2:00PM Water Cooler 2/21/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

I thought of jackdaws because of Konrad Lorenz’s wonderful King Solomon’s Ring, which I read when I was quite young (and unaware of Lorenz’s views on “social decline”).

Daurian Jackdaw, Bei Zha Forest Reserve Nangqian Qinghai, Qinghai, China. “Rain.” A lot going on here, including other birds and a barking dog. The clopping sound reminds me a horse’s hooves, but now I think it’s just raindrops beating on… What? The mike?

* * *


“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

“U.S. alerted Russia to Biden’s Ukraine visit for “deconfliction purposes,” White House says” [CBS]. • So I guess the air raid sirens were part of the photo op? It would seem so:

And speaking of photo ops:

Meanwhile, Dad’s pupils are the size of dinner plates because of what they juiced him up with. Hence the sunglasses. So father and son share a bond.

* * *

Why is the Surgeon General of the United States using his public office to shill for a private company?

Well, money, of course. So I guess I don’t mean “why.” I mean “how?”


“Buttigieg unveils freight rail reforms in wake of East Palestine derailment” [The Hill]. • Nothing about Precision Scheduled Railroading. Or empowering unions. I’m shocked.

Republican Funhouse

“Exclusive: McCarthy gives Tucker Carlson access to trove of Jan. 6 riot tape” [Axios]. “House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has given Fox News’ Tucker Carlson exclusive access to 41,000 hours of Capitol surveillance footage from the Jan. 6 riot, McCarthy sources tell me. Carlson TV producers were on Capitol Hill last week to begin digging through the trove, which includes multiple camera angles from all over Capitol grounds. Excerpts will begin airing in the coming weeks. Carlson has repeatedly questioned official accounts of 1/6 [the idea!!!] , downplaying the insurrection as ‘vandalism.'” Was anybody actually charged with insurrection, a Federal crime? Did I not get the memo? More: “Now his shows — ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’ on Fox News, and “Tucker Carlson Today” and “Tucker Carlson Originals” on the streaming service Fox Nation — have a massive trove of raw material. Carlson told me: ‘[T]here was never any legitimate reason for this footage to remain secret.’ ‘If there was ever a question that’s in the public’s interest to know, it’s what actually happened on January 6. By definition, this video will reveal it. It’s impossible for me to understand why any honest person would be bothered by that.” • There’s no “by definition.” Digital evidence is not evidence. Here is a chart on the 1/6 charges:

I don’t see “insurrection.”

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.

* * *

“Sanders targets drug companies over COVID-19 vaccine price hikes, high prescription costs” [CBS]. • Cancer surgeon goes into the bandaid business. It’s pathetic.

“Blueing Kansas” [The American Conservative]. “The left believes that mass voter registration campaigns increase election turnout and that high turnout leads to Democratic victories. The trick is getting millions of disengaged eligible voters on the voter rolls in key states, a feat requiring an army of activists and an ocean of money. The left has both. The top 24 leftist voter registration nonprofits spent an estimated $434 million in 2020 alone, much of which came from foundations of ‘progressive’ mega donors sharing the last name ‘foundation.’… But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The left excels at operating in the shadows, employing sophisticated talking points and mobilization strategies to deceive voters into believing these causes are grassroots. The truth is that it’s the same tired, cynical politics Americans are sick to death of.” • I think these guys have the NGOs confused with the left. Are they really that dumb?


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!

• Readers, since the national data systems in the United States are being vandalized, let’s start collecting links to state data, too. If readers would send me links (see Plant below) to their favorite State and local dashboards/wastewater sites, that would be great. Canadians, too! Or leave a link in Comments.

Resources, United States (National): Transmission (CDC); Wastewater (CDC, Biobot); Variants (CDC; Walgreens); “Iowa COVID-19 Tracker” (in IA, but national data).

Resources, United States (Local): CA (dashboard); CO (wastewater); CT (dashboard); IL (wastewater); IN (dashboard); MA (wastewater); MD (dashboard); ME (dashboard); MI (wastewater; wastewater); MT (dashboard); NC (dashboard); NH (wastewater); NY (dashboard); OH (dashboard); SC (dashboard); TX (dashboard); VA (dashboard); VT (dashboard); WA (dashboard; dashboard); WI (wastewater).

Resources, Canada (Provincial): ON (wastewater); QC (les eaux usées); BC, Vancouver (wastewater).

Hat tips to helpful readers: Art_DogCT, CanCyn, ChiGal, Gumbo, hop2it, JB, Joe, John, JM (2), JW, Michael King, LaRuse, mrsyk, otisyves, Petal (5), RK, nRL, RM, Rod. (Readers, I am not putting your handle next to your contribution because I hope and expect the list will be long, and I want it to be easy to scan. (If you leave your link in comments, I use your handle. If you send it to me via email, I use your initials (in the absence of a handle.)

• More like this, please! Total: 1 6 11 18 20/50 (40%). Can anyone find RI? Also, we should list states that do not have Covid resources, so others do not look fruitlessly. Thank you!

* * *

Look for the Helpers

I should do this more often:

Although I do advocate for sprays, and show them to people.

* * *

“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.

Covid Is Airborne

Many people seem to have real problems grokking the idea of multiple layers of protection:

Maybe this one thing doesn’t have to be — can’t be — the whole answer? Where does this mentality come from? (Any New Englander knows you layer up in the winter, and not all days demand the same number or type of layers. But surely principle is general?)

