2:00PM Water Cooler 12/21/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Corn Bunting, Essonne, Île-de-France, France. “A male singing.”

* * *


“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

“Did the January 6 Committee Finish Trump?” [Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine]. “Depending on what does indeed happen to the accused, the legacy of the committee, and its skillful leadership by Bennie Thompson and Liz Cheney, may well be found in the political if not legal consequences of its findings. In combination with the unsatisfying midterm elections for Republicans and Trump’s partial responsibility for them, the accumulated “Trump fatigue,” and the shadow of the jailhouse that now looms over the 45th president, it’s increasingly possible his accumulated problems will convince his party to look elsewhere for a 2024 presidential nominee.” • Wait. You’re telling me the entire reason for this exercise was to lock Trump out of 2024? Say it’s not so! (And say it’s not so for those two eminently forgettabke impeachments, too, mkay?)

Biden Administration

Biden loves railroads:

But he hates railroad workers.


“The 5 ‘known unknowns’ that will define 2024” [Ronald Brownstein, CNN]. “1. How does the Republican nomination fight play out?… 2. How do voters assess the economy? … 3. Do voters consider Biden still up to the job? … 4. Can either party reverse the electoral trends benefiting the other? … 5. Does the Republican-majority House do more damage to Biden – or to the GOP?” • An utterly classic example of horse-race journalism. And nothing on the after-effects of the enormous Covid debacle, or possible war with a nuclear power. “I don’t want to discuss it” seems to0 be

“Trump Still Acting Like Imperious President In Mar-A-Lago ‘Barbie Dream House’: Report” [HuffPo]. “Donald Trump has refused to come to terms with private life and insists on continuing to behave like an imperious president in his “Barbie Dream House” at Mar-a-Lago, The Washington Post reported Sunday.” If “reporting” is the word I want. More: “‘We had to explain to him that he didn’t have a group standing around waiting for him anymore,’ a former aide told the Post. ‘The networks don’t carry his rallies. He doesn’t get interviews anymore. He can’t stand under the wing of Air Force One and gaggle [with reporters] for an hour.’ Now he has to rely on fawning members of his clubs at Mar-a-Lago and Bedminster, N.J., where he spends most of his time. They applaud him when he emerges to dine in the restaurants — and when he leaves.” • Sad. Trump needs something to do!

Republican Funhouse

“Leonard Leo has reshaped the Supreme Court. Is he reshaping Catholic University too?” [National Catholic Reporter]. “Leonard Leo, the chief adviser to Donald Trump on Supreme Court nominations, listened as one of those picks he helped secure on the bench, Amy Coney Barrett, delivered remarks praising Garvey, her longtime mentor and former law professor at the University of Notre Dame. Leo and Barrett’s presence together that night reflects the rising influence of conservative Catholics on the law at a time when the Supreme Court’s rightward transformation is reconfiguring American jurisprudence on issues of abortion, voting rights and religious liberty…. The co-chairman of the Federalist Society — an influential conservative legal network that celebrated its 40th anniversary in November — Leo has also emerged as a major player at Catholic University, the nation’s only Vatican-chartered university. In the last few years, he has helped raise more than $20 million for the school, primarily through anonymous donations…. Leo’s ability to wield influence at Catholic University is not limited to his fundraising prowess. He also chairs the academic affairs committee of the board of trustees. According to the board’s bylaws, Leo’s committee is responsible for providing oversight of faculty and academic programs, along with recommending tenure for approval by the board of trustees. The confluence of Leo’s fundraising and his key position on the board, along with the flood of Koch money at the university in recent years, has raised concerns among some current and former faculty and board members.” • Getting a “No Popery” vibe about all this….

“GOP governor challenges DeSantis on vaccines: ‘We shouldn’t undermine science'” [AOL]. “Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) on Sunday challenged a call from Florida’s GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis to investigate COVID-19 vaccines, arguing Republicans should not ‘undermine science’ and medical experts. Hutchinson told NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ moderator Chuck Todd that he was “for the education and the science” behind the COVID-19 vaccines and protecting Americans from the novel coronavirus. ‘We shouldn’t undermine science. We shouldn’t undermine the medical community that’s very important to our public health,’ he said. ‘We are not good as a society, it’s not the right direction, if we diminish the facts, we diminish all the best information that we have from science at the time.’ DeSantis last week called for a grand jury in Florida’s Supreme Court to probe if pharmaceutical companies criminally misled Floridians about the side effects of vaccines and the efficacy of the COVID-19 shots.”

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.

