2:00PM Water Cooler 1/31/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I’m a fast man with an in-tray, but not fast enough. I really need to clear my backlog, and so I’ll have more shortly. Please return. –lambert UPDATE All done!

Bird Song of the Day

Masked Finch (Masked), Muirhead bushland, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia. “Soft, muted contact calls of small party feeding on the ground.”

* * *


“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

What does this even mean?

Leave aside that Joe Biden owes me six hundred bucks. What sense does it make to swear an oath that you feel something? One for the philosophers!

“White House blasts McCarthy for comments on strengthening Social Security, Medicare” [The Hill]. “McCarthy said in an interview on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’ earlier Sunday that he wants to take cuts to Medicare and Social Security off the table in talks with Democrats over the debt ceiling, even though Republicans do want commitments on spending cuts generally. Instead, McCarthy said Republicans were committed to strengthening the programs. The strengthening of entitlement programs laid out in the Republicans’ ‘Commitment to America’ is vague. One of the legislative recommendations made in the plan is that Congress must ‘must be prepared to make reforms to extend the solvency of the entitlement programs.’ The White House rebuked the Speaker’s claim, saying on Sunday that Republicans have wanted to cut earned benefits for years.” • Dudes, come on. Obama wanted a Grand Bargain. Unsurprisingly, no good faith on either side here. Even so, the framing of the headline shows the Republicans are getting some a little traction.

“Biden, McCarthy to discuss debt limit in talks on Wednesday” [Associated Press]. “House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said Sunday he is looking forward to discussing with President Joe Biden a ‘reasonable and responsible way that we can lift the debt ceiling’ when the two meet Wednesday for their first sit-down at the White House since McCarthy was elected to the post. McCarthy, R-Calif., said he wants to address spending cuts along with raising the debt limit, even though the White House has ruled out linking those two issues together as the government tries to avoid a potentially devastating financial default. The speaker pledged that cuts to Social Security and Medicare would be off the table. ‘I know the president said he didn’t want to have any discussion (on cuts), but I think it’s very important that our whole government is designed to find compromise,’ McCarthy told CBS’ ‘Face the Nation.’ ‘I want to sit down together, work out an agreement that we can move forward to put us on a path to balance — and at the same time not put any of our debt in jeopardy at the same time.’ Asked whether he would make a guarantee, McCarthy said, ‘There will not be a default,’ though he suggested that declaration depended on the willingness of Biden and Democrats to negotiate.” • Not sure what the Freedom Caucus will think of this….


“Hunter Biden converted Delaware house with classified documents into home office” [New York Post]. “Hunter Biden apparently turned his father’s Wilmington, Del. mansion into a high-powered and possibly compromised home office, wheeling and dealing with some of the same nations whose names have turned up in classified documents recently discovered at the home, according to experts and leaked cellphone texts. Hunter Biden listed the idyllic Wilmington home as his address following his 2017 divorce from ex-wife Kathleen Buhle — even claiming he owned the three-bed, four-and-a-half-bath lakefront property on a July 2018 background check form as part of a rental application. The home is also listed as his billing address for a personal credit card and Apple account in 2018 and 2019. At least 12 classified documents — some dating back to President Biden’s career in the Senate — were found on its premises in recent weeks. Some of the classified material found at the home, as well as the roughly 10 items of classified pages found at the Penn Biden Center, related to nations Hunter Biden had extensive business entanglements in — such as Ukraine.” • Oh, Hunter, you loveable scamp!

“Front page of WaPo bashing VP Harris. Sen. Warren, et tu? Enough already” [Daily Kos]. Sorry. I had to. “But this [WaPo] article filled with quotes from ‘anonymous Democrats’ just infuriates me. I’m so pissed off at all the subtly-implied racism and sexism (some of it is not subtle at all) I could spit nails…” • No doubt. 2024 will be pleasant!

“Kamala Harris anonymously hit by Democrats questioning her ‘basic political skills'” [FOX]. Read the article if you can’t get past WaPo’s paywall. It concludes: “A report from Politico on Jan. 17 suggested that Harris’ team believes, “After spending much of her time in office managing bad headlines, staff turnover and persistent questions about her portfolio and position in Biden world, the vice president is in a better place.” • Oh. Maybe Obama put out the word? It’s hard for me to believe Harris has Obama’s backing, but… This video. Wowsers:

• Eye contact:

The heir apparent, “looking up” to Biden?

* * *

“Donald Trump kicks off his 2024 White House bid – and says he’s ‘more committed than ever'” [Sky News]. “Former US president Donald Trump has kicked off his 2024 White House bid with stops in New Hampshire and South Carolina, while brushing aside criticism that his campaign was off to a slow start. Speaking to party leaders at the New Hampshire Republicans’ annual meeting in Salem, the former president insisted he was motivated to win as he embarked on his third White House bid which he announced in November. ‘We’re starting right here as a candidate for president,’ he announced. ‘I’m more angry now, and I’m more committed now, than I ever was.’ In contrast to the raucous rallies in front of thousands of devotees that Mr Trump often holds, Saturday’s events were notably muted. In Columbia, South Carolina, Mr Trump spoke to about 200 people in the state’s capitol building, with Governor Henry McMaster and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina flanking him.” • As I keep saying, Trump is neither stupid nor insane. if this is how he’s doing it, there’s a reason.

“Trump says he would resolve Ukraine war in 24 hours if he were president” [MSN]. • That bastid keeps asking for my vote. Somebody should stop him.

Republican Funhouse

“Newsday poll: 78% of 3rd District residents say George Santos should resign” [Newsday]. “By a 6-1 ratio, voters in Rep. George Santos’ congressional district want him to resign since his lies about his education, family history and work profile have been revealed, according to a new Newsday/Siena College poll. By a nearly 5-1 ratio, constituents say the Republican congressman cannot be an effective representative. Two of every three people who voted for him say they wouldn’t have if they knew then what they know now. Further, in a district where prominent Republicans get good ratings and prominent Democrats don’t, an astounding 83% of his constituents view Santos unfavorably compared with 7% favorably.” • If it comes from the District, as opposed to the frothing and stamping of Democrat operatives, fine.

“George Santos Recuses Himself from Committee Assignments” [National Assignments]. “Representative George Santos (R., N.Y.) told the GOP conference on Tuesday that he will step down from his committee assignments after he was caught lying about his resume and background….. Santos, who was given seats on the Science, Space and Technology Committee and the House Small Business Committee, has repeatedly rebuffed calls to resign from Congress altogether.”

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.

* * *

I’ve been thinking a lot about this passage from Kim Stanley Robinson’s New York, 2140. Charlotte, one of the protagonists, has just been asked to run for Congress:

“No way!” Charlotte said, shocked. “What about the mayor’s candidate?”

[The Democrat] Party was a hierarchy; you started at the bottom and moved up one step at a time—school board, city council, state assembly—and then if you had demonstrated lockstep team loyalty, the powers at the top would give you the party endorsement and its aid, and you were good to go. Had been that way for centuries. Outsiders did pop up to express various dissatisfactions, and occasionally some of them even overthrew the order of things and got elected, but then they were ostracized by the party and could get nothing done. They just wasted their time and whatever little money could be dredged up to support such quixotic tilts.

