2:00PM Water Cooler 12/23/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Lark Bunting, Pawnee National Grasslands, Weld, Colorado, United States. Adult male flight song. A lot going on in the grasslands!

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

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

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

Capitol Seizure

“Jan. 6 transcripts reveal new details on how Pa. Republicans tried to help Trump stay in the White House” [Philadephia Inquirer]. • As I’ve said, I think contacts with state election officials is likely to be the most fruitful line of enquiry, whether in PA or GA. A President can’t be calling them up and asking to “find” votes for him! He should have people for that!* That said, “tried”? We’re not charging Trump with attempted insurrection, right? NOTE * It was occurred to me that whatever Trump was up to during the Capitol Seizure was not a SCAD, because the “S” component — the State — was really missing or wholly inadequate. (For example, it’s difficult to stage a coup without a military faction on your side). And that was really Trump’s problem all along, wasn’t it? (For example, he gave orders for a troop withdrawal from Syria, his prerogative as Commander-in-Chief. But The Blob simply ignored him.)

Biden Administration

Moar eugenics:


“Kamala Harris, A Very Turbulent Year in America, and the Challenge of Being First” (interview) [Vanity Fair]. “This idea of public-private partnerships is something Harris’s team is particularly committed to. During our meeting [Harris] told me about time spent working on community banks and banks focused on the problems in developing areas. Still the root causes of migration aren’t going to be solved with a few billion dollars in investments. Harris told me, ‘A large part of the issue that is affecting that region, and really globally, we’re seeing these migration changes, because if you couple the pandemic, what it caused in terms of a crash to the economy, and you include the climate crisis, and what that has meant to those economies because so many of these countries are agricultural-based in terms of not only their industry and therefore they’re income, but if you can’t grow food, you can’t eat. That’s about food insecurity, and if you can’t eat where you live, you leave.” • I don’t think the underlined text is actually a sentence. Meanwhile, the best thing you could do for Mexico in terms of food security would be to stop overwhelming their farmers with cheap, bad corn.

“2023 Will Be the Year for Republicans to Decide How Hard They’re Willing to Fight Trump” [Morning Consult]. “According to the Dec. 10-14 survey, DeSantis leads Trump, 45% to 44%, in a hypothetical head-to-head primary matchup, with another 11% undecided. The governor of a state with one of the highest percentages of residents older than 65 gets his strongest backing from America’s oldest voters, a core GOP constituency, along with majority support among Christians and — most notably given the party’s recent losses — suburbanites. Trump is strongest among the potential Republican primary voters with the lowest levels of educational attainment, a constant throughout his time on the political stage, while the two Republican candidates are polling even among base voters who backed Trump in 2020.”

“”We Will Get Destroyed”: Evangelicals Are Quietly Ditching Donald Trump’s 2024 Bid” [Vanity Fair]. “‘There’s a lot of people who share a lot of our similar thoughts but don’t want to go on record,’ Bob Vander Plaats, one of America’s top evangelical thought leaders, who hesitantly backed Trump in 2016, tells me. ‘You can see that it’s almost a silent majority right now,’ he says. Everett Piper, a Washington Times columnist and the former president of an evangelical university, published a post-midterm polemic last month arguing that Trump is ‘hurting…not helping’ American evangelicals. ‘The take-home of this past week is simple: Donald Trump has to go,’ Piper added. ‘If he’s our nominee in 2024, we will get destroyed.’ Earlier this month, televangelist James Robison, who served as a spiritual adviser to Trump, likened the former president to a ‘little elementary schoolchild’ while addressing the National Association of Christian Lawmakers. Another major evangelical leader, who requested anonymity, tells me there’s ‘no doubt’ that if Trump wins the primary, Republicans will ‘get crushed in the general.'” • (Hegemonic) PMCs hate Trump. Even conservative ones. (Actually, “hate” is probably too strong a word; these evangelicals are calculating their odds of retaining power. They haven’t lost their minds, like liberal PMCs.)

“McConnell calls out ‘diminished’ Trump, vows not to bow to his candidates in 2024” [NBC]. “Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell deferred to former President Donald Trump’s handpicked candidates in competitive midterm races, culminating in jarring defeats and a larger Democratic majority that bucked the odds. He promises not to let that happen again, insisting he will “actively look for quality candidates” to promote in the 2024 primaries. In a rare and pointed criticism of the former president, who’s seeking a comeback in two years, McConnell said Trump’s power is on the wane and called on him to back off Senate primaries. ‘Here’s what I think has changed: I think the former president’s political clout has diminished,’ McConnell told NBC News on Wednesday in a wide-ranging interview in his Capitol Hill office.” • McConnell isn’t saying this in the hopes his words will come true if he simply says them; I don’t view McConnell as the slightest bit performative. So, interesting.



Odd, because typically oppo is done before an election not, as here, after. Are Democrats now experimenting with removing electeds from office?

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.

* * *

Well, well. Look at the Democrats in SBF’s cuddle puddle:

“Three notes on Sean McElwee’s campaign finance scandal” [Carl Beijer]. “Sean had a small network of loyalists and a larger audience of sympathizers among mainstream Democrats, but among rank-and-file activists and organizers, in left media and academia, from the lowliest dirtbag left Twitter posters to staffers in the House and Senate, Sean has long been regarded as an ambitious opportunist. This is not a story of the left being hoodwinked and watching their hero crash and burn; this is a story of journalists believing his hype for years and the left saying ‘we told you so.'”

IA: “Iowa Democrats ‘looking into’ $250,000 donation from former FTX cryptocurrency executive” [Des Moines Register]. “A former executive of the bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX appears to have made a one-time $250,000 donation to the Iowa Democratic Party — a contribution that is likely to come under scrutiny as investigations into the company and its leaders intensifies. Nishad Singh, a former director of engineering for the embattled FTX, made the donation to the Iowa Democratic Party June 17, according to finance records filed with the state. The party reported raising nearly $4.6 million between January and October 2022.” • That’s a lot!

Realignment and Legitimacy

Nah. Science fiction stuff!

