2:00PM Water Cooler 1/27/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I apologize once more that this Water Cooler is so light; I’m working on a post about Covid remedies like nasal sprays and nasal irrigation; and the implications (some political) of same. But you can talk amongst yourselves! –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Siberian Thrush, Xidaquan National Forest Park), Heilongjiang, China. Many other birds too, including a cuckoo, and maybe some sort of dove?

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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

“Joe Biden’s Rooseveltian Ambitions Are Officially Dead” [Jacobin (PR)]. “Among the big news out of DC this week is that Biden is replacing outgoing chief of staff Ron Klain with Jeff Zients, millionaire and former COVID-19 czar. This has, for good reason, sparked outrage among progressives, who view Zients’s panoply of conflicts of interest, private equity past, and mishandling of the pandemic as disqualifying. Despite Klain’s questionable record, he won progressives over through what seemed like genuine efforts at outreach, making them feel — unusually, for a modern White House occupied by either party — that their ideas were being factored into policymaking. Zients would’ve struggled to fill his shoes no matter what. But his sketchy past has made that a particularly tall order, and possibly signals that Biden is ready to ditch the already tenuous progressive populist approach of his first two years…. Zients made his real break at the Advisory Group, and then its spin-off, the Corporate Executive Board, a management consulting firm that compiled confidential details from executives into reports about best and worst business practices, which it then sold back to the corporate world. What did that advice entail? Don’t bother trying to reestablish the social contract between worker and boss after a round of layoffs because it’s gone forever. As groups like the Revolving Door Project pointed out, this wasn’t even the worst of it. One of the companies Zients’s investment firm Cranemere bought had a history of allegations of surprise billing and other shady practices, a pattern common to several other companies owned by the firm. Other health care firms Zients was involved with over the years had to pay out tens of millions of dollars to settle accusations of fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid billing, with the whistleblower who brought the offense to light claiming she’d been told by management to let it go in case the government never noticed.”


“Trump hosts conservative influencers behind Libs of TikTok and Babylon Bee for dinner” [NBC News]. “Former President Donald Trump hosted the conservative influencers behind Libs of TikTok and The Babylon Bee at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida as part of a new charm offensive as he runs again for president, according to a source with knowledge of the strategy. In addition to the creator of the controversial Twitter account Libs of TikTok, Trump also hosted Seth Dillon, who owns The Babylon Bee, a conservative political satire website, the source said. Dillon could not immediately be reached for comment. It was one of the first of many wine-and-dine events that Trump has planned with social media influencers, the source said.”

“Donald Trump hits 2024 campaign trail as potential White House rivals dither” [Financial Times]. “Donald Trump is hitting the campaign trail this weekend for a whistle-stop tour of New Hampshire and South Carolina, two key early voting states, as the former US president presses ahead with his as yet uncontested bid for the Republican party’s presidential nomination in 2024. But despite his eagerness to secure a head start in the race while his rivals dither, there are signs that Trump, who has faced growing calls to step aside after many of his handpicked candidates fell short in last November’s midterm elections, may face a lacklustre reception. While the former president built his political brand on raucous rallies attended by thousands of his supporters, on Saturday morning he will speak at a relatively small venue: an annual meeting of state party officials at a high school in Salem, New Hampshire. Later in the day, he will appear in what has been described as an “intimate” event inside South Carolina’s state capitol building. ‘How it is being done makes you scratch your head,’ said Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s former chief of staff who was a state legislator in South Carolina before being elected to Congress. Trump will receive welcome support on Saturday afternoon from South Carolina governor Henry McMaster and US Senator Lindsey Graham, who are among the state’s highest-profile Republicans. But notably absent from the stage will be two other household names in the state who are widely reported to be considering their own bids for the White House: former governor Nikki Haley and current US Senator Tim Scott. Meanwhile in New Hampshire, prominent Trump critic Chris Sununu, the state’s Republican governor who handily won re-election by more than 15 points last November and has flirted publicly with running for president, is not expected to appear at the earlier event in Salem.” • First, Trump takes up texting. Now, small venues. Something’s up. (One thing to remember: Trump is neither stupid or insane.)

“DeSantis wades into RNC race: ‘I like what Harmeet Dhillon has said'” [The Hill]. DeSantis: “I like what Harmeet Dhillon has said about getting the RNC out of D.C. Why would you want to have your headquarters in the most Democrat city in America? It’s more Democrat than San Francisco is,’ he continued, appearing to refer to a letter that Dhillon sent to RNC members about looking into regional offices while keeping their headquarters in Washington.” • The 50-state strategy, but for Republicans?

Republican Funhouse

“McCarthy: ‘We won’t touch Medicare or Social Security'” [The Hill]. “Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said on Thursday that House Republicans will not target Medicare or Social Security in their negotiations over the debt ceiling. ‘We won’t touch Medicare or Social Security,’ he told Donald Trump Jr. in an interview in the Speaker’s office for Trump Jr.’s ‘Triggered podcast.” • How Trumpy! Obviously, the “In This House” crowd should resist this fascist encroachment with all their might.

“The evolution of Mitch McConnell” [Axios]. “The self-described ‘Grim Reaper‘ of progressive policy has a reputation for ruthlessness. Now the longest-serving Senate leader in U.S. history, the 80-year-old McConnell is changing tack at a time when a string of election defeats has fueled a civil war within the GOP — and made it tougher to attract moderate candidates… McConnell said this week he’ll take a back seat to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on debt-ceiling negotiations, publicly deferring one of the messiest partisan clashes of the year…. McConnell infuriated right-wing Republicans in December by supporting a $1.7 trillion omnibus package in the lame-duck session, taking spending negotiations out of the hands of the incoming House GOP majority…. McConnell sees protecting the filibuster as a legacy-defining mission; key to his strategy has been showing that the Senate can still be a model of bipartisanship.” • What a coincidence! Democrats do too!