* * *

Our Famously Free Press

I guess the organs of state security had better double down on the censorship:

“In the Southeast, power company money flows to news sites that attack their critics” [NPR]. “Terry Dunn couldn’t fathom why Alabama’s residents — among the poorest in the U.S. — pay some of the nation’s most expensive electricity bills. So in 2010, Dunn ran for a seat on the state commission that sets energy prices. He promised to hold a formal rate hearing at which Alabama Power executives would have to open their financial books and answer questions, under oath and in public. That hadn’t happened for nearly three decades. After winning, Dunn says, a top lobbyist for the utility took him aside and promised he could hold his roughly $100,000-a-year position on the commission for years — as long as he remained a team player. (Alabama Power declined to make the executive available to address the accusation; the utility and its corporate parent, Southern Company, declined all comment for this story.) ‘They didn’t take me serious,’ Dunn says now. Dunn, a Republican and Tea Party conservative, plowed ahead. And soon enough, he found himself the target of a political pressure campaign, replete with character assassinations and online smears. Attacks began in online news outlets in 2013. One headline in Yellowhammer News read: ‘Democrats Embrace Republican Public Service Commissioner Terry Dunn.’ In a June 2014 column, Alabama Political Reporter’s editor in chief, Bill Britt, cast Dunn as a pawn of his own aide, a Democrat.” And: “In 2014, Dunn lost his reelection bid by 19 percentage points — to a catfish farmer who had previously served as a county commissioner.” But that’s not the half of it: “Yellowhammer News and Alabama Political Reporter offer clashing ideologies – one hardline conservative, the other centrist – and appear simply to be competitors. Owners of the two sites separately defend their coverage, saying they are independent news outlets. In reality, they are among six news outlets across Alabama and Florida with financial connections to the consulting firm Matrix LLC, a joint investigation by Floodlight and NPR finds. The firm, based in Montgomery, Alabama, has boasted clients including Alabama Power and another major U.S. utility, Florida Power & Light. In addition to Yellowhammer and The Alabama Political reporter, the sites include Alabama Today, The Capitolist, Florida Politics and the now-defunct Sunshine State News. A tally of the five still-functioning sites show they have a collective audience of 1.3 million unique monthly visitors. Many of their consumers are political professionals, business leaders and journalists — people who help set the agenda for lawmakers and talk radio shows in both states. These readers have been unknowingly immersing themselves in an echo chamber of questionable coverage for years.” • Nice little racket!

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Introduction: The Aesthetic Politics of Far Right Movements” [Journal of the Association for Political and Legal Anthropology]. A collection: “The first collection in this series presents three perspectives on how aesthetics give force to right-wing politics in spectacular and banal ways that are nonetheless powerful in their allure and capacity to shape action. Joseph Moore examines how, through a complex and unorthodox set of aesthetic rituals and practices, self-described ‘sovereign citizens’ in the US reject the legitimacy of the US government to exert legal authority over them. William H. Westermeyer discusses how visual art and sartorial choices shape what one might call experiences of ‘mutuality’ among members of the US-based Tea Party Movement by ordering contemporary right-wing grievances and ideology into shared revisionist narratives of the country’s founding (see Hage 2012, Jazeel and Nayanika 2015). Finally, Krisztina Fehérváry investigates how Hungary’s right-wing nationalist and religious groups promote their agendas by linking them with the country’s decades-old Organicist aesthetic and its attendant positive sentiments—an aesthetic originally developed to replace ‘ugly’ Soviet architecture.” • Interesting… As long as we don’t constrain our critique to aesthetics. As for example:

Cottom’s meteoric rise to Op-Ed columnist at the New York Times has not had a good effect on her.

“NC Supreme Court strikes down voter ID constitutional amendment” [The Hill]. “North Carolina’s Supreme Court on Friday struck down a state voter ID requirement, finding that it was enacted with a racially discriminatory purpose and violated the state’s constitution. Senate Bill 824 — which was passed by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature in 2018 over a veto from its Democratic governor — sought to implement a state constitutional amendment requiring photo ID to vote. The court found that while the law appeared neutral on its face, it was enacted ‘to target African-American voters who were unlikely to vote for Republican candidates.’ ‘In doing so, we do not conclude that the General Assembly harbored racial animus; however, we conclude just as the trial court did, that in passing S.B. 824, the Republican majority ‘targeted voters who, based on race, were unlikely to vote for the majority party,” the court said in its ruling in Holmes v. Moore.”


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.

* * *

• Maskstravaganza: “Oakland reinstates mask mandate in government buildings amid surging COVID” [San Francisco Chronicle]. “Oakland will require all employees and visitors to wear a face mask when entering city facilities beginning immediately — an attempt to get a handle on the ‘tripledemic’ hitting the Bay Area of COVID, flu and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. The Oakland City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to reinstate masks for everyone age 6 and up that goes into city facilities — less than a month after the city removed an existing mask mandate at libraries, senior centers and other government buildings. The city ‘eliminated’ its mask mandate on Nov. 28, but it’s unclear why. Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan, who authored the new mandate, said at the meeting Tuesday that Mayor Libby Schaaf had lifted the prior mandate ‘with no discussion.’ Kaplan said she introduced the resolution that passed Tuesday because people expressed health concerns.”

