2:00PM Water Cooler 1/19/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Say’s Phoebe, Cimarron, Oklahoma, United States. Another epic media note:

Habitat: grassland. “Pair interacting and mating. Male started with dawn song and changed to diurnal song. Birds were in the campground in a canyon that is vegetated with cedars and tall grasses. They were nesting on a building, or near it.” Other Behaviors: Advertise, Court.

What the heck do birds do when they “advertise”? Do they have agencies? Do I want to know?

* * *


“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


Democrats, good job:

A party whose very life is a lie — and to one of their most important consituencies, no less.

Biden Administration

“The McCarthy deal is guaranteed fiscal brinkmanship” [Brookings Institution]. “In both the formal rules adopted for the session and the additional commitments made by McCarthy to building a winning coalition are provisions that bear on fiscal politics. Some of these changes are the result of negotiations with holdouts in the Republican conference who initially opposed McCarthy while others reflect longer-held GOP positions. Several provisions related to fiscal policy are better understood as expressions of Republicans’ core positions rather than binding constraints, especially in a period of divided government. Consider, for example, the restoration of the Cut-As-You-Go (CUTGO) rule. Last used by the Republican majority between 2011 and 2019, CUTGO prohibits the consideration of measures that would increase, on net, mandatory spending such as Medicare and Medicaid; it permits, however, the House to bring up bills that reduce revenue. Under divided government, the chances of major new entitlement spending or major new tax cuts are low, and CUTGO, like other House rules, can be waived by a simple majority of the chamber. Often, a majority that has come to agreement on a measure is also willing to set aside any rules that stand as obstacles to passage. But codifying in the House rules a budget enforcement tool that, at least on paper, treats spending increases one way and tax cuts another reflects the GOP’s core position on the question. In many ways, the agreements between McCarthy and the holdouts aren’t surprising. House Republicans have been telegraphing for some time that they would be willing to take the debt limit hostage as leverage for enacting large spending cuts, and if past is prologue, we need only to look to 2011, the last analogous arrangement of divided government (GOP House, Democratic majority in the Senate, and a Democratic president in the White House) to find the country’s last major debt limit crisis.” • Of course, Democrats didn’t get rid of the debt ceiling when they controlled both houses, so this is a fight, if it is a fight, that they wanted, despite all the whinging.

“Manchin floats fiscal commissions for debt limit bill” [Roll Call]. “Specifically, Manchin said he has talked ‘briefly’ with Speaker Kevin McCarthy about a bill he co-sponsored with Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, in the last Congress to create a “rescue committee” for every endangered government trust fund, like the Social Security, Medicare and highway trust funds…. The Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan research group, named Romney and Manchin as its 2022 Economic Patriot Awards honorees because of their work on the legislation.” • A “Grand Bargain,” but in a new costume. No doubt Democrats are salivating at the prospect of being forced by revolving villain Manchin into doing something they wanted to do all along.


“Biden’s inner circle thinks documents flap is mostly ‘DC elite’ making ‘DC noise’ as they prepare reelection run” [CNN]. “President Joe Biden was planning to launch a campaign sometime in the period after his February 7 State of the Union address before word leaked about the documents found in his home – and that remains the plan, even as White House aides and his personal lawyers answer questions about who knew what when. The plans haven’t changed, people familiar with the discussions say. The timeframe is the same. The president and his close-knit inner circle of advisers – largely the same circle that was tight around him as he prepared to launch his 2020 campaign – are on public lockdown as they avoid saying anything to avoid tripping any legal issues. But, they still think that – barring some major and deeply damaging revelation – this will blow over in time…. Those around Biden with actual information aren’t laying their plans out to nervous donors or members of Congress, whom they know will turn around and talk publicly, and barely care about their complaints over being left out. They mock the political forecasters and the talk of “optics.” They keep private score of four years’ worth of critics whom they feel have fallen flat over and over and dismiss the idea that they’ve gotten so convinced by their own survival mythology that they always underplay whatever arises.” • So the press is aching to go into full pull-the-wings-off-flies mode. As one does. And of course Biden’s inner circle is right. But the interesting question is which faction of the political class is making “noise”… and that doesn’t seem like a question anybody is willing to pose. Here is a novel theory:

That would account for the curious silence surrounding the question of “which faction,” if the UK’s spooks were allied with our own. (Possibly Biden doesn’t wish to go “Full Cleveland” on Ukraine, while our own spooks do?)