Far UV unboxing:


That’s a long wait and a lot of money.


Variant soup:


“Long COVID rates fall by half nationwide, New England rates among lowest” [Connecticut Public Radio]. “The number of people reporting long COVID symptoms fell by roughly half from last summer to 1 in 10, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Household Pulse Survey, analyzed by Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF)…. Researchers could not pinpoint whether long COVID rates were definitively linked to the variant, vaccination and boosters or fewer external pandemic pressures – social isolation and loneliness. Venkatesh theorized that it’s most likely a combination… ‘It’s positive findings that the percentages are decreasing,’ [Dr. Ulysses Wu, an infectious disease expert at Hartford Hospital] said. ‘But we still want to prevent people from getting COVID. And the best way to help with your long COVID is to not get COVID to begin with.’ Wu expects long COVID rates to increase if COVID rates start to climb.”

“Long Covid Is a Disability. Here’s How to Ask for Workplace Accommodations.” [Wall Street Journal]. “Many people with long Covid are legally entitled to accommodations at work to help them do their jobs. Still, some are finding it hard to ask for help…. [T]he onus is usually on workers to make the case for support. But coming clean on the limitations posed by long Covid is difficult for many…. In 2021, the federal government clarified that long Covid could be considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Long-Covid symptoms and severity can vary greatly. People with long Covid frequently experience extraordinary levels of fatigue, which can be worsened by exertion, cognitive impairment, nervous-system dysfunction, as well as vascular, respiratory and immune-system issues. Between 7.7 million and 23 million Americans have long Covid, according to a November report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In cases where the conditions limit at least one major life activity, the necessary accommodations might be temporary or permanent, depending on each worker’s case.”

Elite Malfeasance

What an act of civic vandalism:

It seems that elites don’t really want to return to the 1890s:

More like the 1490s.

* * *

Case Data

BioBot wastewater data from February 21:

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.


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, published February 21:

-0.5%. Still on the high plateau, equal to previous peaks.


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,142,704 – 1,142,595 = 109 (109 * 365 = 39,785 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). Well, the total wasn’t 192 again. Not that I feel better about it.

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.)

Lambert here: Lowest level in awhile. Although we’ve seen this before.

• I confess I have not mastered the excess deaths statistics. Then again, the chart above starts at zero. And it’s not at zero now, is it? Take Germany for example:

And so:

Well, perhaps not the population level. Some are quite satisfied, making good money, building their bunker, etc.

• And mortality rates. Take the UK for example:

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of interest today.

* * *

The Bezzle: “Chatbots trigger next misinformation nightmare” [Axios]. “New generative AI tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Microsoft’s BingGPT and Google’s Bard that have stoked a tech-industry frenzy are also capable of releasing a vast flood of online misinformation.” You say that like it’s a bad thing. More: “Generative AI programs like ChatGPT don’t have a clear sense of the boundary between fact and fiction. They’re also prone to making things up as they try to satisfy human users’ inquiries…. At Microsoft, user feedback is considered a key component to making ChatGPT work better…. ‘The challenge for an end user is that they may not know which answer is correct, and which one is completely inaccurate,’ Chirag Shah, a professor at the Information School at the University of Washington, told Axios.” • If indeed there is one correct answer. Most of the important questions in life are not answerable (What is love? What is consciousness? Why do we sleep? Why do we die?).

Tech: Syntax vs. semantics:

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 64 Greed (previous close: 67 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 72 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 21 at 12:36 PM ET.

Feral Hog Watch

I just purchased Neal Stephenson’s latest doorstop of a book, Termination Shock, because in the first few passages the Queen of the Netherlands, who’s piloting her private plane, is diverted from Houston to Waco because the air is a too hot, and crashes into a sounder of feral hogs who are crossing the ACT runway as she’s landing. I rejected the alternative, Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry of The Future, even if it does mention MMT, because when I opened it and read a few random paragraphs, the central bankers were good guys doing the right thing. I have a big pile of books to review, and Stephenson’s is one of them. Maybe he regained his Snow Crash touch?

The Gallery

Little cubes except in wallpaper, in 1902:

Cloisonnism, but not in Tahiti.


“Third patient free of HIV after receiving virus-resistant cells” [Nature]. “A 53-year-old man in Germany has become at least the third person with HIV to be declared cleared of the virus after a procedure that replaced his bone marrow cells with HIV-resistant stem cells from a donor. For years, antiretroviral therapy (ART) has been given to people with HIV with the aim of lowering the virus to almost undetectable levels and preventing it from being transmitted to other people. But the immune system keeps the virus locked up in reservoirs in the body, and if an individual stops taking ART the virus can begin replicating and spreading. A true cure would eliminate this reservoir, and this is what seems to have happened for the latest patient, whose name has not been released. The man, who is being referred to as the ‘Düsseldorf patient’, stopped taking ART in 2018 and has remained HIV-free since. The stem-cell technique involved was first used to treat Timothy Ray Brown, often referred to as the Berlin patient. In 2007, he had a bone marrow transplant, in which those cells were destroyed and replaced with stem cells from a healthy donor, to treat acute myeloid leukaemia. The team treating Brown selected a donor with a genetic mutation called CCR5Δ32/Δ32, which prevents the CCR5 cell-surface protein from being expressed on the cell surface. HIV uses that protein to enter immune cells, so the mutation makes the cells effectively resistant to the virus. After the procedure, Brown was able to stop taking ART and remained HIV-free until his death in 2020. In 2019, researchers revealed that the same procedure seemed to have cured the London patient, Adam Castillejo. And, in 2022, scientists announced that they thought a New York patient who had remained HIV-free for 14 months might also be cured, although researchers cautioned that it was too early to be certain.” • Bone marrow transplants aren’t for everyone….

