2:00PM Water Cooler 2/13/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, this is a little light on politics. I must move along to a rant on smiling. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

In honor of the tool-using Cockatoo:

Pink Cockatoo, Eyre Bird Observatory, Dundas, Western Australia, Australia. Perhaps I will find a more mellifluous sup-species as I go along!

• “Dinosaurs of the Sky: Consummate 19th-Century Scottish Natural History Illustrations of Birds” [Marginalian]. “To my eye, the most consummate drawings of birds in the history of natural history date back to the 1830s, but they are not Audubon’s Birds of America — rather, they appeared on the other side of the Atlantic, in the first volume of The Edinburgh Journal of Natural History and of the Physical Sciences, with the Animal Kingdom of the Baron Cuvier, published in the wake of the pioneering paleontologist Georges Cuvier’s death. Hundreds of different species of birds — some of them now endangered, some on the brink of extinction — populate the lavishly illustrated pages, clustered in kinship groups as living visual lists of dazzling biodiversity.” • For example:

The dinosaur of Minerva hoots only at dusk….

* * *


“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

“Millions of people are about to get kicked off Medicaid” [Vox]. “Perhaps the greatest success of the American health care system these last few benighted years is this surprising fact: The uninsured rate has reached a historic low of about 8 percent. That’s thanks in part to the pandemic — or, more precisely, the slew of emergency provisions that the government enacted in response to the Covid crisis. One policy was likely the single largest factor. Over the past three years, under an emergency pandemic measure, states have stopped double-checking if people who are enrolled in Medicaid are still eligible for its coverage. If you were enrolled in Medicaid in March 2020, or if you became eligible at any point during the pandemic, you have remained eligible the entire time no matter what, even if your income later went up. But in April, that will end — states will be re-checking every Medicaid enrollee’s eligibility, an enormous administrative undertaking that will put health insurance coverage for millions of Americans at risk. The Biden administration estimates upward of 15 million people — one-sixth of the roughly 90 million Americans currently receiving Medicaid benefits — could lose coverage, a finding that independent analysts pretty much agree with. Those are coverage losses tantamount to a major economic downturn: By comparison, from 2007 to 2009, amid the worst economic downturn of most Americans’ lifetimes, an estimated 9 million Americans lost their insurance.” • That’s not a bug. It’s a feature.

“New emails raise questions if Secret Service ‘protected’ Biden family in Hunter gun probe” [New York Post]. Terrific lead: “A trove of new emails raises new questions about whether the Secret Service ‘protected’ the Biden family and obscured the agency’s alleged involvement in a police probe after Hunter Biden’s girlfriend ditched his gun in a trash can.” • Huh? What?


“Why Washington Tolerates the Trump Family’s Saudi Corruption” [The Nation]. “Since Donald Trump’s noisy exit from the presidency in January 2021, the former commander in chief and his family have made billions of dollars in business deals with Saudi Arabia’s ruling elite. Jared Kushner, the former president’s son-in-law who served as the de facto Middle Eastern viceroy during Trump’s tenure in office, has been the biggest buck raker in the clan. As Michael Kranish details in an extensive report published in The Washington Post on Saturday, both Trump and Kushner faced financial difficulty in 2021 but found salvation thanks to a sovereign wealth fund headed by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (popularly known as MBS).” • Stupid. Smart people use foundations as cutouts.

“Republican Sen. Tim Scott Prepares for Presidential Run” [Wall Street Journal]. “South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott is taking steps to run for president, people familiar with his plans said, adding to the stable of Republicans looking to wrest the party mantle from former President Donald Trump. Mr. Scott, the only Black Republican in the Senate, is testing a message with GOP voters in key early states focused on unity and optimism as some Republicans say it is time to move on from the Trump era. Mr. Trump has announced a bid for president in the 2024 election…. Mr. Scott has been discussed as a potential presidential candidate for several years. He was the 2021 Republican chosen to respond to President Biden’s address to Congress and has proved to be a strong fundraiser. He pulled in over $51 million during his last term. Mr. Scott has also built goodwill within the party in 2022, when he campaigned for other candidates and donated money to their campaigns. ‘He truly believes that God is great and America is great and we are provided with incredible opportunities. So I think a Ronald Reagan ‘Morning in America’ hopeful America vision is one that Tim has, lives and breathes and is really needed in our country,’ and Sen. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), who is the GOP Senate conference chair.” • I dunno. One thing I will say: If Republicans really want to own the libs, running a Black man for President would certainly do it.

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.

* * *

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Chaos in God’s Country” [The American Conservative]. All you need from this bellicose but weak effort is one sentence: “I took my golf clubs out of my car, put them in my room, and went to see if there were any public safety officers in the hotel lobby bar.” Dude loves cops so much you’d think he’s a liberal.


Looks like “leveling off to a high plateau” across the board. (I still think “Something Awful” is coming, however. I mean, besides what we already know about.) Stay safe out there!

Lambert here: Last Friday, I reconfigured Covid coverage (at least temporarily; we may need to adjust to another surge). I’ve always thought of this section as providing readers with not only trend data, but early warning about locations (to the county level) particularly in travel season. But now the data is simply too slow and too bad, unsurprisingly, since “Covid is over.” So I will revert to three charts only: national Case Data (Biobot), state Positivity (Walgreens), and national Deaths (Our World in Data). I will include links to Transmission (CDC), Wastewater (CDC), and Variants (CDC; Walgreens). I will still cover all of these topics (especially variants), but eliminate the charts. I also feel that the top of the #COVID19 section has not been sufficiently structured, and I’m going to create some buckets, like “Indoor Air,” or “Masks” (and “Variants,” if I encounter a good link). This reconfiguration is not a “step back,” as Dima would say; but I do think I can use the freed-up time to beef up other sections, like Politics and especially Stats. Reader comment welcome!

* * *

Not sure where to file this one, but from comments in the readership I sense a strong correlation:

Both Yves and I could “keep this up” “forever,” and we were both cell-phone holdouts for a very long time; “smart phones” especially. Readers?

Look for the Helpers

“Covid Meetups” [COVID MEETUPS (JM)]. “A free service to find individuals, families and local businesses/services who take COVID precautions in your area.” • I played around with it some. It seems to be Facebook-driven, sadly, but you can use the Directory without logging in. I get rational hits from the U.S., but not from London, UK, FWIW.

I could file this under “Indoor Air,” but I’m filing here because there’s something about Corsi-Rosenthal boxes that seems to create this collective ethos.

I can’t imagine why the libertarians haven’t attacked them. After all, they’re in the schools, children are building them, and they take away your God-given right to breathe in other people’s infected air.

Indoor Air

First Far-UV DIY installation spotted in the wild:

No soecs, not recommended, just… interested. America is a country of tinkerers!


Finally, a gen-u-wine Darth Vader mask (licensed merch, in fact):

When, when, when will masks be treated as a fashion item?

