2:00PM Water Cooler 3/2/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I have a lot more to cover on Covid, including Corsi-Rosenthal boxes and some horrid news on Carl Heneghan, the Cochrane study’s unlisted author (which violates Cochrane rules). But sadly, it must wait until tomorrow; I cannot add orts and scraps today. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

White-winged Potoo, ENE of Careiro do Castanho, Fazenda Toshiba. “Calls by a bird that was seen in silhouette as it perched 12 meters away and 12 meters up overhead in the open on a dead branch at the edge of tall terra firme on the north side of the road just before the second dip [03¡ 47′ 34″ S, 60¡ 17′ 54″ W]; this was recorded following an approach by the bird in response to my whistled imitation; the bird called today but never sang; this is presumably the same bird as that highlighted in cut #2000-28-06 recorded at this same spot on 7 December 2000; a nearly full moon was low on horizon before dawn (possibly down at this point); dense clouds were now moving in rapidly despite mostly clear conditions an hour earlier, calm, 79.” Bit too much sotto voce from the birder, but a lot going on!

* * *


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“Here’s food for thought, had Ahab time to think; but Ahab never thinks; he only feels, feels, feels.” –Herman Melville, Moby Dick

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

Biden Administration

“Garland promises free rein for prosecutors probing Hunter Biden” [Politico]. • Dear Hunter!


“Trump’s loosening grip on GOP defines early 2024 campaign” [Politico]. “Rep. Thomas Massie was so eager for Donald Trump’s endorsement in a contested primary three years ago that he ran TV ads targeted at the then-president in Florida to win his support. Today, Massie is all but shunning Trump and his comeback campaign. In fact, the Kentucky Republican attended a retreat last weekend for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. ‘Ron DeSantis is the best governor there ever was,’ he said when asked if he planned to endorse in the 2024 presidential primary. The Kentucky Republican is far from the only one-time Trump ally who’s staying away from the former president, despite his lead in every major poll so far.” • So Republican electeds hate the candidate most popular with Republican voters. Sounds like a recipe for success!

Short-legged vulgarian:

“Believe It: A DeSantis Presidency Could Be Even Worse Than Trump” [The New Republic]. Basically, Chaotic Evil v. Lawful Evil. “There’s little appetite among either Democrats or Republicans for a Biden v. Trump rematch. Recent polling suggests that Biden loses in a match against DeSantis, even if a third-party candidate (like Trump) is in the race. Given this, and given how DeSantis seems relatively sane and intelligent compared to Trump, the public seems to assume that DeSantis would be a better president than Trump. This is a horrible mistake…. The damage Trump was able to do was limited by his lack of discipline, ignorance of how the system worked, laziness, and lack of motivation. He is simply a narcissist who likes feeling rich, powerful, and important. DeSantis, however, is none of these things. He is not lazy. He has discipline, motivation, and an intimate knowledge of how to use the system to get what he wants. DeSantis fully intends to remake America the way he believes God would want it to be, and his knowledge of law and governmental structure allows him to do it on a scale, and with a precision, that Trump could only dream about. We can already see the sorts of strategies DeSantis would employ as president by looking at what he’s done in his role as governor of Florida. DeSantis pursues legislation that he intentionally frames as moderate or commonsense, such as ‘only’ banning abortion after 15 weeks (but without exceptions for rape or incest). His ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law was framed as being about not teaching K–3 students about obscene material. In reality, DeSantis is pursuing one of the most aggressively authoritarian agendas in the country. He uses two primary strategies: capturing the referees and strategic ambiguity.” • His strategies make it look like he’s studied how Democrats operate carefully. Worth a read.

Republican Funhouse

“Cheney joining University of Virginia politics center as professor” [The Hill]. “Former Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) is set to join the University of Virginia as a professor at its Center for Politics. ‘With democracy under fire in this country and elsewhere around the world, Liz Cheney serves as a model of political courage and leadership,’ the center’s director, Larry Sabato, said in a statement. ‘Liz will send a compelling message to students about integrity. She’s a true profile in courage, and she was willing to pay the price for her principles — and democracy itself.’ Cheney will participate in university-wide lectures, serve as a guest lecturer in student seminars, contribute to the department’s research, and participate in university and community events, the center said.” • Smart move by Sabato, parachuting in a celebrity.

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.

