2:00PM Water Cooler 2/24/2023

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”).

Eurasian Jackdaw, Marche, Italy. A pretty duet, although short.

* * *


“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

“Why isn’t Joe Biden getting credit for the economic recovery?” [Vox]. “The image of the accelerating “Biden boom” that the White House has been trying to project is rooted in economic data: unemployment is now at its lowest level since 1969, January saw the seventh straight month of slowing inflation, the economy has continued to grow despite fears of a recession, and over 12 million jobs have been created since Biden took office two years ago. But why doesn’t it feel that way? The average American is still likely to say the economy is in relatively dire straits, according to Gallup polling data, and large numbers fear worsening inflation, higher interest rates and unemployment, and the possibility of a recession in 2023. Some 80 percent of American adults think the economy is either in poor or fair shape, according to January data from Pew Research Center. The short answer is, of course [what a tell], inflation.” • I think the “short answer” is a million deaths and workplaces known to be lethal.


East Palestine, dueling narratives:

Showing the political courage for which he is famed, Mayo Pete goes on MSBNC:

See under “Class Warfare,” below, for the “regulations” talking point.

I know which look is better:

Correct: “Number of goods delivered from the Biden Administration: 0.” Yeah, if I know Trump, the bottled water is off-brand or whatever. But you can’t beat something with nothing! And:

Is MTG wrong? (But see below for her visit to Idaho.)

“The AP Interview: Biden ready to run, US first lady says” [Associated Press]. “U.S. first lady Jill Biden gave one of the clearest indications yet that President Joe Biden will run for a second term, telling The Associated Press in an exclusive interview on Friday that there’s ‘pretty much’ nothing left to do but figure out the time and place for the announcement… Biden aides have said an announcement is likely to come in April, after the first fundraising quarter ends, which is around the time that President Barack Obama officially launched his reelection campaign. The first lady has long been described as a key figure in Biden’s orbit as he plans his future. ‘Because I’m his wife,’ she laughed.” • And somebody trusted needs to handle the meds.

“US author Marianne Williamson announces plans to run for president in 2024” [Andalou Agency]. “US author Marianne Williamson announced Thursday that she will run for president in 2024. Williamson said in an interview with Medill News Service that she will run for the Democratic nomination. The progressive Democrat also ran for president in 2020. ‘I wouldn’t be running for president if I didn’t believe I could contribute to harnessing the collective sensibility that I feel is our greatest hope at this time,’ she told the news service. She is expected to officially announce her candidacy on March 4.” • “Collective sensibility” is, I suppose, as sensible a model as anything else one reads.

“US presidential candidates should take mental competency test: Trump” [Andalou Agency]. Trump: “ANYBODY running for the Office of President of the United States should agree to take a full & complete Mental Competency Test simultaneously (or before!) with the announcement that he or she is running, & likewise, but to a somewhat lesser extent, agree to a test which would prove that you are physically capable of doing the job. Being an outstanding President requires great mental acuity & physical stamina. If you don’t have these qualities or traits, it is likely you won’t succeed. MAGA!” • Hmm. I wonder if he has anybody in mind. (This comes after Haley dinged him with a test for over-75s.

“Nikki Haley’s presidential bid: Long shot or lost cause?” [Yahoo News]. “some political analysts say Haley shouldn’t be written off. They argue that a potential grudge match between Trump and DeSantis could leave both frontrunners vulnerable and create room for an alternative candidate to emerge from the fray. Haley is the ideal name to break through in that circumstance, some argue, because of her political skill, conservative credentials and demographic appeal. But doubters say it would take an extraordinary series of events for anyone other than Trump or DeSantis to win the GOP nomination; even if that does happen, Haley may not be poised to take advantage. Critics from both sides of the political spectrum argue that her waffling positions on Trump over the years have left her with no constituency among Republican voters — both the MAGA base and those looking to move on from Trumpism will likely view her with skepticism. Some also believe that her race and gender could be an impediment in a Republican Party that has become so strongly aligned with white grievance politics in the Trump era.”

“Buttigieg urges safety changes after fiery Ohio derailment” [Associated Press]. “Buttigieg said railroads and tank car owners should accelerate their plan to upgrade the tank cars that haul flammable liquids like crude oil and ethanol by 2025 instead of waiting to comply with the 2029 standard Congress ultimately approved after regulators suggested the earlier deadline. He also said freight railroads should reach more agreements to provide their employees with paid sick time to help prevent fatigue. Railroad unions have also raised concerns that car inspections are being rushed and preventative maintenance may be getting neglected after widespread job cuts in the industry in recent years that they say have made railroads riskier.” • Railroad unions also.” But not Mayo Pete! Somebody should ask him if he thinks it’s a good idea that one person drive a two-mile-long train, because that’s what the railroads want.

“Could a Trump grand juror’s comments affect possible Georgia charges?” [Reuters]. ” Media interviews given by the foreperson of the Georgia grand jury that investigated former President Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn his 2020 election loss in the state present a public relations problem for prosecutors but need not stop them from bringing charges if warranted, according to legal experts. The foreperson, Emily Kohrs, was interviewed by a variety of U.S. news outlets this week and offered a rare window into the secretive process in which members of the grand jury weigh evidence and make recommendations to prosecutors on possible criminal charges. Kohrs, 30, offered hints as to what the grand jury recommended in its report, most of which remains sealed, after it wrapped up its work in January. Kohrs told CNN that ‘the big name that everyone keeps asking me about – I don’t think you will be shocked.'” • Oh.

Republican Funhouse

Hawley is correct:

Though the Reaganites won’t like it much–

“The Reagan Republicans Take On the Putin Apologists” [National Review]. The headline: These days, it’s hard to remember that McCarthyism originated with Republicans. But it did! “Vladimir Putin says his invasion of Ukraine is a war against the Western alliance. Biden’s policy would let him win. Under ordinary circumstances, such fecklessness of a president to fulfill his most important duty would lead to political disaster. But Biden has been able to get away with it because many of the most vocal Republicans have attacked Biden’s weak efforts to defend the West against Putin as being too strong. Leading the pack of Putin Republicans has been Trump himself, who has recited the Kremlin line that America forced Russia to invade, while publicly denouncing Biden’s decision to send even the pitiful tank reinforcement he has proposed. Following their leader, Putin Republicans in Congress, led by Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) and Matt Gaetz (Fla.), have called for stopping all U.S. arms shipments to Ukraine, a step that would guarantee a Kremlin victory. With such outright defeatists set up as his nominal opposition, any half-hearted measures that Biden might take to defend the West can only look superb by comparison. But now, finally, the Reagan Republicans are speaking up. In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on February 7, Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) attacked the Biden administration for its refusal to provide adequate arms to Ukraine.” • Too bad Cotton picked the wrong topic to editorialize on in the Times. I’m sure this Op-Ed would have been fine!