Some might say “gerontacracy,” but that follows from the hierarchy; it takes time to climb the greasy pole. KSR’s picture strikes me was broadly accurate (sadly). Puzzle pieces that fit right in: How Hakeem Jeffries became Speaker more or less by acclamation Pelosi retired; whether Obama’s was the hand that held the dagger on the Biden documents flap (yes); how The Squad went so rotten so fast (now, no moralizing!); and of course the fate of the Sanders insurgency, which disappeared like a spring snow, along with the Sanders many of us thought we knew. For example:

Duss’s family — and I know this will surprise you — is Ukrainian. Just like Nuland, Blinken, and soon-to-be NATO General Secretary Freeland!

KSR wrote New York, 2140, i.e., the year the PMC, defeated by Trump, came to class consciousness and declared a state of exception for every principle of governance and personal morality they might colorably have been said to have previously possessed. So I think his model, essentially a model of seniority only, might need to be adjusted. Like epiphytes or hanging vines around the deeply rooted tree of electeds we have Flexian spooks (CIA Democrats), occasional rich marks (that crypto effective altruism dude who lost so badly), occasional straws to lose to the Republican but bring in enormous amounts of out-of-state money from gullible “In This House” types (Amy McGrath; Stacey Abrams). And then we have the rich soil of the organs of state security, from which the tree grows: Spooks, the press, NGOs. Note also, from this vignette, that the single thing a political party does — something that no other institution in the United States does, including the State — is control the ballot line. That’s a monopoly. Maybe we should get Stoller to take it away from them…

Oh, a membership card! Do I get a secret decoder ring, too?

If any readers can find it within themselves to acquire one of these cards, could you please mail me? (Address below above the plant). I would be extremely interested to know what the terms and conditions are — or if indeed there are any. Presumably, the Democrat lawyers vetted this campaign and are smart enough to pre-empt any lawsuits — say, for any services “the club” failed to deliver to paid members — but you never know! I realize you may get, well, more mail if you do that, but that might be an interesting object of study as well. Oh, and this ad was clearly produced by a different shop than the cray cray ad I ran yesterday. So we’re looking at some orchestration, here.

Our Famously Free Press

Twitter getting ready for Trump’s return?

This version of “context” seems better than what Twitter did, pre-Elon. Now, if only Twitter would get cheeky and label The New York Times and WaPo “state media”!


“The press versus the president, part one” [Jeff Gerth, Columbia Journalism Review] (and two, three, and four). This is an important three part series (part two in Links today)]. To be fair, Jeff Gerth has a checkered career, especially if you’re a Clintonite. Nevertheless, it looks to me like this a serious reporting effort (unlike, say, one of Woodward’s books, where Woodward gets people in his Rolodex to bloviate). Many sources refused to answer detailed lists of questions Gerth sent them, which I take to be a very good sign. I’m working my way through the whole vile mishegoss. Here’s one gem from Part 4: “The Democrat-controlled Congress, however, thought it might be able to pick up those disparate pieces and fashion an impeachment case. They decided to push a reluctant Mueller to come testify himself, hoping he might help make their case. Mueller appeared in late July before the House Judiciary Committee. Schmidt was contemporaneously posting analysis on the Times website about Mueller’s testimony. At just past eight in the morning, he signed in: ‘Can’t wait to hear Mueller talk about Volume II on obstruction.’ As Mueller began answering questions, Schmidt noted how he kept asking for them to be repeated. Then a few hours later, he posted this: ‘the Democrats say it was indeed obstruction and Mueller declines to back them up.’ Mueller’s ‘halting’ testimony, as noted by the Times and many other outlets, was likely the final chapter in his lengthy public life. Woodward told me the Mueller report was a ‘fizzle’ but reporters were ‘never going to declare it’s going to end up dry.’ The following morning, less than eighteen hours after Mueller left the congressional hearing, a more confident Trump had his phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky in which he asked him for help in digging up dirt on Joe and Hunter Biden. What Trump thought was a ‘perfect’ phone chat turned out to be the impeachment vehicle Democrats so desperately wanted after Mueller’s far-from-perfect performance. A new media frenzy was about to begin.” • Attaboy, Volodymyr!

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Nobody Knows This But” [Eschaton]. “One benefit of Trump (straining, here) was that he made me realize just how many people – including a substantial number of our elite commentators – are just like Trump. Sure Trump has no filter, just pure nonstop ID screaming it out all day every day, but that others have a slightly better filter doesn’t make them fundamentally different. Inability to accept fault or criticsm, belief that every thought is a profound one never before imagined by anyone else, fundamental inability to empathize with any person or situation outside their small experience (which they believe to be expansive), the unwavering embrace of certain class and achivement markers (some of Trump’s are sillier – wow Golden Globes Winner of 1983 – but not fundamentally different), etc. People should be talking about this more and more!!!” • I think Atrios is right on the money, here. No wonder they hate him so much! He’s just like them!

Reversion to the civilizational mean?


I hate this. I hate the very thought of this. OTOH, the notion of “the public” did paper over some contradictions that we now see are all too real (just like, at the NGO level, “community” does). So, opportunity? Anyhow, the whole thread is worth a careful read.


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).

Lambert here: Looks like “leveling off to a high plateau” across the board. Stay safe out there!

* * *

• I hate stories like this and I keep reading them:

* * *

• I love these metaphors, and they may persuade, but they are all about features, not bugs:

Yes, this is exactly what it’s like. It’s as if our policy — and perhaps this is our policy — is to have a high plateau of automobile deaths and injuries for the forseeable future, because that was the most profitable course for those who collect profits.

* * *

• “Cortical Grey matter volume depletion links to neurological sequelae in post COVID-19 “long haulers”” [BMC Neurology]. “This is a retrospective single center study which analyzed 24 consecutive COVID-19 infected patients with long term neurologic symptoms. Each patient underwent Brain MRI with 3D VBM at median time of 85 days following laboratory confirmation. All patients had relatively mild respiratory symptoms not requiring oxygen supplementation, hospitalization, or assisted ventilation. 3D VBM was obtained for whole brain and forebrain parenchyma, cortical grey matter (CGM), hippocampus, and thalamus. The results demonstrate a statistically significant depletion of CGM volume in 24 COVID-19 infected patients. Reduced CGM volume likely influences their long term neurological sequelae and may impair post COVID-19 patient’s quality of life and productivity.”

• “Two-Years Follow-Up of Symptoms and Return to Work in Complex Post-COVID-19 Patients” [Journal of Clinical Medicine]. n = 45. From the Abstract: “Self-reported symptoms, feelings of improvement and ability to return to work allowed us to determine the efficacy of the therapeutic strategy proposed. Results: Unlike what was expected, many post-COVID-19 patients directly contacted the coordination team and had significant pre-existing comorbidities. Despite exercise, respiratory, olfactory rehabilitations, cognition/speech therapy and/or psychological support, the more frequent self-reported symptoms (fatigue, neurocognitive disorders, muscles and joint pain) did not resolve. However, dyspnea, anxiety and chest pain were significantly reduced. Finally, 2/3 of the patients felt some degree of improvement and returned to work either partially or fully, but 1/3 remained complaining of symptoms and out of work as late as 22 months after COVID occurrence.” Mike the Mad Biologist comments: “It’s not good. Again, you are not the weirdo if you’re trying to avoid (re)-infection).”

