and one with “the sniffles”)
            My wife’s art class canceled yesterday, instructor was sick

            It’s bad. Not going to any indoor spaces for a while

            HOA meeting yesterday in a moderately ventilated room; about 20% masked.

            Mild good sign, Those of us who wear respirators usually have N95s, not cloth or surgical masks

      3. Lex

        I always read the Covid section. Almost nobody is covering Covid in a comprehensive way. You’re going to be cited in a lot of historical papers someday.

      4. Bruce F

        I’ll add my voice of thanks. It’s just about the only place I can find out about this stuff.
        I hope you can keep doing it.

      5. skippy

        Mate your the – BOMB – on Covid just as you were with Obama Care … cough … Romney Care … cough … Heritage Care …

        Look mate in case your not aware you have more than likely saved some lives, reduced risk factors of readership and their contacts, and most importantly cut through sales PR on how Covid should be administered as a public health concern today and all the tomorrows …

        Heck this might just be the first of many strange days and blokes like you will be in short supply – WE – need you and salute you[.]

    2. Roger Blakely

      ABC-anything but COVID

      The Tweet from T. Ryan Gregory included in this morning’s links by Yves was interesting. He was talking about people with COVID-19 symptoms not testing positive for COVID-19. This is going to continue to be a factor that is not being investigated.

      I claim to have experienced fifteen fourteen-day cycles of COVID-19, and I have never tested positive.

      Since last Thursday the CDC’s transmission map have been bright red from sea to shining sea. We have people knocked on their keisters with COVID-like symptoms. But they test negative. What could it be? It’s a mystery virus. Couldn’t possibly be SARS-CoV-2. ABC (anything but COVID).

      As Jason Boxman suggests in a comment above, the people who run things are desperate to put COVID-19 behind us. It turns out that the Chinese leadership is also desperate to put COVID-19 behind them.

      Dr. Osterholm and the Center for Infectious Disease just posted the last podcast before Christmas on their Web Site. He said a couple of things that caught my attention. He talked about the CPC’s 180 degree turn this week on COVID-19. The CPC is now saying that new variants are less severe. Osterholm asked, “Did you see what Omicron did to Hong Kong earlier this year?” In Hong Kong Omicron generated the most intense wave of death yet seen during this pandemic.

      Dr. Osterholm also talked about a new winter surge in Europe. He said that this post-BA.5 surge is not being caused by BQ.1 or some other derivative of BA.5. The surge is being caused by good old BA.5.

    3. Jason Boxman

      I’m also resigned to life being over, at least for me. The Pandemic never seems to be bad enough for any serious public health initiatives to be enacted. It seems with a million dead and counting, and long-COVID a large enough issue it’s effecting the economy at the macro level, that still isn’t sufficient cause to change course. So I can’t guess what will be. As SARS-COV-2 has billions of new hosts in China, it might be we finally get a killshot variant that forces a reassessment of priorities.

      We shall see.

      1. Basil Pesto

        Such a variant, incidentally, could be easily engineered (and we already know which mutation at which position would do the trick, if I’m using the terminology correctly), if you want to have some fun wrestling with hypothetical ethical dilemmas.

  6. Wukchumni

    In the best of the Gold Rush diaries. the one written by William Swain from upstate NY is fabulous-he’s a talented observer & writer, and falls in with a group of 65 others seeking the treasure-mostly from Michigan.

    Within a month or so of leaving from St. Joseph, Mo., 5 were dead of Cholera, as the 49’ers had been careless with sanitation and all took the same route with wagon wheels constantly running over mule, horse, human and oxen feces.

    It’s a hellova read!

    The World Rushed In: The California Gold Rush Experience, by J.S. Holliday

    1. Realist

      Any chance you could let us know the details, and what you thought was so interesting about them?

      Then we won’t have to sit through their interminable show to find out!

      1. Screwball

        I will copy and paste my comments from this mornings “Links” thread by NC.

        About that CPI data (released Tuesday I believe it was). It appears there was a leak of the data before the 8:30 embargo. Bloomberg had an article about it.