“Biden reelection plans on track despite documents controversy” [The Hill]. “Multiple sources with knowledge of the campaign groundwork say Biden intends to signal his intention to seek a second term after the State of the Union address on Feb. 7. A more formal declaration would come closer to the spring. The classified documents discovery, which triggered the appointment of a special counsel last week by Attorney General Merrick Garland, has done nothing to change those plans, these sources said…. Since the story broke last week, the White House has tried to relay to the public that they handled the matter in the appropriate way, working to send the papers back to the National Archives. They say it’s a far cry from Trump’s handling of classified papers, prompting an FBI raid on Trump’s home.” • If you assume the FBI is not politicized, yes. And another question that’s never asked: Why were Biden’s lawyers sniffing around in the first place? Were they tipped off?

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.

* * *


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).

Stay safe out there!

* * *

• “U.S. asks court to reverse order banning airplane mask mandate to combat COVID” [Reuters]. “Much of the arguments in the appeal focus on the CDC’s decision to put in place the requirements immediately rather than give the public a chance to comment on the mandate. Justice Department lawyer Brian Springer said the CDC could impose mask requirements without giving the public time to comment given the pandemic emergency, arguing it was necessary ‘to prevent the possible infections and deaths that could result if people didn’t do the simple thing of just putting on a mask while they were traveling.’ Lawyer Brant C. Hadaway representing the five people who had sued to challenge the mandate noted the CDC last year had not sought a stay of the district court’s ruling. ;This is not about an urgent matter of public health,’ Hadaway told the court. He argued that had the CDC believed the issue was a “matter of life and death” the agency would have sought a faster ruling.'” • Commentary:

I cannot get access to this Law360 article, so here it is, as a thread of screendumps.

* * *

* * *

• “Swab the Throat as Well as the Nose? The Debate Over the Best Way to Test for SARS-CoV-2” [JAMA]. “Combining a nasal swab with a throat swab might improve the sensitivity of rapid antigen tests, but no one has found that throat swabs alone are superior to nasal swabs. ‘We always say if you’re going to swab one spot it should be the nose,’ [Glenn Patriquin, codirector of bacteriology at Dalhousie University’s QEII Diagnostic Microbiology Laboratory] noted. ‘We would never recommend swabbing only the throat.'” Oh, and: “Manufacturers have little incentive to check whether adding throat swabs is safe and effective because their nasal swab tests are selling just fine, [Rustem Ismagilov, PhD, director of the Jacobs Institute for Molecular Engineering for Medicine] noted.” •

* * *

Case Data

NOT UPDATED BioBot wastewater data from January 17:

Lambert here: For now, I’m going to use this 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, for reasons as yet unexplained). At least we can spot trends, and compare current levels to equivalent past levels.


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 18:

-2.1.%. Slightly below past peaks, still very high.


Wastewater data (CDC), January 15:

January 14:

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.

Variant data, national (Walgreens), January 9:

Lambert here: BQ.1* and XBB still dominate. However, CH.1.91 appears for the first time at 1.9%. That’s a little unsettling, because a Tweet in Links, January 11 from GM drew attention to it (“displays such a high relative growth advantage”) and in Water Cooler, January 18, from Nature: “CH.1.1 and CA.3.1 variants were highly resistant to both monovalent and bivalent mRNA vaccinations.” Now here is CH.1.1 in the Walgreens variant data. Let’s see what CDC does with it tomorrow. The Covid variant train always leaves on time, and there’s always another train coming!

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 18:

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

• Hospitalization data for Queens, updated January 14:


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,127,059 – 1,125,895 = 1164 (1164 * 365 = 424,860 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, and now we have some confirmation that whatever we just went through is decreasing.

It’s nice that for deaths I have a simple, daily chart that just keeps chugging along, unlike everything else CDC and the White House are screwing up or letting go dark, good job.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell by 15,000 from the previous week to 190,000 on the week ending January 14th, the lowest in four months and well below market expectations of 214,000. The result further consolidated evidence of a tight labor market despite the Federal Reserve’s aggressive tightening path last year, challenging market bets that the Fed will halt its tightening path before reaching the forecasted terminal rate of 5.25%.”

Manufacturing: “United States Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index in the US rose to -8.9 in January of 2023 from a revised reading of -13.7 in December, compared to market expectations of -11. It was still the fifth consecutive negative reading and the seventh negative reading in the past eight months. More than 33 percent of the firms reported declines in activity, exceeding the 24 percent that reported increases.”