* * *

• “The key to reinvigorating infection control? Getting back to basics, says Mount Sinai’s Dr. Aaron Glatt” [Becker’s Hospital Review]. Whenever I’ve encountered (hegemonic) infection control/infectious disease people on Covid, they’ve been fighting masking — in hospitals!! — and airborne transmission tooth and nail. (Sadly, IC/ID has a lot of clout; see CDC’s ridiculous and lethal blather recommending handwashing to prevent Covid — in 2023!! — in their latest guidance.) So maybe the key to “reinvigoration” would be a vigorous purge of all the reactionary mossbacks at the top of the field? (I don’t wish to over-generalize, and perhaps I conflate IC/ID, so those skilled in the art may wish to correct me. Nevertheless!)

* * *

Case Data

BioBot wastewater data from January 30:

For now, I’m going to use this national 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.

• “It’s been three years since the first Covid-19 case in the United States. What have we learned and what more do we need to understand?” [CNN]. “It’s been three years since the first Covid-19 case was diagnosed in the United States, on January 20, 2020. In the time since, nearly 1.1 million Americans have died from the coronavirus; the US has reported 102 million Covid cases, more than any other country, according to Johns Hopkins University. Both figures, many health officials believe, are likely to have been undercounted.” • What have we learned? Classic clip aside, we’ve learned that we can slaughter a million US citizens without causing a riot, or, indeed, civil unrest of any sort. That’s an important lesson!


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 31:

-0.0.%. Rate of decrease slows to nothing.


Wastewater data (CDC), January 26:

What the [family blog] is the [family blogging] use of a national wastewater map where nearly all the collection sites are [family blogging] greyed out?

January 24:

NOT UPDATED And MWRA data, January 26:

Looks to me like New England’s regional surge is winding down. No bump from the students returning. Readers?


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 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.

NOT UPDATED 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.

As a check, since New York is a BQ.1* hotbed, New York hospitalization, updated January 31:

Not as high as Biden’s ginormous jouissance, but still high.

Hospitalization data for Queens, updated January 27:


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,132,719 – 1,132,256 = 463 (463 * 365 = 168,995 deaths per year, today’s YouGenicist™ number for “living with” Covid (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. If the YouGenicist™ metric keeps chugging along like this, I may just have to decide this is what the powers-that-be consider “mission accomplished” for this particular tranche of death and disease).

It’s nice that for deaths I have a simple, daily chart that just keeps chugging along, unlike everything else CDC and the White House are screwing up or letting go dark, good job. (Though CDC may be jiggering the numbers soon. Lower, naturally.)

• Covid is not the flu:

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States Chicago PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The Chicago PMI in the United States fell back to 44.3 points in January of 2023 from 44.9 in December and compared to market forecasts of 45. The reading pointed to a fifth consecutive month of contraction in business activity in the Chicago region.”

* * *

The Bezzle: “FTX founder Bankman-Fried objects to tighter bail, says prosecutors ‘sandbagged’ him” [Reuters]. • Somebody call a wh-a-a-a-mbulance!

Tech: “Historic crash for memory chips threatens to wipe out earnings” [Straits Times]. “The memory chip sector, famous for its boom-and-bust cycles, had changed its ways. A combination of more disciplined management and new markets for its products – including 5G technology and cloud services – would ensure that companies delivered more predictable earnings. Yet, less than a year after memory companies made such pronouncements, the US$160 billion (S$210 billion) industry is suffering one of its worst routs ever. There is a glut of the chips sitting in warehouses, customers are cutting orders and product prices have plunged. The unprecedented crisis is not just wiping out cash at industry leaders SK Hynix and Micron Technology, but also destabilising their suppliers, denting Asian economies that rely on technology exports and forcing the few remaining memory players to form alliances or even consider mergers. It has been a swift descent from the industry’s pandemic sales surge, which was fuelled by shoppers outfitting home offices and snapping up computers, tablets and smartphones.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 70 Greed (previous close: 66 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 60 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 31 at 1:05 PM EST.

Zeitgeist Watch

So so not jackpot-ready:

Another AI use case:


• “Health executives are patients, too: What 11 leaders experienced [Becker’s Hospital Review]. • Interesting but, as we say on social media, the context: These are the same people who are trying to screw their workers and their patients out of every last nickel so they can give themselves bonuses.

Groves of Academe

• “Tadarrius Bean, former Memphis police officer involved in Tyre Nichols killing, was president of scandal-scarred fraternity” [New York Post]. “One of the five former Memphis police officers charged with murder in the deadly beating of Tyre Nichols was the president of a fraternity with several recent scandals at its chapters. Tadarrius Bean, 24, was the president of the Omega Psi Phi’s Eta Zeta chapter at the University of Mississippi, according to his LinkedIn page. The fraternity was founded in 1911 at Howard University in Washington, D.C., a historically black college. It claims to be ‘on the front line, leveraging its power, influence and more than 100 years of commitment to the uplift of our people and our communities,’ according to Omega’s website. But the fraternity and its members however have been involved in several troubling incidents in recent years. In 2019, Omega’s chapter at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., was suspended over a slew of disturbing incidents involving pledges, or people looking to join the group, including at least one hospitalization, The Virginian-Pilot reported. Potential newcomers were beaten, and some were forced to chug hot sauce or pour it down their pants to simulate a sexually transmitted disease. In 2018, a 45-year-old man looking to join an Omega Psi Phi chapter in Brooklyn had his buttocks and testicles paddled between 150 to 200 times as part of a twisted ‘welcoming ritual,’ resulting in two of the fraternity’s members being charged with assault and hazing.” • Equal opportunity….

Class Warfare

United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America:

Not huge, but by no means negligible.

* * *

“The Washington Post Editorial Board Wants to Sicken Its Readers” [Mike the Mad Biologist]. “[J]ust to sum up: the Washington Post editorial board wants federal workers to return to the office full time* to generate tax revenue. What’s remarkable is that there is no mention of COVID, or in particular long COVID (months long, possibly permanent, disability); the word COVID is found once in the editorial, and only in reference to the pandemic, not as a health problem. That doesn’t surprise me, since the Washington Post, along with other major media outlets, simply have not pressed either the Biden administration or public health officials about the likelihood that vaccinated and boosted people will contract long COVID (for any new readers, I’ve been warning about long COVID for over two-and-a-half years; this isn’t some ‘new excuse’)…. et the Washington Post editorial board seems oblivious to this. When you add in that most federal employees (who work at desks) work in common open spaces to save the federal government money–they don’t have private offices they can retreat to–this is putting federal workers at risk. Workers have no control over the ventilation in many of the downtown buildings–and many of those buildings aren’t new, so the ventilation isn’t good either. And, of course, as much as people want to, we should not forgot the immunocompromised–and workers with households with immuncompromised people–either. They too are federal workers, and should not be put at risk….. If the Washington Post spent as much time (or any time) asking the Biden administration and public health officials about the likelihood of long COVID, especially in those who ‘did what they are supposed to do’ (get vaccinated) as they did call for return to full-time at the office, we would have far fewer sick (and dead) people. Instead, the ghouls at the Washington Post are asking federal workers to risk their health to increase tax revenues, which shows a vile disregard for the health of their readers.” • The policy is mass infection without mitigation, so you’ve got to give WaPo props for its commitment to the bit.