“Churchgoing and belief in God stand at historic lows, despite a megachurch surge” [The Hill]. “Church membership, church attendance and belief in God all declined during the pandemic years, survey data suggest, accelerating decades long trends away from organized worship. In-person church attendance plummeted by 45 percent in the pandemic, according to an ABC News analysis. At least one-fifth of Americans today embrace no religion at all…. The lone, striking countertrend is a steep rise in nondenominational Protestants, who attend churches outside the “mainline” denominations — the once-ubiquitous Baptists, Methodists and Lutherans. Nondenominational Protestants — “nons” — became a majority in 2021, signaling a new era of churches and clergies untethered from religious tradition.” • Interesting….


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.

* * *

•  Fauci almost lets the cat out of the bag:

It would be interesting to know when “everyone” — who, exactly? — was doing this “hoping”. My guess would be either just before Biden’s ginormous Omicron peak, or in March 2022, when case counts and wastewater mysteriously diverged. Of course, this wouldn’t have been a small-d democratic decision, but large-D Democrats aren’t into that anyhow. The cat in the bag being the Biden Administration’s eugenicist approach (or “social murder,” as the New Enquiry labels it below, in an important series of posts. So how’s that working out?

• It looks like China is taking a page from Biden’s playbook:

• But not all Chinese accept the eugencist approach, no more than there than here:

(Can some kind reader translate and give context?)

• “The Year the Pandemic “Ended” (Part III)” [The New Enquiry]. “After all, Biden pledged before he was even inaugurated: “I’m not going to shut down the economy, I’m going to shut down the virus.” Was it worth it? This miserable economy in which so many people are struggling? The temporary economic gains produced by a race to “re-open the economy” that just slipped away immediately because forcing everybody back to work meant forcing people toward illness, over and over again? Many of us would like to think that there must be some level of death, some level of sickness and disability or debility, that will make the system stop working, or that will cause some wake up call for liberals. The last two years under Biden have demonstrated very plainly that that is not the case. The reality of our political economy, as we try to document in our book Health Communism, is that the capitalist state relies on social murder as a management function. The capitalist state is deliberately not set up to support individuals who aren’t ‘productive’ to the capitalist economy, to the point of ultimately turn this population of ‘surplus’ into economic fuel for extractive state capacities. In this way, social murder—or organized abandonment, slow death—is component to capitalism itself; a crucial state capacity. But the fact that even under our current political economy—under capitalism—we could have saved so many speaks volumes to the depravity of the current makeup of the US state. Our demands must be large, and they must be oriented at a horizon that breaks this political economy. Capitalism has weathered crises like covid before, and will again, but only if we let it. There is nothing to wait for. There will be no better time.” • This series of posts is a really useful timeline!

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* * *

• Metrics are important!

* * *

• Maskstravaganza: “Why mask mandates aren’t coming back even though covid is” [WaPo]. “‘You didn’t see a lot of people walking around with masks in a bad flu season pre-pandemic, and as you know, not everyone is amenable to wearing a mask,’ CDC Director Rochelle Walensky recently told The Washington Post.” • Not everybody is amenable to wearing a seatbelt. Or not smoking in public. Amazing the Post doesn’t call this quote out in any way.

* * *

• A good question of “immunity debt” goons:

* * *

• “Transmission Route of Rhinovirus – the causative agent for common cold. A systematic review”

* * *


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 22:

1.3%. 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 19:

Too much red (especially with Ohio back online). JFK/LGA (Queens County, NY), ORD (Cook County, IL), SFO (San Francisco, CA), LAX (Los Angeles), and ATL (Cobb County, GA) are all red.

December 18:

NOT UPDATED 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.

Variant data, national (CDC), December 3 (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 22:

Resuming the upward climb 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: 1,115,748 – 1,114,931 = 817 (817 * 365 = 298,205 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

Manufacturing: “United States Durable Goods Orders” [Trading Economics]. “Durable goods orders in the US, which measure the cost of orders received by manufacturers of goods meant to last at least three years, fell by 2.1% month-over-month in November 2022. It was the sharpest decrease since April 2020 and well above market forecasts of a 0.6% decline.”

Housing: “United States Building Permits” [Trading Economics]. “Building permits in the United States tumbled 10.6 percent from a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.351 million in November 2022, the lowest level since June 2020 and compared to a preliminary estimate of 1.342 million, revised data showed. Permits, a proxy for future construction, have been falling as soaring prices and rising mortgage rates hit demand and activity.”

Income: “United States Personal Income” [Trading Economics]. “Personal income in the United States increased 0.4 percent from a month earlier in November of 2022, following a 0.7 percent rise in October and above market expectations of a 0.3 percent gain. The increase primarily reflected increases in compensation and personal income receipts on assets.”

* * *

Tech: “Silicon Valley is coming for your gut biome” [NBC]. • Rent-A-Biome™. No.

Tech: “Meta and Alphabet lose dominance over US digital ads market” [Financial Times]. “Meta and Alphabet have lost their dominance over the digital advertising market they have ruled for years, as the duopoly is hit by fast-growing competition from rivals Amazon, TikTok, Microsoft and Apple. The share of US ad revenues held by Facebook’s parent Meta and Google owner Alphabet is projected to fall by 2.5 percentage points to 48.4 per cent this year, the first time the two groups will not hold a majority share of the market since 2014, according to research group Insider Intelligence. This will mark the fifth consecutive annual decline for the duopoly, whose share of the market has fallen from a peak of 54.7 per cent in 2017 and is forecast to decline to 43.9 per cent by 2024. Worldwide, Meta and ‘Four years ago, you wouldn’t be talking about either [TikTok or Amazon] in advertising,’ said [Jerry Dischler, head of ads at Google]. ‘So it’s really telling that more and more people are acknowledging that advertising is a great and scalable business model.'” • Oh good. More doomscrolling, clickbait, and virality.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 38 Fear (previous close: 35 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 43 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 23 at 12:20 PM EST.

