2:00PM Water Cooler 1/25/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Hermit Thrush, Brown Tract Ponds, Hamilton, New York, United States. “Other Behaviors: Advertise. Habitat: Forest, Deciduous Forest, Pond.”

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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

Tossing a few coins to the peasants while riding by in one’s coach:

This is where Democrats are, instead of #MedicareForAll. Kudos, however, for changing the shopworn “fighting for” to “fighting like hell for.” Refreshing!


“Could Trump Run to DeSantis’s Left in 2024?” [Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine]. “Trump famously abandoned austerity politics upon taking office in 2017, presiding over an orgy of tax-cutting and uninhibited spending. And while his failed assault on Obamacare included serial efforts to gut the Medicaid program that provides health care for low-income Americans, he distanced himself from the traditional GOP hunger to mess with Social Security and Medicare, safety-net programs that middle-class voters — and perhaps especially Republican retirees and near retirees — regarded as benefits they had earned. Discarding the green eyeshade of austerity was one of several voter-pleasing steps Trump took to detoxify conservative politics. Others were abandoning free-trade shibboleths that the GOP’s white working-class base intensely disliked and downplaying a reflexive defense-hawk tendency that predictably led to unpopular ‘forever wars.'” • The bastard keeps asking for my vote. Why can’t Democrats do that? And I love the concept of Trump moving toward “the sensible center.” I’ll especially love it if Biden and McCarthy start ginning up a “Grand Bargain.”

“Trump Is Plotting How to Kick DeSantis ‘In the Nuts.’ Here’s His Playbook, So Far” [Rolling Stone]. Personally, I think that’s giving short-bodied vulgarian DeSantis too much credit. Anyhow: “‘In a Republican primary, only Donald Trump could effectively go after Ron DeSantis for wanting to cut Social Security,’ a Republican close to the 2024 Trump campaign tells Rolling Stone. ‘Trump has a track record of saying the right things on this issue both when it comes to a general election and also Republican voters in a primary. DeSantis’ record in the House [on this topic] is very much of the Paul Ryan, privatize Social Security platform, which is just not where our voters are now.’… At the time before the rise of Trumpism in 2015 and 2016, those principles were all about constraining government spending by repealing Obamacare and pursuing ‘entitlement reform.’ In 2013, during DeSantis’ first year in office, he voted for a far-right budget resolution that sought to balance the federal budget in just four years — twice as fast as a competing measure by Ryan that got the Republican budget wonk lampooned as a ‘zombie-eyed granny starver.’*” • Harsh, but fair. NOTE * Invented by Charlie Pierce in 2012, good one; I had thought Pierce lost his mind by that point, but I guess not!

“Frozen: Trump’s primary challengers balk at jumping into the unknown” [Politico]. “Those preparing to challenge Donald Trump in the GOP’s presidential primary are taking their time, privately discussing the prospect of waiting until spring or summer to get in, according to three Republican strategists familiar with different candidates’ deliberations. Part of it is strategic: an effort to make someone else an early Trump foil. Part of it is fear: wariness around their own ability to raise money to sustain a drawn-out campaign. ‘It’s very, very quiet,’ said Wayne MacDonald, a New Hampshire lawmaker and former Republican Party chair in the first-in-the-nation primary state. It appears increasingly likely to stay that way for far longer than once expected. On Tuesday, one likely candidate, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, told CBS News it may take a ‘handful of months’ for him to decide whether to run. An adviser to one potential presidential candidate has discussed with members of at least two other potential candidates’ teams the advantage of multiple candidates announcing around the same time [hold hands and jump], according to one Republican strategist briefed on those talks. The conversations, which took place earlier this month, were informal. But they suggest a common recognition among Republicans of what the strategist called ‘strength in numbers’ in a primary involving Trump.” Because that worked so well in 2016? More: “The proximate cause of the frozen primary is Trump, the former president and only declared candidate in the race.”

* * *

“Classified documents at Pence’s home, too, his lawyer says” [Associated Press]. • At what point do we get to say “They all do it?”

Republican Funhouse

“Santos skips White House event for new members” [The Hill]. “The reception in the East Room of the White House was scheduled to begin at 5:20 p.m., and Santos was not listed on the White House’s list of expected attendees. Santos, like all new members, was invited, as is tradition every two years. Santos has faced a controversial start to his time in Congress, coming under fire for lying about his personal and work history and facing questions about his campaign finances. He has rebuked calls to resign from a growing number of members of Congress. Four other first-term Republican House members skipped the event, while 10 were listed as attendees, including Santos’s fellow New York Republican Reps. Nick Langworthy and Mike Lawler.” • One doesn’t “rebuke” a “call.”

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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Realignment and Legitimacy

“Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant Will Not Seek Reelection” [The Stranger]. “Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant, the council’s lone socialist and most senior member, announced Thursday that she will not seek reelection this year. Instead, she and her fighting movement will ditch electoralism and launch ‘Workers Strike Back,’ a national campaign that aims to win better lives and conditions for workers, gains that Sawant claims [correctly] so-called progressive elected leaders fail to deliver. But Sawant did more than own the libs: She helped win a $15 minimum wage for Seattle workers, she pushed the council to tax Amazon, and she championed renter protection after renter protection in her role as the Chair of the Renters’ and Sustainability Committee. Despite her Thursday announcement, Sawant warned her many adversaries not to ‘mix their martinis just yet.’ She’ll fight up to the buzzer for a rent control trigger law, a cap on late fees for overdue rents, and ending the use of credit checks in rental applications.” Sawant can turn a phrase too! More: “Socialist Alternative will not run another candidate to fill her seat, Sawant told reporters. The party believes the time and money it takes to run a candidate would be better spent organizing their new movement.” • Could Sawant possibly be the real deal? Do we have readers in Seattle?