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

“‘He Gets Us’ Organizers Set to Spend $1 Billion to Promote Jesus. Will Anyone Care?” [The Roys Report]. “The first time she saw an ad for ‘He Gets Us,’ a national campaign devoted to redeeming the brand of Christianity’s savior, Jennifer Quattlebaum had one thought on her mind. Show me the money. A self-described ‘love more’ Christian and ordinary mom who works in marketing, Quattlebaum loved the message of the ad, which promoted the idea that Jesus understands contemporary issues from a grassroots perspective. But she wondered who was paying for the ads and what their agenda was. ‘I mean, Jesus gets us,’ she said. ‘But what group is behind them?’ For the past 10 months, the ‘He Gets Us’ ads have shown up on billboards, YouTube channels and television screens — most recently during NFL playoff games — across the country, all spreading the message that Jesus understands the human condition. … The campaign is a project of the Servant Foundation, an Overland Park, Kansas, nonprofit that does business as The Signatry, but the donors backing the campaign have until recently remained anonymous — in early 2022, organizers only told media that funding came from ‘like-minded families who desire to see the Jesus of the Bible represented in today’s culture with the same relevance and impact He had 2000 years ago.’ But in November, David Green, the billionaire co-founder of Hobby Lobby, told talk show host Glenn Beck that his family was helping fund the ads.” • “Like-minded families” my Sweet Aunt Fanny. Family offices for the American Gentry, more like it.

“The Rise of Spirit Warriors on the Christian Right” [The New Republic]. “This idea that the American political realm is a place of “spiritual warfare”—in a literal, not metaphorical, sense—is one of the defining elements of the new forms of highly politicized religion that are surging across the country. Some—but by no means all—of the figures claiming special vision into the demonic struggles of our times are associated with neo-charismatic movements such as the New Apostolic Reformation, or NAR, which grew up around the late C. Peter Wagner, an author and missionary who spent a decade and a half in Bolivia before becoming a professor of church growth at Fuller Theological Seminary’s School of World Mission in Pasadena, California. Wagner is frequently characterized as the NAR’s ‘intellectual godfather’ and played a pivotal role in popularizing its vision of modern-day apostles and prophets, ‘spiritual warfare’ with demons and ‘territorial spirits,’ and the ideology of Seven Mountains Dominionism, which says conservative Christians are to take control of the seven key features, often referred to as ‘mountains’ or ‘molders,’ of culture, including government, business, media, education, entertainment, family, and religion. The NAR is perhaps the most extreme representative of the Pentecostal movement’s offshoots. But some of the same patterns of thought and expression popular among Christian apostolic and prophetic movements are gaining traction among those who identify with other religious movements and denominations. Broadly speaking, this style of religion is not necessarily about a fixed set of doctrines or denominations. It is more of an attitude, a set of frameworks, and a shared language. By way of slapping a hopelessly simplistic phrase on a complicated reality, I will call it ‘Spirit Warrior Christianity.’ Ron DeSantis knows what I am talking about. In a speech at Hillsdale College, the nondenominational Christian institution that is a major player in the religious right’s war on public education, the Florida GOP governor paraphrased a passage from Ephesians that serves as a guidepost and virtue signal for this new style of religion: ‘Put on the full armor of God. Stand firm against the left’s schemes,’ he said, substituting ‘the left’ for the biblical phrasing ‘the devil.'” • Both God and the Devil know that liberals and left aren’t the same….


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!

• “Fact Check: Does Project Veritas Video Show Pfizer Is Mutating COVID?” [Newsweek]. I hate to run this, because Project Veritas has form, and it’s really, really bad (not, of course, bad on a world-historical scale like, say, The New York Times and WaPo on Iraq WMDs; but give them time). Nevertheless, it’s gone wildly viral, as it should, so “it’s out there.” “A hugely viral video that purportedly shows a senior Pfizer employee talking about COVID-19 vaccine experiments has exploded across social media, gathering millions of views and sparking speculation. Released by Project Veritas, the video includes what it says is undercover footage of a conversation detailing COVID mutation projects, designed to pre-emptively research potential new strains of the virus before they may find root naturally.” • But there’s a heck of a lot of editing and plenty of jump cuts; as I’ve often said, “digital evidence is not evidence.” So it would be nice at the very least to have the complete, unredacted version plus a transcript. Which is my typical response to such material! Here is the Tucker Carlson interpretation (via Furzy Mouse)>

(Parenthetically, the date from hell, it would seem.) I’m totally on board with the idea that Pfizer is a very bad actor; the question is the kind of badness. But I wouldn’t hang a dog on evidence from Project Veritas. And it could well be that the yarn in the yarn diagram is way too tight on this one. NOTE We need analysis on this one, not aghastitude or “Me too” comments, let alone memes. (For example: Are there any published papers from Pfizer or Pfizer-adjacent scientists on projects like the one described? That would be good to know. Even more interesting would be: Are there scientists who published papers on this topic, joined Pfizer, and then clammed up stopped publishing?)

My impression is that “directed evolution”[1] is not, in fact, the same as “gain of function”[2] research at the lab bench level. Then again, if the outcome is chimeras, which it may be, that may be a distinction without a difference. NOTES [1] “Directed evolution is an iterative procedure which involves the identification of a starting state protein, diversification of its

gene, an expression and screening strategy, re-diversification, re-screening, and so on until a satisfactory performance level in terms of enzymatic activity, binding affinity or

specificity is reached. Directed evolution of enzymes and binding proteins has become a widely used strategy in academic research as well as in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries.” [2] “Any selection process involving an alteration of genotypes and their resulting phenotypes is considered a type of Gain-of-Function (GoF) research, even if the U.S. policy is intended to apply to only a small subset of such work.” Gene mavens may wish to comment.

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• Maskstravaganza, WHO:

• Maskstravaganza, CDC:

Does anybody really want to see Walensky’s smile? Musical interlude….