Our Famously Free Press

“The Supreme Court could change the liability game for internet firms. Here’s how” [Yahoo Finance]. “A 1996 law that’s credited and criticized for legally immunizing interactive websites — like YouTube (GOOG) (GOOGL), Facebook, Instagram (META), and Twitter — that moderate, and refrain from moderating, posts made by third parties, is about to face a challenge before the U.S. Supreme Court. The bottom line: the case, depending on the outcome, could overhaul the risks of recommending online social content. On Tuesday, the high court is scheduled to hear arguments in Gonzalez v. Google, which questions conflicting appellate court interpretations of Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act. The law, often cited as containing the ’26 words that created the internet,’ supported rapid proliferation of interactive websites by shielding them from legal responsibility for harms third party content may cause. In Gonzalez, family members and the estate of Nohemi Gonzalez, a 23-year-old U.S. citizen killed in a December 2015 ISIS shooting at Paris’ La Belle Equipe bistro, argue that Google should be held at least partially liable for her death. That’s because, they allege, the company’s YouTube service knowingly permitted and recommended, via algorithms, inflammatory ISIS-created videos that allegedly played a key role in recruiting the attackers.” • I think outlawing recommendation algorithms would be swell. Then my timeline would be only from accounts I subscribe to, in reverse chronological order, like God intended (and how it was in the blogosphere). Somehow, however, I doubt that the Court will come to such a rational decision when there are so many other opportunities to make new law.

Class Warfare

“LABOR ACTION TRACKER 2022” [ILR Worker Institute]. “We have created a comprehensive database of strikes across the United States because official data sources only record a small fraction of this activity. Since funding cuts by the Reagan administration in the early-1980s, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) excludes work stoppages of less than 1,000 workers from its database. As this report demonstrates, only recording very large work stoppages excludes the vast majority of strike activity and leaves practitioners, policymakers, and scholars misinformed about the true level of workplace conflict. Strikes remain an important source of labor activism and, at least in comparison to 2021, have increased in salience. In this report, we follow the lead of the BLS and document work stoppages, which include both strikes and lockouts.” • Handy, interactive map:

“The answer to the East Palestine disaster: Railroad workers’ control over safety and working conditions” [WSWS]. “Railroaders have been warning about the conditions that resulted in the derailment for years. They include the impact of Precision Scheduled Railroading and similar attendance schemes, endless cost-cutting by the railroads, a massive reduction in the size of the nationwide workforce, and a relaxation of inspection and maintenance. These have made the trains ticking time bombs. We all knew that something like this was bound to happen. In fact, it happens every day, where on average there are three derailments in the United States…. The disaster is a direct consequence of Congress’ ban on our striking. The conditions on the railroads have been decaying for years. We wanted to fight for better and safer conditions, adequate staffing and maintenance. But the government decided that the profit interests of the railroads are more sacred than our democratic right to strike and even the right of the public to a safe and healthy environment.” • Certainly odd that that Lever News and a chorus of liberals immediately focused on technical solutions….

“America’s afternoon afterthought” [Vox]. After-school care. “A national survey of providers conducted by Edge Research at the end of 2021 found half of respondents were ‘extremely concerned’ about hiring staff and staffing shortages. Another national survey led in the summer of 2022 by the EdWeek Research Center found similar results: Recruiting and retaining staff were by far the top challenges school principals and after-school leaders reported. Many say the labor pool that programs used to rely on evaporated during the Covid-19 pandemic and hasn’t returned.” • Maybe the “pool” “evaporated” because the workers died. Or got long Covid. Or decided that they didn’t want to work in an environment saturated with lethal pathogens. Or — one hopes — went on to make more money at better jobs (sad to say. Hey, maybe we could use prison labor. Or ex-military. Maybe cops who got fired?

From The Black Swan, apparently:

I don’t think Marx sees class as driven by psychological factors, and that at the society level, so-called “luck” is a function of one’s class position — i.e., the resources one has to recognize and take advantage of luck — seems like an unexceptionable proposition. However, this quote does throw a sidelight on disaster capitalism.

“Think Ambitiously on Behalf of the Poor” [Peste]. “When I finished medical school, I decided I wanted to dedicate myself to supporting the poor in my country. I chose to stay in Sierra Leone, and I am grateful that I did, because in 2014, I was able to work closely with Dr. Paul Farmer during the Ebola outbreak. And throughout our time working together, I learned so much from him. I partnered with PIH because I believed in their mission: to provide a preferential option for the poor in health care. We spent years slowly growing our work and providing more access to care for the poorest people in Kono. Paul taught me early in our relationship to think ambitiously on behalf of the poor people I was serving. …. Paul once told me that not being ambitious means not considering the poor. He adds that if you ask the poor and vulnerable about what kind of healthcare they want, they will all say they want the best health care possible for anyone in the world. It is the same I would want for my family. Therefore, high quality healthcare should be available for all in the world, regardless of where you live or how much money you have.”

