2:00PM Water Cooler 3/14/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Eastern Bluebird, Sharpsburg, Washington, Maryland, United States. “Male Eastern Bluebird singing at dawn.”

* * *


“So many of the social reactions that strike us as psychological are in fact a rational management of symbolic capital.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles

Capitol Seizure

“Pence says Trump ‘endangered my family’ on Jan. 6” [USA Today]. “‘President Trump was wrong,’ Pence said during remarks at the annual white-tie Gridiron Dinner attended by politicians and journalists. ‘I had no right to overturn the election. And his reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day, and I know history will hold Donald Trump accountable.'”


“Virginia judge uses slavery-era law to argue human embryos can be considered property” [FOX]. “A Virginia judge determined that frozen human embryos are legally considered property, using a 19th century law regarding the treatment of slaves as the legal reasoning for his decision…. The law at the heart of the case governs how to divide ‘goods and chattels.’ The judge ruled that because embryos could not be bought or sold, they couldn’t be considered as such and therefore Honeyhline had no recourse under that law to claim custody of them. But after the ex-wife’s lawyer, Adam Kronfeld, asked the judge to reconsider, Gardiner conducted a deep dive into the history of the law. He found that before the Civil War, it also applied to slaves. The judge then researched old rulings that governed custody disputes involving slaves, and said he found parallels that forced him to reconsider whether the law should apply to embryos.”

Biden Administration

“Playbook: Biden’s crude move to the center” [Politico]. “We didn’t detect much of a classic triangulation strategy in Biden’s State of the Union speech — the junk fees riff was an exception — but since then he has made a series of high-profile moves that are disappointing progressives and creating a ‘Biden-moves-to-the-center’ narrative…. Deficit reduction…. Crime…. Immigration. For two-plus years, Biden has done a better-than-expected job keeping progressives and moderates together. He seems awfully unlikely to draw a primary challenger from the left, especially given the fact that the most influential progressive, Sen. BERNIE SANDERS (I-Vt.), is already backing Biden. And the DNC’s recently adopted primary schedule offers additional insurance by making South Carolina, where moderates have an advantage, the first primary state…. On the other hand, Biden’s current political situation obviously creates more incentives to tack to the center. He now has a Republican House that is cooking up a series of votes, like the crime-law repeal, to force Biden into difficult choices, and the simmering budget fight also gives him an incentive to emphasize spending restraint. With no primary opponent in sight, Biden is also highly motivated to see all big policy decisions in terms of how they will affect the general election, where moderate suburban voters, many of whom only recently fled the MAGA-fied Republican Party, will once again be the crucial swing vote.”

“The weird alliance between Matt Gaetz and the Congressional Progressive Caucus (it’s a good thing)” [Ryan Grim, Bad News]. “[T]he bipartisanship was real. Ilhan Omar, in fact, worked directly with Gaetz to get him to fix what was a mess of an original resolution. His first version gave just 15 days to evacuate Syria, which is as absurd as it sounds, and Omar warned him he’d lose every Democratic vote and most Republicans if we went with that. He agreed to bump it up to six months. So Omar, despite being outrageously kicked off the Foreign Affairs Committee by Republicans, is still playing a serious role in foreign policy.”


“Marianne Williamson” [Council on Foreign Relations]. A round-up of Williamson’s views on foreign policy. This caught my eye: “She would create a cabinet-level department of peace to counterbalance the Department of Defense. It would focus on preventing conflict, replacing military aid with peace-building programs, and increasing humanitarian aid.” • CFR’s link is broken, however.

“The Tragic Conundrum Of Ukraine” [Marianne Williamson, Transform]. “For those of us who have spent years opposing the influence of the military industrial complex on U.S. foreign policy, the situation poses a peculiar challenge. It’s possible to believe that the undue influence of the U.S. war machine – aided in Washington by “the Blob” of foreign policy experts – is very real, and at the same time believe the Russian invasion of Ukraine is a criminal venture that cannot be tolerated by the world. The United States has perpetrated its own egregious imperialistic ventures, a fact which shouldn’t be ignored by anyone. It’s not an overstatement to say that millions of people around the world – including thousands of U.S. military – have died as a result of our own misadventures. But that does not, and should not, give Vladimir Putin a pass on perpetrating an imperialistic war of his own…. Should Ukraine be given a blank check by the United States? No, it should not. But should it be given further support to push back an aggressor who would end its sovereign right to exist? I believe it should.”

“Marianne Williamson’s ‘This Week’ interview: Full transcript about her 2024 campaign” (transcript) [ABC]. ” I support the President’s basic policy here. If we were to if we were to withdraw military support from Ukraine right now, there would be no Ukraine. That is not acceptable to me…. [W]hile I do not support all of the rhetoric of the president regarding — regarding this war, for the most part, for the most part, I support that policy.” • Either “hypercapitalism” is “a sociopathic economic system” or it isn’t.

“Democratic leaders want the party to stop its Kamala Harris pile-on ahead of 2024” [CNN]. “Elizabeth Warren has called twice to apologize. Over a month later, Kamala Harris hasn’t called back. In a local Boston radio interview in late January, Warren was enthusiastic about President Joe Biden running for reelection but, asked if Biden should keep Harris as his running mate, she said, ‘I really want to defer to what makes Biden comfortable on his team.’ … ‘Pretty insulting,’ is how one person close to Harris described the feelings of many in the vice president’s office and in her wider orbit…. [T]he Warren moment is infuriating many in Harris’s circle: To them, it’s the latest in a long string of snubs to a vice president whom they say has never gotten the respect or support she deserves. Warren’s words sting even more, they say, because they came from a former rival who in 2020 hoped to be picked as Biden’s running mate instead.” • I think if Biden slipped a cog Warren would throw her snake in the ring in a heartbeat.

“Ron DeSantis Says Protecting Ukraine Is Not a Key U.S. Interest” [New York Times]. “The venue Mr. DeSantis chose for his statement on a major foreign policy question revealed almost as much as the substance of the statement itself. The statement was broadcast on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” on Fox News. It was in response to a questionnaire that the host, Mr. Carlson, sent last week to all major prospective Republican presidential candidates, and is tantamount to an acknowledgment by Mr. DeSantis that a candidacy is in the offing…. ‘While the U.S. has many vital national interests — securing our borders, addressing the crisis of readiness with our military, achieving energy security and independence, and checking the economic, cultural and military power of the Chinese Communist Party — becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them,’ Mr. DeSantis said in a statement that Mr. Carlson read aloud on his show.”

“Silicon Valley Bank Collapse Becomes Campaign Topic as GOP Warns Against Bailout” [Wall Street Journal]. “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is expected to enter the 2024 GOP nomination race later this year, suggested the bank’s collapse was related to the institution being distracted by diversity, equity and inclusion goals. He often argues such efforts go too far. ‘This bank, they’re so concerned with DEI and politics and all kinds of stuff, I think that really diverted from them focusing on their core mission,’ he said Sunday on Fox News.” • The DEI talking point is red meat for the base, but holy moley, is it dumb.

“Handicapping presidential primary ‘madness'” [The Hill]. Madness as in “March Madness,” not general insanity. I won’t go through the brackets — interesting trope! — but here’s the conclusion: “My Final Four would be Trump, DeSantis, Kemp and Sununu.”


“Vallas’s school reform is old, tired, and failed” [CPF Insider]. Vallas being one of the two remaining candidates in the Chicago mayoral race. “Vallas went all in on privatization in New Orleans, creating the first all-charter public school district in the country. The results have been dramatic, and terrible…. Friends, given what we’ve seen in our district—scandals, disinvestment, and poor ROI—and what we know about other districts where Vallas has brought his old-school style of choice-based reform to bear, we need to ask ourselves if this is really what we want, here, now, for our city and its beleaguered, tapped-dry, charter-school-scandal racked, already racially-stratified school district.”

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.

* * *

“Barney Frank’s Signature Bank Compensation” [The Rational Walk]. “The disclosures reveal that Mr. Frank was granted a total of 15,857 shares worth $2.36 million on the date of the grants (including dividend reinvestments). Through a series of sales, Mr. Frank received cash of $1.56 million for 10,324 shares…. To be clear, there is no indication that Mr. Frank or the Signature Bank board of directors did anything illegal, and I am not alleging that they did. I am expressing the opinion that this entire arrangement was highly corrupt and utterly shameful. It’s unfortunate that we live in a society where shame is almost entirely absent.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“How one medical school became remarkably diverse — without considering race in admissions” [STAT]. “[O]ne school in California — the state with the country’s longest-standing ban on using race in admissions — has defied the odds. The University of California, Davis runs the country’s most diverse medical school after Howard, a historically Black university, and Florida International, a Hispanic-serving research university. What Davis, and its remarkably diverse class of 2026 demonstrates, is an alternative future for a post-affirmative action world, one where diversity might be achieved despite the many obstacles that stand in the way. The student body has gone from predominantly white and male in the years before California adopted its affirmative action ban in 1996 to one in which nearly half the current class comes from Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous populations — people who have been historically underrepresented in medicine, and sometimes mistreated by its practitioners… He started by diversifying the admissions committee and staff. ‘The reason things stay the same is because everyone involved is the usual suspects,’ he said. Because Davis had to use a race-neutral approach to admissions, Henderson focused on economics. ‘I’d call it class-based affirmative action,” he said. “Class struggles have a huge overlap with race — that’s how we skirted the issue.’ Applicants were given high marks if they had a ‘socioeconomic disadvantage score,’ shifting admissions criteria away, he said, from MCAT scores and GPAs to characteristics like grit, resilience, and perseverance.” • This isn’t skirting the issue at all! Class is the issue, and the article showed that race-based policies didn’t work!

