2:00PM Water Cooler 1/17/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, I hope your MLK Day was good! –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Eastern Phoebe, Licking, Ohio, United States.

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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

Scranton Joe does class analysis:

Apparently, to Biden, “working class” and “middle class” are not at all the same. Otherwise, why mention both? But what, in his mind, is the difference?


Trump’s not lying, either:

But somebody hijacked my brand….

“Report on the Biden Laptop” (ebook) [Marco Polo]. • Presented in one of those ebook formats, so not easy to read. Here’s page one:

The footnotes are very entertaining. I present this for what it’s worth; perhaps a kind reader will take a detailed look. If a good source, important!

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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“‘Disgracing Himself’: Hakeem Jeffries Stumps for Anti-Abortion Judge” [Common Dreams]. “House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries joined New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and other state Democrats at a Bronx rally Saturday, just days ahead of what is sure to be a contentious confirmation hearing in which progressive lawmakers opposed to LaSalle’s appointment to lead the state Court of Appeals could be decided. Progressives charge that Hector D. LaSalle is too conservative, anti-abortion, anti-labor and anti-due process and his appointment would push one of New York’s highest courts even further to the right. Jeffries, however, voiced his support for the judge, saying LaSalle is ‘highly qualified to serve as the chief judge.’ ‘Period, full stop,’ Jeffries said. Jeffries urged an ‘up-or-down’ vote by the full state Senate. ‘It’s important for the entire New York state Senate to treat this nomination with the same dignity, decency and respect that every other nomination has received,’ he said. In December, the Democratic governor announced that she’d chosen the conservative judge as the next chief judge of the state Court of Appeals. Judge LaSalle is currently the presiding justice of the Appellate Division in Brooklyn. The nomination was described as ‘mystifying‘ and ‘horrible news’ by legal experts, including public defender Eliza Orlins, who pointed to LaSalle’s record on abortion and labor rights as reasons that he was ‘potentially the worst of the seven nominees’ the governor chose between. The state Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a confirmation hearing on Wednesday. Progressive lawmakers are working to let the nomination die in committee without advancing it to a full Senate vote. At least 14 Democratic senators have indicated they oppose his selection. The confirmation fight pits the moderate Hochul against the party’s progressives.”

Mothership Strategies is at it again:

Why are these people smiling? Because they’re at a superspreader event?


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 universal acceleration or doubling in cases that I would expect to see based on past surges.

I am calling a “Something Awful.” It’s gonna be bad, in some new way, and we don’t know how, yet (but see here for immune system dysregulation, which is looking pretty awful). We are now two weeks away from holiday travel, so we should have a result. See below at case data.

Stay safe out there!

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Davos tries testing:

But not masking:

So let me know how that works out.

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• Energy Recovery Ventilator:

Works in cold weather, apparently. Readers, any HVAC mavens have views?

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• “A Pilot Study of 0.4% Povidone-Iodine Nasal Spray to Eradicate SARS-CoV-2 in the Nasopharynx” [Infection and Drug Resistance]. n = 14. Limitations: “◊This present study demonstrated that PVP-I nasal spray had poor in vivo efficacy in this study. This could be explained by several factors including insufficient concentration, improper formulation and/or amount of PVP-I, inadequate duration of exposure, inappropriate method of administration, and mucociliary clearance of PVP-I from the nasal cavity. As aforementioned, 0.45–10% PVP-I exposure showed the good in vitro virucidal activity against SARS-CoV-2,5 however, in previous human studies, the concentrations of PVP-I applications were ranged from 0.5% to 2% and the studies that used higher concentrations (1% or 2%) of PVP-I did not demonstrate the virucidal efficacy of SARS-CoV-2 in COVID-19 patients. The 0.4% PVP-I that used in this study was based on the recommendations from the clinical practice guidelines, and this concentration may not be adequate for SARS-CoV-2 eradication in nasal pathways of humans. Moreover, the PVP-I in this study was applied by nasal spray without clear penetration of the patient’s nasopharynx and the NP swabs were collected for determining the viral titers by culture method, therefore, inadequate PVP-I exposure at the nasopharynx may be occurred.” • Readers know I have priors. However, the Betadine throat spray I use is 0.45%.

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• “Unwanted Indoor Air Quality Effects from Using Ultraviolet C Lamps for Disinfection” [Environmental Science and Technology Letters]. “Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) is known to inactivate various viruses and bacteria, including SARS-CoV-2, and is widely applied especially in medical facilities. This inactivation results from the high photon energies causing molecular bonds to break, but when nonpathogen molecules are affected, unwanted effects may occur. Here, we explored the effect of a commercial high-intensity (∼2 kW) UVC disinfection device on the composition and concentration of gases and particles in indoor air. We find that the UVC (254 nm) caused dramatic increases in particle number concentrations, and nearly all (∼1000) monitored gas phase species also increased. These responses were unsurprising when considering the typical impacts of UVC on atmospheric chemistry. High particle concentrations are associated with adverse health effects, suggesting that the impact of UVGI devices on indoor air quality (IAQ) should be studied in much more detail. The high-intensity device in this study was intended for short durations in unoccupied rooms, but lower-intensity devices for continuous use in occupied rooms are also widely applied. This makes further studies even more urgent, as the potential IAQ effects of these approaches remain largely unexplored.” • I’m all for exploring UV, but I’m concerned the technology will cater to a dangerous American tendency to screw a lightbulb into a socket and call it good. (One of the disadvantages of thinking about airborne tranmission is that you have the think about it.)

• “With ultraviolet protection, one Boston cabaret may be safer from COVID-19 than almost anywhere” [WGBH]. From July, still germane: “Every week, Frankie Campofelice belts out showtunes with pianist Andy Lantz to kick off a lively open mic night at Club Café’s Napoleon Room. The room in the South End gay club seats about 40 people for drinks, dinner and a cabaret performance. When the pandemic first hit in 2020, Campofelice says things really came to a halt…. On the ceiling of the Napoleon Room are seven devices shining ultraviolet light down on the room that clear the air of floating viruses. Ed Nardell, a professor at Harvard Medical School, arranged for the donation and installation of the devices. He’s also an amateur cabaret singer and a regular at Club Café’s open mic nights.Brenner has been researching a new approach called Far UVC, which is what is being used in the Napoleon Room. It uses a shorter wavelength of ultraviolet light and his research shows that it’s safe for humans. ‘It can’t penetrate into the living cells and our skin, can’t penetrate into the living part of our eye,’ Brenner said. Brenner has found it’s safe and effective at killing any viruses floating around [how?]. ‘What these are doing is producing kind of a cone of energy that comes down and pretty much at table level covers much of the surface and a good portion of the air in the room,’ Nardell explained. Even though the ‘cones’ don’t cover the entire room, Nardell said the air circulates through, passes under them and becomes almost completely disinfected.” • Interesting Nardell donated the technology; there’s a lot of that going on at the grass roots.

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Only Biden could kill public health (1):

• Only Biden could kill public health (2):

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• Dad.

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• “Mild” car accidents (1):

• “Mild” car accidents (2):

Case Data

BioBot wastewater data from January 12:

Lambert here: If we take wastewater data as the best proxy for case data (ignoring the clinical data portion of this chart, which in my view “goes bad” after March 2022), then we’re on the downside of a less-than-Biden surge, much like 2021, which also unexpectedly dropped after holiday travel in January. It looks like such data as we have — positivity, New York hospitalization, and MWRA wastewater — confirms this. (I watch New York and Boston so closely because they are both the source of major previous outbreaks and both have international airports, and Boston has lots of students.) It’s good that we didn’t have a major outbreak, but a return to our previous plateau of mass infection is not good. (This national scenario does not rule out regional surges at all.) Frankly, this doesn’t look like a permanent plateau to me, i.e., pandemic not endemic. I don’t see any reason whatever that we can’t keep having surge after surge, given the Biden administration’s policy of mass infection without mitigation. Commentary:

• “The Genetic Mutation That Makes ‘Kraken’ Covid So Contagious” [Rolling Stone]. “pay attention, because there’s something new about XBB.1.5, also known as Kraken, the latest Omicron subvariant that’s quickly becoming the dominant form of SARS-CoV-2 across much of the world. XBB.1.5 evolved after a couple of big genetic twists and turns. The virus still has the potential to surprise us. And that can mean only one thing: ‘SARS-CoV-2 seems like it’s going to be with us for a long time,’ says Matthew Frieman, a University of Maryland School of Medicine immunologist and microbiologist.” But that doesn’t make it “endemic.” More: “The appearance of the F486P mutation is a reminder that, even as many people get on with their lives, the pandemic isn’t nearly over. The virus keeps finding ways to spread faster while also increasingly sneaking past all those antibodies we’ve built up from vaccines, boosters, and past infection. … For most of us, this genetic innovation is most worrying for the trend that it signals. There was some speculation as early 2021 — just six months or so into the pandemic — that SARS-CoV-2 would run out of genetic space, so to speak, and stop mutating in significant ways. That hasn’t happened. “There seems to be still more mutational space in the genome,” Frieman says. XBB.1.5 is proof that the virus can still change, still get more contagious and more evasive. That it can, after all this time, still surprise us.” • Surprise ≠ endemicity. There is no reason — wishful thinking and teleology aside — why a more lethal variant cannot evolve too.