News of the Wired

“How to Start Your Blog in 2023” [Yury Molodtsov]. ” Having your own platform enables flexibility and portability, so your content can be kept online practically forever. There are many options out there, ranging from WordPress and Ghost to static blogs to managed online platforms and Micro.blog. How do you choose between them?” • For some, the blogosphere never went away. Maybe it will revive again?

“DYEP? (Do You Even Philosophy?” [SENTENTIAE ANTIQUAE]. Seneca, Moral Epistle 15.2-3: “The mind is sick without philosophy. The body too, even if it possesses great strength, remains no different from the strength of a man in rage or madness. So, care for the health of the first especially, and then the second, which will not be hard for you, if you want to be well.”

* * *

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 ChiGal:

ChiGal writes: “Yay, snow drops!” Life is skittles, and life is beer…

Adding, I hope this hasn’t happened to any readers:

* * *

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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. ChrisFromGA

    Something seems to have broken with the old market.

    Short-term government bond yields doin’ the bottle rocket thing.

    Dow and Nasty-daq on the slow elevator down to Hades.

    I got nothing other than capital flight out of the US …

    1. Louis Fyne

      double whammy:

      (a) 10-year treasury bond approaching 4% (makes the fair value of stocks lower), and

      (b) Walmart releases a forecast that broke consumer balance sheets + inflation = consumers spending less on discretionary stuff. shocker.

    2. lambert strether

      > I got nothing other than capital flight out of the US

      Can you explain this to me like I’m five? Thanks!

      1. Louis Fyne

        it’s not capital flight out of the US.

        US dollar is up today versus the Euro and Japanese Yen.

        10 yr interest rate ~4%, 2 yr. interest rate ~4.7%, 3-month T-bill ~4.7%

        A) Park your money with the US government at almost 5% for 3 months, or
        B) buy stocks when inflation keeps rising faster than wages for the majority of Americans.

        The Fed (Greenspan + Bernacke + Yellen +Powell) painted itself into a corner and has to either crush the economy to bring inflation down or give up and say 5% inflation is the new normal for the foreseeable future. Both makes stocks sad.

        1. Realist

          If markets are logical in that way, why is UK market near ATH? That makes zero sense.

          Couldn’t the current swoon in the US simply be a retest of the 50 week average?

        2. Tim

          I’d prefer the latter as it at least doesn’t make Gold sad..

          I think long bonds are crazy overvalued. No way rates drop like they forecast them to.

  2. antidlc

    RE: ““Long Covid Is a Disability. Here’s How to Ask for Workplace Accommodations.” [Wall Street Journal].”

    Wait. I’m confused. In December, 2022, the WSJ had this opinion piece:

    The Exaggeration of Long Covid
    Lingering symptoms after a respiratory infection are common. Most cases are too mild to worry about.


    Now long COVID is a disability? The cynic in me says that someone at the WSJ came down with a bad case of long COVID.

  3. bojang bugami

    . . . ” 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! ” . . .

    Perhaps the careful engineering and maintainance of a high plateau for decades to come IS the ” Something Awful”, carefully slowed down and dragged out to avoid the appearance of being awful in fast-enough real time that people would notice. At the current high plateau level of infection, re-infection, re-re-infection, etc. for several decades, how many people would be long-covided, prematurely killed, etc. over those next several decades?

    Something awful, something Jackpot.

  4. fresno dan

    “Blueing Kansas” [The American Conservative].
    • I think these guys have the NGOs confused with the left. Are they really that dumb?
    respectfully some editing
    • I think these guys have the Democrats confused with the left. Are they really that dumb?
    Really using the terms republican and democrat, as well as conservative and liberal – what do they mean in reality? Are we really going to get less corruption, less war, less poverty under the democrats? Other than serving as a pretense that we have choices, American parties are strum und drang signifying nothing.
    Blue: Riots in Portland are not so bad, insurrections in Washington DC are bad
    Red: Riots in Portland are bad, riots (which are not insurrections) in Washington DC are not so bad
    Blue: Covid…over and VACCINES!!!!
    Red: Covid…nothing to begin with and VACCINES!!!
    Blue: MIC rah rah Russia bad, China bad
    Red: MIC rah rah China bad, Russia bad
    Blue: labor unions…we kinda used to be for them, but not in any way that really made a difference
    Red: labor unions…we are against them
    Blue: train crashes that are environmental disasters in Ohio….mistakes happen
    Red: train crashes that are environmental disasters in Ohio…terrible when it happens under democrats
    Blue: health care for everyone….can’t be done because of the market
    Red: health care for everyone…can’t be done because of the market
    and so on….

    1. curlydan

      OMG, the leftists are taking over Kansas through their sneaky foundations!! According to the article, in 2016 Trump got 57% of the vote in Kansas. A mere 4 years later, he got 56%! Man, those sneaky leftists are really changing things around here.

    2. pjay

      Yes to all this; the term “left” obviously has no real meaning anymore. But this article by a right-wing propaganda “center” is complete bulls**t for another reason. The state of Kansas was completely taken over by a tsunami of *right-wing* money (it is the home state of Koch Industries and Koch Foundation millions) and right-wing organizations (complete legislative agendas provided by the American Legislative Exchange Council) decades ago. The old “Eisenhower Republicans” that had always controlled state politics were swept away in a coup by the well-funded radicals. Right-wing organizations and causes were everywhere (and in this case “right” is definitely the appropriate directional term). Sam Brownback, Kris Kobach, Mike Pompeo, and other notable gifts were the spawn of this movement.