        In 60 Seconds Before CPI Hit, Heavy Trading Drove Mystery Rally – I don’t think that link works, but you can find it.

        Someone asked the WH press secretary yesterday what the WH had to say about it. After stuttering for a lengthy period of time, she claimed people were making too big a deal out of a “minor” move in the market.

        I guess that depends on what your definition is of “minor.” According to my charts, the 8:29 candle (one minute before the 8:30 release) moved the S&P futures 40 points to the upside (4056-4096). It’s above my pay grade, but I would be curious to know how much money it took to move that index that many points in that amount of time.

        I wouldn’t call that “minor” either. But I’m sure this is the last we will hear of this.

        Krystal and Saager did a segment on this today as linked by flora.

        They are, IMO, for the most part spot on. I’m not an expert by any means (maybe Yves can shed some light here) but this kind of move in a futures market must involve some big money, and more than one or two people who knew the print. This was a 40 point move by the S&P futures in a minute.

        The White House knows the numbers early, as well as the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics – where it originates) so there are various people who had the inside scoop. Any of them could have leaked. This is “Trading Places” stuff and the crop report. Everyone should get this data at the same time, period. It has always been embargoed until a certain time.

        Last I knew we still used CUSIP numbers to track trades, so those transactions should at least lead us to the people who should answer questions. Then go up the food chain and find out how this happened.

        I don’t expect anything like that to happen.

        1. Realist

          Thank you!

          Maybe it’s the same awesome traders who “lucked out” shorting there airlines on 9/10/2001!

          1. caucus99percenter

            I’ve been half-expecting to hear any day now that Larry Silverstein, having coincidentally bought the rights to the Nordstream 2 pipelines and insured them against terrorism just months before, has won a court judgment entitling him to double reimbursement because yadda yadda two separate attacks. /s

  7. Mikel

    Dr. Jeff Gilchrist
    “When you flush a toilet, it releases plumes of tiny water aerosols into the air around you which can spread pathogens from human waste and expose people in public washrooms to contagious disease…”

    That’s why I go on toilets with lids rants every now and then.
    Airports are big no toilet lid culprit. And often they have no doors on bathrooms to make it easier for people with luggage to enter and exit. People aren’t the only thing exiting those bathrooms and into the airport.
    And top off no lids with the auto flushing and …sheesh…

    1. Carla

      In my experience, almost no public toilets have lids. Maybe a few in small restaurant rest rooms have them … And even then, you’re counting on (brain-dead) Americans to CLOSE them. How often would that happen?

    2. jax

      Flush toilets – airports, malls, even hospitals with open-air flushing. Perhaps lids are just too expensive for our neo-liberal order? Don’t get me started on the handles and the signs saying “Please wash your hands … then open the door with the hands you just washed.” Even Mexico has floor mounted flushes for your foot and toilet lids. This is a s*&%#$ole country.

    3. agent ranger smith

      ” No lid ” means ” one less thing to clean” which could mean a lot to institutions which pay a lot of people to clean a lot of things lots of times.

    4. Lex

      And then the air hand driers just to make sure nothing ever settles down. Usually ventilation in lavatories is insufficient too.

  8. fresno dan

    So, the right wing media was in a frenzy over an upcoming Major announcement from Trump. Speculation was that Trump would run for speaker of the house (how he does that without being an elected representative, I don’t know).
    But here is the actual announcement, and it is indeed, spectacular and earth shattering
    I intend to collect all of them – you never know which one “will go viral” and end up being worth millions….nay, billions!!!
    CHOOSE YOUR FAVORITE (don’t make me choose which one is my favorite – its IMPOSSIBLE, they are ALL so spectacular!!!!)

    1. Wukchumni

      My Kevin (since ’07) would have to accede the vocal obligation to his Donald, and being an opportunistic dullard’s opportunistic dullard, I thought sure he’d go for it.

      An ex-President pimping trading cards is a first, and it looks as if the teetotalitarian has been working out, man he’s ripped.