“What do race and ethnicity mean? The US government is asking” [Associated Press]. • The consistent metaphor: Boxes to check.

“Fairfax County Removes Test Question Equating Political Ideologies With Race, Gender” [Associated Press].

The question appeared on a test given to students of an AP Government class at Fairfax County Public Schools’ Online Campus.

The multiple-choice question asked students, “Which of the following is an accurate comparison of liberals versus conservatives?”

The potential answers for “liberals” included “Young, white males;” “Middle aged, urban lesbian;” “College-educated black male professional” and “White, upper-middle class suburban male.”

The potential answers for “conservatives” included “East Coast, Ivy League educated scientists;” “Southern male migrant laborer;” “Catholic, midwestern middle-aged male” and “West coast, Hispanic teacher.”


“Why So Many Elites Feel Like Losers” [Freddie deBoer, Persuasion]. “Why does there appear to be such immense dissatisfaction, borne of unfulfilled artistic ambitions, at precisely the historical moment where creating and finding an audience have never been easier or more accessible? The first, obvious answer is that people don’t want simply to create, but to make a living creating, to create as a profession. And this is vastly more difficult to achieve. Making a living on Etsy is notoriously difficult, with about 90% of Etsy stores earning less than $400 a month. Estimates for payouts for a thousand views on YouTube are around $18 dollars; less than 12% of videos even reach that threshold. 90% of Twitch’s users stream to six average viewers or less, and a quarter of even the top 10,000 highest-paid accounts make less than minimum wage. The average OnlyFans account earns just $150 a month. It’s estimated that 99% of podcasts make no profit. 98.6% of Spotify artists make an average of just $36 a quarter. On Patreon, a platform that creators of all kinds use to monetize their work, less than 2% of users make even the federal monthly minimum wage. I have no numbers for Substack, but we can be sure that it’s a similar trend. That’s because the creator economy follows a power law distribution; the vast majority of people in it get tiny amounts of money and attention, while a small sliver of users are handsomely rewarded with both. Any individual creator might become one of the winners. But at scale, almost everyone is going to fail. The growing number of people who are hungry to get rich in the creator economy—who believe themselves to be deserving of success by dint of their education and hard work—coupled with the awareness that almost all of them will fail is an example of elite overproduction. We have an artistic class which is predominantly made up of people who enjoy none of the financial rewards afforded to artists. The second big problem, besides money, is a little more ephemeral—attention, exclusivity, acclaim. This is, of course, intimately tied to money, but it is a distinct scarce good that creators pursue. The desire to be celebrated for one’s artistic output is not something that I need to explain to you here. What’s a little subtler is the sense of cool that comes with holding down the designation of being an artist or creator. To be known as a ‘creative’ has long bestowed a certain degree of social capital. It’s here that the great democratization of the means of artistic production I discussed earlier—the affordability and accessibility of digital tools to create—actually works against the desires of aspiring creative elites. The problem now is that, if you say ‘I make movies,’ the person you’re talking to will usually hear the unspoken part, ‘just like everyone else.'”


“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!

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Look for the Helpers

“Introducing: The Covid Underground” [Covid Underground]. The deck: “Welcome to The Covid Underground, a newsletter for the Covid-free movement and all of those who continue to avoid infection.” More: “True health is the ability to change. About 10-30% of the U.S. population has changed their lives in the light of the freeing revelations of 2020, and we keep changing. We are dynamically, creatively faithful to what was— briefly— plain to all: normal is a dangerous illusion.” • Worth a read.

* * *

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.

Covid Is Airborne

“Intro to CO2 Monitoring” [Joey Fox, It’s Airborne]. “ASHRAE’s position is that ‘all else being equal, higher CO2 concentrations correspond to lower outdoor air ventilation rates and the potential for an increased risk of airborne transmission’ while acknowledging many of the limitations stated here. Therefore, the best use of CO2 monitoring is to ensure that ventilation is functioning properly, as ventilation is the main method used to ensure adequate air quality. Monitoring CO2 levels can be a helpful tool in an overall strategy to ensure a healthy indoor environment.”



“Some will become violent.” Nobody tell Eric Adams1

“‘You Don’t See the Sun’: What We Heard This Week” [MedPage Today (Carla)]. “”The San Francisco health order is a ray of appropriate behavior in a gray wilderness.” — Jeoff B. Gordon, MD, MPH, a retired family doctor in Santa Cruz, on San Francisco’s orders that health workers must continue to wear face masks.”

“University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics drops mask requirement” [The Gazette]. “The Gazette asked UIHC whether there was a specific infection rate or COVID metric they used when deciding when to stop requiring masks, but the hospital staff did not provide that information by Friday afternoon.” • Amazing that the main front for masking should be health care facilities, but then again not so amazing; Hospital Infection Control has always “tenaciously resisted” masking, and they have a disportionate influence over policy (in addition to performing very badly as a field, as one would expect).

Hospital-Acquired Infection (HAI) should be redefined:

I need to check CDC guidance on this. However, if the account is correct, HAI as defined today excludes airborne infection a priori. This would have been bad in Florence Nightingale’s day — she insisted on ventilation — but it’s even worse today.

“Why isn’t the CDC warning parents that masking their kids creates unacceptably high levels of CO2?” [Environmental Research Journal]. From September 2022, but seems to have crawled out of the muck only recently. Here is a thorough debunking:

And much else. Cochrane imploded, this…. thing; anti-maskers are having a hard time on the science front.


“Propylene glycol inactivates respiratory viruses and prevents airborne transmission” (preprint) [bioRxiv]. Mouse study. From the Abstract: “We found that the ubiquitous, safe, inexpensive and biodegradable small molecule propylene glycol (PG) has robust virucidal activity. Propylene glycol rapidly inactivates influenza, SARS-CoV-2 and a broad range of other enveloped viruses, and reduces disease burden in mice when administered intranasally at concentrations commonly found in nasal sprays. Most critically, aerosolized PG efficiently abolishes influenza and SARS-CoV-2 infectivity within airborne droplets, potently preventing infection at levels significantly below those well-tolerated by mammals. We present PG vapor as a first-in-class non-toxic airborne virucide, to prevent transmission of existing and emergent viral pathogens, with clear and immediate implications for public health.” And: “Propylene glycol (PG, propan-1,2-diol) is a synthetic liquid compound, whose amphiphilic properties are utilised in a wide range of products and industries: food and drink, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, including oral, topical, intravenous and nebulised drug delivery.” So the question: What if nasal sprays work bc of an INACTIVE ingredient?”

Elite Malfeasance

As the data slowly fades away:

IIRC, Johns Hopkins had handy charts:

Apparently, Google didn’t cut a deal with Worldometer or WHO for a data feed.

* * *

I blame the propaganda, but I don’t think anybody imagined how wildly successful it would be:

“Awkward silence” about protecting their own children.

A second example:

“She didn’t think that was it.” Why?

A third example:

* * *

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 13:

For now, I’m going to use this national wastewater data as the best proxy for case data (ignoring the clinical case data portion of this chart, which in my view “goes bad” after March 2022, for reasons as yet unexplained). At least we can spot trends, and compare current levels to equivalent past levels.

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 14:

-2.0%. Still high, but at last a distinct downturn.


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,148,993 – 1,148,391 = 602 (602 * 365 = 219,730 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

Excess deaths (The Economist), published Marh 7:

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

Inflation: “United States Inflation Rate” [Trading Economics]. “The annual inflation rate in the US slowed to 6% in February of 2023, the lowest since September of 2021, in line with market forecasts, and compared to 6.4% in January.”

CPI: “United States Consumer Price Index (CPI)” [Trading Economics]. “The consumer price index in the United States rose by 6.0 percent year-on-year to 300.84 points in February 2023, broadly in line with market consensus of 300.86 points. The annual inflation rate slowed for an eighth consecutive month, suggesting inflationary pressure in the world’s largest economic cooled following the US Federal Reserve’s tightening campaign over the past year.”

Small Business Optimism: “United States Nfib Business Optimism Index” [Trading Economics]. “The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index in the United States increased to 90.9 in February of 2023, the highest in three months, from 90.3 in January. About 38% of owners reported raising average selling prices, down 4 points from January. Still, companies continue to experience difficulties finding workers.”

* * *

The Bezzle: “Meta to wind down NFTs on platforms amid crypto bust” [Channel News Asia]. • That’s a damn shame.

The Bezzle:

At least I hope it’s a bezzle.

Tech: “PayPal leans on Venmo for growth” [Payments Dive]. “PayPal is counting on its peer-to-peer tool Venmo to drive more use of the company’s digital payments services, with the two operations expected to converge in about a year.” • Hmm. Maybe this accounts for PayPal’s persistent efforts to get me into their app (including a dark pattern on the login page). No thanks.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 24 Extreme Fear (previous close: 19 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 46 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 14 at 1:45 PM ET.

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

Humanity’s Best Friend

Dog people, don’t say I never did anything for you!

The Gallery


Somehow there seem to be more curves in this painting than there actually are.