Xmas Pregame Festivities

The real meaning (making some assumptions about history, here) of Christ’s birth, as expressed by Mary, his mother. A thread:


Quoting the third of the Magnificat’s four parts:


Luke 4: 18-19:


A Magnificat:

The 420

“Have a safe trip: Oregon trains magic mushroom facilitators” [Associated Press]. “[30 men and women] are among the first crop of students being trained how to accompany patients tripping on psilocybin, as Oregon prepares to become the first U.S. state to offer controlled use of the psychedelic mushroom to the public. Expected to be available to the public in mid- or late-2023, the program is charting a potential course for other states. Oregon voters approved Ballot Measure 109 on psilocybin by an 11% margin in 2020. In November, Colorado voters also passed a ballot measure allowing regulated use of ‘magic mushrooms’ starting in 2024. On Dec. 16, California state Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco introduced a bill to legalize psilocybin and other psychedelic substances.” • Maybe I should have filed this under “Xmas Pregame Festivities”? Maybe not–

“A Bad Trip With The Toad Shaman” [Texas Observer]. “[Brooke] Tarrer, leader of a group she calls the Universal Shamans of the New Tomorrow, holds a lighter under a glass vial at the end of a pipe. The white, dried toad poison inside begins to smoke, and the man inhales it deeply. She helps him lie down, extends his legs and brushes a fan made of condor feathers along his body. For about 20 minutes, the man remains nearly motionless, as he undergoes an intense psychedelic experience. Meanwhile, Tarrer and four facilitators also dressed in white with red sashes, serve the powerful ‘sacrament’ to three other people. One woman sobs uncontrollably for a few minutes. Another man writhes, heaves and drools in the sand for nearly half an hour. All emerge from their trance with hypnotic, euphoric smiles. Then, suddenly, the ritual takes an unnerving turn as Tarrer shifts her attention to me….” • Oh.

Our Famously Free Press

Somehow I don’t think Seymour Hersh would get the same treatment:

“Twitter changed science — what happens now it’s in turmoil?” [Nature]. “For hundreds of thousands of scientists, Twitter is a sounding board, megaphone and common room: a place to broadcast research findings, debate issues in academia and interact with people who they wouldn’t normally meet up with. ‘I would never be able to know so many scientists without it,’ says Oded Rechavi, who works on transgenerational inheritance at Tel Aviv University in Israel. ‘It increases democracy in science and gives you more opportunities, no matter where you are.’ Since the site’s founding in 2006, Twitter executives have often asserted that it aims to be nothing less than a ‘public town square’ of communication; it now claims almost 250 million daily users. At that scale, abuse, misinformation and bots have been ever-present, but for many researchers, the advantages of rapid, widespread communication to each other and an engaged public outweighed these problems. The threat of Twitter changing radically under its new management, or perhaps disappearing altogether, has raised concerns and questions for researchers. How well has this vast social-media platform benefited science, and to what extent has it harmed it? If it disappears, would researchers want to recreate it elsewhere?” • Let me know how recreating Twitter elsewhere scales….

Zeitgeist Watch

“How to Keep a Christmas Tree Alive and Fresh” [Good Housekeeping]. From the final paragraph: “When you’re officially done with your tree, you have a couple options: You can start a new compost pile with it, recycle it or turn it into mulch yourself.” • Filing this here because I don’t think these suggestions would have appeared twenty or perhaps even ten years ago. Progress!

Groves of Academe

“Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative” [Stanford University]. “The Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative (EHLI) is a multi-phase, multi-year project to address harmful language in IT at Stanford. EHLI is one of the actions prioritized in the Statement of Solidarity and Commitment to Action, which was published by the Stanford CIO Council (CIOC) and People of Color in Technology (POC-IT) affinity group in December 2020. The goal of the Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative is to eliminate* many forms of harmful language, including racist, violent, and biased (e.g., disability bias, ethnic bias, ethnic slurs, gender bias, implicit bias, sexual bias) language in Stanford websites and code.” • For example:

No, it very doesn’t:

Anyhow, nice work if you can get it.

“3 Princeton DEI staff members resign, alleging lack of support” [Daily Princetonian]. “‘Folks like myself are treated like we’re on an assembly line,’ [Jordan “JT” Turner, former Associate Director of Athletics for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)] said. ‘You hire us, you fire us, and you bring someone else in, and people will just stay in their roles of leadership and get away with it.'” Yes, that’s how the modern university works. More : “[Dr. Jim Scholl] explained that the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity hosted periodic meetings and luncheons for ‘DEI practitioners’ on campus. As one of the staff members considered to be a ‘DEI practitioner,’ they said that these luncheons and other meetings of the group, as well as the label itself, often felt performative.” “Considered to be” by whom? I don’t want to go all credentialist — well, maybe I do, this is a university — but what the heck is a DEI “practioner”? More: “[University Spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss] emphasized that there are 15 departments at the University engaged in DEI learning paths, which will include University-wide learning and guided resources, as well as facilitated workshops and self-directed study.” • I suppose that DEI practioners do “learning paths” (different from courses or workshops, apparently.). dunno. I shouldn’t react so badly to exciting new vocabularies, I suppose. To me, this all boils down to academic politics being a rough game. But that’s why they pay you the big bucks. (Also, and I hate even to bring this up, but the topic of the article is the three people who resigned: Turner, Scholl, and Ross (I only mentioned Scholl). That makes using the “they” pronoun a stumbling block for the reader who is pressed temporally; it’s impossible to know whether “they” refers to one, two, or all three, so one must constantly refer back to check.)

“Wendell Berry: UK’s plans for Memorial Hall dishonor art, artists, history and ‘honest thought.'” [Wendell Berry, Lexington Herald-Leader]. “The university’s allegation against the fresco is that “it depicts in distorted fashion the way enslaved people and other marginalized peoples were treated in Kentucky.” If this statement were to be made in a freshman theme, or in a court of law, it would need to be supported by some sort of authority. Surely in this case we need the testimony of historians who know the history of central Kentucky. If any members of the university’s history department are familiar with the history in question, their silence about it is an embarrassment to them and to the university. In its official disesteem for her work, the university has offered not even a polite regard to Ann O’Hanlon, who was still in her twenties when she painted the fresco, already a remarkably gifted and accomplished young artist. She was also a graduate of the University of Kentucky, which has paid little attention to her and her work until now, when it has allowed to fall upon her, with no effort to limit its damage, the implication that she was a racist. So much for the university’s interest in justice to women. Tanya and I know very well that Ann O’Hanlon was not a racist, as we think is shown by the character of her attention to black people in her fresco. If only to validate their intelligence, President Capilouto and his supporters ought to ask themselves a question that to us is obvious: What would they think of the fresco if there were no black people in it? If only to vindicate their reputation as critics and patrons of the arts, the president and his supporters need to remember that they paid the artist Karyn Olivier to make a second prominent work of art in Memorial Hall that would respond to the O’Hanlon fresco from the point of view of a black person. But now they appear to have abandoned any interest in her or her work, as well as her appeal to keep the fresco in place.” • Obviously, the University of Kentucky’s administrators are greatly overpaid.” • Here’s the mural again (a portion of it):