• Maskstravaganza:

Data for Progress, sadly (although I guess that pragmatically it’s not sad a liberal shop is doing the polling).

• Maskstravaganza:

I think Jha’s unfortunate “not that well” phrasing has turned into a bit of a dogpile, wrongly. I don’t love Jha, but in my reading, he’s saying masks don’t work “that well” compared to ventilation (leaving open the question of why the Administration’s ventilation efforts are so pathetically weak, but that’s a topic for another day). What I find most concerning is Jha’s seeming inability to conceptualize the layered protection (“Swiss Cheese”) model. Masks + ventilation work better together than either alone:

Jha isn’t alone; China seems to be failing in the same way.

* * *

• Good:

“The right to infect others shall not be infringed” is making my back teeth itch.

* * *

“Isolation and Precautions for People with COVID-19” [CDC]. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel at this point, but here we go. Paragraph three: “This information is intended for a general audience.” Final paragraph, footnote 1: “As noted in the Food and Drug Administration labeling for authorized over-the-counter antigen tests, negative test results do not rule out SARS-CoV-2 infection and should not be used as the sole basis for treatment or patient management decisions, including infection control decisions.” If this page is for a general audience, why is this footnote included?

* * *


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.) The map updates Monday-Friday by 8 pm:

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 20:

0.4%. Decrease.


Wastewater data (CDC), December 17:

Yikes. Too much red. (Too many grey dots, i.e. no data. Please don’t tell me wastewater tracking shuts down during the holidays, just when we need it most.) JFK/LGA (Queens County, NY), ORD (Cook County, IL), SFO (San Francisco, CA), and LAX (Los Angeles) are all red. For grins, here’s the red dot for ATL (Cobb County, GA):

Still waiting on Miami and Orlando; they have not yet turned red (but perhaps are not so much an Xmas destination?

December 16:

NOT UPDATED. And MWRA data, December 15:

Lambert here: Slight drops North and South, but the trend is still clear. Presumably we’ll see a drop when the students leave town.


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 11:

Lambert here: BQ.1* dominates, XBB coming up fast 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 26 (Nowcast off):

BQ.1* takes first place. Note the appearance of XBB. Here is Region 2, the Northeast, where both BQ.1* and XBB are said to higher, and are:

• NOT UPDATED As a check, since New York is a BQ.1* hotbed, New York hospitalization, updated December 20:

• Hospitalization data for Queens, updated December 18:

We’ll see what is hospitalization is like about two weeks into January, after holiday travel has ended.


Death rate (Our World in Data):

I don’t know why this chart has turned red. Perhaps they’re holding a masque?

Total: 1,113,808 – 1,113,307 = 501 (501 * 365 = 182,865 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: “IPO Proceeds Tanked in 2022. They Haven’t Been This Low Since 1990.” [MarketWatch]. • That’s a damn shame.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 40 Fear (previous close: 38 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 56 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 21 at 1:50 PM EST.

Xmas Pregame Festivities

AI’s challenge, which I hope it fails to meet:

Class Warfare

“White House Looks at Benefits to Lure Americans Back Into Workforce” [Wall Street Journal]. “Top White House economic officials are considering a renewed push for a suite of policies aimed at luring more Americans back to work, including enhanced child- care and eldercare benefits, as they hammer out priorities for the coming year.” • Perhaps the White House could give consideration to the idea that workers don’t want to be infected with a deadly pathogen, or bring it home to their children.

“Law firms in RealPage antitrust suits feud over venue” [Reuters]. “Private class actions against Texas-based RealPage and dozens of property management companies filed in recent weeks alleged a conspiracy to artificially inflate rental prices for students and families. The lawsuits claim a revenue management software made by RealPage was central to the conspiracy…. The sprawling litigation has drawn a host of major U.S. law firms representing dozens of property manager defendants.”

News of the Wired

“Crochet: a little hook to improve attention?” [medRxiv]. ” We demonstrated that crochet positively affects the alerting and the orienting networks even after a brief, single work session and that this behavioral effect has a counterpart in the modification seen in the global functional connectivity of the brain, where an increased speed of the information exchange between different brain areas was demonstrated. Moreover, these effects are dissimilar from those determined by meditation, where an improvement in executive control was demonstrated as the main effect. Our results provide for the first time that crochet promotes an increase in attention and determines modification on the brain circuitries, paving the way for the use of textile-related arts in neurorehabilitation, possibly in combination with meditation, considering the complementary effects of the two practices.” • What we like to see in our tricoteuses….

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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 AM:

AM writes: “Bare branches on the bushes and trees in Roger Williams Park on December 2nd. I am a sucker for sunsets, I confess.”

