2:00PM Water Cooler 12/16/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Cuban Vireo, Mayabeque, Cuba. “Singing in trees along a lane.” Other birds in the trees, too.

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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

Capitol Seizure

“Jan. 6 committee to vote Monday on riot criminal referrals” [Associated Press]. ” The House committee investigating the Capitol riot will hold its final meeting Monday, wrapping up its year-and-a-half-long inquiry by asking the Justice Department to investigate potential crimes…. Attorney General Merrick Garland last month appointed a special counsel, Jack Smith, to oversee investigations related to Trump, including one focused on the insurrection and attempts to overturn the 2020 election results.” • Seems like a duplication of effort…

“House Democrats introduce legislation to bar Trump from office under 14th Amendment” [The Hill]. • Not even waiting for the special counsel or the DOJ?

Biden Administration

“National Archives Releases More Than 13,000 Documents on Kennedy Assassination” [Wall Street Journal]. “The release of 13,173 documents amounts to the government’s largest release of records about the Kennedy assassination since 2018. The records, posted online Thursday by the National Archives and Records Administration, add to tens of thousands of others released over the years. The National Archives said more than 97% of the records in its collection are now publicly accessible. Investigators amassed five million pages of records related to the murder. Federal authorities have concealed a portion of them for decades over concerns they contained sensitive information.”


GA: “Record Turnout in Georgia?? MY A**!” [Greg Palast]. “In Sen. Raphael Warnock’s runoff two years ago, the turnout was 4,484,954. This time, the vote plummeted to 3,538,910. Since when is a one-million-vote nosedive a ‘record’ turnout? Mail-in ballots fell off a cliff. Absentee ballots — which Warnock won two years ago by a stunning two-to-one margin — plummeted by a breathtaking 83%, from over a million (1,084,021) in the 2021 runoff to just 191,286 last week…. Two years ago, a 400,000-vote plurality of mail-in ballots delivered the victory margin for Warnock and his running mate, Jon Ossoff, now Georgia’s other Senator. These ‘absentee’ ballots also won the presidential contest for Joe Biden over Donald Trump for Georgia’s electoral votes. A stunned Kemp and his GOP-controlled legislature took note and within mere weeks passed SB202, 98 pages of restrictions that made absentee balloting all but illegal, especially in case of another runoff.”


“Chuck Schumer predicts Democrats will hold the Senate majority again in 2024” [NBC]. “Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, beaming with confidence after having proved his doubters wrong and expanded his majority in the midterm elections, vowed without hesitation that the Democratic Party will keep control again in two years. ‘Yes, I absolutely do, if we stick to our North Star, which is, help people with things that they need help with,’ Schumer, D-N.Y., said in an interview Wednesday in the Capitol.” But single payer? Never, ever. (That “North Star” trope is unbiquitous among NGOs.) More: “It will be a herculean task. Democrats are defending three seats in the Republican-leaning states of West Virginia, Montana and Ohio. They’re looking to hold five more seats in the closely divided states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada and Arizona, where Sen. Kyrsten Sinema recently quit the party and became an independent. And their best pickup opportunities are in Republican-trending Florida and the GOP stronghold of Texas.”

Republican Funhouse

“McCarthy’s tortured calculus” [Axios]. “House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) painstaking efforts to quell a right-wing rebellion in his bid to become House speaker have pulled back the curtain on the broader legislative nightmare he’ll need to navigate over the next two years. On a number of concessions McCarthy has made or is considering making to his conservative critics, he risks touching off a revolt from other ideological camps — especially moderate and Biden-district Republicans. Failing to balance the wide range of equities within his conference, which is set to have a razor-thin majority, could result in embarrassing defeats for McCarthy in party-line votes — weakening him right out of the gate.” • What a weird use of the word “equities.” Can readers decode?

“Inside the ugly fight to become the next Republican chair” [Associated Press]. “Struggling to unify after another disappointing election, the Republican National Committee is consumed by an increasingly nasty leadership fight as the GOP navigates its delicate relationship with former President Donald Trump…. As the Republicans’ national political arm, the RNC will raise and spend hundreds of millions of dollars in building or rebuilding the party’s framework, in campaign messaging and in the year-long presidential nomination process that will begin in earnest before long… As the Republicans’ national political arm, the RNC will raise and spend hundreds of millions of dollars in building or rebuilding the party’s framework, in campaign messaging and in the year-long presidential nomination process that will begin in earnest before long. Ronna McDaniel, Trump’s hand-picked choice to lead the committee and the niece of Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, is running for a fourth consecutive term. But the 49-year-old is facing a rising wave of discontent from Trump’s “MAGA” movement, even as the former president stays silent — at least, for now…. California attorney Harmeet Dhillon has emerged as the MAGA favorite to challenge McDaniel, who secured commitments from more than 100 of the RNC’s 168 voting members earlier this month. Dhillon is working aggressively to peel away some of that support ahead of the formal vote at next month’s annual winter meeting in southern California.”

“John Boehner chokes up at Nancy Pelosi’s official portrait unveiling” [ABC]. “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s official portrait was unveiled Wednesday in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall, marking the first time a madame speaker joined the faces of the men who preceded her… Boehner got choked up as he said, ‘My girls told me, ‘Tell the speaker how much we admire her.’ Struggling to keep his trademark emotions in check, he jokingly added, ‘As if you couldn’t tell, my girls are Democrats.'” • Boehner, however, had a reputation for weeping copiously given the slightest opportunity.

“House Republicans demand testimony from Biden officials, experts on COVID-19 origins, virus research in Wuhan” [FOX]. “The 40 individuals span the Biden administration, the EcoHealth alliance, and several prominent virologists who have already attempted to investigate COVID-19’s origins.” • It’s going to be Benghazi all over again, isn’t it?

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.

* * *

“Democracy for America on track to shut down” [Politico]. “The organization started in its current form after [Howard] Dean’s unsuccessful 2004 presidential campaign, and throughout its history it helped elect more than 1,000 progressive candidates and raised $70 million dollars since it started, staff said. In recent years, it focused on structural democracy reform, ranked choice voting, student debt relief and Medicare for All. Democracy for America endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the 2016 presidential primary. Before backing him, it helped organize an unsuccessful campaign to draft Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) into the race. The group also supported Sanders’ run in 2020.” • It took the Democrats a long time to kill it, but kill it they did.