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.

* * *

“How The Cool Kid Of Progressive Politics Gambled It All Away” [FiveThirtyEight]. “There was the public reckoning over McElwee’s fondness for betting on issues and elections that Data For Progress polled on. There was his consulting work for Sam Bankman-Fried — the founder of recently bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX, who has since been indicted on fraud charges. And there were accusations of a straw-donor scheme — where someone pays another person to make donations on their behalf to avoid limits on campaign donations. (McElwee declined to be interviewed for this story.) After a tumultuous few weeks for the firm’s public image, McElwee was out, the new guard was in, and they were cleaning house.” • A lot more “cool kids” in “progressive politics” took SBF’s money. Who are they?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The MAGA evangelical revivalists are no longer silent about the Asbury Revival” [Current]. “Last week I wondered why the pro-Trump, Make America Great Again, Christian nationalist revivalists were not noticing the spiritual revival going on at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky. These people believe that the United States was founded as a Christian nation and needs to be reclaimed as such… Many of these folks are now suggesting that the revival at Asbury is an answer to their prayers…. Don’t get me wrong–I am completely open to what is happening at Asbury University and I am praying that this revival will bear much spiritual fruit in the lives of these Christian college students and the people who they encounter along the road of life. In this sense, I am a New Light! But I bristle when I see this spiritual stirring at a school very similar to the one where I have taught for 21 years getting repurposed for a political agenda.”

“Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod President Calls for Excommunicating White Nationalists” [The Roys Report]. “In a letter dated Feb. 21, LCMS President Matthew Harrison said he was ‘shocked to learn recently that a few members of LCMS congregations have been propagating radical and unchristian ‘alt-right’ views via Twitter and other social media.’ He noted far-right members were causing ‘local disruption’ for congregations and alleged that LCMS leadership and deaconesses had fallen victim to online threats, some of which he described as ‘serious.’ ‘This is evil. We condemn it in the name of Christ,’ Harrison writes.”

“How big Christian nationalism has come courting in North Idaho” [Religion News]. ” Earlier this month, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Georgia Republican, addressed the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee, whose purview runs from this small resort city up along the Washington state border. Before she spoke, a local pastor and onetime Idaho state representative named Tim Remington, wearing an American flag-themed tie, revved up the crowd: ‘If we put God back in Idaho, then God will always protect Idaho.’… The event may be the closest thing yet to Greene’s vision for the GOP, which she has urged to become the ‘party of Christian nationalism.’ The Idaho Panhandle’s especially fervent embrace of the ideology may explain why Greene, who has sold T-shirts reading ‘Proud Christian Nationalist,’ traveled more than 2,300 miles to a county with fewer than 67,000 Republican voters to talk about biblical truth: Amid ongoing national debate over Christian nationalism, North Idaho offers a window at what actually trying to manifest a right-wing vision for a Christian America can look like — and the power it can wield in state politics.”

Different flavors of Christianity. Fascinating study:


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), Marin; CO (dashboard; wastewater); CT (dashboard); DE (dashboard); IL (wastewater); IN (dashboard); LA (dashboard); MA (wastewater); MD (dashboard); ME (dashboard); MI (wastewater; wastewater); MT (dashboard); NC (dashboard); NH (wastewater); NM (dashboard); NY (dashboard); OH (dashboard); OR (dashboard); RI (dashboard); SC (dashboard); TN (dashboard); TX (dashboard); UT (wastewater); 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, B24S, CanCyn, ChiGal, Festoonic, FM, Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JF, Joe, John, JM (2), JW, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, otisyves, Petal (5), RK, RL, RM, Rod, tennesseewaltzer, Utah, Bob White. (Readers, if you leave your link in comments, I credit you by your handle. If you send it to me via email, I use your initials (in the absence of a handle. 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 for readers to scan.)

• More like this, please! Total: 1 6 11 18 20 22 26 27/50 (54% of US states). We should list states that do not have Covid resources, or have stopped updating their sites, so others do not look fruitlessly. Thank you!

* * *

Thinking through the implications of this airborne pandemic for when the next one comes along:

A useful perspective, especailly as we aren’t going to be sending the public health establishment to the Hague anytime soon (and don’t get me wrong, that’s where they should be).

Look for the Helpers

This seems like a neat idea. One of the bright sides of the pandemic is that it’s really brought out the American tendency to tinker:

The skeptic in me wants to know if it works. Would before and after CO2 measurements do the trick?

Covid Is Airborne

Air travel:

“Effect of Predeparture Testing on Postarrival SARS-CoV-2–Positive Test Results Among International Travelers — CDC Traveler-Based Genomic Surveillance Program, Four U.S. Airports, March–September 2022” [Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report]. “CDC’s Traveler-based Genomic Surveillance Program collects postarrival nasal swabs for SARS-CoV-2 testing from volunteering international air travelers. Among 3,049 pooled (28,056 individual) samples collected during March 20–September 3, 2022, the predeparture testing requirement was associated with 52% lower postarrival SARS-CoV-2 positivity.”

“Notes from the Field: Aircraft Wastewater Surveillance for Early Detection of SARS-CoV-2 Variants — John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York City, August–September 2022” [Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report]. “As SARS-CoV-2 testing declines worldwide [note lack of agency], surveillance of international travelers for SARS-CoV-2 enables detection of emerging variants and fills gaps in global genomic surveillance (1). Because SARS-CoV-2 can be detected in feces and urine of some infected persons (2), wastewater surveillance in airports and on aircraft has been proposed by the global public health community† as a low-cost mechanism to monitor SARS-CoV-2 variants entering the United States. Sampling wastewater directly from aircraft can be used to link SARS-CoV-2 lineage data with flight origin countries without active engagement of travelers…. This investigation demonstrated the feasibility of aircraft wastewater surveillance as a low-resource approach compared with individual testing to monitor SARS-CoV-2 variants without direct traveler involvement or disruption to airport operations. Limitations include dependence on lavatory use during the flight, which correlates with flight duration (5); inability to distinguish travelers with connecting flight itineraries, which lessens precision when ascertaining variant origin; and potential carryover of residual SARS-CoV-2 RNA between flights yielding viral detections unrelated to travelers on the flight. Stringent genome coverage thresholds might reduce the likelihood of carryover variant identification on subsequent flights.”

Lambert here: Both useful studies. And why the heck did we have to wait three years into a pandemic to get them done? Why, it’s almost like the CDC is a shop for writing papers, and not a public health agency at all!