* * *

“Goolsbee’s Wife Works at Firm That Helped Pick Him for Fed Job” [BNN Bloomberg]. “The search firm hired by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to help find a new president includes among its executives the wife of Austan Goolsbee, the person ultimately picked for the role. The Chicago Fed announced Austan Goolsbee’s selection in December. He took over the leadership of the bank on Jan. 9, and is a voting member of the Fed’s interest-rate policy committee this year. Robin Goolsbee is listed as a Chicago-based managing director of Diversified Search Group, a firm the Chicago Fed announced in April had been retained to assist with the recruitment of a new president. The Chicago Fed’s search process eventually settled on her husband. The connection hasn’t been previously reported and wasn’t publicly acknowledged by the central bank until it issued statements on Wednesday evening following inquiries by Bloomberg News. ‘We have every confidence in the integrity of the search process which concluded with Austan Goolsbee being hired as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago,’ said Michael Adleman, a Chicago Fed spokesman. ‘During the search process, members of the search committee, which was composed of Class B and C directors of the Chicago Fed’s board, were made aware Robin Goolsbee was an employee of the search firm and that she had no involvement in the search for the Chicago Fed president.’ A Federal Reserve Board spokesperson said: ‘We were made aware of her employment and she played no role in the search.'” • One big happy!

Realignment and Legitimacy


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

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

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

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

Resources, Canada (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, Festoonic, FM, Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JF, Joe, John, JM (2), JW, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, otisyves, Petal (5), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, tennesseewaltzer, Utah, Bob White. (Readers, if you leave your link in comments, I credit you by your handle. If you send it to me via email, I use your initials (in the absence of a handle. I am not putting your handle next to your contribution because I hope and expect the list will be long, and I want it to be easy for readers to scan.)

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

* * *

Look for the Helpers

“Is that a cold or COVID?: How to handle awkward conversations” [Sydney Morning Herald]. I read the piece, twice, and I don’t think the body matches the headline, and the headline is why I filed it here; read the piece under Jackpot for what the body says. Anyhow, this is good: “‘I’ve been challenged by members of my family and others who are non-medical as to whether I’m exaggerating the risk [of COVID],” says Professor Ian Hickie, a co-director at The University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre, of situations in which he’s inquired about whether someone has COVID if they’re unwell when he sees them, and they haven’t flagged it beforehand….. ‘Because they’ve made the decision to put other people at risk, without that kind of knowledge,’ says Hickie, who is primarily concerned about getting sick and then transferring an illness to loved ones who are older and more vulnerable. ‘I say to them, ‘Have you got COVID?’ They go, ‘Oh no. It’s not COVID.’ I go, ‘Have you tested?’ They go, ‘Oh no.’ [I say] ‘Are you planning to test?’ ‘No’. They say, ‘The cough is different [than with COVID], or I have a sore throat.”… But he understands where they’re coming from. ‘It’s the nature of infectious disease, not to see yourself as the vector; you’re not the mosquito,’ says Hickie. ‘We deny or minimise risk all the time. We deny the chance of getting infectious diseases in any public setting, the chances of having an accident on the way to the airport. I mean, in order to get on with our lives, we have to [downplay] risk all the time.'” • I’m not sure that’s true. I don’t think the risk of being hit by a car and getting Covid in a 3Cs setting are at all comparable (because we applied engineering and regulation to the former, not the latter). That said, do any readers know how to handle these conversations?

* * *

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.


“Hospitals That Ditch Masks Risk Exposure” [Bill of Health, The Petrie-Flom Center]. “Hospitals have a common law duty to act reasonably. If they unreasonably expose patients to risk, and the patients are harmed as a result, hospitals may be liable for damages. The result: patients who can show that it is probable that they were infected with COVID-19 in a hospital, and that they would not have been if the hospital had taken reasonable measures to protect them, may be able to successfully sue hospitals for damages. The big question is what does it mean to act ‘reasonably’ in a world in which COVID-19 abounds and remains a leading cause of death, including for children. Over the past century, courts have developed a variety of approaches to figuring out the bounds of reasonableness. In determining whether a precaution is ‘reasonable,’ modern courts commonly consider the relative costs and benefits of taking that precaution. Where an individual causes harm because they fail to take a cost-justified precaution, they may be found negligent and required to pay for the damages they have caused. Requiring masks in direct patient care settings is a prime example of a cost-justified precaution. Masking is a simple, effective, and low-cost measure that hospitals can take to substantially reduce the spread of COVID-19. And the benefits are significant in hospital settings. Hospitals concentrate people who, as reflected in the conditions that bring them to the hospital, are both more prone to infection and more likely to face serious consequences if infected. Moreover, both healthcare providers and patients are known vectors of transmission in healthcare institutions.” • Stoller should take this up; I hope greedhead monopoly hospitals get sued up the wazoo, as they should, for killing people with foreknowledge, for money. I assume private equity has the deepest pockets. Speaking of hospitals, read this whole thread:

It wasn’t the employees, it was the ventilation:

But you need layered protection, so PPE (including masks) as well:

* * *

Conly Cochrane Study:

“Don’t believe those who claim science proves masks don’t work” [Lucky Tran, Guardian]. I had to leave the apples and oranges argument on the cutting room floor in my post, but this is a good explanation: “The latest culprit powering the confounding headlines is a new scientific review published in Cochrane. The paper analyzes many different studies that assess how physical measures – including masks – fare against respiratory viruses. The analysis is flawed because it compares apples to oranges. The paper mixes together studies that were conducted in different environments with different transmission risks. It also combines studies where masks were worn part of the time with studies where masks are worn all the time. And it blends studies that looked at Covid-19 with studies that looked at influenza. If apples work and oranges don’t, but your analysis mixes them together, you may come to the false conclusion that apples don’t work. Out of the 78 papers analyzed in the review, only two actually studied masking during the Covid-19 pandemic. And both of those found that masks did protect wearers from Covid-19. But these studies are drowned out by the greater number of studies on influenza included, where the benefit of masking is harder to detect because it’s a far less contagious virus than Covid-19. Even the authors themselves acknowledge in the paper: ‘The high risk of bias in the trials, variation in outcome measurement, and relatively low adherence with the interventions during the studies hampers drawing firm conclusions.’ The clear problems with the study did not stop loud voices from exaggerating its findings on large platforms.”

Scientific Communication

“A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators”:

Well. not all legitimate…

The Jackpot

“I Just Tested Positive for COVID. Should I Get on the Plane Anyway?” [Outside]. “‘Yes, I felt like an asshole,’ a friend of mine who recently flew home when she thought she might have COVID admits. ‘Yes, I worried that I could’ve infected someone with a weak immune system. But people are coughing and sniffling on planes and in airports all the time.'” • Just because all the other kids are doing it doesn’t make it right. Put down your coffee before you read this to make sure you don’t throw your cup at the wall. (Filling this here, because “you do you” isn’t going to get us out of the pickle we’re in.)

* * *

Case Data

NOT UPDATED BioBot wastewater data from February 27:

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.

☆ NEW ☆ Covid Emergency Room Visits

From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, from February 25:


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 2:

-0.3%. Still high, but at last a distinct downturn.


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,146,142 – 1,145,661 = 481 (481 * 365 = 175,565 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).

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell by 2,000 from the previous week to 190,000 on the week ending February 25th, below market expectations of 195,000. The latest value remained close to the nine-month low of 183,000 hit at the end of January, giving further evidence that the US labor market remains tight in part to reduced labor force participation.”

* * *

Shipping: “Idled Ships, Empty Containers. Ocean Shipping Faces Its Biggest Slump in Years” [Wall Street Journal]. “Global shipping executives are wrestling with plunging exports, falling freight rates and mounting suspense over whether the industry is headed for a price war. Traffic from China’s ports has slowed significantly, empty containers are stacked six high and trucks with no cargo dot the highway leading to the major terminals. The world’s largest box-ship operator plans to return dozens of chartered vessels to their owners. … Global shipping boomed earlier in the pandemic, when soaring demand for goods led to lines of more than 100 vessels off the Southern California coast. Since then, rising inflation has sapped demand for many products as Americans shifted more spending to food, fuel and services, leaving retailers with a glut of goods.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 48 Neutral (previous close: 56 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 60 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 2 at 1:40 PM ET.