“Are there places you should still mask in, forever? Three experts weigh in” [National Public Radio]. • Wowsers, “forever” is doing a lot of work there! And you’ll never guess who the three “experts” are: Monica Gandhi, Bob Wachter — with whom you are familiar — and William Schaffner (who is sane, actually). So one out of three ain’t bad.

Elite Malfeasance

“COVID-19 and Airborne Transmission: Science Rejected, Lives Lost. Can Society Do Better?” (accepted manuscript) [Clinical Infectious Diseases] (PDF). Extremely important. If we want to think about exceptional PMC, the authors of this article are a good place to start. For hegemonic PMC, read the article. From the Abstract: “This is an account that should be heard of an important struggle: the struggle of a large group of experts who came together at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic to warn the world about the risk of airborne transmission and the consequences of ignoring it. We alerted the World Health Organization (WHO) about the potential significance of the airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and the urgent need to control it, but our concerns were dismissed. Here we describe how this happened and the consequences. We hope that by reporting this story, we can raise awareness of the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration and the need to be open to new evidence, and to prevent it from happening again. Acknowledgement of an issue and the emergence of new evidence related to it, is the first necessary step towards finding effective mitigation solutions.” Assuming, of course, that “mitigation solutions” are wanted. Here is, to my mind, the smoking gun. After the initial interaction with WHO:

You will recall that “aerosol-generating procedure” is Hospital Infection Control-speak (see “Hospital Infection Control Departments Tenaciously Resist Airborne Transmission, Aided by CDC”); a clear “tell” of the hegemonic WHO faction that controlled the debate, at the cost of millions of lives.

Hospital Infection Control (Coatsworth) returns to the fray:

Same here:

* * *

Case Data

BioBot wastewater data from February 13:

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.

• This chart does not look particularly seasonal:

So Covid is not like “the flu,” making the plan to integrate flu and Covid shots even more surrealistic than it already is.

• I’ve looked at this site, and it seems a little short on verification:

We could have put a QR code in every home test kit, but no…. (Identifying the kit, needless to say, not the home.)

• Not if Jeff Zeints has anything to do with it:


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, published February 13:

-0.2%. Still on the high plateau, equal to previous peaks.


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,140,017 – 1,139,675 = 342 (342 * 365 = 124,830 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.)

Bird Flu (H5N1)

“Bird Flu Has Begun to Spread in Mammals—Here’s What’s Important to Know” [JAMA]. “As bird flu continues to circle the globe, a recent report suggests that the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) A(H5N1) virus spread between farmed mink in Spain last October. The virus also may have been transmitted between seals in coastal New England last summer…. [Isabella Monne, DVM, PhD, head of the viral genomics and transcriptomics laboratory at the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie] said researchers are now evaluating the zoonotic and virulence potential of the virus identified in minks using in vitro and animal models. She noted that the most relevant changes in the influenza virus receptor binding site, which are known to switch the receptor specificity from avian to human receptors, have been not identified. ‘According to the information currently available, these mutations are necessary for an H5N1 avian virus to become human-to-human transmissible,’ she said. During the past 20 years, fewer than 900 confirmed human cases of H5N1 have been reported to the WHO. The historic case-fatality rate for human H5N1 infection has been high—more than 50%. But some experts say that’s likely an overestimation because many mild or asymptomatic infections may go unreported. Human cases have generally been ‘dead-end’ infections. Although there’s been some evidence of human-to-human transmission between close contacts in previous H5N1 outbreaks, those cases were extremely rare. Only a handful of human infections have been reported in the current outbreak, all among people who had direct contact with infected poultry.” • Let’s wait and see. Fortunately, we have a strong testing regimen … Oh, what’s the use [bangs head on desk].

Follow-up on the Houston case, if case it be:

Stats Watch

There are no statistics of note today.

* * *

Retail: “Why Slow Motion Really Does Help Sell Luxury Goods” [Wall Street Journal]. “Imagine a car advertisement. Or a beauty-product spot. If it’s for a luxury brand, or for one that is hoping to achieve such status, there’s a good chance it uses slow motion. Why is that? And does it work? According to a new study, the answer to the second question is yes. And the reason it works is that slowed-down video can make viewers feel like they are immersed in the scene, which leads them to anticipate greater pleasure when the featured product appears. The end result: They perceive the product to be high-end. A few years ago, David Dubois, an associate professor of marketing at Insead business school in Fontainebleau, France, began closely looking at Super Bowl ads across the years, and found that one-third of them employed speed-altering techniques.” • If… only… we…. bloggers… could… do…. that.

Tech: “Facebook’s iOS App Architecture” [Daring Fireball]. “Dustin Shahidehpour, writing for Facebook’s engineering blog: ‘Facebook for iOS (FBiOS) is the oldest mobile codebase at Meta. Since the app was rewritten in 2012, it has been worked on by thousands of engineers and shipped to billions of users, and it can support hundreds of engineers iterating on it at a time.’…. I believe Shahidehpour’s post is an attempt at bragging, but to me it reads like a cry for help. My thoughts turn to Melvin Conway’s eponymous law: ‘Any organization that designs a system (defined broadly) will produce a design whose structure is a copy of the organization’s communication structure.’ If that’s true regarding Facebook’s system design for their iOS app, it’s a miracle the company ever gets anything done.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 71 Greed (previous close: 69 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 73 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 13 at 1:24 PM EST.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 187. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) NOTE on #42 Plagues: “The coronavirus pandemic has maxed out this category.” More honest than most!

The Gallery

“How to Paint Like Hayao Miyazaki” [Animation Obsessive]. “What Miyazaki makes clear throughout the guide is that he is, proudly, a cheapskate who isn’t fussy about tools. He looks for reliability and convenience. His pitch for Holbein paints is just that they’re ‘reasonably priced and a little goes a long way.’… One of his most fascinating notes deals with his pencil sketching. Drawing freely and “scratchily” (シャカシャカ), he treats each line as part of the final piece. There’s no eraser involved — and, understandably, no eraser included in the kit.” • If you sketch with analog materials, I think you’ll enjoy this. Here is the main page of Miyazaki’s guide:

“How Salvador Dalí Built His Brand” [Wall Street Journal]. “The exhibition includes around 50 paintings, drawings and other objects, all made in the 1930s. Curators Caitlin Haskell and Jennifer Cohen explain that it was a tumultuous and career-defining decade for Dalí, as he joined and then moved away from the surrealist movement, survived the Spanish Civil War and discovered his mature style. He wanted to disorient—for example, forcing a viewer to step up close to a painting to see tiny images, which could mean losing a sense of the overall meaning. Dalí, the curators say, wanted to evoke a ‘sense of confusion,’ to show ‘how arch-rationality sometimes runs parallel to delirium.’ He called this the ‘paranoiac-critical method.’ A painting from 1938 shows the method in action. “Apparition of Face and Fruit Dish on a Beach” features a long-stemmed dish filled with pears, in which the stem doubles as the nose and mouth of a face; an overturned amphora and the head of a small child constitute the eyes. In the background landscape, a bridge, tunnel and mountain can be seen as parts of a dog’s collar and head. On the far left, easy to miss, is another image seeable in two ways, as a rabbit or a duck. The painting also includes smaller and often beautifully detailed images of a frayed rope, drapery, a nude woman and various indeterminate but threatening figures. The picture recalls the hallucinatory visions of Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights” (ca. 1490-1500), which has long been on view in Madrid. But Bosch’s outlandish visions of monsters, amorous games and a horrific inferno appear linked to religious themes. Dalí’s ‘Apparition’ seems unstable; its meaning changes depending on what part of the picture a viewer is looking at.” • In theory, I should like Dali, based on this description; in fact, I’ve loathed Dali all my life (not sure where I saw him first; Life Magazine?). If I had to choose the artist whose works should be deleted from this timeline, and it was Dali v. Miyazaki, the choice would be very easy.

Groves of Academe

“Vermont State University officials apologize amid backlash over library, sports downsizing but say they will not reverse course” [VT Digger]. “administrators said they had no plans to reverse course. And remarks from Grewal and other administrators apparently failed to mollify students and community members, many of whom arrived at the theater with protest signs and prewritten remarks. ‘I feel like we’re losing the heart of our community when we lose our library,’ one second-year English major told administrators, adding, ‘Why can’t we have both? Why can’t we have a digitized library? Why can’t we have a physical library?'” • Administrators hate books, because you can’t charge rent when people take one off the bookshelf. I used to go into the stacks and read for hours and hours. Libraries should honor readers by being built like this, and we should preserve them:

Class Warfare

“Polarization of the Rich: The New Democratic Allegiance of Affluent Americans and the Politics of Redistribution” [Perspectives on Politics].

In 2016, future Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer remarked about the 2016 national Democratic electoral strategy that “for every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.”Footnote 1 In 2019, during the Democratic presidential primary election campaign, then-candidate Joe Biden told a group of donors about his governing style, that if elected president, “No one’s standard of living will change, nothing would fundamentally change.”Footnote 2 In November 2021, the second most-costly provision of the “Build Back Better” bill that passed the Democratic-controlled House cut taxes on the richest Americans.Footnote 3 What’s going on with the party that formerly represented working people?

In this paper, I show that affluent and even very affluent voters—measured by income, but also stock ownership and occupation—have left the Republican Party to join the Democrats in a decades-long process, and I argue that we should pay renewed attention since this trend has meaningful implications for the politics of economic (re)distribution.

Here are Figures 2 and 3 from the paper:

News of the Wired

If you want to fix your clothes, here is a list of vendors (caveat emptor):

Where are the flying cars:

Schrödinger’s toaster:

* * *

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: JW:

JW writes: “Taken from my window at 10:16pm! So bright.”

* * *

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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. Toshiro_Mifune

    New emails raise questions if Secret Service ‘protected’ Biden family in Hunter gun probe
    Pic from the article
    Hallie Biden allegedly tossed Hunter’s .38-caliber revolver in a dumpster in October 2018.
    That’s not a revolver NYP… just a little bit of checking, please.

    … Of course, we now have 2 possible guns. The revolver and the semi-auto in the pic.

    1. davejustdave

      The person who tossed the handgun [not a revolver, of course] was his brother’s widow — part of Hunter’s very colorful story. Satire is obsolete.

    2. Not Again

      So Joe Biden was in constant contact with a gun-toting meth-head and the Secret Service didn’t see any problem with that?


      1. Wukchumni

        Sadly for Joey, ‘Gilgameth’ was the son who ended up lasting, not Beau-as Joe reminded us once again @ the SOTU.

        1. ambrit

          Remember, as the “Epic of Gilgameth” tells us, the ‘Wild Man,’ N-kid-u, was tamed by a Temple Prostitute. So, I’ll say that Hunter is giving it the old College Try. Alas for the Reprivatize-public-lands Party, the ‘Orange Haired Demon’ evaded the best efforts of the Micturating Maidens of Moscow and remains a Wild Man of the Empty Quartile to this day.

  2. CanCyn

    “Both Yves and I could “keep this up” “forever,””. I am in the same camp. I don’t know if I’d feel differently if I were still working, I think masking all day, everyday would be tiresome. But as a retiree, doing less and masking everywhere I do go has not been much of a hardship. I still have not had COVID and I plan to continue to avoid it. I have a friend who is a traveller. Takes 2-4 trips per year. She was squirrelly in 2020. Started travelling again in 2021. She got COVID in Portugal last year. Followed that trip with a trip to Africa and later to New York City (her kid lives there). Was talking to her the other day, this year she is going to Costa Rica, Ireland, the Arctic and on a hiking trip, destination TBD. When I said I hadn’t been away anywhere overnight in over a year, I got stunned silence. It was unimaginable to her to stay home for so long. I too held out on a smart phone for a very long time. Never joined FB or any other social media platforms. I wonder what the common ground might be? I am not very risk tolerant and my travelling friend is a risk taker, skier, snowboarder, pushes her body hard to stay fit. Drives fast. Hmm. Maybe risk tolerance explains it?

    1. Howard

      I am usually the only person in a public space with a mask and I really don’t care what people think.

      Used a flip phone and would have continued to do so until about 2018 or 2019 when I got a (refurbished, old) smart phone because my wife kept feeling so sorry for me and insisting on it. I am not actually a luddite (worked as computer programmer till my retirement just a couple of months ahead of the pandemic), just very conservative in my material consumption habits. I also only have a FB account out of politeness to all those friend requests, no interest in Twitter etc. etc.

      Aforementioned wife finds some reason to do an errand or two every day while I cower at home gardening.

      I have one friend who still has a flip phone, though his reasons might have more to do with government spying. He was a refugee from the gruesome civil war in El Salvador in the 80s and he knew long before Snowden’s revelations that the government had and would use any data of ours that was accessible to them. That said, he is still a hardcore masker.

      BTW, the only time I ever unmasked in a crowded indoor space was on a prison visit where I wanted to show some kind of solidarity and sure enough several days later I had my only case so far of Covid.

    2. Noah Bodhi

      I stopped masking a while ago. Had COVID in early 2022 and no mask since then. I take Vitamin D and zinc and have been in public settings constantly, everyday, and crowded, and not even a sniffle. I think that is the answer rather than masking, not that I am against masking, but I am against mandating masking. I mean if I do not get sick I guess that is better than masking. I cannot avoid being out around people. There is very little risk of me dying from COVID, or even getting really sick. It sucks that others with poor immune systems cannot go out, but me wearing a mask is a sacrifice for them, and I am sorry to say that no one sacrificed for my condition in the past, not even these wealthy old folk, so I do not see why their health should be my concern now when they can just avoid these places and get their food over the internet.