Speaking of killing it:

“Bernie Sanders’ new challenge: Bipartisanship” [Politico]. “Now the Vermont independent is set to take over the Senate’s prestigious Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee next year. The panel is the perfect platform for Sanders’ top issues, like Medicare for All. It also has a proud bipartisan reputation. Which presents a new challenge for the famously pugnacious progressive as he weighs whether to run for reelection in 2024. Sanders will be taking over the HELP committee, as it’s known, under a divided government with his party holding a tiny Senate majority. And he’s conspicuously aware that holding one of the top gavels in Congress won’t entitle him to muscle his own agenda through. What’s more, many Democrats don’t support all of Sanders’ policy prescriptions. So the gruff 81-year-old is planning to be a chair who can do both: embrace his activist roots while also working across the aisle on incremental gains that could actually become law. ‘I’m going to be walking a tightrope,’ Sanders said in an interview this week.’I want to work with Republicans on issues where we can make progress. In other areas, they’re not going to support me. And I’m not gonna give up on those issues.'” • Schumer’s theory of change won: “For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia.” No need to expand the base. Sanders’ theory of change lost.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Oklahoma takes ‘momentous’ step to allow taxpayer-funded religious schools” [Politico]. “Oklahoma’s departing attorney general just took a big step toward achieving a conservative education milestone. A state law that blocks religious institutions and private sectarian schools from public charter school programs is likely unconstitutional and should not be enforced, Attorney General John O’Connor and Solicitor General Zach West wrote in a non-binding legal opinion this month. Their 15-page memo leans on a trio of recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions that favored religious schools and won rapt attention from conservative school choice advocates and faith groups. Oklahoma Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt said the advisory opinion ‘rightfully defends parents, education freedom, and religious liberty in Oklahoma.’ Newly-elected state Superintendent Ryan Walters called it ‘the right decision for Oklahomans.’ Now it’s time to see if faith-based Oklahoma institutions successfully apply for taxpayer support to create charter schools that teach religion as a doctrinal truth just like private schools do today, and if legislators will push to change state law. Legal authorities in other Republican-led states could also pen similar opinions.” • Weird flex that “religious liberty” = “public funding,” but OK.


Lambert here: I am but a humble tapewatcher, but unlike Eric Topol, I’m not calling a surge, because the last peak was Biden’s Omicron debacle, and after an Everest like that, what’s left? 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. There is also the TripleDemic aspect, which I don’t know enough about.

I am calling a “Something Awful.” It’s gonna be bad, in some new way, and we don’t know how, yet. 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. Finally, I’m hearing a ton of anecdotes (and do add yours in comments).

Stay safe out there! If you are planning to travel on Xmas, do consider your plans carefully.

• “Hospital CEO exits climb in what may be bellwether for C-suites” [Becker’s Hospital Review]. Getting out in time? Because Something Awful is coming? The real story is buried in the final paragraph: “In an Oct. 18 report from Kaufman Hall based on response from 86 health system leaders [sic], 46 percent said labor costs are the largest opportunity for cost reduction — up significantly from the 17 percent of leaders who said the same last year. Job cuts at hospitals may seem counterintuitive given the nation’s widely known shortages of healthcare workers. But as hospitals weather one of their most financially difficult years, some are reducing administrative staff, not filling vacant jobs or shrinking their executive teams to curb costs.”

• “CT COVID hospitalizations are up nearly 60% from a month ago” [CT Mirror] “Connecticut’s COVID hospitalizations have risen by 58% over the last four weeks, and with families and colleagues preparing to gather for the holidays, health officials are urging people to don masks indoors and consider the well-being of others as they go about the seasonal bustle. On Nov. 17, the state recorded 325 COVID hospitalizations and a seven-day average positivity rate of 7.3%. By Thursday, hospitalizations had climbed to 515 and the positivity rate reached 11.4%. Hospitals have added more than 100 patients with COVID since the start of December alone.” • Note how the positivity rate is much higher than the national average. Once again, national averages conceal local surges.” • A lot of material on, well, personal risk assessment. Worth a read to hear what people are saying on the ground.

* * *

• Missed opportunities:

I wonder if Clyburn’s report on “PREPARING FOR AND PREVENTING THE NEXT PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY: Lessons Learned from the Coronavirus Crisis” includes any material on ventilation. I’ll be pleasantly surprised if it does.

• Maskstravaganza: “A biased and underpowered study produced the expected null result” (letter) [Annals of Internal Medicine]. An evisceration of the Loeb study, produced by Infection Control goons and purporting to show that surgical masks and N95s provided the same protection. The study is at the top of the page; you have to scroll down to read the letter, an odd arrangment. “Loeb et al state “the overall estimates (in their trial) rule out a doubling in hazard”, but no such conclusion is possible. The trial used an extraordinary threshold (a hazard ratio of 2, or a 100% relative increase in risk) for non-inferiority, and was underpowered to find smaller, but still important, risks. (We estimate that a four-fold increase in sample size would have been needed to identify a 50% increase in relative hazard). Power aside, design flaws biased the study towards the null result that was obtained. First, the intervention under study was incorrect use of N95 respirators – intermittently rather than continuously. SARS-CoV-2 is an airborne pathogen (1, 2). Infection occurs via inhalation of shared air, and infective aerosols accumulate over time in closed indoor settings. As such, only continuous use of N95 respirators protects healthcare workers against respiratory infection whilst intermittent use of medical masks and respirators are equally ineffective (3). Unplanned crossover (those randomized to medical masks could reassign themselves to the N95 arm based on unrecorded risk assessment) and contamination due to failure to use a cluster design further biased study results towards the null (4).” • I’m trying to put together a joke on “frontal lobes,” but time presses. Commentary:

One of the things I like about the airborne community — besides the fact that they seem genuinely co-operative — is that they know how to throw a punch.

• Maskstravaganza:

Somebody should make a zombie movie where the zombies all smile.

* * *

• More on the lethal nonsense of “immunity debt”:

* * *

• “Mucosal Immunity After Novel COVID-19 Infection – Virus-Induced Immunosuppression: Preliminary Study” [BioNanoScience]. “In recovered COVID-19 patients, the state of mucosal immunity remains understudied…. Functional disorders due to inhibited phagocytosis of autoflora are recorded. Functionally defective cells are brought into the nasal secretions; they demonstrate severely inhibited oxygen-dependent biocidity, rapid depletion of reserves, incomplete phagocytosis, and limited ability to capture pathogens, which can contribute to the growth of various pathogenic viruses and bacteria…. . Virus-induced, functional, and metabolic impairment of neutrophils of the mucosal immunity system develop in recovered COVID-19 patients, thus providing a scientific rationale for immunomodulatory therapy.” • Makes you wonder if these effects make it more likely that people will catch Covid again (and again…).