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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. fresno dan

    “Did the January 6 Committee Finish Trump?” [Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine]. “Depending on what does indeed happen to the accused, the legacy of the committee, and its skillful leadership by Bennie Thompson and Liz Cheney, may well be found in the political if not legal consequences of its findings
    This is what happens when you have a dogma. Your primary belief makes you have peripheral beliefs, until finally you construct an entire world of illusion.

    1. Watt4Bob

      I’ve become convinced that what we’re witnessing is the extent to which “professional courtesy” is extended within the political class.

      Trump was right when he said he could kill someone in broad daylight and get away with it.

      And on the other side of the isle, the Biden crime family has no fear of prosecution for their misdeeds, for the same reason.

      Our political class considers all other members, regardless of any philosophical dis-agreements, to be colleagues, and colleagues must first and foremost cultivate a collegial relationship amongst members, so prosecution of colleagues is obviously not recommended.

      Trump won’t face prosecution, and neither will the Bidens.

      From the perspective of our skillful leaders, this is a totally legitimate outcome.

      One can do all the name-calling one wants, but hauling each other into court, bad form.

      If pressed, I’m sure they’d explain that, regardless of what you and I might see as systemic failure, they fought hard to protect ‘OUR’ democracy.

    2. clarky90

      an epiphany….

      When we hear, “You will own nothing, and be happy”,……

      I assumed that the WEF (and it’s gaggle of flying monkeys) simply intends to own our all of our material posessions (houses, food, time, transport….)

      But no. They are maneuvering to devour our souls…..

      The constant references to “OUR (their) Democracy”, signifies that “Democracy Itself” has now been claimed.

      And it gets worse…….

      1. hunkerdown

        Conservatives keep repeating that WEF mantra so they don’t have to think about the ramifications of private property and realize that “they” will own everything under normal capitalist rules.

    3. The Rev Kev

      What happens when the Republicans take over next month and they have their own committee to investigate the January 6 Committee. I am willing to bet that there would be plenty there to investigate. After all, turn around is fair play.

      1. albrt

        The Benghazi nonsense already demonstrated that Republicans are no more capable of running a decent investigation than the Democrats.

        They’re all just sad little people pretending to be big people. It’s hard to believe that this is the best the United States has to offer, but it is.

  2. ACF

    Re the Walgreens positivity chart, a thought about who is being tested and why (just a thought, not a statement of proven fact)

    Because the chart’s positive percentage seems dramatically higher all the time from where it was earlier in the pandemic, it seems to me that the population being tested is very different. For starts, about 1/10 the number of tests are being run, if you look at how many tests are included these days versus a year ago or so.

    Here’s what I imagine is happening:

    because of rapid tests at home, a much higher proportion of those being tested at Walgreens belong to one of two camps:

    –people who had a rapid positive and want to confirm with a PCR
    –people who had a rapid negative but are so symptomatic they want to double check

    Missing are all the people who were being routinely tested as part of surveillance screening and all the people who had no way to test at home but had an exposure or other reason to want to be tested, so the denominator is much smaller than it used to be, and most of the missing people were likely to be negative. So the net positivity is much higher now.

    That said, I value the Walgreens tracker as a directional indicator. Just, I don’t think 30% positive in it today is comparable to 30% positive a year ago.

    1. Jason Boxman

      Yes. This. I’ve been worried about this data since they number of tests dropped from the 100s of thousands last year to what we’ve been seeing for most of this year. Because the sampling isn’t random, it seems possible we’ve got a biased towards people that might be positive going and confirming that. If only we had a functional public health establishment, we’d be randomly sampling people in some way, to determine as best we can the actual level of transmission in a community. Wastewater is useful, so long as it’s actually collected routinely, which seems to be a bit of a problem in and of itself.

      1. Pat

        Considering the deliberate $rapification of data by various government outlets you think this wasn’t deliberate. Or rather an unexpected result* due to the deliberate need to obscure how widespread Covid might be at any time.

        *They always knew we wouldn’t know the true positivity rate, but they fully expected that it would mask how bad it is. See I don’t know if the Walgreens tracker masks the real numbers as they expected (people testing positive at home not admitting it and going on as normal) or more likely they didn’t understand losing wide spread testing would mean we have limited places testing regularly so the only place we really get data from is where people go to get the test because they think they have it.

        1. Objective Ace

          >Because the sampling isn’t random, it seems possible we’ve got a biased towards people that might be positive going and confirming that.

          Thats always been the case. I’m not saying the sample is more or less biased.. I just don’t see any huge reason why it would differ and Im not sure that you or ACF offer one. Now the number of cases – that most certainly does have a different denominator due to at home testing which is why I have never been a fan of the Biden line Lambert added

          1. Objective Ace

            Edit: the Biden line I’m referring to was for Covid counts which is no longer reported. It still makes sense for hospitalization and deaths

    2. Medbh

      Our large, urban school district used to require a PCR test to return to school following illness, but it stopped that requirement a while ago (either this fall or last spring, I can’t remember). They wouldn’t accept the antigen tests, and it would take a couple of days to get the PCR result, so it had a big impact on student attendance. I imagine our district wasn’t the only one with this policy, so that could account for some percentage of the negative tests.