      Just being honest from my point of view. No one cared if I was alive before COVID so I do not care much about people now,. but I do, so I hope they look after their own health.

      I hope they start looking at nutrition in the elderly soon.

      I was also a hold out with a flip phone until 2015 and still switch my sim to it often. So I guess I broke the pattern.

      1. c_heale

        Just a quick comment on the N95’s as fashion item. Here in Korea you can buy all kind of different designs. Even the cheapest masks are available in different colours.

        Seems like US manufacturers are missing a trick.

  3. Samuel Conner

    > Both Yves and I could “keep this up” “forever,” and we were both cell-phone holdouts for a very long time; “smart phones” especially. Readers?

    that’s an interesting correlation — late adoption of intrusive technology with late adoption of pollyanish “back to normal” slow progressive debilitation or worse.

    It fits me — first mobile phone (a flip phone) in 2016, upgrade to smart phone in 2022 under duress (carrier discontinued the service the flip-phone ran on). And I fully expect that I will be masked and physically distanced until the day they deliver me to the crematorium.

      1. sporble

        Mask: yes. Forever? Why not? Even if I’m the only one masked? Yes. Why should that make any difference?
        Phone: no. Never*.
        *got an old non-schmart-phone in my desk. Don’t know the # by heart. Only *need* it for the (thankfully, rare) double-notification business (e.g. Paypal, which I avoid).

    1. RoadDoggie

      Mrs RoadDoggie also was forced onto a “smart” phone by the deprecation of the 3G network. I had gotten one back in 2007 or so. I definitely think there is a correlation to late adoption, skepticism of new technologies, skepticism of mainstream media news sources, etc.

      Normal for us is snorking Xylitol up our noses and wearing an Aura mask or N95 anytime we are indoors around any other humans. That is normal. Going out and not wearing a mask would be abnormal at this point.

      However, it’s not so bad from a tribal shaming perspective as mask wearing around Seattle seems to remain about 50/50 at the stores I frequent(co-op, hippie cafe’s, etc). I definitely felt the stares when we headed through Indiana a year ago. I think if I was forced to go to the office or stared at or accosted on a regular basis I would have a much harder time wearing a mask anytime I went inside a place of business.

      1. Samuel Conner

        > I definitely felt the stares

        locally (a “red” county in a “blue” state), I am one of very few who mask. I’m particularly conspicuous as I use a bike for most local errands, and I’m in my Aura N95 while cycling, on the theory that I don’t know who may accost me on the road, and I may not have time to mask up before inhaling some of that person’s exhalations (I mask when driving for the same reason — in case I happen to be pulled over). For the same reason, I’m masked when working out of doors in my yard. It attracts stares; I imagine the people are thinking, “what a crazy old coot”, but I hope I stimulate a particle of doubt toward the prevailing narrative.

        An interesting suggestion was made by sibling with whom I have been commiserating over the state of public health and the complacency of the majority — focus one’s offer of N95s especially toward people one encounters who are already masking but who are relying on the less effective procedure and cloth masks. These people are concerned enough about contagion to embrace the material and social inconvenience of masking, but their efforts are less effective due to the inadequate character of the masks. They seem likely to be readier to accept and use offered N95s.

        1. hpschd

          Wearing an N95 while on a bicycle keeps my nose warm on cold days. This was formerly a problem as everything I tried to keep my nose warm fogged my glasses.

          A well fitted N95 = no fogging.

    2. LaRuse

      I, too, was slow to adopt the cell phone life. We only got flip phones in 2007 when I was pregnant with our daughter. Then I kept that flip phone until Jnauary 2016 when as a birthday gift, my husband got an iPhone 4 handed down to me by a tech-heavy friend who had kept it in a drawer for several years. Fast forward to 2018, my work sent me to an emergency in Massachusetts for 2 months and a company phone was required. They gave me an iPhone7. I got used to the more functional phone and gave up my personal phone and never bothered to get a replacement. Last summer, the company upgraded me to an iPhone12. It’s still my only phone, limited to mostly work functions. I have my banking, running, and Instagram apps, but that is the extent of my personal app use.
      If the company took back my phone tomorrow, I would likely get a personal phone since after 8 years, I guess I am hooked on it, but I never ever see me being a heavy app user, nor will I be the one lining up for the latest model to come out.
      I am easily spotted in the wild because I am the only lady in the office/grocery store/indoor public with a 3M Aura mask. :-)

      1. Felix_47

        How can you run wearing a mask? You are a runner based on your post. When I run there is no way a mask works. Jogging perhaps, but really running?? For me the breathing rate is somewhere around 40 to 60 breaths per minute and adding a mask would make it unbelievably hard…….kind of like those altitude simulation masks you can get for training.

        1. LaRuse

          Outdoors, I run without a mask, but also very early in a non-pedestrian friendly neighborhood. I only run indoors in June/July when the VA heat and humidity is dangerously high. So indoors at the gym, I run in a mask but not very well. However, I also got a PR on my half marathon time last November so running with a mask in the summer might have helped boost my cardio just a bit.

    3. wuzzy

      only phone is on table plugged into modem. it fields spam calls. why be disturbed when away from home???

      sit downtown drinking coffee telling tourists to look at the sign instead of phone and they might find the coffee shop.

      always wear a mask indoors as maskless people shout alot…

    4. Jason Boxman

      I had my first flip phone in 2006, for the free long distance calls after 7 or 9 pm. I didn’t get a smartphone until 2011 because a job ‘required’ it for getting alerts. I finally graduated to an iPhone a year ago, heh. I expect to keep it until it physically breaks & cannot be repaired.

    5. Mark Gisleson

      I like to think I’m the wave of the future: no phone.

      Furnace went out a while back when it was -14° but I shut it off while I’m asleep, then in the morning didn’t notice for a few hours that it hadn’t come back on. Almost noon, I have no phone and I live in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. I email my furnace guy, he’s out of town on an installation but will stop by afterwards.

      By 5 pm I had a new furnace motor installed and running.

      OK, this is really a story about why you should always pay trades people with cash but it does speak to the fact that email works in an emergency just as well as a phone. So far ; )

      1. Nikkikat

        I mask with an N95 at all times. Only go in places in the morning and during the week. Only got the flip phone that cost me about 20.00 per month after I gave up land line. Too expensive. Most of the time I don’t even know where I left the thing and almost never remember to even bring it with me. I don’t like being called while I’m out. I’m busy.
        My iPad has no apps on it other than the apps it came with and have never used them. No social media ever. Why would anyone want to see my pictures or hear where I went on vacation. Which I don’t do anymore. I email when I need to communicate. No one where I live ever wears a mask. I don’t care what they think of mine. I hope to stay alive. My pets are far more interesting than most people anyway.

  4. flora

    re: “How to Paint Like Hayao Miyazaki” [Animation Obsessive].