Class Warfare

Not “surreal” if you listen to the Fed. Or maybe it is:

News of the Wired

“The Etymology of Unobtanium” [Smithsonian]. “The silly-sounding name of the material provided a ready punchline at the time, and even 13 years later, some still haven’t figured out unobtanium is a real thing. Not an actual, corporeal substance like copper or tin or sour grapes, but a concept in engineering dating back at least as far as the 1950s. James R. Hansen’s space history Engineer in Charge: A History of the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory, 1917-1958 documents the term’s usage in an October 1957 meeting lamenting ‘the lack of a superior high-temperature material (which the Langley structures people dubbed ‘unobtanium’).’ The word became a sort of placeholder for an unknown material that would have the properties designers required of it, like plugging X into an equation.”

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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 Copeland:

Copeland writes: “Here is a section of our alternative lawn, with English Daisies and clover in addition to the lawn grasses. English Daisies bloom over and extended period, mostly in autumn and spring.”

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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. Wukchumni

    Czechs have been world class disbelievers in dogma for some time now, so I was raised without its benefit, in fact i’ve never been in a church when regular services were held, and i’d like to keep that record intact.

  2. Roger Blakely

    At yesterday’s weekly media briefing for the Los Angeles County Dept. of Public Health the director said a couple of interesting things. Today LA County is retreating from the CDC’s COVID-19 high community level to the medium level. She said that LA County will probably move back and forth between the high and medium levels over the next several weeks. What she was getting at is that we are coming off of the Thanksgiving wave and starting the Christmas wave.

    It is interesting that last week only two counties in California were in the high level, Los Angeles County and Imperial County. Today about twenty other counties in California were moved from the medium level to the high level, most notably Orange County.

    The director also pointed out that, based on the hospitalization numbers, it cannot be said that SARS-CoV-2 has mutated into something benign.

    1. marku52

      They reported also that deaths are higher than in the last Omi wave. But I’m sure they were mild deaths….

    2. Roger Blakely

      Orange County public health is on the case. Here is their Twitter feed:

      Orange County Moves to “HIGH” COVID-19 Community Transmission Level Based on CDC Metrics.

      Get on board this holiday travel season! Get vaccinated and boosted, stay home and test if you’re sick, and wear a mask!

  3. Toshiro_Mifune

    Twitter changed science — what happens now it’s in turmoil?

    The threat of Twitter changing radically under its new management, or perhaps disappearing altogether, has raised concerns and questions for researchers. If it disappears, would researchers want to recreate it elsewhere?”
    Just go back to message boards if it does go away you knobs. This isnt a difficult issue

  4. TimH


    As many as 248 million people, or nearly 18% of the population, likely contracted the virus in the first 20 days of December, according to minutes from an internal meeting of China’s National Health Commission held on Wednesday, confirmed with people involved in the discussions.

  5. fresno dan

    “Jan. 6 transcripts reveal new details on how Pa. Republicans tried to help Trump stay in the White House” [Philadephia Inquirer]. • ….
    NOTE * It was occurred to me that whatever Trump was up to during the Capitol Seizure was not a SCAD, because the “S” component — the State — was really missing or wholly inadequate. (For example, it’s difficult to stage a coup without a military faction on your side). And that was really Trump’s problem all along, wasn’t it? (For example, he gave orders for a troop withdrawal from Syria, his prerogative as Commander-in-Chief. But The Blob simply ignored him.)
    There are two ways of looking at this. 1st all the investigations that didn’t happen to Hillary and the consequences of fair, impartial, and disspasionate investigation (e.g., to numerous to completely list but the democratic server, using the Hillary server for classified material, using cut outs to facilities the Steele dossier, etcetera. This didn’t happen because a SCAD made sure it didn’t happen.
    2nd is all the endless investigation of Trump that should not have happened at all but should have been resolved (and discounted) within very short order. And as Twitter shows, when you have as many unfounded rumours published against Trump as there were, at some point it is not private enterprise, but instigated, organized, and facilitated by a SCAD.
    Very simply, that advertising slogan, A nation of laws, not men – is exactly backwards, it is a nation of, by, and for the cronies.

  6. fresno dan

    Matt Novak
    It’s surreal to watch financial news talk about regular people having money to spend and job security as a negative thing. If you ever needed convincing that the health of “the economy” is a conspiracy against working people, watch this clip from CNBC that just aired.
    If that doesn’t prove Karl Marx’s theory of a reserve army of labor, I don’t what would…

  7. JBird4049

    >>>I’m begging public health experts to help set a point of reference for officials and journalists other than “better or worse” than last winter, when over 150,000 Americans died of covid in a three month period. This framing is an outrageous normalization of mass death.

    >>>The FY2023 omnibus bill has $0 for COVID. This is the *fourth* time Biden has failed to secure emergency pandemic relief this year.

    Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

    >>>It’s surreal to watch financial news talk about regular people having money to spend and job security as a negative thing. If you ever needed convincing that the health of “the economy” is a conspiracy against working people, watch this clip from CNBC that just aired.

    Since they insist on providing an excellent environment for creating new Covid strains to kill us all, maybe we should stop worrying and love the Disease? I mean what is the likeliness that Covid variant DCLXVIΩ will not arise?

    I mean since “they” are so, so worried about the economy, maybe this is the goal? Give most everyone Long Covid and permanently whack the poors (and much of the middle class as well)?

    I must getting… weird since the Cold War, the Second Cold War, Covid, and the Great Depression are all getting mixed in my head into a glorious montage for horror movie plot. Too bad we don’t have Hunter S. Thompson to do the reporting.