Game of Thrones territory:

The Screening Room

“The Last Of Us Show Tries To Change What The Game Told Us About Joel” [Kotaku]. I can’t disentangle the spoilers, so I’m not going to quote anything. But I was quite taken with the HBO version of The Last of Us. Have any readers played the game?

“Alien Worlds – Macro Photos of Fungi and Slime Molds” [Kottke.org]. • Filing this here next to the above, for obvious reasons.

Groves of Academe

“Higher education is shockingly right-wing” [Steve Waldman, Interfluidity]. “Perhaps the stupidest idea that everyone takes for granted is that higher education in the United States is left-wing…. Whatever else colleges and universities do in the United States, they define and police our most consequential social hierarchy, the dividing line between a prosperous if precarious professional class and a larger, often immiserated, working class. The credentials universities provide are no guarantee of escape from paycheck-to-paycheck living, but statistically they are a near prerequisite. The academy itself is incredibly hierarchical. Within a university, distinctions reign between a graduate student or postdoc, an adjunct, an assistant professor on tenure track, an associate versus full professor. These ranks are salient and consequential, treated as legitimate and earnestly policed. Nothing is spared hierarchy in academia. Institutions are organized into pecking orders. Harvard University and Towson University are not the same. Everyone understands their relative rank, the social consequences of which are very real. If you are an academic at a level beyond community college or adjunct professorship, you have devoted your life to swimming upstream, besting competitors who will relegated to lower ranks or simply expectorated from academic life. It is a key part of your job to rank and sort other people, whether they be the undergrads that you grade or the faculty your department hires. You strive to have your work published in “top-tier” journals. To be an academic and be left-wing is like being a fish opposed to water. It is not persuasive. Or it ought not to be. Of course it is true that the vast majority of professors “identify” as progressive or liberal or left. That is understandable!” • Sounds like Waldman’s been reading Bourdieu.

Yes, that’s the point:

Class Warfare

The West’s policy of mass infection without mitigation and the workforce:

I think the elites know this, and have decided they can take the hit. Also, AI + robots (both bezzles, but that doesn’t mean elites don’t believe in them).

News of the Wired

“You don’t need to pursue happiness if you’ve already caught it” [Mexico News Daily]. “[G]arbage workers in Mexico… tend to be fearless. They don’t usually wear gloves or any kind of protective clothing. No masks. Their clothing trends toward the filthy side. They usually cling to the side of a truck as it barrels along…. Clearly, a very tough job undertaken by some very tough people… On this particular day, as I’m sitting in the micro and the garbage truck passes us, I notice three people sitting in the very back. As in, the very back where the garbage is stuffed. The truck is full. Of garbage. And they’re sitting right at the edge of the pile, probably on top of some of it…. They were two men and a boy: an older man in his late 50s, another man looking to be in his late 30s and a kid around 10. So, yeah, I figure it could’ve been three generations. I like to think that it was…. What really caught my attention was the kid, who was talking animatedly. He must have been telling funny stories because the other two men were laughing. Hard. This is while they’re all sitting at the edge of a pile of trash in the back of a garbage truck which, I’m certain, smelled awful…. Talking and laughing like they hadn’t a care in the world. Just having a grand old time. And it was impossible to see them and not question just what in the hell the rest of us are doing, especially us Americans who are constantly pursuing happiness. I had the feeling that those three guys, sitting there in the back of that garbage truck, they weren’t pursuing happiness. Somehow, and I really wish I knew how, they’d caught that son-of-a-bitch.” • On the one hand, a heart-warming story. On the other, everybody hates a tourist.

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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 Angie Neer:

Angie Neer writes: “Tree shadow.”

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Delinda

    How to fight back against banks, data harvesters and automation:

    Have a bank issued credit card and have problems with repeatedly missing bills in the mail, promises not kept: i.e. “You don’t get your $300 rebate because your bills weren’t paid. Yes, we continously sent bills to wrong address even after you called us five times.” (U.S. Bank Go Card)

    Stop wasting your time online negotiating with software, or people on the phone who can’t speak English, who read scripts or simply lie to you. GO TO THE BANK branch, ask to speak to the manager and let THEM get on the phone with the credit card company. Refuse to leave until issue resolved.

    Took 90 minutes of their time and they got a quick response because they have the “right” phone numbers to call and know the right terms.

    Demand credit card and medical bills plus lab results be mailed to you. Pay bills by check. Never use banking or medical portals, or online banking. Cost, $6 a year in stamps and an hour of your time, versus having your account hacked through “online convenience.”

    1. some guy

      Plus the $6 a year ( from enough people) helps keep the US Postal Service alive a little longer, perhaps long enough to outlive the current 2-Party conspiracy to destroy it in order to privatise the profitable parts of the wreckage.

  2. Tom Stone

    I’m one of the 41 Million Americans whose food stamps were cancelled because the Pandemic is over, inflation has been whipped and the economy is doing great.
    The “New FDR” is doing an unbelievable job!
    I wonder who else will be setting snares at Annadel State park?

    1. Wukchumni

      Why not sell some guns in order to acquire food, but if you were a crack shot, squirrel pie tastes like pecan pie if you squint enough.

      1. ambrit

        Sorry, but the selling guns idea has already been cornered by the DEA. They supply a big chunk of the Cartel’s ‘hardware.’ Don’t imagine that it all stopped when “Operation Fast and Furious” was outed and ‘shut down.’ The money is too easy.
        As for ‘Alt Cuisine,’ how about Long Pig Bar-B-Que? I hear that Roast Politico tastes a lot like it’s cousin species, “Crotalus atrox,” which tastes like chicken, (I’ve had it and it does taste so.)
        Crotalus atrox: https://reptile-database.reptarium.cz/species?genus=Crotalus&species=atrox
        As good old faux boy James Carrville put it, you could also drag a hundred dollar bill through a trailer park and see what’s for dinner. White Trash Veal is also quite good, having been marinated in Adderall for several years before preparation. Also good for Bar-B-Ques due to it’s low exercise rate which contributes to it’s justly famous reputation for marbling.
        Just one of many Alt-cuisine subjects in the upcoming “Jackpot Cook Book.”

        1. Wukchumni

          I get it, if you off your gats, your persona non so grata for far too many American men, who wouldn’t dare not be armed and dangerous at all times.

          1. ambrit

            Actually, it soon becomes a case of “Persona au gratin.”
            Naturally, the next question about “armed and dangerous” is; dangerous to who?

        2. some guy

          Wait! Wait! Wasn’t “Fast and Furious” an ATF operation? I never heard of DEA having anything to do with “Fast and Furious”. Did I just miss it?

      2. griffen

        From a former colleague at work, as I understand it from him and varied stories, he grew up poor in Cameroon. One day we were looking upon the fatter squirrels chasing around a tree outside the office (southeastern US).

        In Cameroon, they didn’t have fat squirrels ’cause they got eaten. Merely anecdotal, mind you.

      3. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit

        On the way home from grad school, stop in the park that advertised “flying squirrels” to ask the ranger where the varmints were. “They’re nocturnal.” “But the park closes at night.” “Yeah, that can make it tough to see them.”

        Further discussion re: squirrels brought out my East Coast ties and the ranger was interested – “You’ve got those big grey ones. You can eat those, right?” “Yep. Taste like chicken.” The ranger was fascinated and appalled at the same time….

        1. Wukchumni

          We once spent a fruitless day looking for Kiwis, they have a lot of nerve being nocturnal.

          1. Old Sarum

            If you can’t find Kiwis (as the human inhabitants of New Zealand are known) you could try Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane where I am. There are plenty here.


            ps The ones I come across don’t seem to be nocturnal.

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          So I had a dream about a flying squirrel looking at me for years while I slept in my under 5 bedroom. I told my mom about that dream decades later, and she went, that’s where the effing squirrel was.

          They had an issue with a flying squirrel getting into the house. Dad tore up the house trying to find it. This happened just before my memories kick in.

      4. B24S

        My wife’ll gut it, skin it, and put it in the pot. Tastes like rabbit, only nuttier, no squinting required when it’s served.

        She learned from her father, who grew up on a dirt-poor Illinois farm, and kept at it even after he’d become a successful insurance salesman, and lived in a nice part of St. Lou.

        1. B24S

          As for the flyers, they infested the stone house in the woods in NY. We found the tree they’d been ousted from by the grays, but it took weeks to plug all the holes, and you’ve got to do it at night while they’re on patrol.

          They are SO cute, as they rip your home to shreds.

      1. some guy

        I remember somebody said after a few months of Whip Inflation Now and inflation still wasn’t whipped . . . . turn the badge upside down and it stands for No Immediate Miracles. I don’t remember whether some wag said it or whether President Ford himself said it.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I’m one of the 41 Million Americans whose food stamps were cancelled because the Pandemic is over, inflation has been whipped and the economy is doing great.

      Maybe it’s time to claim that six hundred bucks [hollow laughter].

      1. ambrit

        I told that joke to a PMC looking woman “manning” the kiosk for Jackson Hewitt in the front of the local Walmart a week or so ago.
        “Hi there,” as I passed by. “What would be my chances of collecting if I claimed my “missing” $600 bucks from my 2020 return?”
        Before I could go further, she looked up and chuckled. “You’re not the first person to ask me that.”
        This issue might have ‘legs’ after all.

  3. griffen

    I think the indexing for the Rapture Ready needs a reset. Just earlier today, reports on the ground for California in resident wordsmith Wuk’s neighborhood, there is an overflowing abundance of rainfall with more to come. But, that is just a minor quibble to highlight I suppose.