    Thanks for that link. I’m printing out the first image because it’s so darn good. / :)

    1. Judith

      You might enjoy this documentary about Miyazaki at work.

      The result is an intimate look at the director’s process and history, spanning the production of Tales from Earthsea, Ponyo, From Up on Poppy Hill, and The Wind Rises. Each episode focuses on a different aspect of Miyazaki’s life, some broad (how he works) and some more specific (the production of The Wind Rises). Together, they add up to a portrait of a filmmaker that captures not only his genius, but also his pricklier side.

      I found the ending quite touching.


  5. ThirtyOne

    Bird Flu (H5N1)

    “We occasional hear anecdotal reports from other countries (see Russia: Mass Mortality Event (Seals) In Caspian Sea Linked To Avian Flu), but official confirmation can be elusive (see Rosselkhoznadzor Unable To Confirm Bird Flu In Dead Seals – Russia).

    However, from vast regions of the world, all we hear are crickets.

    As we discuss regularly in this blog (see Flying Blind In The Viral Storm), disease surveillance and the sharing of information with WHO and WOAH has deteriorated noticeably in recent years, despite `legally binding’ international agreements.

    IHR 2005 requires that all member nations develop mandated surveillance and testing systems and to report certain disease outbreaks and public health events to WHO in a timely manner (usually within 48 hours).

    But far too often, disease reports are delayed by weeks or even months, assuming that reports are submitted at all.’

    And this gem:
    “The current situation highlights the risk that H5N1 avian influenza may become better adapted to mammals, and spill over to humans and other animals. In addition, some mammals, such as mink, may act as mixing vessels for different influenza viruses, leading to the emergence of new strains and subtypes that could be more harmful to animals and/or humans. Recently reported infections in farmed mink are a concern because infections of large numbers of mammals kept in close proximity of each other exacerbate this risk. Several studies are currently on-going to further explore the virulence and transmissibility (including between mammals) of these viruses.”

    Mink are farmed for what purpose?

  6. Carolinian

    Guess I’m a bad Carolinian since I honestly don’t know much about Scott. But he’s surely better than our other senator or our former governor who, ironically, appointed her now competitor to fill out Jim DeMint’s term in 2013. It’s a pretty safe bet though that the winner of this state’s primary will be our former president. Are all the rest tilting at windmills?

  7. John

    Re Vermont State University administrative proposal to cut the library and sports: I suggest continuing the library and sports while getting rid of at least 50% of the administrators who have infested higher education like guinea worms. . and yes I chose one of the more disgusting parasites for the metaphor

    1. gnatt

      so true. colleges ran well with few administrators and many teachers for most of the 20th century. only needed a few. the big mistake was introducing mba programs. the students didn’t learn anything else, and needed jobs and then lots of under admins. and meetings and conferences. administrators gotta… and the salaries!

  8. britzklieg

    I agree with Lambert’s assessment of Dali’s artistic merits (seriously over-rated, imho) and live in St. Petersburg FL where the “Dali Museum” is over-celebrated by the locals. To its credit , there have been some excellent exhibitions featuring more worthy artists so it hasn’t been a complete wash.

    One might think that because Dali was Franko’s buddy and aligned with much of the fascist movement he’d have been canceled by the faux liberal crowd, but the current flirtation with the Banderistas in Ukraine demonstrate, again, how fluid/mutable the defining parts of “liberalism” have become.

    Salvador Dali’s Obsession with Nazism and Fascism

    Dali was allegedly an admirer of Hitler. Later, when the Spanish dictator, Francisco Franco, ruled Spain, despite his ruthlessness towards the common man, Dali maintained affable relations with him. Dali constantly affirmed his apolitical stance but his paintings and actions did not match with his statements.

    George Orwell wrote an essay on him and ruminated on a question and called Dali “a disgusting human being” and an artist of “undeniably exceptional gifts.”

    Orwell could have left out that last bit…


      1. britzklieg

        I don’t disagree. My comment wasn’t so much a desire that Dali be canceled but a reflection on how the measurement of damning political liabilities is used haphazardly depending on the target of said cancellation.

        Apropos to yours, Ezra Pound comes to mind. Celine. Elliot. Gertrude Stein lived comfortably and sympathetically in Vichy France, so too Picasso although he was an outspoken critic of Franko and fascism. Then again, Pablo apparently wasn’t the most charming guy in real life and his self love would have made living outside his spoiled physical comfort zone inconceivable, most likely.

        Trust the art, not the artist.

        In Dali’s case, I don’t trust the art because I find it uncompelling in tandem with his dark side.

        Bunuel and Hitchcock are a different matter.

        Harvey Weinstein produced some great films…

        and when both the NYTimes and the Metropolitan Opera lawyers called on me to depose against James Levine for sexual harassment while I was a young singer apprentice under his tutelage, I declined, despite it being the reason I turned down the contract offered me after my apprenticeship was over.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Elliot

          Pound was pretty virulent. I was looking up these lovely lines from “The Wasteland,” thinking about banksters and eugenic elites generally (i.e. those who “news on the Rialto” benefits):

          O you who turn the wheel and look to windward,
          Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you.

          Trying to get them to think, but then abandoned the project, because here’s the whole context:

                    Gentile or Jew
          O you who turn the wheel and look to windward,
          Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you.

          Wny that particular binary, one can only wonder?

          I would never “cancel” Eliot, because he has such a flawless ear (as I recognized when I was thirteen or so). But over time I have repositioned him. It is not true that reactionaries are necessarily poor artists, sad to say. And although it is true that art is not a direct readout of the artist’s personality or identity or whatever, there are some things that are hard to overlook, anti-semitism being one such, especially given the horrors that followed The Wasteland’s publication in 1922 only seventeen years later. The future was casting its shadow back into the present, as it may do through artists, but in Eliot’s workas opposed to the work of Eliot the man –not in a good way.

      2. markS

        Dali has always been one of my favorite artists, along with Caravaggio and Bosch. Back in hippie-druggie days in college, my roommate and I would take acid and page through a big, thick coffee table book of his paintings. It was so much fun. You could always spend a lot of time looking at a Dali painting compared to many other artists’ work.

        Just a little anecdote I heard years ago, don’t know if it’s accurate or not — when they were younger, supposedly Dali and Bunuel would dress up as nuns, take a tram and make passes at men to freak them out (this was Catholic Spain, mind you).

        1. britzklieg

          I don’t know much about Bunuel’s personal life or ideas… maybe that’s a good thing.. Interesting that both Caravaggio and Bosch are 2 of my favorites!,, and I’d never mention them in the same sentence as Dali. Ultimately, we all appreciate the art we like for personal reasons and I’d never dictate what anyone else should value… I just happen to agree with lambert’s thumbs down on Dali’s art, while admitting that his fascist friendly ways don’t encourage me to re-think my opinion of it.