• “The prevalence and long-term health effects of Long Covid among hospitalised and non-hospitalised populations: A systematic review and meta-analysis” [Science Direct]. From the Interpretation: “Our work shows that 45% of COVID-19 survivors, regardless of hospitalisation status, were experiencing a range of unresolved symptoms at ∼ 4 months. Current understanding is limited by heterogeneous study design, follow-up durations, and measurement methods. Definition of subtypes of Long Covid is unclear, subsequently hampering effective treatment/management strategies.”

* * *

• “Effect of Ivermectin 600 mcg/kg for 6 days vs Placebo on Time to Sustained Recovery in Outpatients with Mild to Moderate COVID-19: A Randomized Clinical Trial” (preprint) [medRxiv]. I love the “Competing Interest Statement”; it’s really long! In any case, for the longest time, at least here at NC, consensus is that the only use case for the drug that cannot be named is prophylaxis, which has some support from clinicians; and in any case the risks, both in cost and side effects, are so incredibly low, and the benefits so great, that it’s really a no-brainer, on a par with carrying two aspirins in case of stroke (if you’re at risk for that). Oh well, the authors have kids to send to college, I guess.

* * *

• ”More than a third of parents oppose vaccine requirements in schools, KFF survey finds” [CNN]. “More than a third of US parents say that vaccinating children against measles, mumps and rubella should be an individual choice and not a requirement to attend public school, even if that may create health risks, according to survey data published Friday by the Kaiser Family Foundation. That’s a notable increase from pre-pandemic times. A similar poll from the Pew Research Center found that 23% of parents opposed vaccine requirements in schools in 2019, but that’s now jumped to 35% in the KFF survey. All 50 states and the District of Columbia require children attending public school to be vaccinated against certain diseases, including measles and rubella. Exemptions are allowed in only some circumstances. In central Ohio, a measles outbreak that started last month continues to grow, spreading entirely among children who were not fully vaccinated.” • Only Democrats could successfully replace “public health” with “individual choice.”

* * *

Lambert here: “The nation’s leading science-based, data-driven, service organization that protects the public’s health” can’t keep its website up and running, so unfortunately I won’t be able to update its material. We’re in the midst of something awful. How am I supposed to make my personal risk assessment without current data?

I’m guessing the CDC drank their own Kool-Aid and cut back on capacity or staffing because “the pandemic is over.” (I bet their traffic would be a good heuristic for peaks, too; I wonder if anyone could get hold of it? It should be public data, after all.)


SITE DOWN 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.)

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:

0.9%. Still increasing.


SITE DOWN 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 13:

Lambert here: Boston resumes its upward climb.


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.

SITE DOWN 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: 1,112,797 – 1,111,664 = 1133 (1133 * 365 = 413,545 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.

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of interest today.

* * *

The Bezzle: “We need to talk about the CFTC” [Financial Times]. The deck: “Pwned by Sam Bankman-Fried.” “Yes, the CFTC might not have been able to prevent the FTX debacle. Frauds happen. But the agency has consistently acted as a friendly champion of a fraud-riddled dumpster fire it purportedly wants to supervise.”

The Bezzle: “CEOs React To Arrest Of Sam Bankman-Fried” [The Onion]. “Marillyn Hewson (Lockheed Martin): ‘If you need him killed, I’m your gal.'”

The Bezzle: “Alleged Lying, Bullying, Compliance-Ignoring And Possible Fraud No Reason For Hedge Fund Not To Invest $50 Million With Outgoing Portfolio Manager” [DealBreaker]. The deck: “Allegedly. And, relatedly, Robert Gagliardi would still like the rest of his bonus.” • Fun stuff!

Tech: “1 big thing: The “battery belt” widens” [Axios]. “Battery company Redwood Materials is investing $3.5 billion in a gigantic, new South Carolina recycling and manufacturing campus that will produce enough components to power a million electric vehicles, Joann Muller reports. It’s the latest in a wave of huge investments across America’s emerging “battery belt,” spurred on by new government policies and tax credits designed to promote development of a domestic EV supply chain. The more batteries produced or recycled in the U.S., the less geopolitical risk the country faces from relying on foreign supply chains. Even with all the recent investments, the U.S. still won’t have enough battery capacity to meet expected EV demand by the end of the decade.”

Tech: “US opens safety probe into autonomous driving system in GM’s Cruise vehicles” [Channel News Asia]. “U.S. auto safety regulators said Friday they have opened a formal safety probe into the autonomous driving system in vehicles produced by General Motors’ robotaxi unit Cruise LLC. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it has received notices of incidents in which self-driving Cruise vehicles “may engage in inappropriately hard braking or become immobilized.”… Cruise said it has ‘driven nearly 700,000 fully autonomous miles in an extremely complex urban environment with zero life-threatening injuries or fatalities…. There’s always a balance between healthy regulatory scrutiny and the innovation we desperately need to save lives, which is why we’ll continue to fully cooperate with NHTSA or any regulator in achieving that shared goal.'” • 700,000 miles is nothing. PR-driven crapola.

Mr. Market:

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 42 Fear (previous close: 51 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 53 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 16 at 2:06 PM EST.

“We Don’t Deserve Dogs”

“Genetic research confirms your dog’s breed influences its personality — but so do you” [The Conversation]. “In a new paper, researchers from the United States zoomed into the genetic codes of more than 4,000 different dogs, and surveyed 46,000 pet owners. They identified many genes associated with behaviours typical of certain breeds, such as the tendency for terriers to catch and kill prey. Their findings ultimately suggest the type of breed does indeed explain many aspects of a dog’s unique personality…. In fact, a different genetic study earlier this year suggested that while a dog’s lineage is one influencer of behaviour, it’s probably not the most important. Those researchers stress that dog behaviour is influenced by many different genes that existed in dogs before breeds were developed, and these genes are present in all breeds. They argue modern breeds are mainly distinguished by their looks, and their behaviour is likely more heavily influenced by environmental factors such as upbringing and learning history, than genetics. So what does that mean for dog owners? Well, while a dog’s behaviour is influenced by its breed, there’s much we can do to shape a good canine companion.”

