2:00PM Water Cooler 3/10/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

American Robin, Burton Drive Hideaway, King, Washington, United States. “American Robins upset by 2 Barred Owls in a tree, called for at least 15 minutes. Owl calls at 0:33 and 1:38. Occasional other birds include Pacific-slope Flycatcher.” Drama!

* * *


“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

“15 budget asks that are actually Biden’s reelection pitch” [Politico]. “President Joe Biden’s new fiscal wishlist outlines a policy blueprint for Democrats gunning to keep the White House in 2024, with a heavy emphasis on celebrating the legislative wins notched during his first two years in office. Rolling out the plan in Philadelphia on Thursday to the chanting of ‘four more years,’ Biden sold his budget as a way to both bolster the economy and the lives of regular Americans, looking to reinforce his image as an ally of working families. While Biden hasn’t announced that he’s running again yet, his budget proposal stakes out what might as well be campaign positions on how to counter Chinese aggression, save Medicare from insolvency, tackle tax loopholes for the wealthy and more.” Importantly: “Notably, Biden didn’t ask for significant new Covid funding, a reminder of the administration’s plan to wind down its emergency pandemic response in the coming months amid congressional Republican resistance to providing more money.” • Because heaven knows Covid doesn’t affect “working families.”


“Marianne Williamson: ‘Anything Is Possible'” (interview) [The Nation]. Throwing down the gauntlet:

Your background is different from the typical presidential candidate. You’ve run for office before, but you’ve gained notoriety as someone who helps people explore their experiences, often from a spiritual perspective. Do you see that as a challenge or an advantage?

[WILLIAMSON]: It is key to my strength here and I’ll tell you why: I have dealt in my 40-year career with helping people both endure crises, and transform them. That is exactly what this country needs now: someone who can help us both endure and transform the trauma of these times. The chaos is external, but the trauma created by the chaos is internal. Secondly, because of my experience with all kinds of personality types and all kinds of people, I have a deep understanding of what a sociopath is. A sociopath is someone who simply doesn’t care.… It is because of that that I recognize as deeply as I do that an economic system—namely hyper-capitalism, namely neoliberalism—has at its root a deep spiritual darkness. It does not care. It is a sociopathic economic system that prioritizes short-term profit maximization for these huge corporate entities. It is a destructive force. And the political establishment, at its best right now, only tries to stave off its worst aspects. That’s what corporatist Democrats do. They recognize the disease to some extent, and they try to help people survive it. But they refuse to challenge the underlying corporate forces that make the return of all that pain and all that trauma inevitable.

Asking for my vote….

“Bernie Sanders says Marianne Williamson will run a ‘strong campaign’ and raise ‘very important issues’ in 2024” [Business Insider]. “Sanders has said he will support Biden if he seeks re-election, and told Insider on Tuesday that he doesn’t ‘want to speculate’ about Williamson’s chances. But Williamson endorsed Sanders in 2020 after dropping out of the campaign, and he indicated a respect for her that other Democrats haven’t shown. ‘I know Marianne,’ said Sanders. ‘I’m sure she’s going to run a strong campaign and raise very important issues.’ Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, by contrast, was firm in her support for Biden when asked about Williamson’s campaign. ‘I think that President Biden is going to be the Democratic nominee, and he’s going to be re-elected,’ said Warren, saying she supported Biden because he’s ‘accomplished a tremendous amount in the last two years, and he’s got real momentum to keep on delivering for the American people.’ Williamson announced her campaign to a packed room at Union Station in Washington, DC on Saturday, drawing applause from the crowd for her critiques about a ‘sociopathic economic system.'”

Unsurprisingly, The View hates Williamson:

“Manhattan prosecutors signal charges likely for Trump in Stormy Daniels case – NYT” [Reuters]. “Manhattan prosecutors have signaled to former President Donald Trump that he could face criminal charges relating to his alleged role in hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, the New York Times reported on Thursday, citing four unnamed sources. The former president was told he could appear before a Manhattan grand jury next week if he wished to testify, the newspaper said. It said such invitations almost always mean an indictment is close.” • I hope Trump runs from jail. He’d win. And what a spectacle along the way!

“Virginia Governor Stumbles As Trans Student Confronts Him On Live TV” [HuffPo]. “The student, who goes by Niko, noted they’re a transgender man and pressed Youngkin on his anti-trans policies, including proposals that would limit trans students’ participation in athletics and usage of bathrooms. ‘Do you think the girls in my high school would feel comfortable sharing a restroom with me?’ asked Niko. Without answering yes or no, Youngkin swerved into touting his belief in strong parent-child relationships. ‘I believe first, when parents are engaged with their children, you can make good decisions together,’ he said. ‘I also think there are lots of students involved in this decision.’ He went on to call for more school plumbing infrastructure, including gender-neutral facilities ‘so people can use the bathroom that they, in fact, are comfortable with.’ He claimed his policy on sports is clear and noncontroversial, and supports progress made for ‘women in sports.'” • Calling for plumbing infrastructure isn’t exactly throwing red meat….

Democrats en Déshabillé

Patient readers, it seems that people are actually reading the back-dated post! But I have not updated it, and there are many updates. So I will have to do that. –lambert

I have moved my standing remarks on the Democrat Party (“the Democrat Party is a rotting corpse that can’t bury itself”) to a separate, back-dated post, to which I will periodically add material, summarizing the addition here in a “live” Water Cooler. (Hopefully, some Bourdieu.) It turns out that defining the Democrat Party is, in fact, a hard problem. I do think the paragraph that follows is on point all the way back to 2016, if not before:

The Democrat Party is the political expression of the class power of PMC, their base (lucidly explained by Thomas Frank in Listen, Liberal!). It follows that the Democrat Party is as “unreformable” as the PMC is unreformable; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. If the Democrat Party fails to govern, that’s because the PMC lacks the capability to govern. (“PMC” modulo “class expatriates,” of course.) Second, all the working parts of the Party reinforce each other. Leave aside characterizing the relationships between elements of the Party (ka-ching, but not entirely) those elements comprise a network — a Flex Net? An iron octagon? — of funders, vendors, apparatchiks, electeds, NGOs, and miscellaneous mercenaries, with assets in the press and the intelligence community.

Note, of course, that the class power of the PMC both expresses and is limited by other classes; oligarchs and American gentry (see ‘industrial model’ of Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Jie) and the working class spring to mind. Suck up, kick down.

* * *

Realignment and Legitimacy


“I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.” –William Lloyd Garrison

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

• Readers, thanks for the push. We are now up to 38/50 states (76%). Could those of you in states not listed help out by either with dashboard/wastewater links, or ruling your state out definitively? Thank you! (I think I have caught up with everybody I missed.)

Resources, United States (Local): AK (dashboard); AL (dashboard); AR (dashboard); AZ (dashboard); 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); MN (dashboard); MT (dashboard); NC (dashboard); NH (wastewater); NJ (dashboard); NM (dashboard); NY (dashboard); OH (dashboard); OK (dashboard); OR (dashboard); PA (dashboard); RI (dashboard); SC (dashboard); SD (dashboard); TN (dashboard); TX (dashboard); UT (wastewater); VA (dashboard); VT (dashboard); WA (dashboard; dashboard); WI (wastewater); WV (wastewater); WY (wastewater).

Resources, Canada (National): Wastewater (Government of Canada).

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

Hat tips to helpful readers: Art_DogCT, B24S, CanCyn, ChiGal, Chuck L, Festoonic, FM, Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JEHR, JF, Joe, John, JM (6), JW, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, otisyves, Petal (5), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (4), tennesseewaltzer, Utah, Bob White (3). (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 28 38/50 (76% 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!

* * *

Look for the Helpers

I’m filing the story of the Cochrane implosion here because I think a lot of exceptional helpers brought issues to Cochrane’s attention, and they decided preserving their brand was a good idea:

“Statement on ‘Physical interventions to interrupt or reduce the spread of respiratory viruses’ review” [Karla Soares-Weiser, Cochrane Institute]. Soares-Weiser is Editor-in-Chief of the Cochrane Library.

Many commentators have claimed that a recently-updated Cochrane Review shows that ‘masks don’t work’, which is an inaccurate and misleading interpretation.

Soares-Weiser gracefully omits saying that one such “commentator” was the Lead Author of the ***cough*** Review ***cough***, who gave an interview saying that, in so many words.

It would be accurate to say that the review examined whether interventions to promote mask wearing help to slow the spread of respiratory viruses, and that the results were inconclusive. Given the limitations in the primary evidence, the review is not able to address the question of whether mask-wearing itself reduces people’s risk of contracting or spreading respiratory viruses…..

While scientific evidence is never immune to misinterpretation, we take responsibility for not making the wording clearer from the outset. We are engaging with the review authors with the aim of updating the Plain Language Summary and abstract to make clear that the review looked at whether interventions to promote mask wearing help to slow the spread of respiratory viruses.

Again, it’s the review’s authors — and their funders and allies at the Brownstone Institute — who are going round making this “interpretation.” They not only need to revise the papers, they need to stuff the authors back in their boxes, and get them off any other reviews they’ve got going (along with anyone else their funders fund). This “Statement” is extremely weak tea. (For example, in my own piece on “Physical Intervention, “New, Buzzy Cochrane Study Sets the ‘Fools Gold’ Standard for Anti-Maskers“, and gosh, was I right [does happy dance], I show that the Review had an unlisted and uncredited author, Carl Heneghan, also — and I know this will surprise you — from the Brownstone Institute, against Cochrane Library standards. That calls for a revision. Will Soares-Weiser make it? Or will she try to sweep Brownstone Institute’s involvement under the rug?

“Here’s Why the Science Is Clear That Masks Work” [Zeynep Tufecki, New York Times]. This is weird:

Soares-Weiser also said, though, that one of the lead authors of the review even more seriously misinterpreted its finding on masks by saying in an interview that it proved “there is just no evidence that they make any difference.” In fact, Soares-Weiser said, “that statement is not an accurate representation of what the review found.”