* * *

Retail: “Shopper Rebellion Against Higher Prices Helps Slow Inflation” [Wall Street Journal]. “The study, by economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, found that higher markups—the gap between what a firm charges and what it costs to produce an item—were a major driver of inflation in 2021.” • Like the man said: Prices rise because firms (owners; managers) decide to charge more.

Tech: “Dozens of media companies set 2023 content deals with Twitter” [Axios]. “Twitter is planning to run content sponsorship deals with more than three dozen news outlets, media companies and sports leagues in the first half of this year, according to a schedule of events shared with ad partners and seen by Axios. Elon Musk’s leadership style has caused many advertisers to flee, but media companies, newsrooms and sports leagues are reaping too much revenue and marketing advantage to quit the platform.” In other words, Blue Check hysteria and backbiting is completely misplaced, and Twitter has a sound business model? Sure looks like it: “This year, almost all of the major sports leagues, including the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, NASCAR, PGA Tour and more, plan to run content deals on Twitter around regular season games and tentpole events, like March Madness, NBA Playoffs and the Super Bowl, according to the schedule seen by Axios.” • Now fix the timeline cropping.

The Bezzle: “This 22-year-old is trying to save us from ChatGPT before it changes writing forever” [NPR]. “On January 2nd, [22-year-old Edward Tian] released his app. He named it GPTZero. It basically uses ChatGPT against itself, checking whether ‘there’s zero involvement or a lot of involvement’ of the AI system in creating a given text. When Tian went to bed that night, he didn’t expect much for his app. ‘When I put this out there, I just thought maybe a few dozen people at best might try it,’ Tian says. ‘I was not expecting what happened.’ When Tian woke up, his phone had blown up. He saw countless texts and DMs from journalists, principals, teachers, you name it, from places as far away as France and Switzerland. His app, which is hosted by a free platform, became so popular it crashed. Excited by the popularity and purpose of his app, the hosting platform has since granted Tian the resources needed to scale the app’s services to a mass audience….. Which brings us to the other purpose that Tian envisions for his app: to identify and incentivize originality in human writing. ‘We’re losing that individuality if we stop teaching writing at schools,’ Tian says. ‘Human writing can be so beautiful, and there are aspects of it that computers should never co-opt. And it feels like that might be at risk if everybody is using ChatGPT to write.'” • One concept seems to be, at least for “journalism” that ChatGPT will write the first draft, and then humans will improve it. You know editors and publishers will cut humans out of the loop as soon as possible, quality or no.

The Bezzle: “A Crypto Magnate Saw the Risks and Still Was Hammered” [Wall Street Journal]. “A year ago, Barry Silbert’s 40% stake in Digital Currency Group Inc., or DCG, was valued at more than $3 billion. A crypto conglomerate, with tentacles in nearly every corner of the industry from lending to bitcoin mining, DCG worked out of plush Connecticut offices featuring a marble-countertop kitchen with a coffee barista and a French chef. Mr. Silbert is a 46-year-old finance veteran who began his career working on restructurings and dealing with downturns. Unlike many crypto executives, he tweeted warnings about the risky behavior he saw in digital assets, suggesting he anticipated what could go wrong. Today, Mr. Silbert is trying to keep DCG’s lending firm out of bankruptcy. Other DCG businesses, such as fund manager Grayscale Investments, bitcoin miner Foundry and media-and-events provider CoinDesk also face significant challenges.” • Grayscale? Really?!

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 54 Neutral (previous close: 55 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 54 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 19 at 1:40 PM EST. We were doing pretty good on the Greed for awhile. Now the needle slams back to Neutral.

The Gallery


“It’s not even past”

Maybe I should file this under “Feral Hog Watch,” idk:

See Hitler’s American Model; Nazi legal theorists came to America to study Jim Crow; they considered it very modern, albeit sadly misdirected at the wrong racial target.

Health Care

“Loss of epigenetic information as a cause of mammalian aging” [Cell]. “Cellular responses to double-stranded DNA breaks erode the epigenetic landscape. This loss of epigenetic information accelerates the hallmarks of aging. These changes are reversible by epigenetic reprogramming. By manipulating the epigenome, aging can be driven forward and backward.” • I’m all for life extension. As long as the medication is distributed via sortition.