      1. chris

        That whole process was an incredible cluster. Our district mandated a doctor’s note for any return to school after being sent home with a Covid Like Indication (CLI). But… they didn’t tell the local pediatricians about that decision, nor did they consult with anyone about the costs involved or which CLIs were truly worrisome and which could have been a cold. So after three months we were forced to abandon the practice because the pediatricians couldn’t handle the influx of potentially sick kids. They did not have sufficient room in waiting areas to keep sick kids separated from children that were scheduled for well visits. This lead to the nurses at schools sending kids home randomly and kids coming back randomly or parents altogether dismissing any requests for documents that their kid was well enough to be in school. One more reason why no one trusts institutions these days I guess…

  3. fresno dan

    Michael Shellenberger
    The mainstream media’s blackout of the Twitter Files is appalling, but word is getting out anyway. A new Harvard-Harris poll finds that 76% of voters think former FBI official James Baker acted out of politics in censoring the Hunter Biden laptop story while at Twitter
    I’m amazed its not 99% – kidding. The fact that it reaches 76% shows that people are getting a significant amount of news from sources other than MSM – and that is a very good thing, because the country need reality to make good decisions. I think the slow revisionism going on about Ukraine reflects that, as well as the loss of influence of the MSM.

  4. Carolinian

    So we have Trump pretending to be president at Mar-a-Lago and Biden pretending to be president at DC-a-Lago (must be one there somewhere).

    What a world…

    As for J-6 finishing off Trump–if it happens they will undoubtedly take credit. So far though sounds like they have laid an egg and more likely that Trump will be his own worst enemy.

  5. flora

    Thanks for the Shellenberger twt.

    It’s seems clear to me the FBI knew a story would eventually come out and started grooming twtr’s Roth to believe the eventual story was RU hacking, even before it ever appeared in print. Reading Shellenberger’s whole thread makes me think Roth originally didn’t buy the FBI’s calls for suppression but they spent some time setting up a back story to convince him. “both after and *before*”. My 2 cents. Read the whole original thread and decide what you think.

    Here’s the whole thread again.


    1. Henry Moon Pie

      So the question that still keeps bugging me is when and how did this alliance between the Democratic Party and “the intelligence community” and FBI develop? Was it during the Obama Administration? Was it as the Democrats collaborated with Cheney and Co.? When I was young, the relationship between Democrats like Fulbright, McGovern, Clark and Church and these spooks and Feds was not so great.

      It’s pretty wacky when the country’s best hope for a peace movement against the Ukraine war is people like Tucker and MTG.

        1. BlakeFelix

          Putin and Trump I think, Dems usually rubberstamp stuff, Trump was insulting and unpredictable. A lot of the security state saw him as a threat, rightly IMO, although I also see Biden rubberstamping stuff and being belligerent as a threat and that sounds l ike cash to them I think.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Listening to that video clip, the FBI doesn’t need the help of Conspiracy Theorists to discredit them as through their own words they have done so themselves. Republicans must know that through the saga of Hunter Biden’s laptop, that they were putting their thumb on the scales of the last Federal election.

  6. Jason Boxman

    FYI found this by accident. Maybe not citizen science, but citizen data?

    disease.sh Docs – An open API for disease-related statistics

    From the project:

    This API provides a big range of detailed information about multiple viruses. From COVID19 global data overviews to city/region specific mobility data, and data on the current outbreak of Influenza. We also provide official government data for some countries, more to be added soon.

    The core-team currently consists of 4 people from 4 different countries working hard to keep this up and running, but it’s an open-source project, so if you want, come help us!

  7. Carolinian

    These readers have been unknowingly immersing themselves in an echo chamber of questionable coverage for years.”

    But enough about NPR. Southern Company also owns Georgia Power. Here in the top half of SC we have Duke Energy. Having lived under both regimes think I prefer Duke who only tried to build a new nuclear power plant whereas Southern is actually doing it.

    1. ambrit

      Our local power supplier, Mississippi Power is also a Southern Company. We had the grand boondoggle of the Kemper Project multiple input electric generation plant. The main part of the facility was to have used coal gassification to run the generators. Alas, it collapsed into a pile of lignite rubble. Who could have known? It was a direct copy of a project in Virginia that suffered a similar fate. We are speaking of a loss measured in the billions of dollars. Which yours truly and all the other customers of Mississippi Power will have to pay for in higher rates.
      Read: https://gizmodo.com/a-multibillion-dollar-clean-coal-plant-never-worked-an-1847866199
      There are all sorts of games being played in this field. Read: https://www.reuters.com/article/idUS95342098120110414
      Stay safe and electrified.