      1. fresno dan

        Do you think Biden should endorse Trump as speaker, dump Harris, (wouldn’t that be universally agreed upon???) appoint Trump as vice president, (Ist EVAH speaker/vice president) and propose a bipartisan governing coalition, with Biden to run as Trump’s vice presidential nominee in 2024? Don’t we need some unity???

        1. Wukchumni


          That’s simply crazy talk, but totally doable.

          Of course Joe would lose the element of surprise, er Kamala.

          Notice how she’s been treated like a distaff Ruprecht in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels as of late?

          It’s Joe, or else!

          Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988) – Dinner With Ruprecht Scene


      2. Aumua

        Yeah this is what I kinda like about Trump. I mean what other president would even think about doing something like this? You just gotta respect the audacity and the absurdity.

  9. agent ranger smith

    Why isn’t mandatory masking reinstated on public transit? Perhaps the authorities are afraid of facing mask freedom rebel riots on all the buses, trains and subways.

    1. Carla

      Why do doctors, nurses and other hospital personnel wear only flimsy paper masks, and those under their noses, or with huge gaps on the sides, and almost never N-95’s?

      Because the pandemic is OVER. Duh.

      1. Joe Renter

        I saw a dentist this week and he and his closer (yes, dentist now have closers, you know they give you a price and try to smile their way into agreement with the overpriced treatment (rant), what jokers, anyway neither had mask on. However the rest of the staff did. More here in Vegas are wearing mask.

    2. agent ranger smith

      Considering what happened in Michigan and elsewhere, I think my theory has some merit, as well as theories of CDC and WHO stealth-advancing the Jackpot also, too, of course, to be sure.

      Whatever the reason, we who believe that covid is a ‘thing’ are on our own out here. Perhaps we can support eachother so we can at least be On Our Own Together (WOOT) which is certainly better than YOYO.

    3. Lex

      I’ll never understand the vent diagram of people who are anti-mask and also afraid of big government watching them. For a brief shining moment we could all go into a bank with a mask and sunglasses with nobody freaking out. We had a perfect excuse to defeat the camera surveillance state and all the people most likely to worry about such things refused. Suckers.

  10. Jason Boxman

    How a Sprawling Hospital Chain Ignited Its Own Staffing Crisis

    To understand how Ascension’s strategies affected patients, The Times focused on two hospitals, St. Joseph in Illinois and Genesys in Michigan, where nurses belonged to unions that tracked staffing cuts and kept detailed logs of what they said were unsafe conditions. The Times reviewed more than 3,000 pages of those logs and interviewed 70 current and former nurses, executives and other employees at Ascension hospitals.

    Nurses said that Ascension’s downsizing had stark consequences.

    In a functional state, we’d nationalize the health care delivery system.

    1. Jason Boxman

      A truly pervasive evil:

      “Their whole approach to the finances was right out of the Wall Street playbook,” said William Weeks, who until his retirement in 2019 was the chief operating officer of a five-hospital chain that Ascension owns in Oklahoma.

      For example, Ascension charged its hospitals management fees, which covered the cost of centralized services like human resources, that were so high that they sometimes drove hospitals into financial peril.

      In Washington, Ascension charged tens of millions of dollars in fees to Providence Hospital, which largely served poor, Black patients. The district’s attorney general investigated whether Ascension’s fees were excessive. In response, the chain in 2018 agreed to forgive $130 million of debt owed by the struggling hospital, which by then was being downsized into an urgent care center.

      But the heart of Ascension’s business strategy was cutting costs.

      (bold mine)

      America is what capitalism looks like when it feasts upon the flesh of its inhabitants. This country is a rotting carcass.

  11. MaryLand

    Trying to remember the name of the book recommended here recently on the history of pandemics. Anyone? TIA

    1. Foy

      Maryland, you might be thinking of The Pandemic Century – One Hundred Years of Panic Hysteria and Hubris by Mark Honigsbaum. This was the one that IM Doc said he has put on the required reading list for his medical students. It’s a great book.