Where did Soares-Weiser say this? Not in the Statement above. To Tufecki? If so, shouldn’t it be in the study? (Meanwhile, Tufecki, like Soares-Weiser, carefullly erases the institutional backing of both lead author Jefferson and unlisted, uncredited author Carl Heneghan. Why? Surely that’s part of the story?

“Top World Health Organisation COVID-19 Advisor Bankrolled by Great Barrington Declaration Successor Organization” [Byline Times]. “A top World Health Organization (WHO) advisor and grant recipient researching COVID-19 transmission and respiratory viruses is on the payroll of a successor organisation to the Great Barrington Declaration (GBD)…. The advisor, who plays a key role in helping set the agenda for the WHO’s funding of external scientific research on COVID-19 while also being a beneficiary of WHO funding is Dr Tom Jefferson, a British epidemiologist who works with the Cochrane Collaboration. He is currently receiving WHO funding to provide an updated Cochrane review of physical interventions to interrupt the spread of respiratory viruses, as well as to participate in a systematic review of COVID-19 transmission by the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University run by Professor Carl Heneghan. He is also a member of the WHO Infection Prevention and Control Research and Development Expert Group for COVID-19 (IPCRDEG-C19), which advises the WHO on how it should commission external research.” • Ka-ching. Does make you wonder if these guys had anything to do with WHO’s horrid positions on airborne transmission and masks.

Hey, nice timing:

Senger, a prolific tweeter, is a “contributor” at the Brownstone Institute, according to his bio. Will he double down or back off? I’m guessing he’ll double down.

* * *

Finding like-minded people on (sorry) Facebook:

“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.


Readers, if you spot any “Let me see your smile!” demands in the wild, or if you experience them yourself, would you leave them in comments? I’m mulling a post. Thank you. Here’s a beaut:

Science Is Popping

“Long COVID Now Looks like a Neurological Disease, Helping Doctors to Focus Treatments” [Scientific American]. “The most common, persistent and disabling symptoms of long COVID are neurological. Some are easily recognized as brain- or nerve-related: many people experience cognitive dysfunction in the form of difficulty with memory, attention, sleep and mood. Others may seem rooted more in the body than the brain, such as pain and postexertional malaise (PEM), a kind of “energy crash” that people experience after even mild exercise. But those, too, result from nerve dysfunction, often in the autonomic nervous system, which directs our bodies to breathe and digest food and generally runs our organs on autopilot. This so-called dysautonomia can lead to dizziness, a racing heart, high or low blood pressure, and gut disturbances, sometimes leaving people unable to work or even function independently. The SARS-CoV-2 virus is new, but postviral syndromes are not. Research on other viruses, and on neurological damage from the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in particular, is guiding work on long COVID. And the recognition that the syndrome may cause its many effects through the brain and the nervous system is beginning to shape approaches to medical treatment. “I now think of COVID as a neurological disease as much as I think of it as a pulmonary disease, and that’s definitely true in long COVID,” says William Pittman, a physician at UCLA Health in Los Angeles, who treats Ghormley and many similar patients.” • Vascular, neurological…. It’s a dessert topping! It’s a floor wax!

“SARS-CoV-2 causes periodontal fibrosis by deregulating mitochondrial β-oxidation” (preprint) [bioRxiv]. “Previous studies have shown that the human oral cavity can potentially act as reservoir of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. COVID-19 can cause severe oral mucosa lesions and is likely to be connected with poor periodontal conditions. However, the consequence of SARS-CoV-2 viral infection on human oral health has not been systematically examined. In this research, we aimed to study the pathogenicity of SARS-CoV-2 viral components on human periodontal tissues and cells. We found that by exposing to SARS-CoV-2, especially to the viral envelope and membrane proteins, the human periodontal fibroblasts could develop fibrotic pathogenic phenotypes, including hyperproliferation that was concomitant induced together with increased apoptosis and senescence. The fibrotic degeneration was mediated by a down-regulation of mitochondrial β-oxidation in the fibroblasts.” • Readers, anybody know of any examples of dental issues after Covid? I can’t find much–

“Taking a bite out of COVID: Japan study shows good dental care decreases infection rate” [The Mainichi]. “To investigate the causal relationship between COVID-19 cases and oral care, [Yamanashi] prefecture conducted free dental checkups from April 20 to June 20, 2022. It received reports from approximately 400 dental clinics in the prefecture including the names and ages of all patients aged 18 and older, for a total of 10,273 people. The number of coronavirus cases among all residents during the reporting period (June 26-Sept. 25, 2022) was 60,970 — an infection rate of 7.5%, while the number of infected people among those examined in the free checkups was 534 — an infection rate of 5.2%. In addition, the prefecture conducted a similar dental checkup program in the summer and fall of 2020, and the infection rate among those who received both this and the 2022 checkup (1,487 people in total) was even lower, at 4.5%.” • Free dental checkups, lol. On what planet?

Elite Malfeasance

“The Fauci Phenomenon” [NEJM]. • Filed under “Perspective.” I’ll say. I still find Fauci’s “noble lies” on masking unforgivable. And if noble lies are his modus operandi, it calls everything else he’s said or done into question (and the lying, and the perception of lying, has contributed greatly to the decline of public health as a discipline, and thence to the public’s health).

* * *

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!

Case Data

BioBot wastewater data from March 9:

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.

Covid Emergency Room Visits

NOT UPDATED From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, from March 4:

NOTE “Charts and data provided by CDC, updates Wednesday by 8am. For the past year, using a rolling 52-week period.” So not the entire pandemic, FFS (the implicit message here being that Covid is “just like the flu,” which is why the seasonal “rolling 52-week period” is appropriate for bothMR SUBLIMINAL I hate these people so much. Anyhow, I added a grey “Fauci line” just to show that Covid wasn’t “over” when they started saying it was, and it’s not over now.


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, published March 10:

-3.0%. Still high, but at last a distinct downturn.


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,148,391 – 1,148,090 – 1,147,217 = 301 (301 * 365 = 109,865 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).

★ NEW ★ Excess Deaths

NOT UPDATED Excess deaths (The Economist), published February 26:

Lambert here: Based on a machine-learnning model. Again, we see a high plateau. I”m not sure how often this updates, and if it doesn’t, I’ll remove it. (The CDC has an excess estimate too, but since it ran forever with a massive typo in the Legend, I figured nobody was really looking at it, so I got rid it.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Unemployment Rate” [Trading Economics]. “The unemployment rate in the US edged up to 3.6 percent in February 2023, up from a 50-year low of 3.4 percent seen in January and above market expectations of 3.4 percent.”

* * *

“The AI hype bubble is the new crypto hype bubble” [Cory Doctorow, Pluralistic]. Ya think? “Sam Bankman-Fried is under house arrest. But the people who gave him money – and the nimbler Ponzi artists who evaded arrest – are looking for new scams to separate the marks from their money. Take Morganstanley, who spent 2021 and 2022 hyping cryptocurrency as a massive growth opportunity: Today, Morganstanley wants you to know that AI is a $6 trillion opportunity. They’re not alone. The CEOs of Endeavor, Buzzfeed, Microsoft, Spotify, Youtube, Snap, Sports Illustrated, and CAA are all out there, pumping up the AI bubble with every hour that god sends, declaring that the future is AI. Google and Bing are locked in an arms-race to see whose search engine can attain the speediest, most profound enshittification via chatbot, replacing links to web-pages with florid paragraphs composed by fully automated, supremely confident liars. Blockchain was a solution in search of a problem. So is AI. Yes, Buzzfeed will be able to reduce its wage-bill by automating its personality quiz vertical, and Spotify’s “AI DJ” will produce slightly less terrible playlists (at least, to the extent that Spotify doesn’t put its thumb on the scales by inserting tracks into the playlists whose only fitness factor is that someone paid to boost them). But even if you add all of this up, double it, square it, and add a billion dollar confidence interval, it still doesn’t add up to what Bank Of America analysts called ‘a defining moment — like the internet in the ’90s.’ For one thing, the most exciting part of the ‘internet in the ’90s was that it had incredibly low barriers to entry and wasn’t dominated by large companies – indeed, it had them running scared. The AI bubble, by contrast, is being inflated by massive incumbents, whose excitement boils down to ‘This will let the biggest companies get much, much bigger and the rest of you can go fuck yourselves.’ Some revolution.” • AI = BS. Kill it with fire.

The Bezzle: “New York AG goes after the Ethereum blockchain” [Axios]. “A lawsuit against a cryptocurrency exchange by New York State looks a lot more like a referendum on the world’s second biggest blockchain, Ethereum. Ether has a nearly $200 million market capitalization and something like 400,000 daily users. Its popularity was partly driven by the fact that entrepreneurs had become convinced that the coin had become exempt from securities regulations…. The complaint takes pains to argue that ether (ETH) is a security under existing law. It describes the initial coin offering that funded the development of Ethereum. Then it draws attention to the network’s transition to a new consensus mechanism as evidence that a small group retains control over it. ‘The developers of ETH promoted it as an investment that was contingent on the growth of the Ethereum network,’ the complaint notes. Independent operators that verify the validity of transactions on the blockchain are paid automatically in new ethers issued by the network, securing its ledger against manipulation…. The AG is seeking disgorgement of ill-gotten gains from New Yorkers, injunctive relief and other remedies.'” • Good, though a bit late.

The Bezzle: “New York Attorney General Alleges Ether Is a Security in KuCoin Lawsuit” [CoinDesk]. “James’ suit argues that ether is considered a security under the Martin Act – a 102-year-old New York anti-fraud law that gives the Attorney General powers to investigate securities fraud and bring both civil and criminal actions against violators – because the value of ether is dependent on the efforts of others, including co-founder Vitalik Buterin. According to the lawsuit, the NYAG’s office believes ETH, the luna (LUNA) token and terraUSD (UST) stablecoin, all traded on the exchange, are securities. The price of ETH was down 8% 30 minutes after the suit was revealed, with the broader crypto market similarly plunging…. James also argued that KuCoin sells unregistered securities via KuCoin Earn, its lending and staking product.”