“Blackstone steps up tenant evictions in US with eye on boosting returns” [Financial Times]. “Blackstone has filed eviction lawsuits against hundreds of tenants across the US as it winds down one of the real estate industry’s most generous pandemic-era forbearance programmes, in a move that executives say will boost financial returns at the company’s redemption-hit real estate fund. Court records from Georgia and Florida show that companies owned by Blackstone have commenced legal proceedings against dozens of tenants every month since August, launching more cases in a typical week than the total for the first seven months of 2022. At the same time, consultants working for Blackstone have been calling local politicians in California to warn of a probable uptick in evictions in areas of the state that have significant numbers of delinquencies, said people familiar with the conversations. The outreach from Blackstone points to the delicate task confronting the private equity group, one of the biggest landlords in the US, as it seeks to maximise returns while operating under far more public scrutiny than local property owners in what has historically been a fragmented market. Blackstone bought billions of dollars worth of apartment buildings, suburban houses and other residential assets during the pandemic.” I would have thought they bought those assets after the Great Financial Crash. Oops. More: “Many of those acquisitions were made by Breit, a $69bn fund aimed at wealthy individual investors that last month imposed limits on withdrawals to curb a rush of investors trying to pull their money out.” • So that was the trigger. BWA-HA-HA-HA!

“The real cost of shadow work” [Financial Times]. “One of the great economic mysteries of the moment is why worker productivity, particularly in the US, is falling… While there are certainly big long-term factors at play here, such as the failure of education to keep up with technology (which in turn reduces productivity) I think there are other, under-explored issues. These include the rise of shadow work. Shadow work is a term that was coined by the Austrian philosopher and social critic Ivan Illich in 1981. For him, it included all the unpaid work done in economies, such as mothering and housekeeping. But more recently, the term has expanded to include the work that companies have been able to turn over to their own customers, via technology. This includes everything from banking to travel bookings, ordering food in restaurants to bagging groceries, not to mention downloading and navigating the apps we need to pay parking tickets or track our children’s school assignments or even troubleshoot our own tech problems. While neither [Harvard magazine editor Craig Lambert] nor groups like the IMF Statistical Agency have a good estimate of the total amount of extra work represented by such tasks, it’s clearly substantial, and growing, particular if you consider research showing that a quarter of all jobs in the US will be severely disrupted by automation by 2030 (indeed most jobs will experience some level of disruption). ‘I’m just amazed how we’ve been suckered into spending our own time straightening out things that other people used to do for us,’ says Lambert.” • This is a good explanation of crapification as the term has been used here at NC (and not the same as Doctorow’s enshittification, a parallel phenomenon).

“Swimming in cash, Chevron plans a $75 billion slap in the face to drivers” [CNN]. “While many blue-chip companies reported lower profits last year, Big Oil was having a moment. Crude prices surged, thanks in part to high demand and reduced supply. All of that helped make Chevron the top-performing Dow stock of last year, with shares surging more than 50%. To be clear: It’s not that Chevron, or any of its peers, did anything special to earn their windfall profits last year. There was no big innovation or breakthrough — they just got rich off the price of oil shooting up. Chevron, which is expected to report Friday that profits for 2022 doubled to more than $37 billion, is essentially balking at calls from the White House and some members of Congress to funnel its extra cash into more drilling capacity to help reduce prices for inflation-weary customers. Instead, Chevron is buying $75 billion worth of its own shares, and jacking up its quarterly shareholder dividend. Chevron’s buyback package is so large, according to Bloomberg, that it could fund more than four years of drilling and other projects.” • Of course, more drilling isn’t an unalloyed good… Nevertheless, they just… grabbed the money. For themselves. Because they could.

News of the Wired

“This Surprising Hack Will Keep Mice Away For Good” [Family Handyman]. “Mice can be easily avoided around your household by simply adding the scent of peppermint in corners where they congregate. Yes, that’s right, peppermint…. Peppermint obviously has a strong scent, one that mice dislike. According to Victor Pest, peppermint contains very potent menthol compounds that irritate their nasal cavities. A whiff of peppermint certainly does keep them away. So do these best mouse repellents, by the way…. Now, you can use two ways to incorporate the smell of peppermint into your home. The first is growing peppermint plants and leaving them around the house. The smell deters them from entering or roaming around in the first place. …. If you don’t fancy a home full of peppermint plants, then you might prefer using peppermint oil instead. Spray the essential oil in different areas of your home that mice can access. If you’re trying to catch the mice, strategically spray the peppermint oil in places that don’t have a mousetrap. In theory, this should lead them to wherever you have placed it.” • News you can use! Now do rats. Or deer!

* * *

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 WB:

WB writes: “Frosty Minnesota this week.”

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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. Samuel Conner

    I wonder if neurological sequelae of COVID in the university setting could affect things like “research output”, academic promotion, tenure awards in those places that still award tenure, or even grad student master’s and doctoral completion rates.

    1. Jason Boxman

      Of this I have no doubts. This is COVID brain damage.

      I do wish for research into the consequence of viral infection generally. Does this happen from other viruses? We really should focus on safe air as a human right.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Who is this “we” you speak of?

        And it’s pretty well established, now, that there are no “human rights” in the absence of power to enforce them. My Contracts professor in law school was at pains to constantly remind us that there is no right in the absence of an enforceable remedy. Rights don’t exist by bare declaration.

        And how many armies, and how many trillions of dollars, does your “we” have, again? That’s the measure of the value of a claim that “clean air is a human right.”

  2. dcblogger

    Peppermint will not keep mice away. I should know. The only thing I know of that works is a cat, but only one that is a good mouser. I am told that terriers are also effective.

    1. jefemt

      My experience is the same. Peppermint, and even ‘rockwool’ or steel wool don’t work. Most effective think we have seen is removing food source and habitat.

      Hope for a neighbor with outdoor cats. They kill indiscriminately, but if one wants an omelet, eggs will be broken.

    2. tennesseewaltzer

      My experience with peppermint laced repellents in the area of my chicken coop is that they don’t work. The only thing that has worked for the past few years is the black snake that lives under the concrete and in the shed next to the coop. No mice at all. And the snake is courteous, rarely showing itself to me.

    3. CanCyn

      We had a mouse problem once. We tried many different traps, steel wool in holes, etc. The day I found a live one in the dishwasher was the day we went to the SPCA to get a cat. We stupidly fell in love with a poor fellow who had been declawed. The woman at the SPCA told us just having the cat around would probably help. We were pretty sure that was more about sealing the adoption then anything else but took him home in spite of our doubts. He did some mousing, even caught a couple! But really within a couple of weeks, we had no more mice. Pretty sure it was just his scent.

    4. Acacia

      A friend got a cat to deal with mice, but the cat wasn’t terribly interested.

      Cat quickly got a nickname: “the predatard”.

  3. Wyatt Powell

    For a year now this article from 2018 has been in my head. ( https://fpif.org/the-pentagon-is-planning-a-three-front-long-war-against-china-and-russia/ ) Very, “my country right or wrong” sentiments in the whole peice, plently of Trump Derangement Syndrome as well, NCers, you’ve been warned.