    No hurry for bringing upon the Apocalypse….not yet so that’s a net positive.

      1. Wukchumni

        I invested in a line of Rapture Ready clothing, but muslin sounded too close to something else, and the evangs stayed away in droves.

    1. Wukchumni

      There’s a Day of the Locust feel to Cali, except nothing burns up, it all washes away.

  4. OwlishSprite

    This on Biden being asked to deliver Jimmy Carter’s eulogy (he’s not gone yet, just a tweet). I laughed out loud–am I a terrible person?

    Replying to
    It’s an honor being here to deliver Jimmy Carter’s eulogy. Where is Jimmy by the way? They told me he’d be here.
    12:31 PM · Mar 14, 2023

      1. OwlishSprite

        Phew! I worry about myself sometimes–my level of cynicism is off the charts these days. Cheers!

    1. Verifyfirst

      Joe did such a fine job with the eulogy for his “closest friend” Strom Thurmond, I imagine Jimmy Carter should be pretty easy. Not sure why Carter would stoop so low…

  5. Mikel

    “Propylene glycol inactivates respiratory viruses and prevents airborne transmission” (preprint) [bioRxiv].

    Isn’t that in vapes?

      1. Mikel

        The solvents most often used in vapes are vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol.

        I’m wondering if there is any difference from what the article referenced.

        1. Luckless Pedestrian

          Same compound, I think. Common in car antifreeze, at least it was.
          Smoke or fog machines often use it too.

          Issue is whether use in a beverage (e.g. coffee “creamer”) is different than boiling it to a vapor, though. The skin and gut are both better at protection than the lungs, which are designed for gas exchange.

          Oops, should have scrolled more! GE and Terry both on it.

      2. Grumpy Engineer

        Yep. Apparently glycerin and propylene glycol are the two most commonly used carriers/solvents in e-cigarettes. Glycerin is commonly used as a skin moisturizer, and I’ve seen ice-cream treats that contained propylene glycol. They’re both well tolerated on skin and in the digestive tract. But the real question is whether or not they’re well tolerated in the lungs, which are definitely more fragile.

        [And I see that Mikel answered the question above already.]

      3. Grebo

        PG usually makes up about 20% of vape juice. I vape (exhaling through my nose) and I believe I have not caught covid yet. However, I also take vitamins D and I, zinc, snort iodine and wear N95s in dangerous situations, and generally shun the society of people, so we can’t really conclude it is due to PG.

        I might be worth noting that you can buy (or make) vape juice without nicotine so you don’t have to risk addiction to gain the benefit (if any).

    1. doug

      Mouthwash often has propylene glycol in it and a label saying so. A lot of those vape cartridges are not produced under any regulatory oversight.

      1. mtjefe

        I know that the lower grades of plebe Ice Cream have it. Obviously below Nancy’s threshold…
        I know it is death to the organs of dogs and cats, I am so pleased Humans are not vulnerable (sarc)

        1. hunkerdown

          Propylene glycol, in addition to being used widely in food, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals, is also the main ingredient of non-toxic RV antifreeze, which is (relatively) pet safe. Not that anyone should ever feed glycol solutions to any animals except under veterinarian order.

          Ethylene glycol (motor antifreeze) is the killer.

    2. hunkerdown

      The two usual solvents for vape juice are propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin. Interesting to ponder, in the wake of the vitamin E acetate contamination scare in VG, what we might have actually been observing with VEA-linked health issues and whether it might have overlaid early COVID cases.

        1. Terry

          Yes, bad actors were using vitamin E as a viscosity reducing agent for cannabis oils, which are extremely viscous at room temperature. Nicotine, PG, and VG are far less viscous, also soluble in polar solvents, unlike cannabis oils. FYI, it was Tocopherol Acetate, which is a synthetically derived version of Vitamin E. I think it is unlikely that covid was behind the concern there, as inhaling Vitamin E on the regular will give someone lipid pneumonia, regardless of their respiratory virus status.

        2. hunkerdown

          Good question. This Leafly exposé of the illicit vape industry states that VEA is an unapproved, unsuitable diluent added to THC oils at rates up to 30% to increase viscosity and the apparent quality of the product. Nick-o’-teen vape juice has a lower concentration of the much cheaper active ingredient. AFAIK there are no such heuristics linking thick nic to product quality, so there’s not nearly as much for a formulator to gain by cutting nic with VEA thickener.

  6. antidlc

    “I think the elites know this, and have decided they can take the hit. Also, AI + robots (both bezzles, but that doesn’t mean elites don’t believe in them).”

    Some of the elites have already taken the hit. How many members of Congress are suffering from long COVID? Other than Kaine, I don’t see them clamoring for long COVID research to help themselves.

    And then we have celebrities like TIlda Swinton.

    Swinton was delivering a keynote address at the festival when she reportedly revealed that she’s no longer overly concerned with mask-wearing. “I’m sure this is being recorded,” said Swinton, per Variety, before maintaining that while she’s had COVID multiple times, she is “very healthy.”

    “I’m not wearing a mask because I’m super healthy and I’ve had COVID so many times and I’m so full of antibodies…and I have faith,” she said.

    It seems Swinton’s attitude about the virus has shifted since her interview with The Guardian last year, where she revealed that she’s experienced symptoms associated with long COVID, including brain fog. “I was coughing like an old gentleman who smoked a pipe for 70 years, and had nasty vertigo,” said Swinton. “I got off relatively lightly, but the worst thing is how it affected my brain.”

    Swinton went on to describe how her symptoms made it more difficult for her to learn lines. “I did two films that I had to learn a lot of text for. One was the Wes Anderson, and he likes you to speak like a speeding train,” she said. “I’m normally quite quick at studying, and picking stuff up, but this was like chewing a really big piece of gum. I couldn’t remember my lines.”

    None of this makes any sense to me.

    Reminds me of a quote by Gates McFadden (Beverly Crusher) from a Star Trek episode: “There’s nothing wrong with me. There must be something wrong with the universe.”

    1. upstater

      A dear neighbor, VERY active 82 yo retired forestry professor died a couple weeks ago. His latent aortic aneurysm blew out. Sooner or later it would have blown. But he had a nasty bout of Covid in September.

      My friend never returned anywhere close to previous baseline. He said he had only 1/4 of the energy he had in summer. This guy was amazing; we’d take long hikes with our dogs, he had a WoodMizer sawmill where we milled 2000 board feet of my ash logs (only a part of his year’s milling), planted and maintained a large vegetable garden, cut and split a season’s firewood. He had a large woodworking shop and constantly had projects of all kinds. We demolished and replaced my cellar stairs. His mind was very sharp. He worked 2 nights a week as a driver at the local volunteer ambulance corps. Covid changed all that this fall and winter.

      Let it suffice to say, I believe that Covid damaged his circulatory system and shortened his amazing life.

      1. antidlc

        I lost a brother-in-law early this year. He was always active and we thought he would outlive us all.

        He and his family went on vacation and all came home with COVID.

        He was never the same and ended up with a kidney cancer diagnosis. It wasn’t even a year between his vacation and his death.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Tilda Swinton

      Shocking from Swinton. There’s anecdotal evidence on the Twitter of people minimizing the effects of the Covid they had, or even forgetting they had it entirely.

      Can anybody tell me if this is normal behavior? It’s like Covid is one of the Piranha Brothers, and we have to minimize its behavior, or make excuses because their behavior came from good motives, really.

      “Well, I did have cancer twice, but it wasn’t really so bad. No, three times. I forgot one.” Really?

      1. some guy

        Could the cognitive damage left by covid sometimes include memory erasure, including erasing the memory of having had covid?

  7. SteveD

    Looks to me as though Marianne Williamson is trying (and failing) to have it both ways. She’s trying to gain anti-war, anti-MIC, anti-blob creds, while simultaneously saying “but we still have to be the world’s policeman.” I’ll pass.

    1. pjay

      Yes. So much for Williamson. These days Ukraine is probably the number one test case for me. Williamson fails:

      “… the Russian invasion of Ukraine is a criminal venture that cannot be tolerated by the world. The United States has perpetrated its own egregious imperialistic ventures, a fact which shouldn’t be ignored by anyone. It’s not an overstatement to say that millions of people around the world – including thousands of U.S. military – have died as a result of our own misadventures. But that does not, and should not, give Vladimir Putin a pass on perpetrating an imperialistic war of his own…”

      We don’t need more of this s**t. If she can’t connect the dots between our “imperialistic ventures and the Russian invasion (calling it “criminal” and “imperialistic”), then she’s no better than the rest of them. Even DeSantis is better on that issue (though not on anything else).

      1. Late Introvert

        Agreed. Whatever interest I may have had in Marianne was crushed in one careless warmongering comment that she won’t ever reconsider. That’s how those people roll. Endorse a war machine without blinking an eye, and believe they are doing the right thing.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > But should it be given further support to push back an aggressor who would end its sovereign right to exist? I believe it should.

      I don’t think fascists should be in control of sovereign nations. Hence, I do not accept the right of Ukrainian nationalists to control Ukraine. Hence, I don’t support a sovereign Ukraine (since there’s no alternative to the Banderites other than some horrid NGO concoction that will simply serve as a placeholder until the US and NATO can funnel them enough weaponry to start the war again).