• “The COVID-19 immunology masterclass enters its third year” [Nature]. After the self-congratulation, the bottom line: ” We remain firmly stuck in the phase that Mary Poppins might have described as “well begun is half done”. In this regard, having enjoyed a period of détente and mutual respect between scientists and policy makers, we now again face segregation into rival tribes: the short attention spans, COVID-19 revisionism and ‘move along, there’s nothing to see here’ attitude of our global leaders threatens the laser focus that the scientists will need if we are to avoid endemic bedding-in of massively elevated mortality along with a lasting worldwide burden of disability imposed by more than 150 million cases of long COVID. How did ‘endemic’ — the term used in infectious disease to describe our relentless struggle in the relationship with our greatest scourges of HIV, tuberculosis and malaria — come to be re-appropriated to mean some form of victory over COVID-19? If we now meet the COVID challenge poorly and throw in the towel, historians may puzzle over our ineptitude for centuries to come.” “Puzzle”….


Here is CDC’s interactive map by county set to community transmission (the “red map,” which is the map CDC wants only hospitals to look at, not you.) The map is said to update Monday-Friday by 8 pm:

The previous map:

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 January 17:

-3.86.%. Still heading down.


Wastewater data (CDC), January 10:

January 9:

And MWRA data, January 10:

Lambert here: Unmistakably down, north and south. However, not all the students are back; BU classes begin January 19; Harvard’s January 22.


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 30:

Lambert here: BQ.1* still dominates, XBB moving up fast. Note all the BQ subvariants; it’s almost like something’s encouraging them, like maybe a policy of mass infection. Sure hope none of ’em get lucky, like XBB.

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), December 24 (Nowcast off):

BQ.1* takes first place. XBB coming up fast. (For BQ.1/XBB and vaccine escape, see here.) Here is Region 2, the Northeast, where both BQ.1* and XBB are said to be higher, and are:

Holy moley, XBB.1.5! (Makes clear that Region 2 (New England) varies greatly from the national average. Wouldn’t it be interesting if we ended up with different variants dominating different parts of the country.

• As a check, since New York is a BQ.1* hotbed, New York hospitalization, updated January 13:

A retreat from the steady rise I have found so concerning.

• Hospitalization data for Queens, updated January 8:


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,125,558 – 1,124,399 = 1159 (1159 * 365 = 423,035 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).

Lambert here: Deaths lag, so we have a nice little jump here as a consequence of whatever it is we’ve been going through.

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 NY Empire State Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The NY Empire State Manufacturing Index sank to -32.9 in January of 2023, the lowest reading since May of 2020, from -11.2 in December, and well below market forecasts of -9. The reading pointed to the fifth worst contraction ever in business activity in the NY state.”

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Finance: “The ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ Bubble Is About to Burst” [The Atlantic]. “As familiar as Americans are with the concept of credit, many of us, upon encountering a sandwich that can be financed in four easy payments of $3.49, might think: Yikes, we’re in trouble. Putting a banh mi on layaway—this is the world that “buy now, pay later” programs have wrought. In a few short years, financial-technology firms such as Affirm, Afterpay, and Klarna, which allow consumers to pay for purchases over several interest-free installments, have infiltrated nearly every corner of e-commerce. People are buying cardigans with this kind of financing. They’re buying groceries and OLED TVs. During the summer of 2020, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, they bought enough Peloton products to account for 30 percent of Affirm’s revenue. And though Americans have used layaway programs since the Great Depression, today’s pay-later plans flip the order of operations: Rather than claiming an item and taking it home only after you’ve paid in full, consumers using these modern payment plans can acquire an item for just a small deposit and a cursory credit check.” • There’s a metaphor here….

The Bezzle: “Fashion NFTs Total $245 Million In Sales. Can Brands Harness Success In 2023?” [Jing Daily] • No.

Entertainment: “The Disappearance of the Hit-Driven Business Model” [Dear Producer]. “Unfortunately, the hit-driven business model I built a career around is not the reality of the industry we are living in today, and I can finally admit that we are not going back to the way it was. I realized I hadn’t acknowledged how much things had changed. Today, there is a very small speculative market compared to the 1990s and early 2000s, and large companies are no longer driven by the profit of each individual film. The current subscription-based business model removes the opportunity to create a hit. In the way the film economy works now, it is rare to generate a profit large enough to be shared by the parties responsible for making the film. The subscription model also closes the opportunity for additional ancillary profit in foreign markets or home video, which, in the past, could come from different outlets such as digital rental, cable, or broadcast television. In addition to economic issues, the subscription model has changed the way we watch movies on a cultural level. Audiences today don’t have to decide on every story. They pay for a platform that has menus and choices within it, and they watch movies when and how they want. Streaming has won the battle over media consumers. That means subscription-based financing and profit are the norm. In this new model for storytelling, volume is more important than quality. If your goal is to gain and keep subscribers, the subscribers must feel they are important to the company. If the company spends time and energy on only certain audiences, the numbers fall, and that company becomes a niche; however, subscription services cannot only cater to niches, they must try to be everything to all people, which places more value on the content platform and its library than the quality of each individual piece of content. This complicates the industry’s own metrics for telling the audience something is good, as box office numbers and awards seem to be losing meaning to consumers. Without the hit-driven business model, there has become no way for me to continue as an independent creative producer in the same way I was before. Development money + fees + bonuses + profit participation allowed for a speculative model of finding new properties, supporting new talent, and executing other people’s stories. One hit could cover my overhead and the time between projects. But those days are gone. I am writing this because I am not alone and I hope telling my story can provide a framework for making hard decisions about how to build a new business model for creative producers. ”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 66 Greed (previous close: 63 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 51 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 17 at 12:38 PM EST.

Rapture Index: Closes down one on Drought. “Heavy rains bring drought relief to western states” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 186. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) NOTE on #42 Plagues: “The coronavirus pandemic has maxed out this category.” More honest than most!

Under the Influence

“Kanye West’s legal team seeking to take out newspaper ads to inform him they’re no longer representing him” [Daily Mail]. “A group of attorneys representing Kanye West are planning to take out large newspaper ads to inform the rapper they are no longer providing him legal services. Lawyers for the firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP said in docs reviewed by TMZ that West, 45, has shut off the phone number they had to contact him with, leading to ‘a breakdown in communication’ with the ex-husband of Kim Kardashian. The attorneys said that their firm has sought to notify West via ‘alternative means’ of telling West that they were no longer representing him, along with publishing a court order issued by a judge permitting the severance of the professional relationship.” • Wowsers….


Great thread:

The Gallery

Satellite photo (1):

Satellite photo (2):

Zeitgeist Watch

Why the heck is it “smart” to have Alexa listening in to your time on the throne?