    No need to subject yourself to it, the headline says all and ill copy the important ( #15 ) Paragraph.

    “In Asia, the U.S. and its key allies (S. Korea, Japan, the Philippines, and Australia) are to face China across a line extending from the Korean peninsula to the waters of the East and South China Seas and the Indian Ocean. In Europe, the U.S. and its NATO allies will do the same for Russia on a front extending from Scandinavia and the Baltic Republics south to Romania and then east across the Black Sea to the Caucasus. Between these two theaters of contention lies the ever-turbulent Greater Middle East, with the United States and its two crucial allies there, Israel and Saudi Arabia, facing a Russian foothold in Syria and an increasingly assertive Iran, itself drawing closer to China and Russia.”
    To summeraize the three front war,
    In my own biased world view.

    a “Western Front” with the Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltics as the battlefield between The North Atlantic Terrorist Organization and the Russian Federation.

    a “Southern Front” in the Levant, Zagros Mountians and the Gulf essentially between apartheid-Israel and Iran. With plenty of interesting side characters, one of which will probably be a Greeco-Turkish war in the Aegean, Constantinople , and on Cyprus.

    a “Eastern Front” in the Taiwan Straits, the South China Sea and the Korean Pennisula between Allies-et-all and China.

    Who here believes we can win this? Maybe minds have shifted after Russia didnt fold like a cheap set of deck chairs. I doubt it, but a man can dream.

    1. jefemt

      Is winning the point? Hs any war been ‘won’?
      I thought the point was arms sales and a rationalization for any aberrant behavior.

      “Winning” also precludes the self-licking ice cream cone that is the M I juggernaut. .

    2. GramSci

      This has long been a Pentagon plan. In WWI, the ‘free West’ had troops stationed at Archangelsk and Vladivostok. Not many, but it was a “long-range” plan; at least enough ‘policy makers’ thought fruition was sufficiently imminent that U.S./British/Japanese troops lingered until eighteen months after the armistice.

      1. scott s.

        Don’t know about a “long range” plan, but no doubt the UK saw benefit in exploiting the red/white civil war. Japan I suppose would have its own strategic goals in Siberia. For the US aspect, the public came to wonder why if the Armistice was 11/11 we were still “over there”.

        I live next door to the current home of the “Wolfhounds” 27th
        Inf so have an interest in their history. They had been created to fight Muslims on Mindanao.

    3. Louis Fyne

      —S. Korea, Japan, the Philippines, and Australia—

      The South Koreans and Filipinos are not going to die for Uncle Sam over Taiwan. I’d usually lump in the Japanese, too—but it seems Japan seems willing to be dragged into great game politics by its Establishment.

      Australia, definitely.

    4. jsn

      Of course no minds have changed! Reading this last week, the feeling I got was eerily contemporaneous.

      The oligarchy feels no ill effects from what appears from a citizens perspective a disaster, doubling down on each successive failure.

      At least in Athens, it was their own lives the warmongers were gambling with. Not so now, at least not yet.

      1. fresno dan

        thank you so much for that link. I would encourage anyone who hasn’t read it to do so.
        Some snippets to whet the appetite:
        An unfortunate and indisputable fact of history is democracies proved no better at peace than oligarchy, monarchy, or tyranny. Using the present United States, ancient Rome, and ancient Athens as examples, it wouldn’t be controversial to say they often proved most bellicose.
        Thucydides was both an Athenian participant in and chronicler of the war. His book is invaluable beyond its honored reputation, no more so for chronicling the Athenians’ unquenchable war lust that proved fatally detrimental when at various times peace would have served them much better. Of all the book’s lessons, this one remains most lost to America today.
        “The Athenians were careful not to start the war, but took decisions likely to provoke it. They certainly made no effort to avert it. Confident of victory, they clung to their goal of primacy through power, and preferred confrontation to the policy of peaceful coexistence and a share in the leadership of Greece in alliance with Sparta.”
        Sound familiar?

  4. antidlc

    RE: “This Surprising Hack Will Keep Mice Away For Good”

    Great! If I spray it on my lawn, will it help get rid of moles? I’ve tried everything and can’t get rid of them.

    1. Screwball

      You need a dog. We bought a house in the country. Big yard, same with neighbor. Mole tracks were all over both properties. We got a rescue dog. Within a couple of years there wasn’t a mole anywhere to be found.

      He did mice too, and everything else he could find. About 30 lbs of hunting machine. Part beagle, part cocker.

        1. Screwball

          If you live in a rural area, dogs are a wonderful addition to the family. I now live in a small town so I would have to take the dog for walks along with a bag. I have no issue with that, but I’m old and at some point can’t do it. And I don’t think it’s fair to the poor dog.

          A dog needs to be free. We just opened the door and he did the rest. We lived a half mile from a school. Everyone from the school to the neighbors knew him. He was the “Lion King” of our little rural town. He was loved by all. Always with my kids. Was on duty 24/7. Talk about a security system.

          Of course the couple times he did a skunk, it wasn’t so good. :-)

  5. Mikel

    “Tadarrius Bean, former Memphis police officer involved in Tyre Nichols killing, was president of scandal-scarred fraternity” [New York Post]

    Also known as the “Q Dogs”.
    They used to actually brand (yes, with a hot branding iron) members. Don’t know if that is still as common…

    1. chris

      From seeing it during my college days and again recently when touring another college of my kids, yes, some historically black fraternity organizations do ritually scar and even brand their members as part of initiations.

    2. sharron2

      In 2010 I knew a 40yo guy at work that joined at got his brand. I thought he had gotten too close to a heating element. Got straightened out by those who knew. He was very proud to have been selected to join. A training consultant we used husband was an alumni executive membership consultant for the fraternity.

  6. cfraenkel

    Re: mice deterrent. We live next to the forest, so vermin in the garage was a fact of life. Read somewhere that pieces of Irish Spring soap kept them away. It seems the mice react the same way I do to that scent. The bars last around 4 ~ 6 months before losing pungency, but they seem to have worked. The urine smell and droppings go away when the bars are fresh, and it’s return tells us it’s time for new ones.

    Will have to remember the peppermint for the next time we get skittering in the vents – would much rather smell peppermint than that overly scented soap. It’s tolerable in the garage, but no way in the house.

  7. Jeff W

    “…the Washington Post editorial board wants federal workers to return to the office full time* to generate tax revenue.”

    The asterisk refers to this footnote in the blog post, omitted from the excerpt, in case anyone is looking around for it (as I did):

    *The reality is few federal employees are working full-time remote, and are in the office one or more days per week. Mondays and Fridays, pre-pandemic, were always light (just ask WMATA…), and this is just expansion and continuation of a pre-pandemic trend.

    1. cnchal

      > . . . to generate tax revenue.

      At first I though it was about the IRS failing to find unpaid taxes and was going to suggest they audit Amazon and have a field decade with all the internal pump and dump scams they run, like bribing whip cracking sadists to become ‘Prime’ whip cracking sadists with a near $1,000 annual subsidy to ‘lock them in’, but no, its just another banal evil from the elite.