• Maskstravaganza:

* * *

• “Pandemic Lesson #3: We Need an Air-Quality Revolution” [The Counterpoint]. “That study, ‘Air Filters, Pollution, and Student Achievement‘ found that installing air filters raised test scores in mathematics and English by 0.20σ (below). To put that in context, a 1999 study found that cutting class size by one third led to a 0.22σ improvement in academic performance. However, cutting class sizes by a third requires a huge monetary investment in additional teachers and schools while the air filters cost only ~$1,000 per year per classroom. This means that with a 0.2σ increase in test scores per $1,000 of expenditure, ‘air filter installation is one of the most cost-effective education policies available to policymakers today.’ This isn’t the only study that finds improving air quality leads to significant improvement in student performance. Study after study after study link increased air quality with increased student performance. The EPA’s ‘Research References Related to Indoor Air Quality in Schools‘ page contains 83 studies.” • It’s almost like we want to make people stupid. (Except students who go to school in wealthy communities like Newton, MA, of course. They get to breathe clean air.)

• “Introduction to Air Filtration” [It’s Airborne]. This is really good, and goes through lots of the basics. This caught my eye: “Although most portable air cleaners use HEPA filters, the Corsi-Rosenthal box uses MERV-13 filters. These are DIY portable air cleaners and the cheapest way to clean the air. MERV-13 filters are less efficient than HEPA filters, but ultimately you care about the clean air delivery rate = air flow x efficiency. Classic CR boxes use box fans which have a much higher airflow than most commercial HEPA filters, so the clean air delivery rate is still higher, even after accounting for the reduced efficiency. They are also easy to assemble and can be quickly deployed on a large scale. Newer style CR boxes use PC fans which are super quiet and also have very high air flows when multiple fans are used in parallel. They are more expensive and are currently more difficult to build.”

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• “Fault Lines” (PDF) [The Council of Canadian Academies]. From Summary of Main Findings:

Misinformation is an urgent societal concern that affects us all. It has also become a global concern. The World Health Organization and other bodies have recognized an infodemic running parallel to the COVID-19 pandemic; the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has explicitly acknowledged the role politically endorsed misinformation plays in limiting climate action; and a new government agency in Sweden has been specifically tasked with identifying, analyzing, preventing, and countering misinformation. Worldwide, alarm over the impacts of misinformation on our lives is mounting.

Ironically — if there’s such a thing as irony any more — WHO was itself an infodemic superspreader on a massive, global scale, both on aerosol transmission (they supported droplet dogma) and masks (they resisted them). CDC too. The whole “infodemic” mishegoss, besides being an assault on the First Amendment, is a misdirection to enable state actors to avoid culpability.

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“Two-Years Follow-Up of Symptoms and Return to Work in Complex Post-COVID-19 Patients” [Journal of Clinical Medicine]. From the Abstract: “In such complex situations, besides early and adapted rehabilitations and psychological help allowing better symptom management, relatively simple actions such as a phone call might be very useful to reduce patients’ feelings of abandonment.” • So, does ChatGPT do voice?

* * *

• Yep:

Case Data

BioBot wastewater data from January 26:

Leveling out to the previous high plateau?

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 27:



Wastewater data (CDC), January 23:

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

January 21:

NOT UPDATED And MWRA data, January 24:

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.

Variant data, national (Walgreens), January 16:

Lambert here: XBB overtakes BQ, but CH is coming up on the outside. 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, if anything. 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.

Variant data, national (CDC), January 7 (Weighted Estimates Only*):

BQ.1* takes first place. XBB coming up fast. (For BQ.1/XBB and vaccine escape, see here.) CH.* now appears, a week after Walgreens. Here is Region 2, the Northeast:

CH.1* appears, but slightly below the national average. XBB utterly dominates, making 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.

NOTE * CDC used to have a “Nowcast Off” radio button, which I used because of my bad experience with CDC models like Nowcast. CDC explains (I think) the change in the following note:

Weighted estimates (provided for all weeks except the most recent three weeks) are variant proportions that are based on empirical (observed) genomic sequencing data. These estimates are not available for the most recent weeks because of the time it takes to generate the unweighted data, including sample collection, specimen treatment, shipping, analysis, and upload into public databases.

Sublineages with weighted estimates less than 1% of all circulating variants are combined with their parent lineage. When the weighted estimate of a sublineage crosses the 1% threshold and has substitutions in the spike protein that could affect vaccine efficacy, transmission, or severity, it may be separated from its parent lineage and displayed on its own in the variant proportions data.

Nowcast estimates (provided for the most recent three weeks when the “Nowcast on” option is selected below) are model-based projections of variant proportions for the most recent weeks to enable timely public health action. CDC uses the Nowcast to forecast variant proportions before the weighted estimates are available for a given week.

Someone who can interpret The Great Runes can look at this; but I don’t have time today.

• NOT UPDATED As a check, since New York is a BQ.1* hotbed, New York hospitalization, updated January 26:

• NOT UPDATED Hospitalization data for Queens, updated January 23:


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,130,962 – 1,129,618 = 472 * 1344 (1344 * 365 = 490,560 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. (Though CDC may be jiggering the numbers soon. Lower, naturally.)

Stats Watch

Inflation: “United States Core Pce Price Index MoM” [Trading Economics]. “Core PCE prices in the US, which exclude food and energy, went up by 0.3% month-over-month in December of 2022, compared to a 0.2% increase in the prior month and in line with market estimates. The annual rate, the Federal Reserve’s preferred gauge of inflation, fell to 4.4% from 4.7% in November, marking the slowest increase in 14 months.”

Personal Income: “United States Personal Income” [Trading Economics]. “Personal income in the United States went up 0.2 percent from a month earlier in December of 2022, following a downwardly revised 0.3 percent increase in November and in line with market expectations. It was the smallest gain since April. The increase primarily reflected increases in compensation and proprietors’ income.”

Personal Spending: “United States Personal Spending” [Trading Economics]. “Personal spending in the US dropped 0.2% month-over-month in December of 2022, worse than market forecasts of a 0.1% fall, and following a revised 0.1% decline in November. High-interest rates and rise in inflation levels started to impact consumer behavior.”