  8. Henry Moon Pie

    Not connected to anything in today’s Water Cooler but echoing warnings with which NC readers are familiar about the resource requirements for any Green Transition that attempts to preserve our consumerist lifestyle and GDP growth, here is an article by Richard Heinberg analyzing the same question from an Energy Return on Investment (EROI) standpoint.

    EROI starts with recognizing that any energy we produce requires energy inputs. Wells must be drilled. Dams must be constructed. Solar panels and wind turbines must be built. All these processes require energy. In the 1950s, the EROI of U. S. oil was nearly 20, i.e. an energy input equivalent to one barrel of oil yielded nearly 20 barrels of output. By the 90s, as the best oil fields were significantly depleted, the EROI had dropped to around 10. This reflected the reality that to recover oil from older fields like the Permian Basin required techniques like water flood and CO2 injection. These processes themselves required energy inputs, and so had to be deducted from the oil recovered to produce a net result much lower than 40 years earlier.

    Similarly, fracking requires more energy inputs than was the case with the Permian in the old days. The sludge they call oil in Canada requires much more energy to refine.

    Core finding:

    The “Dynamic Energy Return” team of scientists focused on EROI, because they believe it will be the key to the outcome of the energy transition. If societal EROI is high during and after the transition, that means energy will be easier to obtain. And with more plentiful and cheaper energy, other problems will be easier to solve. For example, cheap energy could enable the processing of lower-grade mineral and metal ores in larger quantities, thereby making it cheaper to manufacture renewable energy components and install infrastructure. However, if societal EROI declines, most industrial and economic problems become harder to solve—whether they involve manufacturing or resource acquisition.

    This study’s findings are worrisome. Currently, according to the authors, the world gains 12 units of energy for every unit of energy invested in producing energy (via drilling oil wells, mining coal, building nuclear power plants, manufacturing and installing solar panels, and so on). A nearly full transition of the global energy system by 2060 would reduce that payback to between 3 and 5 units. The authors note that previous research suggests that an energy profit ratio in the range of 3:1 to 5:1 could not sustain the operation of modern industrial societies.

    Degrowth is coming if it has not already arrived. The question is how we cope and adapt.

    1. Samuel Conner

      > Degrowth is coming if it has not already arrived

      past time to convert those suburban lawns into food forests.

      I would appreciate reader advice on fruit and nut trees that can thrive in USDA zones 6 and 7 and that don’t grow much above 30 feet high. I have to remove a row of tall evergreens, some of which have become fall-over risks and I’d like to replace them with medium-height food-producing trees.

      1. Objective Ace

        Just planted – so we’ll see how it goes, but I planted some apple and mulberry trees. Mulberries in particular are wild/natural here so I’m particularly optimistic

        Also, backyard chickens would be an easy way to cut down on required energy use

        1. ambrit

          Backyard chickens are against the zoning code here in the Half Horse Town.
          Look carefully at the variety of mulberry tree that you plant. Just south of the Stennis Federal Reserve in southern Mississippi is the remains of an old town, locally referred to as Logtown. As can be surmised, logging was it’s claim to fame. The delta of the Pearl River was one of the largest old growth cypress tree regions in America. It was all logged out by the 1950s. Still, you can visit Logtown. The fishing off of it’s old piers, on the East Branch of the Pearl River is very good. In the old town site is a giant mulberry tree. I have seen it. The lowest limbs are over ten feet off of the ground. It covers at least an eighth of an acre with it’s canopy. So, the moral of this story is; plan for a large tree in time.

          1. Objective Ace

            Oh yes – we went with a Mulberry drarf variety. That seemed to be all the nurseries around us had. That would be amazing to see a mulberry that large. I can’t even imagine how one would harvest the berries from the top. I imagine it wouldn’t be as simple as shaking it

            1. Dalepues

              Oh you won’t have to worry about harvesting the berries at the top; the blue jays will eat them all.

      2. Lex

        Oh boy, the world is your orchard. You can grow just about any but tropicals in 6/7. Most fruit trees don’t grow terribly tall nor do you want them to. They’re usually kept pruned for production. Pear trees get very big, and then falling pears become pretty dangerous. Do learn to prune if you plant fruit trees.

        Most of the major ones are self-fertile but will do better with something of the same type. Apples need a different apple. The only trick is that they have early, mid and late flowering. If you get an early and late it’s possible they’ll
        miss each other. Any apple in the flight if a bee will do, including ornamental crabs. So if a neighbor has an apple you’re usually good.

        Be careful though. A happy fruit tree makes a lot of food. There is a point where you have to do something with it all.

      3. Chuck Harris

        I live in zone 6a in SW Virginia. Pawpaw’s are native to the are and there are several good cultivars, the 3 trees I have are 5 to 7 years old and very productive. Unlike many fruit trees deer don’t seem to bother them. There are a few tricks to growing pawpaw’s, you need two different cultivars for cross pollination, and they should be planted kind of close together.