“Kshama Sawant will not seek reelection to Seattle City Council” [Seattle Times]. “At a press conference held at the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, Sawant said she’s won election after election ‘not on the basis of go-along-to-get-along politics, not on the basis of wine and cheese with the Chamber of Commerce and the rest of the establishment, but by fighting back and becoming a thorn in the side of the Seattle ruling class.’…. “There is no universe where you can do what we have done, which is win historic victories and stand up for the working class, and not get in crosshairs of the ruling class,” Sawant said in an interview late Thursday. ‘They wouldn’t be mad if I was not effective,’ she added. In fact, Sawant calls criticism from others in politics and business “a badge of honor,” and only worries that the policy conversations she has driven will fade when she leaves. ‘On the one hand I fully expect big business, the chamber and establishment Democrats to feel emboldened to bring City Hall back to corporate business as usual, like they had before me,’ said Sawant, who first made her decision known in an editorial in The Stranger. ‘On the other hand, nothing is automatic.'” • No indeed!

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“The Only People Panicking Are the People in Charge” [Foreign Policy]. From 2020, still germane: “Lee Clarke and Caron Chess, two researchers at Rutgers University who are usually credited with coining the phrase ‘elite panic’ argue with persuasive examples that elites fear panic, cause panic, and often panic themselves, reacting disproportionately to threats. (Clarke has created a set of presentation slides about social behavior in disasters; the final slide, titled ‘Modeling official behavior,’ gives us the evocative bullet points: ‘Ignorance,’ ‘Arrogance,’ ‘Hubris,’ and ‘Officials can cause ‘panic.”) Kathleen Tierney of the University of Colorado looked at elite panic in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, such as when then-Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco first called off the emergency response and then threatened shoot-to-kill orders in response to the problem of looting, which as later reporting showed was highly exaggerated. Similarly, police from a neighboring parish blocked evacuees from New Orleans from entering, firing shotguns over their heads, because of their fears of the ‘criminal element’ based on those same exaggerated reports of looting and mayhem. The impacts of this, as Tierney notes, include the direct damage to people who were frightened or unable to scavenge for food. Tierney asks: ‘How much resident-to-resident helping behavior was prevented or suppressed because people were afraid to venture out to help their neighbors out of fear of being killed or arrested?’ Clarke and Chess write: ‘Planners and policy makers sometimes act as if the human response to threatening conditions is more dangerous than the threatening conditions themselves.’ That false claim becomes a way for elites to maintain control and protect their own interests. Typically shielded from the immediate impacts of a disaster, elites tend to be much more worried about disruption to the status quo and the loss of political capital and power. That they use a long-discredited fallacy about the public behaving irrationally to do this adds insult to injury. It’s also a dereliction of duty, because while lies and exaggerations about the potential for panic worsen a crisis response, working with the public to deal with the disaster tends to improve it.” • Since the elites are also experts in fomenting panics….

“Protest isn’t terrorism” [Bill McKibben, The Crucial Years]. “[A]cross America, laws are being rewritten, often at the behest of corporate lobbyists, to make dissent and protest much more difficult. Here’s a webinar from, among others, the veteran activist Marla Marcum detailing the spread of these anti-protest laws across the coungtry; she reports that only five states haven’t had such laws introduce…. As Marcum put it, ‘most people who hear about protesters charged with domestic terrorism will process that information as ‘there are people committing terrorist acts’ and they will think ‘terrorism is bad,’ and they won’t question whether the label tells any kind of truth. Because terrorism IS bad. Full stop. But we need to know what the words mean in each context where a prosecutor or politician deploys them.’ And in the case of these new laws, it just means: we don’t like you.” • “We don’t like you.”

It may be that I have to do some rethinking about partisanship:

Readers, what do you think? Is this your own experience? How about those around you?


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!

* * *

• “Seriously, why should we care about anything Twitter trolls have to say?” [Toronto Star]. “Coincidentally, a friend sent me a revealing Twitter exchange last week between two public health experts. These two physicians became minor celebrities at the height of COVID-19 — until their paths diverged. I’ve never spoken to Dr. Isaac Bogoch, but whenever I’ve listened to the advice he’s offered on television (or Twitter) he came across as thoughtful and measured, never contemptuous or fear-mongering. I don’t know Dr. David Fisman, but whenever I heard his unmodulated musings, I wondered why anyone would heed him. The other day, Fisman (who resigned in protest from Ontario’s science advisory table in 2021) launched a personal attack on Bogoch (who served on the COVID-19 vaccine distribution task force). Fisman berated him for the supposed sin of contextualizing, rather than criticizing, the reluctance of B.C.’s provincial health officer to impose a mask mandate anew: ‘Not sure why you’re running interference for Bonnie Henry on masking, @BogochIsaac,’ Fisman tweeted at him. ‘You’re a smart guy. You understand reproduction numbers. This is an absolutely terrible framing …’ You can read their tangled Twitter exchange for yourself. But what stands out is not so much Fisman’s puerile argumentation as Bogoch’s more restrained remonstration — not on matters relating to the scientific method, but social media madness: ‘I’ve been reflecting on this thread for a bit,’ Bogoch began. ‘I have zero intention to be unkind to David here, rather it is an opportunity to touch base on the current state of social media/public discourse & our current trajectory (extending well beyond COVID). Summary: Vey iz mir.’ (Translation, for those unfamiliar with the Yiddish language: ‘Woe is me.’ Or, translated into body language, it looks like an eye roll.)” • Well. Resigning from Ontario’s Science advisory table looks like a badge of honor to me (“I do not wish to remain in this uncomfortable position, where I must choose between placid relations with colleagues on the one hand, and the necessity of speaking truth during a public health crisis on the other,” Fisman wrote. We need more of this, not less.) And did you notice that, in the midst of his tone policing, the author asserts that Fisman’s “argumentation” is “puerile” without actually showing it? Earns a follow, as we say.

* * *

• One idea for a protest:

* * *

• “Structural Characteristics That Can Help Insulate HHS Agencies against Potential Political Interference” (PDF) [GAO]. “Multiple senior agency officials highlighted how the government-wide coordination required in response to an emergency like the COVID-19 pandemic can create more opportunity for potential political interference. Experts and former agency heads have identified structural reforms that may improve insulation of selected HHS agencies against political interference in future public health emergencies. These structural reform ideas include converting FDA into an independent agency; making the CDC director a Senate-confirmed position; and reducing the number of political appointees at the selected agencies.” • The study was done across both the Trump and Biden administrations. I’m really just laying down a marker here; but you can bet that however the Biden Adminsitration decided to adopt a pandemic policy of mass infection without mitigation, imposed it on CDC and HHS, as well as the propaganda organs we used to call “the press,” will not be classified as “political interference.”