The Bezzle: “Stay Calm, It’s Just a Bank Run” [The Heisenberg Report]. “That was Silicon Valley Bank CEO Greg Becker’s exhortation to VCs during a call on Thursday, when the lender’s shares plummeted some 60% amid what looked like the beginnings of an old fashioned bank run. Peter Thiel and other high-profile VCs had suggested their portfolio companies pull money from the bank out of an abundance of caution after a “mid-quarter update” found SVB announcing the sale of its AFS book and unveiling a $2.25 billion capital raise, most of which is common stock ($1.25 billion and then $500 million in restricted common to General Atlantic in a private placement). Admittedly, this situation spiraled faster than I’d anticipated, but… well, what can I say? That’s bank runs for you… In any event, this is a problem — I don’t see any use sugarcoating it. Bank shares as a group suffered an anomalous drop Thursday. Were it not for the volatility around the pandemic, it would’ve counted as one of the worst collective sessions since the financial crisis.”

The Bezzle: “Silicon Valley Bank Collapses Following Run on Deposits” [Wall Street Journal]. “Silicon Valley Bank collapsed Friday in the second-biggest bank failure in U.S. history after a run on deposits doomed the tech-focused lender’s plans to raise fresh capital. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said it has taken control of the bank via a new entity it created called the Deposit Insurance National Bank of Santa Clara. All of the bank’s deposits have been transferred to the new bank, the regulator said. Insured depositors will have access to their funds by Monday morning, the FDIC said. Depositors with funds exceeding insurance caps will get receivership certificates for their uninsured balances. Once a darling of the banking business, Silicon Valley Bank collapsed at warp speed after it announced a big loss on its bondholdings and plans to shore up its balance sheet, tanking its stock and sparking widespread customer withdrawals. The bank is the 16th largest in the U.S., with some $209 billion in assets as of Dec. 31, according to the Federal Reserve. It is by far the biggest bank to fail since the near collapse of the financial system in 2008, second only to the crisis-era shutdown of Washington Mutual Inc. The bank’s parent company, SVB Financial Group, was racing to find a buyer after scrapping a planned $2.25 billion share sale Friday morning. Regulators weren’t willing to wait. The California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation closed the bank Friday within hours and put it under the control of the FDIC. SVB, based in Santa Clara, Calif., earlier this week surprised investors by announcing that it lost nearly $2 billion selling assets following a larger-than-expected decline in deposits. The stock has lost more than 80% since then, and tech clients rushed to pull their deposits over concerns about the bank’s health.”

The Bezzle: “Why SVB’s Bad News Clobbered Bank Stocks Like JPMorgan and Wells Fargo” [Barron’s]. “Wells Fargo analyst Mike Mayon, for one, says that the issue isn’t one of deposits but the diversity of deposits. SVB’s customers were primarily venture-capital firms, and venture capital has been under pressure recently, forcing companies to draw down their deposits as they burn through cash. That’s likely not the case for bigger banks with more diversified sources of funding. ‘To us, the larger the bank, the more diversified the funding,’ Mayo writes. ‘To us, this is part of the test that the largest banks, i.e., the ones that caused the Global Financial Crisis, are today the more resilient portion of both the banking and financial systems.'” • VCers losing a lot of their stupid money is bad why?

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 22 Extreme Fear (previous close: 34 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 53 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 10 at 2:06 PM ET. A pretty quick flip. A bank run will do that.


ObamaCare is going great:

Our Famously Free Press

“New York Times Spokesperson Came to Paper from National Security Agency” [New York Times]. “Charlie Stadtlander, Director of external communications for the New York Times, joined the paper directly from the National Security Agency, where he served as head of public affairs.,… All of this raises obvious questions. Is being the spokesperson for the nation’s most prestigious newspaper a completely different job from being the spokesperson for the NSA? Or are they pretty much the same job? Most importantly, are the perspectives of the two institutions fundamentally different — or are they, in more ways than you might imagine, fundamentally the same?” • Rhetorical questions, right?

Class Warfare

Direct action brings satisfaction:

See, e.g.: “Kentucky miners are blocking a coal train asking for back pay. They claim they haven’t been paid for nearly a month.” Phone the press. Bring the pets, babies, and grandma in a wheelchair, and park them on the tracks. Make sure the train crew knows. Given Precision Scheduled Railroading, I’m sure there’s not a lot of slack in the Norfolk Southern system, so it would be hard to route around any blockage.

News of the Wired

“Allegations of Scientific Misconduct Mount as Physicist Makes His Biggest Claim Yet” [Physics]. “If Ranga Dias of the University of Rochester, New York, and his team have observed room-temperature (294 K), near-ambient pressure superconductivity [1], their discovery could rank among the greatest scientific advances of the 21st century (see Research News: Muted Response to New Claim of a Room-Temperature Superconductor). Such a breakthrough would mark a significant step toward a future where room-temperature superconductors transform the power grid, computer processors, and diagnostic tools in medicine. But for the past three years, the Rochester team—and Dias in particular—has been shrouded in allegations of scientific misconduct after other researchers raised questions about their 2020 claim of room-temperature superconductivity [2]. In September, the Nature paper reporting that result was retracted, as documented in Science and For Better Science. Further misconduct allegations against Dias have recently emerged, with researchers alleging that Dias plagiarized substantial portions of someone else’s doctoral thesis when writing his own and that he misrepresented his thesis data in a 2021 paper in Physical Review Letters (PRL) [3]. Jessica Thomas, Executive Editor of the Physical Review journals, confirmed that PRL has launched an investigation into that accusation. ‘This is a pretty serious allegation,’ she says. ‘We are not taking it lightly.’ To understand those allegations, Physics Magazine independently examined Dias’ thesis and spoke with more than a dozen experts in high-temperature superconductivity, including Dias. Although opinions differ, an overwhelming majority agree that some form of misconduct has likely occurred. Dias denies the accusations. ‘I really do see all this as a scientific debate,’ he says. ‘So even though these are meaningless, baseless claims, I really do think that these are adding to advancing the science.’ He insists that the data for both of his room-temperature-superconductivity claims are robust and valid.” • Hmm. Above my paygrade. Physics mavens in the readershIp?

* * *

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 GD:

GD writes: “Aloe plant with flower. Found on a walk in Los Angeles.” Walking in Los Angeles? I’m surprised you weren’t arrested!

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:

Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated:

If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Water Cooler on by .

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. Arizona Slim

    R-r-r-ring! That’s the commentariat alarm! Time to awaken and share those words of wisdom here at the Water Cooler!

      1. Janeway

        The Silicon Valley Bank Collapse article mention of bad ole Washington Mutual brought back memories of the old 80/20 mortgage loans that required 0% down, 0% income and 0% worry. Home prices always go up, so you could always sell if you couldn’t make your payments. And still get equity out of the home and avoid foreclosure. Or something like that.

    1. griffen

      Wisdom! If wisdom you seek, I wish you happiness on your journey. \sarc

      Now a cynic’s take on the collapsing empire of a Silicon Valley – centric financial organization, on the other hand. Well, in the words of Gordon Gecko “greed is good”. No word yet on whether “Blue Horseshoe” was quietly accumulating shares of the failed institution.

  2. Wukchumni

    I’ve arranged for a $10k fun run around a Bank of America in Fresno, participants must be fiscally fit.

    1. ambrit

      Shouldn’t that be a “$10k Funds Run?”
      I’m wondering. Will interest in it be high or low? Send us a prospectus.

    2. flora

      Hey, Wuk,
      as a longtime IT pro person noticing patterns (it’s what we IT peoples do) and noticing the leading ads for “sell your gold now” followed soon after by “buy gold now” ads and etc, appreciate your comment. Not that I’m making any particular claims about financial interests or advertising, you understand. / ;)

      1. Wukchumni

        ‘Scrap gold’ in jewelry or teeth or what have you is really easy to buy from the public as they tend to have no idea of weights or fineness, clueless really. A dozen years ago I was in Glendale Ca. and in a drive around town, I counted 17 ‘we buy gold’ places. This was quite the vacuum cleaner and i’d guess the proles got 20 to 40 Cents on the $ for their goods.

        Most any of the usual high pressure suspects selling gold bullion on Fox or other righty tighty gawdalmighty outlets do it in a way where you’ll be buying something with a 40% mark-up which the FTC decreed was a-ok 40 years ago, you thought you wanted 1 oz eagles and they switch you into numismatic gold coins with a 39% mark-up, happens all the time.

    3. notabanker

      I always wondered what you did in real life Wuk, but never would have pegged you for a Department of Financial Protection and Innovation Fundraiser. Doing God’s work, bless your heart.

  3. MT_Wild

    Direct action in Palenstine might only work if you could get local law enforcement on your side to support the right to protest.

    If you could it would be hard for legacy media to avoid covering the inevitable confrontation between local LE and townsfolk vs. the state police/national guard.

    Would make a great way to kick off the 2024 Presedential Campaign tour circuit for challengers on both sides.

    1. JBird4049

      >>>If you could it would be hard for legacy media to avoid covering the inevitable confrontation between local LE and townsfolk vs. the state police/national guard.

      It would only be a blast from the past as using cavalry, and infantry with bayonets, plus really enthusiastic police against peaceful protestors especially, if they were union supporters, has been a thing for the past 150 years. Would you be surprised to know that the newspapers usually supported such use of the army and the police?

      This would assure Trump’s, or anyone else running against Biden, victory, which is likely why the Democrats are going to, at best, say some weak-assed thoughts-and-prayers denouement of the police violence while still blaming the victims for it.

      1. Hepativore

        I am waiting for the DNC to just come out and say that Democratic Party primaries are canceled as they have already picked your candidate, as they are under no legal obligation to have them in the first place, and tough-$hit if you do not like it as only they know how to stop Trump/DeSantis.

