2:00PM Water Cooler 12/22/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Pine Bunting, Istomino, Buryatia, Russia. “Songs from a male perched high in a birch in a small stand of trees adjacent to the lake.”

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

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

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

Biden Administration

“The Challenges of Leading in a Historically Divided Congress” [Charlie Cook, Cook Political Report]. “American politics are likely to be as wild in 2023 and 2024 as we have ever seen, and given the last seven or eight years, that’s really saying something. With the country so narrowly divided, even slight changes in support can tip races for the House, the Senate, and the presidency in a way that’s rarely happened before.” Hence, tribalism (as opposed to actually delivering for voters, let alone expanding the voting base, because who wants that? More: “Heading into Christmas, it is anything but clear whether current House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy will be elected the 55th speaker on Jan. 3. Actually, one wonders whether anyone can muster a majority of the members of the House who are present and voting anytime soon. It has been exactly 100 years since a speaker’s race has gone beyond a first ballot. You can almost depend on it now. Today, McCarthy’s odds look to be about 50-50, but after that, does any individual have more than a single-digit-percentage chance? McCarthy’s challenge is akin to threading a needle in a moving car. To his right he is buffeted by a large element of the 45 or so members of the conservative Freedom Caucus, with the mob led by five “Never Kevin” members: Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Ralph Norman of South Carolina, Matt Rosendale of Montana, and Bob Good of Virginia. Not all members of the Freedom Caucus will oppose McCarthy; in fact, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has been a vocal advocate of his cause, presumably because he has pledged to restore her committee assignments, or even improve them. But opposition by even a fifth of the Freedom Caucus could cost him the job….. On the Democratic side, expectations will remain low for incoming House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, not the worst circumstances for on-the-job training. For Schumer, though, this is the time when he has to not only step up and assume Democrats’ alpha-dog leadership role that Speaker Nancy Pelosi has occupied for the better part of 20 years, but also defend the majority with a 2024 map that is very ugly.” • Exciting!


“Biden mulls 2024 plans as Democrats weigh generational shift” [The Hill]. “Allan Lichtman, distinguished professor of history at American University, said Pelosi and Hoyer stepping aside when the House flipped this month won’t stop Biden from running for another term…. For Democrats, Lichtman said, ‘The last thing you would want is Biden to step down and have an open seat.’ Since 1920, there have been nine open seats during presidential elections and only twice did the party controlling the White House win — in 1988, when then-Vice President George H.W. Bush was elected to replace President Reagan after Reagan’s second term, and in 1928, when President Calvin Coolidge did not run for reelection and was succeeded by fellow Republican Herbert Hoover, then the secretary of Commerce. ‘Democrats do not want an open seat and don’t want a party fight for the nomination,’ Lichtman said.”


“Where History Rhymed and Where It Didn’t” [Amy Walter, Cook Political Report]. From November, but with some anti-triumphalist true facts. “Two of the hardest things to do in politics are: 1) holding a governing trifecta (White House, House, Senate majorities) for more than two years and: 2) not losing House seats in a midterm. This year, Democrats failed to break this well-established precedent. … The closest races once again all broke the same way at the end. Since 2006, the final House and Senate races we’ve rated as Toss-Ups have broken decisively in one direction. What was different about this cycle, however, is that both the House (69 percent) and Senate (currently 75 percent), broke for the White House party…. Partisan consolidation continued at both the federal and state level… As my colleague Jessica Taylor and I noted throughout this cycle, the biggest unknown factor for Senate control was whether voters’ low opinions of the president were more/less important than their low opinions of the GOP senate candidates. Recent history suggested that presidential approval would be the bigger factor…. This year, however, Democratic senate incumbents Catherine Cortez Masto, Mark Kelly and Maggie Hassan all won re-election in states where Biden’s job approval ratings ranged from a ‘high’ of 45 percent (Nevada), to a low of 42 percent (New Hampshire). In Georgia, Sen. Warnock garnered the most votes in the race despite Biden’s dismal 41 percent job approval rating in the state. In every one of those races, however, exit polls showed that voters found the GOP candidate to be ‘too extreme’. For example, in Arizona, 54 percent of voters said GOP nominee Blake Masters was ‘too extreme, compared to just 43 percent who said the same about Democrat Mark Kelly.”

Republican Funhouse

“Conservative Judges Are Helping the “Freedom of Contract” Stage a Dramatic, Dangerous Comeback” [Balls and Strikes]. From November, still germane. “Earlier this month, in Golden Glow v. Columbus, a three-judge panel of Fifth Circuit judges disposed of a lawsuit filed by a tanning salon owner against the City of Columbus, Missouri, over COVID-19 lockdowns that forced the business to temporarily close while places like churches, Walmarts, and liquor stores stayed open. In the opinion, Judge Edith Jones explained that the panel felt boxed in: Although ‘subsequent experience strongly suggests that draconian shutdowns were debatable measures’ and ‘inflicted enormous economic damage,’ she wrote, they were ‘constrained’ to affirm. But Ho wasn’t happy just signing onto a bog-standard Fifth Circuit case that grumbled about COVID-19 mitigation efforts. Instead, he had to write his own concurrence based on the premise that it’s time to start thinking about ‘the right to earn a living’ as a constitutional right. In it, Ho complains that the Supreme Court’s approach to ‘unenumerated’ rights, including the right to privacy, ‘privileges a broad swath of non-economic human activities, while leaving economic activities out in the cold.’ He also grumbles about government grants of monopolies, quoting James Madison, who referred to them as ‘justly classed among the greatest nuisances in government.’… [Ho’s concurrence] is a thinly-veiled call for the revival of the ‘freedom of contract,’ which the Supreme Court tossed into the dustbin of history nearly a century ago. In 1905, in Lochner v. New York, the Court held that worker safety laws that limited bakers’ work hours ran afoul of their rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. (Ho writes in terms of the ‘right to earn a living,’ but this is a distinction without a difference.) The logic of Lochner was ascendant until 1937, when the Court, in the midst of the Great Depression, changed its mind and upheld a minimum wage law, holding that economic regulations are generally permissible—a case that forms the legal foundation for basic workplace safety rules to this day. Ho and his ilk are not fans of unenumerated rights when it comes to, say, abortion, so it’s easiest to read this opinion as a particularly lazy troll job: If you love some unenumerated rights, he argues, you have to love his favorite one, too.” • What a concept: Selling your labor power to survive as a Constitutional right. As opposed to, say, a collective right to the fruits of our labor (and catch a lilberal supporting that).