Under the Influence

“‘The ladies themselves bought into it’: How ‘Housewives’ fans upended the franchise” [Los Angeles Times]. “‘We’re well past 10 years of this franchise being on the air, and it’s still making national headlines,’ Kelley said. ‘I muted my work call to listen to Jen Shah’s sentencing, and I know I’m not the only one doing that.’ ‘Real Housewives’ isn’t just a reality TV saga. The Bravo mainstay is also an addictively messy and scandal-plagued fantasy epic, one that has obsessed fans throughout its nearly 17 years on air. And as with ‘Star Wars,’ ‘The Lord of the Rings’ or ‘Game of Thrones,’ its admirers aren’t passive viewers; they’ve become a vital part of the ‘Housewives’ ecosystem…. ‘The Bravo accounts used to mostly just be memes and pictures,’ said @BravoandCocktails_’ B. ‘But some accounts started posting more tea; people like that, so other accounts felt that they needed to get into that. And I think that the more accounts there were, the bigger we got, the more the network bought into it, the more that the PR people and the ladies themselves bought into it — it’s marketing. It costs nothing for Dorinda [Medley] to send me a bottle of bourbon; she knows I’m going to post it, and now my 100,000 followers are going to be like, ‘Did you like it?’ And if I say yes, they buy it. It’s changed the landscape completely.'” • Ecosystem.

Zeitgeist Watch

“How Harajuku became the blueprint for Instagram style” [Vice]. “Harajuku, a small neighbourhood between the busy shopping mecca of Shibuya and neon-hued nightlife of Shinjuku, became the epicentre of a series of truly fashion-led subcultures that were transmitted to the rest of the world through the street style bible FRUiTS…. With trends appearing in a flash and disappearing just as quickly, this thriving area became the most exciting place to be in Tokyo in the late 1990s and early 2000s. At the time, these style subcultures were a rebellion against the upright, corporate mentality of Japan. Little did these innovators know that their jaw-dropping approach to fashion would still be influencing and inspiring the global fashion industry over two decades on.” • Well, I wish Harujuku would figure out how to make masks trendy.


Well, maybe in Manhattan.

Groves of Academe

You were lucky“:

News of the Wired

Reply All saga:

It goes on…. And speaking of email–

“Bosses are forced to contact Generation Z employees on Instagram because increasing numbers of young staff ignore work email” [Daily Mail]. At Davos: “Bosses are taking to Instagram or Linkedin to speak to employees as an increasing number of young Generation Z workers do not check their emails. Chief executive of one of the world’s biggest IT companies Wipro, Thierry Delaporte has spoken about how employers are having to rethink the way they communicate with their staff. … ‘They don’t even check emails sometimes. We have about 20,000 who we know don’t check even one email per month. They’re 25, they don’t care. ‘They don’t go on their emails, they go on Snapchat, they go on all these things.’ Mr Delaporte, of Wipro, which employs 4,500 people in the UK and 260,000 around the world, said around 10 per cent of his staff ‘don’t even check one email per month’. He spoke about a ‘wake up call’ for employers – and amid a culture of working from home he thinks about how to make sure he understands employees who are much younger than him. The chief executive of video platform Vimeo Anjali Sud backed Mr Delaporte’s comments by comparing emails to outdated instruction manuals in modern society.” • Of course, email isn’t (necessarily) a walled garden owned by a ginormous monopoly, so it is natural Davos would try to destroy it. Why not make it a work requirement ffs?

* * *

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: “Exfoliating bark on Acer griseum.”

* * *

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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. Camelotkidd

    Hitler just carried out the final solution in Europe rather than the colonies
    Plus ça change

  2. voislav

    Fun fact, 2021 was the first year on record that the US population has decreased. It used to grow by a 1M+ per year, last year it dropped by 200K. Number of deaths in 2020 and 2021 each was 600K higher than the average for the prior 4 years.

    Assuming 2022 was similar, the Fed will need to dig hard to crater the employment in an economy that’s went from gaining 1M+ losing 200K people. A bit like Europe in 14th century with Black Death.

    1. Ranger Rick

      I wonder how they’ll try to sell the immigration reform that will be inevitably floated as the solution to the US labor shortage. I can already imagine the conspiracy theories mutating to merge the plague with Great Replacement.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Great Replacement.

        That’s Tuxiera’s “Coalition of the Ascendant” reflected in the Republican fun-house mirror (and what did the Democrats expect, ffs?)

      2. chris

        Well… according to draft language, if Rep. Sheila Lee’s anti white supremacy bill is passed, you won’t have to worry about selling it. Because mentioning replacement theory will become a punishable offense.