The Conservatory

Alert reader ChrisFromGA initiated a discussion that Deadheads in the readership will find interesting, teminiscing about his experiences at the Hampton Roads arena. Since YouTube’s search function is so awful, I couldn’t find this clip quickly enough, but here it is, from 1986:

(Jesse Fuller, who wrote Beat It On Down the Line (BIODTL) has an interesting history; he recorded his first album — an analog recording medium made from vinyl in a cardboard jacket with colorful artwork, for those who came in late — at the age of 62, so for all of you old or incipiently old codgers out there, hope is real. BIODTL is one of my favorite Dreadful Great — hat tip, alert reader ThirtyOne — tunes, because of the “Happy home (Happy home!)” refrain). Here is the 1972 version of BIODTL:

1986 was the year of Garcia’s (drug-induced) coma. I think the difference between Garcia’s playing in 1972 and 1986 shows that the drugs damaged his art, and in his later years Garcia was a terribly wounded giant. (The band is terrific in both performances.) Readers, prove me wrong :-)

Zeitgeist Watch

I agree:

No death cults here:

Our Famously Free Press

“The Original Sin of the “Anti-Disinformation” Movement” [Matt Taibbi, Racket News]. “GEC was originally formed as a response to the problem of ISIS successfully recruiting away what one source called “well off white kids from the burbs” in both the U.S. and Europe…. At the time, “information operations” had a specific meaning in the intelligence and counterterrorism realms. One might, for instance, spread a rumor that a certain terrorist had an STD, so that he would rush online to defend his honor just long enough to be geolocated and droned…. Others in the national security establishment had ultimate faith in quantitative information analysis, turning life and death matters over to algorithms that armed and fired at targets in places like Yemen or Syria once enough digital boxes were checked: military age male, used the wrong cell number too many times, spotted by satellite carrying something that could be a gun, etc. ‘We kill people based on metadata,’ boasted former NSA and CIA chief Michael Hayden in 2014…. Then 2016 happened, and GEC’s mission changed on a dime…. The concept that a person who has an alien belief system must have been ‘misinformed’ or ‘disinformed’ has survived to the present. It permeates the entire ‘disinformation studies’ complex, which is constantly discussing the ‘impact’ of disinformation on, say, the 2016 election, but often stops short of quantifying that impact or even identifying what the disinformation was. The notion that people voted for Donald Trump because they were ‘misinformed’ or manipulated by Russians is a fantasy, a mental self-defense mechanism for people who are unable to face the more obvious real-world reasons…. If ‘disinformation studies’ has an original sin, this is it.”

Guillotine Watch

More like this, please:

I hope whatever the Starbucks corporate communications department concocts for Schultz is mercilessly mocked and goes viral in a bad way.

Class Warfare

“ECB confronts a cold reality: companies are cashing in on inflation” [Reuters]. “Indeed, wages have been growing far more slowly than inflation, implying a 5% drop in the standard of living for the average employee in the euro zone compared with 2021, according to ECB’s calculations. That’s pretty much the opposite of the wage-led inflation that characterised the 1970s, an era which has become the most widely used point of comparison in the public debate about appropriate central bank policy responses, economists say. ‘The public discourse to some extent is detached from what’s actually happening out there,’ said Philipp Heimberger, an economist at the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies. “The main story of the risks going forward is still that there’s a looming wage-price spiral which should make the central bank even more aggressive in hiking interest rates.’ For example, wages were mentioned 14 times in ECB President Christine Lagarde’s latest news conference while margins didn’t get a single mention. Her deputy, Luis de Guindos, also warned that the ECB needed to be careful because labour unions might demand excessive pay rises. ‘You see a very clear reluctance to discuss profit,’ Daniela Gabor, a professor of economics and macro-finance at the University of West England in Bristol. ‘That illustrates that the distributional politics of inflation targeting is: You don’t go for profits; you don’t go for capital.’ In the United States, the issue of runaway margins has been raised by former Federal Reserve Bank vice-chair Lael Brainard, who is now President Joe Biden’s top economic adviser, and Democratic senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Even inside the ECB, labour representatives demanding higher pay for central bank staff have distanced themselves from what they described as the institution’s ‘anti-worker bias.” • Richard Wolff: Prices rise because capitalists raise them.

The rich are different. They only have money:

News of the Wired

“Most Phone Use is a Tragic Loss of Life” [Raptitude]. “I don’t know if people say this anymore, but it was common in the 1990s to say ‘smoking one cigarette takes ten minutes off your life.’ … About twenty years later — last week — I found myself sitting at my kitchen table, mechanically upvoting and downvoting hot takes on Reddit when I realized I had been aimlessly thumbing my phone for at least twenty minutes. I was vaguely aware that I had not yet done the thing that caused me to reach for my phone in the first place, and could no longer remember what it was. Even though I get caught up like that all the time, the nihilism of that particular twenty minutes really got to me. It was such a nothing thing to do. I said aloud what I was thinking: ‘That… was a total loss.’ Basically I had just aged myself by twenty minutes. Two virtual cigarettes, and not even a fading buzz to show for it. I learned nothing, gained nothing, made no friends, impacted the world not at all, did not improve my mood or my capacity to do anything useful. It was marginally enjoyable on some reptile-brain level, sure, but its ultimate result was only to bring me nearer to death. Using my phone like that was pure loss of life — like smoking, except without the benefits.”