        It might cost them the presidency, but the DNC would probably regard that as the cost of running the DNC donor business.

    2. Lost in OR

      You will get law enforcement on your side when they can no longer stomach spilling more American blood on American soil in support of the American oligarchy.

      No color revolution anywhere has occasioned prior to this similar revelation.

  4. Laughingsong

    “Let me see your smile!”

    Yeh, ah got yer smile right here (pulls middle finger out from under coat)

    “It’s a dessert topping! It’s a floor wax!”
    And it slices, dices, and makes mounds of julienne fries. . . Of your internal organs….

    I apologize, just apparently got up on the wrong side of the world today I guess.

      1. t

        After a lifetime of men thinking I owe them a smile and saying so, I about ready to get violent.

        Cannot believe they are going with something that has long been considered part of a hostile work environment.

        1. Art Vandalay

          Who knew that we would make the world a (more) hostile environment so that unchanged workplace behavior is no longer a hostile environment? See, it’s just like everywhere else. Quit your whining and get back in your pen.

        2. semper loquitur

          “Cannot believe they are going with something that has long been considered part of a hostile work environment.”

          The moral fluidity of Americans that I’ve seen demonstrated over the last few years has left me deeply cynical and even misanthropic. And that’s saying something. Open declarations of racism being affirmed and encouraged as progressive. Parents and doctors framing misused drugs and mastectomies’ as “care”. Peace-niks cheering on Nazis and warmongering with a nuclear power. Masking as a social responsibility morphing into masking as anti-social paranoia with a snap of an elite PMC’s fingers.

          And it’s mostly liberals, as far as I can see. $hit-libs, to be precise, Wokels, liberals in name only. Conservatives and libertarians stand for things, as blinkered as they are. The Blue MAGA’s are without principle or position; it’s all moral posturing for social credit and the wilting hope to retain their house servant status.

    1. griffen

      There is a film scene from Deliverance where the country folk, who are harassing two of the party going down river in canoe. One of them country folk compliments the Jon Voight character.

      I really don’t want to hear if I got a pretty mouth, to be honest.

    2. EarthMagic

      I had a client at work say that they “hadn’t seen my face in 3 years” and asked me to remove the mask for a second. Hard NO of course. Amusing, with the amount of people coughing on me all day.

      And I know the mask works because I haven’t been sick since February 2020, despite working with the public during multiple outbreaks.

  5. JBird4049

    On Michael P Senger, his “study,” and Cochrane Institute’s darned brand, I am, essentially, a free speech absolutist, but sometimes hearing these lying liars who lie (again and again) without shame or consequence, makes me doubt my beliefs.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      To me, free speech as expressed by experts and which affects policy — because follow the ‘Science’ — comes awfully close to Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.’s opinion on about falsely “shouting fire in a crowded theater” … although the case where Holmes expressed this opinion is ‘most unfortunate’. Invoking free speech in a case of deliberate falsehoods expressed by persons held in the public’s trust and regarded as experts in their field — to me — is not unlike falsehoods by a witness in court, in this case a court of public discourse and policy, that condemns a defendant [I started to say an innocent defendant, but the guilt of innocence of the defendant does not alter the nature of false witness nor does it provide justification].

    2. The Rev Kev

      These people are p****** into your pocket and then maintaining that it is raining. If masks don’t work, then when did influenza disappear the year that people wore masks – which also happens to be a respiratory disease. More to the point, why are not major organizations like the American Medical Association not threatening them by demanding their proof or that they back the hell down. This sort of crap is like when they tell us it was the Ukrainian crew of the SS Minnow that blew up the pipelines and expect us to believe it. Are the people here connected with the people responsible for the Great Barrington Declaration by any chance.

      1. Paua Fritter

        Are the people here connected with the people responsible for the Great Barrington Declaration by any chance.

        The lead author of this Cochrane Review, Tom Jefferson, is also a contributing author for the GBD front the Brownstone Institute.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > The lead author of this Cochrane Review, Tom Jefferson, is also a contributing author for the GBD front the Brownstone Institute.

          As is the “unlisted author,” Carl Heneghan, who should be credited according to Cochrane rules, but is not, which both Cochrane and Tufecki ignore.

          That’s a bad sign of institutional rot.

  6. antidlc

    RE: ObamaCare is going great:

    Don’t get me started. I have been helping a family member get coverage. What a nightmare.

    1. bob

      High premiums, high deductible and poor reimbursement to clinicians. Fine to have insurance that costs a lot of money, but no one wants to see you as a patient. Reimbursement rates don’t cover overhead.

    2. JBird4049

      About the only positive thing about being disabled is getting put on Medicare and Medi-Cal. It ain’t perfect, but it is about as good as an American can expect to get. California’s version of Medicaid (Medi-Cal) is better than most of the other states especially outside of the South.

      But then, I have to wonder why they can’t do this for everyone? Combine Medicare parts A and B with the expanded Medicaid, particularly with a version California’s “generous” Medi-Cal added and just give it to everyone. Perhaps increase payment amounts to doctors, but it would be done easily and quickly.

      Of course, that would make government work, which the Republicans would hate, and it would get rid of means testing, which would affect the Democratic jobs program for the college educated. All this while actually making life truly better for the poor, working, and middle class including the Deplorables making the world a better place.

      Just how many people are living on the streets because of a lack of medical care?

      1. Jason Boxman

        I hadn’t realized just how bad Medicare actually is; The slogan “Medicare for all” is actually kind of ridiculous in light of that. It really ought to be Medicaid for all, along with dental, vision, elder care, LTC, and affordable prescriptions without weird doughnut holes.

        1. marym

          The original bill was “United States National Health Insurance Act (or the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act).” It provided 100% coverage (no supplements, co-pays, etc) and covered dental, vision…etc.

          A little history

  7. Carolinian

    Re Trans–is there any indication that the public at large as opposed to, oh say, Huffpo thinks this is a winning issue for Dems? There is of course the minuscule Trans vote itself and the large cohort that would never ever vote for Republican but independents? Just asking….

    1. semper loquitur

      The “trans” industry is a big donor to the Democratic Party, especially in Chicago where they helped launch the first “trans” president Obungle. Biden just confirmed a man for Woman of the Year. I’ve ordered some books on the topic: more to follow.

      1. Etrigan

        That trans rights are a galvanizing issue (because very deep pockets have and are setting it up to be so) does not make the existence of trans people a fiction or a delusion. Trans people are in danger from extreme legislation being passed at the state level and this same wedge will be used to roll back reproductive and gender rights.

        1. semper loquitur

          “Trans” as a concept is a fiction, and a delusion. There is no transitioning between the sexes; there is only mimicry brought about by expensive drugs and surgeries. But you are correct that “trans” rights are a galvanizing issue set up by deep pockets. Here is a comprehensive article detailing those forces:

          Who Are the Rich, White Men Institutionalizing Transgender Ideology?

          “I found exceedingly rich, white men with enormous cultural influence are funding the transgender lobby and various transgender organizations. These include but are not limited to Jennifer Pritzker (a male who identifies as transgender); George Soros; Martine Rothblatt (a male who identifies as transgender and transhumanist); Tim Gill (a gay man); Drummond Pike; Warren and Peter Buffett; Jon Stryker (a gay man); Mark Bonham (a gay man); and Ric Weiland (a deceased gay man whose philanthropy is still LGBT-oriented). Most of these billionaires fund the transgender lobby and organizations through their own organizations, including corporations.”


          The article is from 2018, we can rest assured this ominous trend has only grown in size and influence.

          Women are in danger from extreme legislation being passed at the state and federal levels. Their hard-won safe spaces and activities are being colonized by men; pathetic men but men never the less. How that degenerate Lia Thomas can look at himself in a mirror is beyond me; only narcissism explains it.

          You are also correct that this issue will be used to roll back the rights of others, gays and lesbians first and foremost. The “trans” industry has been relentlessly attaching itself to the LGB community, piggy-backing on their struggle to achieve full acceptance under the law. (Not to mention the fact that many “trans” kids questioning their sexual identities are actually young gays and lesbians who are fast-tracked into the trans-hustle. This represents a de facto conversion therapy.) The Right is rising in response, I’ve detailed the work of Matt Walsh whose talks at universities are packed with angry adherents. He has stated repeatedly that he is just getting started. Gays and lesbians will feel the lash of that reaction, straight women too as “traditional” roles are dusted off and presented as the natural response to such lunacies.

          1. etrigan

            Blaming trans people for their exploitation is illogical, and the wedge being driven between their rights and the LGB community is perhaps the most pernicious part of this long-planned and well-funded political move against a culture of tolerance and acceptance. As a final comment on this otherwise unproductive and frankly disappointing thread, I would ask if those writing this type of screed have in fact met or talked with actual trans people, at all, ever, or remember when the same pathologizing language was deployed against the LGB community and in certain quarters continues to be, to this day.

        2. ambrit

          You have not been paying attention. Reproductive rights are already being rolled back.
          From the cheap seats here in the North American Deep South, cynicism reigns supreme. Most of the people ‘on the bus’ I have spoken with on this issue, and it does come up all by itself, view the ‘Trans’ issue as an affectation of the PMC class and their Masters. Working people I have spoken with see it roughly as a Circus Act, made to distract the ‘masses.’
          I have seen almost no support for Trans activism ‘on the ground’ around here.
          It could well be an “issue” that is defined by the Elites versus Deplorables dynamic at play in America.
          As for “Gender Rights,” well, I can only say that I have read that Gender and Physical Sex are not the same thing. One is a biological determinate and the other is a social construct.

          1. EarthMagic

            It must vary depending on location and culture. Here in the urban west coast, very many people (especially those under 40) support LGBT and nonbinary people’s rights as an extension of human rights.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      What’s floating huffpo’s boat in this instance is not “trans” per se, but youngkin’s wimpy, stupid response IMNSHO. When your two leading “candidates” are biden and kamala, getting opponents–youngkin is supposedly considering a presidential run–to flop around rhetorically the way he did is one of the very few things you’ve got goin’ for you. “Gotcha” questions, thank you, sarah palin.