    1. Samuel Conner

      > “they” are so, so worried about the economy

      decimating workers and consumers is a strange expression of “concern” for the economy.

      maybe it’s a blunt approach to “degrowth”

      1. JBird4049

        I am not sure what it is as I am still trying to under the thinking. Either they want to crush their inferiors with their hogwash demands of better treatment or it’s to just the genocidal way of degrowth. Perhaps, since eugenical beliefs still run not so deep below the surface of American thought, it is some twisted social darwinism.

        1. Samuel Conner

          > twisted social darwinism

          I have this uneasy sense that there is going to be some serious “selective pressure” in terms of “greater debilitation of the less well-protected” becoming evident in future years. Peter Turchin’s expression “popular immiseration” comes to mind.

          At some point, the disdain of the rulers for the ruled may become so obvious that it is impossible for it to not draw widespread notice. I would imagine that there will be a great deal of anger and hatred arising out of this.

        2. cnchal

          The word you are looking for is ‘pivot’.

          If a peasant has a couple of bucks to spend and can command a buck an hour moar, the thinking goes, that’s bad for stawks because stawk price is inversely correlated to interest rates, and the peasant can still pay the price for hamburger instead of subsituting sawdust weiners, giving the finger to higher prices.

          Powell then keeps raising interest rates, grinding stawk prices down, which the pump and dumpers on bubble vision hate. The expectation is that once the peasants only have enough money to eat sawdust weiners, Powell will ‘pivot’ and lower interest rates bringing back the glory daze of ridiculous stawk prices for ridiculous companies that lose billions of dollars per year.

          Companies where the stawk price is based on dividends is so last millenium.

          When I visit my dad, he has that crap on all day long and venal cubed doesn’t even come close to describing it. Watching the three stooges of the morning, Cramer, Carl and David, one can tell that both Carl and David are embarrased to be on the set with Cramer, and every time Cramer says ‘covid is just the flu’ I half expext either Carl or David to punch Cramer in the head. That would be some good TV.

          1. JBird4049

            Let me restate this: A “good” economy may mean that the Fed raises interest rates, which will sink both stocks and pop bubbles? This means that the mass of homeless people need to grow, which keeps interest rates down, keeping both stocks and bubbles up for the benefit of the vultures and vampire squids?

            The presenters were so calm, so matter-of-fact about doing mass torture and murder for money.

            1. cnchal

              > This means that the mass of homeless people need to grow, which keeps interest rates down, keeping both stocks and bubbles up for the benefit of the vultures and vampire squids?

              From the financial overlords perspective that is exactly right.

            2. hunkerdown

              They were preserving an abstraction that they rate more important than the comfort of the working class. System fetishism, you could call it.

  8. kareninca

    Yesterday I went to Safeway in Silicon Valley and oatmeal was on my list. I usually get Safeway brand, and I did this time, too; it is just the same as Quaker Oats and it is typically somewhat cheaper. But I always glance at the Quaker Oats, in case it is on sale at a lower price. Well, the canister of Safeway oatmeal was $4.99. It’s been going up. The same-sized canister of Quaker oatmeal was $8.99!!!!!!

    That is so weird. I have never seen such a difference between name brand and Safeway brand for ordinary things. What makes Quaker think anyone is going to pay $8.99? Unless the store runs out of the Safeway brand. Which could happen. There was plenty of Quaker on the shelves, but the Safeway version was nearly sold out.

    I wonder if Safeway will soon raise its price to nearly match.

    1. EarthMagic

      Avoid Quaker if you don’t want to consume pesticides.

      In the first round of EWG tests, Quaker Old Fashioned Oats cereal was found to have the most glyphosate per sample, with more than 1,000 ppb in two of three samples tested. In the second round of EWG tests, the highest level of 2,837 ppb was found in one sample of Quaker Oatmeal Squares breakfast cereal.

      1. Grateful Dude

        Get organic oats at the natural food store. They may be less expensive. I never buy food in a supermarket anymore.

    2. earthling

      The cereal makers have used this year’s inflation as an excuse to raise prices by outrageous amounts, I think partly to see what people would put up with. Years ago soup was always inexpensive, til Campbells just decided it would make more money if it instituted ‘higher margins’. The fact you can still manufacture and sell generic cereal for much closer to last year’s price just proves it’s a gambit.

      We’ll see what next year’s prices bring. They will probably titrate them down to a still high but more palatable level to optimize their revenue. And another category of goods will have been adjusted higher.

      1. fjallstrom

        From Galbraith’s The Affluent Society, I learnt that oligopolistic companies raises prices because they can, but they like something to blame. At the time (60ies) it was large industrial companies and the excuse was wage increases. So the companies scheduled their annual price increase to happen after wage negotiations with the unions, so they had something to blame. And in doing so creating the impression of wage-price-inflation.

        Nowadays there are so many oligopolies, and the last couple of years has provided so many excuses. So prices will rise because the oligopolies wants to raise prices and thinks they will get away with it, and it will be blamed on covid, transport bottle necks, inflation. And then when increased prices means more inflation, they will blame inflation for the next increase and so on.

        1. Pat

          A couple of decades ago a gutsy union fed up with the bull that ticket prices had exploded because of (implied) union wage increases offered to take a small pay cut if ticket prices were reduced. The management, not really thinking, replied that they would gladly accept the pay cut but there would be no cut in ticket prices. The union then took the wage cut off the table and put their real demands on the table. The thing is this is a state where only one party has to know they are being recorded. And the union had been recording everything. So Management was told flat out that any attempt to blame the union for ticket prices would find everything from that negotiation released to the public along with available and easily checkable data about both the increased amount of management compensation and corporate profit for the previous decade. It was the only entertainment group that not only did not directly blame labor but listed other operating cost increasing when asked why they had raised ticket prices. That changed when it’s ownership changed, but it was sort of nice for a while.

  9. fresno dan

    I know that the US congress does a lot of unserious things. The two impeachments of Trump were pretty unserious. I think this report on the Janaury 6 “insurrection” is even more ridiculous. But there does come a time when laws that do exist are not being enforced (Hillary and her own private Idaho -WHOOPS!- I mean server). And when state representatives and employees bend, stretch, twist, and distort any semblence of good judgement and disspassionate analysis in the interest of extra legal advantage, for example recommending that a former president, still eligible for another run for the presidency, not be allowed to run.
    What has happened to at least giving the appearance of probity, rectitude, and integrity?