“What Is the Federalist Society and Its Connection to Supreme Court Judges?” [Teen Vogue]. From November, still germane: “The society was founded by conservative law students at Yale and University of Chicago in 1982, coinciding with Ronald Reagan’s presidency and a growing national interest in conservative politics. They felt conservative legal theory was underrepresented in their curricula and that conservative students were reluctant to openly express their views. …. Federalist Society chapters were established at other law schools and in cities across the US, where local conservative lawyers could come together to discuss varied legal issues. Today, the organization boasts a membership of more than 10,000 law students and 65,000 legal professionals, and maintains close proximity to powerful conservatives in Washington, DC. Records show the Federalist Society had over $22 million in revenue in 2021. Early in its founding, some of that money came from high-powered, right-wing donors such as the Olin Foundation, a now defunct grant-making entity established by the head of a chemical and weapons manufacturing company. … The Federalist Society is a 501c3 nonprofit, which makes it exempt from taxes but limits its political work; however, the network of politicians, donors, conservative lawyers, and activists with links to the organization are under no such restrictions.” • The article goes on to a takedown of so-called “originalism.” I’m pleased to see material like this in Teen Vogue!

Democrats en Déshabillé

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

I have moved my standing remarks on the Democrat Party (“the Democrat Party is a rotting corpse that can’t bury itself”) to a separate, back-dated post, to which I will periodically add material, summarizing the addition here in a “live” Water Cooler. (Hopefully, some Bourdieu.) It turns out that defining the Democrat Party is, in fact, a hard problem. I do think the paragraph that follows is on point all the way back to 2016, if not before:

The Democrat Party is the political expression of the class power of PMC, their base (lucidly explained by Thomas Frank in Listen, Liberal!). It follows that the Democrat Party is as “unreformable” as the PMC is unreformable; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. If the Democrat Party fails to govern, that’s because the PMC lacks the capability to govern. (“PMC” modulo “class expatriates,” of course.) Second, all the working parts of the Party reinforce each other. Leave aside characterizing the relationships between elements of the Party (ka-ching, but not entirely) those elements comprise a network — a Flex Net? An iron octagon? — of funders, vendors, apparatchiks, electeds, NGOs, and miscellaneous mercenaries, with assets in the press and the intelligence community.

Note, of course, that the class power of the PMC both expresses and is limited by other classes; oligarchs and American gentry (see ‘industrial model’ of Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Jie) and the working class spring to mind. Suck up, kick down.

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“Fall of the Progressive Boy King” [New York Magazine]. “Inside of a decade, McElwee had gone from being an intern at a libertarian think tank to being heralded as an avatar of a rising generation of millennial leftists, eventually advising both the White House and a billionaire his age. The past few dizzying years culminated in an even more dizzying month when his relationship with Bankman-Fried suddenly became a liability and, in an echo of the criminal charges against the disgraced billionaire, he was fired by the organization he founded for allegedly pressuring an employee into being a straw donor for Democratic causes.” Handy chart, which I think broke this story:


[Sean] and his younger brother, Gabe, started a nonprofit advocacy organization called Guarding Against Pandemics and a super-PAC called Protect Our Future, which paid Data for Progress to do polling. In the vein of effective altruism, the ostensible purpose was to support Democrats who talked about pandemic preparedness and the long-term risks to humanity. But a lot of those candidates were also pro-crypto, or at least reluctant to criticize it at a time when Bankman-Fried was pushing the federal government for a light regulatory touch. “This was not just about directing donations to candidates; this was about Sean running a political strategy designed to shield crypto from government oversight so that crypto billionaires could continue to rip off working people,” said Max Berger, a onetime McElwee ally and a progressive strategist. “That’s what Sam Bankman-Fried was paying Sean McElwee for. From a progressive-politics perspective, it is unforgivable.”

Oops. How unexpected.

FL: “How to Fix the Pathetic Florida Democratic Party” [In These Times]. The deck: “To reverse their dismal midterm election performance, Florida Democrats need to embrace working people, the environment and Unite Here.” • Let me know how that works out….

Our Famously Free Press

No dog who’s part of a pile needs courage:

Not merely link rot; content rot:

Of course, for individual posts, there’s the Wayback machine. And Naked Capitalism is in the Library of Congress. But it’s telling the Blue Checks want another platform, dominated by goodthinkers like themselves. None of them thinks about recreating the blogosphere, or misses it. Some of them, of course, climbed that ladded before throwing it away.

Realignment and Legitimacy


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.

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• Maskstravaganza: Another summary of infection control goon and WHO gatekeeper John Conley’s anti-masking paper:

Ouch! And correct.