The 420

“UCLA said its pot research was independent but hid that Big Cannabis was paying some of the bills” [Los Angeles Times]. “When UCLA started its cannabis research initiative five years ago, the university hailed the undertaking as one of the first academic programs in the world dedicated to studying the health effects of pot…. The Times asked UCLA officials whether the university accepted donations from the industry to support the program. They said no. However, documents obtained by the newspaper, eventually released by UCLA under the California Public Records Act, show that cannabis companies and investors provided at least some of the early financial support, writing checks for tens of thousands of dollars in donations and assisting with fundraising events. The industry support underscores potential conflicts of interest as pot goes mainstream and researchers try to assess the health and other effects of cannabis. A marijuana investor and foundations with ties to the newly legal cannabis industry have donated millions of dollars to university research programs studying claims of the plant’s medical virtues, raising questions about how independent the scientific research can be.”


“A N.J. school is getting armored shields to protect students and teachers in a mass shooting. Will others follow?” [Philadelphia Inquirer]. “A South Jersey school district plans to equip its schools with a new tool: bullet-resistant portable shields to protect teachers and students in the event of an active shooter in the building. The Gloucester City school system could be the first district to put the lightweight steel safety shields in its schools.” • Freedom isn’t free.

Guillotine Watch

“In Clover” [London Review of Books]. A history of management consulting. Take McKinsey–please! “Bogdanich and Forsythe’s​ book is a damning account of the way McKinsey has made workplaces unsafe, ditched consumer protections, disembowelled regulatory agencies, ravaged health and social care organisations, plundered public institutions, hugely reduced workforces and increased worker exploitation. It begins with an account of McKinsey-driven cost-cutting at US Steel, which led to the deaths of two steelworkers. Similar measures at Disney resulted in a young man being crushed to death on the Big Thunder Mountain rollercoaster. Decades after the consequences of smoking became clear, McKinsey continued to work for the big tobacco producers. As the extent of the US opioid epidemic became apparent, McKinsey advised Purdue Pharma to find ‘growth pockets’ where OxyContin could be more easily prescribed, and lobbied regulators for laxer rules on prescriptions. McKinsey’s unethical activities pack the pages of this book, while its supercilious vocabulary of ‘values’ and ‘service’ runs like an oil slick over slurry. The primary product sold by all management consultants – both software developers and strategic organisers – is the theology of capital. This holds that workers are expendable. They can be replaced by machines, or by harder-working employees grateful they weren’t let go in the last round of redundancies. Managers are necessary to the functioning of corporations – or universities, or non-profit organisations – and the more of them the better. Long working hours and bootstrap entrepreneurialism are what give meaning to life. Meritocracies are a real thing. Free trade, laissez-faire capitalism and reduced regulation are necessary stepping stones towards the free market utopia. There is also a faith that this work is helping ‘create positive, enduring change in the world’, as McKinsey’s mission statement puts it.” • Positive for whom? For what? A question that answers itself, once asked. Well worth reading in full.

Class Warfare

“Starbucks Baristas Are Unionizing, and Even Howard Schultz Can’t Make Them Stop” [Bloomberg]. “Until December, none of Starbucks’ roughly 9,000 corporate-run US coffee shops were unionized—owing in part to the company’s aggressive resistance to organizing, but also to the relatively strong pay and benefits that give Schultz so much pride. (By August, all US employees will be guaranteed a minimum wage of $15 an hour.) Now workers at more than 60 locations in 17 states have voted to join Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union, following the lead and advice of first-mover baristas in Buffalo. Employees at about 175 more Starbucks have petitioned the federal government for votes of their own. Although this hardly represents the majority of the company’s stores, and none of the workers have negotiated a contract yet, the steady drip has transformed the idea of winning a union vote at a Starbucks from seemingly impossible to almost inevitable. As of May 10, only eight stores have called an election and then voted to reject the union. Successful votes have taken place from coast to coast, including in deep-red states as well as at a flagship megacafe in Seattle. Employees attempting to organize at Amazon, Apple, Verizon, and elsewhere cite these successes as an inspiration.” • More like this, please.

University of California strike:

Make it personal….

News of the Wired

“Cory Doctorow Wants You to Know What Computers Can and Can’t Do” (interview) [Cory Doctorow]. A terrific interview, well worth reading in full. Picking on the material on AI: ” I think that the problems of A.I. are not its ability to do things well but its ability to do things badly, and our reliance on it nevertheless. So the problem isn’t that A.I. is going to displace all of our truck drivers. The fact that we’re using A.I. decision-making at scale to do things like lending, and deciding who is picked for child-protective services, and deciding where police patrols go, and deciding whether or not to use a drone strike to kill someone, because we think they’re a probable terrorist based on a machine-learning algorithm—the fact that A.I. algorithms don’t work doesn’t make that not dangerous. In fact, it arguably makes it more dangerous. The reason we stick A.I. in there is not just to lower our wage bill so that, rather than having child-protective-services workers go out and check on all the children who are thought to be in danger, you lay them all off and replace them with an algorithm. That’s part of the impetus. The other impetus is to do it faster—to do it so fast that there isn’t time to have a human in the loop. With no humans in the loop, then you have these systems that are often perceived to be neutral and empirical. Patrick Ball is a statistician who does good statistical work on human-rights abuses. He’s got a nonprofit called the Human Rights Data Analysis Group. And he calls this ’empiricism-washing;—where you take something that is a purely subjective, deeply troubling process, and just encode it in math and declare it to be empirical. If you are someone who wants to discriminate against dark-complexioned people, you can write an algorithm that looks for dark skin. It is math, but it’s practicing racial discrimination. I think the risk is that we are accelerating the rate at which decision support systems and automated decision systems are operating. We are doing it in a way that obviates any possibility of having humans in the loop. And we are doing it as we are promulgating a narrative that these judgments are more trustworthy than human judgments.” • That’s why we should kill AI with fire. There, I said it. I’m a Luddite.

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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

    “House Republicans demand testimony from Biden officials, experts on COVID-19 origins, virus research in Wuhan” [FOX]. *snip* • It’s going to be Benghazi all over again, isn’t it?

    I’m a little short of memory about those hearings so I must ask. When you think it will be Benghazi all over again, does that mean; a couple of years of congress dog and pony shows, millions of dollars spent, and they end up with nothing substantial coming out of it?

    That’s my guess, but IMO, that seems like the result of most of them, maybe even by design.
    On the drug that cannot be named study – I am no doctor, but it looks like the study found there was no benefit to the drug. Am I reading that correct?

    In any case, for the longest time, at least here at NC, consensus is that the only use case for the drug that cannot be named is prophylaxis, which has some support from clinicians; and in any case the risks, both in cost and side effects, are so incredibly low, and the benefits so great, that it’s really a no-brainer, on a par with carrying two aspirins in case of stroke (if you’re at risk for that).