      From the Wa Poo Poo editorial board itself.

      Yet a look around downtown Washington’s barren sidewalks, empty restaurants and shuttered shops shows that the city is still suffering. The federal government is Washington’s largest employer, accounting for about a quarter of the city’s employment, and many of its agencies continue to maintain lenient telework policies. Politico reports that the city has the highest work-from-home rate in the nation, and the Wall Street Journal notes that Washington’s office vacancy rate is now roughly 20 percent, a record. About half of federal employees engage in telework.
      – – – – – –
      As the nation continues a big, unplanned experiment in transforming workplaces, more data will come in on what works. In the meantime, many employers are smartly choosing hybrid work policies, offering employees much more flexibility to work from home than they had before the covid-19 pandemic but still requiring workers to come into the office a few days a week.

      It is the employers that are “smartly” choosing, not the obviously less ‘smartly’ employees. So order them around because profits, the dummies will never know what hit them

    2. orlbucfan

      Nothing surprising from the Borg Bezos rag aka WAPO. It’s a tragedy how that newspaper has slowly deteriorated over the last 60+ years.

    3. Karl

      Pre-pandemic, the lenient telework policy was partly to cut down on commuting, energy use, emissions, etc. Hey, WAPO: are those no longer worthy objectives?

    4. Henry Moon Pie

      Remote work helps with two problems currently overwhelming us: Covid and carbon emissions. But our Rube Goldberg economic system, designed to maximize churn and return on the billionaires’ capital, would suffer, so guess what choice our elites make?

      So which is our elites’ most prominent characteristic? Sociopathy or stupidity? Close contest, it seems to me.

  8. Wukchumni

    My Kevin (since ’07) could cut me a check for $XXX,XXX.xx that I paid into my entitlement program, if he wants to make reforms cool.

    One of the legislative recommendations made in the plan is that Congress must ‘must be prepared to make reforms to extend the solvency of the entitlement programs.

    1. John

      … and if you believe that, consider this bridge. I read Harry Frankfurt’s On B-llsh-t yesterday and yes, My Kevin and the Repubs are trying to effectively manipulate opinion while indifferent to the truth or falsity of their ‘arguments.’ That’s a paraphrase of what constitutes BS.

  9. Charger01

    News you can use! Now do rats. Or deer!

    I can’t recommend a good rat deterrent (other than a wily kitty with good predator instincts) but a male dog (preferably a good runner like a Shepard, collie,or greyhound) will keep deer away with their scent marking. Also a good compound bow or 30-30 does the job in the Fall for unlucky individuals. I recommend trying vension steaks, they are superb with rosemary and olive oil.

  10. enoughisenough

    “The current vaccine-only strategy is like arguing that because cars have seat belts we don’t need turn signals, traffic lights, or stop signs.
    Just because some of the worst outcomes can be reduced, does not remove the need for prevention and public safety.”

    This analogy only holds up if you imagine that seat belts aren’t very easy for people to find, there are different brands of seat belt, but no one can tell the car owner which one is best, and also seat belts cost extra and are about to skyrocket in cost, as per the new policy.

      1. Not Again

        I’m sensing sarcasm but if you really think about it, Joe Biden should be a cock-eyed optimist. He personally saved democracy, America is at peace and Hunter just won “Businessman of the Year” – if you add in the $15 minimum wage, the huge anti-trust suits he’s initiated and the wholesale revamping of the system for classifying documents and one has to wonder what a second Biden Administration could possibly hold.

        Trump is gonna be hard=pressed to get his Russian friends involved in the 2024 election.

  11. Jason Boxman

    How offensive. There’s Biden in this massive oversized vehicle custom designed to murder walkers and bike riders. Sort of just like the American state itself, this huge, vicious object that steamrolls over whatever suits the fancy of the elite that particular instant. FJB indeed. All that’s missing is a middle finger extended from Biden’s left hand.

  12. LaRuse

    Peppermint essential oil is also excellent for repelling ants. I use it extensively when we camp (it’s a canvas tent without a floor, not a nylon tent) and it has the benefit of making the interior of the tent smell nice. One summer day I watched a massive ant colony just pack down and disappear within a couple of hours after placing a few drops around one side of the hill (leave them an unscented side to “vacate” through).

  13. tegnost

    Re: energy bills
    Californians may disagree after opening up their latest bills.
    Re: creating “good paying” jobs, last night it was msdnc on with think of all those good paying jobs in the chip manufacturing sector! Thanks IRA! and I’m thinking probably not…great for corps stock prices though, so something should trickle down /s

  14. Seth Miller

    Re: “One benefit of Trump (straining, here)”

    Another is that the man seemed to have a Marxist-adjacent view of capitalism. Trump, like Marxists, thinks that capitalism is theft. The big difference is that, being essentially moral people, Marxists are repulsed by theft. Trump, on the other hand, set about demonstrating to the world that he was and is the biggest, best thief in the world, and thinks he deserves credit for it.

    1. Terry Flynn

      Bear in mind Sky News UK is VERY different to Sky News Australia. The former has to at least pretend to be unbiased (though its web output has greater latitude) whilst Sky News Australia doesn’t even try to pretend it is anything other than what Murdoch wants to say given laxer rules in Australia.

    2. GramSci

      I think of Trump as, basically, a er- ‘procurer’: Miss Universe* plus hotels with beds. Why do rich people go to Trump Hotels (and casinos/golf courses)? For the golden escalators? For the reflected glow of the Donald?

      Possibly. But I am confident there are many gorgeous playmates(TM) available at Trump(TM) facilities. (Only confident, not certain; I’ve never been there.)

      This is in no way intended to demean Mr. Trump. Unlike Epstein’s amenities, Trump’s seem to be all legal and of solid, middling-upper class pedigree. Given his careful attention to what is legal, I’m similarly confident that Trump facilities are also relatively unlikely to videotape their guests.

      * Trump apparently divested himself of Miss Universe before running for office.

  15. GramSci

    Re: Cortical Grey matter volume depletion

    I’m not exactly up-to-date on MRI technology, and I don’t doubt that lots of diseases, including COVID can reduce grey matter, but the inference from blood flow (MRI) to cell death seems speculative, especially in the context of a vascular disease. I would appreciate comments from more au courant commenters.

    1. Raymond Sim

      Is it possible you’re confusing MRI and fMRI?

      Based on what I learned in Organic Chemistry way back when we called it NMR, and interpreting the readouts was a bit of an artform, I would expect MRI to be able to image brain tissue volume and directly verify decerebration.

  16. Terry Flynn

    Regarding good legal analysis of things like Trump’s foibles vs Biden’s I like Legal Eagle (warning – his YouTube channel is frequently self-censored to avoid YT demonetisation so pay the trivial annual amount to watch him uncensored on Nebula). He DOES sometimes lean too far towards indulging the PMC IMHO but generally he’s good in documenting his sources and the exact legal codes. He’s also good on the STATE cases like the ones against Trump.

    He has already pointed out that whilst Trump’s alleged “document hoarding” could lead to a criminal prosecution in a way Biden’s wouldn’t (as a sitting President), the IMPACT could be worse for Biden if he’s impeached and spends two years totally stymied.