* * *

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: “I think this is a nasty invasive ivy species, but the dusting of snow makes it look nice.”

* * *

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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. Laughingsong

    As a deadhead I enjoyed that discussion about GD venues, timings, Jerry’s problems and how they affected the music. I remember that 80s coma, we were literally running out of the door to catch a plane to go to shows in Ventura when we got a phone call that the shows were cancelled. We also had tickets to upcoming shows at Shoreline. Sigh.

    He came good for a while after that scare. The first time we saw him after the coma was at the SF Palace of Fine Arts, he and Mickey and others did a multimedia piece in conjunction with a lecture by Joseph Campbell about Ritual and Rapture: From Dionysis to the Grateful Dead. The first show afterwards was actually JGB at Kaiser in Oakland on Halloween. He opened with “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)”.

    Even after the large venue stuff started to happen there were still a few cozier venues like Berkeley Community Theatre and Frost Amphitheater. Winterland was larger and kind of a dump really. But it was OUR dump! :-)

    I miss Dead shows so much. It was like church for me. I was never able to substitute the Other Ones/Phish/String Cheese or any of the others.

      1. Laughingsong

        It isn’t like I never saw these bands and had a great time, Mr. Slim . . . it just never . . . did the same. Many of my friends felt that extra frisson at these shows, but for me they were just good shows. I dunno. I sure could have used a sub , ,, closest I came was Dark Star Orchestra.

        Just listening to one of my favorite shows Frost Amphitheatre 5/10/1986. Yeah the year of Jerry’s coma. But the weather was brilliant, the shows were very good, the crowd was fun, and ESPECIALLY the drums. Usually Drums is “go-get-a-snack” time, but not these very tuneful and world-music-sounding drums:

        I will check out those sporting pigeons!

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Caught the Dead in Hampton in ’89 or was it ’90.

    Fun fact: They were billed under their original name The Warlocks, because the Grateful Dead had been banned by the city.

  3. Mark Gisleson

    If most phone use is a tragic loss of life — a very strange bit of phrasing but if it lets you link phone use to cigarette smoking why not? — then isn’t all use of social media a tragic ‘loss’ of life? Likewise reading newspapers, magazines and/or books?

    The cynic in me thinks that we’re going all going to experience a tragic loss of reading time to accounts like this one. Ponderings like this flare up every time the “blob” decides we seem to be on verge of knowing too much about what’s going on. My gosh, someone might mention Seymour Hersh or godforbid Matt Taibbi!

    If everyone just stopped reading the non-official news, we could quietly leave Ukraine and no one would be the wiser. I suspect Lambert was baiting us as anyone who agrees with this “loss of life” calculation probably needs to stop reading Naked Capitalism (not as addictive as heroin but harder to quit than tobacco : )

    1. Michael McK

      Reading books etc need not be detrimental. Education and entertainment are good and often can happen together. Even the internet can be great: Learning the hours of an exhibit you want to see or watching “Tasting History” every week is a positive good as would be taking in any number of things- in moderation.
      Mindlessly scrolling to nowhere on your phone/social media for 20 minutes as the post highlighted however benefits only the internet giants and those who hire them to warp you while damaging your self esteem and ability understand and change the world around you.

    2. Ranger Rick

      It wasn’t so much that social media use itself was a waste. What the person is talking about is participating in meta-moderation (“mechanically upvoting and downvoting hot takes on Reddit”) which means they are not interacting with anyone except the site itself. By extension, the person is also starting to realize that this was twenty minutes of unpaid, volunteer and completely thankless labor.

    3. The Rev Kev

      There is an interesting difference. Cigarettes are chemically addicting like many other drugs. All you have to do is to market and distribute it. That mobile phone use has no chemical component. Instead, an unknown quantity of money and some of the smartest psychologist on the planet were employed to take advantage of how the human mind works and how to trigger dopamine hits to get a similar effect. In a lot of ways it sounds like a violation by using how our minds work to use it against us – for profit.