Groves of Academe

“Has Academia Ruined Literary Criticism?” [The New Yorker (AL)]. “”Cultural Capital” emerged when literature departments were in the throes of the “canon wars.” These were curricular skirmishes fought between progressives, who wanted to “open the canon” to work by authors from marginalized groups, and conservatives, who feared that identity politics was being elevated over aesthetic value. Guillory’s insight was that these differences of opinion were, at root, almost secondary, less structural than cosmetic. Progressives and conservatives alike were participating in a system whose main function was the production of what the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu called “cultural capital”: the distinctive styles of speaking, writing, and reading that marked degree holders as members of the educated class. To be the kind of person who could translate the Iliad in 1880, or do a close reading of a poem in 1950, or “queer” a work in 2010, was to be manifestly the product of a university, and to reap economic and social rewards because of it. Any claim about what should be taught had to be seen in light of the academy’s institutional role. Whether one spoke of the Western canon (as Bloom did), the feminist canon (as Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar did), or the African American canon (as Henry Louis Gates did), the idea of a literary canon was a form of cultural capital…. At the same time, the shifting economic order has made the cultural capital of literature less valuable in market terms. The professoriat has struggled to demonstrate a connection between the skills cultivated in \literature classrooms and those required by the professional-managerial jobs that many students are destined for. (Writing the previous sentence, I was startled to recall, for the first time in years, the lyrics of the song “What Do You Do with a B.A. in English?,” from the Broadway musical “Avenue Q”: “Four years of college and plenty of knowledge / Have earned me this useless degree. / I can’t pay the bills yet, / ‘Cause I have no skills yet.”) As a result, literary study has contracted. State legislatures have slashed funding for the arts and humanities; administrators have merged or shut down departments; and the number of tenure-track jobs for graduate students has dwindled. Since the nineteen-sixties, the proportion of students pursuing degrees in English has dropped by more than half. The result is a tale of two crises—the economically driven “crisis of the humanities” and what Guillory calls a “crisis of legitimation” among the professoriat.” • As I keep saying, for a long time — until an out-of-state President dissed him — Stephen King was the largest donor to the University of Maine. From the English Department. I mean, surely we’re not arguing that narrative should be the sole purview of spooks and public relations professionals?

“‘Dismay and anxiety’ on college campuses as DeSantis ramps up anti-CRT campaign” [Orlando Sentinel]. “Yovanna Pineda, hired more than a decade ago to teach Latin American history at the University of Central Florida, rebranded one of her signature courses last fall. Striking references to ‘dictatorships’ and ‘human rights’ from the title, she decided to simply call her class ‘History of South America.’ Pineda said many of her colleagues are making similar changes, either because they fear blowback from state leaders who say they are trying to eliminate ‘indoctrination’ from university campuses or because they don’t want the hassle of additional scrutiny. ‘Some of us are becoming a little more cautious about how we say things and much more aware of how we title our courses,’ Pineda said.” • “History of South America” is a bolder, and more accurate, claim IMNSHO.

Our Famously Free Press

“Our Migration to Rumble and Locals” [Glenn Greenwald]. “The only way this new live nightly show could work is if it were highly professionalized. That required building a new state-of-the-art studio, hiring a large team of in-studio technical professionals and a team to work with me on the editorial content, along with a significant advertising budget (which we have yet to use) to promote the show and attract an ever larger audience. An article this week from Rolling Stone, largely intended as a hit piece on Rumble, contained a reasonably fair section on our new show and noted that SYSTEM UPDATE ‘has 15 employees working in [our] Rio de Janeiro studio, and seven more on the editorial side.’ In other words, Rumble made a very significant investment to enable this program to succeed, and it is investing even more in promoting the show. As you might imagine, negotiations involving this level of resources and commitment on both their part and ours involved a great deal of horse-trading, concessions, and give-and-take. One of Rumble’s conditions for investing so much in our program was that we move our written journalism to Locals, the community-based publishing platform which they purchased last year. This was not something we originally wanted to do. We have had nothing but the best of experiences with Substack, and I continue to believe Substack is an excellent and important platform for empowering independent journalists and providing them a way to exercise full editorial freedom, free of external pressures to censor. But for reasons I fully understand, Rumble was adamant that we move from Subtack to Locals as part of this deal, and that was a condition we ultimately accepted. Our one condition for this move was that Locals upgrade its software and platform so that our written articles there render as professionally as they do here on Substack. The engineers at Locals worked for months and improved everything to meet that standard. The last written article we published on Substack — on how the U.S. Security State is leveraging the threat to ban TikTok from the U.S. to commandeer the power to censor that site — was co-published on Locals, and you can see the quality of that publication on Locals here.” • Hmm.

Class Warfare

“Dollar store workers organize in New Orleans” [Facing South]. “On Dec. 10, dollar store workers in New Orleans took part in a protest organized by Step Up Louisiana outside of a Family Dollar, where they discussed the challenges they face on the job and presented a list of demands. The rally attracted workers from other dollar stores in Louisiana, as well as Maximus call center workers in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, who handle customer service for Medicare and the Affordable Care Act marketplace and who have been organizing for better pay and working conditions. The dollar store workers’ demands include having community safety managers at store locations. These would be in-house positions, with those hired trained in de-escalation and self-defense. Currently the stores typically provide security under contract with off-duty police officers or private security companies. Other demands include ensuring no worker is alone or otherwise left vulnerable during their shift, especially at night. In addition, workers want paid time off and compensation after exposure to violence, dangerous incidents, or harm in the workplace. Workers are also demanding a pay increase to $25 an hour. Currently, the typical hourly pay for a retail associate/cashier in Louisiana is as low as $9 to $13 an hour.”

“An Office Is Wherever We Decide It Is” [New York Magazine]. “A strange and alluring book, The Office of Good Intentions: Human(s) Work, by the architects Florian Idenburg and LeeAnn Suen, chronicles many attempts to adapt the old analog scheme for the digital age, with results that have ranged from the whimsical to the utopian to the sinister. The collection of essays and case studies doesn’t make an explicit case for or against the office, or offer platitudinous architectural solutions (more lounges, more outdoor space). Instead, the authors roll out a brutal analysis of an entire category of potential clients. With each technological shift, they suggest, companies have tended to treat employees like lab mice, doling out treats, monitoring their behavior, and creating ever more elaborate illusions of freedom. In this scheme, the employee doubles as a product, a font of data that can be packaged for other companies to exploit.”

News of the Wired

“‘The One’ Review: Platonic Particles and Waves of History” [Wall Street Journal]. “Mr. Päs homes in on a particular kind of monism—the idea that God is not separate from nature but an immanent part of it—and uses it as scaffolding for a theory that sees every form of monism as having been condemned as heresy. This, he implies, is why it took so long for quantum entanglement to be discovered. He believes the insight existed long before, citing the 9th-century Irish philosopher John Eriugena, who ‘drew on Platonism to develop a radical reinterpretation of the earthly and divine realities and the Christian notion of heaven, hell, and the Fall of Man.’ Mr. Päs considers it ‘a monistic philosophy bearing striking similarities to the workings of quantum mechanics.’ The Irishman supposedly pre-empted Heisenberg by a thousand years, though even he was late to the game. ‘Accepting ‘love’ as a metaphor for entanglement indeed makes it possible to read the biblical Genesis as an allegory for quantum decoherence.'” • What.

“The Emotional Benefits of Wandering” [Wall Street Journal]. “One of my greatest pleasures is to be what the French call a “flâneur”—someone who wanders randomly through a big city, stumbling on new scenes. The flâneur has a long and honored literary history. The surrealists used to choose a Paris streetcar at random, ride to the end of the line and then walk around. And think of Mrs. Dalloway in London, Leopold Bloom in Dublin or Holden Caulfield in New York. But is there any scientific evidence for the benefit of ‘street-haunting,’ as Virginia Woolf called it? Two new studies led by Catherine Hartley of New York University and colleagues suggest that being a flâneur is good for you. In both, they cleverly combined GPS data with happiness ratings. The first study appeared in the journal Nature Neuroscience in 2020. Over 100 people in New York and Miami agreed to share their phone’s GPS data for three months, and they regularly rated their mood on an app. The researchers analyzed the GPS data with a measure called ‘roaming entropy,” which captures how new, varied and unexpected your locations are, and compared it with the mood ratings. More roaming entropy predicted more well-being. What’s more, how much you wandered on a given day predicted how happy you were later on, but not vice versa. So it looks as if wandering makes you happy, not just that when you’re happy you wander more. The researchers also analyzed census data and confirmed what the surrealists knew: that wandering led people into different kinds of neighborhoods, rich or poor, white or black or Hispanic—what the researchers dryly called ‘sociodemographic experiential variability.’ This experience is one of the glories of urban life, and further analyses showed that this social wandering was what really predicted happiness, beyond just physical wandering.” • Neat! Can confirm.

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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 GF:

GF writes: “Taken on one of my morning walks.” Morning walks are good, especially if the solstice just past has upset one’s equilibrium.