      Kansas was always conservative and Republican. But this well-organized and well-financed right-wing avalanche was something else. Recently the Business Republicans in the Kansas City area and the Main Street Republicans in the small towns have pushed back and to some extent retaken some lost territory. That is a primary reason for the state’s surprising abortion vote last year. But right-wing fear-mongers like this clown are able to make money pushing this ridiculous “left-wing takeover” crap. There’s a lot of money in it. I have no particular trust in “liberal” NGOs. Like many NC readers I’ve become increasingly resentful of that world. But that’s no reason to give any credence to this propaganda scare piece. Indeed, if some of those organizations can restore a little balance after the radical right-wing take-over of recent decades, I say more power to them. The American Conservative should do better than this

      1. fresno dan

        I agree with you. To be clear, I don’t think the repubs are any better than the dems – the dems just give lip service to public service once in a while, but it is just the service of the lip.
        I occasionally like the American Conservative because it often espouses an essentially isolationist foreign policy – O for the days when there were isolationist repubs!

  5. Wukchumni

    Stunningly beautiful day driving past Capital Reef NP and Arches NP en route to Vail, there was this one cloud that kind of resembled the Guggenheim Museum albeit about 1,000 feet tall.

    Listened to Fox news on the radio and aside from usual loonieness, their talking points in regards to the Ukraine and what a debacle it is, wouldn’t differ all that much with the prevailing sentiment on NC.

    1. Carolinian

      That’s one of the West’s great freeways. When it came to colonizing scenery the Mormons sure knew how to pick ’em.

  6. fresno dan

    Squirrels cleaned me out. No country for tulips.
    When I was a child, there was not a squirrel in Fresno.
    Than someone got the bright idea of introducing squirrels into our downtown park that encircled the courthouse. And now there must be a zillion squirrels.
    I have to say, I didn’t know that squirrels ate tulips, which is just another strike against the obnoxious little bird feeder raiders. At least we don’t have deer…

    1. Randy

      We have tulips, deer, rabbits and plenty of squirrels.

      The squirrels were breaking the sunflower seed bank on our bird feeders but we have them under control now. The only things that bothers our tulips are the deer and the rabbits eating the first greens they can find after a starvation winter diet. The deer were the worst until I put a .22 caliber through their ears. Painful but not fatal. That seemed to teach them a lesson about vandalizing things in my yard. Chicken wire fence stops the rabbits. Other than the bird feeders the only problem with squirrels was the acorns they planted in my garden beds. Minor.

      I have a bed of yucca glaucca that the rabbits are welcome to chew off during the winter and they did until a barred owl showed up a couple of winters ago. I had lots of rabbits and now I have just one, it seems. I have to cut my old yucca foliage myself now, not a pleasant job.

      Something was digging up my tulips and eating the bulbs a couple of years ago. It turned out to be roof rats. I live in Northern Wisconsin, too cold for roof rat habitat. Somehow they must have gotten imported. Many people around here were reporting rat infestations and we are not farm country which is habitat for Norway rats. Between traps, poison and cold weather they are gone now.

      To protect your tulips from vandalism by diggers lay some chicken wire above your bulbs at planting time.

    2. CanCyn

      I gave up on tulips some years ago. I had planted a ton one the fall, used the chicken wire method to keep the diggers under control. But the following spring as they came into bloom, something was eating the blooms and leaving the stalks. I suspected deer, even though we were fairly urban, we did see deer from time to time. But they were close to the house so it seemed unlikely. A neighbour suspected raccoons, One morning I looked out to see a chipmunk standing on his hind legs grasping a stem and bending the tulip flower down to eat it. Sigh. I now plant daffodils for spring colour and have grown to love their cheerful yellows and oranges. They are of the narcissus family and poison to most animals, so they don’t get eaten. And we are deep in deer country now so everything I plant has to be deer unfriendly. Although they will eat anything if they’re hungry enough.

      1. Cassandra

        In my garden last summer, I had a beautiful stand of 8′ tall corn, multiple ears on each stalk. My harvest was almost completely wiped out by a particularly brazen chipmunk who ravaged each ear approaching maturity. I would hear a rustle and look up, and there he would be at eye level, sneering at me.

        I am not planting corn this year.

        1. CanCyn

          It is frustrating isn’t it? I have a friend whose main garden culprits are rabbits. She plants what she calls sacrificial lettuce all around the perimeter of her vegetable garden and mostly the bunnies forage no further. I haven’t figured what might work along those lines for other garden raiders.

    3. Roger Blakely

      I love how Lambert knows exactly how to hook us. We can’t bear the war in Ukraine. We can’t bear the never-ending pandemic. We can’t bear the hazmat spill in Ohio. But we’re all over these gophers and tulips.

  7. John

    I also live in no country for tulips. Ever the optimist, I have planted a few in a large masonry planter elevated several feet above the ground. Will thwart the voles but not the squirrels. So far they survive. Maybe they are waiting because they want to leave a treat for their deer buddies.
    We shall see.

  8. in_still_water

    Neal Stephenson is one of my favorite sci-fi authors. It usually takes a while till I can ‘settle’ into most of his books. None of his recent books are on the level of Snow Crash, but Seveneves, Reamde, and Cryptonomicon were solid Stephenson tomes. As far as Termination Shock, two times I hadn’t been able to settle into it before it was due back at the library. Third time will be the charm.

    1. hemeantwell

      Lambert, you should thumb through Robinson’s book again. Anti-elite terrorism is the distributor of the motor of history.