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• “Impact of SARS-CoV-2 variants on inpatient clinical outcome” [Clinical Infectious Diseases]. From the Abstract: “Although risk of severe disease or death for unvaccinated inpatients with Omicron was lower than Delta, it was similar to ancestral lineages. Severe outcomes were less common in vaccinated inpatients, with no difference between Delta and Omicron infections.”

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• Now kids, don’t get excited:

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• “At-home kit available to test for the ‘tripledemic’ of viruses in circulation” [Good Morning America]. “Labcorp’s combined home collection kit, called The Pixel, is for COVID, flu and RSV only. The FDA authorized the emergency use of the kits ‘for the detection of nucleic acid from SARS-CoV-2, influenza A and/or influenza B, and RSV, not for any other viruses or pathogens,’ according to a Labcorp press release. Unfortunately, results don’t come in 15 minutes like a rapid antigen test, but the results are processed in a lab, using the amplification process of PCR, so the results may be more accurate. Potential test-takers go to a website and fill out a questionnaire. If they meet the criteria, they are sent the kit via overnight service. The user then swabs their nose to collect a sample and sends the kit back to Labcorp for testing. Results take one to two days after the samples have arrived back at the lab, so it takes about three to five days at the earliest to receive final results. The kit is available for use by individuals age 2 and older, without the need for a prescription, according to the press release. The test also has no out-of-pocket cost for those with insurance and who meet the criteria in the questionnaire. For those who are uninsured, it runs $169.” • The article doesn’t say what the lab does with the data.

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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 21:

1.2%. Increase. NOTE: Of course, it’s an open question how good a proxy Walgreen’s self-selected subjects are for the general population, especially because they didn’t go the home-testing route, but we go with the data we have.


Wastewater data (CDC), December 18:

Too much red (especially with Ohio back online). 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):

December 17:

And MWRA data, December 20:

Lambert here: Up in the North, down in the 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.

NOT UPDATED 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:

• As a check, since New York is a BQ.1* hotbed, New York hospitalization, updated December 21:

Up slightly after a short plateau.

• Hospitalization data for Queens, updated December 19:

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: 1,114,931 – 1,113,808 = 1123 (1123 * 365 = 409,895 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

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose by 2,000 to 216,000 in the week ending December 17th, below market expectations of 220,000 and extending signals of a stubbornly tight labor market, adding to hawkish projections for the Federal Reserve along with the upward revision to the US GDP.”

GDP: “United States GDP Growth Rate” [Trading Economics]. “The US economy grew an annualized 3.2% on quarter in Q3 2022, better than 2.9% in the second estimate, and rebounding from two straight quarters of contraction.”

Manufacturing: “United States Kansas Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Kansas City Fed’s Manufacturing Production index fell to -13 in December of 2022 from -10 in the previous month, driven by decreased activity in printing, wood products, machinery manufacturing, and food manufacturing. The monthly employment index fell from 3 to 0, its lowest level since 2020 but still indicative of flat employment for the month.”

Consumer Spending: “United States Real Consumer Spending QoQ” [Trading Economics]. “Consumer spending in the US expanded an annualized 2.3% on quarter in Q3 2022, the strongest gain in three quarters and higher than 1.7% in the second estimate.”

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Tech: “U.S. FCC proposes record $300 mln fine for ‘auto warranty’ robocalls” [Reuters]. “The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Wednesday proposed a $300 million fine against an auto warranty robocall campaign, the largest-ever penalty proposed by the agency over unwanted calls. The FCC said that in the scheme run by two California men, Roy Cox, Jr. and Michael Aaron Jones via their Sumco Panama company and other entities, more than 5 billion apparently illegal robocalls were made to more than half a billion phone numbers during a three-month span in 2021 ‘using pre-recorded voice calls to press consumers to speak to a ‘warranty specialist’ about extending or reinstating their car’s warranty.'”

Tech: “Amazon strikes deal with EU to close anti-trust probes” [ENCA]. ” Online retail giant Amazon has reached an agreement with the European Commission to close two inquiries into anti-competitive tactics, notably using third-party seller data to improve its own sales. EU vice-president Margrethe Vestager announced Amazon’s commitments and hailed them as a victory for smaller retailers selling products on Amazon’s online marketplace. Amazon, and its software, will be forbidden from analysing non-public third-party seller data, and will treat all sellers equally when deciding which offer to put in the best screen location. Sellers will also be allowed to choose their own delivery firm, rather than being obliged to use the service chosen by Amazon’s ‘Prime’ premium service. ‘And this means that by next summer. Amazon will have to end any preferential treatment towards its own retail and logistics operations in Europe,’ Vestager told reporters.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 33 Fear (previous close: 38 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 44 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 22 at 2:01 PM EST.

Xmas Pregame Festivities

“Why do Christmas lights always get tangled?” [LiveScience]. This is extremely neat: ” It seems that no matter how neatly these twinkling strands are packed away each winter, they somehow end up in a ball of torment the following holiday season. So what causes this mangled mess? In 2007, researchers published a study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) explaining what causes this headache-inducing phenomenon. For the experiment, they put varying lengths of string inside a box and mechanically shook it so that the strings would get tossed around like a load of laundry in the dryer. They repeated the process more than 3,400 times and noticed that knots began forming within seconds of the box being rotated. Throughout the experiment, more than 120 types of knots formed. ‘It didn’t take very long for the knots to form — maybe about 10 seconds. We were surprised by that,’ study co-author Douglas Smith, a professor in the Department of Physics at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), told Live Science. ‘We immediately started seeing these complicated knots begin to form. It was all very rapid.’ The researchers also learned that the length of the string affected the likelihood of knots forming. Not surprisingly, as the length of the string increased (the longest length used in the study was 15 feet, or 4.6 meters), the probability of a knot appearing also rose, eventually becoming 100% guaranteed. The material the string was made of also had an effect, with more flexible strings experiencing more gnarls compared with rigid strings, according to the study. But perhaps the most important factor leading to the knots was whether the ends of the strings were loose, allowing them to move freely to form tangles. ‘The ends are really what get a knot to form,’ Dorian Raymer, the study’s lead author and a former UCSD student who now works as a consulting systems engineer, told Live Science.” • This is extremely neat. I wonder what other phenomena can be modeled after tangled Christmas lights?