        I don’t think a bill with that kind of language has any chance of passing. But it gives you an idea of where their heads are at on this topic.

    2. Ghost in the Machine

      Where are you seeing that stat? I am seeing a 0.1% increase from the census bureau. Still pretty small historically

  3. agent ranger smith

    Are UK spooks allied with our own? Or are our own spooks self-subordinated to the UK spooks?

    When FDR was President, he forced out of the American government all the CFR members he could on the grounds that the CFR was basically an Anglophillic pro-UK front group. When Truman became President, he let them all back in.

    Churchill . . . Rhodes . . . Tony Blair . . . dodgy dossier . . . etc. . . . who is really the Pitiful Helpless Giant here and who is its sneaky little Thinking Brain Dog?

    1. Watt4Bob

      When Truman became President, he let them all back in.

      Sort of rhymes with the situation where JFK fired Dulles after the Bay of Pigs thing, but he still maintained a lot of influence, I imagine Dulles’ team basically decided he’s still the boss.

      Sort of like a lot of GOP folks consider Trump is still the ‘Boss’.

    2. hunkerdown

      They all work toward the Führer, or whatever is this week’s name for the personification of managerial liberalism. The Great Chain of Being is an ideology for the slaves’ consumption, not for analysis.

    3. Realist

      Seeds are being sown in the hope that, when push finally comes to shove, it is only Perfidious Albion that is the targeted in the first volley of Yars from the east.

    4. Michaelmas

      agent ranger smith: who is really the Pitiful Helpless Giant here and who is its sneaky little Thinking Brain Dog?

      Well, somebody needs to have some brains here. Because check out these two clowns ….

      Transcript of Nixon phone call reveals depth of collapse of the US UK special relationship in 1973

      ‘…a transcript of a conversation between President Nixon and Henry Kissinger reveals the depth of the US antagonism towards Edward Heath’s pro-European stance … (and) Kissinger’s frustration at the lack of support by the UK government for American foreign policy. In retaliation Kissinger chose to cut off the Anglo-American special intelligence relationship … Kissinger urged Nixon that “we should show our teeth” to get the British into line.’

      Heath struck back two months later when the Yom Kippur War broke out in the Middle East. America needed British bases in the UK and Cyprus to fly their spy aircraft over the region. Heath imposed heavy restrictions and the antagonism over spy-flights lasted until the summer of 1974.

      Kissinger: … they briefed all the other Europeans when Bert Trent was in here and didn’t tell us ahead of time and wouldn’t even tell us afterwards what they said so I demanded the briefing and then they said they would do it on one time basis but they didn’t feel obliged to tell us what they discussed with the Europeans. So now I’m cutting them off from intelligence special information they are getting here. I mean if they are going to share everything with the Europeans we can’t trust them for special relationship. I am putting it on the basis that we are reassessing all laison relationships. I am not doing it from the White House, I’m having the Agency heads do it …. It was a horrible mistake that we pushed them into Europe ….

      Nixon: Yes. It was never my idea. But nevertheless.

      Kissinger: … This is a phase where we just have to show our teeth. Be absolutely confident.

      All the same ….

      The NSA Told Henry Kissinger to Drop Dead When He Tried to Cut Intel Links with Britain

      “The NSA refused to comply, challenging Kissinger’s authority despite his key role at the White House. Ironically, under the shared intelligence agreement between the agencies, Kissinger’s move would have left the U.S. flying blind in the Middle East because collecting signals intelligence in the region was entirely the domain of the British who funnelled the intel back to Fort Meade.”

      Also —
      “Over the years, GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) has frequently protected the NSA from rivals within the U.S. including the CIA and Naval intelligence units.”

      1. digi_owl

        US using UK like a knife to Europe’s side, and UK behaving as is they are sitting in the middle of the Atlantic rather than off the coast of France. The “fun” never ends with these clowns, does it…

    5. Jams O'Donnell

      Let’s look at this logically. The US is still the biggest economy in the world, with the biggest Army, Navy and Airforce. OK – the education system is tanking, but the pool of available intelligent people is much larger than the UK one. The UK is number eight or nine economy wise, and re armed forces – realistically around number twenty. Plus many upper class and/or rich English people have an unfortunately snobbish and sneering attitude to others. The education system may be slightly better than the US one, but not by much.

      Why would any US organisation subordinate itself to the UK? Use them, yes, but no more than that. The famous (in the UK) ‘special relationship’ is a myth. The only country the US has a special relationship with is Israel.

      (I say this as a UK citizen).