      1. Jme

        Agreed. Having read termination shock (private geo-engineering) and ministry for the future, i think ministry is by far the better book.

        1. marku52

          Stephenson seems to leave quite a few plot lines hanging in that one. “What happened to those guys?”

        2. Joe Well

          They’re both awful and full of unrealistic scenarios, like the UN sponsoring terrorism (the so-called Ministry for the future) and the Queen abdicating over a single stupid deepfake video. Ministry is more like just a long screed, it felt punishing reading it but I kept going because it was the only novel I knew of that was really dealing with ideas like that.

          Ministry also proudly bears a blurb by Obama, fwiw. Very much a story of certain thoughtful elites taking on other, less thoughtful elites.

          1. Jme

            You could say much the same about the story we’re living. :)

            The primary thing I liked about the ministry book was that it seemed to present a more or less plausible way to thread the needle as it were through the ever shrinking window we have in front of us to continue a high technology human society. In reality, there’s no realistic way, the window will close and we’re toast, so your point is taken. Pura vida!

      2. Carla

        Kim Stanley Robinson’s book is entitled “The Ministry FOR the Future” not “of the future.”

        I second hemeantwell. There’s a lot of good stuff in “The Ministry for the Future.”

    2. barefoot charley

      I really enjoyed his Baroque Cycle, which would be Quicksilver, The Confusion, and The System of the World. This includes Newton rationalizing English coinage, William of Orange boffing other celebrities, and the poor Winter Queen of Bohemia, James I’s daughter, who’d barely settled her crown on her head when Bohemia got counter-reformed and she became a regal charity case who eventually descended into those unpleasant Germans who’ve reigned in England since a century later. He really takes history to you. And it made me laugh.

      1. Martin Oline

        True dat re. Baroque Cycle. Reminds me somewhat of George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman series. I was astonished to find that in Cryptonomicron his ‘hidden gold’ in the Philippines was actually based on history. Truman gave it to the ‘public serpents’ in the CIA for their off-the-books projects. I wonder if they got into drug running after they blew through that pile of gold?

    3. ChrisPacific

      I thought Reamde was uneven – I liked his world building and the technology aspects, but I thought a lot of the non-American characters (and especially the antagonists) were stereotyped to the point of caricature.

      On the other hand, I was very fond of ‘Anathem,’ which a lot of people can’t stand.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        I liked Anathem too and I think it was the first of his that I read. Convinced me to read a few more, all of which I enjoyed, until the last one. Fall was just godawful. It was like what ChatGPT trying to write like Stephenson would produce. The first third or so was actually pretty good and then it turned into some D&D type fantasy story. I kept waiting for it to switch gears again for about 500 pages and it just never did. Hopefully this new one will see him back in form again – I do like the doorstoppers!

  9. Samuel Conner

    Squirrels are pestilential — one of the four Rodents of the Apocalypse, the others being ground hogs, rabbits and voles.

    They have not awakened from their winter slumbers yet in my region, but will soon and I tremble for the trays of young perennials I am already hardening off (not that there is anything in them that the pests would like to eat, but they seem to enjoy digging, in case there might be something interesting in them). It will soon be time to break out the Havahart traps.

    1. Mark Gisleson

      Apparently spring has arrived in SE MN because the songbird seed I put out this morning attracted a trio of squirrels almost immediately.

      1. Randy

        We have gray squirrels and reds. I thought squirrels hibernated but I just read that they do not. Both species are around all winter. We discourage the grays but the reds don’t eat much and their behavior is cute and entertaining.

        The red squirrels tunnel underneath the snow popping up at intervals to orient themselves on their journey to the feeder. The reds are underdogs getting bullied by the grays. The grays hog the feeder, the reds are happy to scrounge around below the feeder. Gray squirrels are just tree rats but they are tasty, they taste like chicken with a sweet flavor. I harvest a couple every year, I’d take more but they are somewhat of a PITA to clean.

        1. Lost in OR

          One nice thing about the reds is that when they get into your walls they know to snack on the romex insulation without disturbing the copper. Mostly. I have come across the occasional fried red. I wonder how many unexplained house fires result from these cute little red devils.

          That was in Maine. Haven’t seen any reds in OR.

    2. CanCyn

      They dig where we plant not to eat what we’ve planted but because we have so nicely loosened up the soil for them and hope that they will find someone one of their own kind has buried.

      1. thoughtful person

        I figured, when I read the four rodents of the apocalypse I wondered “how could one leave out rats? Maybe there are more than four?” But now we can sub out rabbits and put in Rats. If you’ve ever had an infestation you’ll agree, not to mention the history of diseases.

    3. John

      I have read all of the Stephenson works cited, some multiple times. For sheer reading pleasure Cryptonomicon in my favorite closely followed by the Baroque Cycle. As a teacher of history, I am pleased by his structuring his stories around historical events such as Japanese gold caches in the Philippines or the production of high quality steel in Baroque era India. The feral hogs of Termination Shock are popping up ever more frequently.

      I have also read many of Kim Stanley Robinson’s works. Ministry of the Future seemed at moments to be more a long tract about the perils of climate change that a novel. I though it was visionary and unlikely. Nothing serious will be done to materially alter the present trajectory until catastrophic events force the drastic actions that are actually necessary and even then it may be too late for our consumption society.