* * *

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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. Roger Blakely

    I am so sick. I think that I picked up XBB.1.5 in the grocery store on Thursday. And I was wearing a respirator. I had four nights with a 4-degree-F fever. My whole body hurts. I can’t stay out of bed. My throat fills like it’s got a knife stuck in it. There is a lot of junk in my head and lungs. This is my fifth day. I am beginning to feel better.

    I have not been this sick since the first infection in March of 2020. That would make sense. If XBB.1.5 is the most infectious variant yet, and if previous immunity won’t help much, then it makes sense that I would be sicker than any time since the beginning of the pandemic in spite of my vaccinations and previous infections.

    Public health is downplaying XBB.1.5. XBB.1.5 is going to make a lot of people very sick. They say, “There is no evidence that it is any more severe than any other variant of Omicron.” Well, yeah. But if it better at infecting my cells, and if it evades my immune system such that very little of my collected immunity is going to help me fight against it, then I am going to get very sick.

    This is a field report. We look at the maps and wonder if XBB.1.5 is going to have a dramatic effect. I can tell you that XBB.1.5 knocked me down. God help anyone who is not in good health and who is not able to spend days in bed.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I am beginning to feel better.

      Good. I’m sorry.

      Proffering unwanted advice: Stay hydrated, even over-hydrated, if such a thing is possible. Your body is trying to flush that sh*t out, so help it.

      1. anon

        Overhydration is not good for those with glaucoma. Also, it has been said that over hydration was the cause of death for Bruce Lee

        1. chris

          There’s over hydration and then hyponutremia. Kind of hard to drink enough to dilute all the salts and such in your body when you’re sick.

    2. Glossolalia

      I may be confusing you with someone else but haven’t you claimed to have had covid dozens of times?

    3. ChrisPacific

      Sorry to hear that. I hope your improvement continues.

      Severity isn’t the whole story. The flu is less severe than Ebola, but it still kills many more people each year. The Omicron variants are infecting such massive numbers of people that it doesn’t take much in the way of severity to result in high hospitalization and death rates.

    4. Roger Blakely

      Yes. This is my sixteenth round of COVID-19. After being tested every time I’ve been sick and routinely throughout the past three years, I have finally come up a winner. I finally tested positive. The result just came back from the county testing facility. What that tells me is that XBB.1.5 is special. This is the sickest that I’ve been since the initial infection in March of 2020. Back then we didn’t have tests.

    5. tevhatch

      Suggested viewing all of MedCram’s YouTube videos on using light and heat/cold to treat Covid. No experience with COVID myself, knock on wood, but far Infared cleared up a 3 month sinus infection in a week.

  2. semper loquitur

    re: nose spray

    I recently purchased a small USB plug water electrolyzer bottle. I cook up a batch of e-water, fill up my nasal mister, and fire away. It stings, but so does COVID.

    I found this article that notes that the amount of freely available chlorine (FAC) in the solution has a positive correlation with it’s antiviral efficacy:


    I don’t know how much FAC my little bottle produces but it does say that it kills the vast majority of bugs it comes into contact with. I’m hoping COVID is included in that level of potency. I use it liberally when I’ve been in a compromising situation. And the gargling with cetylpyridium mouthwash for 30 seconds for two hours of protection and as a rinse after I’ve been exposed.

  3. Wukchumni

    “The Emotional Benefits of Wandering” [Wall Street Journal]

    I’m really only wandering when off-trail in the wilderness, for trail travel is kind of the feet interstate sans lanes.

    I’ve got a topo map that shows me the lay of the land, but where my next step might be is up to me to decide, and unlike trail walking where I tend to daydream, off-trail requires view diligence.

    99% of visitors to Sequoia NP go to 1% of the NP, and 1% of visitors go to 99% of the NP, while out of that 1% of backcountry visitors, 99% never venture off-trail.

    1. scott s.

      That’s good, except here on Oahu in the mountains going off-trail typically ends with Honolulu Fire Dept helo getting called for rescue.

  4. EGrise

    Scranton Joe:

    And I’ll never stop fighting for you in the courts.

    There’s that phrase again…

  5. semper loquitur

    re: The One

    Thanks for that fascinating read. In that spirit, here is Bernardo Kastrup’s Essentia Foundation presenting a conference on first-person perspective physics:

    The physics of first-person perspective: an introduction by Dr. Markus Müller

    1,861 views Jan 15, 2023
    The Nobel Prize in physics in 2022 went the scientists who, for over 40 years, have carried out a series of experiments indicating that, contrary to materialist expectations, physical entities do not have standalone existence but are, in fact, products of observation. This result is extraordinarily relevant to our understanding of the nature of reality, and so Essentia Foundation, in collaboration with the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information, Vienna, of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (home to Prof. Anton Zeilinger, one of this year’s Nobel Laureates in physics), organized a conference discussing the implications of this result. The conference was hosted by IQOQI-Vienna’s Dr. Markus Müller and featured seven other speakers. In this first video, Dr. Müller introduces the theme of the conference and explains its relevance.

    Copyright © 2022 by Essentia Foundation. All rights reserved.


    I have only listened to this intro once and will have to do so many more times before I can really start to process it, so I’ll let it speak for itself. Enjoy! I do take exception to at least one line from the article:

    “Mr. Päs homes in on a particular kind of monism—the idea that God is not separate from nature but an immanent part of it—and uses it as scaffolding for a theory that sees every form of monism as having been condemned as heresy.”

    God is not immanent in nature, of course, nature is immanent in God. How can the creator be located in the thing it has created? This is why looking for God with the tools of science is like looking for the inventor of the automobile by lifting up the hood of your car. It’s also why I ignore Sean Carroll when he starts flatulating about God…

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > How can the creator be located in the thing it has created?

      I agree, but with a friendly amendment:

      How can the creator not be located in the thing it has created?

      1. semper loquitur

        Well, because what is created doesn’t precede what creates. And I think what we call nature is a product of our particular view of the world. Kant and Schopenhauer argued time and space are perspectives, not inherent in the world, and so what we perceive as the natural world isn’t the total picture but rather a view through a particular slit. Kastrup argues that this is a product of evolution, a survival mechanism, as an organism that had total access to reality would be unable to function. It would pop a fuse. TMI! What we see is derivative, when Sean Carroll looks through a telescope searching for God he doesn’t realize that he couldn’t possibly see what encompasses all because he would need the perspective of God to do so. God is, by definition, all. The whole cannot be contained in what is derived from it.

        To that point, and yours, I don’t think nature is separate from the creator. I am a monist. But there is a veil across the Unity that delineates it from the Multiplicity, in fact the Multiplicity is a product of that veil.

        1. MichaelSF

          “God is, by definition, all.”

          That might be better if you put “MY” in front of “definition”. It looks to me that if you ask 10 people what they mean by “God” you’ll probably get 10 different answers, and if you ask again later, a number of those first answers will change.

          One of the things I think I remember (it was well over 50 years ago) from debate in speech competition (my friends did debate, I did extemp) was the very first thing done after stating the topic was that the terms in it had to be defined. It is difficult to have a meaningful discussion/debate if people are talking about different things, even though they are using the same name for items.

        2. lambert strether

          > because what is created doesn’t precede what creates.

          Who said the process had to be linear?

  6. Etrigan

    I use betadine nasal spray and throat gargle whenever I feel like it or feel a tickle. I’m not sure it is a Covid killer but one upshot has been my constant runny nose and general winter hoarseness is gone gone gone.

    1. britzklieg

      Indeed, from what we know now, almost anything that enhances mucus flow would seem to be a positive. I use a cayenne pepper nasal spray for my migraines (theory: it numbs the trigeminal nerve) and a side effect is copious gunk flow requiring lots of nasal passage clearing. Works for me, though my “facial tissue” costs have grown enormously.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > almost anything that enhances mucus flow would seem to be a positive

        I agree. I used to drink a lot of milk, and even though there’s no scientific basis for milk producing mucus that I could find*, I got a lot of mucus flow out of it.

        Now I don’t, and the trade-off is weight loss (good for my heart).

        So who knows!

        NOTE * Why I don’t list it in my anti-covid practice.

      1. lambert strether

        Betadine nasal spray is carageenan; throat spray is iodine. Both are good, though the mechanisms are different.

        1. agent ranger smith

          Would using both together have an additional additive-effect enhancement? Or might they even force-multiply each other’s effectiveness?