“It’s not just winter weather — some holiday travelers also face sliding service quality” [NBC]. “While travel demand is roaring back, many hotels, airlines, cruise operators and airports are still racing* to hire and train workers. Some companies are tightening access to perks and amenities, in a few cases by raising prices. That means the level of customer service will likely take a hit, industry experts say. NOTE * A fine example of my theory that when the words “race” or “racing” are used, the cause of the racing will always be endogenous to the framing of the article; either not mentioned, or mentioned tangentially.

“The Asian nation where 35% of people say they’ll ‘never travel’ again” [CNBC]. Sensible Japanese. “A survey of 16,000 adults in 15 countries by the global intelligence company Morning Consult found that Asia is home to the highest percentage of people who said they’ll ‘never travel’ again. Some 15% of South Korean and 14% of Chinese respondents indicated they would never travel again, according to Morning Consult’s ‘The State of Travel & Hospitality’ report published in August. North America isn’t far behind, with 14% of American and 11% of Mexican respondents indicating the same. Yet, no country came close to the travel reluctance shown in Japan, where some 35% of respondents said they don’t intend to travel again. ” • For American carriers, even 14% is a lot (although doubtless some of that population is comprised of introverted homebodies who wouldn’t travel a lot anyhow).

“Rare Historical Photos Show The Inside Of The Hindenburg Zeppelin” [Aviation Humor]. • The Hindenberg actually looks pretty neat. I wouldn’t mind a four-day trip in the air across the Atlantic, as long as they had WiFi. I don’t think 70 passengers would be enough, though.

Under the Influence

“Tiktok Is Divided on Buccal Fat Removal” [MIC] The deck: “Are you a round-face girlie or a chiseled-cheek stan?” More: “[B]uccal fat removal refers to a plastic surgery procedure that eliminates ‘a naturally-occurring pad of fat in the cheek hollow area,’ according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). Those who undergo the procedure often aim to achieve a “slimming” effect in their midfaces, and to make their cheekbones and jawlines appear more prominent. From a historical standpoint, full, cherub-like cheeks have often been considered as a sign of youth and beauty — just look at this spread of French Regency paintings. But as stars like Bella Hadid and Lea Michele (neither of whom has said they’ve ever had the procedure, per Harper’s Bazaar) sweep the red carpets and dominate Instagram feeds with chiseled cheekbones, it seems increasingly more people are looking to cosmetic procedures to replicate the look. The #BuccalFatRemoval hashtag on TikTok currently has more than 140 million views; the videos include people analyzing celebrity before-and-after photos, sharing their own buccal fat removal journeys*, and pushing back on the trend. While buccal fat removal is a newly trending topic, the procedure has actually long been one of Hollywood’s worst-kept “secrets,” New York-based plastic surgeon Lara Devgan, MD, told The New York Times… With a 92% rating on RealSelf, a healthcare marketplace where patients can research procedures and connect with plastic surgeons, buccal fat removal seems to have a pretty high satisfaction rate among patients who have undergone the procedure.” • Awesome. A social media-fueled market for body modification emerges, so that’s what physicians do, instead of, well, practicing medicine. Tell me it’s not a great country! NOTE * I loathe that use of the word “journey.” When and where is the index patient?

Groves of Academe

“The War on Merit Takes a Bizarre Turn” [City Journal]. Ugh:

For years, two administrators at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ) have been withholding notifications of National Merit awards from the school’s families, most of them Asian, thus denying students the right to use those awards to boost their college-admission prospects and earn scholarships. This episode has emerged amid the school district’s new strategy of ‘equal outcomes for every student, without exception.’ School administrators, for instance, have implemented an ‘equitable grading‘ policy that eliminates zeros, gives students a grade of 50 percent just for showing up, and assigns a cryptic code of “NTI” for assignments not turned in. It’s a race to the bottom.

An intrepid Thomas Jefferson parent, Shawna Yashar, a lawyer, uncovered the withholding of National Merit awards. Since starting as a freshman at the school in September 2019, her son, who is part Arab American, studied statistical analysis, literature reviews, and college-level science late into the night. This workload was necessary to keep him up to speed with the advanced studies at TJ, which U.S. News & World Report ranks as America’s top school.

Last fall, along with about 1.5 million U.S. high school juniors, the Yashar teen took the PSAT, which determines whether a student qualifies as a prestigious National Merit scholar. When it came time to submit his college applications this fall, he didn’t have a National Merit honor to report—but it wasn’t because he hadn’t earned the award. The National Merit Scholarship Corporation, a nonprofit based in Evanston, Illinois, had recognized him as a Commended Student in the top 3 percent nationwide—one of about 50,000 students earning that distinction. Principals usually celebrate National Merit scholars with special breakfasts, award ceremonies, YouTube videos, press releases, and social media announcements.

But not at TJ. School officials had decided to withhold announcement of the award. Indeed, it turns out that the principal, Ann Bonitatibus, and the director of student services, Brandon Kosatka, have been withholding this information from families and the public for years, affecting the lives of at least 1,200 students over the principal’s tenure of five years.

In Fairfax County, Virginia. Naturally.