* * *

Case Data

NOT UPDATED BioBot wastewater data from January 23:

Lambert here: For now, I’m going to use this wastewater data as the best proxy for case data (ignoring the clinical case 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 25:



NOT UPDATED Wastewater data (CDC), January 21:

Easing off, though you do have to wonder what’s the point of a national system where half the country has gone dark.

January 17:

And MWRA data, January 23:

Lambert here: Still uptick in the north. However, only some 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), 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!

Lambert here: Wierdly, the screen shot about has been replaced today by data from “10/7/2022.” (It’s clearly not current data; BQ.1* and XBB do not dominate.

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), December 31 (Nowcast off):

BQ.1* takes first place. XBB coming up fast. CH.1, unlike the Walgreens chart, does not appear. (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:

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 24:

• Hospitalization data for Queens, updated January 22:


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,129,618 – 1,129,145 = 473 (472 * 365 = 172,280 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

There are no official statistics of interest today.

* * *

Inflation: “Biden finally gets a win against inflation” [Politico]. “Americans’ average income has beaten inflation for the past six months, driven by the plummeting cost of gas, along with drops in furniture, cars and other goods. If the trend continues, it could be a boost for President Joe Biden as he gears up for a tough reelection campaign, undercutting one of the main Republican arguments against his handling of the economy. ‘People really know how far their paycheck goes,’ Jared Bernstein, a member of Biden’s Council of Economic Advisers, said in an interview. ‘When gas prices are down $1.70 relative to where they were last summer, that’s the kind of breathing room that people recognize.’ Yet that progress could be in jeopardy: As Federal Reserve officials prepare to meet next week to raise interest rates again, their inflation-fighting crusade — which Fed Chair Jerome Powell has vowed to continue — has sparked fears of a recession, meaning that workers could be forced to give up those hard-fought gains.” • Or not forced, or so much, if they had unions.

Tech: “We tried to run a social media site and it was awful” [Financial Times]. “A few months ago, FT Alphaville thought it might be fun to host a Mastodon server. Boy, were we wrong!” There’s a bullet list of horribles, but this one stands out: “a=Cloud services work on the Hotel California principle: it’s easy to get started but as soon as you’re in, you’re stuck. After just a month our barely visible Fediverse presence was taking up 160 gigabytes and each mandatory server upgrade had an exponential effect on the cost, measured either by cash or carbon. Nuking really does seem the only way out.” • Worth a read. Also, go long Twitter?

Tech: “Microsoft announces new multibillion-dollar investment in ChatGPT-maker OpenAI” [CNBC]. “Microsoft on Monday announced a new multiyear, multibillion-dollar investment with ChatGPT-maker OpenAI. Microsoft declined to provide a specific dollar amount, but Semafor reported earlier this month that Microsoft was in talks to invest as much as $10 billion. The deal marks the third phase of the partnership between the two companies, following Microsoft’s previous investments in 2019 and 2021. Microsoft said the renewed partnership will accelerate breakthroughs in AI and help both companies commercialize advanced technologies in the future. ‘We formed our partnership with OpenAI around a shared ambition to responsibly advance cutting-edge AI research and democratize AI as a new technology platform,’ Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a blog post. OpenAI works closely with Microsoft’s cloud service Azure.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 62 Greed (previous close: 62 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 56 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 25 at 12:27 PM EST.

The 420

“Weed Legalization Supported By Most U.S. Voters: This Week in Cannabis Investing” [Kiplinger]. “Support among Americans for federal weed legalization continues to grow. According to a survey conducted by polling firm Data for Progress [ugh], most voters – be they Republican, Democrat or Independent – support legalizing recreational marijuana at the federal level. The survey found that 65% of Americans are in favor of the legalization of cannabis. And across the political spectrum, ending cannabis prohibition was supported by 75% of Democrats, 67% of Independents, and 52% of Republicans.” And: “We have been following polling data on cannabis legalization before we launched Poseidon [the author’s investment firm], and the movement has shown constant growth in support. While Democrats initially led legislation around weed legalization, we are seeing more Republican states take efforts that support cannabis – like those being made toward recreational weed legalization in Florida. These legal medical and adult-use recreational programs will lead to a decline in stigma around the plant. It’s great that, for the first time, we are seeing a majority of Republicans now supporting cannabis legalization at the federal level.”

Groves of Academe

Lots of land grant universities:

The Gallery

“Is Classic Art in Danger at Neglected Fresno Building?” [GV Wire]. Fresno Week at Naked Capitalism continues: “Passing by the Fagbule Glass House, it is easy to note the destroyed building and overlook the fabulous piece of art. It looks like a bomb went off at the location at 1930 E. Shields Avenue, across the street from Manchester Center. The only glass at the Fagbule Glass House is either broken panes, in shards around the building, or piled in the parking lot. Fires have burned several areas around the building. Trash is everywhere. A terra cotta relief, “A Day in the Park” by Clement Renzi sits on the side of the vacant building. It is incredible that the 288 tiles that comprise the art installation remain undisturbed, surrounded by such a disaster. As of Tuesday at 10:30 a.m., the artwork remains intact. Art lovers are worried that luck may not last. The questions are — how did the building get to be that way, and what happens to the art?… In recent years, before total dilapidation, the Covenant of Faith Family Church — pastored by Fagbule and his wife Kemi Fagbule — used the building… Insurance claims, Fagbule said, are “dragging.” He estimates it will take $500,000 to repair the building — money he does not have.” • The art:

Interestingly, the “Fagbule Glass House” started as a savings and loan, back in 1982.