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Well, I don’t think you should spray the throat stuff up your nose, because I’m sure the formulations are different. Don’t crap up your mucus flow!

            That said, I don’t see why the two ought not to be used together, if appropriately.

            NC on carageenan.

    2. Skip Intro

      The Povidone-Iodine study is reminiscent of a widely touted early IVM study, which showed that it wasn’t a cure for covid, when the promising application was prophylactic.

    1. John

      Before he passed away my Dad told me about being treed for 12 hours. He’d dropped his rifle in his haste to escape and couldn’t shoot the tusky bastard. Anyway, 12 hours is a loooong time to be in a tree, especially for an old man (he was in his 70s at the time). A lifelong avid hunter and fisherman, it was a wonderful story. I really miss him.

  7. semper loquitur

    re: wandering

    When I first moved to Manhattan over a decade ago, one of my favorite things was to wander around Chinatown. While so much else in Manhattan was obviously already being renovated and gentrified and whatever, Chinatown still had the feel of something older and more organic. Little shops to pop into, a pho joint with duck leg pho, and an incredible Buddhist temple to explore. Those were good days.

    1. FreeMarketApologist

      I still wander around NYC — 30+ years and counting — all neighborhoods, and do find that I’m happier for the time spent looking around. Some of it is in familiar areas, others that I haven’t seen in a while, or barely at all. Always something new or different, and while I can mourn for loved things lost, there is joy in the new as well.

      1. Carolinian

        There’s a recent bio of Greta Garbo and after she quit the movies she lived in for decades in NYC where she would take epically long daily walks around Manhattan. She didn’t like to be bothered and referred to fans as “the customers.” If you wanted to be counted a friend you had to go along on the walks.

      2. britzklieg

        Arrived in Manhattan in 1983 and had to depart in 2011. Wandering was about the only thing I could afford when I first got there and it was fundamental to my life. The East Village before MacDonalds, Starbucks and Barnes & Noble – The fab Indian eateries on St. Marks, B&H Dairy. Chinatown for sure (I encountered Koch exiting “Peking Duck” as I entered for my first taste of that delicacy) and even moreso Little Italy which, by the time I left, was almost totally erased. Bleecker Street and Greenwich Village before the yuppie invasion, the Cloisters and upper Manhattan, The parks (including Brooklyn). Walking over the Brooklyn Bridge after midnight. I could walk for hours and miles. And in my fortunate world travels first thing I always did when visiting a new city or town was to go out and get lost so I had to interact with the locals to help me get my bearings: Madrid, Rome, Umbria when I was in Spoleto, Berlin, Frankfurt, Halle, Dresden, London, Edinburgh, Wexford, Dublin, Kathmandu, Paris, Amsterdam, Vienna (the Wiener Wald!), Prague. Roaming was essential and I was a very lucky boy.

        The cemetaries in Vienna and Paris are remarkable… check out the book “Permanent Parisians. ” One can spend hours…

    2. Carolinian

      –It doesn’t have to be a city.

      –And IMO travel is about serendipity. Those who meticulously plan their trips don’t know how to do it.

      1. notabanker

        Amen. I can tell a lot of stories about this, but the best one is an 8 night trip in Italy where only 3 nights were booked in advance. Finding cool, inexpensive places to stay was half the fun and took us all over the country. There is no way we would have stayed in the renovated attic of a 15th century winery otherwise (for half the cost of a chain hotel, btw). We loved it so much, we did it again.

        Not recommended during prime tourist season, but you won’t see me traveling anywhere during prime tourist season anyway.

    3. Jason Boxman

      At first I didn’t have any interesting remembrances to share in particular, but I recall now when I visited NYC back in 2016, I wandered across the Brooklyn Bridge, and I came across the work of a sketch artist, with some black ink sketching of NYC, the bridge, warf, and so on. I bought a couple of them as gifts, should have gotten one for myself. I think it was $30 for 2.

      He’s apparently somewhat of a famous artist, at least, if you look online a few people have asked about where to find him. But there’s no web site or contact information. He’s was just on that bridge. When I returned in 2019, I saw some knockoffs, but never did see him again, unfortunately. They were really top notch originals, amazingly done.

    4. Cat Burglar

      Did it for many years in Seattle after reading the articles on psychogeography in the Situationist International Anthology. One of their exercises was to take a map and diagram all the places and routes you regularly traveled: that was your “real Paris,” one much more constrained than the actual city, which was all open to explore. They considered their wanderings — Derive, as they called it –to be research into how urban ambiances affected psychology. I walked all over Seattle, through industrial and forest terrains, noting which areas had continuous human flow, where blockages were, where seemingly invisible places were, the people I met in each locale, and trying to figure out why the places happened. That lovely, decayed, recessionary town began to disappear as the value per square foot rose in starting in the 90s, and other things rose in the place.

      1. Acacia

        The situationist dérive was my entry to urban wandering as well, first applied in San Francisco in the late 80s, before its tech bro colonization. Benjamin discusses flânerie in his study of Paris (and the destruction of the old pre-Haussmann city), but somehow it didn’t gel until a fateful, nocturnal walk in Amsterdam, where the divisions of ambiance were more drastic. One caution, though, if you venture beyond the texts on psychogeography… Debord’s take on the reification of social life can be pretty depressing.

        1. Cat Burglar

          I agree. His tone of certainty about the system, which I guess comes down from Marx and Hegel, can make things feel hopeless. I figured that since I was alive and the future was still unwritten, there were still places, times, and projects to explore. Merleau-Ponty wrote once that a system of conscious lives cannot have a solution, like a math problem, and I took that as an invitation.

  8. tindrum

    On the covid theme, there is a new US study


    that clearly shows that young people who were diagnosed with myocarditis after the mRNA injection had free floating spike proteins in their blood which could not be removed by their immune systems, long after the injection. This is impossible according to Biontec et al. Given that children do not get ill from the virus then the recommendation that “young” people be injected must be rescinded. Where “young” ends is of course uncertain.
    long covid is such a vague thing that it surely can not be used to justify injuring young peoples’ heart muscles.) This is also correlated with T-cell exhaustion and immune system overload.
    “Young adults and adolescents that suffered from rare cases of myocarditis following vaccination with a mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine had increased levels of the viral protein spike in their bloodstream, found a recent study carried out by a team at Brigham and Women’s Hospita Massachusetts”

    1. jhallc

      You really cherry picked that quote from the paper. How about this one…

      ““The risk of developing severe disease from acute infection significantly outweighs this rare risk,” stated Lael Yonker, pediatric pulmonary medicine specialist at Mass General for Children, and first author of the study. “While this finding helps us better understand this potential complication, it does not alter the risk benefit ratio of receiving the COVID vaccines. The incidence of myocarditis and other heart-related complications among children infected with SARS-CoV-2 is much higher than the risk of post-vaccination myocarditis.”

      I’m not a huge fan of the vaccines, but at least let’s go with what the data suggests for now.
      Also, your claim that “children do not get ill from the virus” is just nonsense.

      1. Objective Ace

        >“The risk of developing severe disease from acute infection significantly outweighs this rare risk,”

        While I don’t doubt this is true, there is no data provided that vaccines actually do this.. certainly not for children and probably not for adults past 3-6 months. This doctor’s quote is just happy thinking and serves as propaganda. Show me the data

        1. Objective Ace

          Edit: I’m not saying its definitely not the case that vaccines prevent severe disease–just that I havent seen a convincing case made that they do past the 6 months. If anyone has data that shows that, I’d like to see it. A quote appealing to some random expert’s authority–no thanks–that no longer holds any weight to me

    2. Basil Pesto

      Given that children do not get ill from the virus

      My brother in Christ, what the hell are you talking about?

      Long Covid is not “vague”, as you would have it, it is extensively documented and reasonably clearly defined. However within that definition there are a multiplicity of presentations with variable severity (the harms of the virus include, of course, damage to the heart).

      1. tindrum

        The mRNA injections are also causing heart disease and at a pretty alarming rate. Given that the injections do not prevent contagen and they do not prevent tansmission and they do not prevent serious / long covid (evidence?) but they DO cause myocarditis, then why are you still arguiing for injecting children?

        1. Basil Pesto

          I didn’t.

          You said “Children do not get ill from the virus”.

          That’s rancid, made up bullshit which outs you as a victim of inane propagandising, and I merely drew attention to that fact.