      But could we all please admit that transgender male, Niko, is not the problem. He would probably feel “safer” using the bathrooms and locker rooms corresponding to the gender of his genotype, and I doubt anyone except the EMT’s would notice if he decided to play boy’s sports.

      The problem is the other way around, for obvious, immutable genotype / phenotype reasons. And as far as I’m concerned, the demand that women subjugate themselves, once again, to the arrogant demands of certain men is pure, unadulterated bullshit.

      1. Etrigan

        Treating genotype as an immutable backstop, the be all fact of humans existing in reality, is a frame and rhetorical device that needs more thought.

  8. JustTheFacts

    Not all of AI is BS. The generative AI that is capturing people’s imaginations today is BS. Generative AI is what ChatGPT and Stable Diffusion use. It generates likely sentences or images given the sentences and images on which it was trained.

    Computer vision, a form of AI since it uses machine learning, etc, is used to improve manufacturing, for example.

    AI in the form of AlphaFold which finds new proteins is another non-BS form of AI.

    Saying AI is BS is like saying math is BS because a bunch of idiots who have something to sell make grandiose untrue claims about it.

    1. Late Introvert

      Uh, so now AI is the new math? Saying AI is not BS because of 2 small examples to the contrary? No.

      1. JustTheFacts

        AI is math. It’s fitting functions to data, and algorithms. Both are forms of math. That’s all it is. If you believe in a ghost in the machine, you’re believing hype. There’s no real difference between AI and Kepler discovering that planets orbit the sun in an ellipse, other than scale and automation.

        You’ve also got the order inverted. Generative AI is a small, new, noisy and highly annoying subfield of AI, that could do a lot of damage to society. Computer vision, routing, reinforcement learning, anomaly detection etc are much larger and much more used fields. Non generative AI does all the following: Keeping your credit card safe. Sorting your mail. Controlling factory equipment such as industrial welders. Inspecting manufactured products for flaws. Inspecting computer chips for counterfeiting. Verifying that your COVID strip was correctly made, or that you had COVID. Checking on people entering the country at the border. Sorting your recycling. Translating your articles if you use machine translation. Making sure missiles hit their designated targets. Preventing your car from hitting a pedestrian. Helping you drive from A to B by telling you the route. Playing chess. Etc.

        It’s funny, I feared Generative AI would cause a backlash. And now, here we are. Oh well.

        1. c_heale

          Computer vision, routing, reinforcement learning, anomaly detection are also doing great harm to society – see surveillance.

          1. JustTheFacts

            Well, by that standard humanity is doing great harm to the environment (see the mass extinction underway). Language is doing great harm since it lets humans organize themselves into racist mobs. Science is doing great harm since it lets humans do a lot more damage than they could only with their puny claws. So the question is not whether anything can be used for bad (everything can), but whether it’s mostly used for good or bad.

            But yes, go ahead. Start a Butlerian Jihad, if you wish: “Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind!” You’ll be shocked by what stops working.

        2. lambert strether

          > Non generative AI

          That is, not intelligent. That the very name of the field has marketing hype embedded within it should give us all pause.

          1. JustTheFacts

            Sure, but that term was coined in 1955. It’s a bit late to complain about it… Anyone under 67 wasn’t even born.

            1. Acacia

              It’s not a ‘complaint’ to draw attention to the obvious hubris of science, in this case computer science. It’s nothing new, either (e.g., see Swift’s depiction of Laputa in the eighteenth century). As for AI, there are long-standing critiques — Dreyfus’ work comes to mind — that the proponents of AI would apparently like to forget about.

              In person, John McCarthy seemed like an unassuming researcher — at least that was always my impression of him, working in the same department, many moons ago — but his choice of the word “intelligence” for what were and are essentially a more sophisticated class of algorithms was ill-advised (e.g., when garbage collection was introduced in LISP it was called “AI”, but nobody today would call it that — it’s just an algorithm).

              If computer scientists could drop the God complex, stop using the word “intelligence”, and go back to coding, this whole issue would probably go away. I think it’s fair to say that many people do not want to live in an algorithmic society, but thanks to the push for “better AI” that’s where things seem to be headed.

              1. JustTheFacts

                Honestly I don’t think all of us have a “God complex”. Speaking for myself I’m just fascinated by how an artificial mind would work. But thanks for the story about John McCarthy. And yes, garbage collection isn’t AI. Some variants are pretty interesting algorithms.

        3. vao

          AI is math. It’s fitting functions to data, and algorithms. Both are forms of math. That’s all it is.

          No, this is just computation. To reach the level of mathematics, you need more — and that is the really hard part. Let us take statistics — a specialized field of mathematics — and in particular one of its main concepts: the maximum likelihood estimator.

          There are mathematical proofs that specific ways to compute a MLE exhibit formally defined properties (they are optimal, unbiased, linear…); that confidence intervals can be determined mathematically; that they work exactly provided underlying data obey well-defined properties (statistical distribution or none for non-parametric approaches, homoscedasticity, truncation of data…)

          When it comes to (non-AI) algorithms, there are also mathematical proofs of correctness, space-time performance, amortized performance, optimality, success within x% of optimality, fairness…

          If AI techniques rely upon that mathematical apparatus (i.e. proofs of correctness, convergence, optimality, etc) and provide the associated information when publishing results (e.g. confidence intervals), then they are indeed math. Otherwise, it is heuristics — important, but not really math.

          1. JustTheFacts

            I challenge you to read Murphy’s Machine Learning, Schölkopf & Smola’s Learning with Kernels, Bishop’s Pattern Recognition and Machine Learning, or any other proper AI book and tell me it’s not math. MLE is used in ML. And yes, one studies the proofs if one is doing it properly.

            Sure there are many books and university courses that don’t cover the topic properly. “Learn Machine Learning in no time at all!” “6 week bootcamp to become a professional data scientist!”. The same snake oil occurs in statistics, or programming. Very few scientists really understand stats properly, and very few mathematicians write proper code.

            The excuse “oh, you don’t need to know that” is always lurking in the background when something is difficult to explain. People like to sell the sizzle rather than doing the hard work of explaining things properly. And, as I have learned through experience, most people don’t want to have to make the effort to understand difficult things either. The happiest customers are those who have been taught just enough for them to think they are competent, but not enough for them to realize that they have a hell of a lot more to learn.

            1. vao

              Sure there are many books and university courses that don’t cover the topic properly.

              The bigger problem, since it has direct implications for the public at large, is that so many applications of AI, especially in its current fashionable form of ML, almost never seem to formalize in mathematical form the properties of their output.

              There are descriptions of new systems with supposedly baffling capabilities (computer medical diagnosis; automatic detection of criminal activity; self-driving vehicles; the whole menagerie of generating pictures, videos and voices of people, imaginary or real; and so on, and so forth) — but if they rely upon MLE, what exactly are they estimating that is relevant to the application domain? And where are the confidence intervals that end-users can interpret?

              The amusing, but revealing example, is the case of Google engineers throwing their ML at identifying cats in WWW photos. And then later realizing that it learned to identify cat fur — but not cats as such.

              These, and other examples, indicate that those AI/ML engineers do not have a methodology to specify estimators. And that suggests AI is still more ad-hoc heuristics, supported by prodigal computing resources, than a solid, mathematically-grounded scientific theory. Perhaps this is an unavoidable effect of the largest IT firms with fairly restricted commercial goals, but flush with cash, having such a hold on the AI technology and where it is applied (the military/security complex also plays a significant role, but when it comes to publishing the fine details of what it has achieved…)

              1. JustTheFacts

                The other issue is the high dimensionality of the input data. Basically to do proper stats, you’d need a hell of a lot more data than what these systems are trained on. And as it is, they’re trained with ridiculous amounts of data (close to 10% of the internet for the largest recent Language Models). So they rely on the “generalization” properties of the learned manifolds which is related to Kolgomorov complexity of the coefficients. Given this, I think it’s unlikely that you’ll ever see the proper confidence intervals that you pine for.

                1. vao

                  Even larger training sets? That is insane — but it reminds me of those articles I read showing decreasing returns (to the number of training examples, computing time or energy expended) in deep learning systems.

                  Those arguing that ML in its current form is running into a dead-end and that formal a-priori models (of whatever domain they are to be applied to) must be included — perhaps they are right?

                  Could it be that Google, IBM, OpenAI & co are disregarding whatever mathematical approaches there are because the theory is currently incomplete (so that they cannot specify what they want) and is still unduly complicated — and therefore rely upon brute force with gigantic data sets because they have the means to? In which case the dominant practice of AI would be far removed from best practices. On the other hand, what proportion of software engineering projects follow best practices consistently…

                  1. JustTheFacts

                    I think it would be fool hardy to bet against us learning more if people throw even more ridiculous amounts of compute power at problems. The fact language models appear to learn higher level concepts (such as how to summarize) from tons of text is interesting, and surprising, although it makes sense in hindsight.

                    However in the long term, I think we need better algorithms. Humans do a lot with the 12 watt lightbulb in their skulls. Part of this is probably that evolution (genes) provides quite a bit of a-priori information. And part of it is probably better algorithms. But these still need to be discovered.

                    Even so, humans do not produce confidence intervals either. Their certainty is more of a feeling.

                    Unfortunately, most people seem mostly to focus on making money or prestige, rather than going against the current consensus, and finding very different approaches. If our species were wired differently, and rewarded different things, we might have simultaneously made more progress and caused less backlash.

                    It is very noticeable to me that people are concentrating on the easy wins (generate texts that appear to make some sense) rather than the difficult problems (figuring out whether an apparently meaningful text is actually nonsense, figuring out whether someone is lying)… things that require more intelligence. In the process, it seems to me, that they are converting the possibility of long term success for the development of AI into short term personal gains. But then I am from the under-promise, over-deliver, school of thought.