Zeitgeist Watch

I considered filing this under “Groves of Academe,” but I do think it’s more of a zeitgiest thing. The account is at the University of Arkansas, interestingly. The whole thread is worth a read:

If “dogmatic doxastic voluntarism” (DDV) is a thing, that would seem to account for a lot. “It’s just a cough.” “Tanks will turn the tide for Ukraine. DDV reminds me of a phenomenon I’ve discussed with Yves that I call “spreadsheet thinking”; it’s the concept — ideology? — that if you alter a spreadsheet cell — as for example by changing the cell for Leopard tanks in Germany to a sum of cells for Leopard tanks in Germany, Poland, Spain, etc. — that you necessarily change the material world (or change it in they way you expect). Perhaps spreadsheet thinking comes from the world of finance; I don’t know. DDV must also be akin to what a billionaire feels: They can literally buy anything that can be bought, and so for them, believing is indeed action; they have people for the action part. “The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force,” sayeth The Bearded One. Or in the vulgate: The fish rots from the head.

Class Warfare

“Worker Earnings, Service Quality, and Firm Profitability: Evidence from Nursing Homes and Minimum Wage Reforms” [Review of Economics and Statistics]. From 2022, still germane: “This paper finds that higher wages for workers translates to better service quality, measured by improved safety, better health, and reduced mortality for nursing home residents. These benefits are both statistically significant and economically meaningful. Applying the average pressure sore treatment costs from the previous literature (Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality, 2016; Brem et al., 2010) to the point estimates in Table 6 and the estimated increase in nursing assistant pay suggests that cost savings from pressure sore treatment alone offset between 20-50% of the increase in staff costs. This simple back-of-the-envelope calculation implies that wage increases in the nursing home sector fully pay for themselves if the value of increased longevity for nursing home residents is at least $23,000.” • Great, but “value” to whom?

News of the Wired

“How antidepressants help bacteria resist antibiotics” [Nature]. By studying bacteria grown in the laboratory, a team has now tracked how antidepressants can trigger drug resistance. ‘Even after a few days exposure, bacteria develop drug resistance, not only against one but multiple antibiotics,’ says senior author Jianhua Guo, who works at the Australian Centre for Water and Environmental Biotechnology at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. This is both interesting and scary, he says. Globally, antibiotic resistance is a significant public-health threat. An estimated 1.2 million people died as a direct result of it in 20192, and that number is predicted to climb.” • Oops. “Interesting and scary,” that’s NC!

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Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. From Angie Neer:

Angie Neer writes: “The trees around here (Pacific Northwet–er, Northwest) host lots of other species. A recent wind storm brought down lots of branches that looked like this one.” Wow!

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Wukchumni

    I daresay its the Fresno equivalent of the Elgin Marbles, the Fagbule Glass House-stand tall 5th largest city-that is until the inevitable wrecking ball comes along to build another liquor store just off your asphalt shore, and what an unfortunate last name if you tended to get picked on in school in the 1970’s & 80’s, but it’s all good this week!

    1. ambrit

      I wonder if the British Museum could be interested in “acquiring” the Fagbule Terracottas on the sly? There must be some venturous modern day Bruce to carry out the task. How about a display at the Museum of the work and call it the “Johnson Tiles?”
      fresno dan, Destiny calls!

      1. Wukchumni

        Par then on for the course, I too delegate fresno dan to do a drive-by and case the jointed terracotta.

  2. petal

    PhD map: Well hello there, Grafton County erm Dartmouth! And Mt. Pleasant, MI and Ithaca. Neat map.

    1. Bosko

      Grafton County was the thing that grabbed my eye as well! But I don’t think Dartmouth can explain all those Ph.Ds… I suspect a certain amount of the overeducated have taken to the woods.

      1. Louis Fyne

        throw in postdocs, administrators, retirees, emeritus professors, think tanks, non-working spouses I can easily believe that map.

      2. petal

        We have a fair amount of biotech here that in some cases were spun off from the College, plus Novo Nordisk, and the hospital.

      1. Not Again

        If you overlay a map of counties with colleges onto the map of PhDs they would be identical.

        I’ll bet those counties have the highest proportion of Democratic voters too.

        1. sharron2

          The yellow dot in Texas is Texas A&M, a large university in a small city/town in the middle of East Texas and solid red politically. Now known as the antithesis to liberal University of Texas in blue Austin, Tx. A&M is now known as the school where whole rows of tables in the dining halls hold hands and bow their heads for blessing before their meals.

      2. curlydan

        Los Alamos County was the tiny yellow dot northwest of Santa Fe County and had 17% PhDs (or 1 out of 6 residents) according to the map maker.

    1. Wukchumni

      Last time we were in Oakland was maybe a decade ago and we were there for a Raiders-Bills game, with both teams having losing records late in the season, and our seats were up at the top of concrete stairs that were literally falling apart, it was an attorney’s whet dream, that awful convertible baseball-football stadium.

      I think the Raiders were 2-12 that season and the occasional abuse we received from wearing Bills jackets was shocking, and all of this was before it became a homeless sanctuary.

      From what I saw in the video, Fresno seems like paradise-this week.

  3. flora

    Pence classified docs. Pence said last year he’s thinking of running for pres in 2024. At this point (foil bonnet on) I wonder who the FBI will accept as a candidate. (foil bonnet off) / ;)

    1. Realist

      Pence is probably the only serious potential candidate that would lose to Harris, so They will probably welcome his run.

  4. jo6pac

    Fagbule Glass House

    This is a great piece. I use to drive by it once a month when working in Fresno. There’s another one by a bank. I’ll try and find it later.

    I need a nap

  5. albrt

    Never heard of doxastic voluntarism before today, but it seems like a good match for a society based on Madison Avenue / Brave New World / 1984 principles. Everybody has a self, but the self can change its beliefs easily (and can easily be induced to change), and the self is primarily expressed by buying and consuming things. Even better if the objects of consumption are mostly intangible / entertainment.

    1. semper loquitur

      Seems like there is a lot going on there. The addled sorcery of language = reality, courtesy of the Post Modernists. Reality as performance, courtesy of arch-m0r0n Judith Butler and her gaggle of sycophants. The God granted right of every decent American to believe whatever they want, evidence be darned, because your opinion belongs to you. It’s a property-rights issue. And philosophizing is for sissies! Then, as you say, the advertising/marketing world’s constant “empowerment” of the individual to think that if they wish it, it can be true. “Just Do It.” “Dream Big!” “Vote!”