          1. vegasmike

            Bunuel was a man of the left. In the 40s and 50s he exiled himself to Mexico. He did make the the surrealist classic Un Chien Andalou with Dali in 1929. Bunuel worked against Franco during the Spanish Civil War. He wasn’t a hero; he was living in Paris. While in Mexico, he made a classic film about the the urban poor, Los Olivados. Anyway, we all have strange friends and collaborators in our youth, who we later parts ways with.

  9. Laura in So Cal

    I hope the GATE kids doing the CR boxes in the elementary school follow-up after the boxes are installed. Since they have baseline readings, they should go back periodically, verify the boxes are being used, and take new air quality readings. Historical absence rate data from the elementary school (go back to include pre-pandemic) could be compared to the new data. It would probably be super interesting.

    True citizen science.

    1. hunkerdown

      They did. Tweet with image:

      We plugged the boxes in and our junior scientists watched the PM2.5 concentrations go down in real time! Thanks, @quant_aq 9/

      These students will be studying the impact of the boxes in their school for the rest of the school year (energy use, waste, effectiveness) and even have a poster accepted at an upcoming scientific conference (@azpha
      )! 10/

  10. Louiedog14

    Owing to the focus with which I conduct my morning rounds, I almost missed the helium-filled Mylar contraption fluttering from a neighbor’s mailbox and bearing the legend: Happy Valentine’s Day! Suspicious, right? Everyone from around here knows Valentine’s Day isn’t until tomorrow.

    I investigated.

    Due to its rather merry dancing in the morning breeze, getting a precise fix on the object was a bit difficult, but I soon determined with reasonable certainty that the dirigible was maintaining a rather steady altitude of approx. 7 feet. Tethered to a MAILBOX by a shiny RED ribbon, the potential pitfalls were patently clear. Interference with the duly-appointed delivery of the U.S. Mail is a Federal crime punishable by punishments, and this situation was rife with such possibilities. Extremely mild concussion? High-squeaky helium voice? Strangulation?

    I am nothing if not a Patriot. I swiftly retrieved my trusty thirty-aught-six from the rear footwell of my vehicle and proceeded to blow that heart-shaped monstrosity clean out of the sky! And yes, you can see it coming: Upon retrieving the salvageable fragments of the carcass, there it was – hidden beneath a seam…In FINE PRINT…the words: Made in China!

    Vigilance dear friends. Vigilance! Our enemies never sleep.

    1. fresno dan

      thank you for your service. The mailbox of freedom is mulched with the shell casing of thirty aught sixes.

    2. Nikkikat

      You made me laugh Louie dog! That was funny! Thanks for taking care of that Chinese spy contraption. I will sleep much better tonight knowing you took care of it and us.

    3. The Rev Kev

      ‘Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.’

      -George Bush

  11. agent ranger smith

    I too can ” keep this up ” for quite a while. I still don’t have a cell phone. ( I may eventually get a cricket or jitterbug or one of those other cell dummphones for old people.)

    1. tegnost

      Same here, and I’ll put another vote in for the 3m aura, which I found through NC of course, a few more colors would seem to be a marketing no brainer, at the same time the whiteness makes it easy to see the one with the most use so there is that from the safety perspective (I’ll use the same one for 2 or maybe 3 days . I can wear glasses without fogging, the chin gets full coverage, and it doesn’t have the fold in the middle. 10 packs at the behemoth run you a little over 20 so bearable cost for me and I use them working also. I’m surprised I don’t see more of them around, but the who masks anymore? Oh, I’m in the southland and my niece, brother and mom, plus another friend of the family on a pax rebound all had/have covid over the last 2 weeks. Very few masks around and about, and probably lots of little covids too…

      1. agent ranger smith

        No-mask rebels who would rather get covid than wear a mask will never change their mind or position.

        However, if they start complaining about getting lots of colds and flus, and you can truthfully say that ever since masking, you’ve gotten the fewest colds and flus you ever got in your life, they might consider wearing it for that reason. Because there is no Culture War involved in colds and flus. But only if they bring up the subject of colds and flus first.

        1. Wukchumni

          I hadn’t had a cold or flu since mid 2019 and that ain’t me babe, i’m down for 1 or 2 colds a year and the occasional bout of flu, so when we gathered loved ones from Washington state, Oregon, Arizona & New Mexico for xmas, it was pot-luck that somebody was gonna get it as not a mask was worn among the 30 of us, and the cold I contracted lingered long with my self-given title of administer of mucus, prince of phlegm and all that entails.

          I kind of look at everything now as less of Covid protection in terms of mask wearing, but more like getting into the practice of really having to wear them as if your life depended on it, should H5N1 rear its ugly head in humans.

          That said, i’m an occasional mask wearer @ best now.

  12. Jason Boxman

    Per Vox:

    Perhaps the greatest success of the American health care system these last few benighted years is this surprising fact: The uninsured rate has reached a historic low of about 8 percent.

    So what says I. I posted it earlier, but ProPublica has an extensive story with court records on the game to deny care that United and other insurance companies play: UnitedHealthcare Tried to Deny Coverage to a Chronically Ill Patient. He Fought Back, Exposing the Insurer’s Inner Workings.

    Merely having insurance means absolutely nothing.

  13. Sub-Boreal

    Still holding out on cellphones at 67. At some point, my brother and/or my friends will insist that I’m far enough into geezerhood that for reasons of safety it’s reckless not to have one.

    Meanwhile, I’m called “Analog Man” by a younger colleague. And when I pulled out my pocket diary to jot something down during a meeting, another youngster claimed not to have seen one of them before. I told him not to mock me, or he wouldn’t get a card in my Rolodex. Blank look followed.

    I’m in the last ~ 5% of people in my workplace who regularly wear masks, but I’m pretty much the only one with an N95.

  14. LawnDart

    Bad news breaking, and worse news (for downwinders or those downstream who use water):


    REPORT: 30 Million People May be in Danger by East Palestine Disaster

    30 million people, or 10% of the United States population, may be in danger after a train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio that led to the release of toxic chemicals.


    Gas stoves are pretty popular in the east, so these people were probably goners anyway.

    1. JBird4049

      I don’t quite trust this source, but I certainly don’t trust the mainstream “news” media anymore.

      However, for comparison, the combined populations of the three, maybe four, cities plus their immediate suburbs, Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco, and San Diego would be thirty million people. Since the winds surrounding East Palestine go east, looking at the map, New England looks to get hit eventually; it is hundreds of miles away and who knows how dispersed or weak the cloud will be by then?

      The health and lives of the population of several entire states against the Free Market Capitalist profits of the railroad companies. Decisions, decisions.

      1. LawnDart

        Yes, the source seems a pearl-clutching alarmist-type, vs. MSM that seems to feel that as long as you’re a mile away, everything is OK (unless you’re an unlucky fish or farmed-critter).

        I’ll split the difference and bet that thousands won’t immediately keel-over in the next few days, maybe some additional heart and asthma attacks, but the cancer-rates… …we’ll see in 2025 and onward.