      2. Acacia

        I learned that a good friend has been suffering from unspecified heart problems and brain fog since receiving a booster shot, about six weeks ago. Tested for myocarditis but results were negative. The friend had Covid for two weeks, recovered, and then got a booster shot about 6 weeks later. One week after that, the new symptoms hit and have been ongoing since.

        Thinking back, we had a disagreement over Omicron — which friend described as ‘supposed to be mild’ — and the state of US healthcare (putatively ‘fine’). I disagreed on both points, but didn’t feel like sending more links to articles or getting into a big dispute by pressing my point.

        Getting boosted ‘too soon’ after Covid — is this a known trigger for heart problems?

  9. nippersdad

    How Biden’s tweet would look were this a more honest world:

    “Senator from MBNA

    Republican officials and Special interests are working to deny student debt relief to working and middle-class Americans.

    I’ll never apologize for getting relief to screwing over working Americans on behalf of my Wall Street constituencies. And I’ll never stop fighting for you in the courts.”

    There, fixed it for you, Joe.

    Like this wasn’t Biden’s bankruptcy bill at fault in the first place. Also, too, weird how the “good” son had to have his medical bills paid by Obama and the bad son is paying him fifty thou a month to live in the basement amongst cardboard boxes of classified documents and the lawyers sorting them by PR value.

    If there aren’t some great American novels coming out of that guy’s life story it will be a real loss to mankind.

      1. Hepativore

        Biden could cancel part of or all of the nation’s student debt by his authority alone by an Executive Order if he really wanted to. The thing is, though, I am sure he is going to throw his hands up and lament that there is nothing he can do if the Supreme Court strikes his current program down.

        Democrats are austerians like the Republicans are, except they lack their bravery to outright state their true convictions.

        I can almost respect the honesty of the open-faced malice of the Republicans at this point, as I would rather be stabbed in the gut than knifed in the back as soon as I turn around.

    1. griffen

      I clicked on the offending tweet and many of the responses are worth it. None of the responses actually mention the responsible parties involved for exactly why and how student debt was left on the cutting floor when the final Act was passed in 2005..ok obviously many of us surely do know why. And as for the great novels, in the coming years I’ll remain hopeful we get a few streaming channels to expound on the Bidens.

      Joe Biden, fighting for you and the common folk. It’s a bit much, and I find it vomit worthy.

  10. ambrit

    As a recovering plumber I have to mention that any toilet that “…makes a splash…” is a defective product.
    The headline writer has a way with words. Tom Stoppard would approve.

      1. notabanker

        I’m an avid user of 0% same as cash financing on large purchases. I only use it when I have the cash to buy something and always pay it off well in advance of the deadline. I use mostly paypal, but have also used affirm a few times. You have to be very careful on these offers because one missed payment, or if the financing period expires, big time interest accrues immediately, upwards of 26%.

        I think the author above is carrying some water. Affirm only offers 0% on select purchases, most of their financing is 10% APR. That tells me the cost of the zero percent is being borne by the seller, so chances are you can buy the same thing cheaper somewhere else.

        Paypal used to send me 24 months 0% apr stuff all the time. As soon as the Fed started raising rates, it became 12 months, then 6 months. Now they only advertise low percentage rates, like 4.99%, although they still offer 0% during the point of sale on some things.

        The reason these are drying up is not credit default risk, it is the cost of money no longer being free. Could it be that publishing that article isn’t going to make people think, ‘oh jeez, maybe I should not finance this’. Instead it would be, ‘jeez if I get this offer I should jump on it now cuz they are going away’?

        Apologies, I don’t know why I replied to Wuk’s crapper post.

    1. Samuel Conner

      I believe that sawdust toilets don’t splash, especially if they have urine diversion plumbing.

      It’s coming, IMO. I don’t see how cities and towns will be able to afford to replace their sewer systems when these finally, um … crap out. It will have to be in situ treatment or maybe some sort of batch accumulation/collection process. Perhaps the smells will help to promote physical distancing.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        dry composting toilets with pee diversion do not splash.
        and so long as the pee diverter functions(doesnt get clogged w shavings of leaves)…and as long as one remembers to add leaves…they do not smell, either.
        ive run numerous tests: when eldest has people out at the wilderness bar, inevitably one of the young women turns her nose at the ordinary flush toilet in the old trailer over there, and comes to me.
        i take her to the bathroom door, stop and ask:”do you smell anything?”
        answers always no….so then i launch into the brief orientation speech about how to operate the thing(only real weirdness is that chicks cant lean forward, due to physiology and directional stream,lol—wife and i determined this with actual scientific experiments)
        every single one of these young women have come away surpised and amazed.
        especially when i tell them about aerosolised fecal plumes and the amount of wasted water one gets with ordinary toilets.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            yes, they do.
            and when they do, they prefer this composting toilet…some 100 yards from the bar…to the conventional one that’s right there.
            we’re currently attempting to finish the last of the infrastructure around here…covering the giant greenhouse frame, finishing eldest’s cabin…and an extension to the wilderness bar.
            cabin and bar extension will each have their own composting toilet.
            the main instigator to me doing it this way is that my part of the place is narrow, with a county road running through the middle…i simply didn’t have the room for a septic system, without expensive variances for creative field lines($8k for this house).
            with the composter, county rules dont contemplate this kind of system, so it reverts to state law…which, so long as i stay within the parameters, i dont even need a permit for from the county.
            mom hates it…offended by barrels out in the pasture, etc(rolls eyes)…but the rest of us are quite pleased with the results.
            the pasture part of the process is building topsoil…visibly…and deterring coyotes, as well(they think we’re living out there,lol)
            the little built wetland, with cattails, etc where the pee goes…along with water from the shower…is frog and dragonfly heaven from march through october.

      2. britzklieg

        agreed. and I remember some tale, perhaps apocryphal, of an African tribesman being explained “cvilized” toilets and his reply: “Let me get this straight, you fill a clean porcelain bowl with fresh, potable water… and then you s%#t in it?”

        1. Joe Renter

          When I was in fourth grade and hanging out with the gang of kids at my apartment building, one of them had their grandparents from overseas visiting. The grandparents exclaimed, Why do you have two bathrooms, do you have sh*t more in this country? Interesting how one remembers certain conversions.

  11. Lena

    A classic book about wandering: “A Walker in the City” by Alfred Kazin (1951). Kazin writes about his childhood in the Brownsville area of Brooklyn and his youthful venturing into ‘the city’, which consisted of “everything just out of Brownsville”.

    1. communistmole

      Another classic book is Spazieren in Berlin (Walking in Berlin) by Franz Hessel, who was a friend of Walter Benjamin and whose theory about the flâneur as an anti-modern figure he refers to. I don’t know if there is an English translation of this book, though

  12. thousand points of green

    I am just a layman. As a layman, it looks to me like the “energy recovery ventilator” is a re-branding/ re-naming of the good old “air-to-air heat exchanger”. But if that gets a whole new generation of people interested in it, that is a good thing. There is not a thing wrong with re-branding/ re-naming.

    Here is a link to an article about “energy recovery ventilation”.

    And here is an article about “air to air heat exchangers”. It is long-ish but partway down is a schematic diagram of the internal organs of an air to air heat exchanger, for comparison with the same type of diagram for “energy recovery ventilation” in the article above, for comparison purposes.


    This article also mentions all the indoor pollutants which can be vented outside while outdoor air is vented inside with very little loss of hard-won heat. ( Looking at the list of “solved indoor pollution problems” makes me think of the so-called “pollutants” from gas stoves and how this can clear them all out of the house. Lending further support for viewing calls to abolish new gas stoves as being based on the purest and utterly lowest form of deceit-based bad faith . . . . as an aside)

    1. chris

      You can have air to air exchangers that operate such that they don’t contaminate the fresh air required for a DOAS (direct outside air supply system). The one shown in the tweet image is an example. Per the manufacturer’s brochure…

      Not all ERVs are created equal. RenewAire’s high-efficiency, static-plate, enthalpy-core ERVs utilize a highly developed air-to-air energy-exchange core. Many layers of plates physically separate the airstreams so there’s no cross-contamination of the fresh air. The plates are made of an engineered “resin” material that simultaneously transfers heat through conduction and humidity by attracting bound water vapor from one airstream to the other. This is done while moderating extremes in both temperature and humidity. 