    I think this sums it up nicely. It’s a “why not” kind of thing, so why all the fuss over the last 3 years?

    That’s probably a dumb question.

    1. John Zelnicker

      Screwball – One of the reasons for all of the fuss is that the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) under which the vaccines were approved mandates that there must be no other effective treatment available.

      If IVM is effective, then the EUAs are invalid.

      1. Samuel Conner

        Loss of EUA would be devastating, but even worse would be if the FDA-approved version came into use; IIRC, that one has manufacturer liability for vaccine-related injury.

      2. Screwball

        Yes. I understand, I think (not a doctor). I have followed the IVM thing since the beginning – and kudo’s to this very website for allowing people to openly discuss it.

        Yves, Lambert, and our fellow posters (the team) without a doubt saved lives for what they posted, and allowed posted here – more than the *bad words* experts (Lambert accurately and deservedly gives some the creep of the day award (or whatever he chooses to call them).

        Disclosure; I’m not saying this is in any way shape or form a “miracle” drug, and I’m not giving medical advice. Best I can tell from my studies, there really is data that show a benefit. Risk vs. reward off the charts (a prophylaxis as mentioned above). If you save one life…

        Everyone in my family has had covid, and a bunch of friends. Some had it pretty bad. I offered pills (the human form). They declined. They were afraid of it because… Horse paste, and the three letter agencies said so.

        It was an awful feeling. I will never forget that. I think it is a travesty, and only one part of the mishandling of this pandemic.

        Or maybe I’m just old and stupid. But I’m still here. :-)

  2. jrh

    “equities” is financial jargon leak, right? Like “holdings”. As though voters/districts are assets in a hedge fund.

    [Family blog] these goons.

  3. Roger Blakely

    Something Awful

    At yesterday’s media briefing for the Los Angeles County Dept. of Public Health the director presented the most recent wastewater numbers. The measure of SARS-CoV-2 in sewage from two weeks ago (latest available) has exceeded the previous peak, which was the result of Omicron in July 2022. The director will not issue an indoor mask mandate until more than 10% of staffed hospital beds are filled with COVID-19 patients, which at the moment stands at 7%.

  4. Jason Boxman

    So the conclusion of that conflicted study is that IVM, surprise, doesn’t work.

    Conclusions: Among outpatients with mild to moderate COVID-19, treatment with ivermectin, with a maximum targeted dose of 600 mcg/kg daily for 6 days, compared with placebo did not improve time to recovery. These findings do not support the use of ivermectin in patients with mild to moderate COVID-19. Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT04885530.

    I used tagcloud dot com on the conflicts and came up with hits for:


    So we’ve got our pharma bases covered, at least!

    1. Margarita

      Prophylactic, not cure. It supposedly has efficiency in preventing you from getting Covid, not rescues you after the fact.

      1. Big River Bandido

        This “study” is clearly bogus — merely intended to give the medical establishment space to “pivot” on the question of “the science”. Plenty of anecdotal evidence exists that IVM was a successful treatment in people early in the pandemic, particularly those having respiratory distress.

  5. Samuel Conner

    > I am calling a “Something Awful.”

    Part of my “this pandemic life” adaptation has been to do less in-person shared entertainment and more via Zoom, which works reasonably well for movies which are more about plot/story than stunning graphics.

    A new series for me is “The Expanse”, which I am getting around to about the time that it is being ended by the corporate masters. I’ve only seen the first season, and I find it absorbing thus far.

    I don’t know what lies ahead (and no spoilers, please), but there is a strong “something awful” sense in this series, from the very first moments.

    There is (to my eye, which may be badly miscalibrated) a strong sense conveyed in the story-telling that the overlords, including those of the ‘underdog movement’, don’t give a damn about the lives of the underlings. People are cattle, to be used for the profit of the powerful.

    I wonder to what extent storytelling like this functions as a “release” to viewers who are living in present-day dystopian conditions (of course, it might be necessary simply to make the story believable — the future can’t conceivably be better than the present, can it?). Perhaps, and I hope it does, it could actually have a subversive effect on viewers, sort of a subliminal version of the (in retrospect laughable) Samuel Jackson “advert” for BHO, “Wake the f@ck up!”

    1. Jason Boxman

      So fwiw Expanse is great but they were gonna kill the show so the last season is not really complete. Huge gaps. Many questions not answered at all. Like Man in High Castle ending, very wtf happened. Other seasons are great. Still worth watching.

    2. Aumua

      My attention kinda fizzled out about halfway through season two, but don’t let that dissuade you. Sometimes I lose interest in shows even if they are still quality.

  6. Jason Boxman

    More than a third of parents oppose vaccine requirements in schools, KFF survey finds

    That is astonishing, truly. That liberal Democrats have basically wrecked public health. For a non-sterilizing shot that doesn’t prevent transmission, that the study data was withheld from the public by Pfizer and the FDA, that has adverse reactions an order of magnitude greater than MMR vaccine does. This destruction of public trust is unfathomable, and it’s an abdication of the responsibility by our elite to provide for the public commons. Talk about driving the country into a ditch. Infectious diseases gonna have a resurgence, for sure. What a third world country; and disease doesn’t stay in one place. The US is a pariah state. Civilized countries ought to quarantine all US travelers for two weeks.

  7. laughingsong

    “That’s why we should kill AI with fire. There, I said it. I’m a Luddite”

    I don’t think calling out poorly conceived and crappy technology that degrades instead of improves is being a Luddite, it’s being sensible.

    1. Polar Socialist

      I may be wrong, but I recall reading that originally the Luddites were not fighting the machines, but the poor quality those machines produced – they were afraid of their reputation and did not want crap flooding the markets.

      I mean, even today there’s still work for skilled craftpersons. I personally know a weaver who hasn’t been able to take new orders for a year, but has to direct clients to other artisans.

      1. The Rev Kev

        There was an echo of these riots with the Swing Riots in the early 1830s. I was researching this one as an ancestor of mine got an all-expenses paid trip out to the Colonies due to his involvement in it. Point is, some of these machines were doing work that would normally be done by by workers over the autumn/winter period. So what that meant was that those workers had no income coming in during the icy winters that they needed to buy food for themselves and their families nor for rent either. And charity in that era was usually determined by those that resented any charity as it increased their taxes and often it would be those that owned those machines themselves.