    4. Fourteenth Amendment, Section 3.
    Under Section 3 of the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment, an individual who previously took an oath to support the Constitution of the United States, but who has “engaged in an insurrection” against the same,
    or given “aid or comfort to the enemies of the Constitution” can be disqualified from holding future federal or state office. The Select Committeehas referred Donald Trump and others for possible prosecution under 18 U.S.C. 2383, including for assisting and providing aid and comfort to an insurrection. The Committee also notes that Donald J. Trump was impeached by a majority of the House of Representatives for Incitement of an Insurrection, and there were 57 votes in the Senate for his conviction.
    Congressional committees of jurisdiction should consider creating a formal mechanism for evaluating whether to bar those individuals identified inthis Report under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment from holding future federal or state office. The Committee believes that those who took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution and then, on January 6th, engaged ininsurrection can appropriately be disqualified and barred from holding government office—whether federal or state, civilian or military—absent at
    least two-thirds of Congress acting to remove the disability pursuant to Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Committee notes that Ms. Wasserman Schultz and Mr. Raskin have introduced H. Con. Res. 93 to declare the January 6 assault an insurrection and H.R. 7906 to establish
    specific procedures and standards for disqualification under section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment in the United States district court for the District of Columbia.
    If something like this were to pass, I would vote for Trump (which I guess would mean writing his name on the ballot). Fortunately, I don’t think I’ll ever have to do someting so distasteful, as this rather ridiculous proposal will not get anywhere.
    I can see the FOX stage and the republican candidates being asked to raise their hands if they OPPOSE Trump being banned from running for president. Its like the dems feel they need TWO victories against Trump and think it is impossible for Trump to win again.
    Oh, and there weren’t enough footnotes in the report (do I really have to add a sarc tag…)

  10. skippy

    Ref SBF political donations …

    I remember an occurrence back in Bill Clinton’s day which made the light of day in some news papers at the time. So a tribe of gulf of Mexico native American’s were attempting to develop some oil resources on their land and big oil was doing everything it could to kill it, more so just steal it from them. So the tribe goes through the political hoops and makes in all the way to Bill and just before seeing him is approached by one of the last gate keepers … the question posed too the tribal emissary was what have you done for Bill of late … how much did you politically donate to his campaign – ?????

    Seems there was a several 10K bar for direct access to Bills ear and they were being shaken down at the last step before a meeting was allowed. Anywho the meeting never happened and the tribe fortunes with it.

    Its almost romantic in its bringing gifts to the King vs the currant spewing funds blindly at everything that has a pulse or a platform that engages the unwashed minds across the electorate.

    Wellie off to work to sort out next door neighbors mates renovation doors as they are away on holidays and I have a clear path to work in, yet tomorrow I got a 4 rib rack of beef that had been hanging in the butchers fridge for two weeks and now marinating so I can pop it on the Weber tomorrow – for a slow smoked cook. Mix of some wood smoke after being marinated in Tabasco, Lea&Perrins, salt and pepper, garlic inserted into rack and lager beer for a few days with a side of roast veg and fresh sour dough bread.

    Covid ref … mother in TX Hospice has covid, sister and husband in AZ have are sick[????], and they are dropping like flys … sister actually said mother caught it by constantly going into infected area of the Hospice … errrr – ???? – have gently informed sis she might want to up her risk weighing for a bit post any infection due to compounding factors … we’ll see …

    1. The Rev Kev

      Hillary as SecState was doing the same thing with access but the money had to go to the Clinton Foundation rather than a campaign donation. You couldn’t get into a meeting with any government officials unless you paid in money to that Foundation. When Trump won, it came out that Oz had paid $88 million into it and wondered why. It was only later I worked out that so that Aussie government officials could get to talk to American government officials. And when I type this, I am reminded how this was how the old corrupt Ottoman empire worked.

      1. ambrit

        Your concept has merit. The manner in which the old Ottoman Empire was replaced has particular relevance to the American Empire of today. I can definitely see a coalition of Oath Keepers and other conservative groups taking control to “restore the Republic.” Technically, the Oath Keepers themselves would fulfil the need for a faction of the armed forces to be involved for a ‘golpe’ to be successful.
        It says much that such theorizing is now not immediately laughed away as the crazed ideations of a [insert favourite insult here] “enthusiast.”

        1. digi_owl

          I wonder if that is how all empires go, as the leadership becomes too insulated from the masses.

          Another thing i can’t help ponder is the eunuchs of late imperial China’s Forbidden City, and how that parallels with certain goings on in US politics these days. Grown men willingly getting it chopped off in order to access the halls of power.

      2. skippy

        I find this a prime example of what The Great Transformation was talking about wrt a – market society – money dictates everything e.g. flow of funds is Truth and that Truth is undeniable.

        So now we are at a juncture where neoliberalism spread across the planet and only China and Russia had the ability too say no thank you and here we are now.

  11. JBird4049

    “Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative”

    Reminds me of the kerfuffle over the world niggardly. With so much material and spiritual material suffering in the world, I would thing that university could better use it resources for relieving them rather than looking for make-work or as writer David Graeber would call them Bullshit Jobs. But one would have to deal with actual misery and want, wouldn’t they? It might upset their digestion.

    1. skippy

      Such policies always remind me of Temple Grandin’s behavioral works with cattle whilst being processed … calm and relaxed right up too … when the huge saw blades spring up from the floor …

      Strangely this seems to have the opposite effect social/political/economic as everyone is ground down by it without any means to vent save joining some narrow groupthink cult online …

      1. JBird4049

        You’re not implying that the Party might be down with (Ingsoc) English Socialism’s vision? I do wonder if they know that books like Brave New World, and The Rise of the Meritocracy are supposed to be warnings and not recommendations?

        Joking aside, the thinking shown by many in academe, politics, or “culture” is so shallow and nonsensical that some would believe that they are. The past does not exist. Only the feels do.