      The lack of cross contamination is important here. It’s one of the reasons why many buildings in the US had to shut down their ERV and economizer operations in their HVAC system as a response to the pandemic. If you go with this approach, make sure you read the fine print and make sure your contractor verifies the efficiency. If you get a poor install or if the system is compromised then instead of bringing in fresh air that takes less energy to heat or cool you’re wasting energy and concentrating any viral aerosols inside your house!

      1. thousand points of green

        Thanks for this. I did not know that any such air-to-air heat exchangers were even made to allow cross-contamination.

        Clearly, as long as some are made to permit cross-contamination, one has to be very careful to only get the kind made to prevent that. And have them installed well and correctly.

        1. chris

          Simplest type of economic tempering of fresh air with conditioned air is to allow conditioned air to mix with fresh air in a plenum type space.The ERVs discussed above use different processes.

    2. converger

      ERVs are air to air heat exchangers. Same thing.

      The tell here is “This unit, *along with multiple #corsirosenthalbox units*, is working to #CleanTheAir.

      Absent excellent (and rare) HVAC design integration into the house, ERV’s aren’t that useful f This unit, along with multiple #corsirosenthalbox units, is working to #CleanTheAir. or flushing Covid, natural gas combustion emissions, toxic building material and furniture emissions, or anything else, even with a HEPA filter. There simply aren’t enough air exchanges in a typical tightly sealed house with an ERV to do that. If the house isn’t tightly sealed, ERV’s don’t do much of anything. And, air exchange rates are uneven from room to room in most houses.

      ERV’s are certainly better than nothing for maintaining minimal air exchanges on a tight house. I’m surprised that anyone would take them seriously for Covid mitigation.

      1. chris

        Well, they’re not asserting that these are specifically for COVID mitigation. They’re saying this type of ERV when integrated into a house as per the design for a DOAS or fresh air strategy allows you to temper and supply fresh air. They’re claiming that this model does it with no cross contamination. So it certainly helps with COVID mitigation because it helps with aerosol mitigation by diluting their concentration within a volume.

        I haven’t worked with this specific unit or spec’d it for an install yet. But from what the manufacturer says, this would result in a house having more fresh air and more air changes per hour with only a marginally increased cost for conditioning. It’s cool to see commercial grade technology make it to the residential market. Hopefully these concepts become more commonly implemented.

    3. tevhatch

      Chris’s replies contain most of the pertinent points, ERVs (and HRVs – I’ll explain later) were created to deal with increasing energy efficiency regulatory demands as part of a system, and they don’t do much outside of that system, which is a number of technologies to drastically curtail demand and energy transmission. Tight sealing creates problems in air exchange and humidity control. HRVs are the older technology and are used where winter heating is the primary HVAC demand, and are usually aluminum air to air exchangers. They do not control humidity. They are much cheaper to build and maintain. ERV’s provide for exchange of humidity as well as heat, so best for either AC heavy or mixed demand, and use a polymer instead of metal exchange surface. The primary function of both is to create controlled exchange of air while minimizing energy lost, but a key, critical secondary function is to keep the household internal air pressure at nearly the same as the external environment (static) air pressure, done by use of instrumentation, automation controlling fan blowers. The lower the pressure difference, the lower the exchange of unfiltered and untreated air, insects, mold, etc. as well as losses of energy. It can be possible to have a large exchange of fresh air without paying a heavy energy penalty.

      Here is a play covering ERV/HRV and many other ventilation systems necessary to meeting modern more stringent building codes, primarily focused on single family homes.

  13. anon in so cal

    >Marco Polo Biden laptop report: a quick skim suggests it rehashes the standard propaganda line on the 2014 coup. This is around pp. 133-137.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the 2014 coup

      I read those pages and I don’t know what you mean by “coup”; I don’t see one. A State Crime Against Democracy (SCAD), perhaps.

      Impressive spadework. I do think the entire peace would benefit from sharper tools, like Werel’s FlexNets, or even (gasp) class analysis. Relationships need to be named and typed, not just pointed at. Otherwise we’re just looking at an extremely dense yarn diagram.

  14. Grumpy Engineer

    Wow. The article in Environmental Science & Technology Letters would appear to put the nail in the coffin for the use of UVC (or far UVC) to sterilize COVID-bearing aerosol particles in occupied spaces.

    I’d always been skeptical of the approach (ionizing radiation in an occupied space; really?), but I’d been unaware of the potential for it to create indoor air pollution. Highly reactive ozone and hydroxyl radicals. Chemical reactions on surfaces of materials to create VOCs (volatile organic compounds), inorganic acids, and particulate-forming HOMs (highly oxygenated organic molecules), organo-sulfur compounds, H2SO4 (a known smog precursor), and more. This ghastly witch’s brew will certainly do bad things to human lungs.

    As a COVID mitigation practice, UVC needs to die.

    1. none

      UVC is non-ionizing radiation but yeah, it would make more sense to use it inside a filtration system, so that the busted-up particles that it creates would then get filtered away.

      1. tevhatch

        UVC is non-ionizing radiation but it still can cause photochemical and free-radical production, and those can harm, that’s how they take apart the virus’ molecules.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > it would make more sense to use it inside a filtration system

        I have not looked at UV carefully, but my impression is that those were the original designs.

        The nice thing about filters is that they do not affect tissue in the slightest way, even potentially.

      3. Grumpy Engineer

        UVC is ionizing radiation. Per https://uvresources.com/the-science-behind-uv-c-energy-what-is-it/:

        UV-C’s germicidal or germ killing effects are well proven. The UV-C wavelength owes these destructive effects to the biocidal features of ionizing radiation, or more simply, UV-C does far more damage to molecules in biological systems than can temperature alone.

        “Long wavelength” UV (i.e., UVA and UVB) is not considered ionizing radiation, but “short wavelength” UV (UVC and “far” UVC) is. Unfortunately, the “damage to molecules” goes far beyond just those in biological systems. It’ll damage pretty much any exposed surface that isn’t metal or ceramic, resulting in a lot of extra pollution. The results of the paper are scary, and many of the chemical compounds being generated are too small in size to be captured by filters.

        1. Grumpy Engineer

          And also, I need to clarify: I’m not arguing against UVC systems where the UV lamp is located inside a stainless steel reflector tube that is buried deep in the HVAC system, upstream of a MERV14+ filter that will capture most particles that still have reactive compounds or free radicals on the surface. Such schemes have existed for many years and are quite reasonable.

          What I’m arguing against is putting a raw UVC lamp in occupied spaces, shining directly on the occupants and other exposed surfaces in the room. Yes, it may kill virus particles in the air, but it’ll also kill the flora/microbiota on the skin and will cause too many unwanted chemical reactions elsewhere. I’ve recently seen a lot of proposals to put UVC directly in classrooms and offices, and the more I learn about it, the more convinced I am that it’s a bad idea.

  15. Jason Boxman

    Can’t speak to my state of happiness, but my wanders through more than a half dozen cities of varies sizes up the east coast back in 2016 was certainly a worthwhile experience, although 8 weeks of continuous travel does get a bit exhausting. I’ve considered doing something similar again, but with COVID I don’t know if I really want to expend the effort. It’s certainly not the same. With COVID precautions it’ll be a lot more expensive, not shared AirBnbs for me. (Although AirBnb is so expensive now for a potentially worse experience anyway.)

  16. MaryLand

    Much as I love wandering, I have to say that females take some risk if doing this alone. And wandering without companions gives the most opportunity to observe and reflect which is the essence of the wandering experience in my opinion. As a female I have done it and loved it; I am an introvert after all. Strolling with friends changes the experience totally. The element of danger is always there for females exploring alone and I am not one to enjoy danger. I realize others can be at risk in @the wrong neighborhood.”

    1. tegnost

      I am a dedicated wanderer and yes, more dangerous for some people…
      Louis L’Amour novels instilled in me from a young age the benefits of not establishing patterns.
      The bloodthirsty white people will wait for you and then try to blame it on the indians…
      Stay Safe as ambrit is wont to say…

  17. ChrisRUEcon


    “made a splash” has me half-laughing, half-cringing … #LetTheMetaphorFitTheCrime

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      Nebulizers vs Handheld Nano Sprayer For Delivery Of HOCl For Nasal Disinfection/Prophylaxis

      SoCalJim, Lambert … I finally had some time to test out the three devices:
      • standard nebulizer (medical grade, had from before for albulterol use)
      • handheld nebulizer
      • handheld nano-sprayer (used in cosmetic circles to deliver a moisturizing mist)

      Unsurprisingly, the standard nebulizer creates the finest mist delivery followed by the handheld nebulizer with the nano sprayer delivering the “wettest” mist of the three. Given that the nano sprayer is designed to deliver a fine moisturizing spray, its vapor is also higher volume – palpably so, as it gets the nose wet almost immediately in comparison to the other two. If someone wanted to use the nano sprayer, I would suggest holding it about six inches from the nose while inhaling.