    1. Art_DogCT

      There are enough similarities to hit on Yucca brevifolia as the ID of today’s plantidote, but I think it is more likely a Dracena species. They are common in indoor horticulture because they will tolerate low light conditions, and sometimes known as ‘Corn Plant’. The trunks in the pictured plant are smoother than Yucca, the foliage is longer and more broad, and has much less branching. Cannon Beach, OR looks to be in USDA hardiness zone 8a or 8b, so hardier Dracena species could well survive (and, if my ID is correct, thrive).

  8. Wukchumni

    I met her in the foyer @ my sister’s house
    Where she reminded me not to forget to buy some
    Cherry Cola
    C-O-L-A Cola
    She warmed up to me and I was thinking romance
    I asked her her name and in an anodyne voice she said, “Alexa”
    A-L-E-X-A Lexa, HAL HAL HAL HALexa

    Well, I’m not the world’s most tech savvy guy
    But when she squeezed me for info she nearly blew my mind
    Well, I’m not dumb but I can’t understand
    Why she talked like a woman but remembered like a KGB man
    Oh my Alexa, HAL HAL HAL HALexa, HAL HAL HAL HALexa

    Well, we drank in the moment and talked all night
    Under electric candlelight
    She sized me up and told me of her need
    She said, “Little boy, won’t you bring Alexa home, tee-hee?”
    Well, I’m not the world’s most computer oriented guy
    But when I heard that from her speaker
    Well, I almost fell for my Alexa

    I pushed her away
    I walked to the door
    I fell to the floor
    I got down on my knees
    Then I looked at her, and she at me
    Well, that’s the way that I want it to stay
    And I always want it to be that way for my Alexa
    Girls will be recording devices, about anything you say
    It’s a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world
    Except for Alexa


  9. C.O.

    Re. Cory Doctorow on AI and being a Luddite:

    Lambert, if you’re a Luddite, I am right there with you, considering they were among the first to insist that if new technology was going to be introduced, it shouldn’t be to make labour conditions worse and “deskill” labourers.

    It is interesting the point about “AI” being used as a means to create the appearance of “impartiality” in this weird time when the general principle at work seems to be “let the appearances be correct so long as the doubling down on the worst impulses of greed and exploitation may continue.” It goes well with Nancy Leong’s uneven but still very good book, Identity Capitalists, where she argues that we have more emphasis these days on *looking* non-[insert term]ist while continuing the same old [insert term]ist tactics.

    1. digi_owl

      “AI” is overgrown statistics abuse.

      Feed it a pile of data, feed it “relevant” keywords, have it build statistics between said data and the keywords. Then you run it in reverse by feeding it keywords and see what “data” it barfs back out.

  10. amechania


    Flew last month and this month. Seems to be more masks up north. Been wearing mine on my local bus and a few older people remarked to me they might just take masking back up again the last month.

    Phizer is advertising very slickly in logan. “Covid visiting for the holidays? Oral treatment is available”.

    If RSV is such a big deal now, why no operation warp speed? Wheres the publically avaiable tests? Why no new vaccine or treatment? I can think of two reasons and dont like either.

    1. clarky90

      This is a pandemic of the unhealthy.

      “Modifiable contributing factors to COVID-19: A comprehensive review”


      “The devastating complications of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) result from an individual’s dysfunctional immune response following the initial severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. Multiple toxic stressors and behaviors contribute to underlying immune system dysfunction. SARS-CoV-2 exploits the dysfunctional immune system to trigger a chain of events ultimately leading to COVID-19.

      The current study identifies eighty immune system dysfunction-enabling toxic stressors and behaviors (hereafter called modifiable contributing factors (CFs)) that also link directly to COVID-19.

      Each CF is assigned to one of the five categories in the CF taxonomy shown in Section 3.3.:

      (1) Lifestyle (e.g., diet, substance abuse);
      (2) Iatrogenic (e.g., drugs, surgery);
      (3) Biotoxins (e.g., micro-organisms, mycotoxins);
      (4) Occupational/Environmental (e.g., heavy metals, pesticides);
      (5) Psychosocial/Socioeconomic (e.g., chronic stress, lower education).

      The current study shows how each modifiable factor contributes to decreased immune system capability, increased inflammation and coagulation, and increased neural damage and neurodegeneration. It is unclear how real progress can be made in combatting COVID-19 and other similar diseases caused by viral variants without addressing and eliminating these modifiable CFs.”

      1. Objective Ace

        As much as Yves and Lambert appropriately point out the risk of being infected with Covid, I think more needs to be done to point out these other risk factors. It makes zero sense to do everything possible to avoid contact with covid while ignoring the low hanging fruit that can improve your odds of avoiding contracting Covid (or getting worse symptoms/long covid) if you do come into contact with it.

        By all means, wear an n95 where possible and avoid crowded bars — but its probably more beneficial to cut soda and processed foods from your diet then avoiding the occasional visit with friends or family.

  11. C.O.

    Definitely “something awful”… after a pointed silence on COVID-19 in BC and the further burial of monitoring information on the province’s website:


    Five new COVID deaths on Island, 44 people in hospital

    Oh, and you know here Bonnie Henry is sure the kids are fine and will all be immune from covid because over 90% of them have had it already and there is totally no spreading from schools?


    As influenza infections level off in kids, COVID on rise, says Henry

    Her only solution to any infectious disease problem? “Vax, vax, vax.” But if that would have worked by itself, it certainly should have by now. But she hates masks of all kinds, and seems to have convinced most medical staff to forget their training in how to wear even surgical masks properly. I would be so terrified if I needed medical attention right now. As it is, my upcoming dental appointment has me a little nervous, but they have awesome ventilation at the office, the staff mask properly even if the dentist on duty sometimes needs a pointed glare, and I am all set with my before and after povidone spray.

    Oh, and I forgot to note that the province has spent a fortune on an ad campaign striving to bully people into getting a covid vaccine. Along the lines of, “if I don’t get this, my relative/friend/child will die.”

  12. britzklieg

    actually, calling out (indeed, smashing) technology is exactly what the luddites were about and I say more power to them:

    Ned Ludd had it right, although the initial movement named in his honor was a little narrow in scope.

    Ludd, an English weaver, is said to have smashed two knitting machines in a fit of rage in 1779. He saw the mechanization of his trade as a threat to his livelihood.

    Luddism became a movement in 1811 — with Ludd as its Robin Hood — when textile workers burned mills and sabotaged new steam-driven looms that had led to massive unemployment and ushered in the Industrial Revolution.