      That’s the issue, in my mind. Should Russia be brought to accept a fascist state on its borders? Can Russia be brought to accept a fascist state on its borders? Will Russia be brought to accept a fascist state on its borders? I believe the answer to all three questions is no (and note that “can” and “will” are not moralizing, although “should” could be characterized as such).

      Worse, if possible, is that this mini-Operation Paperclip we’re running with the Azovs — and the brutal irony is that it’s the “In This House” people who the most vociferous supporters of our policy — is going to infect our own political economy (and will when Ukraine finally collapses into a sodden, blood-soaked ruin, and all the irredentists end up in the US, wholly unscathed, well-funded, go on cable, and in a few election cycles start running for office, as CIA Democrats, naturally). Not that I’m foily.

      1. ambrit

        My question concerning this is what version of the National Socialist Diaspora will the migration to the US take? The Nortenyo “Operation Paperclip,” where the “refugees” entered the host country as notional members of the “melting pot,” or as insular members of the ‘Andean National Socialist Redoubt?’ The first infiltrates and subverts the extant institutions. The second establishes parallel institutions that carve out a separate and distinct polity that feeds off of the host countries like a particularly nasty cancer.
        The danger to America here is that the Sons and Daughters of the Ukraine who are guiding us down the slippery slope to maximum radiation induced evolutionary pressures will be acquiring a pre-organized cadre of Brown Shirts with which to continue and accelerate their political ambitions in the New World.

  8. Samuel Conner

    I get the impression from M Williamson’s statement that Russia’s non-negotiable objectives of the SMO — namely independence for the Donbas republics, denazification, demilitarization and post-bellum neutrality of Ukraine — are not considered by her to be an acceptable basis for peace. This is a recipe for protracted conflict between Ukraine and Russia, which places her, it seems to me, not that far from the neocons’ position.

    1. OwlishSprite

      From the forehead headache I started getting while reading the excerpts above, I deduced that Williamson has hired a political PR shop since last time.

    2. fresno dan

      “Ron DeSantis Says Protecting Ukraine Is Not a Key U.S. Interest” [New York Times
      I have to say I agree with Mr. DeSantis far, FAR more than I do Williamson. Either Williamson is either not the peacnik she professes to be, or she just doesn’t know what she is talking about – all this humanitarian and democracy drivel reminds me of the made up stories of premature infants being dumped in their incubators in the desert to justify the Iraq war. Williamson should see through that and she should see through the same bull about Ukraine.
      I don’t know if DeSantis is taking the non intervention position because of Trump, or even more heartening, due to the repubs seeing how much of our democracy interventions are nothing but scams, but I welcome the alternative.
      It seems odd to me that the republicans are now the peace party, but at one point the democrats were the slave holders party…I have no permanent political affiliations, only permanent interests

    3. KD

      It’ll be a great day when the schools have all the money they need and Ukraine has to hold a bake sale to buy an F-16?

  9. Wukchumni

    Why does creativity always seem to come with a money angle?

    That said, I inked a new deal with NC @ 8 1/2¢ a word with triple word score on tricky double entendres~

    1. ambrit

      Sorry Wuk, but if that ‘deal’ doesn’t have an inflation clause, expect to get properly ‘byted’ in the bum.

  10. flora

    Tucker’s questions to the declared 2024 GOP pres candidates and their replies. Pence sounds like a dyed-in-the-wool Reagan-era neocon, imo. / ;)

    Republican 2024 hopefuls respond to Tucker Carlson’s questions about their stance on Russia-Ukraine war

    Meanwhile, Pence touted the “Reagan doctrine” of fending off enemies on their shores to prevent America’s direct involvement, telling Carlson, “There is no room for Putin apologists in the Republican Party. This is not America’s war, but if Putin is not stopped and the sovereign nation of Ukraine is not restored quickly, he will continue to move toward our NATO allies, and America would then be called upon to send our own.”


    1. fresno dan

      seriously, is there a more weasely brownnosing kowtowing a$$kisser than Pence??? And as far as brains, how can he possibly think he could be nominated for president??? We are talking mental illness delusion.
      And bringing up the domino theory – Sad And bringing up Jan 6, a couple of years later – Pathetic

      1. KD

        Where do they keep the vat of slime from which they keeping pulling out the Ed Meese’s, Bill Bennett’s and Mike Pence’s of the world?

      2. in_still_water

        He waltzed right into a $5 million dollar gig at the heritage foundation after he lost his last job. Acting weasely has its perks.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > He waltzed right into a $5 million dollar gig at the heritage foundation

          Pence is indeed at Heritage. A cursory search does not disclose his salary. Where do you get $5 million? That seems high and needs a link.

          I’m getting a little irritated about the NC comments section being turned into a dumpster fire of talking points. If you want that, go read Kos.

      3. JBird4049

        Careful, Mike Pence might be delusional, but if IIRC, is a member of The Family as well as having support from not just Evangelicals, but their more extremist wing the Christian Nationalists. Like we Trump’s and Clinton’s supporters, they have greater influence than their group size might suggest.

        Pence’s faction is simultaneously allied both with the Democratic Party and its allies in the National Security State, and with the old Guard Republicans and what allies they have in the various security agencies, against Donald Trump and his allies and supporters, which includes people in the various security agencies.

        There are at least four separate factions allies with and opponents of each other, all with the goal of gaining control of the national government as well as much as the state and municipal governments as they can; they are all pursuing slightly different strategies and tactics.

        Look at the Nazis and the Communists allied against the stronger or at least more broadly acceptable Socialists. Once the socialists were destroyed, they continued their alliance in the Reichstag to make it dysfunctional enough for the Nazis to win control. The Nazis seized complete power and sent the communists to the concentration camps joining the surviving socialists.

        I think that a similar process is happening here. It just has not quite gotten to open murder See also Rosa Luxemburg Well, aside from the black community activists of the past few years.

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      This is not America’s war, but if Putin is not stopped and the sovereign nation of Ukraine is not restored quickly, he will continue to move toward our NATO allies, and America would then be called upon to send our own.

      Blind squirrel and all that, but does this mean someone in the blob has actually read–and understood–the Russian security proposals from December 2021?

  11. Chris Smith

    Re: The Last of Us
    **Spoiler Alert**

    I’ve played the first game and watched the series. In both cases I don’t see where the Fireflies had any credibility with respect to making, let alone producing and distributing a vaccine. Sure, the surgeon could probably get a sample from Ellie. But then you need experts on fungus to figure out Ellie’s immunity, and create a “cure” based on the samples. Not to mention functioning facilities where this work can be done. Even assuming the Fireflies could figure out the cure, how exactly where they going to produce it and distribute it? Please! The Firefies were going to kill a girl and have nothing to show for it except dashed hopes.

    The show (but not the game) even makes this explicit when the Indonesian fungus expert in the second episode flashback tells the military that a cure or vaccine is impossible. She instead suggests that the military contain the island and thoroughly bomb it.

    1. Bosko

      Thank you. I watched the finale last night, and raised the exact same objection you’re bringing up, and my wife said that I was being too nit-picky. The chances that it would work seemed so slim, that I thought they were effectively killing Ellie for nothing. I watched a couple minutes of the extras, and the show runners were not endorsing this view.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The Last of Us

      I have only seen three episodes of the show, and those out out order (including the show with the Indonesian actress (who apparently is a revered figure there; good)).

      That said, the show made an enormous impression on me; issues of plot and character aside, the way society reacted to a pandemic one or two orders of magnitude worse than our own…. There’s a lot to ponder. (Also, cordyceps is a far better metaphor than “brain worms,” and now, thanks to our media, accessible to many more people).

      A small example: We don’t know the mode of transmission until it’s explained in the Indonesian expert: A mold in flour (like ergot, I suppose, for you psychedelia fans). Looking back at the first episode, we see how Joel and his family weren’t infected: The daughter forgot to make pancakes, didn’t eat cookies at the neighbor’s house, and Joel forgot to bring home a birthday cake. I believe that Joel was also on a keto diet. So they avoided the initial infection by pure dumb luck,

      Of course, if the plague hadn’t spread so fast, we could have had the the public health establishment arguing that transmission was by droplets, not flour… That would have been too painfully realistic, perhaps. “It’s just a zombie bite. Learn to live with it.”

  12. Deschain

    I played The Last of Us on PS4. The show is the best kind of adaptation – faithful to the spirit of the game while making the right kind of choices due to being in a different media. The game was tremendous, definitely in my list of best games I’ve ever played in 40-odd years of gaming.

    One big difference is that the show is actively setting up the next few seasons, which are based on Last of Us II, while when Sony made the original game there was no definite plan for a sequel. So they’ve played some scenes a bit differently, but I think it will make for an easier transition to next season (which is going to be difficult enough as it is for many audience members due to certain plot developments, ahem.)

    1. Soredemos

      The chief difference that the article is talking about is that the show is trying to put a more positive spin on Joel, whereas in the games he’s just a damaged guy who latched onto Ellie as a surrogate daughter figure. He’s entirely motivated by selfishness.

      My verdict on the games, and it took me years to arrive at this conclusion, is that they’re actually very dumb, but so exquisitely produced and confidently told that they fool into thinking they’re much better than they actually are. Last of Us II is actually a bad game, though for basically none of the reasons the haters made up, but so was the original.

      The thematic gimmick of the franchise, much in vogue now, is that after the end of the world everyone left becomes an asshole. But we know, for instance from the one good book that Rebecca Solnit wrote, that humans as a whole don’t actually respond to disaster that way. ‘Everyone becomes a monster and the world sucks’ is an edgy fifteen year old’s idea of ‘complex’ storytelling.