Class Warfare

“Why Petulant Oligarchs Rule Our World” [Paul Krugman, New York Times]. • Reading this, it seems Krugman believes the petulance is the issue, not oligarchs.

“Entering Class Profile” [Berkeley Law]. “Berkeley Law students are astoundingly accomplished and come from a wide range of backgrounds, interests, life experiences, and perspectives.” Handy chart:

• Notice anything missing? I do. And it’s not missing by accident. It’s missing because of ideology.

News of the Wired

“You’re Not a Fearmonger. You Have Sentinel Intelligence.” [OK Doomer]. “Sentinel intelligence refers to a special cognitive capacity that allows someone to detect threats before anyone else. Richard A. Clarke and R.P. Eddy talk about this trait in their book, Warnings: Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes. They review a number of natural and economic disasters throughout history. As they write, ‘in each instance a Cassandra was pounding the table and warning us precisely about the disasters that came as promised.’ Not only were they ignored, but ‘the people with the power to respond often put more effort into discounting the Cassandra than saving lives and resources.’ It just keeps happening. Maybe you can relate. If you have sentinel intelligence, then your brain can aggregate and sift through extraordinary amounts of information in a very short period of time, especially when it comes to seeing latent or hidden dangers. You don’t get stymied by what Clarke and Eddy call the ‘magnitude of overload.’ In a lot of ways, it’s a superpower.” • But not all ways.

“Is Your Phone Actually Draining Your Brain?” [Scientific American]. “Past studies on brain drain looked primarily at five cognitive functions: working memory, sustained attention, inhibitory control, cognitive flexibility and fluid intelligence. [Doug] Parry lumped together data for each of these functions individually and then did a sixth analysis where he looked at all the results together. In the end, he looked at 56 effect sizes on how phones affect our minds from 27 studies in 25 publications. So looking at the five separate analyses–of the five, the only statistically significant result was for working memory. Whereas for the other four cognitive functions, no statistically significant effects of the presence of a smartphone were found across the various effects included in those analyses. And that is somewhat consistent with Ward and colleagues. So they found a negative effect for working memory, but they didn’t find a negative effect for sustained attention. Though it is similar to what Ward found, Parry’s analysis also revealed the impact on working memory was much smaller than initial studies indicated.” • Sorry, what?

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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 Angie Neer:

This “skyscraper” is very well seen!

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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. jo6pac

    I most be missing out on this post since there is no there there. It will appear when I comment.

    Yep the rest of the site has appeared;-)

  2. Henry Moon Pie

    “Sentinel intelligence–

    Not in short supply at NC. I just call it a hard-earned belief in Murphy’s Law.

    1. Steve H.

      There is what Siu calls the ‘instantaneous apprehension of the whole.’ But when Janet showed me the article, I kinda ripped it, questioning methodology about how do you know who’s right? NC has archives, you can look and there’s the proof. Can’t do that in real time. But I realized there was grief there about Cassandra’s curse, which I feel when loved ones side-eye me about keeping precautions going.

      Here’s a couple of alternative cognitions:

      > The studies have shown that chimpanzees possess a remarkable aptitude for switching focus from one stimulus to another. This is not the case for humans. We often stick to one stimulus and are unable to follow the quick change to the next. It seems that our way of perceiving the world is highly skewed toward focusing on a stimulus to determine its meaning. By contrast, chimpanzees are able to shift their attention to capture the whole scene as quickly as possible.

      And from today:

      > Messi is the first dog ever who plays soccer

      1. JBird4049

        There is nothing intrinsically better about one kind of thinking over another. It depends on how you are living. Humans, chimpanzees, bonobos, even gorillas and orangutans are essentially the same, but with bodies and minds tweaked to favor certain activities.

        Being able to focus on a task for a long time is an important skill. I would guess that activities like tool making pushed us to develop it. Time intensive, requiring discipline, imagination, and focus. It is like how our manual dexterity is likely to be partially responsible for our reduction in strength and our ability to move steadily over long distances using much less energy is related to our hunting-gathering ancestors, which also means planning over very large distances sometimes over years. Chimpanzees bodies are optimized for physically intensive efforts requiring strength and speed over short distances. They have to worry about something with big teeth eating them.

        While typing this comment, I was thinking about all the skills needed to make stone tools. It can take years to learn to do well and I wonder if our neoliberal elites would have the discipline, imagination, focus, and manual dexterity to do so. Even though the past two or three ancestral species across a million years did so, I doubt it. Seriously.

    2. clarky90

      Taps mike…. tap tap tap…

      We are the carbon that the Environmental, Social, and Governance Crowd dream of eliminating!”

      1. ambrit

        Well, ol’ Isaac Asimov had an “alternate” class of sentient lifeforms he called ‘Siliconies.’ Lifeforms based on silicone rather than carbon. It’s a great big cosmos out there.
        See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Talking_Stone
        I mean, heavens, closer to home, the cephalopods use copper in their blood to transport oxygen, rather than iron as we and most other Terrestrial lifeforms do.
        See: https://animals.howstuffworks.com/marine-life/why-is-octopus-blood-blue.htm
        So, the oft ridiculed assertion that the Zeta Reticulan Overlords are reptilian could be tweaked to mean the cephalopoda instead. Thus, the term “blue bloods” to describe Aristocrats. Any crossbreeds between the Zetas and Terran Humans would be, naturally, Cecaelia.
        See, if you dare: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_hybrid_creatures_in_folklore
        Stay safe and keep watching the sky!

    3. pjay

      – “Sentinel intelligence refers to a special cognitive capacity that allows someone to detect threats before anyone else.”