* * *

The Bezzle:

But now we’ve moved on to AI!

Tech: “Smartphone Shipments Suffer the Largest-Ever Decline with 18.3% Drop in the Holiday Quarter and a 11.3% Decline in 2022, According to IDC Tracker” [IDC]. ” The drop marks the largest-ever decline in a single quarter and contributed to a steep 11.3% decline for the year. 2022 ended with shipments of 1.21 billion units, which represents the lowest annual shipment total since 2013 due to significantly dampened consumer demand, inflation, and economic uncertainties. This tough close to the year puts the 2.8% recovery expected for 2023 in serious jeopardy with heavy downward risk to the forecast.”

Mr. Market: “Investors pour money into emerging markets at near-record rate” [Financial Times]. “Investors are piling into emerging market stocks and bonds at a near-record rate, as falling inflation and the reopening of China’s sprawling economy help reverse last year’s slide. Emerging equity and debt markets have attracted $1.1bn a day in net new money this week, according to high-frequency data tracking 21 countries from the Institute of International Finance. The speed of cross-border flows is now second only to the surge that followed the lifting of coronavirus lockdowns in late 2020 and early 2021, surpassing previous peaks over the past two decades. The strong inflows underscore a big shift in sentiment this year after a grim performance for developing markets for much of 2022.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 69 Greed (previous close: 69 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 59 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 27 at 1:26 PM EST.

Class Warfare

“National Labor Relations Board judge rules Post-Gazette violated federal labor law; must bargain with union and restore previous contract” [Pittsburgh Union Progress]. “An administrative law judge from the National Labor Relations Board handed journalists at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette a major victory Thursday by ruling the newspaper didn’t negotiate in good faith, illegally imposed working conditions and unlawfully surveilled workers engaged in union activities. Geoffrey Carter, who heard the case last fall, ordered the newspaper to resume bargaining with the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh within 15 days of the union requesting it. He also ordered the company to rescind the unilateral working conditions it had imposed in 2020, and restore the union’s previous contract, which expired in 2017. Carter further ordered the company to ‘make its employees whole for any loss of earnings and other benefits that resulted from its unlawful unilateral changes.’ Union officials had estimated at one point that the company’s bill could be about $4 million. Guild President Zack Tanner said the decision was ‘the biggest ruling’ in the union’s nearly 89-year history. But it does not immediately bring an end to a strike that began Oct. 18, 2022. Tanner said the labor action, involving more than 100 Post-Gazette workers, is ‘the leverage the unions need to get the ruling enforced.'”

“How Analytic Philosophers Have Made Sense of Capitalism [Jacobin]. “Over the course of the last century, a tradition of Marxist theory, analytic Marxism, developed that ran parallel to the dogmatic thinking still prevalent among sections of the Left. It attempted to grapple with the complexities of capitalist social relations armed, like Marx himself, with the most sophisticated conceptual tools available, be they from bourgeois economics or philosophy. Despite claims to the contrary, its insights remain indispensable to anyone attempting understand what’s wrong with capitalism and to chart a path toward a more just society.” • The Bearded One, after all, read Ricardo and Smith quite closely! Should not his contemporary followers do the equivalent?

News of the Wired

“SQL is Extremely Good, Actually” [PugSGL]. “So throw away your bulky ORM and talk to your database the way the gods intended! Install PugSQL today!” • ORM = Object Relational Mapping. When Drupal optimized itself for (power-tripping) professional programmers and installed an ORM, I couldn’t develop in it any more, it was like working with a Waldo. Oh well!

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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 FM:

FM writes: “A photo of my unkempt windowsill hydroponics project. Mostly thyme, with some lettuces started at different times.” It doesn’t look unkempt to me! And what a nice project to take one through February, which as well known is 60 days long, at least in Maine.

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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. Terry Flynn

    For those living in US states with ranked choice voting (often called alternative vote elsewhere), can you give any thoughts as to how it may have improved representation/turnout etc…. Or indeed otherwise? (If I’m breaking NC rules by asking for people to “do work” I apologize and ignore me).

    It seems to be becoming more common and I’m curious….. I have no “dog in the race” regarding voting system but some academics in Benelux countries have proposed voting system that ON THE FACE OF IT isn’t so different and is a special case of work I and colleagues did….. But it isn’t necessarily something people would feel satisfied with……. Hence my curiosity….

      1. Terry Flynn

        Thsnks – yeah I knew it was being used more. However I’m interested more in what it is and isn’t doing to turnout, people’s feelings that their vote isn’t wasted and they can “steer” their preferred party to the right or left…..

        The 2016 Iowa Democrat Primary was frankly the most interesting election in modern history….. Clinton had the plurality (but on another day might not since she and Sanders were so close). I’ve constructed a thought experiment based on that alternative scenario….. Under first-past-the-post (winner takes all – main system used in USA/UK) with just a minor swing Sanders would have won. Under ranked choice Clinton. Under the system proposed by the Benelux researchers O’Malley (who got around 2% of primary vote – came in last) would have won….. Very interesting….. It comes down to the philosophical issues surrounding power…

        1. barefoot charley

          On minor swings, you may remember that disputes in six Iowa precincts were decided by a coin toss between Hilary and Bernie. Evidently God is a neoliberal, because Hilary won all 6 tosses. So I wonder why regular Democrats have it in for Iowa voting, since one way or another they always seem to vote right.

          1. Terry Flynn

            I did know that….. I’m just using that election because it is a “real” one that could have led to ANY of the 3 candidates winning (if there had been normal voting)

        2. flora

          “Interesting” is one word for the 2016 Iowa caucus (not a primary, different voting and vote counting methods). Some of us with long history and understanding about the Iowa caucus have other words for the 2016 Iowa Dem caucus and the destruction of same by the Dem party. Each party sets it’s own caucus or primary date and the rules around them. The GOP’s went off without a hitch. And to think, O won the 2008 Iowa Dem caucus in a walk, without the coin tosses or the computerized “verification” of the votes at remote a location using secret software and smart phones, or fancy rube goldberg vote splitting “math”.