      1. Revenant

        I don’t understand the supposed problem of “doxastic voluntarism”, or belief as it was known in simpler times. The lecturer seems to be confusing an internally consistent world view with belief, when they are incommensurable.

        Belief admits no reason or evidence. It is belief. Belief is axioms and all the rest is reasoning. You can believe in a vengeful sky god and you can believe in nothing and you can believe in the Lizard People or that shrinking-penis delusion in African cultures, the name of which eludes me, it is really up to you. You don’t even have to have internally consistent beliefs because real belief papers over the cracks.

        Goedel’s theorem would have saved her the bother. Any formal system of statements that is sufficient general will contain undecidable propositions (a.k.a contradictions). I wrote a dissertation on why legal positivists and automated reasoning supporters are delusional because Goedel’s theorem makes the whole exercise unreliable beyond limited toy domains. At some level, even your conclusions from reason are unreliable and you simply have to believe – in which case, you can believe anything even as gravity catches up with you Wile Coyote-style.

        I am not an intellectual nihilist. I have plenty of beliefs and conclusions, all tested on experience. If they work, I keep them. Perhaps they are lemmas and postulates rather than beliefs and conclusions, who knows? I currently believe the Earth goes round the Sun and not vice versa but your mileage may vary.

      2. Skip Intro

        “The map is not the territory”
        Taking the deconstruction of texts to explore what they say about power structures is a critique of ready belief, and is more nihilistic of any possibility of knowing and sharing reality. That it is now used as a roadmap for constructing arbitrary beliefs seems typical of the trend of using cautionary tales as instruction manuals.

  6. diptherio

    RE: “We tried to run a social media site and it was awful” [Financial Times].

    It’s pretty hilarious to me that FT couldn’t figure out how to make a Mastodon instance pay for itself, while a bunch of random co-op people put one together on a whim that not only pays for its own bills, but pays for the people who run it, and still is raking in so much money (without even trying) that we’re having to figure out what to do with all this dough. Maybe the FT crew is just bad at business? lol.

    1. skippy

      Hay diptherio … I think the term “social media site” is an oxymoron to start with … all these sites are envisioned as for profit and as such prone to the machinations of income expectations and that completely negates any sort of social or commons aspect.

      Not to mention hyper individualism and high powered marketing is creating new pigeonholes in the market Scotts Box of identity branding at an accelerated rate.

      Puppy’s must be big now …

  7. Samuel Conner

    > laws are being rewritten, often at the behest of corporate lobbyists, to make dissent and protest much more difficult.

    I wonder whether, at some point, they’ll outlaw individual boycotting of offensive corporations’ products. Perhaps backyard gardening of plants with nutritional content (the sort of thing that would fall under Michael Pollan’s “eat food, not food-like manufactured products” concept) will be targeted, too.

    1. FreeMarketApologist

      Some locales already restrict the ability to collect rainwater and runoff, so yes: probably at some point other elements of self-sufficiency and low-impact lifestyles will be targeted as offensive as well.

      1. Questa Nota

        Well, ya see, right here in black and white in the Kinsley Manual City Code, you gave up all rights to rainwater when you took up residence. After all, we budgeted for the rainwater, runoff, precipitation and anything else remotely associated therewith in subparagraph A-3-romanette v, as modified and updated by codicils in the minutes of the extra-plenary council meeting of, shuffles, December 1999. That is black letter law right there. So there.

      2. digi_owl

        Reminds me of how in feudal time “Germans” were allowed to collect dead branches for firewood on the lord’s land. But when the modern capitalist state took form, people that continued with the practice where suddenly dragged before a judge on accusations of theft.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Same happened in 19th century England where people trying to gather wood in winter time for warmth and for cooking were tried in court by the local elites for stealing property.

    2. semper loquitur

      Doesn’t seem far-fetched at all. You are harming Kraft Inc. when you make your own food, it sends the wrong message to your neighbors. It’s libel.

      You can see a shadow of it in the eating habits of some people. They proudly seek out garbage food, they identify with the corporate brands as if they were somehow organic, a given in the world. They feel a sense of empowerment when they blow off concerns about the plasticizers used in Goldfish crackers or the fact that diet sodas are profoundly unhealthy.

      Ten years ago I would have scoffed at the possibility of such a thing. Now, I think it’s probably unavoidable. Given neo-liberal rapacity and the absolutely grotesque malleability of the average human mind under the pressure of propaganda, it’s pretty much baked in. Dumbest timeline ever.

      1. John

        The masks are off. The corporations and their minions make no effort to conceal th fact that they and not our “elected representatives” are in charge.

        1. Questa Nota

          Those minions and their minders answer to a higher power, the sharp-inhale and genuflection, shareholders. They don’t want another unannounced visit from those bullies at Blackstone or BlackRock or even the sissies from State Street, but would be okay with the vagabonds from Vanguard. At least during this non-election year. ;p

    3. The Rev Kev

      ‘I wonder whether, at some point, they’ll outlaw individual boycotting of offensive corporations’ products.’

      There already is a precedent with this in all those laws that were passed by most American States that made it illegal to boycott Israeli stuff. Freedom of expression is only OK when it agrees with what our betters want.

    4. Offtrail

      The federal government, many states, and many localities have passed laws penalizing participation in the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement that targets Israel.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Haven’t had time to read your link yet, but I lived in Seattle for a decade and was enthusiastic when she was elected although I had already moved. My friend who was there for most of her tenure and just moved about a year ago can’t stand Sawant and thinks she’s just another phony.

      I do note that she might have “fought for” a tax on Amazon but like most lefties, she didn;t win the fight and I haven’t heard her try to pick another one again since.

  8. Bosko

    “Doxastic voluntarism”? My question is, why do you call a class with 22 students a “lecture”? P.S. Lambert, I think your Marx quote is missing something… but maybe it’s a translation difference.