      Hmm. I had a different reaction, which I guess reflects my pessimism. I see such a concept being used to justify all kinds of stuff, as in:

      “Although there was not yet evidence that Saddam had developed weapons of mass destruction, our sentinel intelligence told us that he had, or eventually would, justifying our preemptive response.”

      “Although there was not yet evidence that Putin was planning to invade Europe, our sentinel intelligence told us that he would, justifying our preemptive expansion of NATO to the Russian border.”

      “Although he had not yet committed the murder, the sentinel intelligence possessed by our pre-crime unit told us…”

      Maybe it’s just me.

      1. pjay

        I should add that when I read this I had just been thinking about how the concept ‘effective altruism,’ such a nice, positive idea, was used to dupe educated, affluent liberals; and how in that regard the term was very similar to ‘humanitarian intervention.’

        My motto is beware of nice-sounding terms that can justify evil crap. Maybe it’s just me.

        1. ambrit

          It’s not just you. We’ve been burned a time or two by smooth talking “consciousness raising” guides. As Grandma warned, some things are too good to be true.

    4. eg

      Presumably the distribution of this across populations is like other forms of neurodiversity which add resilience and robustness to the species

      Nature loathes homogeneity

  3. nippersdad

    “…As they write, ‘in each instance a Cassandra was pounding the table and warning us precisely about the disasters that came as promised.’ Not only were they ignored, but ‘the people with the power to respond often put more effort into discounting the Cassandra than saving lives and resources.’ It just keeps happening.”

    Which reminds me of the old saying “Who could have predicted?” Maybe it is not so much that there are exceptional brains out there which can discern disaster in the white noise so much as that the even older saying “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it” would be better applied to those who grift their way to the top and ultimately control the outcomes that those without such incentives can fairly easily see in the making.

    Perhaps common sense is considered uncommon because so little of it is reflected in a public sphere dominated by short term thinking?

    1. flora

      Group-think is powerful, especially among the elites. Ask Larry Summers. Better yet, ask Brooksley Born. / ;)

  4. Robert Hahl

    Re: “You’re Not a Fearmonger. You Have Sentinel Intelligence.” [OK Doomer]. You don’t get stymied by what Clarke and Eddy call the ‘magnitude of overload.’ In a lot of ways, it’s a superpower.”

    We used to call that being “farsighted” and it was a fairly common superpower among people with good common sense. It doesn’t come from sifting through magnitudes of overload, it comes from noticing one or two details that just don’t seem right, which cause you be more careful.

    For instance about four years ago I considered focusing my patent lawyering on German clients. Two things caught my attention: I sent an email to the German embassy and got no response; and noticed that small right wing parties were forming coalition governments that they could easily bring down just by leaving the coalition if they didn’t get their way. I decided that if Germany was giving such power to fascists, war must be coming to Europe. So I retired instead.

  5. semper loquitur

    Interesting bit about Cassandras but I wonder to what extent it’s the “sentinel” ability as opposed to the much more commonplace super-ability to ignore danger ahead. In other words, perhaps alert people just stand out more versus the sheeple? Wasn’t there a link recently about the breakdown of people’s reactions to disaster, something like a third take action, a third $hit their pants and wave their arms helplessly, and a third do their hair? At any rate, if there is anything to this theory, NC is the equivalent of the Justice League…

    1. Wukchumni

      Most of our latter-day seers, er Cassandras, only tell you about the winners-never the losing wagers.

      1. semper loquitur

        I suppose ideology plays a role as well. Here in The Best of All Possible Worlds, USA, many are disinclined to see the deep cracks forming in the world around them. It doesn’t jive with their fantasies about exceptionalism and eternal progress. Sure, there are problems, but a positive, can-do attitude will win the day.

        I see a really weird thing going on around me, though, now that we are on the topic of foreshadowing doom. A lot of the people I interact with at work, intelligent and ostensibly informed, seem well aware that COVID isn’t over and that there is a tri-demic afoot. One guy the other night relayed how his father has COVID along with autoimmune system issues. Another young lady explained that she is scared to fly home because COVID but she has to see her grandparents as it’s been two years. She doesn’t want to get them sick.

        I’ve never seen either of them in a mask. I shared the nose spray and gargling information with the lady and she seemed interested but failed to write anything down or look up the products I shared with her. It’s this bizarre bifurcated thinking wherein you acknowledge the problem but don’t seem to see the urgency of taking measures. Everyone nods their heads then goes no doing nothing. I guess it’s part of that cascade of failure the article details.

      2. Robert Hahl

        I lost dozens of wagers with my life insurance company, every single year, until my kids were grown. So now you have heard one.

      3. NN Cassandra

        IMO there will be survivorship bias in this too. It’s one thing to pick some past events and then try to find who “predicted” them, and another to pick some people and see if their predictions will be correct. There are a lot of people who foretell things that didn’t happen (and it even may be because the rulers listened and made moves to avoid them!).

        Anyway, if any Cassandras feel sad that nobody listens to them, they always can soothe themselves by becoming rich trading stocks/bonds/etc.

    2. nippersdad

      I don’t think I have ever found myself in the majority! I am both having a great hair day AND my pants smell funny.*


      * I should really do something about the latter proposition, though. Then I will have all the boxes checked off.

  6. Roger Blakely

    never travel again

    I don’t have a Real ID. I have to take my birth certificate to the DMV. (I have to find it or get a new one.) DHS had postponed the deadline until March 2023, which I read on the notice as I stood in line at security in the airport. Now they’ve postponed it for another two years. My passport has expired. I should probably do something about that. At the moment I’d be happy never to get on an airplane again.