  4. notabanker

    I call BS on the employees ignoring email. Any place that I have worked at you would be gone in two weeks if you never responded to an email. I know of not one single person who works in a large business that has decided to ignore emails.

    And Microsoft has the market cornered on this. Sure there are alternatives, but they own the enterprise marketplace.

    1. Mikel

      And there are other internal variations on email systems that the youth respond to – like Slack.
      Not to mention the tiresome range of work flow message boards (variations on keeping a calendar and meeting deadlines) in use like Monday.com, etc.
      But I can’t imagine anyone but an outright idiot thinking they should perform their work day on social media like Instagram. Any boss that’s not a moron would refuse to communicate with an employee on social medial like Instagram.

    2. griffen

      Yeah they would be lucky to last a week in a finance company setting or a bank, and I have worked in plenty to know this. Compliance training comes into your corporate email, just one glaring example.

      That is just obnoxious on many levels. And really, later in the article there was a point highlighted to complain about email with three paragraphs. Paragraphs! The horror, the horror.

      1. notabanker

        Speaking of email in a bank setting, I’ve only experienced the full on reply to all phenomenon once in the late 90s. Someone asked an innocuous question and accidentally tagged Capital Markets All. So of course it went out to all 1500+ employees of the division including the CEO, his directs, Compliance HR…….

        It started off with a handful of take me off’s, then the people explaining reply to all, and others replying to all agreeing with them. It lasted maybe a half hour, may have been much shorter. It ended quickly after some hot shot released a tirade of f-bombs because no one would remove him from the list. Natural selection at it’s finest.

        1. digi_owl

          Interesting that the server handled it all, as i have read about similar events at for example Microsoft themselves that has basically made email unusable for a day or more. This thanks to the servers struggling to handle the volume of copied replies, resulting in some getting delivered late, that in turn trigger another round of replies.

      2. t

        Indeed. Cannot imagine clients signing off on this. And of course bosses won’t have archives.

        Sounds like some kind of BS oh those crazy kids/we’re with the times.

    3. Swamp Yankee

      I really don’t think this email story is BS. In fact, it jibes with my (40 yr old, elder millennial) experience of late. I have had to account for the fact that a legislative staffer type I know and am working with on environmental legislation, who is around 30 and a very sharp guy, esp. re: the legislative branch in this New England state, only reads about 1 in 10 of the emails he receives on our subject. He has told me as such, and his knowledge/conduct indicate he is not in fact seeing the vital email correspondence. The 20-somethings may read even fewer.

      Get him by text, though, and he gets back to you almost immediately. He is often on Instagram, though only in a blue moon on Facebook. I don’t think he Tiktoks. All of these social media worlds, I’m discovering, are highly demographically-specific.

      As for me, my view is: just read your bloody email. We’re adults, are we not?

      But that isn’t how those younger than about 35 roll, it seems.

      Curiously enough, the use of utterly inscrutable emojis to try to communicate thoughts, including complicated ones, seems to be spreading across all the different generations I deal with in this environmental work. The demographic that likes emojis the most and uses them most inscrutably may be Baby Boomer women. (My view: “please just use English, and the Roman alphabet, rather than pictograms that are poorly suited to discussing the Clean Water Act.”)

    4. Acacia

      And Microsoft has the market cornered on this.

      True, and this really sucks. They convince companies to outsource their mail services to Outlook servers, and then MS locks down those servers with MFA and anybody who wants to use a third-party app like Thunderbird is cut off. It’s the most annoying form of vendor lock-in all over again.

  5. Hana M

    Wow! That Acer grisium plantidote is simply awe inspiring. A garden of moss and lichen within a three dimensional (and probably four dimensional) bark world. Perhaps the Entwives survived after all.

  6. Tom Stone

    I was going through old paperwork related to my years of volunteering in jails when it struck me that paying inmates less than the Federal Minimum wage is likely a violation of the Fiduciary Duty these institutions have toward inmates.
    Inmates can not give consent in many areas of life ( Sex comes to mind) and the relationship between inmate and institution is custodial.
    Custodians are required to act in good faith and I don’t think 25 cents per hour cuts it.

    1. agent ranger smith

      If the 25 cents an hour rate for prison labor is successfully challenged, the Prisondustrial Complex Overseers can just turn around and say . . . ” all right, we will pay them NOthing. Because Convict Slavery is legal and constitutional under the Thirteenth Ammendment.

  7. skippy

    File under store of value/lavour thingy ….