          1. Terry Flynn

            Yeah sorry if my use of “interesting” seemed to trivialise it. I actually wrote an unpublished piece for my blog where Clinton Sanders or O’Malley could have won depending on whether FPTP, ranked choice or most-least voting were used.

            I am aware of the shenanigans there – it just provided some ideal percentages to show how US/UK systems could be reformed.

            1. flora

              Which system is least subject to corrupt manipulations? I once would have said the caucus system. Maybe why Bernie won so many caucus state elections in 2016, (and which the Dem estab afterwards insisted said state Dem parties abandon the caucus process in favor of the primary process, and most did). The Dem estab proved me wrong on that one, but they needed computer “help” to pull it off. / my 2 cents.

              1. Terry Flynn

                As a Brit/Aussie, caucuses seem wildly undemocratic. There should be “normal” private voting.

                This “requirement” was however what prompted my query – the SAME priorities of Clinton Sanders and O’Malley could have led to ANY of the 3 being elected dependent on any of 3 “single candidate wins” systems….. That’s why I’m interested…… Of those, none is automatically more open to corruption….. But most-least voting is unquestionably the system where any corruption stands out.

              2. Lambert Strether Post author

                > the caucus system

                The demand for physical presence at the caucus makes voting very hard for people who must work during those hours, or take care of elders, or who have transport issues.

                Now, I suppose voting in a precinct with hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public, but I’ve also advocated that election day, nationally, be a holiday weekend. That won’t happen for a state primary, but I do think a normal balloting process is likely to leave out fewer people than a caucus.

                1. Terry Flynn

                  Agree entirely….. I knew the Iowa case was a caucus….. I just hoped people wouldn’t get hung up on that and think about the psychology and philosophy of voting systems, given that certain people (including you) have encouraged us electoral reformists by pointing out results from states that use ranked systems.

    1. hk

      Chances are that we won’t really see how people think of them until there’s a clear controversy, i.e. the superficially “most popular” candidate losing because of vote transfers. I don’t think we had a situation like that, at least not in an election with real consequential positions at stake. Doubt we’ll see many–or even any–of them any time soon. AV is close enough, with just one position at stake, to FPTP that not a whole lot is liable to change otherwise. Now, if they go full Irish and start adopting multiseat districts on top, things would get very interesting….

      1. Terry Flynn

        Actually I was gonna make a more radical point…. That the BOTTOM candidate could legitimately win…….

    2. Adam

      Although I don’t live in a location with ranked choice voting, I think there are a few examples I can think of off the top of my head.

      First, the current House rep from Alaska is a Democrat (Mary Peltola). I believe her victories (in a special and standard election) are credited to ranked choice voting (due to two Republicans- one being Sarah Palin- splitting the R vote and having a contentious relationship leading to enough of the more moderate Republican’s voters going for the Peltola as the second choice). Had there been a standard primary, the moderate Republican may have emerged the overall winner. This certainly doesn’t reflect the make-up of Alaska, but it did happen twice within a 6 month period.

      In Maine in 2018, Democrat Jared Golden won with ranked choice voting. He was not leading in the first round. I believe he has led in the first round in subsequent elections.

      While it did not have an effect in the last NY mayoral primary race, it was very close. Eric Adams, IIRC, had about a 10% lead on round 1, but that shrunk to 1% in the final round. A lot of the other candidates had semi-consistent blunders, and if they hadn’t, ranked choice voting could have impacted the final outcome.

      In places where it exists, Independents and Third Party candidates also seem to do better (A Green running for Senator getting 5% in Maine).

      1. Terry Flynn

        Thanks for the input. Unfortunately this kind of system, whilst sounding very attractive, suffers from immense empirical biases that have been demonstrated since the 1960s – humans are terrible at the middle ranks when ranking lists. Their consistency is awful – that’s before you even get to the quantitative score they assign to each candidate who is not best/2nd best or worst/2nd worst in their mind.

        And THEN you get to the issue that mathematically “4” out of 10 must indicate twice the benefit/utility of “2”. Decades of research in mathematical psychology shows this is virtually never satisfied. Fewer assumptions are MUCH better than MORE assumptions. The assumption relied upon is one that has underpinned medical stats, consumer demand and finance for decades and which, most importantly, predicts well – frequencies, when plugged into logit/probit functions, give you “strength of preference” naturally which can be added or have any amount of aggregation and manipulation applied and keep their properties (they are naturally cardinal numbers by nature).

        Apologies for the gobbledegook – the midterms got me thinking again about some US States and their use of ranked choice voting. I certainly prefer it over FPTP but am just curious to what extent it and other “simple preference based systems” are being looked at.

  2. Hana M

    MWRA has now been updated to 1/25. https://www.mwra.com/biobot/biobotdata.htm

    Both north and south systems are in a clear downturn. To my eye the pattern fits not so much with student comings and goings but with the timing of COVID vaccine booster availability and company (ahem, FDA and CDC) propaganda pushes. Of course it could be both since most of the universities (to their shame) require students to be “fully vaccinated and up to date”.

    1. Jason Boxman

      Maybe — maybe because of course we’ll never know — enough susceptive people have been infected by XBB1.5 that there aren’t sufficient vulnerable people at this time to support an upward trend. I guess we’ll see what happens when this new variant that’s “arrived” takes hold over the spring. Given past performance, this’ll probably settle into a plateau of ongoing, simmering infection, until the next uptick begins in earnest.

      Davos Man has shown the way; Infection should be avoided vigorously.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Maybe — maybe because of course we’ll never know — enough susceptive people have been infected by XBB1.5 that there aren’t sufficient vulnerable people at this time to support an upward trend.