  9. semper loquitur

    “I think there are a lot of people that view politics as an identity to which they cling, rather than a means to change society.”

    Could it be that a the ability to change society shrinks, all that’s left of politics is identity? And as political power dwindles, the certainty of one’s identity is the only firm ground left to stand upon? Which leads to:

    “The political markers and positions with which people self-identify become meaningless if the most politically meaningful act is the act of self-identification.”

    Kind of a feed-back loop into impotence?

    It reminds me of a critique I once read of tattoo and piercing “culture”, that as people’s power in the world shrinks many see altering their bodies as a last refuge of freedom.

    1. lambert strether

      Yes, Solnit’s book is great, even if she later lost her mind in the Hillary Clinton era.

  10. skippy

    This reads a bit like a blend between and old R. Smith NC post and served with a side of Colonel Smithers ….

    “We have identified 38 Mauritius shell entities controlled by Vinod Adani or close associates. We have identified entities that are also surreptitiously controlled by Vinod Adani in Cyprus, the UAE, Singapore, and several Caribbean Islands,” the report said, referring to Gautam Adani’s elder brother Vinod Adani.

    “Many of the Vinod Adani-associated entities have no obvious signs of operations, including no reported employees, no independent addresses or phone numbers and no meaningful online presence. Despite this, they have collectively moved billions of dollars into Indian Adani publicly listed and private entities, often without required disclosure of the related party nature of the deals,” the report said. – snip


    BTW happy Australian Day … celebrating by going into work so I can buy my next bit of gear, Stihl RB 800 pressure washer …. and some Tottori whiskey late this avo …

    1. skippy

      Thought Rev Kev would have opined on this due to the Qld aspect and the anti terrorist unit treatment of a young Oz kid YT personality that went after them and others, lol house was fire bombed not long ago.

      Yet I would really appreciate Colonel Smithers insight on the matter. Were talking about a true oligarch here that would make a Harkonnen blush.

      1. skippy

        Dang I dislike when I have to reconcile people and discount everything in the past and future, suxass.

  11. ann


    Appreciate your work! Thank you.

    This may need updating:
    “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.”

    LA County Dept of Public Health director says “CDC is looking at making some revisions to how [covid] deaths are counted…” which may reduce future reported covid deaths by 10-20% https://youtu.be/0Xbq5upK2xw?t=2325

    This follows the 2021 change that meant deaths more than 30 days after diagnosis were no longer counted as from Covid unless specifically stated on the death certificate (e.g., info here and here) although death certificates are not always reliable, either.

  12. Wukchumni

    In his 15th try in getting his gavel license My Kevin (since ’07) finally aced the test, and so far has done only vengeful acts wielding said implement like an ax, He’s not alone among Pachyderm party players, such as ‘Highjinx Hawley’ inspired lawmaking oriented towards Pelosi, who frankly doesn’t matter anymore.

    Very much a House divided against itself, better find some new Federal buildings to rename, it’s the only thing you get done on a bilateral basis.

    …but if there was another 9/11 type event, oh the faux solidarity that would ensue

    1. John

      My Kevin is expected to go to Taiwan. Does he have any idea why China might think that provocative? Does he see it as looking tough, “standing up to the Commies” or some other such nonsense? Are there any members of Congress who have a functioning brain when it comes to foreign policy? For that matter domestic affairs as well.

      1. Wukchumni

        Kev’s gonna do a Chinese Ire-Drill, where he exits the jet and runs around it a few times before hightailing it back to Bakersfield, which resembles China in the first half of the 20th century.

  13. Val

    I must commend the quality and quantity of rations.

    Whilst I must now cogitate upon how dogmatic doxastic voluntarism and politically meaningless acts of self-identification interact, for some reason I only recall and paraphrase Andrei Martyanov’s critique, “they don’t know what quadratic equations are for and they have memory like the guppy fish.”

    Also, hurray for thrushes singing their hearts out (let’s not neglect robins) and the hyper-diversity hiding in that lichen-moss-twig antidote.

  14. ChrisFromGA

    Granted we have a lot of news (WWIII about to start, the tech wreck 2.0) but I am a bit surprised that none of the sharp commenters nor our hosts have commented on this emerging story:


    Boeing’s deal with the DoJ, granting them immunity from criminal prosecution, is in legal jeopardy:

    “If the judge throws out the immunity provision, the attorney for victims’ families, Paul Cassell told 7News that it would be possible for additional charges to be filed against Boeing’s leadership at the time of the crashes. This would make the company criminally responsible for the deaths of 346 people. Cassell said it’s time for Boeing to be treated like any other criminal defendant under United States law.”

    It seems that this is not the usual pro-corporate judge. Boeing is going to have to send someone to represent them at tomorrow’s hearing. A low-level corporate lawyer or PR flak will likely not do the trick.

    1. John

      My first reaction to the 737 Max crashes was exactly that Boeing leadership had criminal responsibility, but I do not know the nuances of the law. I should like to see the question put to the test.

    2. notabanker

      It’s great theatre, but in the end even if a Texas judge rules on it it will eventually go the SC and get overturned. There is no way the United States of Corporations is going to allow criminal prosecution of a corporation, it’s board or executive management team.

      1. ChrisFromGA

        I tend to agree with you, however, there is at least some small hope that an exec or three gets indicted before the SCOTUS or some appellate court restores our regularly scheduled system, where corporate greed is valued above the law.

        Let them squirm while their cases wind through the court system.

      2. digi_owl

        In particular a MIC corporation, and few of the big name industrial corporations still producing in USA.

        DC has played dirty for decades to defend Boeing internationally, to the point of basically sinking Canadian competitors.

    3. Christopher Peters

      A bit of an update – it seems that Boeing was actually arraigned today on criminal charges. They pled “Not guilty.” I would have loved to have been in that courtroom to see who Boeing sent to be the fall guy/gal.