    Well-known crypto investor NFT God, owner of one messed up looking mutant Bored Ape NFT who they call Henry, has had all their cryptocurrency and other digital assets stolen after clicking a sponsored download link on Google for popular streaming app, OBS.

    “I lost a life changing amount of my net worth” reads the top post in a thread (opens in new tab) on NFT God’s Twitter account. Here, in this space where they post “Daily tips on personal growth”, the thread goes into some rich narrative detail about the incident (via Web3isgoinggreat (opens in new tab)).

    “I sat on the couch numb. I knew this was only the beginning. This wasn’t a wallet compromise. My entire digital livelihood was under attack.” After wiping everything and resetting their passwords, the post continues, “My heart raced like a Ferrari as I ran to change my substack password on my phone.”


      1. hunkerdown

        Not quite a whale, but a huge manatee? A huge NFT?

        To paraphrase the late, great George Carlin, “Why, why, why are all the people who are against cash the kind of people you wouldn’t want to funge in the first place?”

        1. skippy

          @above ….

          “Not only had NFT God’s wallets all been drained, their personal Twitter had been compromised, along with their 1% Better business account. On top of that their family, friends, and followers received messages full of phishing links to try and trick them into meeting the same fate—that includes their 16,000 Substack followers.

          “My Substack means more to me than anything in my life that’s not a human being. It’s where I create my most deeply personal work. It’s where I built my community. It’s the personal achievement I’m most proud of in my life.””

          This is the highlight as one click enabled – all – wallets drained, twitter, BBA, family/friends/followers receive phishing link from hacked accounts in a blink of an eye. The crypto aspect is not the story here its the system and how beholden many are to it. Cash and Gold don’t to anything to fix the system of its vulnerabilities.

          But hay I am on the record here at NC for having a huge drama with Gates Frictionless Capitalism, at onset, and in application, seems to enable Greshams law like never seen before … I mean how many humans are going to be paranoid/OCD enough to check every click of the mouse or key stroke day in day out.

          Then again I see crime rates going up and then stuff like above is on the rise for the really big payday, which the net really lends itself too, robbed half way around the world with no violence involved. Reminds me of the old libertarian arguments about caveat emptor and without force no crime has been committed because of Free Will[tm] or internet pirates on the silicon seas of the web.

          To reiterate … the token has no influence on behavior because regardless of it the system proceeds it …

    1. hemeantwell

      Though I don’t care much about crypto losers, I am left wondering about Google’s responsibility to ensure the safety of links it presents. Is this guy SOL? And is this a new level of phishing sophistication, taking over what would appear to be Google-vetted links? I don’t follow the news on this, and have settled into complacency, feel like I’ve become a champ at dumping emails that my Regions Bank account has been sacked, etc.

    1. JBird4049

      It might be better to say: frankly apartheid made South Africa a Jim Crow regime, like US; apartheid became codified in the 1940s whereas Jim Crow was created after the end of Reconstruction or roughly sixty years before apartheid.

  8. Synoia

    On the subject of ” Bosses are forced to contact Generation Z employees on Instagram”

    I wonder how many receive money from multiple employers…..? Or “work” short hours?

    1. LawnDart

      Ghost workers or employees? How to make that work? Can we take lessons from government and update these?

      “Contract” employees seems easiest to work with, I’d think.

  9. Mark K

    Re: The Bezzle: “This 22-year-old is trying to save us from ChatGPT before it changes writing forever”

    From Lambert’s snippet:

    ‘We’re losing that individuality if we stop teaching writing at schools,’ Tian says. ‘Human writing can be so beautiful, and there are aspects of it that computers should never co-opt.’

    I happened to read this entry in the Water Cooler right after listening to the rendition of Hamlet’s soliloquy that was featured in the musical Hair (“What a piece of work is man…”) and commenting to my wife that it was incomprehensible to me that any person could string together so many magnificent images as Shakespeare did in that soliloquy.

    As to Tian’s observation quoted above, all I can say is, “Yup, got that right.”

  10. NotTimothyGeithner

    Re: Biden document flap

    We don’t need an explanation. Right now, the msm types who slurped Shrub aren’t worried about orange man, so they won’t ignore Team Blue hypocrisy. Hillary isn’t assured of the presidency, so they don’t fear anyone.