  9. tegnost

    2 things re zelensky…
    1. I think it’s meant to control the xmas family gathering discussion, a pep rally of sorts
    2. Any drinking game I come up with is unhealthy…a bottle of bourbon for the first standing ovation, a bottle of scotch for the second standing ovation…a bottle of gin for the third, and so on…
    I can only hope they’ve over eggnogged the pudding…

    1. Not Again

      Can someone explain to me why the head of the Nazis in Ukraine gets a speaking spot in Congress, but the head of the railroad workers’ union doesn’t.

      1. Pat

        Just think of it this way, if elected officials had to wear sponsorship jumpsuits like NASCAR drivers, the MIC logo patches would be numerous and huge while the Railroad workers wouldn’t even merit something as big as decorative stitching on a jeans pocket. The people issuing the invitations only pretend to work for the public.

        Every once in awhile I feel the need to answer rhetorical questions by stating the obvious.

          1. Pat

            In my lifetime the minimal constraints on political corruption have been chipped away so much that there is barely a toothpick left. Every year more and more of our elected officials look around, realize everyone has been bought by the same people and the process has been gamed that voters really do not have a choice about policies and actions so they don’t even bother to really lie anymore. Eventually even “access” and “fight for” will be jettisoned.
            For lifers like Nancy they don’t even hide many of the ways they are on the take.

  10. voislav

    “White House Looks at Benefits to Lure Americans Back Into Workforce”

    Have they considered mandatory monthly pizza parties? If not they are not trying hard enough.

      1. FreeMarketApologist

        We had the highest daily work attendance in my dep’t (~30 people) all year on the day that the holiday lunch was scheduled. (last week, at a crowded NYC midtown restaurant — no mask wearing there, fer sure, fer sure). The gods were smiling favorably upon us, as no covid cases have emerged since.

      1. Objective Ace

        I think not bringing people back into the office would be a pretty good way to lure Americans back into the workforce

  11. Wukchumni

    I was mad about trains until I was 6 and then it was if a switch had been flipped and I lost interest quickly.

    For a number of years for xmas I got a cheap train set and would have it wrecked by new years, I was hard on railroads.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      i had 2 trainsets when i was a kid. the little one i still have most of, up in mom’s attic.
      the big one is still there in east texas, last i looked, it was still owned by BNSF.
      that one was much more fun…there was a side track next to our neighborhood, and when 2 trains passed each other, they moved slow enough to ride for a bit.
      railroad workers had left a pile of sand by the switch for the smaller, second side track(for storing their yellow rail maint equipment) and that was the place to jump off and roll.
      one time, over xmas , they left an entire train down there idling…2 engines, and a caboose.
      crew went home for holidays, and it’s apprently hard to start those things up, so they left it running.
      we had a field day,lol.
      my buddy even moved the train a few feet and honked the horn.
      we played with the road flares, experimented with thermite…all kinds of fun stuff

      all this was from when i was 11 til 16 when i left.
      it’s amazing, i suppose, that i survived childhood.
      and nowadays, of course, all of that activity would land me in guantanimo.
      last time i was there, for nostalgia’s sake, wife and i raced to the tracks when i heard a train acomin, and sat on the tailgate to watch it pass.
      not 5 minutes after train was gone, cops show up to question us.

  12. Chris Cosmos

    Two comments–first the 1-6 stuff is very murky. I’ve been following covert activities (as an old anti-war activist I knew a group that got caught up in FBI’s COINTELPRO nonsense and I know the FBI and probably the “intel community” was involved in various ways particularly the Q-anon nonsense a friend of mine (a veteran who was pissed off at the rotten wars he and his comrades had to fight) got involved in and attended the 1-6 activities but never entered the Capitol. The whole thing was, to me as a student of CIA activities since the forties, stunk of the CIA. Q-anon was a very clever operation focusing on the psychological tendencies of the intended victims.

    As for “the science” there is no such thing. Science is a process more like a dialogue. I suggest a study by John Ioannidis in the early 00’s which showed that most studies have deep flaws. Also, using logic and a bit of game theory we should have figured out by now that the CDC, FDA are highly influenced by Big Pharma as are most researchers thus I trust nothing coming from the authorities. Since my best male friend is a physician he fills me in on the mood of docs since COVID and he tells me the whole social atmosphere of loud ego-dominant doctors who debated with each other disappeared and everyone tends to keep their thoughts to themselves as science has gradually evolved into a series of dogmas and will continue to the degree that dialogue is discouraged.

    1. Raymond Sim

      As for “the science” there is no such thing. Science is a process more like a dialogue.