        I think that’s the explanation for the “high plateau,” yes. But people are also constantly becoming more vulnerable as immunity wears off and nothing is done to halt transmission. And of course the next variant may do heaven knows what. Covid is so not the flu.

  3. pjay

    I’d really like to know Jesus’ position on the Ukraine war. Any biblical scholars out there? While you are at it, what would He think of the US role in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, etc., etc.? I’m convinced that Jesus would “get me” on these issues. So where would that leave all the warmongers out there – both elite and plebe – rooting for WWIII? Would Jesus “get them” too? I admit He would probably not “get” what I would like to do to these warmongers if I could. Then again, WWIII might bring on the Apocalypse, so…

    Any theological clarification would be welcome – though Christian Dominionists can ignore this message.

    1. ChrisFromGA

      “Rescue me, Lord, from evildoers;
      protect me from the violent,
      whose devise evil plans in their hearts
      and stir up war every day.”

      Psalms 140:1-2

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      Luther made a useful distinction in Christian theology between a “theology of glory” and a “theology of the cross.” As an example of the former, he pointed to Rome and its wealth and power in the early 16th century. The latter was, Luther argued, encapsulated in Jesus’s call in the gospels to pick up one’s cross and follow him. Cross carrying was loving enemies, giving the last shirt on one’s back to help another and being a neighbor in the spirit of the Samaritan, actions not especially well designed to get you ahead in the world either in Roman-ruled Palestine in the 1st Century or today’s collapsing neoliberal times.

      I think there’s very little difference between the worldview of a “Christian Warrior” and a Wall Street hedge fund operator. Both are determined to win it all at any cost. Both are really about gaining and asserting power over others. I call it the “Conquistador Worldview” because it’s all about the gold and spreading this twisted version of Christianity (admittedly, not the only one).

      1. Wukchumni

        The evangs might be one-eyed kings in a country full of blind people when push meets shove financially.

        All that glitters is mentioned 418 times in the good book, and lemme tellya the bullion & coin industry preyed on them like you wouldn’t believe in the 80’s and 90’s, they routinely got charged 40-50% more than things were worth for bullion oriented older coins, albeit @ $300-400 an ounce. They were so horny for the goods, when really nobody else was a buyer, it was kismet-the arrangement.

        In a country like India where everybody and their brother has got the precious, it wouldn’t matter. But they are the only kids on the bullion bloc in the USA pretty much, certainly as a cohesive group.

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          Hal Lindsey. Who knows? Maybe he got a promoter’s cut.

          But in retrospect, that was an early sign that the social glue was dissolving.

  4. Wukchumni

    On the surface, Laura and Rob Pilewski seem like a typical married couple.

    They’re avid skiers. They enjoy nature and a good meal together. They try to spend time with friends and family when schedules allow. The two, married since 1996, also appreciate time apart, because as Laura recently told SFGATE, “We’ve done this so long, we know our limitations and when to respect each other’s space.”

    But there’s a kicker.

    The Pilewskis don’t have standard jobs, and their winters are anything but normal. As Yosemite National Park’s Tuolumne Meadows winter rangers, the two spend five months a year in relative seclusion, exploring the park’s vast wilderness and living in a tiny 500-square-foot cabin buried under hundreds of inches of Sierra Nevada snow.

    The description brings to mind a famously dysfunctional fictional married couple in Jack and Wendy Torrance of Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror film “The Shining,” based on the 1977 Stephen King novel of the same name.

    “You would not believe how many people bring up ‘The Shining’ when we talk about our jobs,” Rob, 59, laughed. “When you tell them what we do up here, that’s exactly their point of reference. As much as Laura repeats the famous ‘Here’s Johnny,’ line to me when the skiing is no good or I get a little grumpy, we’re doing fine up here. It’s really become a running joke.”

    Ironically, Laura and Rob spend much of their summers apart as rangers at Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks — jobs they’ve held for decades. As the summer closes, the two reunite to prepare for Yosemite, embarking on what Rob called “the hardest part of the job … buying five months’ worth of groceries over a three-day period.”


    A neat couple, i’ve known them since the 1990’s.

  5. flora

    re: The 50-state strategy, but for Republicans?

    This idea won’t go over well here. I think it’s more likely GOP will listen to their voters than the current Dem incarnation will listen to their voters. (It’s a private club and voters don’t matter. Isn’t that what the Dem estab said to Bernie voters in 2016?) It may turn out to be the GOP voters who kill a Grand Bargain to whittle down SS and MC funds as happened during the O admin. (The Dem estab couldn’t care less about the house broken progressive caucus.)

    1. agent ranger smith

      Wouldn’t it be interesting if some militant Socialists decided to call themselves Red Republicans and maybe even start a Red Republlcan Party in some states as an experiment to see what happens?

      Putting the Red back in “Red”.

      Maybe other groups of people could start other experiments. Here in Michigan the state-level Democrats have gained control of all 3 Houses. If they use that control to repeal Michigan’s Right-To-Work law, they will show some sincerity. If they shirk that opportunity under a cloud of squidly-ink excuses, they will show themselves to have no more sincerity than the national Democrats. In which case . . . . what if disappointed Union Members were to start their own political Party, called something like the Right To Unionize Party, or some such thing? And their plank number one would be Repeal Michigan Right To Work? And they would keep running someone in every election with a Democrat in it to make the Democrat lose and keep making the Democrats lose until the voters-for-Democrats get tired of losing and all decide to vote Right To Unionise instead?

      Just one of many theoretical examples.

      1. Terry Flynn

        Thanks – this kind of thinking is partly what spurred my question up above… People tend to think of reform of first-past-the-post purely as “ranked choice” but that is NOT historically the case….. The Baltic States, upon leaving the USSR, in some cases used a voting system deliberately designed to “knock out both communists and the mad right wing privatisation freaks” til they found their feet.

        Ranked choice isn’t the only solution so I’m curious how it has worked out….

  6. agent ranger smith

    I hope the post on Covid remedies will have its very own name and title so that people can easily find it after the fact.