    1. Anonymous Also

      That’s interesting. I use essential oils in diffusers and I’ve done so for years and I have a cat. Zero issues. I would imagine that the concentration of the essential oils makes a difference.
      I have used peppermint oil sprays on exterior shrubbery when we had a problem with a stray male cat marking territory. He didn’t like the strong smell of peppermint and has left us alone.
      And as to voles, we bought repeller stakes that vibrate. They’ve been helpful. We have also tried the traps that you insert down into the holes. But sometimes the traps get tripped without ever capturing the animal.

  17. Carolinian

    Trump is neither stupid nor insane

    Please talk to my brother who insists Trump is insane while I respond that he is the small town car salesman type writ large. In other words he’s a manipulator as are all sales people to an extent. It’s about making a “deal” if not “art.”

    It’s weird how Trump’s personality drives Dems themselves crazy whereas Bill Clinton’s bogus “feel your pain” did not (well except for some of us). The MAGAs have simply decided they’ll take the fake populism–if that’s the only kind on offer–over nothing and it’s just possible that some of Trump’s declarations are sincerely meant if quickly forgotten.

    It is hard to forgive Trump for Pompeo, who really is insane, or some others from that past administration. But when the alternative is Biden where to turn?…

  18. Raymond Sim

    (I don’t wish to over-generalize, and perhaps I conflate IC/ID, so those skilled in the art may wish to correct me. Nevertheless!)

    Conflate away! They’re all tarred and feathered with the same stick so far as I can tell. If there are any good ones let them stand up and defend themselves.

  19. Questa Nota

    Hunter Biden Exposé, film at 11:00 and breathless front-page above the fold articles for the Times, Post and Journal*!

    Not holding my breath for those. At my age, I don’t want to incur any suddenness.

    *Is there some agency problem, or Agency problem, when referring to the short names of those august papers?

  20. fresno dan

    “Trump says he would resolve Ukraine war in 24 hours if he were president” [MSN]. • That bastid keeps asking for my vote. Somebody should stop him.

    It says something about this country that the only major public politician advocating real negotiation to resolve the Russia Ukraine conflict is Trump.
    First, Trump says so many things, and almost all contradictory. About the only thing Trump is consistent about is his hatred of the dems, which is fine, but it doesn’t make for a policy agenda. The Trump agenda is always what is best for Trump and the path of least resistance, and 180 degree pivots are par for the course. (it is hard to paint Trump a peacknik when he has an Iranian general droned. Was that Trump’s idea or was Trump manipulated into doing that???)
    Second, Trump proved in Syria and Afghanistan that either he didn’t know how to control the bureacracy or didn’t want to.
    What do you do when your choices are candidates (from both parties) who think more was is the best policy, and the only opposition to such insanity is Trump???

    1. Synoia

      The Grim Reaper appears to be lax with out elderly politicians. Perhaps some of the police from Memphis can assist.

    2. Roland

      Donald Trump has been the only post-Cold War US president who did not involve his country in any new wars.

      There has been no US president in over a century who did not involve himself in power-political intrigue and skulduggery, such as coup plots, assassinations, or covert arms dealing.

  21. Raymond Sim

    We used to have three dogs, littermate brothers, an experience which taught us that a dog growing up within a pack of his peers learns more, and differently than a puppy on its own.

    With the exceptions of citrus, raw aliums, and kimchi our guys loved every kind of food we love, including peppermints, horehound drops, cabbage, broccoli and hot peppers. When the meter reader pepper-sprayed one of them (an understandable misunderstanding) his brothers held him down and licked it all off. They spent their whole lives miffed that they weren’t allowed wine or beer.

    So I’m going to posit that if the peppermint is between the mice and something really good, a generation of peppermint-loving mice may well emerge.

    1. eg

      Scheidel’s book is tedious, and all the way through I found myself gritting my teeth against his underlying message that grotesque inequality is inevitable, so why not just accept it?

  22. davejustdave

    DNC contribution rules

    I haven’t contributed to get my card, but I went to the page where I could do so if I wished, which has the following text:

    Contribution rules
    I am a U.S. citizen or lawfully admitted permanent resident (i.e., green card holder).
    This contribution is made from my own funds, and funds are not being provided to me by another person or entity for the purpose of making this contribution.
    I am at least eighteen years old.
    I am not a federal contractor.
    I am making this contribution with my own personal credit card and not with a corporate or business credit card or a card issued to another person.
    Note: Americans living abroad will be asked for a copy of their passport photo page to ensure compliance with federal election law.

    Contributions or gifts to the Democratic National Committee are not tax deductible. Paid for by the Democratic National Committee, democrats.org. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

    By providing your phone number, you are consenting to receive recurring automated text messages and calls from the DNC. For SMS, message and data rates may apply. Text STOP to end. Text HELP for help. Privacy Policy
    By proceeding with this transaction, you agree to ActBlue’s terms & conditions.

  23. Lee

    From CIDRAP: The Osherholm Update

    Michael Osterholm: [00:01:53] Thank you, Chris. And welcome back to all of you who are part of the podcast family to another edition of this podcast. And for those of you who may be new today to this, I hope that we’re able to provide you with the kind of information that you’re looking for that’s helpful, that’s actionable, and if nothing else, at least hopefully it makes some sense. We have a lot to cover this week, even though some would say that the pandemic is on the wane. And we’ll hopefully share with you new and emerging information about vaccines, about the risk of infection, etc. That is important. But I want to start out this podcast today with a dedication, and it will set the tone, I hope, for the remainder of the podcast. And that is, I am dedicating this episode to anyone with preexisting health conditions or older age that puts them at increased risk for serious illness, hospitalizations or deaths. Why? Why do I say this? Because today I think many of the people who are in those categories and I put myself in that category, I will soon be 70 years of age that we feel like our lives are almost seen as disposable. That in fact, the pandemic is over. It’s gone. It’s over with. We’ll talk about that today and the case numbers. And I know a lot of people are feeling very discouraged by the narrative that COVID deaths are less significant and they occur in individuals who have other health conditions or who are just old.

    Michael Osterholm: [00:03:13] Yes, we all agree we’re all going to die. But, you know, as I sit here almost at 70 years of age, I’ve never been more active. Hopefully my work is as good as it’s ever been. I know that the enjoyment of spending time with my grandchildren has never been more wonderful. And don’t tell me it’s 70 years of age. I’m an old man that therefore, if I die from COVID, it’s expected. You know, I got a lot of years left in these pipes, and I want to be certain that I live them in the way that I know I can. And there are many of us who feel that way, many of us. And yet we feel that when we hear about, oh, there’s only 460 deaths or 520 deaths, and they’re all old people, you know, that That cut’s very raw with me. And I know it hurts many of you. So you know, what this podcast today is dedicated to us is to those of us who basically are not done. And even if we do have underlying health conditions or age and we may be challenged, we’ve got a lot of life left. We’ve got a lot of grandkids to hug. And so today, this one’s for you…”

  24. GF

    Lambert, I received the letter from the DNC asking for a donation with the membership card showing through the address window with my name and address on the card. I have never given to the DNC but am registered as a Dem. So I got the card without a donation but I was so pissed to have Joe’s smiley face shown with my name and address I just ran it through the shredder. So, can’t sent it to you and I didn’t look for terms and conditions.