        So, what do we actually “know” about what’s in the smoke, composition and such; how much is leaking into the source of drinking water for a few million souls, the Ohio River? I didn’t mention particulate fallout and what washes down with rain…

        Are the feds going to send out a few truckloads of bottled water for the cameras and to help reassure some nervous souls? Maybe send Mayo Pete to Steubenville to drink a glass of tap water at a press conference?

        1. Questa Nota

          Secretary of Trans Mayo Pete is following the Bidet strategy. Stay off camera so people don’t see how useless, inept, incompetent, non-communicative he is. Worked once already, so double down for the Heir ApParent for ’24. A no-show appointment, what a concept. :/

          Meanwhile, people in and around Palestine, Ohio and other communities look for leadership and find that DC is lacking. That type of benign neglect is barreling, or derailing, toward malignancy.

          1. Wukchumni

            In our Palestinean (east or otherwise) defense, we always act as if they don’t exist, and practice made perfect.

        2. agent ranger smith

          How many of the people who get exposed to the diluted downwind chem-cloud from this controlled release-and-burn will also have covid-compromised immune systems? Especially compromised T-Cell function? The rates of downwinder cancer may be higher than they otherwise would have been, depending on how many of the downwinders are also coviders.

          Co-morbidity co-force multipliers.

          Its the Creeping Crisis Crisis!

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I don’t quite trust this source

        Seems pretty clickbait-y. See their Partners page.

        The 30 million figure is sourced to a tweet by one Stew Peters. Then they link to a thing called Upward News, which gives an unsourced map of the entire Ohio River basin. I would need to know if the airborne Vinyl Chloride was enough to contaminate Ohio River tributaries upstream of East Palestine.

        In short, loss of trust in the mainstream should not equal trust in what looks very much like a circle jerk of clickbaiting wingers. Our only trust can be in our own critical thinking skills, which you should use and share, instead of shoddily “splitting the difference.”

        Please help other readers by adding value. Don’t use the NC comments section as a dumping ground for solid waste emitted by the yarn diagram industry; we have to spend time we don’t have untangling the mess, as here, and things are bad enough as it is.

  15. Lex

    Who’s forgotten about legionella? Not all of us. In fact there’s a raft of government requirements for government facilities related related to testing both domestic water and cooling tower water (if present) for legionella quarterly. I know of a job position at a major university that’s 50% running the university’s legionella monitoring program. The reason some people have forgotten about legionella is because it’s well understood and various controls and monitoring requirements have been legislated.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The reason some people have forgotten about legionella is because it’s well understood and various controls and monitoring requirements have been legislated.


  16. fresno dan

    Why Washington Tolerates the Trump Family’s Saudi Corruption” [The Nation]. “Since Donald Trump’s noisy exit from the presidency in January 2021, the former commander in chief and his family have made billions of dollars in business deals with Saudi Arabia’s ruling elite….
    As Michael Kranish details in an extensive report published in The Washington Post on Saturday, both Trump and Kushner faced financial difficulty in 2021 but found salvation thanks to a sovereign wealth fund headed by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (popularly known as MBS).” • Stupid. Smart people use foundations as cutouts.
    I take it that means the Saudis think that Trump at least gets the repub nomination…and who knows, wins the presidency…

    1. agent ranger smith

      Well . . . . the Saudi Bush connection has always been winked-and-nodded at, if noticed at all.

      Bandar Bush and all that . . .

  17. JL

    Two cents of anaecdota if I may. Back under the Carter adminstration their was a fair amount of funding for research on maters of energy efficiency and pollution as well. Yes, I am an old one like, I presume, most of the commentators, here. Of course, those initiatives were rapidly dismantled by the Reagan Revolution. It just so happened that the tenant across the hall from me ran a program at a national laboratory that was studying gas appliances. One day in l980, when we crossed in the hallway he told me with rather wide eyes just how much crap actually came out of a gas stove, irrespective the apparent clean, odorless and smokeless appearance of their flames and that he was going to get rid of his.

    So, I have known of this for forty-two years and I have not changed from gas myself. I have done much to avoid many of the myriad poisons and health traps out there, but in the spirit everyone assessing their own risks and tolerances that has been mandated us, the interior combustion device is not one I have personally acted on. My apartment is even older and leakier then me, so I have some leeway here.

    If one were to make a hierarchy of administrative measures, bans and strategies of transition, this may not necessarily be the highest priority. I personally might go for a ban on fragrances in laundry products and soi dit air-fresheners which just seem to ramp up in pervasiveness and toxicity as a first out the regulatory door way.

    But the issue of gas appliances is not simply an ex-nihlo out of the air connivance even if, perhaps, impetus for acting on it now owes something to extraneous interests and maneuvers of the moment. I’m not at all committed to the all-electric future, which in 100% mirror to the l950’s version, is not driven by a nuclear-powered too cheap to meter ideology, but rather something of its opposite. Yet, there are rational arguments and considerations on its side in terms of climate change and building construction and yes, health.

    Many localities have been banning gas hook ups in new construction throughout the country. This has indeed happened as organically over the past decade as much anything does in the administrative realm. Will it be rolled out effectively, rationally, and with its intended results? No of course not given the same said sociopolitical and administrative systems in place today. Even presuming a sane and rational social structure, a lot of these issues of reformation would be tricky, partial and contradictory.

    On the order of outrages, horrors and existential emergencies, fighting on this hill is not, at least for me, at the top of the list. But if one were to, I think it would be correct to do so immanently and in terms of how this should, or should not, fit into the questions the better and worse ways of building and living.

    There are no shortage of matters, crimes and worse, ‘blunders’, to rage and rail at. I’m pretty good at doing so. So its not the voice of denunciation that creeps into some comments that I am cautioning against by the way.

  18. VietnamVet

    The Balloon Wars with four shot down this month is beyond weird. “The UFOs, the UFOs, are coming.” These are more crazy inadequate decisions that prompt emergency measures that are used to increase corporate profits and keep the population obedient and anxious but then vanish. Insanity has infected the West. Someone else like Central Europe has to break away from the NATO and negotiated to end the Ukraine proxy World War before it gets out of hand so that there will be humans inhabiting earth when Aliens finally do come for a visit.

  19. c_heale

    Regarding the Vermont Library story, the disjunction between the apology and the insistence on continuing with the plan to digitize the libraries seems typical of this era.

    An apology is admitting you’ve done something wrong. But continuing the plan means you are saying you are right.

    So to classify this as an apology is a lie. It’s just performative.

    And I love the, “But transitioning to a digital library is “the future,” he said. “So we have to go that direction.”

    Really? So this guy Grewal seems to know what the future is. He’s smarter than everyone else on this planet. One major advantage of physical texts (apart from supporting students with learning difficulties), is that they don’t need electricity to run.