* * *

“Factors to consider in the safe design of intensive care units – Part 1: historical aspects and ventilation systems” [Journal of Infection Prevention]. From the Abstract: “Evidence linking the role of ventilation systems in transmission of infection to patients in intensive care units has increased in recent years…. The authors found a number of problems with ventilation in ICU to which there has not been a cohesive response in terms of guidance to support users and designers. The resultant void permits new projects to proceed with suboptimal and designs which place patients and staff at risk. The NHS is now at the start of major new investments in healthcare facilities in England and this together with the end of the antibiotic era mandates new guidance to address these major concerns.” • “The end of the antibiotic era” thrown in there as a lagniappe, yikes.


Hospital Infection Control [sic] doing its thing:

A useful tactic:

And the moral: Don’t be afraid to be a PITA. You could be helping others!

Scientific Communication

“How Language Shapes Change: Perspectives on the Most and Least Effective Communication Strategies and Tactics During the COVID‑19 Pandemic” [CanCovid]. From the Abstract:

Going through what CDC has done, for Q1: “Nope, nope, nope….” And for Q2: “Yep, yep, yep…” Rarely do you ever see a project go completely wrong. But CDC seems to have accomplished it. (I should look into CDC’s Walensky-led re-org, at some point. If any readers have leads, please leave in comments.)

Elite Malfeasance

“Fixing U.S. public health will require a health-systems revolution — and for physicians to take a backseat” [Eric Reinhart, STAT]. “Through its stranglehold on resources and institutional power, the U.S. medical profession has also come to distort the very definition of public health and what is now widely believed to constitute relevant knowledge. As I noted in a related essay in The Nation, lessons from labor history, social anthropology, political economy, epidemiology, communication, law, and various other nonmedical fields represent the bulk of the expertise that is most essential to formulating effective public health policy. Medical interventions constitute just 10% to 20% of modifiable factors that affect health, yet narrow biomedical expertise has been consistently prioritized in the selection of U.S. public health leaders from local to state and federal levels. The marginalization of non-biomedical knowledge within public health administration and the corresponding elevation of physicians to power has had catastrophic consequences for population-level health. While the clinical frameworks that characterize medical training are appropriate for the one-to-one encounters of patient care, misapplying them to the population-level problems of public health leads to a failure to effectively anticipate and address the social conditions upon which disease and disability feed. This, in turn, fuels a top heavy, reactive national health policy that prioritizes profitable medical treatment rather than cost- and life-saving prevention via community-based social services. Declining life expectancy in the U.S. — now at its lowest in nearly two decades — reflects the consequences of this policy choice. Rebuilding public health in the U.S. will require reclaiming it from its biomedical perversions.”

Learning to live with cholera:

“Herd Immunity,” the ever-receding horizon:

* * *

Case Data

NOT UPDATED 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.

Lambert here: Once again, what happened on or before March 16? I’ve marked the date on the chart, because at least one other person has an answer:

I don’t think there’s just one factor, though. Walensky’s scarlet letter remark was February 24, 2022 (which speaks to keeping the case rate high, no matter that the case count is low).

Community Transmission

From Iowa Covid Tracker (not CDC):


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, published February 23:

-1.3%. Still high, but at last a distinct downturn.


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,144,368 – 1,143,760 = 608 (608 * 365 = 221,920 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.)

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of interest today.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 58 Greed (previous close: 62 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 68 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 22 at 1:58 PM ET.


“Your brain could be controlling how sick you get — and how you recover” [Nature]. “[Asya Rolls, a neuroimmunologist] is part of a growing group of scientists who are mapping out the brain’s control over the body’s immune responses. There are multiple lines of communication between the nervous and the immune systems — from small local circuits in organs such as the skin, to longer-range routes beginning in the brain — with roles in a wide range of diseases, from autoimmunity to cancer…. Clinicians have known about the effect of positive thinking on disease progression for a long time, [Fahed Hakim, a paediatrician and director of the Nazareth Hospital EMMS in Israel] says. But this evidence has been largely anecdotal or correlational, so being able to identify a pathway through which such an effect occurs — and manipulate it experimentally in animals — makes it much more real, he says…. It’s time that both researchers and clinicians take the link between psychology and physiology seriously, says Rolls. ‘You can call something psychosomatic, but in the end, it’s somatic. How long can we ignore what is there?'” • Hmm. Covid is neutropic, so….

Zeitgeist Watch

“What’s really behind the wave of sadness among teenage girls? We asked 9 of them.” [NBC]. “Reports of persistent sadness and hopelessness. Declines in overall mental health. A rise in suicidal thoughts…. [T]hese trends [were] outlined in an alarming Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report about teenagers’ mental health last week…. The report, published Feb. 13, was the product of the CDC’s 2021 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a biennial effort to collect data about high schoolers’ health-related behaviors and experiences. The results, based on responses from more than 17,000 students, showed that well-being is especially poor among teenage girls, 57% of whom reported feeling ‘persistently sad or hopeless’ — a 10-year high.”

“Social Media is a Major Cause of the Mental Illness Epidemic in Teen Girls. Here’s the Evidence” [Jon Haidt, After Babel]. “I’m a social psychologist who is always wary of one-factor explanations for complex social phenomena. In The Coddling of the American Mind, Greg Lukianoff and I showed that there were six interwoven threads that produced the explosion of unwisdom that hit American universities in 2015, one of which was the rise of anxiety and depression in Gen Z (those born in and after 1996); a second was the vast overprotection of children that began in the 1990s. In the book I’m now writing (Kids In Space) I show that these two threads are both essential for understanding why teen mental health collapsed in the 2010s. In brief, it’s the transition from a play-based childhood involving a lot of risky unsupervised play, which is essential for overcoming fear and fragility, to a phone-based childhood which blocks normal human development by taking time away from sleep, play, and in-person socializing, as well as causing addiction and drowning kids in social comparisons they can’t win. So this is not a one-factor story, and in future posts I’ll show my research on play. But today’s post is about what I believe to be the largest single factor and the only one that can explain why the epidemic started so suddenly, around 2012, in multiple countries.” • That factor is indeed social media, and the rest of the post, which you should read in full, is devoted to showing why (Summary: “social media as a major cause of teen depression is gendered and a result of Instagram”).

“From TV to TikTok, young people are exposed to gambling promotions everywhere” [The Conversation]. “The 11- to 17-year-olds who took part in our study told us they regularly come into contact with gambling not just during sports, but in a range of everyday environments. They saw promotions for gambling in local shopping centres, at post offices, during sporting matches, movies and television shows. They were also aware of a range of novel products and marketing strategies the gambling industry is using to reach the next generation of customers. This constant exposure created a perception gambling was ‘always there in your face’ and ‘a natural thing to do.’ This was particularly the case when it was placed alongside non-gambling activities in everyday settings.”