      Based on the link from the Seattle Times, it looks like there are two separate questions:

      1. The victims are asking the court to put additional conditions on the deferred prosecution agreement, such as:

      “Relatives of the passengers are expected to ask the court to impose conditions on Boeing much as it would on any criminal defendant. The families said in their Wednesday filing that those conditions should include a court-picked monitor to evaluate whether Boeing is creating a culture of safety and ethics — as it promised the government — and that its steps to do so be made public.”

      2. Whether to revoke Boeing’s immunity from criminal prosecution:

      “U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor ordered Boeing to be arraigned after finding that the Justice Department violated a victims-rights law by not telling the families about secret negotiations with Boeing. He has not ruled on a separate issue of whether Boeing should lose its immunity from prosecution. ”

      It is rather noteworthy that the Biden DoJ has been found in a courtroom to have violated victims’ rights laws. The remedy for that IMO seems connected to the issue of immunity from prosecution for Boeing. That seems to open up the possibility of the settlement being declared “null and void” by the court due to government incompetence. Do any lawyers here care to opine on the case?

      It is evident that the Biden DoJ just wants this whole thing to go away. On the other hand, it could all be blamed on Trump as it was his administration that negotiated the settlement. What a travesty!

  15. Glen

    I heard that ChatGTP took the test to be a Wharton MBA and passed with a B.

    I’m looking forward to working with it at work. I doubt if it will improve my perception of MBAs. Every engineer that I know that gets an MBA seems to lose a serious amount of IQ points so i think an AI might be an improvement. Well, that’s probably a bias of mine since the MBAs seem to be the most agressive about proposing changes that seem result in our product failing in very bad ways.

    1. Acacia

      Re: “Microsoft announces new multibillion-dollar investment in ChatGPT-maker OpenAI”

      Most everything else Microsoft touches seems to turn into sh*t, so I’m cautiously hopeful.

      1. notabanker

        $10 Billion is approximately $166 per current Microsoft Office user subscriber. They’ll bundle it into Office and jack the price up $15 / month and have it paid off in a year. Probably take them 2-3 years to integrate it in. The corporate dopes will trip over themselves to get it thinking they’ll eliminate tons of jobs only to find out it causes more trouble than it’s worth. But by then they’ll be locked into 3-5 year contracts and won’t ever be able to extract it out.

        1. Acacia

          Yes, they could certainly do that, but think about the fate of “Clippy”, which was widely hated and finally nuked (tho… hmm… to be fair I am now finding more recent articles that Microsoft has decided to resurrect Clippy… sigh).

          I don’t doubt they will try to force it on users, but Microsoft has a good track record of f*cking things up and making users hate any sort of “virtual assistant” tech they will integrate into future versions of their kit.

      2. digi_owl

        That will likely not stop it from being used widely, just look at MS’s other products and services…

  16. Louiedog14

    I think there is a short straight line to be drawn between the 2 tweets regarding the doxastic thingamajiggy and politics as self-identification but I’m not smart enough to do it.

    Here in the PMC Mothership most people identify as Dems because they’re not racists, want be inclusive and fair and all that good stuff. If you happen to be a Repub you’re an independent thinker, believe in personal responsibility and think that What Made This Country Great was traded to the Helena Handbaskets for a fifth-round draft pick. People tell themselves the stories they need to in order to get through the day.

    And though it’s disheartening, and I know all of us could do better, “The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas,” and the ruling class has very successfully propagated the idea of Every Man for Himself. Combine that with the sheer amount of information available to us, that makes being truly well-informed extremely difficult, telling ourselves stories is a hell of a lot easier. If things are good, a nice story about the nice things you “believe” makes for a guilt-free cocktail party. Not going so good? There are plenty of bad guys to point the finger at. And while my sympathy always lie with the latter group, the fingers are usually pointing at some other poor schlub who’s got absolutely nothing to do with your misery.

    I think this ties in too: Yesterday you had an article from a young Feminist philosopher bemoaning the lack of courage in her fellow Feminists (refusing to engage in ideas that they have no first-hand experience in). Can you blame them? Any oversight/slight of some under-represented group and you might as well don a meat suit and chuck yourself in the piranha tank. More atomization. More self-justifying stories. More finger pointing.

    1. digi_owl

      The element connecting the two is perhaps new age spirituality.

      Wicca/witchcraft/chaos magic builds on the idea that fervent belief can move mountains.

      What that brings to mind is Picard admitting to almost seeing five lights.

      Too bad even Patrick Stewart fails to get what made that character so strong.

  17. Carolinian

    Re Trump the inevitable–I was mistaken and it’s this Saturday that Trump will be having his campaign kickoff down at the state capital. I would go report for NC but only 500 seats and you have to apply for one. Also Antifa–recently in Atlanta–may be there to rumble with MAGA and my flak jacket at the cleaners.

    I lived in Columbia for awhile. It’s famous for its summer heat–aggravated by the well drained sandy soil.

  18. Wukchumni

    Got sticker shock yesterday in the egg aisle (well stocked) where the $6 a dozen carton is alive and well, that’s a lot of money and they are the cheapest protein, or should I say was?

    Chicken prices haven’t kept up with the price of eggs, from what I see, the $4.99 roasted chicken is now $6.79 and its gone up but not like eggs.

    Raising chickens around these parts is a tricky thing in that aside from tiny newborn deer, chooks are about the only thing a black bear will kill in an animal vein, otherwise they’re largely vegetarian-insectarians, or if a nice mountain lion has dispatched a buck, they’ll go to the buffet or when any other opportunity knocks.

    1. RA

      It could be worse. Like here in San Jose/Campbell. Saturday I was getting some stuff I only find at Whole Foods. I decided to check eggs. Shelves were bare except for a few dozen of one brand of pasture raised at just under $10 each.

      I’ll look elsewhere or wait.

  19. Fastball

    Just FYI, you reference the year 20192 at the bottom of this post, which is far, far in the future. I’m pretty sure you meant 2019, but not positive.

  20. Jason Boxman

    Indeed, liberal Democrats are a joke. My first question when I saw that pathetic, self congratulatory Biden tweet, is why not free? Why do American citizens need to pay anything at all for a living saving, vital injection? What a pathetic victory to trumpet. What small ball stuff. And you better believe if they “win” the larger fight, it’ll be some convoluted means tested garbage that you’re subjected to to get your insulin at a price that won’t kill you financially, and that you’ll need to find an NGO to help you fill out, on your smartphone.