    Are we heading towards a world in which energy and infrastructure are likely to be constrained (resource depletion and wars, global warming, are two factors). I would say we are.

  20. Wukchumni

    “New emails raise questions if Secret Service ‘protected’ Biden family in Hunter gun probe” [New York Post]. Terrific lead: “A trove of new emails raises new questions about whether the Secret Service ‘protected’ the Biden family and obscured the agency’s alleged involvement in a police probe after Hunter Biden’s girlfriend ditched his gun in a trash can.”

    A human heart goes out tonight
    Yes a out of control vehicle goes through a red stop light

    I see a scene so cold it echoes in blue
    Oh those twisting tongues they’re after you

    Wop bop a lu bop, son you gotta get rid of dat gat
    Flip flop fly
    Lawdy Miss Clawdy
    Oh what a story Murdoch dreams to buy
    Don’t need an injunction to violate your life
    It’ll make your dad go insane

    When Biden the younger has none
    You don’t need a gun
    Yes Ukrainian roulette no fun
    You don’t need a gun
    You just need someone
    You don’t need a gun

    Blood red political lights a domination street yeah
    And they need your desperation to feel that heat yeah
    Or you can drive through
    That red stop light
    With a whiplash smile

    Wop bop a lu bop, yeah you gotta get rid of it
    Flip flop fly
    Lawdy Miss Clawdy
    Oh what a story, gone too far
    Don’t need a gun charge to violate your life
    And make Joey go insane

    I said, when Biden the younger has none
    You don’t need a gun
    Ukrainian roulette no fun
    You don’t need a gun
    Yeah, you just need someone
    You won’t need a gun oh yeah

    You will always be crying yeah
    Oh you will always be trying
    Oh you will always be trying

    Hunter he’ll fight the laptop fight
    Daddy-o he’s always crying
    Beau, he cried, “Why you and not Hunter instead?”

    Yessuh he, he’s movin’, movin’, movin’, movin’ on
    Yeah to be someone
    You don’t need a gun
    You don’t need a gun
    You don’t need a gun

    (You will always be crying)
    (Cry, cry, cry, cry, cry, cry)

    Don’t Need A Gun, by Billy Idol


  21. Wukchumni

    I heard one of the balloons recently downed by a F-22 had wording across the side…

    “Happy Birthday”

    My balloon encounters come about 2-3x a year in the back of beyond where those garish balloons end up after lifting off from a Big Smoke celebration, my biggest find being a bouquet of a dozen deflateds in the Garfield Grove that had the oddly appropriate sentiment of ‘Happy Graduation’ which is what they gradually did until running out of helium.

    When you see one it sticks out like a sore thumb, nothing is sparkly in the Sierra Nevada.

  22. Jason Boxman

    Societal collapse watch?

    If you believe the CDC: Teen Girls Report Record Levels of Sadness, C.D.C. Finds

    Nearly three in five teenage girls felt persistent sadness in 2021, double the rate of boys, and one in three girls seriously considered attempting suicide, according to data released on Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    The rates of sadness are the highest reported in a decade, reflecting a long-brewing national tragedy only made worse by the isolation and stress of the pandemic.

    If only young people had some future in this country or this world? There’s a random trance song that’s part of the YouTube mixes floating around that has a monologue stating plainly, that, everyone you’ve ever known, anyone that you ever will know, anyone that’s ever lived, everyone comes from the same planet Earth.

    From the excerpts from Shatner’s recent space trip, he mentions that feeling apparently everyone gets when they go into space, when you see Earth from afar and it completely reprograms your understanding of life.

    All on the chopping block to feed rapacious capitalism. But finite resources will ultimately get the better of us all, and not to our benefit. Feeling sad is the least of it.

    Oh, and the CDC ensured that an entire generation and future generations of kids will possibly suffer from continual infection with SARS-COV-2, so f**k you CDC.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Nearly three in five teenage girls felt persistent sadness in 2021, double the rate of boys

      The quantum of grief over the million deaths is apparently not evenly distributed.

      If you run into that “random trance song,” please do post it. Sounds like a Zeitgeist Watch candidate.

      1. Polar Socialist

        There seems to be multiple trance song (covers?) with those lyrics, they’re taken directly from Carl Sagan’s book Pale Blue Dot. It’s about the picture of Earth taken by Voyager 1 from 6 billion kilometers away on Feb 14 1990.

        1. JBird4049

          Are we sure that the boys are less sad? I guess that the levels of sadness in both groups are roughly the same.

          It is just that girls are more likely to understand their emotions and admit to feeling sad as that is acceptable to American girls. Boys are taught to be strong, masculine, which means not paying enough attention to their emotions to understand them or admit to a week one like sadness. They also are more likely to express their emotions though violence or in something physical. Outwardly expressing instead of the girls’ expressing their sadness inwards.

          While it is less likely that the boys will be able to say that they are sad, has the rates for violence, drug use, and suicide increased more for the boys than girls?

          1. lambert strether

            I think understanding an emotion is part of having one. I say this as one who has a life-long case of understanding his own very slowly.

            1. JBird4049

              Even if a person cannot feel their feelings, it does affect them. An ignored emotion, if strong enough, will affect a person’s body and actions. That is a cause of depression as ignoring anger can be unhealthy.

              It is like a person I knew who had a problem feeling her anger (bad childhood) but her body still had the symptoms of strong anger when she had reasons to be. She was not depressed, but her anger still affected her body. Understanding emotions does make them more effective or influential, and one can reduce their effects, but even ignoring them will not stop their influence. They will out.

  23. kareninca

    I still have a clamshell phone, but I was forced to upgrade to a Kyocera clamshell since the free one that ATT&T sent when they switched to 5G wouldn’t work at my location. No Facebook ever, no thanks. Still no covid, maybe due to my N95 (the Xlear? the claritin? the monthly ivermectin? who knows). I could do this indefinitely. I traveled when I was young and I guess I’m glad I did, but when I learned that Melville had written Moby Dick before ever having been on Nantucket I realized that I never needed to travel again (except for sick relatives).

    I live in Silicon Valley, and the local giant Safeway in Mountain View has been 24/7 for a very long time. The night before last I was there and it was announced over the intercom that the place was closing at 10:15 p.m.. I asked the cashier and she said that no-one was willing to work the night shift. She looked extremely unwell, even though she was only in her 20s.

    On the same topic, two schoolteachers I know in small town CT have been getting loads of headhunter offers from other school districts that are trying to lure them away with higher pay. Being a school teacher has always been a sought after job where I grew up; there was lots of competition for few slots. Those days are gone; no-one wants to teach kids now and catch every covid variant on offer.

    My father’s cousin in CT, who is 75 y.o. and has had covid once has made the connection between covid and susceptibility to illness after illness after illness. She’s now had it happen herself, and has seen it in others. She was a big “vaccine only-er”, but today she told me yes, she would like me to send her some real masks and some xlear spray.

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