Guillotine Watch

“Elizabeth Koch Knows What You’re Thinking” [New York Times]. “[W]e settled into a conference room. I expected her to be guarded, in keeping with her father’s approach to the news media. Instead, she spoke excitedly for nearly two hours — telling me about her circuitous path to middle age, salting her sentences with profanity and referring to herself as a ‘privileged, pasty, white girl from the Midwest.’ She talked about exploring ‘pain holes’ with a therapist and going on two-week silent retreats. She insisted that she was ‘apolitical.’ Mostly, Ms. Koch wanted to explain something called the Perception Box, a term she trademarked in 2021. Unlikely Collaborators is built around the concept, which Ms. Koch wants to use to prompt a global movement of self-investigation. ‘We all live inside an invisible but ever-present mental box — a Perception Box,’ Ms. Koch began. ‘This box distorts our perceptions of everything and everyone around us. It distorts our ability to understand other people, to see them clearly, to connect with them. And it distorts our ability to really even know ourselves.'”• My perception is that billionaires lie all the time. I wish they would stop:

Class Warfare

East Palestine:

Sirota left out a category: The left. The left checks first with the workers. Anybody who did that — NC, but not Lever News — would have found out that workers fingered a “hot box” as the cause of the derailement; a theory of the case just confirmed by the NTSB. The left also finds out the a poorly “blocked” train is a possible intensifier, as heavy, sloshing tank cars at the end of the train may have caused a whiplash effect. The left also connects these two causes to the enormously profitable Precision Scheduled Railroading, which cuts workers and makes for longer and more dangerous trains. There is no evidence that has appeared so far that would indicate that brake regulations had any causal or mitigating effect on the derailment at all (and braking regulation advocates must also show that the higher tech brakes they advocate would overcome poor “blocking”).

So why have liberals gone wrong in this particular way? Focusing on the non-issue of “regulations” allows liberals to (1) blame Trump (a possible fundraising opportunity), (2) ignore Precision Scheduled Railroading (and hence not confront capital directly), and (3) erase workers and their unions (who they just kicked in the stones by outlawing a strike). I know I’m a broken record on this, but the Lever News coverage on this has been really annoying; they immediately pulled the “regulation” framing out of their ***** — from whence it propagated everywhere else — without doing even cursory investigation with the actual experts in the field: railroad workers. Not a good look.

“The Reaction Economy” [London Review of Books]. “Our public sphere is frequently dominated by events you could call ‘reaction chains’, whereby reactions provoke reactions, which provoke further reactions, and so on. Last year’s Oscars ceremony is remembered for just such a reaction chain. When the host, the comedian Chris Rock, made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head, her husband, Will Smith, strode up on stage and slapped Rock in the face on live television. For several days afterwards, countless commentators, celebrities and social media users sought to distinguish themselves by their reaction to ‘the slap’. Inevitably, those reactions provoked further reactions…. Thanks largely to the spread of smart scrollable devices in the last fifteen years, a certain concept of public participation – what is now known in the managerial vernacular as ‘engagement’ – is common to events of this sort, and to the way they are framed by the media.” This is the dopamine loop at the level of social relations. More: “The individual is not conceived in the same way as in the liberal philosophical tradition – as an autonomous agent, possessed of reason and interests – or in the psychoanalytic tradition, as shaped perhaps unconsciously by past conflicts and injuries. Instead, each of us (celebrities included) becomes a junction box in a vast, complex network, receiving, processing and emitting information in a semi-automatic fashion, and in real time. Information and emotions bounce between these junctions, mutating as they travel, as instantiated in the memes and jokes that spread virally via social media platforms. In this model, each individual reaction is one more item of information thrown back into the network, in search of counter-reactions…. [M]uch of the anxiety provoked by today’s reaction economy consists in the possibility that, in our desperate hunt for feedback and our need to give feedback to others, we allow ourselves to be steered in directions we did not consent to, and may not wish to go. This has echoes of the mid-20th-century fears of advertising, PR and propaganda, with the difference that now, in the age of reaction chains, we are drawn towards controversy, absurd public spectacles, endlessly mutating memes, trolling etc. In these showers of feedback, much of the appeal is in the sheer quantity of reaction being circulated. Feedback mechanisms, which the cyberneticians viewed as instruments to achieve autonomy and facilitate navigation, turn out to be a trap.” • This is not reaction in the sense of reactionary. Or is it? (Recently, I was searching for a word for when a regime, instead of becoming an ancien regime, successfully reconsolidates itself. Perhaps “reaction” is a candidate for that; I should dig out my Cory Robin. While I have rejected a left/right binary, in favor of a conservative/liberal/left triangle, perhaps I need to make a move into “fourthness”: reactionary/conservative/liberal/left. Certainly the energy on “the right” is not from Reagan conservatives, but from, well, reactionaries. OTOH, I shouldn’t confuse the function of reaction with the ideology or factionalism of reaction; Obama, for example, reconsolidated our FIRE-dominated economy after the Great Crash, and he was a liberal. Further thought needed….)

Not that I’m foily:


As reader eg wrote: “You can have whatever you like, but it’s all smothered in Bernays sauce.”

“Google asks some employees to share desks amid office downsizing” [CNBC]. “‘Most Googlers will now share a desk with one other Googler,’ the internal document stated, noting they expect employees to come in on alternate days so they’re not at the same desk on the same day. ‘Through the matching process, they will agree on a basic desk setup and establish norms with their desk partner and teams to ensure a positive experience in the new shared environment.'”

News of the Wired

“How Stovemakers Helped Invent Modern Marketing” [JSTOR Daily]. “[W]ith the dawn of the stove-specific foundry and a dramatic improvement in transportation beginning in the 1830s, manufacturers took responsibility for their products. No longer able to rely on local markets alone, these stove innovators attempted to distinguish individual brands. They patented new features and created model names—lots of them. [Historian Howell J. Harris] notes that a staggering four-fifths of all design patents in the 1840s, and two-thirds of those issued in the 1850s, had to do with stoves and their features. The mass production of stoves made for more similarity across markets, though Harris points out that put extra pressure on smaller features like handy design innovations and add-ons intended to make stoves stand out. Stoves weren’t just stoves any more: they were Jewett Stoves, St. Lous Air-Tights, Franklin Saddlebags. These metal behemoths made their way to major cities by rail and ship, then to ‘stove districts’ and stores. In non-urban areas, retailers purchased merchandise from cities and managed the shipping process. Many of these retailers were tinware peddlers turned tinware store owners with vast distribution networks and sales territories. They cleaned up travel-worn stoves, installed, and even repaired them while overseeing complex credit and barter systems. Traveling salesmen dubbed ‘stove drummers’ crisscrossed the nation, selling stoves and collecting on debts. ‘They traveled light, carrying trade gossip, catalogs, and not much else, visiting retailers in their own premises,’ Harris writes. These salespeople also provided customer service and rudimentary market intelligence, reporting back to headquarters on how consumers like the stoves and what the competitors were selling. The stove boom ended in the late nineteenth century, but by then the die had been cast. Even as stove prices fell, Harris writes, stovemakers achieved ‘universal market penetration…transforming stoves into objects bought as consumption items, on grounds of their style, and even beauty, as well as their functional utility.'” • Ha. My family went through a complete circle back to generics: A big steel box, extremely not beautiful. I can’t even remember the brand!