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        Mathematics is exceptionally poorly taught in the u.s. perhaps best exemplified by the New Math efforts of the 1960s. I associate the New Math with the ALM techniques for teaching foreign languages — both dismal episodes in u.s. pedagogy, oft repeated from what I can gather from those teachers I know. “AI is the new math?” — I am not sure what meaning to derive from your comment. I added a few more examples of ‘AI’ that I believe cannot be categorized as BS. Please refer to Etrigan’s comment which follows yours. I believe the AI marketing gibberish is purest BS. [I suspect we are in agreement on this point with any differences — matters of insignificant particulars].

    2. Etrigan

      The mathematical and engineering principles used to develop a technology are one thing but the methods by which it is trained and iterated and the purposes it can be put to, and what it is purported to be able to do, and the justifications given for its creation and use, and the socioeconomic “scene” gathered around it, and the marketing used to sell it, and the way its critics are talked to and treated, and the ignoring of the ecological footprint it burns, can all indeed be BS.

      1. JustTheFacts

        Let’s be fair. A lot of AI is used for beneficial purposes. That some of it is currently being oversold doesn’t mean that all the areas where it is useful are fake. That’s throwing the baby out with the bathwater. And those kinds of AI are not occurring in the same “scene” as that supporting large language models to which you refer.

        1. Etrigan

          Using a blanket marketing and catch-all term like AI (for things that are decidedly not AI as understood) for a number of different computational processes to gin up funding and a legally smooth runway towards ubiquitous use will blow up in everyone’s faces.

          1. JustTheFacts

            Actually, no. It’s that the techniques of AI were until recently invented to get us to the goal of AI: an actual artificial intelligence. Then it became more profitable to do other things, and my field (AI), was renamed AGI. I can assure you that during the last AI winter, AI was anything but a marketing term used to gin up funding.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I suppose your concern might be allayed if computer vision and the AlphaFold algorithm were not called AI with all the hype and hyperbole heaped onto that designation by bubble touts. To my mind they really are not AIs as that term has been warped. They are algorithms and work reasonably well. I believe you could add voice recognition, voice generation, automatic translation, drug interactions programs, and some disease diagnostic programs, possibly those used to identify bacteria from test results they both suggest and interpret, to your examples of effective ‘AI’ … examples of powerful and effective algorithms … and they use — Math — to remarkable effect. However calling these algorithms machine intelligence or artificial intelligence bends the ordinary meaning of intelligence so far as to break or irreparably mutilate its meaning.

      Look under the hood and the algorithms are not pretty or elegant. Most rely on brute force or code a classification key like that I used in high school to identify insects. The algorithms based on neural networks operate in truly mysterious ways. The algorithms neural networks implement are opaque and mysterious and all too often arrive at mysterious results. Their ‘learning’ process is learning in only the broadest sense of the word. The AI based on Bayesian algorithms rely on oodles of statistics for how often ‘X’ occurs given ‘Y’. I believe Bayesian algorithms are rather like the insect keys I worked with in high school with painstakingly collected statistics replacing the simpler certainties of two wings or four.

      I believe intelligence and its lurking shadow, consciousness, are far more complex than any of the “artificial intelligence” engines we have built so far.

      I feel a different concern about programs like AlphaFold. The project to model protein structures ab initio from amino acid sequences was one of many programs DoD funded to help drive the purchase and placement of High Performance Computing [HPC] hardware — aka. “big iron”. This has benefited AI research, Climate research, and other efforts requiring large computer resources. The problem with AlphaFold is that just knowing most structures from amino acid sequences does not really answer what I believe are the larger questions those structures represent. Why are proteins constructed as they are? What are the engineering concerns in constructing a protein? Life has its way of doing things but is that the only way? Molecules appear, to me, very similar in many ways to building structures. What are the principles of construction for proteins? How do enzymes work? Why is all the molecular scaffolding around active sites necessary and what does it do? There are many more similar questions. I fear programs like AlphaFold and the HPC initiatives greatly under fund those investigating what I believe are these much more important questions, though those programs do provide some important data to work with.

      The computer solution of the four-color problem is emblematic of another concern I have about computer algorithms and Knowledge. I suppose this solution might fit into the rubric computer intelligence. I believe knowing the solution of the four-color problem contributes little knowledge about the topological differences between two dimensional space and higher dimensional spaces, at any event nothing comparable to Kuratowski’s theorem. I would extend this claim to the powerful simulation programs and numeric solution programs for solving differential equations used to design everything from space capsules to plastic wiper blades. These programs offer ‘the answer’ but they do not with those answers build intuition or deeper understanding about systems they design. They do offer tantalizing possibilities for knowledge that the exigencies of deadlines and profits all but eliminate.

      1. JustTheFacts

        The field is called AI. Basically it deals with tasks for which there was no obvious solution, but intelligent beings like us seemed to be able to do them, even though we couldn’t say how. Hence the name. FWIW, I do find some of the algorithms, and math behind them beautiful. But then I’ve been working on such things for many decades now. Maybe it’s warped my sense of aesthetics.

        Machine Learning, a subbranch of AI, can mostly be thought of as function fitting. Training neural networks is a kind of function fitting. So is the Taylor series which you might have used in biology. The way these high dimensional functions are fit to data is indeed unintuitive in that it’s not always clear what features of the training data prove important to the shape of the fitted functions (which are manifolds). For instance, a neural net that recognizes “cats” may actually be recognizing various features of the cat’s fur rather than the shape of a cat (etc.).

        The solution to the four color problem was mostly automation: it would have taken a human too long to go through all the possibilities and prove them by hand, so they had a computer do it. The result is just as worthy as if a person did it, and contributes to the knowledge of human kind. It would be nice to have a shorter proof that most people could study, instead of skip because it takes too long. It’s kind of useful to know that coloring a map in 4 colors is NP hard, but doing so in 5 can be done with a greedy algorithm, if you ever have to write such an algorithm, like I remember doing.

        And yes, you and I agree that real intelligence, which AI was supposed to lead to, is far more complex than the algorithms we currently have. Unfortunately the current AI hype which I fear will lead to another AI winter, is based on many other people’s wishful thinking that we’re almost there… one of the downsides of “natural” intelligence, I suppose.

    4. Jeremy Grimm

      After several comments, I asked myself why I am expending such concern over matters peripheral to and very much subordinate to other world events. I cannot offer a good answer to my question.

      I feel that world events are devolving far beyond my understanding and beyond my knowledge. As the u.s. Empire thrashes in its death throes, I can only look on as bystander to the events which could have catastrophic impacts on my life and the life and future lives of my children. I want to close my eyes and pretend. lalalalalalalala!

      1. JBird4049

        Most of what is linked, written about, and commented on is usually interesting, often useful, and occasionally extremely important, even vital, information; it should still be only a very small part of our existence, and it is a poor substitute for a vital, functional society with all of its beauty and even horror.

        However, it is what many of us only have, and it is still useful to show others who actually do have more this, that they are not losing their minds, or if they are crazy, they’re not insane. That it is the others that are blind and not themselves. Which can make the difference between continuing or not.

        So, please use this site for the bit of sanity, beauty, wisdom, and yes, insanity and horror that it offers. And see what you can do to make this flaming, smoking planet better at least in whatever small part of it you can. Most of it is still very worth fighting for and this includes the people living on it.

        It is better than grabbing a big bottle of Fukital and just sitting in front of the screen, isn’t? As very attractive as it might be!

    1. notabanker

      It is not at all difficult to see the scales tilting against the US worldwide. The denial and cognitive dissonance on this will be ferocious. This makes the Israelis an even bigger wildcard now. If they go off the reservation we are all well and truly family blogged.

      1. Daryl

        Israel and Saudi turning their backs on the US might be the best stroke of luck we’ve had in a while.

        1. tevhatch

          I tried to find the quote from Otto Von Bismarch about the Middle East not being worth the life of a single German corporal, but struck out. However, I did find this jewel, which while not related to the topic shows Von Bismarch understood much of the political finance that Dr. Michael Hudson has expounded upon.

          He obtained from Congress the right to borrow from the people by selling to it the ‘bonds’ of States … and the Government and the nation escaped the plots of the foreign financiers. They understood at once, that the United States would escape their grip. The death of Lincoln was resolved upon….

          The death of Lincoln was a disaster for Christendom. There was no man in the United States great enough to wear his boots and the bankers went anew to grab the riches. I fear that foreign bankers with their craftiness and tortuous tricks will entirely control the exuberant riches of America and use it to systematically corrupt civilization.

    2. JM

      The Duran talked about this today, and both seem to view this as a sea change event; they think China is stepping up as *the* global leader from this. I’m not sure I see it as that immediate/big a change for China, but does seem like another nail in the coffin of the US Empire and unipolarity.

      1. c_heale

        I don’t think China is that interested in being global leader (in fact this seems to be projection on the part of The Duran – they often have interesting facts, but also seem to extrapolate too much from them), but instead wants to remain a regional power, while Russia wants to be taken seriously and return to being a regional power.

        Ill-thought out policies in the West have pushed these two countries together, along with much of the Middle East. Sadly the next battleground appears to be Africa.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Knew that it was going to happen sooner or later but the tempo for these developments is really picking up pace. I thought that it would be a few year before this happened. It looks like the NATO-Russia war is acting as a catalyst for developments not only in Europe but for around the whole world.

    4. VietnamVet

      The report of China’s rapprochement of Saudi Arabia and Iran is a sea change even more profound than the Carter Doctrine that got the USA into the Gulf War(s) mess in the first place and the current occupations of Iraq and Syria. Back then this was due to the first energy crises. Literally, this deal cuts the USA out of the Persian Gulf. Europe will have to pay through the nose for Qatar LNG. Middle East oil will go to whomever can pay for it in their national currency (no more petro-dollars). North America and Europe are on their own with their dwindling supplies of North Sea oil, fracking and tar sands petroleum, plus coal.