  12. Wukchumni

    “After 25 days, strike ends at New York’s New School and Parsons School of Design” [The Art Newspaper]. “‘Like with any deal, you have to make compromises along the way,’ says Lee-Sean Huang, a union bargaining committee member and part-time faculty member at the Parsons School of Design.
    Strikers = ‘Draft Dodgers’

  13. Louis Fyne

    ty for the covid test info.

    Last batch of free tests were made in Maine (i think) via a Maine subsidiary of Abbott

    1. Samuel Conner

      My reflexive thought on reading that announcement was that some associate of the Chief Executive must have gotten hold of a large inventory of cheap expired tests and needed a sure-fire way to turn them into profit.

      The quantity of tests offered — 4 tests — is laughable. Multiple tests per individual per week would be a more appropriate response. This, IMO, is just posturing.

      1. petal

        My employer has been sending us notices that the expiration date on the tests they have been giving to us can be extended. The boxes say expires Dec 27th 2022. I think they have tons of them.

    1. Wukchumni

      I thought for sure it would be over the idea that her legislative record is clean in that she’s done nothing except social media oriented gotcha fluff.

    2. Jason Boxman

      Well, it certainly can’t be because she’s a performative hack. That’s everyone in Congress, after all!

  14. notabanker

    On the Maw…. I prefer to think of it as the din. Particularly in this context:

    Oh, to ride the wind
    To tread the air above the din
    Oh, to laugh aloud
    Dancing as we fought the crowds, yeah

  15. JBird4049

    “Instead of pursuing a career as a plant eater, carnivore or generalist, they tried a strange, dual strategy: some would hunt, others would gather, and they’d share whatever they acquired. This cooperative approach placed a premium on intelligence, and over millennia brain size began to increase.”

    Nice article. I would thing that the same highly variable climate of a few million years ago (constant cycling from different combinations of forest, bush, savanna, lake, pond, swamp, river, creek) requiring a constant change in how to acquire food in that part of our ancestral Africa forced hominids to make lemonade from lemons. An interesting idea that playtime might come from the need to eat.

    1. Greg

      I’m sure I’ve seen a doco that mentioned play in chimps and other near-relations to humans was explicitly based on modelling food gathering behaviours. No link because currently have covid brain sorry :/

    1. Aumua

      Ok first of all, put down the pen Glenn. You’re gonna poke yourself in the face.

      Secondly has he never heard of a news cycle? Is the reason that the story is not still headline news 3 weeks later really just because it turns out the kid doesn’t have a manifesto, and claims to be non-binary? I mean I do get his point. The msm does this all time. They jump to conclusions and try to turn any story they can into a political attack. But honestly if you don’t think the alt-stream/right wing media does this too, then imo you’re smoking crack, metaphorically.

      So what’s real story here? I don’t know. There’s some really weird stuff going on with the shooter’s family. Does right wing rhetoric have nothing at all to do with the situation? Greenwald seems to be implying that, if he’s not saying it outright. His target audience is certainly going to take that away from the report. His underlying motive seems to be defending and justifying the behavior of Tucker, and libs of tik-tok, a truly nasty group that is very aggressive towards transgender people.

      Whatever the case with this particular story, anti-trans or any bigoted rhetoric does have consequences. It does result in an increase in violence toward the targeted group. I think this should be obvious. I mean on the one hand loquitur, you’re saying reactionary, transphobic fear mongering is of no consequence, and with the other hand you’re saying if they don’t stop with the pedo sh*t then they only have themselves to blame for the coming attacks. So which is it?

      1. semper loquitur

        The usual confusions. So you get his point, but you question whether his point is valid. Then an straw man, no one here thinks the alt right doesn’t do the same thing. We are talking about the mainstream media. This is a dodge. Stay on target.

        The real story is that the mainstream media and the usual NGO s(umbag executives, after the usual hand waving and pearl clutching, the diatribes about the Holy Victims of the Moment being desecrated once again, stopped talking about the story. Full stop. Because it doesn’t fit with the narrative and because they cannot fund raise off of it. Plus, don’t wanna tick off the wealthy interests making big bucks off of it all.