    2. Jorge

      Tolkein rewrote the end of The Hobbit to make it segue to Lord of the Rings. There’s no shame here.

      A college roomie found a first ed. of Hobbit in a used bookstore (early 80s, Santa Cruz), read it for fun, and said “hey, waitaminnit!”. Checked the ending from his other copy, and discovered the discrepancy.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > definitely in my list of best games I’ve ever played in 40-odd years of gaming.

      I’m very glad to hear that “The Last of Us” is every bit as good as I thought it was.

      However, it seems to have had no cultural impact — at least to me!!! — as a game. As a series on TV, it will no doubt have more. Is this phenomenon a generational thing? Or is there more to it.

  13. vao

    I had previously reported on the difficulties piling up on the Rosneft refinery in Schwedt. It is time for an update — it is a bit long, and references are in German, sorry.

    1. The refinery can process 11.5 M tonnes crude per year, which till the end of 2022 it received from Russia via the Druzhba pipeline. For technical reasons, it cannot operate below 50% capacity, and must ensure at least a 70% load for medium-term viability. It was placed under fiduciary administration by the Bundesnetzagentur in September 2022.

    As the EU embargo came into effect in January 2023, Germany decided to stop buying crude from Russia entirely. Finding substitutes has proven challenging, with none of the three solutions being sufficient by itself: oil unloaded from tankers in Rostock and then delivered via a pipeline to Schwedt; from tankers to Gdansk and then via another pipeline; Kazakh oil transferred through the network of Soviet-era pipelines with Druzhba as the last leg.

    The pain is completely self-inflicted:

    1.a) The EU oil embargo does not apply to Russian oil delivered via pipelines. This explains why the Slovaks, Hungarians and Czechs continue receiving oil through the Southern branch of the Druzhba pipeline.

    1.b) It is not a matter of price either: the EU price cap on Russian oil only affects seaborne deliveries.

    1.c) The fact that Rosneft was a sanctioned entity right from the start is also no issue, as the EU carefully crafted specific exemptions to allow payment for oil deliveries.

    1.d) The most recent EU package lengthened the list of sanctioned Russian financial institutions; this may make payments more cumbersome, but not impossible.

    2. Currently, Schwedt is supplied at a rate equivalent to 6 Mt/y — just above the minimum required. Most crude is delivered via Rostock; capacity is limited both by the 54-year old pipeline and by the restricted facilities of the Rostock harbour. Germany has a plan to overhaul the pipeline and upgrade the port so that they will be able to fulfil 70%-75% of the needs — but the new infrastructure will only be ready in two years.

    The Kazakh alternative is promising: the initial discussions revolved around deliveries of 5-6 Mt/y, with the Kazakhs being ready to send up to 7 Mt/y. Transneft, the Russian pipeline operator, officially agreed to the utilization of its infrastructure. The ramp-up takes time though: a first test delivery of 20000 t took place in February, with another of 100000 t taking place in March. There is also opposition to the deal (including from German trade unions), because it maintains the dependency on Russian infrastructure managed by Transneft, a sanctioned entity.

    The Polish route has proven unsatisfactory. Poland has not yet committed to precise figures for oil deliveries; it also blocks them as long as Rosneft remains officially owner of the Schwedt refinery. So far, the crude of just two tankers was unloaded in Gdansk and forwarded to Schwedt — and this was possible because their cargo had been bought by Shell, a minority partner in the Schwedt refinery.

    3. The fastest way to ensure sufficient provisioning of Schwedt would be to bow to the demands of Poland and expropriate Rosneft. This is easier said than done.

    3.a) The Bundesnetzagentur is entitled to sell assets in order to maintain the viability of the refinery. However, the point is not to, say, divest a bit of real estate, or dispose of part of a vehicle fleet, but to transfer the entirety of the refinery as an on-going concern to another party. A trustee is not allowed to do this.

    3.b) Nationalization is the obvious solution — but it would require a proper appraisal of the refinery and a corresponding compensation for Rosneft. The expropriation process takes long and is fraught with legal stumbling blocks (what it Rosneft contests the evaluation?) Besides, I suspect that the very ordoliberal Germans are put off by the idea of State-owned enterprises.

    3.c) Letting the Land of Brandenburg become shareholder of the refinery, as proposed by “Die Linke”, was categorically rejected by its parliament and government, which consider the scheme “too risky”, taxpayers being potentially on the hook for unforeseen costs. This attitude does not show much confidence in the future of the refinery, and this is no surprise: 9 months ago, regional authorities urged the German government to diligence and there is considerable discontent about how things have been handled. Representatives in the regional parliament decried the actions of the German ministry of economy as a “bad cabaret show”, marred by “confusion” and “dilettantism”.

    3.d) In the end, the German government resorted to tweaking the law so as to allow the direct sale of shares in a firm under fiduciary administration, without a formal expropriation procedure.

    Rosneft did not take this move lying down. It sued the German government, demanding back the full control of the refinery on the following grounds:

    3.e) The refinery was placed under fiduciary administration without Rosneft being granted a proper hearing.

    3.f) The legal conditions for a fiduciary administration are not met anyway. As there is no legal basis to embargo Russian oil via the Druzhba pipeline, the supply of the refinery could continue unimpeded as before. The existence of the refinery is therefore not at risk. In any case, Rosneft had already declared its readiness to operate the refinery with crude from a provenience other than Russia. As for the difficulties with hesitant subcontractors and financial partners during the first half of 2022, they were being brought under control.

    3.g) The suspicion of the German government that Rosneft would siphon off equity from the refinery, thus endangering its future, is unfounded. Even if Rosneft did it, this would be of no consequence given the unprecedented profits the refinery is generating. Truly, in 2022, thanks to the high prices of oil products and the favourable cost of Russian oil acquired under long-term contracts, the Schwedt refinery booked € 1B in profits — a multiple of its yearly income in the past. Notice that as long as the fiduciary administration lasts, these profits are placed under escrow; nobody can access them.

    Today (14th March), after spending four days hearing the arguments of the parties and the testimonies of witnesses, a tribunal in Leipzig rejected Rosneft’s complaint and confirmed the legality of the fiduciary administration, which will be probably extended beyond the 15th March. Now, Poland will again insist on expropriating Rosneft and granting a participation in Schwedt to the Polish oil firm Orlen.

    4. On top of procurement and legal entanglements, there are thorny technical issues: the refinery is specifically designed to process Russian oil, but the crude it has been receiving since January, whether via Rostock or Gdansk, exhibits markedly different characteristics — with serious consequences.

    4.a) The refinery used to produce 90% of the diesel, petrol, and heating fuel, as well as 80% of the jet fuel consumed in the Land of Brandenburg and the Land of Berlin. It is now unable to yield the required quantities, because intermediate products necessary for the diesel and gasoline production plant cannot be adequately generated out of non-Russian oil.

    4.b) The Schwedt refinery was the source for one third of the bitumen produced in Germany; under the current circumstances, it cannot generate any. Left unaddressed, the resulting shortage will render road construction and upkeep in the Eastern part of Germany significantly costlier.

    4.c) The refinery burns residual fuel oil for its power, heat and steam needs — but is struggling to generate enough of it with the current crude qualities.

    4.d) Finally, controlling emissions has become more difficult — again, because the refinery is configured to process crude with very different chemical properties.

    None of this should come as a surprise: last year, the management of the refinery had already warned the authorities about the unavoidable trouble should crude not satisfy the specifications for refining in Schwedt.

    Not only does the refinery currently operate barely above the minimum capacity, it operates very poorly at that. The (Green) officials at the German ministry of economy would initially not allow the director of the refinery to report on those problems in an expert meeting; they relented after an intervention by members of the party “die Linke”.

    Oil from Kazakhstan would really help, since its characteristics are closer to Russian oil. Unfortunately, Poland is itching to sanction the Druzhba pipeline — now that Tatneft (an unsanctioned Russian entity that replaced Rosneft as supplier since the beginning of the year) interrupted oil deliveries to Poland via Druzhba, reportedly because of a dispute regarding payment (according to the Russians), as political retaliation for the new EU sanctions package (according the the Poles).

    Meanwhile, discussions started regarding the “grüne Transformation”, i.e. converting the Schwedt refinery into a hydrogen fuel plant. An explanation of how this has anything to do with decarbonisation and sustainability would be welcome.

    Leuna (owned by Total-Energies) is another refinery on former GDR territory, located at the end of the Druzhba pipeline and designed to process Russian oil. It managed to fully switch to crude from Norway and the Near East in late 2022 after a lengthy and costly reconfiguration. However, it struggles to maintain a minimum workload, because it is not receiving enough oil via the Gdansk route, the only one available…

    Two refineries where Rosneft is a minority (albeit substantial) shareholder, Vohburg (Bavaria) and Karlsruhe (Baden-Württemberg) do not face such technical and commercial difficulties. They handle a mix of crudes from the Persian Gulf, Africa, Russia and Venezuela, delivered via the Transalpine Pipeline (from Trieste in Italy), and, for Karlsruhe, the Southern-European Pipeline (from Fos-sur-Mer in France) too. The participations of Rosneft were of course placed under fiduciary administration. Interestingly, Rosneft also has a participation in the Transalpine Pipeline since 2017.