      Ring the bells loud, the multi-polar world has reemerged. The hegemon is dead. The real question is if the money changers will allow themselves to be kicked out of temple.

      Either there is an armistice and DMZ across Eastern Ukraine, and NATO aggression tamed or the western nutjob money cult will blow up the world. They already exploded three of the four Nord Stream natural gas pipelines to deny Europe access to cheap Russian energy.

      The world turned upside down. Peace, good government and living within one’s means, as of today, is the only alternative to a WWIII human extinction event.

  9. poopinator

    C’mon, I was told there would be no math….

    After reading that SVB was heavily invested in MBS, it really got me worrying again. Not about the general health of the economy, or anything of that nature, but whether I’m going to have to start relearning some bizarre new financial math to follow this mess again.

    I’m wondering how much of this is CRE as I have a feeling that may be the spark that sets the next one off.

    1. ChrisFromGA

      I checked a few MBS price charts, and at least so far, I saw no big impact on price, no signs of cliff diving circa 2007.

      Maybe SVB just didn’t have enough MBS to move the needle, especially with the Fed having so much of it stuffed in their balance sheet and not really doing QT on MBS yet.

      I think CRE is going to be the main event. Downtown office space is facing an extinction level event:

      1. Work from home/hybrid work
      2. Rising rates
      3. ESG making the long commute a sin for CEOs
      4. ChatGPT taking out lower level knowledge workers
      5. Tech wreck 2, “Electric Bugaloo!”

    2. albrt

      Anybody who bought bonds before the big rate hikes is seriously under water. Doesn’t matter whether the bonds are good, they’re just worth a lot less.

      1. Verifyfirst

        From CNN:

        “ ‘SVB’s institutional challenges reflect a larger and more widespread systemic issue: The banking industry is sitting on a ton of low-yielding assets that, thanks to the last year of rate increases, are now far underwater — and sinking,’ wrote Konrad Alt, co-founder of Klaros Group.

        Alt estimated that rate increases have “effectively wiped out approximately 28% of all the capital in the banking industry as of the end of 2022.”

        When interest rates were near zero, banks loaded up on long-dated, low-risk Treasuries. But as the Fed raises interest rates to fight inflation, the value of those assets has fallen, leaving banks sitting on unrealized losses.”


        I can’t evaluate, but 28% seems like a lot.

        1. Objective Ace

          Alt estimated that rate increases have “effectively wiped out approximately 28% of all the capital in the banking industry as of the end of 2022.”

          And 10-30 yr treasuries are still yielding under 4 percent. Things can still get much much worse

    3. TomW

      There were no credit issues. It was a classic run on a bank. It was triggered by losses taken on $20 billion in bonds with a duration of 3.8 years. So the classic run on the bank was triggered by a classic asset/liability mismatch. The ‘available for sale’ portfolio that was liquidated took about a $2 billion haircut. That was over 10% of capital. They had a plan to raise a couple of billion in new capital. A billion or so in equity and another billion in preferred stock. But that plan was DOA after a run on cash deposits. According to TV, 80% of deposits were over the $250 K FDIC insured limit. And a quarter of the deposits walked yesterday. But the TV figures are imprecise and I would interpret them as ‘big’ and not put too fine a point on it. FWIW, here is a link to Thursday’s plan.
      Slide Deck:


      My guess is that the remaining capital will be enough capital to liquidate the remaining assets. Or if not, small haircuts for uninsured depositors.

      As far as TV commentators who expressed concern about the importance of SIVB, I’m not very concerned. There is too much VC money chasing too few ideas.

  10. semper loquitur

    ““The student, who goes by Niko, noted they’re a transgender man and pressed Youngkin on his anti-trans policies, including proposals that would limit trans students’ participation in athletics and usage of bathrooms.”

    Translation: keeping men and boys out of women and girl’s spaces and sports.

  11. ChrisFromGA

    VCers losing a lot of their stupid money is bad why?

    Exactly. So a bunch of really bad ideas won’t get funded for a while, and founders will have to show a profitable business plan from day 1.

    Sounds like progress.

    1. Revenant

      Businesses that are profitable from Day 1 do not require VC funding!

      VC funding should be an extremely expensive investment (I.e dilutive to the founder because of a low valuation) in the equity of a company. More equity in balance sheets would be a good thing.

      If SVB doesn’t survive resolution, the VC ecosystem will take quite a blow. From personal experience, thee is nowhere else to get transatlantic banking for SME’s. You have to be a corporate with a bulge bracket bank.

    2. Wukchumni

      I don’t keep abreast in terms of financial institutions, and Silicon Valley Bank sounds like a place that lends out money for enlargements.

      1. The Rev Kev

        For some of the men too, from what I have read, and who are prepared to go that extra length.

  12. semper loquitur

    Consciousness in the machine PART 2 | Donald Hoffman, Bernardo Kastrup, Susan Schneider

    Should we accept that consciousness arises in biological beings and that AI just isn’t made of the ‘right stuff’? Or, is it possible that a computer that observes, interacts, and represents its own internal state to itself might also give rise to consciousness? Then again, is the puzzle deeper still on the grounds that we have no means of determining whether an intelligent machine, an organism or even a person other than ourselves is conscious or not?


    1. Acacia

      we have no means of determining whether an intelligent machine, an organism or even a person other than ourselves is conscious or not

      There’s always the Blade Runner solution: B.R. units administer a Voight-Kampff test, i.e., shine a little light in the eyes, and if there’s no subjectivity in there (which, for P. K. Dick, was empathy, which sociopaths lack)… BLAM!

  13. MaryLand

    Was at the ER last night with heart symptoms. I told the RN the pain was a dull ache at the 1-2 level. She said she would give me some aspirin and morphine. The morphine offer seemed odd. I asked if it was for anything other than pain. She said no, so I declined. Also I had to tell her that I had taken 5 baby aspirin right before coming there. She had not asked what if any medications or supplements I might have taken. So she skipped the aspirin as well. They were not that busy at that time of night and I was surprised to be seen not only by an RN but also an MD. However the offer of the morphine made me wonder. My husband has had many trips to the ER for heart symptoms but was never offered morphine. And I’d think they would question you about any meds you took. The staff seemed very young which made me think about so many healthcare workers quitting during/since the start of the pandemic. Hard to get experienced people I guess. After 5 hours we were able to go home, which is really short for most ER visits these days. I was the last patient when I left. A slow night for the ER. This was at a hospital with a good reputation (in the top 2 of the city.) Masks required and worn everywhere in the ER.

    1. playon

      Hope you’re OK MaryLand. Although not obvious (or perhaps just under-reported), I think that the pandemic has definitely weakened health care in the US. I’ve noticed with the clinic I go to, that things are slower than previously. Test results take longer that they once did, appointments are further out etc.

    2. notabanker

      Wish you all the best.

      Get a second opinion. See a specialist if you can. ER’s are going to screen you for immediate emergencies and aren’t equipped or focused on potential long term issues. If your vitals and ekg look good, they are more than likely going to turn you loose. A cardiologist will be able to run echo’s and mri’s to see how the heart is actually functioning. Speaking from experience on this one.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Good to hear that you got out OK but they offered you morphine? Would that have not masked what was going on in your body? Anyway, take care of yourself as you sound like a bonza sheila.

      1. Space Station 11

        Morphine has long been part of the ‘MONA’ cocktail used to treat chest pain felt to be due to myocardial ischemia (MONA: Morphine, Oxygen, Nitroglycerin, Aspirin’). High-level evidence for some of these treatments is lacking, but this is routinely taught and historically has been part of clinical guidelines for ischemic chest pain, acute coronary syndrome, etc.

        In other words, this is not an off-label or unusual use of the drug, if the doc felt that your chest pain was due to a cardiac cause.

        I hope you are doing ok, MaryLand.

        1. MaryLand

          Glad to hear the MONA treatment protocol is not completely unusual though possibly not appropriate in every case. Thanks for the information! I still think they should have asked what meds I had already taken. Instead they just announced they were going to give me aspirin and morphine.

    4. MaryLand

      Thanks for all the good wishes. Am feeling 1000% better today for whatever reason. I will follow up with a cardiologist for sure. Appointments are definitely harder to get in a timely manner anymore.

  14. playon

    The dental + COVID issue – totally anecdotal, but after my second bout of COVID I had what felt like an occasional mild toothache for about a week on both of my back molars. I take pretty good care of my teeth. A friend had an abscess last fall which he was convinced was COVID related, FWIW.

    1. Roger Blakely

      SARS-CoV-2 gets everywhere. It causes all sorts of mischief. Why can’t it cause what seems like a toothache? I had my sense of smell rearranged for a month. Some people lose their hair. Who knows what it is doing?

  15. Jason Boxman

    It is a sociopathic economic system that prioritizes short-term profit maximization for these huge corporate entities. It is a destructive force. And the political establishment, at its best right now, only tries to stave off its worst aspects. That’s what corporatist Democrats do.

    That extremely long NY Times piece on how intractable poverty is is a case in point here; As I said earlier today, capitalism causes poverty, but don’t expect the Acela crowd to even be able to fathom that. People have access to cheap electronics, after all!

  16. EGrise

    One of our large healthcare clinic system in Austin, TX sent out an update to all patients entitled “ARC UPDATE: New masking policy effective March 13”:

    Here is ARC’s adjusted masking policy, effective March 13:
    We will transition from mandatory to optional masking for our staff and physicians.
    We will continue to recommend masking during specific situations.
    We will be happy to put on a mask during your visit, if you ask us.
    We will continue to wear a mask when evaluating patients with respiratory symptoms, with significant immune deficiency, and at your request.
    We will continue to ask patients with respiratory symptoms to wear a mask.
    We will continue to encourage anyone at higher risk for severe COVID-19 complications to wear a mask.
    We will continue to monitor scientific data, infection rates, and both local and national guidelines to adjust our approach.

    We look forward to seeing each other’s smiles again!

    So there you go, that damned phrase again. What is it with Americans and smiling?