        Good grief, the attempts to hide or even destroy murals painted by WPA artists at schools, universities, post offices, and other public buildings using reasoning that doesn’t make any sense creates feelings that I can’t really describe. Horror, fear, maybe even grief? How can people not see that the paintings’ messages are meant to so the truth, such as the racism, slavery, and genocides that underlies much of American history as well the working and middle classes that are its glory? It is all there for the seeing. One just has to look as well as see.

  12. mahleria

    I’ve been meaning to post an update on COVID state of things for a while, but now it’s more personal than I hoped. My family has successfully avoided covid so far with layered defenses, masks being foundational. We have been able to return to more or less normal life, including travel with the rule that we never take mask off indoors whenever/wherever non-household members are present. My son’s school is very good about covid precautions (ventilation upgrades!), encourages masking and makes sure any meals/snacks are done outside (benefit of living in CA). In the end, the only real restriction compared to pre-pandemic is dining outdoors only. Otherwise, I have even been going to classical music concerts since April/May which is relatively safe crowded event as far as they go (people need to be quiet) and CO2 levels are usually under 600 thanks to local venues taking ventilation seriously. We have even been through multiple long international trips: one extra layer for flights is that we make sure our household does not have anyone sitting right next to us: if two are traveling, we have to do business class and if three then having a set of seats together is OK. That way, the short time we take masks off to eat , we don’t have someone breathing directly on our faces. I am usually the only one to wear mask in my office (moldex N95) and everyone has had covid at least once. Everyone has been sick on and off in the past year, whether covid or something else. They all acknowledge that it’s probably connected to covid, but find that doing interventions (like masks) is a step too far.

    And now for the personal hit. After almost 3 years of being careful and asking everyone to be careful before they visit us, the mother in law showed up Covid positive. We asked her to keep testing herself in the week before travel, but turns out that she didn’t: she went to the doctor more than a week ago due to feeling sick and in her head the negative test she had then makes her negative now! Because we trusted her, my wife and son spent the 30 minute drive from the airport maskless in the car (plus, they stopped to eat outdoors). Once the at home test came positive, we masked everyone up, turned up the purifiers (they were already going) and sent mother in law to airbnb to isolate. Most likely, this was too late and this will be our turn. I still want to minimize the dose. My wife and I are using enovid (it’s not approved for kids under 12, unfortunately). I am also gargling with povidone-iodine, taking extra vitamin C/D/K/quercetin. Unfortunately, I can’t convince my wife to go past enovid. She thinks povidone-iodine tastes bad. I am still vaguely hoping for a miracle that we can escape this one more time.

    1. curlydan

      I hope your MIL gets better and that you all can avoid it. My experience is that sometimes it’s just a big crap shoot in these exposure situations as I learned this week when I got my first infection. Half my family sick, half my family fine. Exposure time not correlated with infection. Hopefully, the dice roll your way.

      In May, my parents came to visit us. I picked them up at the airport and said, “No offense, but since you just got out of an enclosed metal tube with 150 unmasked people, I’m going to wear a mask on the way home in the car.” And then took the mask off once we got home to the air filters. But this month, my air filters failed me (probably not on strong enough).

      1. mahleria

        Thanks curlydan! Air filters work to the extent that there is distancing (major reason I am really worried with someone sitting right next to me on the plane). Close contact still means exposure. But I agree there are clearly too many variables here and many we don’t know about. I have definitely been close to people who tested positive next day but until now only masked or outdoors. One reason for hope in our case is that MIL seems to be testing either very faint or negative on the regular at home tests. The positive test she got was on molecular test (Lucira) and then also confirmed by PCR at the urgent care. So perhaps she was on the latter end of disease and less contagious.

        1. Basil Pesto

          yes, it’s important to understand the limitations of air purifiers. they can’t really substitute for masks, because they don’t solve the problem of “near-field” transmission (or even farther than that, if there’s an air purifier in one corner of a relatively large room, a positive person chatting in the opposite corner, and you’re standing next to the purifier, then the disease-laden air is probably going to pass over you before it gets to the purifier. As with outdoors, the risk is reduced but not eliminated.

          Hope you and your family pull through!

    2. WillyBgood

      I’m in SF and it is popping up all over here. I have been through multiple waves at work, sometimes having the person right next to me test positive upon leaving work. Just last week two other tradespeople I had been working right next to didn’t show up the following day after testing positive, as well as a close friend. To make matters worse, at the end of the week my wife tested positive after a trip to Costco and the mall. She had not masked nor am I now unfortunately (I have a large beard and mustache which defeats masks) . We have air cleaners running full bore and I have been testing every other day. So far through all my encounters, despite using at home tests and being tested numerous times including at Kaiser, I have yet to test positive!? I can’t figure it out.

    3. albrt

      There is hope! Wife and I visited a relative (who happens to work for the CDC). This was before the recent surge and we figured he knew what he was doing, so we spent significant time with them and rode in their car without masks. On the last day we were there he was symptomatic and tested positive, but somehow we managed to avoid it – no symptoms and both tested negative for five days straight the following week.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Because we trusted her

      See, there’s your problem. And I hate hate hate to say that, because how does a society function without trust?

      This, to me, what we have government for. A small minority will scream and stamp their feet, but the large majority is just looking for guidance. Which is exactly what the CDC will not give.

  13. Lambert Strether Post author

    Owing to an HTML error I left out an important part of the Covid section!

    Please read the material following: “Fauci almost lets the cat out of the bag….”

    It’s important!

      1. ambrit

        This administration also buggers believers. How’s that for “Fighting For You,” or “Hearts and Minds (and A——-s.)” “Creepy” Joe still owes me $600 USD.

  14. KD

    A Bad Trip with the Toad Shaman:

    Critics also warn that organizations serving bufo that have strict hierarchical structures and no accountability create the conditions for vulnerable people to be taken advantage of.

    Yes, much safer to send your kids to Roman Catholic services. /sarc

  15. flora

    re: “Churchgoing and belief in God stand at historic lows, despite a megachurch surge” [The Hill]. “Church membership, church attendance and belief in God all declined during the pandemic years, survey data suggest, accelerating decades long trends away from organized worship. In-person church attendance plummeted by 45 percent in the pandemic, according to an ABC News analysis.

    er…um… It might surprise them the real belief stuff, mega church not withstanding.