    1. Carolinian

      Can’t link but Pam Martens says the judge selected for his upcoming NY trial has some conflicts

      Our take is that Greg Andres [Abrams’ husband} is part of Ronnie Abrams’ immediate household and a law partner of Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, a law firm that has problematic ties to Bankman-Fried’s bankrupt crypto exchange, FTX

      The article says that in the past when accused of conflicts due to her husband Abrams has accused critics of “judge shopping.”

      1. Yves Smith

        This is why I moderate links to Wall Street on Parade. The allegation is full of shit.

        This is all they could find:

        Davis Polk advised BlockFi, Inc. as borrower under a $400 million loan facility provided by West Realm Shires Inc, an affiliate of FTX-US.

        Davis Polk represented someone with interests OPPOSED to FTX, FFS.

        They are constantly in dial at 11 mode, too often on things they don’t understand (the repo panic, which I said was abject Fed mismanagement, not working out how their newfangled way of managing policy rates, interest on reserves, would function in a tightening cycle, and not a sign some big bank was in tits up mode) or here, an abject misrepresentation.

        1. Carolinian

          Sorry. I didn’t know there was a problem with that site. She was a long tine coontributor to Counterpunch and this seemed like a scoop.

          1. Yves Smith

            Not your fault. Particularly during the crisis and the foreclosure fraud period, they did good work. But their MO is to find scandals and get worked up about them.

            As things have gotten generally less visibly bad in finance (a lot of the action has been in super secretive PE) they’ve developed a bad tendency to screech “Scandal” when it’s either not there or there’s a big gap between their evidence and what they allege.

          1. curlydan

            since it’s a bail bond (not cash bond I think), the family only has to put up a portion of the bond amount as collateral. In this case, they put up their house as collateral.


            “In Bankman-Fried’s case, the $250 million bond is secured by his parents’ home. Since Bankman-Fried’s parents signed the bond agreement, they would be on the hook for $250 million if their son flees. “They can take everything else,” said Michael Bachner, a New York criminal defense attorney.”

              1. playon

                I think you usually must post at least 10% of the bail amount, with a bondsman posting the remainder? I would be surprised if his parents’ house was worth $25,000,000 and would also be surprised if a bail bondsman could come up with that amount. His partners in crime only had to post $250,000 — I would say they are all getting the kid gloves treatment.

                The lesson is, if you’re going to do crime, go big.

              2. Yves Smith

                Yes, this is ridiculous. The judge could have made this look colorable with a $25 million bond. If I were the DoJ, I’d be unhappy but they went along in court as opposed to expressing at least mild concern.

    2. TimH

      While everyone is pretending that it’s his money now, it won’t be after sentencing. He’ll run, and Gov gets a wedge of cash that SBF’s investors won’t.

      1. Yves Smith

        He won’t run. His out will be to commit suicide, the real kind, not the probably very assisted Jeffrey Epstein kind.

        If he were the fleeing type, he would have gone to Cuba. Only takes a boat.

        Stanford is not near the coast or a border so not an advantaged location.

        You need actual criminal connections to make that kind of escape, starting with getting a fake passport. And you need to get to a place with no extradition treaty that will also let you stay more than for a tourist 90 days. SBF is an accused criminal, not an asylum seeker.

  7. Carolinian

    Re Biden running again–if you look at all the disasters about to pop up then the notion of Biden running again–and this being good for the Dems–is just silly. Not only is the economy teetering but the Ukraine crisis is either going to end in an embarrassing loss or WW3. And if the truth comes out about Hunter and Dad then that may get him impeached, much less re-elected.

    And even if one doesn’t buy the above, making predictions at this point seems quite foolish. Therefore it could even qualify you to be a media pundit.

  8. flora

    re: “• Notice anything missing? I do. And it’s not missing by accident. It’s missing because of ideology.”

    Yep. I also read the article about the Va. high school withholding already awarded Merit Scholarships from the “wrong” kids who won them.

    The equity and inclusion people have turn Martin Luther King Jr’s dream on it’s head: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. ”

    It’s not just about the color of skin now, either.

    Equity and Inclusion are not equal rights and for respect individuals.

    1. semper loquitur

      My sister the teacher has been dealing with this for years. Troubled students are never dealt with because “cultural harm”. Failing students are pushed through because numbers and “equity”. The Woke rot spreads and deepens…

    2. The Rev Kev

      I wonder if they were also doing something similar with the school’s athletes. I mean not telling them about awards that they may have won or not telling them about opportunities that they were eligible for due to their performances.

      1. JBird4049

        Our children did not ask to be judged by appearance instead of character, nor did they create the economic hellscape they live in.

        Maybe, just maybe, we could raise everyone’s ability to learn and thing as well as improve opportunities for everyone to at least the level of fifty years ago? Or is that crazy talk in this neoliberal paradise of our?

        It could be that I am a fool, but damn, the actions of too many have no connection to what I was taught or saw as a child. Martin Luther King, jr would rip these fools to shreds over their bigotry.

      1. ArchieShemp

        Of course, “First in family with a college degree” is an effort to address social class. Imperfect an effort as it is.

    1. Jhallc

      Agree totally… After 5 Letters I don’t have a clue. Of course I’ve always been more of a lumper than a splitter.

  9. Jeff Z

    Re Berkeley Law: certainly not announcing students that are members of the Federalist Society. /Snark off.

  10. Carolinian

    Re Zeppelins–I was a Zeppelin nut as a kid but they weren’t very practical. Weather always seemed to do them in.

    But they must have been cool looking. Plus they inspired the notional airship mast on top of the Empire State Building providing King Kong an aerie for swatting biplanes.

  11. mrsyk

    I’d say SBF was shooting higher than regulatory capture. Looks like a first installment on congressional capture.