“Some Writing Advice” [Ross Barkan]. This is very useful for anybody who wants to “be a writer.” I like this tip especially: “You really want to be a writer? Buy a printer. If you’ve written something you like, read it once over in the Word document or Google doc. Then print it out. You’ll be shocked by how many errors you’ll catch reading it a second time on paper. That’s how the eye works. Read with a pen and mark it up. Read it out loud to see if it flows. With fiction especially, this is a must.”

* * *

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 Late Introvert:

Late Introvert writes: “Ancient ferns, as we have been told by a local botanist. We don’t know the name.” I don’t know what the ferns to right and left are, but that sure looks like a fiddlehead in the middle. 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. ron paul rEVOLution

    >The skeptic in me wants to know if it works. Would before and after CO2 measurements do the trick?

    I don’t think a HEPA filter would remove CO2 from the air. You could test by burning something particularly sooty, and taking air particle measurements, I think.

    1. Grumpy Engineer

      Agreed. The design will work because the HEPA filter will capture virus-laden aerosol particles, but it will not block gas molecules like N2, O2, and CO2.

      And it’s worth noting that CO2 levels are not a perfect measure of virus risk. If you’re in a room with a lot of people and no meaningful air filtration, it’s an excellent proxy measurement. But if the air is aggressively filtered with MERV 14+ (or HEPA) filters, the viral load will drop even though CO2 measurements will not. And CO2 levels can also be elevated by combustion appliances such as gas stoves, which increase CO2 levels but don’t add virus particles to the air.

    2. tevhatch

      You are correct. C02 measurements are used as a proxy for air exchange, by comparing C02 levels inside with assumptions on C02 production, with local outdoor air C02 levels fron the external/outdoor air to determine the rate of make up air. There are particulate meters, but they are even more sensitive to drift/need more frequent calibration. The easier solution is based on confidence in the filter medium manufacturers data and to calculate the airflow through the filter, and here is the tricky part, the air flows distribution through the volume being filter.

    3. lambert strether

      You’re right. I automatically think of a fan drawing in outside air, but of course that’s not what’s going on.

      So what’s the solution? Is there one?

      1. SteveD

        The solution to combining an effective air filter with a light fixture? This has already been prototyped by people combining Corsi-Rosenthal ideas with PC fans and LED lights. I can easily imagine iterating these prototypes to an aesthetically pleasing combo unit. Or did I misunderstand the question?

  2. semper loquitur

    re: Koch suckers

    Many thanks to that “pasty white” spawn of hell-fiend Koch for introducing us to the non-wisdom of the “Perception Box”…and for declaring her Woke bona fides. I had no idea that my perceptions were tricking me, perhaps she could help explain how we can get beyond our perceptions to, um, imperceptions? I suppose the implication is that there is some “realer” reality beyond our mere perceptions that we can, uh, perceive? Anyhews, the value keeps getting added when this viper describes herself as “apolitical”, when in fact she is a Republican power donor….a crystalline example of manipulating another’s “Perception Box”.

    1. notabanker

      My perception is that my bank account is 4 to 6 digits smaller than hers and that is why she is being interviewed by the NYT and I’m not. Call me crazy…..

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      I think he’s just being a politician trying to get out front of the growing crowd that feels this way. When you recognize, as Yves pointed out in her Lira interview, that very large portions of this money are going to defray the regular expenses of the Ukraine government, including pensions, it will really be ironic when they’re trying to pitch a SS and Medicare cut.. It didn’t help with Biden being in KyIIIIIIIIv on President’s Day.

      The truth of the matter is that the rulers of America and their politician salemen/lackeys are much more interested in what they can grab for themselves using America’s Paper Tiger power than they are in meeting the basic needs of the American people.

      1. flora

        Icebergs melt from the bottom up, leaving the tip visibly unchanged until the last moments. Not sure why this analogy seem pertinent here, maybe it’s not pertinent. / ;)

    2. notabanker

      We have shifted into the blame phase of the crisis. This is where in order to distract from the fact that a whole town is now a toxic wasteland, untold thousands of people will have cancer within the next two years and dead animals are littering the landscape, we point fingers at all of those who could have been to blame. The more the merrier, as the distraction becomes the point. We cannot have anyone asking who is actually going to cleanup and fix this mess, because the answer we all already know is: No one.

      1. in_still_water

        untold thousands of people will have cancer within the next two years

        Where are you getting this information from? TIA.

        1. John

          Precision Scheduled Railroading is the meta culprit. Precision Scheduled Railroading is all about profit. Precision Scheduled Railroading is the industry’s version of just in time delivery. It works just fine until it doesn’t. Precision Scheduled Railroading could be renamed cut to the bone on labor and maintenance, rake in cash with both hands, duck,run and evade when it goes bad. Norfolk Southern’s major stock holders are huge investment management firms who, I believe, are supposed to be expert in handling money. What is the extent of their expertise in prudent operation of railroads?

          1. in_still_water

            Precision Schedule Railroading might have worked ok in Canada it does not mesh well with the U.S. freight system.

            1. Late Introvert

              I live near a train in the Midwest, right down the block. I love trains. PSR endangers myself, my family, and my home. 1 operator on a 2-mile train???? Seriously, trolls be gone.

              The same Iowa Republicans busy handing taxpayer money to wealthy people with children in private schools are trying to limit trains to 1.5 miles. LOL, and it won’t pass. They only care because of the rural traffic jams, poor things.

            2. upstater

              Disagree. Freight trains are just as long and heavy. Passenger train schedules, using the same tracks have been lengthened, eg., the transcontinental “Canadian” now takes a full day longer than it did 30-40 years ago. Similarly, the Quebec-Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto-Windsor corridor schedules are 25% longer than in decades past,

              Many shippers complain, but regulation is very light touch.

      2. flora

        Not just E. Palestine either. Just over the Ohio state line in west PA, the nearby towns are scrambling. We don’t hear much about that from the MSM.

    3. flora

      re: Hawley is correct.

      Yes, he is. Now the question is; is he a grandstanding opportunist or someone more serious about govt and governing in the interest of his voters? Who knows.

      My question: why don’t the Dems understand the same question as serious a matter for their electoral fortunes? Who knows.