    I’ll leave this old CBS 1960’s Christmas ad here.

    Happy Solstice, Christmas, Chanukah to all.

    1. flora

      ‘In-person church attendance plummeted by 45 percent in the pandemic, according to an ABC News analysis. ”

      You mean during lockdowns? / oy

      1. rowlf

        Being a stoic WASP, this is still funny: Episcopal Church Reports No Change In Attendance In Recent Weeks

        NEW YORK, NY – Most churches have been severely impacted by recent bans on large gatherings, but not the Episcopal Church. Local parishes across the country reported no change in attendance once the ban went into effect.

        A report indicated that the Episcopal Church has not been affected by the ban on many people gathering in one place at all, with most churches staying at exactly the same attendance number as before the pandemic.

        “Business as usual for us,” said Reverend Macy Bryers of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Ryder Falls, Iowa. “We didn’t even know there was a lockdown, to be frank. I was just bringing the message of love and tolerance and Jesus being a good teacher and stuff to the empty pews just like normal. I just tell everyone they don’t really need Jesus or the Bible or God — they just need a positive, can-do attitude and some good, old-fashioned self-esteem.”

        “By the way, do you have any idea why people don’t come to church anymore? It’s a total mystery to me.”

        Some Episcopalians even reported a slight uptick in attendance as they brought in one or two tech people to run a live stream. Their live streams, however, still got zero views.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Harsh but fair. Nevertheless:

          they just need a positive, can-do attitude and some good, old-fashioned self-esteem

          I’m not so sure — and this is a request for information, not snark — how different this is from what is preached in the new “non-denominational” churches.

          1. Steve H.

            Can’t speak for all, but observations at SOCC:

            : The Bible is still canon.
            : Emphasis on prayer.
            : You can’t do it yourself. Kinda the point.

            The real substrate is the human connection. Not just life-groups, weddings, & funerals. I accidentally wandered into a conversation and came to understand how many people have kids who od’d or suicided. I don’t know if they have a formal group, but I know they know each other. The church provides a way to accept such sorrows.

            When my friend Tom tied himself to a tree during a snowstorm, I made a call but there only a junior minister on site. He was clearly outside his comfort zone dealing with uncontrollable sobbing, but he still knew the right questions to ask. It was his calling, not a job. That’s important.

  16. Michael Fiorillo

    Anticipating the predictable linguistic ignorance of Stanford’s language police, a couple of decades ago, the idjits at PETA publicized their entreaties to the elected officials of Fishkill, NY, urging them to eschew violent language against other creatures. Their suggested substitute name for the town was Fishsave; needless to say, they were oblivious to the fact that the Hudson Valley was settled by the Dutch, and that kill is Dutch for stream or creek.

  17. Rainlover

    Lambert, thank you for the wonderful video of the Bach Magnificat. Christmas was always a time of powerful music when I still indulged in religion. I used to sing with a group that focused on medieval music so I appreciate a performance done with period instruments. The camerawork is excellent, focusing on both the instrumentalists and the singers at exactly the right moment. It is a lovely evocation of the spirit of the season.

  18. rowlf

    And the Babylon Bee comes through again.

    Dangerous Insurrectionists Seize Capitol Building

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — America’s government was thrown into turmoil last night after a small band of insurrectionist traitors stormed the Capitol building while waving the flag of a foreign power.

    “This is a dark day for the country,” said Representative Thomas Massie, watching in disbelief as the events unfolded on TV. “Not only did these lunatics make it all the way into the sacred House Chamber — they waved the flag of a hopelessly corrupt foreign nation and made off with $50 billion. How did we let this happen?”
    At publishing time, Harris and Pelosi had been seen checking their bank accounts to see if their Christmas bonuses from Ukraine had cleared yet.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > At publishing time, Harris and Pelosi had been seen checking their bank accounts to see if their Christmas bonuses from Ukraine had cleared yet.

      That yarn diagram is too tight. Now, if they were checking their bank accounts for successful insider trading, or being put on the board of some arms manufacturer, or checking the bank accounts of the NGO or foundation that employs friends and family, that would provide the layer of indirection a Democrat requires.

  19. VietnamVet

    After being forced to go public to get my medications, plus a tiff with my primary VA physician, seeing my age increase well past the deceasing life expectancy, the writing is on the wall. The upper caste really doesn’t give a damn. All risk reduction is up to the individual. Public Health systems worldwide were literally drowned in the bathtub. I’m on my own. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other NGOs who took over the response to the pandemic have prospered.

    The tragedy with the end of Zero-COVID in China is that all of the world’s human population is now at risk of infection, chronic illness, and Eldercide.

    “The live virus vaccination that everyone is hoping for” that was tweeted above is said to be a quote of Dr. Tony Fauci, retiring White House Medical Advisor. This was said at the same time as roughly ten thousand Americans are dying with COVID each month since March in the current plateau.

    Neo-Eugenics is pushing the pedal to the metal.

  20. ACF

    Re the Sean McElwee story,

    a clarification of terms just for future reference.
    In this point the key term is ‘fiscal sponsor’, which actually means much more than ‘donor’:

    “Wait – can Tides fire people from Data for Progress? A statement from the same article: “Following reports of potential misconduct that violated Data for Progress’s mission and values, the board of Data for Progress and fiscal sponsor Tides Advocacy immediately terminated Sean McElwee’s employment”. It’s been public knowledge for quite some time that Data for Progress has been taking money from Tides, and this obviously gives them leverage over what the think-tank does (whether anyone wants to admit it or not). But Tides co-signing this termination in a public statement makes it sound like their control over DFP is much more formal and direct than anyone’s reported in the past.”

    Fiscal sponsors do things like accept donations on behalf of organizations while the await c(3) status, and/or run all of the corporate functions of a start up org, like all things HR, general counsel, and compliance. Employees of the sponsored organization often get paychecks from the fiscal sponsor, not their titular employer. Fiscal sponsors are like venture capital for nonprofits, and the goal is to ‘spin out’ into independent existence asap (or not, depending on how real the sponsored organization is) as an analogy to an IPO. So Tides may well have been Sean’s actual employer

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