    Finally, further refineries owned by Lukoil are causing headaches in Bulgaria and Italy because of EU sanctions, as I reported before.

    It almost seems as if European politicians are intent on plunging their countries into scarcity by turning vital energy infrastructure into stranded assets.

  14. Carolinian

    Re-Ron DeSantis Says Protecting Ukraine Is Not a Key U.S. Interest

    So DeSantis is to the left of self declared “peace” candidate Williamson or the “peace” site that supports her. Dear Marianne….I may not vote for DeSantis but I will not in a million years vote for you.

    1. KD

      Should Ukraine be given a blank check by the United States? No, it should not. But should it be given further support to push back an aggressor who would end its sovereign right to exist? I believe it should.

      Is she running for President, or to be Biden’s next press secretary?

      So long Marianne, its time we began to laugh and cry and laugh and cry about it all agian.

  15. Val

    Bruegel, Gris, tree shadows, blue birds at dawn, propylene glycol…the competition is intense, but prolly best water cooler ever.

    Skipped the political stuff today cuz celebrating:

    The National Wildlife Refuge System marks its birthday on March 14.

    President Theodore Roosevelt established the first national wildlife refuge on March 14, 1903 at Pelican Island, Florida, to protect brown pelicans there from slaughter by market hunters.

  16. digi_owl

    Ugh, please don’t tell me the blob will escalate the Ukraine debacle over a crashed drone…

    1. fresno dan

      I can tell you how – intercontinental ballastic missiles. I can tell you why – because we are run by imbecils
      Pay no attention to the nice lady in the public service announcement. Get out your best cognac, a nice cigar, and watch the sky as I imagine it will be quite spectacular – none of us live forever ….

    1. Arizona Slim

      Me? I’ve been a gal who loves cycling since the 1970s.

      Know what I don’t love? Sausage wear, that’s what! Spare the skin-tight gear, because I like my riding attire loose, TYVM.

      It also has to be Arizona Slim-proof, and that means it has to be tough enough to stand up to me. I’m just too abusive for that skin-tight gear, so I don’t wear it.

      The only cycling gear I am particular about is, well, I’m gonna get a little personal here, but that which interfaces between moi and the saddle. So, give me my Andiamo Skins (made in Idaho, USA), or I am going to be a very unhappy Slim.

      1. griffen

        I had to stop. Laugh out loud funny on the “sausage wear” comment ! I only ride occasionally and an older brother has all the gear and the bikes, and mostly none of it is built for going faster thankfully.

        Older brother has a lot of gear (cycling, kayak, tents), I should emphasize. To that point, his friends often buy his second hand items because they stay in good care and condition (or so they’ve told me)!

  17. Bosko

    I have the feeling that progressives are always telling me to take Marianne Williamson seriously. After reading her statement on Ukraine, I can say with confidence: No. You can spin all the hot air you want about US also doing bad stuff, etc., etc., but if it ends with the de facto Establishment position of continuing to arm Ukraine, there’s no way I’d ever vote for her. It reminds me of the ‘progressive Liberals’ who can summon a few mild criticisms of Israel, but always end up continuing to support Israel.

    If I’m throwing my vote away, I’m going to throw it away on someone who supports the policies and priorities that I do–in other words, Gloria La Riva.

    1. pjay

      Yep. Not sure what Marianne plans for the Department of Peace, but it looks like the Department of Defense still has a job to do in Ukraine.

      Glad she cleared that up; I don’t have to waste any more time on her. It’s a sad day when Trump, Carlson, and DESANTIS are the ones that sound rational.

  18. Mark Gisleson

    For folks into queer history, Blacklips Bar: Androgyns and Deviants – Industrial Romance for Bruised and Battered Angels, 1992-1995, has just been released. From the Pitchfork review:

    New York is always dying, pricing out longtime residents and shuttering beloved haunts. One recent casualty is the iconic Pyramid Club, an East Village night spot that hosted RuPaul, Madonna, and Lydia Lunch in the 1980s and early ’90s. A jumble of drag personalities, hardcore kids, graffiti artists, and gay locals, the Pyramid community was decimated by AIDS, and the 2022 closure of their common ground marks a definitive rift with the past, dispatching the memory of the hub’s late habitués to oblivion.

    Even decades ago, the venue could function as a space for mourning, transforming the mood from debauched to lamentful over the course of a single evening. In 1992, elegiac auteur ANOHNI and kindred spirits Johanna Constantine and Psychotic Eve, all barely 20 at the time, formed Blacklips Performance Cult. Appearing at the Pyramid during the graveyard shift on Mondays, the troupe of 13 or so drag queens and fellow travelers wrote and performed short plays with irreverent names such as “The Swiss Family Donner Party” and “The Birth of Anne Frank.” The cast did all of its own make-up and costumes, relying on the genius of budding talents like future Michael Jackson and FKA twigs collaborator Kabuki Starshine.

    Interesting collection of music, spoken word and occasionally excessive profanity.

  19. GC54

    Re CO2 monitors. They all take several seconds to settle for accuracy. I’ve been evaluating the model C Click. It uses a more accurate, dual beam sensor and updates at user set but typically 30 sec cadence. I’ve compared it to several more expensive units and it is at least as good as Aranet4 but only $170 USD delivered from Quebec to US in ~8 days. Posts to web if you want

  20. jsn

    “The elite college “meritocracy” in the U.S. rests on the idea that you can tell who the “meritorious” people are by age 17.”

    Starts at about 2 around here, with competitive selection for day care.

    You really need to make sure the parents are qualified. I did a really bad job with my own, poor choices.

    1. hunkerdown

      Because the rulers are ipse dixit meritorious, they are the “keepers” of virtue and therefore must necessarily be able to influence and manipulate the process to “defend” merit itself against “corruption”. Meritocracies can only avoid devolving to regimes of self-reproduction by negating the very properties which justify their existence. That has not yet happened (but we’re working on it).

      And people wonder why people are sympathetic to anarchy and want the PMC in chain gangs.

  21. Jason Boxman

    On a Department of Peace, peace has always been a hard sell. It was a hard sell at the ostensible peace conferences at The Hague at the end of the 19th century and early 20th century. America had plenty of war proponents, including (eventually promoted to) Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan at the first conference. Not one of the great powers seriously wanted to engage in any form of arms pause or disarmament; A temporary prohibition on weaponized balloons was about as far as it went. So in that sense, the nuclear arms limitation agreements were truly historic, and tragically undone, perhaps fatally for us all. We’ll see what Biden cooks up for us these next two years, eh?

    1. in_still_water

      There is this peace center right pretty much across the street from the State Department. Imagine a candidate – with a ‘no war’ platform announcing their run there. I would have thought that the candidate might come from the dems but that is now the warmonger party to a member. Guess it doesn’t matter without a transparent voting process.

  22. Jason Boxman

    PayPal is scum. The only ostensible financial institution that wouldn’t refund a fee I was charged that was so obviously provable inappropriate for a refund that credited as a payment for services to a personal PayPal account that’s never accepted a fee for service, or gotten funds for a sale of goods since 2006. Garbage company. Any other FI would have said, and has for similar situations, no problem, we’ve refunded it, thanks for your decade whatever long business.

  23. Wukchumni

    Here’s the skinny on Sequoia NP:

    There are 16 failure points with pretty extensive damage on the Generals Hwy from Ash Mountain to Giant Forest (as compared to 3 in the January AR’s) and there was an avalanche above the 4 Guardsmen. (don’t worry, they’re still standing guard)

    Nobody is going to the Giant Forest for what could be a long time.

    This ought to be instrumental in killing off the AirBnB biz, not that I wanted it to come this way.

  24. Carla

    Re: the angst of creative elites. In my view, regaling every child with how preciously unique, talented and special they are has really warped at least a couple of generations of children. Young people grow up believing they are geniuses, and have a perfect right to make ample incomes in creative pursuits. So many elites feel like losers because their parents set them up.

    My parents were more concerned about inculcating humility, intellectual modesty, curiosity, courtesy and kindness in their children. The golden rule (the original one) was big in our house, as was learning to stick with a task until it was done. One of the worst things our parents could imagine was for us to become conceited. Those are very old-fashioned values. Do they even exist anymore?

    1. notabanker

      It may just be wishful thinking, but I think there is going to be some very real unexpected blowback from this.

      The VC’s themselves have been exposed for being the con artists they really are, and these ‘founders’ flocking to twitter to tell their stories come off as naive upper crust Californian braggarts who think they are performing some kind of public service by sparking off a bank run that could have legitimately put a lot of regionals out of business.
      I know if I was a C-level exec at Key, or Regions or Schwab or etc, etc.. and one of these portfolio companies came pitching me after my crew just spent the weekend preparing for doomsday, I would tell them to take a flying leap. And all of those regionals have tons of C-level exec customers that had potentially career threatening issues of their own to deal with as well. These are not rubes that get their info from MSNBC.

  25. Lunker Walleye

    A few things.
    -Love the pug relaxing with his glass of cognac.
    -Since there’s no real data in IA, anecdotally, my stylist cancelled my appointment over a week ago because she had covid. We both always wear masks when she cuts. Also that week, two neighbors who had gone un-masked to church got covid, as well as my mate’s friend (for second time).

  26. Michael Fiorillo

    Regarding Marianne Williamson’s proposed Department of Peace: Dennis Kucinich proposed legislation in 2001to create a Department of Peace, and largely ran on that basis for President in 2004 and 2008.