    1. Jason Boxman

      I fixed a lot of that by registering Independent. In NC I can helpfully vote in either primary for what that’s worth.

  25. Old Sarum

    Re Eschaton (similarities to Trump)

    For me the phrase missing from the paragraph is “narcissism of small things” or “narcissism of small differences”.


    1. cnchal

      It is shocking when you see a narcissist up close go through a personal tragedy and use that to get what they crave. Then comes the understanding of how demented these people really are.

      Once understood, what you think of as a friend, the narcissist thinks of you as an object, no different than a lampshade or broom handle, to be used and disposed of as they see fit.

      The best way to get rid of a narcissist in your life is ignore them and become emotionally flat so they move on to the next victim. Woe to the woman that marries one. The vast majority of narcissists are men.

      Narcissists are attracted to politics, like flies to shit. With all of them screaming for attention, each one trying to outdo the other its only a matter of time till one of them blows up the world. Once elected, who ‘advises’ them? Psychopaths, that play the narcissist like a Stradivarius.

      Sortition is a way out. Where is that damn ice floe when we need one?

  26. LawnDart

    Re; “My word as a Biden”

    Scrolling down and down, I was hoping that at least one, just one, response to the Biden tweet was positive.


    My purpose as a contrarian is meaningless, pointless, when 100% of the responses agree with my sentiments that this guy is a scumbag and a moron.

    I miss my divided nation.

  27. The Rev Kev

    ‘Duss’s family — and I know this will surprise you — is Ukrainian. Just like Nuland, Blinken, and soon-to-be NATO General Secretary Freeland!’

    And there are others like the Vindman brothers and the American Ambassador to the Ukraine when Trump had his troubles there. There comes a point where you wonder – did they have contact with each other? Did they have unofficial get-togethers? Did they share Telegram channels? There seem to be so many of them in strategic positions that it is hard to believe that it was just all happenstance.

    1. pjay

      It took a while, but cultivating those Cold War diaspora networks has paid dividends for the National Security Establishment.

      Moss Robeson has a couple of very interesting websites providing detailed information on the organization and history of the Ukraine lobby:



      Yasha Levine’s Immigrants as Weapons project was doing very good work on this issue as well, until he was sidetracked by Putin derangement after the invasion. Hopefully he will get back to it.

      1. Alex Cox

        Where they share dreams, stories and plans with the Cuban, Nicaraguan, and Venezuelan diaspora from Miami.

  28. Laura in So Cal

    Shadow Work

    This is real. I used to spend my lunch hour at work dealing with insurance, kids school stuff, banking issues, travel arrangements etc so that I could make calls during business hours.

    It even was true for work where instead of a simple phone call, you had to put on an IT ticket for even simple things. I think it was all about gathering metrics vs actual efficiency.

    Now I’m partially retired and no longer have access to employer health insurance. The first year using Covered California, I had some issues enrolling, but was able to get it resolved with one phone call. This year, LA County dropped the ball somehow and I’ve spent about 6 hours on the phone (4 calls to covered California and 3 to LA County) to get everything squared away over the last 2 months. Good thing I have time during business hours to stay on hold for 45 minutes.

    I will say that everyone I talked to tried to be helpful, but they are hamstrung by crappy systems and lots of bureaucracy.

    1. pjay

      A very good summary of the findings so far. Even better is Bivens’ argument for why this is so important. Thanks for the link..

  29. thousand points of green

    Just today on NPR news I heard a little item about “infra-red gas stoves” which were supposedly invented some time ago and never aggressively rolled out. They are supposed to be based on burning natural gas but in extremely close contact to a piece of material which heats way up from the gas flame and then radiates its heat as infra-red radiation up at the bottom of the target pot or pan. This is supposed to be 40% more energy-efficient than just leaving the open gas flames to heat the target pot/pan by themselves.

    Perhaps performative pressure to “do something” about gas stoves might be pushed in the direction of rolling out this more efficient version of . . . gas stoves.

    Here is a link to how they work.

    1. Rod

      heard that also–this is what i got
      ***40% less fuel used and 40% less NO2 emitted on average***
      and then she(the NPR stenographer) asked him –“if they are so much more efficient and effective how come they haven’t been brought to market?”
      and he(another NPR stenographer) answered “well, consumers haven’t demanded them”
      and “they don’t have the classic blue flame”
      and that’s about where that dynamic NPR reporting left it
      it’s our fault…

  30. Reader_In_Cali

    Re: who is Obama’s new pony – it’s definitely not Harris lol All these party operatives from South Carolina weighing in with questions is…inorganic. And don’t think for one second that the inadvertent dustup with Lizzie was a mistake (since we well know from the 2020 primary how eager she is to do the party/Obama’s bidding)


    Grab your popcorn, ladies and gents! 2024 is going to be W-I-L-D

    1. agent ranger smith

      What does Clyburn want? I have read that Clyburn absolutely wants Biden to run again. If Clyburn also wants Harris to run with him, then what is Obama supposed to do about that?

  31. agent ranger smith

    . . . ” Yes, this is exactly what it’s like. It’s as if our policy — and perhaps this is our policy — is to have a high plateau of automobile deaths and injuries for the forseeable future, because that was the most profitable course for those who collect profits.” . . .

    Well, I feel confident that this is “the” policy. Not “our” policy. ” Their” policy. The government’s and the elites’s policy. Profit may be part of the goal but the longer range eyes-on-the-prize goal is stealth population reduction of millions of non-upper-class-people over the next few decades. If the Typhoid Mary Covid-spreader subsection of the PMC classes are also sickened and reduced it serves them right for supporting the policy goal. ( Hopefully the covid-realist subsection of the PMC classes can avoid that fate as their reward for trying to spare others that fate as well).

    Any covid-realist PMC people might want to start slowly and quietly cutting links and ties to their Typhoid Mary covid-spreader PMC friends and family as much as they possibly can. If that sounds mean, the covid-realist PMC people should remember that the price of contact iwith Typhoid Mary covid spreaders is covid.

  32. BeliTsari

    I just figured, our PMC forced sero-naive iPhone assembly & suppliers’ hands, back into cesspools o’ contagion just as WTO, WEF, Atlantic Council & all G7 media were reporting a crash in Chinese based equities, shorting AGW-mitigating, renewable, efficient, regenerative, SMART, autonomous or innovative firm who’s employees had yet to sustain PASC brain damage… to protect their FREEDOM from masks, PCR testing, mucosal vaccines or prophylaxis or NPI, so Pfizer can mutate-up exciting, immune-escaping variants AFTER sales plummet from up-ticks, supply-chain issues & mass incinerations?


    “… a Foxconn spokesperson referred Rest of World to its revenue report published in January, which said the company was “making every effort” to protect the rights of employees during Covid-19 outbreaks and that its Zhengzhou factory had returned to normal operations by December.”

  33. Buzz Meeks

    Sorry you didn’t post the the DNC Club card with with Bidet’s grotesque picture on the card request a day earlier. I got mine yesterday and it was immediately put through the shredder accompanied by a lot of language I am trying to stop using.
    These assholes actually think this garbage will pass muster. I am completely ashamed to even be a registered Democrat any longer but in NYS you have to have a party affiliation to vote in primaries.

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