        How exactly does right wing rhetoric play into this scenario, if you are so convinced it does? Greenwald isn’t implying anything, he’s stating the facts: the story was dropped because it didn’t fit the narrative. Notice we are still hearing about the Orlando shooting. That’s because the shooter wasn’t queer or non-binary so it’s easier to continue to flog it, even thought the evidence points to the fact that the club was a target of opportunity.

        Your claim that his “underlying motive” is to protect Tucker and Libs of Tik-Tok is fallacious. How do you know his motives? You are simply slurring him. Again, ducking the issue at hand, that the mainstream media has a product to sell and if something doesn’t jive with that mission, it is disappeared.

        And your claim is far from obvious, that rhetoric increases violence. Where is the data? And don’t pull those bull$hit studies done by the activist community, the one’s where they poll themselves and find that they all are in agreement.

        I’m saying prove it’s of serious consequence. You people make that claim all the fu(king time but never provide any proof. Like the claims of suicide, when in fact the polls about it are deeply flawed and the suicide rates have plenty of other metrics to consider. I’m willing to bet that the individuals who do commit acts of violence against the “community” would do so without Tucker telling them to. It’s all just word policing. Because your arguments cannot stand the light of day.

        As for the groomers, well, I get a bit Old Testament about them. And when you mess with peoples children, they react violently, justifiably violently. I’m not claiming everyone in the “community” is a groomer, I’m stating as a fact that they are there and using claims of “diversity” and “inclusivity” to prey on children. Have you seen the children putting dollar bills in stripper’s waistbands? The children posing with the “furries” in dog collars and leather pants? But of course you have. Doesn’t that bother you?

    2. Janeway

      They can’t refer to them without having to explain why they did what they did if it was something they wanted to expose as homo/transphobia that they can’t explain away.

  16. Carolinian

    Part 4 of WTC versus Empire State–the building of the World Trade Center. Sampler:

    Excavating the site would also require relocating an enormous amount of existing infrastructure – a tangled nest of water and sewer lines, electrical wiring, steam pipes, pneumatic tubes, and gas lines, few of which were documented or could be located precisely. The Port Authority would ultimately demolish all this infrastructure and rebuild it from scratch, upgrading much of it in the process (as well as photographing the installation to make future renovations easier.) The main trunk line for New York Telephone, which connected New York to other cities around the world, also ran under the site (and contained, among other things, the Red Phone line connecting Washington to Moscow). Relocating it was “the biggest job in New York Telephone history,” requiring “placing 28 miles of new cable, splicing half a million pre-existing wires, and rerouting 100,000 working circuits.”

    But the biggest pieces of infrastructure on the site – the cast iron tubes of the PATH trains – would stay right where they were. They would be connected to the new PATH station being built on the site. To minimize disruption, it was decided that the tubes would be left in place and the trains would continue to run during construction. As excavation proceeded and the tubes were exposed, large caissons were sunk on either side for support, holding the tubes in the air as the earth was gradually removed.

    However, this created another problem – when the tubes were exposed to the open air, the temperature swings caused them to expand and contract. To deal with this, expansion joints were cut into the tubes, which would later cause at least one train emergency stop when a passenger saw daylight coming through the joints and panicked.

    Maybe not a good idea to put the red phone line under target number one (see Sidney Lumet’s Failsafe).


    No indication that there will be a Part 5 about the day it was unbuilt.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “Ocasio-Cortez under investigation by House Ethics Committee”

    There’s no gratitude in politics. AOC helps to crush a workers strike when she doesn’t have to and this is the reward that she gets from her peers. But if she is being investigated over her ethics, I’m sure she has nothing to worry about as they won’t find any.

    1. agent ranger smith

      Once upon a time I stumbled upon such a map long ago. I can’t find it now. The best I can do is this collection of random images of historical little local systems. Perhaps one of the urls might lead one to the map I once saw so long ago.