      1. Mark Gisleson

        I understand that doomscrolling is not a great thing but doesn’t content matter?

        Every day when we read Links and The Water Cooler, NC readers are literally doomscrolling down the page.

        I like to think it’s different when we do it ; )

  4. in_still_water

    BIODTL – Saw Bobby performing with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra last month and also with the National Symphony Orchestra last October. Except for Buddy Guy, he’s probably put on more performances (along with many charity appearances) than just about any touring act. Here’s an NPR interview with Stanford music professor Giancarlo Aquilanti – something about 65,000 pages. Some of it translated well and some songs – well you can never tell.

  5. cnchal

    > Austan Goolsbee – destroyer of good used cars fails up.

    To help the eclownomy lets destroy every billionaire’s crap shack older than seven years. Construction workers would benefit from this magical thinking.

    > Class warfare

    . . . ‘The public discourse to some extent is detached from what’s actually happening out there,’ said Philipp Heimberger, an economist at the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies. “The main story of the risks going forward is still that there’s a looming wage-price spiral which should make the central bank even more aggressive in hiking interest rates.’ . . .

    It’s price-wage spiral. Lets call things by their correct name for a start.

    > “Most Phone Use is a Tragic Loss of Life”

    . . . Two virtual cigarettes, and not even a fading buzz to show for it. I learned nothing, gained nothing, made no friends, impacted the world not at all, did not improve my mood or my capacity to do anything useful. It was marginally enjoyable on some reptile-brain level, sure, but its ultimate result was only to bring me nearer to death. . . .

    Seriously? All those zeros and ones generated by pawing at a screen uses electricity to collect, store and have creepy algorithms analysize the pawing so that you can be sold crap you don’t need or want. All the power used by your pawing could move a Tesla a couple of miles, which is actually something useful. Pawing a phone is a net negative.

    I shoiuld stop. Generating zeros and ones is costly to the planet.

  6. Samuel Conner

    To my mind, “nasty invasive ivy” is 2 words too many. It’s “ivy”; kill it with fire.

    Thanks to all who suggested ameliorations for my seed starting algae overgrowths, in comments a couple of days ago (it feels like it was last month — well, it was last month, but it feels like a month of days ago — pandemic time runs differently for me). I have found the source of the algae — stupid me: my Flomaster 56 hand sprayer that I have been using for surface misting has algae growing on the inside of the bottle. I’ve been unwittingly adding algae to my starting trays.

    I’m not confident I can clean the bottle or the sprayer plumbing and am using a backup sprayer that is less obviously contaminated. I after-the-fact intuit that it’s not a good idea to leave water in the bottle when not in use, or to store it in an illuminated place when not in use, since algae is ubiquitous and light and moisture promote its growth.

    About 500 cells of starts will probably not germinate due to this, but at least future trays (I’m trying to start at least a few hundred cells each week) will not have this problem.

    1. Art_DogCT

      I used to grow lots of plants from seed; I’d still be at it if circumstances allowed. I’d meant to reply to your first post, glad of this new chance.

      I forget where I learned of it, but by 1990 I used a broad spectrum sanitizing compound sold in the horticultural market as Physan 20. Basically it’s a concentrated cocktail of alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chlorides C12-C18, and alkyl dimethyl ethel benzyl ammonium chlorides C12-C14, used diluted in water. The labeling is quite cautionary, though I think the various warnings apply much more to exposure to the undiluted pesticide. That said, I treated and treat it with great respect. Typically I used dilutions of 7.5ml to 15/ml per gallon, and never had a skin reaction. I did keep my hands away from my face if I was sanitizing containers, trays, and such, until I’d washed up thoroughly. It has excellent anti-algal, anti-fungal, and viricidal action. Though I stopped my seed starting around 2012, I still use it for hard surface disinfection in appropriate situations – came in handy in 2020, 2021, et seq.


      Around the same time I began to use Physan, I came across the work of one Dr. Norman C. Deno, a chemist at Penn State who studied the chemical processes involved in seed germination. His post-professorial work, Seed Germination Theory and Practice, 2nd edition, First Supplement, and Second Supplement are available as free pdf here: https://www.gardenfundamentals.com/seed-germination-dr-deno/

      If anyone is interested in seed germination, at whatever level of experience, I can’t recommend a more useful book. I found it invaluable, and his technique for species not requiring exposure to light enabled me to trial vastly more and different plants with decidedly better results. The parts of me that would love to pursue sciences set me in awe of Dr. Deno. In whatever universes exist in which I am a working scientist, I hope I am producing similarly extensive, detailed, and practical work.