  21. The Rev Kev


    Thought people might want to see a video of Bill Gates admitting that the current vaccines are pretty useless but hey, he already made bank on them and that is what is really important-


    Meanwhile, ‘Morning Joe having a hissy fit over half the internet laughing its a** off at him yesterday for wishing he got his 4th Covid shot, because he just got Covid’


  22. anon in so cal

    >”Nearly 40% of deaths in California during the first 10 months of 2022 took place at home, up from about 36% for all of 2019, according to death certificate data from the California Department of Public Health.

    By comparison, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows that about 26% of Californians died at home in 1999…”

    >”For the first time since June, the proportion of American adults who say they are currently experiencing symptoms associated with long COVID has increased…In January, the percentage of all U.S. adults experiencing post-COVID conditions…rose to 5.9% after steadily declining from 7.5% in June to 5.8% in December.”

    >”It is estimated that 53.8% of all American adults have had COVID-19 at least once as of January up from 40.3% in early June…the percentage of adults who said they ever had COVID based on the Household Pulse Survey is lower than other estimates based on seroprevalence studies.”

    >”In its ongoing effort to wind down from the pandemic, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is developing a new national standard for classifying COVID-19-associated deaths. The change could see the number of reported fatalities linked to the virus reduce by 10%-20% in future tallies.”


    Have one million died from Covid in the US since Biden took office?

    1. playon

      “Wind down from the pandemic”. The pandemic is not done, no matter how much our government wishes it was.

  23. digi_owl

    Hmm, spreadsheet thinking.

    Not sure where i heard it, maybe in a Adam Curtis documentary, but i seem to recall a passage about how during the Vietnam war the killing of an elderly, unarmed, woman pushing a bicycle along would, once it had gone through all the layers of reporting and reached McNamara, turn into a ageless, genderless, vietcong with a grenade.

    At it would not surprise me if altering numbers in a spreadsheet can have real consequences, as with the right macros and scripts inserted into Excel cells these days they may well result in orders for the people on the trading or factory floor.

    Friend Computer says to buy X units of Y, Friend Computer is always right.

  24. Adam Eran

    The CM Lewis tweet saying “The political markers and positions with which people self-identify become meaningless if the most politically meaningful act is the act of self-identification”…is way too true. Having attended lots of political clubs’ meetings–both D&R–I can testify these people are interested in solidifying the tribe, not considering public policy options. It’s typically a social club entirely uninterested in public policy, not a think tank or the “laboratory of democracy.”

    Dogmatic doxastic voluntarists – a philosophical view that people elect their own beliefs. Close cousin to “solipsism”… Bishop Berkeley’s notion that it’s all in your head. Dr. Johnson kicked a rock and said “Thus I refute Bishop Berkeley. A better refutation: Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception … now available free as a PDF online. Simply an incredible book.

    1. witters

      Not a nitpick, but for Berkeley is wasn’t ‘all inside our heads’, it was all ‘inside’ (though the term is now meaningless, but he was a Bishop) God’s ‘head’ (another meaningless word in the context).

      And that’s as about as ‘Objective’ as you can imagine.

  25. rowlf

    One of my email accounts is schizophrenic. Below are two emails:

    From Adam Schiff/NewDems:

    I’ve got some bad news:

    In the dead of night, Kevin McCarthy and the Republican Party did yesterday what they’ve threatened for the last two years.

    They removed me from the House Intelligence Committee where I have served as Chairman and the top Democrat for years.

    This is political retribution for my leading the impeachment of Donald Trump, pure and simple, and a dangerous effort to go after anyone who holds them accountable. It also turns the Intelligence Committee into a political plaything for their right-wing supporters.

    Hoare, I really need you with me to help respond to this baseless attack on my ability to serve my constituents and the American people.

    Please, contribute $10 or whatever you can spare today to our campaign and NewDems to help me respond to Republicans’ baseless attacks on my ability to hold them accountable. This isn’t the end of my fight for truth, accountability, and our democracy. In fact, it’s only the start:

    I’ll have much more to say soon. But for now, thanks for standing with me — because it’s not just a personal attack on me. It’s an attack on accountability and effective oversight.

    And it’s up to all of us to fight back.

    — Adam

    And The Babylon Bee: After Being Kicked Off Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff Given Seat On Pencil-Neck Committee

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Newly crowned Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy wasted no time fulfilling his promise to free the House Intelligence Committee from members caught up in lying or sleeping with Chinese spies, Representative Adam Schiff being chief among the affected members.

    But Rep. Schiff had barely had a chance to mourn the loss of a position that allowed him to use top-secret information to propagate lies for his own advantage when he heard the heartwarming news that he had been given a seat on the House Pencil-Neck Committee.


    At publishing time, Rep. George Santos had been added to the Pencil-Neck Committee after claiming to have seen Trump receive a briefcase full of Russian collusion from Putin himself.

    I’m hoping Adam does an OJ and goes looking for Russians. /s

  26. Jason Boxman

    So SARSCoV2 Variant Dashboard – USA resembles a flower of variants blossoming today. In the latest update the outer most pedals are all XBB1.5, the next inner most petals are BQ1.1, and the center is lined with new and fading variants, but only BA5 and BA2 are visible. XBB1.5 is at 30% of 15 day samples across the US, with BQ1.1 at 20% now. The dice roll is what will come of this? Cases are definitely trending downwards most places, at this point, including where XBB1.5 is increasing in proportion. I guess we’ll see.

    We do seem to have settled into a pattern of late of peaks and high plateaus, but never a deep trough. Not sure how this justifies the annual booster messaging that the White House and public health officials are adopting. This doesn’t look annual or seasonal to me, but an evolving situation still burning completely out of control, and mostly out of mind and sight at this point. But there nonetheless, making its presence felt, in the body count, in the lack of workers, in the weekly sniffles that can’t possibly be COVID, in the tri-demic.

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