      1. ambrit

        Probably, it will then be too late for 99% of our consumption society. The top 1% will make out like bandits, or more accurately, Robber Barons.
        That d—-d Club of Rome.

  10. Carolinian

    “Open the Pod Bay doors Bing AI”?

    cut to

    Fightin’ Joe Biden in cowboy hat riding H-Bomb toward the Kremlin far below.

    Kubrick was soooo ahead of his time.

    1. Hepativore

      Perhaps the moties on Mote Prime were also right in assuming that resource wars inevitably lead to cyclical collapses of civilization despite everybody’s best efforts as we seem to have hierarchism and territoriality baked into our instinctive behaviors at the genetic level.

      I am not sure where I stand in terms of the idea of a “Leviathan” but I think that humanity is probably closer to Hobbes’ “State of Nature” at its base level than Rousseau. I am a Social Democrat at heart, but sometimes I have difficulty squaring that with the realism of what humanity actually is.

      We are still stuck with the selfish great ape mentality that once served us well such as aggression and tribalism in terms of evolutionary survival, but now, these same drives are dangerous and counterproductive in the modern world yet we are still at their mercy as the process of evolution takes millions of years.

        1. Hepativore

          Bonobos did not have to compete with gorillas in their habitat for food and territory, leading to more selection pressure for aggressive and territorial behaviors in the chimpanzee to grab whatever advantage for themselves that they could while avoiding gorillas. Plus the bonobo split off from the chimpanzee after humans had already differentiated from their shared ancestry with the chimpanzee.

  11. mrsyk

    “Although I do advocate for sprays, and show them to people.” Does anyone know of a roundup of these sprays?

        1. ambrit

          “roundup” and “sprays” in the same sentence. Which sentence refers to the eradication of an ‘unwanted pest.’ Truly meta pun there.

  12. fresno dan

    The mayor of East Palestine has ripped President Biden for heading to Ukraine for a surprise visit instead of the scene of Ohio’s toxic train derailment.

    Mayor Trent Conaway accused Biden of abandoning his domestic responsibilities after the 80-year-old president popped over to Kyiv on Monday to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
    If Biden went to Ohio, what would he say? What would he do?
    Will East Palestine be an issue in 2024? I don’t think most repubs want it to be an issue – I just don’t think punishing corporations is in their wheelhouse. Can Trump bring up issues neither party, or the MSM want to cover? And what would Trump say the solution is? I don’t think being the only one to bring it up will be enough this time.

    1. Randy

      I saw a little bit of the video of his speech in Poland. Disgusting, but he was getting rock star treatment. Maybe we can send him to Poland to be their president. That’s where he belongs.

      1. Bart Hansen

        Instead of Hail to the Chief they should sound a siren. Reminds me of suggesting the same treatment for Darrell Issa: A car alarm going off whenever he speaks in Congress.

    2. Mark Gisleson

      Makes you wonder how a third party candidate advocating peace, nationalizing the railroads and going single payer on healthcare could lose in 2024?

      They haven’t Wellstoned anyone in a while and maybe that’s because no one is stepping up.

      1. Realist

        I’ll take a stab: Because generally speaking, The American People are a bunch of gullible fraidy cats who are easily propagandized to vote against their interests?

    3. The Rev Kev

      Chris Christoforou was saying in a video yesterday that the smart move would have been to send Kamala to Kiev as she was already in Munich and for himself to go to Ohio to be seen to be acting Presidential and shore up support for the Democrats. As it is, he has now shown that he cannot give a rats for anybody in flyover land but that the Ukraine has become his obsession.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Frankly I have no idea. The next US Presidential election is in *checks calendar* in 1 year, 8 months, 14 days from now so a helluva lot can happen between now and then. But I would guess that Biden will be gone by then. In going to Kiev, he has made certain to let everybody know that he is all in on Project Ukraine so if it goes down in flames, he will be likely tagged with the responsibility of this failure. At that point the Democrats my cut him loose and go with a fresh face for 2024 to save themselves but Kamala would be a dud if they tried. Maybe they could ask Nancy Pelosi if she is still available. These days, she is the right age to be a US President. :)

          1. John

            If Biden wants to save himself, it will require and epiphany.The Ukraine project is going down in flames. Read Putin’s speech and tell me that that the MSM line is anything other that unadulterated balderdash. Sample the alternative media both in the US and elsewhere on the state of things in Ukraine. It is a crime to set a nation up to bleed for you. To bleed for objectives that have nothing to do with them. 2024? I year, 8 months, and 14 days in the future. One might think that the only purpose of being elected is to run for re-election.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I figure the WH is too embarrassed to associate with Pete. He should have been fired last year by any metric, so Biden is hiding. He needs to go to Kiev to avoid seeming like he is hiding.

        Harris is a moron. She can only go places where ambient noise will keep her in the choir. Sending her to Kiev would be too risky. Besides you can’t trust Azov in her case.

    4. ambrit

      Biden could drink some of the Ohio River water downstream from the place. After all, that hellacious brew cannot be much more dangerous than the pharmaceutical stew ‘they’ are pumping into him already. What is it with Democrat Party Politicos and heavy drugs use? “Creepy” Joe and whatever keeps him going, Hillary and her warfarin, Fetterman I’ll give a pass to since he has a legitimate need for a few goodies right now, but the rest of the Gerontocracy?
      Maybe Hunter is so f—ed up because he was Dad’s unofficial ‘taster’ for so long.
      Surgeon General of Delaware: “It’s all right to take it Joe. Hunter is still on his feet an hour after trying the stuff.”