    As for Williamson herself, while she says some good things, I don’t think a life coach who carves out a special exemption for the Ukrainians is a viable peace candidate.

  27. Carla

    “As for Williamson herself, while she says some good things, I don’t think a life coach who carves out a special exemption for the Ukrainians is a viable peace candidate.”

    Ding! Ding! Ding! — Nor, in my opinion, does Williamson qualify to be any other kind of candidate. It’s my impression that she’s done some good work in her life. That doesn’t mean she should run for president, either once OR twice.

    1. Soredemos

      IIRC at one point she was Hillary Clinton’s ‘spiritual advisor’ (whatever that means). She is herself a swamp creature.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > IIRC at one point she was Hillary Clinton’s ‘spiritual advisor’ (whatever that means). She is herself a swamp creature.

        Well, you made me research this. Here is Williamson’s description, in An Open Letter to Hillary Clinton:

        Hi, Hillary. You know me. I mean, we’re not friends, exactly, but we’re acquaintances. You were wonderful to me back in 1994 when you invited me to the White House. It’s a memory I will treasure always, and you gave it to me. I thank you.

        Well, fine. Might as well be nice before you stick the shiv in (“We only want to vote for you if you run like hell away from that corporate box you’ve landed in”). Woodward describes the White House visit in 1996:

        President Clinton and his wife, Hillary, invited a group of popular self-help authors to Camp David to help them dissect what had happened in the first two years of the presidency and to search for a way back after the Democrats’ devastating loss to the Republicans in the 1994 congressional elections. They met the weekend beginning Friday, Dec. 30, 1994.

        Three of the attendees were well-known: Anthony Robbins, author of “Awaken the Giant Within”; Marianne Williamson, author of “A Return to Love”; and Stephen R. Covey, author of “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” Their names later leaked out publicly and all three declined to discuss the substance of the meeting.

        The identities of the two others did not leak, and they were the ones who played a significant role over the weekend and the year that followed.

        That’s the only mention of Williamson; the rest of the article focuses on the (then unleaked) two “advisors,” Jean Houston and Mary Catherine Bateson (sadly, Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson’s daughter).

        Your evidence- and link-free comment was sloppy and bad, forced me to do research to straighten it out, and, because it could have deceived any readers who took it seriously, subtracted value rather than added it. The NC comments section is not a garbage barge for unsupported claims.

        Either up your game or find another league.

        1. Soredemos

          Wow. Okay. I’m fine with this never getting through moderation, just so long as you personally see it. You could have just ignored the comment; you were under no obligation to go out of your way. Stop pretending like I placed some burden on you

          1. Yves Smith

            That is what we call a reader assisted suicide note, as well as being an asshole. We care about accuracy here. You’ve repeatedly made it clear you don’t.

            Readers like you DO waste our highly valuable time when they present things as fact that aren’t and force us to investigate and correct misinformation, which you’ve taken to volunteering at an unacceptably high frequency and worse doubling down when challenged.

            I called your attitude and fabrications out on another thread and said one more like that and you’d be blacklisted. Congratulations.

            I trust you will find your happiness elsewhere on the Internet.

    2. albrt

      Yeah, it’s just too bad about there being nothing else on offer.

      The United States is a third world country. No one is going to save us. Adapt.

    3. some guy

      You know, considering some of the hideous gargoyles which have run for President and have gotten themselves elected, or installed, or whatever; I don’t see anything uniquely disqualifying about Williamson from at least running in the primaries ( if the DemParty permits primaries to happen).

      If she runs, I will vote for her. Unless Kucinich also runs, in which case I will vote for him. But after Barack ” The President” Obama took Kucinich for a ride on Air Force One; I don’t know if Kucinich would feel entirely physically safe to make a totally sincere run through the primaries. ” Nice wife and daughters you got there. Too bad if something was to happen to them.”

      If Williamson got nominated, she could pick Gabbard to be her VP running mate, and explode many heads.

  28. Mikel

    “The elite college “meritocracy” in the U.S. rests on the idea that you can tell who the “meritorious” people are by age 17.

    It’s ludicrous — the only thing you are only learning about is their parents…”

    The madness starts before that with the idea of elite kindergartens.

    1. JBird4049

      Too late. I have heard of elite daycare. Nice to know that an individual’s worth will be determined by which institution they go to at three.

  29. NotTimothyGeithner

    I may not have noticed this before, but Nina Turner has an email out for Ro Khanna.

  30. Wukchumni

    $4.01k update:

    Being a Bitcoin Bro in the mid single figures, I like to think I have my finger on the pulse of the action, but I can’t really figure out why its still around $25k with all the SVB news, but frankly i’m loving it!

  31. Wukchumni

    Lawmakers in Nevada are considering new rules that would give water managers the authority to cap how much water residents could use in their homes, a step that reflects the dire conditions on the Colorado River after more than two decades of drought.

    Among the Western states that rely on the Colorado River for sustenance, Nevada has long been a leader in water conservation, establishing laws that limit the size of swimming pools and ban decorative grass. Residents now consume less water than they did 20 years ago.

    The latest proposal would, for the first time, give the Southern Nevada Water Authority the power to shut off water use for single-family homes that consume more than half an acre foot of water — or about 163,000 gallons — per year. Average residential consumption for the water agency, which serves the Las Vegas metropolitan area, has been about 130,000 gallons per year, according to spokesman Bronson Mack.


  32. some guy

    Perhaps the “something awful” will be a long term trend or a permanent tilt or derangement in the political-cultural matrix of society, rather than a discreet time-bounded event.

    Perhaps the “something awful” is that the majority of people have been actively recruited, either by themselves or by the propaganda masters, into actively seeking and supporting their own Jackpotification by covid.

    If that is the “something awful”, then the “covid underground” is exactly correct to think of itself as an underground. A ” covid underground resistance”, if you will, defending itself and its members against the Covid Jackpot Leper civilization all around them whose members and rulers actively and maliciously seek to give everyone covid over and over and over again. The “covid underground” should figure out how to create the equivalent of ultrasonic bat sonar, so that those who support the idea of a “covid underground” can hear the homing beacon broadcast by the “covid underground” while the Typhoid Mary covid spreader majority can’t hear it and has no idea it even exists. If the Typhoid Mary covid spreader majority finds out about the existence of a “covid underground”, they will seek to destroy and abolish it, and give long covid to everyone in the “covid underground” with malice aforethought and mass homicidal envy against anyone who dares to succeed to remain uninfected.

    Helpers should help helpers help the help-able. Helpers should not help hurters, because the hurters will only use that help to hurt the helpers in order to abolish helpers and helping from existence. The helpers need to figure out how to remain invisible and inaudible to the hurters.

  33. Jason Boxman

    Her Doctor Said Her Illness Was All in Her Head. This Scientist Was Determined to Find the Truth.

    Every Friday for 10 years, she called study participants — more than 1,500 in all — to request their medical records and consent to participate, and mailed them saliva collection kits from her home.

    But Dr. Fejzo wasn’t sure how she would pay for the genetic analyses. Her grant proposals to the National Institutes of Health were rejected. Since 2007, the agency has funded only six hyperemesis studies, totaling $2.1 million.

    Without funding to analyze the saliva samples accumulating in the lab freezer, Dr. Fejzo discovered an alternative strategy when her older brother gave her a 23andMe DNA testing kit for her 42nd birthday.

    Because this affects women, it seems almost no one cares. Kind of insane. I guess she needed to start a GoFundMe?

  34. JBird4049

    >>>To them, it’s the latest in a long string of snubs to a vice president whom they say has never gotten the respect or support she deserves.

    And I think that too many people conflate the office, the position, or rank with that of the current occupant and her actions. The former deserves respect and the latter, not so much; it much like mistaking the nation and country for its government and its actions. The former deserves deserves support and loyalty as does its best aspirations, but the latter and its actions, not so much.

    If Madam Vice President Harris is incensed about the perceived disrespect to her person, maybe she should think about her respect for, and her lack of responsible behavior while holding, the office.

  35. joanna bujes

    My doctor tells me that CDC has decreed that no one may have a booster more than once a year. A doctor may not override that decision no matter what.

    Does anyone know if this is correct?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Does anyone know if this is correct?

      In a cursory search, I cannot find that it is correct. I really seeing some overheated Brownnose Institute guy yammering about something similar.

      I would speculate that the kernel of truth is CDC’s attempt to merge the flu and Covid pipelines into a single, yearly injection event. Which is too stupid to be believed, since Covid is not seasonal. This being the stupidest timeline, that’s probably what will happen.

  36. The Rev Kev

    Local report from Oz here. So I had to hang around a hospital this morning for a few hours and watched to see the number of people wearing masks among the staff and patients. Hardly any I found. And those that I saw with masks were older out-patients. I guess I should have not been surprised but was anyway.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      It’s amazing to me that health care facilities are the “zero line” for the mask wars, but here we are. A famous victory for hospital infection control’s death-trappery, but on the bright side, their line items for PPE are safe, and there need be no new investments in facilities.

      1. ambrit

        “…no new investments in facilities.”
        Lest we forget, the “value creators” get their marble floored executive bathrooms. It’s the least we can do to reward them for all they’ve done lately.

  37. Matthew

    I was under the impression that it was traditional to be starving as an artist.

    “We have an artistic class which is predominantly made up of people who enjoy none of the financial rewards afforded to artists”

Comments are closed.