      In those days it was possible to get from anywhere to anywhere by rail, before the establishment’s bonfire of the trains, trolleys and streetcars.

  18. Elizabeth

    Lambert, I just want to add my voice to all who thank you for your comprehensive covid section. I read it every day, and consider your coverage second to none. So far, I’ve dodged covid (an introvert) thanks to NC. It really is criminal for this country to treat its citizens like scum. As you say, very clarifying.

  19. TimH

    Dyson… “claims that a combination of electrostatic filters within the Dyson Zone can capture up to 99 percent of the particle pollution”

    Can capture. Up to.

    A paper tissue in my pocket meets the same spec.

  20. Friendly

    Not sure if this study has been posted but thought I would pass it on.

    Autopsy-based histopathological characterization of myocarditis after anti-SARS-CoV-2-vaccination
    Cases of myocarditis, diagnosed clinically by laboratory tests and imaging have been described in the context of mRNA-based anti-SARS-CoV-2 vaccination. Autopsy-based description of detailed histological features of vaccine-induced myocarditis is lacking. We describe the autopsy findings and common characteristics of myocarditis in untreated persons who received anti-SARS-CoV-2 vaccination. Standardized autopsies were performed on 25 persons who had died unexpectedly and within 20 days after anti-SARS-CoV-2 vaccination. In four patients who received a mRNA vaccination, we identified acute (epi-)myocarditis without detection of another significant disease or health constellation that may have caused an unexpected death. Histology showed patchy interstitial myocardial T-lymphocytic infiltration, predominantly of the CD4 positive subset, associated with mild myocyte damage. Overall, autopsy findings indicated death due to acute arrhythmogenic cardiac failure. Thus, myocarditis can be a potentially lethal complication following mRNA-based anti-SARS-CoV-2 vaccination. Our findings may aid in adequately diagnosing unclear cases after vaccination and in establishing a timely diagnosis in vivo, thus, providing the framework for adequate monitoring and early treatment of severe clinical cases.

  21. rowlf

    Anyone up for some Jonathan Pie and strikers?

    Pie lays into all the bloody poor people for daring to ask for better pay, conditions and job security. /s

    I can’t wait until US labor union leaders’ pairs drop, their voices change, they grow hair, and they act like Mick Lynch.

  22. Jason Boxman

    The Cienfuegos Affair: Inside the Case that Upended America’s Drug War

    Two years ago, the DEA arrested a Mexican general, hoping to lay bare the high-level corruption at the heart of organized crime. Then the case fell apart — and took down U.S.-Mexican cooperation on drug policy with it.

    Reporting by ProPublica is generally top notch, so worth a read. They did this in partnership with the NY Times, where I first found it, but fortunately it’s available at ProPublica as well. This is like an hour read, so get coffee or the (legal) stimulant of your choice.

  23. The Rev Kev

    ‘El Norte Recuerda
    Do you know who Shudu is? I just found out—she’s the first AI model. She’s been “hired” across the industry which means her creators, white men, NOT a Black woman, are the ones paid. And companies get to say they ran Black content without having to work with or hire Black people.’

    Uncanny Valley anybody? Looks more like an NPC than a model-


  24. petal

    New Hampshire restarts COVID wastewater surveillance program
    A wastewater surveillance program to monitor COVID-19 levels in communities across New Hampshire has been started by the state’s Department of Health and Human Services.

    “The program will collect data to help track trends in changing levels of the virus over time, and potentially provide an earlier warning signal of rising levels, the department’s Division of Public Health Services said in a news release Thursday.

    The participating wastewater treatment facilities are in Berlin, Dover, Durham, Hampton, Hanover, Keene, Manchester, Merrimack, Newmarket, Newport, Portsmouth, Plymouth, and Sunapee.

    “This is another tool we can use to help monitor COVID-19 spread in our state,” said Patricia Tilley, director the division of public health services.“Wastewater surveillance does not depend on individuals testing for COVID-19, so this new program has the potential to provide additional and earlier insight about COVID-19 in our communities,” she said.”

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