  12. ProNewerDeal

    I’d like to see an editorial comparing the indicted or financial criminals Sam Banking-Fraud/Bernie Madoff/etc.

    to the unidicted 2B2F Bank$ta financial criminals like Jamie Dimon/Lloyd Blankfein/etc

    Professional financial “journalists” like Bloomberg talking heads that denounce the former cohort but -service the latter afaict are either very incompetent/unintelligent or very corrupt agnotologists.

  13. LaRuse

    Following up on the Richmond VA Anecdata from earlier this week. In the Something Awful category, husband finally got into his doc yesterday – not flu, not COVID, not RSV, just an unknown virus that converted into his usual upper respiratory infection and he has a Z-Pack and a 5 day run of steroids.
    I have been getting sicker and sicker and it was increasingly obvious that my symptoms didn’t match my husband’s at all so I can’t blame his lack of masking on my illmess. He had a deep cough and fatigue and not much more. I had a high fever (resolved), and have a severe headache, a severe sore throat, laryngitis, and now an ear ache (plus a cough got going a few days into this). Went and saw the RN today. Negative for flu and COVID, but came up positive for Strep, plus an ear infection and some kind of infection of the larynx. My RN says the Strep probably caused a cascade of secondary infections (thanks for the immune system dysregulation, COVID). I have never had Strep before, and I can’t say I can recommend it.
    So besides the Big Three, Strep is definitely circulating here in the US, too, and I have no idea how I got it because I mask everywhere in public. My best guess is if it’s fomite-transmitted, then a contaminated grocery cart probably took me down. I told the RN I had never had it before and she said “You know, I have seen it a lot of Strep in recent weeks and from several people who say they’ve never had it. It’s the oddest thing!” You don’t say…
    Medication shortages? I got my Augmentin easy enough but the codeine/guaifenesin medicine she prescribed to help me sleep for more than 2-4 hours without a coughing jag is not to be had at any CVS in the region. They are trying to get it overnighted and have it ready by tomorrow. Maybe Saturday. The OTC shelves are wiped pretty clear of most of your basic meds; Thera-Flu seems not to be as popular as the Nyquil variations. Advil was heavily wiped out; I didn’t need any, just noticed the gaps on the shelf.
    Lambert, I can’t thank you enough for the COVID (and other illness) coverage. It has made dealing with our double illnesses both easier, and enlightening. Without NC and the work here, I would just be in the dark about what is going on with our health and why.
    Separately, today, Dominion Power sent us a kindly worded email full of suggestions for what we should do when our power goes out during single digit temperatures with 40MPH wind gusts in the next 48 hours.
    Christmas 2022 is gonna be a memorable one, friends. Stay safe out there.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “Why do Christmas lights always get tangled?”

    Not just Christmas lights. Here is a section from an 1880s book talking about tow lines i. e. ropes-

    ‘There is something very strange and unaccountable about a tow-line. You roll it up with as much patience and care as you would take to fold up a new pair of trousers, and five minutes afterwards, when you pick it up, it is one ghastly, soul-revolting tangle.

    I do not wish to be insulting, but I firmly believe that if you took an average tow-line, and stretched it out straight across the middle of a field, and then turned your back on it for thirty seconds, that, when you looked round again, you would find that it had got itself altogether in a heap in the middle of the field, and had twisted itself up, and tied itself into knots, and lost its two ends, and become all loops; and it would take you a good half-hour, sitting down there on the grass and swearing all the while, to disentangle it again.

    That is my opinion of tow-lines in general. Of course, there may be honourable exceptions; I do not say that there are not. There may be tow-lines that are a credit to their profession—conscientious, respectable tow-lines—tow-lines that do not imagine they are crochet-work, and try to knit themselves up into antimacassars the instant they are left to themselves. I say there may be such tow-lines; I sincerely hope there are. But I have not met with them.’

    ― Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat

  15. Jason Boxman

    What Is the Federalist Society and Its Connection to Supreme Court Judges?

    Trump also seemed to exhibit a preference for Federalist Society members in the appeals courts, where Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) claims 90% of Trump’s appointees were current or former members, per the New Republic.

    And remember Schumer was happy to help if it meant getting out of DC on time for vacation! Our liberal Democrats, ladies and gentlemen!

    1. hk

      Second coming of the Gandhi from the Civ games, maybe.

      (NB: because of a programming bug, Gandhi became a crazy warmonger obsessed with nuclear weapons instead of a total peacenik in the first game. For the rest of the series, this was always done intentionally as an inside joke)

      1. digi_owl

        Heh, i guess that is one way to check if we are in a simulation. By trying to provoke an overflow error.

  16. JBird4049

    >>>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:

    Hey, it’s nice to know that I am deep in the red zone.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “Rare Historical Photos Show The Inside Of The Hindenburg Zeppelin”

    Right now there is some airline executive grimacing at the photos in that article and calculating how many seats that he could have crammed into that airship by ripping out all those conveniences and luxuries.

    But it would have been a nice way to cross the Atlantic.

    1. digi_owl

      This is back when boats came with three classes of passengers. And the lowest had to contend with simple wood bunks, and bring their own food.

    1. digi_owl

      I swear there is some psychological claim that most abusers were abused growing up.

      And sometimes it feels like a cultures have behaviors akin to cross generational individuals.

      So the question arises, will an abused culture became an abusive culture.

  18. bwilli123

    Re Conservative Judges Are Helping the “Freedom of Contract”

    A dollar on its own is pretty much powerless.
    So I can appreciate why dollars tend to band together to get things done.

    I’ve yet to understand why this collective bargaining by the dollar is praiseworthy, but collective bargaining by labor for the same reasons is not.

Comments are closed.