  7. Jason Boxman

    Looks like that Facebook is for serious:

    No minimizing

    This includes outdoor transmission, eating “outside” without distance, or suggesting less than a 10 day quarantine for people who are not Covid cautious as adequate. (It’s fine to say that you do less IF you acknowledge you are risking exposure and its NOT fine to suggest others do so.)

    I hate Facebook. I had to switch to developer tools mode to copy and paste the rule header, because of course it has to be a collapsable interactive and thus you cannot right click it. That’s disabled.

  8. Left in Wisconsin

    That’s pretty much the opposite of the wage-led inflation that characterised the 1970s, an era which has become the most widely used point of comparison in the public debate about appropriate central bank policy responses, economists say.

    That is just crap. Wages were not driving inflation in the 1970’s, oil was. Every COLA clause ever negotiated is retrospective: wages increase because the CPI has already gone up. Of course, no one has a COLA clause now, and hardly anyone has a union, but we are still supposed to buy the “wage-led” inflation canard.

    That article gets worse, though: first, higher profit margins are not called “inflation” (why is it “wage inflation” and not “rising real wages”?) but “profit expansion.” Then there is this doozy: Inflation fuelled by higher corporate margins tends to self-correct as companies eventually put the brakes on price rises to avoid losing market share, making it a very different beast to tame than a wage-price stampede. I think perhaps the author has a slight bias?

  9. Jason Boxman

    From TNR on DeSantis

    The strategic ambiguity piece of this comes into play as well. These policymakers can issue overly broad and vague mandates and then use the power of the executive branch to bully states into submission. Potentially “bad” books in California schools? They’ll threaten to block money from the Department of Education. (Trump did this to Connecticut over transgender student athletes.) Or blocking Medicare and Medicaid funding to states that don’t go along with the demands of Department of Health and Human Services, the FDA, and the DeSantis surgeon general, regardless of whether these demands have any basis in science. Or maybe leveraging the attorney general to threaten federal charges against state officials who refuse to comply, the way he did with officials who refused to enforce his new anti-abortion laws.

    This threat that DeSantis might actually govern effectively if elected president is hilarious in part because we always heard that Obama couldn’t do anything as president, because Republicans are mean.

    So which is it?

    I’m so confused.

    1. Bart Hansen

      DeSantis will get to install another Papist on the court.

      Can he not find Wellies in green?

    2. upstater

      DeSantis is a monster, but not a single mention of being a JAG in the slaughter and demolition of Falluja or collaborating in illegalities at Guantanamo. One can only imagine his “legal advice” in those situations; worrying about his other anti-woke actions pale in comparison. What is more important?

  10. Art_DogCT

    Regarding the Plantidote graciously provided by A. Neer, There is certainly ivy in the image. I believe the slightly zig-zag tan stem with the oval leaves is something else, my suspicion being it is a first season stem of Japanese Knotweed (“Reynoutria japonica, synonyms Fallopia japonica and Polygonum cuspidatum“). 40 years ago I knew the genus as Polygonatum. In any event, if I am right, AN’s garden/landscape is under far greater threat from the knotweed than the ivy.

    I am unaware of any ivy species that is not invasive. They will spread to the limit of habitability of the available terrain. Ivies and the other genera that evolved/adapted with them long ago developed a modus vivendi that kept things fairly balanced. Japanese Knotweed was a more-or-less good neighbor in its native ecosystem. Last I was current on knotweed control ~10 years ago, there were ongoing experiments to introduce insects from Japan that feed on Japanese Knotweed. Unfortunately not containment has worked to date, and the plant takes over ever greater acreage as the years go by. It’s frighteningly efficient at destroying infrastructure like pavements – sidewalks, roadways – and crowds out nearly all grasses, herbaceous plants, and reduces woody plant seedling recruitment.

  11. Carolinian

    re Starbucks guy–I mentioned that there’s a new documentary out about the Horn and Hardat Automats and he’s in it. He says that as a New Yorker the Automats were his early inspiration for a good marketing gimmick (not his words) combined with a decent product. I never go to Starbucks so can’t vouch for the product but the Automats did fight off a union so perhaps that was his true inspiration. As for the gimmick, apparently the Automats (they were only in NY and Philly) were much loved. Also Starbucks?