      The handheld nebulizer stream is slightly more moist than the medical grade nebulizer. The handheld nebulizer came with two masks, one smaller, one larger, and the smaller mask definitely mists up more at about a two minute nebulization. I think each can be effective in some way, but I prefer the two nebulizers. Based on what I read from some of the studies shared here, smaller particle delivery is better, which is the main reason to prefer the nebulizers over the nano sprayer. The nano sprayer’s jet is wetter nearer to the nozzle with the finer mist happening toward the end of the stream hence the “inhale at some distance” suggestion. Using a paper-towel to assess moisture level, neither nebulizer created a wet spot even with their mask right up against it.

      Trust this helps for anyone interested.

      FATUXZ Nano Mist Sprayer
      OWAREY Mesh Nebulizer
      Briotech Hypochrolous 200ppm (.02% HOCl)

  18. Mikel

    “The collection of essays and case studies doesn’t make an explicit case for or against the office, or offer platitudinous architectural solutions (more lounges, more outdoor space)…”

    Office workers want a an offfice, big or small, with a door they can shut as the need arises.

  19. LawnDart

    Re; Class warfare (Potluck! 1/2)

    Because people in the Western world are living such longer, healthier lives, it seems only fair to raise the social security or pension age so that future generations may benefit:

    ‘I can’t take any more’: Working-class French lament Macron’s push to raise retirement age

    The French government presented its proposed pension reforms on Tuesday – measures President Emmanuel Macron has long argued are necessary to make the system affordable over the long term, an argument critics vociferously contest. FRANCE 24 spoke to several workers who do arduous jobs – and who are up in arms about the plans to take away the cherished right to retire at 62.


    With covid aging our immune systems and taking years off of our lives, shouldn’t we be reducing the retirement age?

    1. The Rev Kev

      That’s a great point that. Countries are starting to see a decline in how long their people live reversing a trend that goes back to the 19th century where people have been living longer (thanks neoliberalism!). They may also have to expand sickness benefits as well due to Long Covid being a factor that will be increasing over time. Trying to pretend that it does not exist will not work as the numbers will be far too large to ignore or deny. And the old ploy of importing workers from other countries is not going to really help here as those countries have the same problem that we do. That is what happens in a world-wide pandemic. So the ploy of moving the retirement goals posts every coupla years will no longer work like you point out.

    2. agent ranger smith

      If the goal is to allow us to retire, we should be reducing the retirement.

      If the upper class goal is to kill more us before we reach retirement age in order to pay less benefits back to retirees who paid for those benefits over a working lifetime, then a combination of raising the retirement age and lowering the lifespan with things like carefully fostered covid spreading will achieve the reduction of money spent on peoples’ retirements.

      What do we think the upper class goal for us really is?

  20. LawnDart

    Re; Class warfare (Potluck! 2/2)

    Substitute internships for traineeships if in USA:

    ‘No pay, no way,’ said the young Europeans. Now what?

    “The idea behind it is for traineeships to be a transition to the labour market, not for young people to be doing traineeships until they are 30 years old,” she said.

    In order to stop unfair practices between member states, Ludovic proposes using the minimum wage directive as a basis for creating similar conditions to ensure a quality labour market for young people.


    Our lapdogs still are having a difficult time trying to eat what they’re being fed… …I like Ludovic’s idea though, and that might help curb “unpaid internships.”

  21. LawnDart

    At risk of trying Lambert’s patience… [and sorry for the screwy-formatting– it got buggy on me]

    I know this guy has been mentioned in Water Cooler, but is he for real? (Real as it gets, anyway?) And you’re talking to a guy who voted for Obama. Once.

    This caught me off-guard, maybe something I might expect from a libertarian fringe-candidate– not a… …democrat.

    US Dem. calls Biden ‘war criminal’ over Ukraine, Yemen, Iraq, Syria

    Geoffrey Young also called out the sitting US President for his ongoing “illegal proxy war against Russia in Ukraine,” adding that all American presidents since 1945 are war criminals.

    “I think Joe Biden (D-war criminal) should be impeached immediately for war crimes in Ukraine, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, etc.,”


    Even if Young’s another sheepdog, I do like his growl.

    1. Patrick Lynch

      I live in Kentucky and I voted for Geoff Young in the midterm election this past year because he also wants to abolish all of the US military bases around the world and disband the CIA as well as having universal health care and getting corporate money out of politics. The Kentucky Democratic Party publicly refused to support him at all and as much as said they’d rather have a Republican win in spite of Young having a huge lead in his primary win. Every now and then Kentucky will get actual leftist candidates who the KDP will proceed to crush early and often instead preferring to field the likes of Amy McGrath, Alison Lundergan Grimes and Jack Conway who sound lefty for about five minutes and then veer off into the most spineless Republican lite garbage. If a lefty candidate survives their primary, they either get no support like Young, or little support.

      Jimmy Dore did what I thought was less than satisfactory interview with him and many commenters including myself asked Dore to bring Young back for a longer less comedic interview. I think the idea of someone from Kentucky talking the way Young did melted their brains and after being so burned by Bernie were reluctant to believe him.

      I don’t think Young is a sheepdog, but he can tilt at windmills with the best of them, yet, he won 19,000 votes in his last run which is the most he’s gotten so far. He’s gotten some traction

  22. Acacia

    In the spirit of Emmanuel Todd’s “World War III Has Already Started”, published already by Bunshun in Japan last June, I decided to watch Matsubayashi’s The Last War [Sekai Daisenso] (1961). It’s a serious old skool tokusatsu film about WWIII with lots of famous stars like Frankie Sakai (playing it straight for a change), Takarada Akira, and Ryu Chishu. Solid war SFX by Tsubaraya Eiji are pretty great by 1961 standards.

    The story follows an ‘eburiman’ character (Sakai) who tries to carry on with family life and risshin shusse [getting ahead in the world], while we see a gradually escalating military conflict between two global superpowers, named ‘the Alliance’ and ‘the Federation’ (slightly unclear which side is ‘the West’ as both powers speak USian English). There’s skirmishing along the 38th parallel and tactical nukes get used there for the first time. We are shown technical malfunctions in the weapons systems of the two rival powers, involving the near-launch of ICBMs, yet when the final go-code is received amidst a growing number of aircraft shoot-downs, they don’t hesitate to follow orders and initiate a nuclear strike. Naturally, Tokyo is also a target, leading to mass panic as millions attempt to evacuate.

    The film shows that nobody wants war — including the militaries of the two rival superpowers (their leaders are never shown) — and yet it happens anyway (exact cause is cleverly ambiguous). The Japanese govt, being fully committed to the peace constitution, exhorts all parties to de-escalate, i.e., Tokyo is shown as peacemaker. A Japanese friend with whom I watched the film noted: “aside from the fact that they no longer care about the peace constitution, the current leadership in Japan could never speak the way the politicians in this film do. They simply lack the vocabulary. If you listen to the way they talk today in the Diet, it’s mostly at a secondary-school level of the language.” The final sequence of nuclear conflagration destroying world capitals is a bit over the top, with Fuji-san juxtaposed against a mushroom cloud as Nagatacho is consumed by a sea of flaming lava, but I thought it got the point across pretty well.

    1. agent ranger smith

      If large parts of it will be hybrid war or semi-war or other strange new versions of warfighting, should it be thought of as World Hybrid War One?

    1. Acacia

      I think their server is overwhelmed. It’s loading at a glacial pace for me. It could be a large file with lots of image scans.

      If you get it to load, the browser’s own mechanism for saving PDF to the local disc should work fine.

      1. asdf

        The pdf downloads at reasonable speed for me, but it is a gigantic file, 279MB. That is really crazy. The ebook (I downloaded the javascript blob that it is rendered from) is only about 1MB. But it is in some crazy format and it would likely take a lot of effort to convert it into something useful.

        I didn’t try to download the pdf til just now fwiw, or else I would have noted the file size earlier.

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