    1. BillS

      Not much changes in 50 years. I can’t resist an adaptation of a classic:

      “Another Biden/Trump horror would almost cause a ‘Fourth Party’ uprising and guarantee Trump’s re-election – which might bring the hounds of hell down on a lot of people for the next four very long years.
      But personally, I think I’d be inclined to take that risk. Joe Biden is a treacherous, gutless old ward-heeler who should be put in a goddamn bottle and sent out with the Japanese Current. The idea of Biden running for president again makes a mockery out of things that would take me too long to explain or even list here. And Joe Biden wouldn’t understand what I was talking about anyway. He was a swine in 2020 and he’s worse now. If the Democratic Party nominates Biden again in 2024, the Party will get exactly what it deserves.”

      Apologies to Hunter S. Thompson
      Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72

  11. jax

    Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. – The Big Tech lay-offs began this week. Amazon laid off 2,600 in Seattle. Give it time.

  12. JBird4049

    >>>At the time, these style subcultures were a rebellion against the upright, corporate mentality of Japan.

    I am just going to go gloomy here and do some whining; is it me getting old or has culture, especially street culture, just faded away. Yes, I know that they have stuff online, but it is glitzy plastic. That is if you can find it the crapification of searches and the disappearance of venues to be at. Aside from the local dive bar or seriously overpriced live entertainment.

    This might be an explanation for the non fashion of masks. I just know that if they had to wear masks before the very late twentieth century there would have been some styles. I do wonder what horrors that the 70s, the decade that had the leisure suit, would have produced. I like seeing people who have accessorized and coordinated their masks with their clothes.

    1. Acacia

      What if it’s not culture, but the street as a space of encounter that is fading away? We’re talking about a younger generation that grew up being largely shuttled around by helicopter parents, where previous generations were out roaming on foot, bike, skateboard, hanging around in the street, parks, etc. That created a space for streetwear, for urban fashion, for boom boxes, bikes, bling, low riders, for people to see and be seen, etc., but some portion of that is now online.

      1. JBird4049

        I think it is not just the street as a place to encounter others, I think it is the disappearing of anything else where one might meet people or enjoy anything at all. The Bay Area is evermore losing anything other than the PMC, who are the only ones with any money, which includes the Wokeists, the Techies, and other well educated “knowledge workers,” the desperately overworked and underpaid who provide the services to them, and the homeless who have been disposed of.

        Very simplified of course, but there is no way that the Beatniks, the Freaks/Hippies, or even the average man in a grey suit could live hear anymore. The web of jobs, bookstores, real bars, and actual coffee shops, plus the cheap musical entertainment, clubs, non-chain restaurants with decent and cheap food, and so on are all gone. About the only thing left are the museums and the parks with the former getting more expensive and the latter overrun with the homeless.

        From what I can see, this is true throughout the Bay, the rest of California, and the whole darn country. It is not just that people are going online of there own desire, but that they are being corralled into the enclosed, simplified, propagandized, monetized, and controlled internet; there are no true glitterati or intelligentsia, or bohemians because they have been prevented from arising with the destruction of the social spaces needed for them.

        Unless you are of the top ten percent making up the PMC and just what are they good for aside from maintaining the status quo? They are not even very good administrators or bureaucrats, certainly not like of those of the pre 1980s.

  13. Wukchumni

    Dr. Strangloam: Or how I learned to love the land shift:

    Driving home on the 5 through the Grapevine, a low lying hill near Templin Highway had schluffed onto a couple lanes of the highway, and when I say it was a lowlife of a hill, perhaps i’m pushing it, the damned thing barely qualified as a knoll.

    We got a lotta winter left and land slippage might be a common occurrence occasionally, so be open minded about areas being closed down, Cali.

    Went to the meeting in regards to damage to roads & infrastructure in Sequoia NP and the damage is extensive and every Tom, Dick & Harry locale in the Golden State is in a state of needing heavy equipment, and its a funny thing, when the 2021 KNP Fire hit, it was ‘Spend Every Dollar…’ (to the Sound Of Music’s ‘Climb Every Mountain’) and in a few months the bill was $104 million and nobody said nothing about paying it, of course everybody got theirs.

    Flooding and infrastructure damage is a different kettle of risk, especially with the unknown knowns that come with 3 more months of winter to come, and financial help is a lot slower in stepping up to the plate.

    The sliver lining out of the deal, is access to the Giant Forest will probably be closed until the 12th of never or February 29th, whatever comes first.

    The 300 mostly rather spartan AirBnB’s and the like in Tiny Town will be sucking wind, hastening their departure perhaps from a profound lack of income, as nobody goes there anymore.

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