    Mill and factory owners took to shooting protesters, and eventually the movement was steam-rolled over — subdued with legal and military force.


  13. petal

    I posted overnight on yesterday’s WC, but NH has restarted its covid wastewater testing all over the state.

    1. Jen

      That’s surprisingly encouraging. Didn’t think our live free or die state had it in them. Now if only our “small liberal arts college” would do the same.

  14. KD

    Wars aren’t won [by dashboards]. Wars are won on instinct.

    How did that work out for Hitler and the 1000 year Reich?

  15. Wukchumni

    I’m loath to admit it, but I think the ‘NASCAR Donald’ trading card will prove to do quite well, although don’t count out ‘High Plains Drifter Donald’ either, can he fill a slicker or what!

    1. fresno dan

      All 44,000 of the 45th president’s available NFTs — which depict the 76-year-old as a cartoon cowboy, a sheriff, race car driver and in other fantastical outfits — had sold for more than $4 million by 1:30 p.m. Friday, according to their promotional website.
      At least 115 customers bought 45 of the digital coins, the minimum number that guarantees an invitation to dinner with Trump, while 17 people bought at least 100, according to the outlet.
      Sooooo…is this positive that there are so few people that gullible, or is it terrible that there are so many people that gullible? And I have to admit, I kinda like the astronaut Donald card…

      1. ChiGal

        unreal how far apart the parallel tracks this country runs on are. where I sit these cards are just straight up embarrassing hucksterism and laughable (in fact I downloaded Super D to my photos to text to friends as a joke–I mean they’re digital, right, only exist online?). But the land also contains enough people to buy up $44M of these hokey cards in a day at a time when the rent’s too high, it’s hard to put dinner on the table for the fam, and health care is unaffordable…and Trump’s got their number for sure.

  16. KD

    Now it’s time to see if faith-based Oklahoma institutions successfully apply for taxpayer support to create charter schools that teach religion as a doctrinal truth just like private schools do today, and if legislators will push to change state law. Legal authorities in other Republican-led states could also pen similar opinions

    Color me clueless, but doesn’t the federal government provide student loans and grants to students attending private religious colleges that teach religion as a doctrinal truth? The Constitution says no Establishment of a Religion, which means that the Federal Government (and the State’s per the 14th Amendment) can’t establish a state church like many countries in Europe, including the UK. If a non-profit establishes a faith-based school and parents in the public system can choose to enroll their children in the school, and money is diverted in support of that choice, so what? It won’t get interesting until the Church of State opens a Charter. Frankly, wealthy people have the resources to put their children in whatever school they want, why shouldn’t the proles have an opportunity to choose?

    We have a no establishment clause, we don’t have a constitutional laicity like France.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      …it occurs to me that perhaps Wharton, U Chicago bidness skool, et alia could be considered religious institutions, as well.
      i’m beyond caring about “Vouchers”, too…here, in Texas, the public school ship sailed long ago. it’s all about sports and low paid teachers(still in shock about the pension i inherited from my wife).
      …and getting those teachers to volunteer for lots of extra unpaid work.
      and the standardised tests, of course…which a few well connected shell corps are making bank on.
      just got back from Youngests basketball game in a shithole town up the road….well known for its meth problem…and it looks it, due to decades of localised economic depression caused primarily by state and federal policy(farm bills).
      yet their gym is literally gleaming and new. must’ve cost a fortune.
      half time and half the crowd roars out to the parking lot for a hit, and spend the second half vibrating in the stands.
      out my way, if folks were given a choice between the ISD and some charter thumper school, the former would be empty…even though it already is a de facto charter thumper school.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        and while im ranting about public schools:
        2 things recently have my ire up:
        1. the school website has an email interface on their contact page.
        but to send them(my employees) an email, i must log in with either faceborg or google+.
        i have issues with this.
        and 2.
        last week, monday, my youngest came down with the flu…per the tests performed in the clinic parking lot. doctor’s orders were home for 5 days.
        for some years, they have been exempting high schoolers from taking final exams if they had good attendance, and maintained decent grades.
        him having the flu meant that he had to take the tests.
        i dont have an issue with my kid taking finals…but rather finals being used punitively for missed days….days that were missed, i might add, because they maintain(since forever, before covid) an ongoing superspreader institution down there…by not enforcing their own written policy regarding sick kids staying home.
        you see…they dont want to piss off parents who might miss work if their kid had to stay home.
        so that policy is simply overlooked, unless theres actual puking in the hall way, or the nurse somehow takes someone’s temp.
        so every gut bug, flu, and now covid infection gets spread liberally around.
        but my boy gets punished for missing school, with a doctor’s note(sent by the clinic itself, no less), and following their own infection control policy.
        and, what angered me tonight, when i learned of it…since he missed basketball practice last week…because he had the flu…he must run punitive laps.
        t’s like a bad imitation of a Kafka story.
        my boy, of course, doesn’t see the big deal…nor the injustice.
        and he’s afraid i’ll call down there and cause a ruckus.
        which, of course, is exactly what i’m doing in the morning…calling the school board president at home on a saturday,lol.
        (benefits of small town living)

  17. Carolinian

    So AP’s style sheet deems 1/6 an “insurrection” without any qualification. Is their Democrat slip showing?

    And I’ve just been reading a book about the 14th amendment and the many ways this rights amendment for ex-slaves has been stretched for convenience. For example predatory 19th century railroads argued it made them “people” and it is the basis of Citizens United. Which is to say all these uses are consistent with the Dem world view and appropriate to defenestrateTrump (using the clause meant for ex-Confederates).

    Lawfare is fun! (if you’re a lawyer)

    1. Grateful Dude

      The constitution doesn’t limit the exercise of free speech to “people” or restrict it at all. It merely blocks the legislature from enacting any law restricting speech itself: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press …” There’s some confusion about the railroad claim, IMHO as IANAL, but I believe that was a dissent in a district court – not that it isn’t accepted as law by some.

      I’d like to know what “an establishment of religion” means in real life, and to courts. Any help?

      No, the problem is Citizen United’s confounding of speech with money, as in “money is speech”. It clearly isn’t and such a notion is fatal to a functioning democracy, as we are witnessing with every subsequent election.

      1. Carolinian

        Corporate “personhood” is the basis for the belief that corporations have any “liberty rights” at all–be it money or speech. And while the 14th didn’t begin the court swing toward yes on the above question it ultimately was at the heart of many SC rulings. Therefore it does have quite a lot to do with Citizens United.