      Arguing over ideas is actual dialogue, no analogy required. Real science is people using the scientific method, something readily defined, to investigate phenomena, and then arguing about their conclusions – in good faith. Anyone who can discern sound logical argumentation from tricks of rhetoric can readily discern real science whenever they understand the vocabulary being used, and often even when they don’t.

      It can be the case that different lines of scientific inquiry lead to seemingly contradictory conclusions. In which case I suppose one could conclude that there was no such thing as The Science,. But really it would be more accurate to say that science was calling the apparent contradiction into question.

      However, over the entire course of the pandemic, I can’t think of any incident of unclear science (as opposed to various forms of dishonesty) that might have made a difference in what correct official policy should be. Not one. I think it was GM who pointed out that at the beginning of 2020 a literature search was all that was required for a clear understanding of what we were facing. The Science predates the virus.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      “gradually evolved into a series of dogmas”

      My guess is that the “evolution” has been most pronounced in subject areas where profit is involved.

      1. Chris Cosmos

        Yes, absence a common set of moral values money becomes the final moral arbiter. However, I wouldn’t underestimate ideological fanaticism and the phenomenon of “true believers.”

  13. Jan

    So a majority of the American public “wants moar mask mandates” but on any given flight less than 10% are wearing N95’s or even surgical masks?? Something doesn’t add up here.
    People are so concerned about their health that they want mandates ,but they personally dont wear a mask anywhere bc they’re worried about “looking weird” or “crazy”? Such petty junior high concerns shouldnt matter! How immature.

    Or are the polls lying?

    1. JBird4049

      Two things to consider: First, most people really do not want to stick out and they follow the herd to do even if they don’t agree. Second, while airplane travel has greatly broadened, it is still a comparatively small part of the population and is mostly of the Professional Managerial Class; the vaccinated and serially boosted true believers of the pandemic being over, and who also have the most resources and best medical care to risk the Darwin Award.

    2. cnchal

      > Something doesn’t add up here.

      Nothing adds up. Super spreader parties attended by health care “professionals” is a brain rattler.

      Logic has nothing to do with freedumb. My brother, a rabid anti masker, and I have had some pretty bad arguments about this. Next week will be no different and the question I will be asking is, why don’t you rip out the air filter on your quarter million dollar Mercedes? Air filters are for sissy cars!

    3. Not This Again

      I think a (reasonably good, but not perfect) analogy is that the majority of Americans would probably agree to higher taxes across the board if it were to help society out as a whole, but no individual American will voluntarily agree to pay more in taxes than they are required.

      But yeah, I understand (and share) your frustration!

  14. The Rev Kev

    “Crochet: a little hook to improve attention?”

    My wife does crocheting and she can really concentrate when doing so while even doing other stuff. I suspect too that there is a bit of spatial orientation that the brain has to do constantly in crotchet work.

    1. Pat

      Having done a fair amount of crafts in my time I suspect that knitting would provide some of the same benefits. Needlepoint and embroidery would probably have results closer to those of meditation. And quilting is probably in between, the cutting and piecing with an affect more like crochet, but the actual quilting more meditative. I hope in time they really study various crafts and I can find out if I am right.

      1. Yves Smith

        Not for those of us with terrible manual dexterity. I hated art class with the passion of a thousand burning suns. Like phys ed (for which my orthopedist insisted I be excused from the state requirement, an idea that had never occurred to me and introduced me at a precious young age to gaming systems) I resented being made to do and worse being graded on something I could barely do badly.

        If you made me crochet, I’d be tempted to gouge my eyes out with the needles. Seriously. That is how frustrating it would be to me.

        I’m not disputing that both the process and outcome are deeply satisfying to you and many people. What annoys me is things like this are recommended as if they are good for everyone. They aren’t.

        1. Pat

          Oh no I never meant they are for everyone, I was just saying that for those that do them they probably do help keep brain channels open. (And I would be curious how different crafts worked for this or didn’t) I believe there is evidence of the same of word games and probably math games. Gaming on the XBox PlayStation level would have me doing damage but I can also see where depending on the game they could also be useful for keeping the brain facile. I wonder if the king of might be playing a musical instrument, as that seems to be one of the last things lost. But despite years of lessons, that is one route of many that is not going to be a right one for me. Many choices for “mental exercise” are a good thing because people are so different from one another.

          Everyone urges physical activity, but I always hated most of the ways this was directed. I am still resistant but found out in middle age that I have a couple of issues that meant anything deeply running based were never going to be good for me. I have sought out different means to try to achieve it, things gentler on joints and the circulation system.

          Keeping fit, physically and mentally, is never going to be universal. And anyone demanding one size fits all should be rejected. I am very sorry you thought I was advocating crafting for everyone.

  15. John Beech

    So imagine for a moment that pharmaceutical companies did criminally mislead Floridians about the side effects of vaccines and the efficacy of the COVID-19 shots.

    What’s wrong with asking the questions? Can’t hurt, can it?

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