    And hopefully people might bring their own knowledge on this subject to the thread thereunto, which will also be an easily findable place of ever-accumulating information.

    1. Lee

      Watch this space. There was a very good discussion of Long Covid on today’s Science Friday radio program. Once it becomes available online, I’ll post a link.

      1. agent ranger smith

        Very good. If/When our Mr. Lambert gets that post posted, that thread itself might also be a good place to put that link.

  7. Jason Boxman


    “If there continues to be no payment for treatment services, health systems will not put resources to delivering this care,” Dr. Cook said. “There will be none to minimal training in medical and professional schools for the next generation of health care providers to address this issue.”

    It takes years for doctors to start using new guidelines, noted Dr. Louis Aronne, an obesity medicine specialist at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York. “The ones for adult obesity have never really been adhered to,” he noted. Adults with obesity are already advised to get surgery or drug treatment, but just 2 percent ever do.

    Researchers hope that at the very least the A.A.P. guidelines will help doctors understand that obesity is a chronic disease that afflicts children and adolescents, and that the old strategy — a kind of watchful waiting, or delayed treatment — won’t help.

    The new recommendations may also prod insurers, including Medicaid, to start paying for intensive lifestyle treatment and for medications that these children need.

    Childhood (!!) obesity as individual, not public health, program to resolve on an individualized basis.

    What a plan!

    1. agent ranger smith

      It sounds like an effort to cover up the effect of mass-dosing the population with obesogenic “fuud” and chemicals. (One also wonders whether the magic of intergeneration epigenetics can pre-program the children of diabetic or pre-diabetic parents to manifest diabetes or pre-diabetes younger and younger and younger.)

      Also, mass exercise-deprivation through carefully engineered neighborhood-walkability prevention.

  8. Lee

    I am glad to report that so far as the Stanford healthcare providers I’ve recently had cause to visit are concerned, the pandemic is not over. On each visit they have required me to wear a surgical mask over my P-100 Ellipse respirator to block its exhalation port. Good for them.

  9. Hepativore

    I did not know that there ever was a “tenuous progressive outreach” in regards to Biden’s policies. It seems more of a case of people desperate to project their hopes onto a president that is too senile to understand the needs of the country he is trying to govern at best, and at worst, is actively hostile to anything that challenges his neoliberal worldview. Biden is still an old school “Atari Democrat”.

    The only question is if the party is going to try and drag his mush-brained corpse over the finish line for another presidential race, or fix the primaries for Sneaky Pete or Harris and choke when going up against Trump or Desantis. In either event, the DNC sees it as a win as long as they can make sure that they can stick it to the progressives

    1. agent ranger smith

      And just think, there was a time when ” “Atari Democrat ” was itself new school. That was before the Legacy New Deal holdovers were all exiled from the Democratic Party or all died off.

      Several decades ago a co-worker of mind said he had written in the name “Tsongas” on the Republican primary ballot as his for of social protest satire.

  10. Lee

    Here’s What We Know About Long COVID, Three Years Later (Science Friday Radio, 17 minutes)

    “Just a few months into the pandemic, it became clear that in some people, the SARS-CoV-2 virus caused a cascade of symptoms for months after their initial infections. These lingering effects are now commonly referred to as Long COVID.

    And as long as the pandemic barrels on, the population of Long COVID patients will continue to grow. Over the past three years, researchers have closely studied these symptoms, seeking to better understand its underlying causes and improve treatment.

    Guest host Maddie Sofia talks with Hannah Davis, co-founder of the Patient-Led Research Collaborative and co-author of a recently published comprehensive review on the state of Long COVID research, and Dr. Bhupesh Prusty, principal investigator at the Institute for Virology and Immmunobiology at the University of Würzburg in Germany. “

    1. Wukchumni

      I’ll be en route to China Peak on the Ike Memorial Freeway, and who knows why Dwight D. was honored by Fresno, but i’d imagine it felt good to be represented, probably reminded him of Kasserine Pass, that is when the Germans weren’t walloping American forces there.

  11. Carla

    “Making sense of capitalism” [Jacobin]

    Well, it doesn’t make sense, because it requires infinite growth on a finite planet, and that’s an impossibility, as anyone trying to treat or survive a metastasizing cancer can probably tell you.

    It won’t be easy, but we have to get past capitalism, the sooner the better, just as with cancer. IMO.

    1. Sin Frontera

      This is an odd philosophical article from Jacobin. It polemicizes against “dogmatic Marxists” in the abstract, and does not really take up debates that are actually happening. A major problem with the article is what is MISSING:
      No discussion of ecological Marxism (represented best by the magazine Monthly Review)
      NO discussion of imperialism: the US is more than just a capitalist country, it is the (still) hegemonic imperialist power in the world. Along with this, no discussion of the military industrial complex
      NO discussion of MONOPOLY capitalism or financialization, or the de-industrialization of the US
      NO discussion of the experience of “actually existing” socialist countries

      1. Sin Fronteras

        “Analytical Marxism” in the area of political economy abandons Marx’s Labor Theory of Value, and uses price as the foundation of analysis. There is extensive discussion and debate of this, but none of this appears in the article.

        The article mentions a number of academics and argues we should learn from their insights. Sure, why not?

  12. Wukchumni

    I’m a Baby Boomer but not really, it wasn’t as if they were taking Nixonjugend to go to Vietnam. I’m Generation Jones.

    While charismatic leaders like John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. inspired millions of older Boomers to work for — and witness — positive social change, younger Boomers were in preschool or not yet born. The Woodstock pop festival (1969) was a defining moment for older Boomers; younger Boomers have few memories from before the Watergate scandal (1972-1974) and the cultural cynicism it begat. While in high school, members of Generation Jones had a distinct feeling of having just missed the real hippie era.