  13. cfraenkel

    I wouldn’t rule out Ministry because of the banker angle – it’s only a just barely plausible background scenario enabling the much more character driven main plot line. And who knows, bankers *might* do the right thing with a gun pointed at their heads… (In the book, their aircraft keep mysteriously crashing).

    Termination Shock is much better action book than his recent outings, but Snow Crash is an impossibly high bar. Now I have to dig out my Vitaly Chernobyl CD.

  14. Matthew G. Saroff

    I’ve been blogging since 2007. At some point I will migrate to WordPress, but now I am a Blogspot weenie.

  15. FreeMarketApologist

    RE: AI: “…that they may not know which answer is correct, and which one is completely inaccurate,

    Depressing prediction: Just as we now have those witless “click on all the pictures with cross walks” captchas, which claim to prove the thing logging in is not a ‘bot, but only just provides free labor to refine visual data sets for somebody, we will soon have “which of these statements is correct?” captchas which will be used to refine AI’s ‘answers’ — accuracy and truth will now be crowd sourced.

  16. petal

    Re workforce dropouts: Was chatting with a coworker today and they were saying how their wife recently quit her job because it was cheaper for her to stay home than paying for daycare. How many others has this happened/is happening to? Staying home with the kid is cheaper, or there simply aren’t spots available? And this person is likely leaving current position soon because after adding wife and kid to insurance there would be literally no money left over. What a country we live in.

  17. Jason Boxman

    I don’t think Marx sees class as driven by psychological factors, and that at the society level, so-called “luck” is a function of one’s class position — i.e., the resources one has to recognize and take advantage of luck — seems like an unexceptionable proposition. However, this quote does throw a sidelight on disaster capitalism.

    I think the book How to get Lucky seems to substantiate this as well. But the wealthy prefer the story that it was just hard work.

    1. GramSci

      Not just the ability to take advantage of ‘luck’, but also the ability to recover from bad ‘luck’. FDR learned this when he got polio.

    2. Lost in OR

      I know someone who migrated to one of the big MIC companies decades ago. For me to suggest that her spectacular success was due to gov’t choices and not her own worthiness would bring on a deep and all-encompassing ire.

      It wasn’t luck. She just chose to sing in the right choir. I try not to moralize.

      For me it is just another nail in the coffin for the hope that women in positions of power could possibly lead to a better future. Where does that leave us?

  18. The Rev Kev

    ‘In 1997, Walmart tried to enter the German market, and became a case study in failure.’

    Starbucks in Australia was also a noted failure. They tried to import the American model on the assumption that Australia was just like America – but with kangaroos.Yeah, nah! Another American coffee company – Gloria Jean’s Coffees – did adapt and they are making a good go of it here-



  19. Tim

    “Maybe this one thing doesn’t have to be — can’t be — the whole answer? Where does this mentality come from?”

    Evolutionary cognitive bias, otherwise known as not thinking.

    Black and white, no gray. It either works 100% or it doesn’t work at all. And if it works 100%, then something else can’t help it be any better.

  20. tevhatch

    Bird Song: Clopping sound is very close to water drops/large rain drops on either an aluminum or a PE/PVC plastic rain gutter. My guess is the recording was made from a sheltered stand.

  21. Lunker Walleye

    I enjoyed looking at this painting, albeit on a tiny screen. The colors are rich and the walls shimmer like a golden Byzantine mosaic. It must have taken great patience to paint the seemingly thousands of brush stokes in the wallpaper. The composition is quiet on the left side and active on the right and cropping off the action makes one wonder what is beyond that edge. I wonder, too, about the handling of the face of the girl in the straw hat.

    1. ambrit

      Yes. Bonnard is underappreciated. The juxtaposition of the squares of the wallpaper with the circles of the plates on the wall in the back room and the people’s heads, plus the 90 degree rotation from the wall squares of the floor tiles. An early example of deconstructionism is possible with this painting.
      The black dog is essentially just a shape, without features. Did Matisse see the possibilities in this and move on to his paper cutouts later? They all studied each other’s work.
      Pissaro would organize painting outings for several ‘serious’ painters and they would do versions of the same scene.
      There is a scene in a later Dune Cycle work where a Bene Gesserit Reverand Mother has a Van Gogh painting in a techno frame that “shows” the viewer the creation of the piece brush stroke by brush stroke. (It is mentioned in Chapterhouse: Dune. The work is ‘Thatched Cottages at Cordeville.’) I found the idea fascinating.
      See: http://www.vggallery.com/painting/p_0792.htm#:~:text=Thatched%20Cottages%20at%20Cordeville%20figures,work%20is%20mentioned%20once%20again.

      1. Lunker Walleye

        Thanks for your comments. I wasn’t aware of the Dune connection. Like Sheeana, I am looking at the painting with new eyes. The black “cut-out” of the dog is so charmingly simple. I had not realized how the dog, the black baseboard and the black of the tiles anchors that side of the painting. There’s a lot to look at and think about.

      2. Lunker Walleye

        Just reread what you mentioned about a Van Gogh painting in Dune, not Bonnard (lack of sleep brain fog). As to where Matisse got his cut out idea, it could have come from his art friends. Gaugin and others were painting figures/shapes with dark outlines which may tempt one to take up a scissors. Also, La Danse and Music paintings by Matisse remind me of cut outs which came 30 years later.

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