  18. Elizabeth

    I received a letter from a nursing home chaplain inviting me to a candlelight service on 12/ 23 for families and relatives of the residents. The letter stated that after 2 years of suspending the Christmas tradition due to Covid, it’s time to get back to the traditional festivities. There will be singing and other aerosol spreading activities in a crowded chapel. In other words, let’s get on with “living with Covid.”

    Just 2 months ago, the facility had an outbreak of 45 cases of staff and residents. No masks in sight – anyone can come in testing be damned. Oh, yes, the facility stated it follows all CDC guidelines. I truly wish I could get my relative out of there, but it’s’not my decision. It’s just effing criminal.

    Bangs head on wall.

  19. Jason Boxman

    We have the tools is condescending as well. Vaccination is questionable for young and healthy people. The monoclonals are all broken now. Paxlovid has so many contraindications it’s not funny. The CDC community levels is designed to mislead. The data is late and bad or missing. Masks are all conflated as being the same, cloth, N95, and elastonetric. No mention of Corsi boxes. Nothing on getting nasal sprays approved for use in this country.

    What tools?

    So it’s just flippant and condescending.

    These people are COVID stupid.

    1. Samuel Conner

      > What tools?

      Well, there’s always the “…piravir” family of agents, which I have the impression is potentially a useful tool for generation of new variants.

      Thankfully, I think there isn’t a mutation that will prevent CV aerosol from sticking to the static-charged fibers of an N95 respirator.

  20. fresno dan

    FBI agents communicated regularly with content moderators at Twitter, and frequently asked for tweets to be taken down for allegedly violating the platforms’ policies against election-related misinformation. The conversations were so numerous—including emails and weekly meetings—that a top Twitter staffer came to describe the relationship between the company and law enforcement as “government-industry sync.”
    That’s according to the latest installment of the Twitter Files, which was released by independent journalist Matt Taibbi on Friday.
    The FBI frequently recommended that content moderators look into specific tweets and take action against them if they violated misinformation policies. Many of these tweets were from users with very low follower counts who had engaged in satire or humor. The FBI flagged user Claire Foster, who had tweeted “I’m a ballot counter in my state. If you’re not wearing a mask, I’m not counting your vote. #safetyfirst” and “For every negative comment on this post I’m adding another vote for the democrats.”
    These comments probably sound like satire to most people, but the FBI apparently thinks election integrity is no laughing matter. You would be forgiven for wondering whether top law enforcement officials have anything better to do with their time than police jokes on Twitter.
    Jokes can be deadly. It is a well known historical fact that the Germans in WWI used jokes to kill over 28,000 allied troops. For example, and read this only is you are certificably humorless, as it is fatal to over 87% of those reading it: German: my dog has no nose. Englishman: how does he smell? German: badly

  21. Sara K.

    The plant in the photo looks like a Dracaena Palm (Cordyline australis), which isn’t a true palm (it’s in the asparagus family).

  22. Wukchumni

    Was listening to NPR and the talking head rather breathlessly related that the DNC was going to return the $800k that SB-F donated to them, which is the equivalent of 1/40th of his donations to the Donkey Show.

    At least they’re a little afraid, with the emphasis on little.

  23. The Rev Kev

    “More than a third of parents oppose vaccine requirements in schools, KFF survey finds”

    This has been my worry. Because of the Big Pharma/Government push for these dodgy new vaccinations in order to simply make bank, that one form of blowback would be parents rebelling against vaccinations that actually do work, even though they have went through extensive testing, rigorous trials and have had decades of successful use behind them. Call it guilt by association. So now we can expect to see a return of diseases that had been all but eradicated through decades of hard work and who knows how much death and unnecessary suffering will be a result. I hope that those Big Pharma profits were worth it because going forward there is going to be a huge spanner in society’s works.

  24. thousand points of green

    About those palms in Oregon, here is an article called ” Six best palm trees to grow in Oregon”.
    Unfortunately, it has no pictures.
    ( the url says ” new-orleans” although the article says ” in Oregon”. I don’t know why that is.)

    Here is a website for a company which sells palms in Oregon for Oregon. Perhaps it will offer images of its palms which make identifying the palm in the antidote picture possible.

  25. Adam Eran

    About Oklahoma allowing state funding for religious/private/charter schools… This is a state with such poor finances it is losing teachers to other states (Arkansas!), and actively considering a four-day school week. You see taxes must always (still!) be cut!

    Oddly enough, Oklahoma was one of the standouts historically in organizing labor–socialists and farmers alliance did well in the state. … then the oil money started pouring into the propaganda…

    Remember that election when LBJ opposed “choice-not-an-echo” Goldwater, and basically ran the table on him? The state went for Goldwater, and Tulsa (“the oil capital of the world”…except not really any more) went 80% for Goldwater.

  26. Young

    Maybe Z should propose Pope to join him in Vatican (virtually of course) for the Christmas service next week, give a short speech to wish peace on earth and share the profits, I mean the donations.

  27. kareninca

    My mom just turned 80. She is in CT. Last night the violin instructor who lives a few houses down brought 30+ kids, and their parents, into her (normal sized) living room to play holiday tunes on their violins. No masks were worn by anyone. My mom assured me that she did take a claritin and use Xlear (the only concession I can get out of her)(and she probably fibbed about that). She and her 86 y.o. boyfriend gave out candy to 200+ kids who came to the door on Halloween, and last week they went to a kiddie talent show in a packed auditorium (no masks to be seen, I was told). It is a town of 5,000 and she is a retired schoolteacher. They’ve both had covid and it was no big deal to them (with Paxlovid), so why should they depart from the hallowed ways of yore???

    Meanwhile, in the Something Awful category, I now know three people who have had incredibly rapidly growing cancer come out of nowhere. People without a personal or family history of cancer. One is dead (four days after discovering the cancer); the other two will be dead pretty soon. I think immune systems are shot.

  28. Bosko

    As a former member of Providence DSA (regarding the railroad workers tweet), I’ve always been a little confused by some of the criticism of DSA from the left, which usually positions DSA members as slaves to the Democratic Party; in my experience, there are many different tendencies in DSA, from Marxists to Elizabeth Warren supporters, and they tend to unite fairly amicably around common goals (which, unfortunately, tend to be electoral). Since it’s clear that young politicians are using their DSA cred rather cynically, for marketing purposes more than as a statement of principles/positions, I would love to see these Congresspeople expelled from the organization. Every one of them is indistinguishable at this point from your average Democratic politician: full of hot air and indignation, delivering nothing of importance, and constantly whining about how difficult their cushy lives are.

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