    1. Left in Wisconsin

      Had never heard this term before but, yeah, baby boomer never fit for most of us born in late 50s and early 60s. Here is my handy guide to Jones-ers:
      1. Young enough to have missed the 60s but old enough to have witnessed the transition/hypocrisy of many 60s love-your-brother/sister types to/as self-interested a$$holes. Hence the cynicism.
      2. Growing up thinking “if this is as good as it gets, kill me now” and realizing when you are older that that was BY FAR as good as it was ever going to get.
      3. As my SO says, “I remember thinking in HS that some day we would be running the show, and it scared the sh1t out of me.” Nothing has since altered her opinion.

      1. agent ranger smith

        There was an awfully long time-window bracketing everyone born in that window as “baby boomer”.
        The “Generation Jones” concept is an effort to correct that. I have also heard of the terms ” Early Boomer” and “Late Boomer”.

        One might also name “Boomer” and “Joneser” ( or “Older Boomer” and “Younger Boomer” ) for the TV shows which were iconic during the two periods.

        So we could refer to the Older Boomers as Beaver Cleavers. And we could refer to the Younger Boomers as Brady Bunchers.

        Beaver Cleavers.
        Brady Bunchers.

    2. Tom Doak

      I find it fascinating that the Wiki article identifies that

      “While charismatic leaders like John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. inspired millions of older Boomers to work for — and witness — positive social change, younger Boomers were in preschool or not yet born. ”

      And yet it FAILS to mention that our generation witnessed JFK and MLK [and RFK and Malcolm X] being assassinated, and blames Watergate for our cynicism. Watergate was fun times, but it was all those assassinations that made it apparent to me that the ruling class was determined to get the result it wanted.

      1. britzklieg

        Agreed. ’68 and ’69 were traumatic for a long haired rock and roll (lead singer!) 12 year old in the south, son of a college professor at a very liberal arts but also religion affiliated college (Presb.) dealing uncomfortably with a growing black student body and its growing militancy. I was very aware, viscerally so. There was already plenty of cynicsm, although I did not understand it as such. Watergate and defenestrating Nixon was something to celebrate, especially after Kent State. I missed the iconic (and frankly, less tangible) moments such as Woodstock, though I could sing all the songs soon thereafter. I was too young to participate in the demonstrations but they nonetheless formed me. I was never subjected to being drafted but I hated the war.

        Youngsters who have Watergate as a first political memory should have been optimistic as it was one of the few times the system kind of worked. Perhaps Generation Jones, as described, was given rose colored glasses which didn’t so much lead to cynicism, as the scales fell away, but fundamental fatalism – in essence apolitical – met with pharmaceutical intervention and cheesy pop psychology. I daresay they were lead astray to assume that democracy was working, especially as the Boomer parents came to give up the grief while embracing Wall Street and neo-liberalism with happy memories of Woodstock and PMC radical chic supplanting the blood – soaked polity which, again at the age of 12, had changed me forever.

        1. britzklieg

          I should add, our generation had to learn our post-modern glibness, those coming after were born into it and never had a chance…

  13. poopinator

    I’ll do anything for love, but I won’t mutate viruses.

    Coincidentally from the same man who brought you ‘Bat out of Hell’.

    Not sure what my point is, just a thought for any of our song parodists looking for inspiration…

  14. Left in Wisconsin

    I came to academic social science a long time ago with a real-world background in trade unionism and, even though I have been here a long time and I got to know Erik Wright pretty well is his later years, I guess I still don’t really understand what analytical Marxism is. Wright used to call it “no BS Marxism” but from what I could tell it was just using methodological individualism and the same kind of “rational choice” assumptions that mainstream economists (and many other social scientists) tended to use to address Marxist-type questions, This always struck me as just another mostly-irrelevant-to-real-world-problems academic niche (if not complete BS) and the people I encountered who were active proponents of it (including Wright, Chibber, Jon Elster, and John Roemer) seemed completely divorced from any real world struggles.

    But I guess it all depends on who one does or doesn’t include in the community. (One thing Wright always impressed upon me was that academia was all about “finding your intellectual community,” which I thought was really sad but is absolutely true.) Adam Pzeworski and Gosta Esping-Anderson are included by some in the pantheon and are both outstanding – their work is deeply historical and engaged with real-world issues – but I get the sense both have actively distanced themselves from the label.

  15. Wukchumni

    Did a walk by of the all cats and no cattle ranch and the most impressive thing I saw a foot wide 50 foot tall Blue Oak ripped out by the rootwad, must’ve been crazy winds along with the trees drinking in way too much water.

    Another cord of wood-dismantling needed.

    There’s a fair amount of trees where big branches came off too, everything was so peaceful today, but a couple weeks ago, me oh my!

    Lots of downed wood, I can probably fill up 15 wheelbarrows worth, along with a bunch of collateral tree damage.

    I’ve never seen the river even close to the high water mark of a couple weeks ago, must’ve been epic!

  16. britzklieg

    Good to read a defense and cogent explanation of Rawls in Jacobin. Attempts to dismiss him in recent years have been infuriating.

  17. Jason Boxman

    From Do Rapid Tests Still Work?

    I still don’t understand the obsession with the spike protein for shots when that’s not really working very well. That isn’t targeted for rapid tests:

    Accuracy doesn’t appear to be changing with each new variant. Several studies have found that rapid tests performed just as well on the first Omicron variant as they did on earlier strains of the virus. And although there isn’t data yet, the experts say there’s no reason to think that more recent subvariants like BA.5 and XBB.1.5 are any different. That’s because most of the mutations occur in the spike protein, which the virus uses to enter and infect a cell. Rapid tests detect a different kind of protein, called a nucleoprotein, that has undergone many fewer changes.

    “Because the tests are designed to detect nucleoprotein, and because nucleoprotein hasn’t been mutating, we can be pretty confident that the tests are going to still be able to perform as well as they have in the past,” Dr. Hafer said.

    (bold mine)

    Well, why don’t we make shots that target the nucleoprotein instead?! There must be some science reason why we only care about the spike? Or maybe not?

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