  3. Henry Moon Pie

    Asbury Revival–

    Interesting link. As I hear them cycle through their demands/declarations, I’m less in fear of this “movement” than I’m seeing an analogy to the Ghost Dancers. There’s more desperation here than will to power. It’s so sad they don’t have a clue about the real principalities and powers that are oppressing them in more fundamental ways like turning their towns into wastelands for the sake of grabbing the next bonus.

    It’s also intriguing that the “Seven Mountains” idea is back to Postmillennialism, but with a right-wing rather than left-wing bent. What happened to things deteriorating until the Rapture, Tribulation, Armageddon and the arrival of Jesus, i.e. the heretofore popular Premillennialism? People get tired of waiting on Hal Lindsey to be right?

    LCMS worried about white supremacy–

    There’s no reason for the LCMS president to be shocked. The LCMS chose a fundamentalist approach over 50 years ago and assiduously hounded more open-minded approaches to biblical understanding out of the Synod. They were assisted in this operation by Herman Otten founder and editor of the “Christian News,” who embraced all kinds of crazy ideas, including extensive attention to Holocaust denialism. It’s a short jump from Christian News to the Proud Boys, etc.

    1. Wukchumni

      Interesting link. As I hear them cycle through their demands/declarations, I’m less in fear of this “movement” than I’m seeing an analogy to the Ghost Dancers. There’s more desperation here than will to power. It’s so sad they don’t have a clue about the real principalities and powers that are oppressing them in more fundamental ways like turning their towns into wastelands for the sake of grabbing the next bonus.

      It’s also intriguing that the “Seven Mountains” idea is back to Postmillennialism, but with a right-wing rather than left-wing bent. What happened to things deteriorating until the Rapture, Tribulation, Armageddon and the arrival of Jesus, i.e. the heretofore popular Premillennialism? People get tired of waiting on Hal Lindsey to be right?
      The first ever ghost dance was held in Eshom Valley in 1870 only about 25 miles from my home, and the survivors of the 55 or so Yokuts tribes that hadn’t perished from Measles (85-90% died) thought this was the best way to go about the future by bringing their loved ones back by a marathon dance.

      Being practical people they held 3 or 4 of these affairs before giving up the ghost.

      The difference between evangs and them is, the Yokuts wanted their loved ones back on this good Earth, whereas the evangs want the chosen ones to be in heaven with the big fella.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        Wise folks. It was worth a try, but…

        These charismatic folks-significantly different from the Evanges–seem to intend for themselves and their progeny to stick around long enough to get things shipshape for Jesus’s return, very different from those sitting around waiting for the Rapture and let Jesus do the heavy lifting. Maybe they figured out that wasn’t the best way to motivate people.

  4. G in SF

    >> “fourthness”

    Wonder if this becomes some kind of quadrant system? Maybe comparing each of the 4 to the other 3 would yield some interesting similarities and differences

  5. Zephyrum

    Russia’s 300 billion euros that the EU thought they had frozen amount to more like 34 billion euros, according to Lithuanian news outlet Delfi. I could only find the article in their Russian version, but here’s the money quote:

    A senior official of the European Commission staff, who wished to remain anonymous due to lack of authority to communicate with the media, told Delfi that European financial authorities, despite their statements about the blocking of 300 billion euros belonging to the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, have not found these funds. According to him, their estimates of the volume of his foreign assets are based solely on estimates of the Russian Central Bank itself, made before the start of a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Delfi’s interlocutor said that in reality, the amount of blocked assets is much lower.

    Russian Telegram and news sites are abuzz with this as one might imagine.

      1. Late Introvert

        They feinted money like they feint troops. Smart, and lessons to be learned from that, I suspect. Use the ropes they sold us, etc.

  6. midtownwageslave

    COVID? Data Point: Close Family is a teacher in Nu Yok and has noticed a rise in unexplained extended absences of both faculty and students at their school over the past few weeks.

    Perhaps by coincidence, the school administration has resumed handing out COVID tests to everyone.

    No explanations, but oh hey, by the way here’s a bunch of COVID tests….

    1. kareninca

      There was mention in a post here on NC a couple of days ago about far more covid testing sites popping up in NYC recently.

  7. notabanker

    What economic recovery? For record corporate profits courtesy of more bailouts? What planet do these people live on? My real effective wages are going down via this wonderful profit enhancing inflation, 401K is tanking and layoffs are in every daily news cycle.

    Seriously, this is ImagineLand. 12 million new jobs making either $15 an hour or $250K a year that nobody is qualified for is not economic recovery, it is late stage capitalism accelerating.

    1. Screwball

      Agree, but all this administration has is BS, and plenty of it. I think there was an open mic incident recently where Biden was caught saying “they will believe anything.” He’s right, there are plenty who still believe whatever they are told.

      I just got back from the grocery store. Carried everything in in one trip. A couple of bags and a 12 pack. $70 and some change. Unreal, compared to what it was a year or so ago.

      I couldn’t bring myself to watch Mayo Pete on MSNBC. I don’t need to as I’m already mad from going to the store. But in general, it seems to me the democrats are really trying to get Donald J Trump elected again. I hope the dems don’t count on Ohio. I’m not sure it really matters, as they all suck. Sorry, I’m just so fed up with all these clowns.

      1. John

        The democrats seem to suffer serially from an inability to find “it” with both hands, flashlight, map, and a coach standing by. But then I say, “Silly me.”, the dems have in sight into truths hidden from lesser mortals.

    2. paddy

      your savings are evaporating and your grandchildren will not live like you, if biden don’t blow the world up.

      disinflation is transitory! pce report this am!

      33 trillion bucks in blossoming debt and biden claims deficit reduced, only if look back to dec 2020!

      a blank check to the kiev comic for tilting with thermo nuclear exchange.

      and your natural gas stove is worse than bull flatus!

      biden is dangerous to $$ and humans.

      but no mean tweets!

    3. kareninca

      When we moved to Silicon Valley 27 years ago, our typical pg&e bill was about $50. Recently I have become inured to $250 pg&e bills. But our most recent bill was $350. We have electric lights, air filters, computers, a fridge and a small stand alone freezer, and space heaters that we use sparingly.

  8. Jason Boxman

    unemployment is now at its lowest level since 1969

    Even Powell recently (last December?) pointed out in a speech that a half million people left the workforce through death. And that’s having some impact on the labor market. No surprise the Biden White House has not recognized these deaths.

    1. paddy

      recognizing deaths would put the spotlight on biden not solving the pandemic in any measure that matters.

      employed population ratio is 60.2%, it was 61.1% in feb 2020!

      usa has an oscillating gdp that don’t need 39% of the people?

      what is potential in this country?

      1. JBird4049

        Much, maybe most of the unemployment comes from the needs not being meet. All the resources that could be used to create, maintain, and build are going to the 1% maybe a little to the 10%.