  17. Jason Boxman

    Free dental checkups, lol. On what planet?

    Not this one? My local dentist told me an anecdote a year or so ago on my first visit, he learned dentistry in the military before entering private practice, about people sometimes coming in for emergency dental care after botching tooth extractions at home. I suggested that, perhaps, we should offer free dental care, because this is surely a travesty and no one would do such a thing if dental care were affordable.

    Unsurprisingly, he disagreed, politely and in brief, and he finished up his exam of my mouth. Granted, dental care for all might impact his earnings, so I’m not entirely surprised. But given he’s seen up close the kind of damage a desperate person can cause to one’s own mouth, kind of callous position to take.

    1. Bugs

      See, Marianne Williamson’s comment on neoliberalism above. Sociopaths just don’t care. And Lambert’s astute definition always applies…

  18. Mo

    The bathroom issue is a great political football. But a public school bathroom has always been a dangerous place — at least it was in 1970s socal. So why expect anyone to have the answer now?

  19. Wukchumni

    Watergate update:

    I’ve driven by Lake Kaweah our reservoir that holds 185k acre feet a few times this week and the amount in the lake got greater each time, what were they thinking with a monster storm about to set down on them, and not releasing water like mad?

    Well, they’ve closed Hwy 198 for 5 miles behind the dam and are going to use the spillway for the first time ever since the dam was built in 1962 in an emergency measure to get rid of water, and use the area below as a catchment basin.

    Behind the dam is an endless sea of citrus trees primarily.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Our local dam got so full that recently they told people that to use as much water as possible for a weekend and they will take the money off the bill. Said to fill your pools, wash the car, water the lawns and gardens, wash the outside of the house, etc.

      1. Wukchumni

        Turns out to be a comedy of errors, my favorite!

        Kaweah Dam has room to spare ahead of more rain, meaning no emergency dump will be needed, said Bill Miller, an operations manager at Terminus Dam at Lake Kaweah.

        “We have room to store water, the gates are closed for now,” he said. “We aren’t doing an emergency dump, and there’s no talks of it.”

        The news of an emergency dump came from CHP, where their traffic control page showed an emergency dump would be needed and a portion of Highway 198 would be closed.

        “This has caused a mass panic,” Miller said. (Visalia Delta-Times)

    1. c_heale

      Under YouTube age restriction, which can’t be removed unless you join. Found it on Facebook – not necessary to join.

      1. tegnost

        I appreciate the info PL puts out, but
        dead bodies are not family blog, i try to avoid them myself.

  20. semper loquitur

    Poetry Nook:


    Whilst traveling ‘pon a weary road
    Burdened by a cumbrous load
    Of forlorn love and dying fire
    Of sorrow and of despair dire
    Of memories that pinch and goad
    Of bitter seeds of passion sowed
    I chanced upon a passer-by
    Who hailed me, cordial hand held high
    He bid me join him for repast
    And sharing tales of times gone past.

    He spoke of long and arduous trails
    High adventure, stirring tales
    Of forests dark with perils rife
    Of battles, duels, and bloody strife
    Of churning oceans under sails
    Of rocky mounts and verdant dales
    And wandering far and fast and free
    His tale complete, he looked to me.

    “Mine’s a tale of sorrows old
    Of long lost love, of fires cold
    Of shattered hearts and ardor sour
    Of empty, lonely, chafing hours
    Of vacant beds and tables bare
    And mirrors filled with lifeless stares
    A wilted soul and acrid glee
    Of pining for long lost Loralee.

    Oh Loralee! Oh Loralee!
    I would cross both sky and sea
    Up mountains cold and dunes fiery
    Countless hosts of grasping trees
    Stumbling o’er jagged scree
    To bring the very stars to thee
    And fall upon my faithful knees
    To kiss your hand most fervently
    To hold your face so reverently
    And feel your slender arms ’bout me!

    Now the sun had taken flight
    And rushing on a deep-blue night
    Of sparkling, laughing, prancing stars
    Of planets dancing on afar
    Of fleeting clouds, pearly tinged
    Of sighing, spiraling, scented winds
    And crescent moon, a silvery eye
    That winked on us from up a-high
    The stranger stretched upon the ground
    Thanked me and was soon sleeping sound.

    But sleep came not for weary me
    Just visions of sweet Loralee
    Of golden hair and eyes of blue
    Of pouting lips, skin fresh as dew
    Of laughter like a ringing bell
    Of anger hot as any hell
    And so I rose and made my way
    My heart an empty, hollow gray
    And walked for an eternity
    Searching for my Loralee.

  21. Tim

    Re Marianne Williamson, I think all she needs to do is repeat this phrase over and over and over again, as the only thing she says, even in response to questions:

    ” hyper-capitalism, namely neoliberalism—has at its root a deep spiritual darkness. It does not care. It is a sociopathic economic system that prioritizes short-term profit maximization for these huge corporate entities. It is a destructive force. And the political establishment, at its best right now, only tries to stave off its worst aspects. That’s what corporatist Democrats do. ”


    1. Acacia

      Yep, and reading how Sanders and Warren align with Biden against Williamson just shows where they truly stand, i.e., together with the corporatist Dems.

  22. chris

    The latest from the Guardian over the continuing chaff being thrown about the Nord Stream pipeline bombing.

    Read if you have time and stomach for more idiocy. I suppose it’s good that well below the fold they explain why experts think this entire 6 people on a yacht concept is BS. But they spend so much time talking about the details behind the stupid theory that I have to believe the proposition shared in MoA is correct. This is the western alliance throwing as much dirt around as they can so that no one can tell what’s real and what’s not.

  23. ashley

    generative AI such as stable diffusion is not BS – i have a background in graphic design and ive been following that space for about a year now – the improvements are mindblowing. its open source, a tech savvy person with proper hardware can run the AI locally to create images and animations. some of the artwork is incredible, and the implications to the larger media world are not to be underestimated.

    anyone working in the industry should start learning how to prompt AI to get what you want out of it, thats a skill thats going to be very valuable soon.

    i foresee a very dystopian future that is post truth (if were not there already…) with AI acting like a people pleasing golden retriever, constantly trying to serve its human “masters” pleasing results. AI search delivering content created by AI to make your reality whatever you want it to be, regardless of what the actual truth is. and the results are going to be so believable who’s to say whats real.

  24. Wukchumni

    So as long as you had $250k or less in SVB you’re aces, covered by the FDIC.

    When IndyMac bank was having issues in 2008, a friend had $900k in one account in another bank and spent a day scrambling to open account in 9 different banks, as per the then FDIC $100k insurance.

    Its the crazy overage amounts in accounts in SVB that will be ruinous, but it will also coerce some with too many eggs in one basket in other banks to do what my friend did back in those innocent days of finance.

    1. Daryl

      The percentage of depositors with less than 250k is floating around somewhere, though I don’t have it handy. Think it was something like 3%. Companies with most of their cash reserves there are pretty SoL — even if they get bailed out, they’re going to miss payroll and critical expenses.

  25. Glen

    Summers Sees No Systemic Risk From SVB If Depositors Protected

    I thought I just read somewhere that many, many of the deposits at SVB are way above the FDIC limits. So how are those going to be “made whole”?

    Larry wanted 6% unemployment:

    Summers: 6% Unemployment Most Likely Needed for 2% Inflation

    But he looks like he wants SVB bailed out. Hm, tell me more Larry:

    Very Substantial Consequences

    Somehow I think “our innovation system” = all my rich buddies…

      1. chris

        Are you so certain? When have these people ever cared how their actions were perceived by us proles?

        I mean, didn’t Biden just give billions more to Ukraine in the same news cycle as he was cutting SNAP at home? Why would someone who can’t see anything wrong with that decide to not bail out banks at the same time as they’re refusing to bail out student loans?

  26. chris

    This is interesting. I recall that people in the US had been asking for China to do more on the world stage. Not sure if they ever envisioned being called out for plundering Syria

  27. Bugs

    My buddy took a job last year as GC in a startup in LA. They had every last cent of their VC money in SVB. He says that he thinks next week he’s out of a job.

  28. LawnDart

    Not that this hasn’t been mentioned before, but here’s another that can be added to the (long) list of warnings unheeded:

    Revived Ancient Zombie-Virus From Siberian Permafrost Hasn’t Lost Its Touch, Study Warns

    “We view these amoeba-infecting viruses as surrogates for all other possible viruses that might be in the permafrost,” Claverie told US media. “We see the traces of many, many, many other viruses. So we know they are there. We don’t know for sure that they are still alive. But our reasoning is that if the amoeba viruses are still alive, there is no reason why the other viruses will not be still alive, and capable of infecting their own hosts.”

    …now that the permafrost is melting, pathogens are likely to be released into the atmosphere with unknown consequences.


  29. Acacia

    Re: “Long COVID Now Looks like a Neurological Disease, Helping Doctors to Focus Treatments”

    Although 16 million U.S. sufferers is a reasonable estimate of the condition’s toll, there are other, more dire assessments. A meta-analysis of 41 studies conducted in 2021 concluded that worldwide, 43 percent of people infected with SARS-CoV-2 may develop long COVID, with about 30 percent—translating to approximately 30 million people—affected in the U.S. Some studies have offered more conservative numbers. A June 2022 survey reported by the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics found that among adults who had had COVID, one in five was experiencing long COVID three months later; the U.K. Office for National Statistics put the estimate at one in 10. Even if only a small share of infections result in long COVID, experts say, they will add up to millions more people affected—and potentially disabled.

    On SciAm’s account, 16 million long COVID cases “is a reasonable estimate” in the US (though they don’t cite a source or explain what makes this number ‘reasonable’), or it could be 30 million — quite a range. It could be 30% of all COVID cases in the US, or it could be 20%, or 10% in the U.K.. Or, if you click through to the previous SciAm article they link to, it could be more than 25% all cases in the US, or 75% in China, or more than 50% amongst health care workers.

    Anybody else trying to make sense of these numbers?

Comments are closed.