        The United States still has immense resources and many skilled workers with even more wanted to be skilled and it’s being allowed to disappear because this is profitable for some people.

    2. fjallstrom

      When unemployment ratios are bandied aboout, I usually go check employment ratio.

      Latest number is 60.2% percent employed. It was lower in 2009-2016, but apart from that and the period since 2020, it hasn’t been lower since the mid 80ies. Combined with low unemployment, it just means that a lot of people neither has unemployment benefits or a job. That does not a “good economy” make.

  9. johnherbiehancock

    re: “Some writing advice”

    in the legal-contract drafting sphere, if I have a contract that absolutely must be perfect, there’s no substitute for printing it out, and -using a ruler to underline the sentence I’m on and prevent my eyes from darting ahead – reading line by line.

    It’s unbelievable how much crap I miss when reviewing on a screen

    1. FreeMarketApologist

      Completely agree. A printed copy reveals all sorts of things missed in the online version (not just formatting)

    2. KLG

      Now, imagine that your future doctor will have done nothing but read* her 12 essential medical textbooks on a screen, and while a medical student could not discuss a medical case in a tutorial room without a laptop or tablet in front of him.

      *Reading on a screen consists largely of scanning for keywords and nothing else. True now and forevermore.

    3. Late Introvert

      I’m an indie video producer meaning I do all the titles and credits. I HAVE to look at them on screen, and I have a blooper reel years long from things I looked at multiple times. I check credits when I type them in closely, then again before I close the window. Then I watch them back at least 3 times, stopping and starting and referencing the (ha) printed document sometimes, but usually an email. I’ve added layers of review over the years because of this problem

      Screens are not conducive to apprehension, accuracy or retention – as I type in a browser box on NC….

  10. Lex

    CO2 measurements would not give any information on the efficacy of the neat lamp/filter build. It’s only a proxy for ventilation measurements and measures the air exchange with the outside. The only real way to test the unit would be the same as tests of CR boxes at 3M and NIOSH.

    That said, this concept would work the same as the CR box and similar designs. Most of the information could be gathered from the CFM specification of the fans and of course the filter specs. A cheap anemometer would confirm air flow through the filter, but probably not worth the time vs just feeling if there’s air flow. They’re likely not as efficient as the CR box in terms of room air exchanges, which is the most important number here, but they should work just fine. A room might need more of them, but the design seems a bit smaller and easier to place than a floor stationed CR box.

    1. Acacia

      This all makes sense. What I wonder about is the effect of connecting a PC fan to one of these high-end filters. Generally, I think we can say that PC fans aren’t trying to draw air through a HEPA filter. The usual design for a PC enclosure is just a thin metal screen in front of the fan that will capture larger bits of dust, which you then clean with a vacuum cleaner every couple months. Stated differently, I wonder if the fan’s CFM specs still apply with a beefy filter.

      Didn’t try to fully grok the lamp/filter design, but I also noticed the builder is proposing multiple PC fans in series.

      In any case, a lamp that filters air is a great idea !

  11. CanCyn

    Re plantidote – Pretty sure they are ostrich ferns. The young plant is tightly coiled when it first emerges from the ground, they referred to as a fiddleheads. Perhaps other ferns look the same during initial spring growth but it is ostrich ferns that are edible in their fiddlehead form. Delicious lightly steamed, serve with butter and a squeeze of lemon juice.

      1. Late Introvert

        Thanks, I enjoyed the upenn.edu graphic of the life-cycle of ferns. Who knew they use spores to reproduce, are both male and female, and go through so many stages? Neat.

  12. Tim

    “He also said freight railroads should reach more agreements to provide their employees with paid sick time to help prevent fatigue.”
    I’m trying to get my head around this. Is it blame-shifting backstabbing to the railroads after his administration broke up the strikes that were primarily fighting for more sick time and shift changes to prevent fatigue?
    It takes a lot of trust in media being bought and paid for to say something like that without worry you will be called out on it in the national press.

  13. Tim

    read it once over in the Word document or Google doc. Then print it out. You’ll be shocked by how many errors you’ll catch reading it a second time on paper. That’s how the eye works.
    Same thing applies to checking engineering drawings. I always tell people to print them out and mark them up. Of course now the world is going 3D only, so you have to print out a screen shot which isn’t intuitive for people to think they should do.
    And against the backdrop of “Go Paperless”!

  14. Wukchumni

    “From TV to TikTok, young people are exposed to gambling promotions everywhere” [The Conversation]. “The 11- to 17-year-olds who took part in our study told us they regularly come into contact with gambling not just during sports, but in a range of everyday environments. They saw promotions for gambling in local shopping centres, at post offices, during sporting matches, movies and television shows.

    Can you really blame teenagers for believing in something for nothing?

    All the advertising emphasizes winning, how could it go the other way?

    1. The Rev Kev

      About twenty years ago here in Oz there was a TV ad by one of the big banks pushing credit cards onto kids who had just finished high school and they were pretending that it was some sort of rite of passage. The message was that you could buy it now and not have to wait and showed an 18 year old kid using their credit card to buy something expensive.

  15. Henry Moon Pie

    Social media driving us nuts–

    Nate Haugens interview Haidt on his podcast. It’s available here as either a video or a PDF. They discuss social media’s effects, the Woke crisis on campus, and the “coddling” of current youth.

  16. Harold

    They say the giant ostrich fern can reach seven feet in a moist situation. Seems to like a neutral soil and cold winter regions. Deer do not bother them. I love these prehistoric seeming plants.

  17. Realist

    Are you trying to tell me there’s only 6,431 churches in the whole US?

    Feels like there must be at least that many in this state alone.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        still seems like a gross undercount.
        we have a relatively stable 17 or so in this tiny county, alone(pop:4500…had as many as 23 during the late Bush2/earlyObama frenzy)
        at that time, during my post-911…and especially post Tea….online Jane Goodallism, i got sermons in a fake email inbox from all but 2 of those 23(those 2 were both the fall on the floor types, and super righty, and made up of folks who really really wish it were still 1908…i doubt either preacher even had a computer, let alone email or a website)

        that factionalism and tendency to split congregations over minor, esoteric minutiae(or hyperpolitical nonsense, or just good ol racism) is the thing that saves the rest of us from them.
        it was fascinating to watch…2 outside groups moving in and steeplejacking all the churches but the Catholic one(Papists, and all, lol)…causing dissent and bad blood and badmouthing…until a new offshoot congregation emerged…then those split, and so on…until things settled out, and we ended up with 2 new churches…a Cowboy…and one of those seven mountain mars hill clones..leaving us with the current stable number: 17 or so.

  18. Henry Moon Pie

    I got a kick out of seeing this in local news, not for the article but for the picture of Cleveland’s Superior Ave. If you check out the photo, you can see Cleveland’s downtown in the distance. To the left is the beloved Golden Arches. To the right is a Section 8 high-rise. Out of the picture to the right is Rite-Aid. If the car just ahead on Superior Ave would take a right at the fire hydrant, they would find themselves at our place four houses down.

  19. flora

    re: Showing the political courage for which he is famed, Mayo Pete goes on MSBNC:

    Dry, Lambert, very dry. / ;)

  20. Wukchumni

    Amid ongoing national debate over Christian nationalism, North Idaho offers a window at what actually trying to manifest a right-wing vision for a Christian America can look like — and the power it can wield in state politics.
    I’ve mentioned it before, our evang militia-tax evader church in tiny town up and left for North Idaho, changing their name from the Church at Kaweah, to the Lordship Church in Bonners Ferry.

    It seemed to me that nobody dared speak out against them, but once they were gone (Idaho’s gain is our gain) oh how locals got vocal.

    Their church in Three Rivers has been the whitest of white elephants, as its been on the real estate market for years, and comes with a target shooting range just beyond the building.


  21. antidlc

    GOP Ex-Sen. Inhofe Retired Due To Long COVID After Opposing COVID Aid

    The longtime senator from Oklahoma said complications from the virus contributed to his stepping aside.

    Former Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) attributed his decision to retire due to the long-term effects of COVID-19, telling local newspaper Tulsa World that certain symptoms were still affecting him day-to-day.

    Inhofe voted against multiple coronavirus aid packages meant to help Americans at the height of the pandemic, including the Families First Coronavirus Response Act approved overwhelmingly by 90 senators in March 2020, and the American Rescue Plan in March 2021.

    The 88-year-old did not say which symptoms he was dealing with. But he suggested he was in good company, alleging that other elected representatives in Congress are also struggling with long COVID behind the scenes.

    “Five or six others have (long COVID), but I’m the only one who admits it,” Inhofe told Tulsa World.

        1. Late Introvert

          Agree, but he’s just the kind of person who most deserved it. Sorry, not sorry. What a prick.

  22. Raymond Sim

    Clinicians have known about the effect of positive thinking on disease progression for a long time,…

    Sigh, “known about” here could be replaced by either of “exhibited unwarranted confidence in” or “paid no heed to” and be just as correct if not more so.

    Meanwhile, the central nervous system’s role in disease response/pathology does not necessarily have anything to do with psychogenesis.

    I don’t understand why it should be so, but ‘explanation’ of disease via psychogenesis seems to exert a perverse attraction on doctors and laymen alike. Personally, ten days after suffering an intracerebral hemorrhage of the right parietal lobe I had a seizure with preserved consciousness. It started focal and marched to status epilepticus. The initial diagnosis was pseudoseizure, i.e. psychogenesis – because of the preserved consciousness. I was in the emergency room of the hospital whose ICU I had been treated in, and the doctors had access to all the records pertaining to my recent stroke. The belief that ‘real’ seizures don’t feature preserved consciousness was enough to make them look past a recent stroke and withdrawal from anticonvulsants just 24 hrs prior.

  23. semper loquitur

    Good to know that Pedo-Joe is ready to run! Mother Biden must have come across some of Hunter’s space-cocaine. Or some Depends…

  24. Ben Joseph

    Re nature article ”brain could be controlling how sick you get — and how you recover”

    The placebo effect is suddenly a new story?

  25. Raymond Sim

    I hadn’t checked the SCAN website in a while. It almost looks as if they’ve gone national? My strokified brain doesn’t have the visual processing power to cope with figuring it out at the moment, but here’s the link:


    They’ve added a number of new sites here in the greater greater Bay Area as well.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Of course if Google encouraged more people to work from home, this idea would not be necessary. They could downsize its real estate footprint that way even more easily. Just sayin’.

  26. The Rev Kev

    ‘We can’t do ALL the water! For an entire city? Are you kidding?
    How are we going to pump it, eh? Gravity?
    Even then, who’s going to pay for it? Nobody will put up with tax hikes!
    Zero cholera is a pipe dream. Stop living in fear. Enjoy your twenties. You’ll be dead soon.’

    I’m just trying to imagine a Neoliberal Victorian England that would believe that stuff and dealing with Cholera. Or even a neoliberal America in the mid-20th century dealing with Polio. That would be pretty messed up that. Maybe that is why under neoliberalism there is a de-emphasis of history studies.

    1. JBird4049

      Victorian England was very libertarian economically, which is where Charles Dickens got his material, but in areas like diseases they weren’t. I think that they recognize that in some areas blathering about personal responsibility is BS.

  27. Gulag

    “Perhaps “reaction” is a candidate for that…perhaps I need to make a move into fourthness”: reactionary, conservative/liberal/left.”

    Please check out the most recent screed by Paul Kingsnorth “Against Progress: The case for Reactionary Radicalism.” Here are just a few of his insights:

    “But conservatism has failed as well. This is partly because it was always only, in Roger Scranton’s words, “a hesitation within liberalism.” Part of its flaws is “its love affair with private property and the sovereign individual. Both of these things can be necessary bulwarks against the top-down collectivism of the left but taken to extremes they lead to a top-down collectivism of another kind: oligarchic capitalism.”

    “Reactionary radicalism does not fit into any left-right framing. It is a politics from an older world. Calhoun’s book (The Origins of Class Struggle) is the story of the doomed resistance of the pre-industrial people of England to the destruction of their economies and associated ways of life.”

    “Their stance is reactionary because it looks for guidance to the past, to an established order–or lost–moral and economic order, hallowed by tradition, rather than seeking to build a new one based on abstract ideology. But it is radical too, in its resistance to the alternative values of the machine and in its demand for justice for communities and a fair and balanced moral, social and economic order.”

    “These people…were to Calhoun’s telling more radical than the later proletariat, would turn out to be (despite Marx’x urging). While the industrial working class were fighting for their rights within the established factory system of the late nineteenth century,… For Calhoun, Marx’s binary portrait of a proletariat set against a bourgeoise may have had some utility when studying the factory system of the late nineteenth century, but it didn’t apply to those artisans, farmers, small businessmen and families who resisted that system in the first place.”

    1. JBird4049

      >>>Calhoun’s book (The Origins of Class Struggle)

      Wouldn’t it be “The Question of Class Struggle” by Craig Calhoun?

  28. Paradan

    So right now in Paso Robles, CA, elevation 800′, it is snowing. My car has about 1/2 an inch piled up on it.

  29. JTMcPhee

    For the collation, here’s Florida’s covid “dashboard:” https://floridahealthcovid19.gov/

    No charts or graphs other than a link out to the CDC web site. But easy links to “vaccinations, testing, treatment.” Nada on prevention-precautions. DeSatis does not believe there’s a problem.

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