    1. lambert strether

      Heneghan is indeed an author of the Cochrane anti-masking travesty, but not a listed author, which means he should be credited, but he’s not. This is a very clear violation of Cochrane policy, and if they value their simon pure reputation, they should correct it. Is he still trying to brazen it out? Perhaps he believes his Brownnose Institute connection will protect him, butbif so, why hide it in the first place?

      1. Adrian D.

        @Lambert Jefferson co-owns the substack and he most definitely is a Cochrane author & has been updating the masking one for many years now (previously without controversy it seems). It was Jefferson who the Guardian piece said worked for Brownstone (without evidence and which Jefferson has denied). Can you link to Heneghan’s Brownstone connection?

        Re Brownstone I’m not convinced by the ‘guilt by association’ dismissal of anything they publish. I’ll let it stand or fall on its merits – just as I (and I think you may do) with the libertarian likes of anti-war reporters such as Scott Horton.

        A lot of the claims against Brownstone & the GBD authors came from the UK with the nominally progressive likes of the Byline Times – and Nafeez Ahmed in particular – also George Monbiot. Which is fine, they’ve done (and sometimes do) good reporting now, but as they’ve gone out of their way to smear the OPCW whistleblowers & are right on board with the mainstream Ukraine war view then why shouldn’t we just dismiss everything else they write too? If that sauce is good enough for the Brownstone goose….?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Jefferson co-owns the substack and he most definitely is a Cochrane author & has been updating the masking one for many years now (previously without controversy it seems).

          This is a silly comment. Authors are listed at the article level. There’s no such formalism as a “Cochrane author,” unlike Contributing Author etc.

          > Can you link to Heneghan’s Brownstone connection?

          I already did this, of course, for both points, in the original post.

          Brownstone, as an institution, propagates eugenics (those being the “merits” you defend). They’re disgusting. It looks like I’ll have to put on my yellow waders and deal with them, which I’d hoped to avoid [holds nose].

    2. Realist

      How hard can it be to get a bunch of people with covid to take part in an experiment and measure the viral content of their breath with masks, or without…

      Something like this:
      Respiratory virus shedding in exhaled breath and efficacy of face masks

      Which happened to find that coronavirus aerosols and droplets were completely stopped by a surgical mask. Interestingly they found the surgical mask to be less effective against flu aerosols, but great against droplets.

      In my opinion, masks are best for source control, so you need to mandate them to guarantee that people who are shedding virus will be masked in public, if you want to minimize infections. If you stigmatize the mask, people who are shedding won’t wear them, and infections (and deaths) will be greater.


      1. Adrian D.

        @Realist The key term in your reply was “in public” – something that the Nature study you link to wasn’t. Yes in the short term & in a lab masks may work in preventing the droplets & (less so) aerosols, but what about when they’ve been worn for an hour? How about 3 or 5? How about put in a pocket & back on? Worn on a chin for a bit? That’s what ‘the public’ will do, and that’s why they won’t (and don’t) work any where near as effectively as suggested.

        Beyond that, what if they make the vulnerable act in less safe manners?

        All of this has been rehearsed here in the past. I’m afraid the horse has long since bolted now – most people I know have had it twice and who or what are we protecting now?

        1. Realist

          This is like saying, “because some people drive dangerously or travel in unroadworthy vehicles we should tell everyone that road safety is pointless and get rid of the rules of the road”.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > All of this has been rehearsed here in the past. I’m afraid the horse has long since bolted now – most people I know have had it twice and who or what are we protecting now?

          Getting it a third, fourth, fifth, or sixth time? And giving it to others?

          Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain.

    1. The Rev Kev

      It’s probably a message to AOC to stay in line or else. As an example, the House just voted to keep the sanctions on earthquake ravaged Syria. Only Reps. Thomas Massie and Marjorie Taylor Greene voted against the resolution but I bet that AOC and the rest of the Squad voted for it because they were told to. And that “ethics”probe is one tool that they use to “encourage” them to do so-


  12. Lunker Walleye

    Sharing a movie that was referenced on MOA yesterday.

    WOŁYŃ / Volinia – Wojciech Smarzowski (2016)

    Can’t create a utube link for some reason.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Maybe they were unhappy that one of their reporters was put on the Ukrainian death list for going to Crimea.

    2. hunkerdown

      Just last week they were saying that Zelensky’s goal of retaking Crimea was safe and effective, according to experts. I can’t even keep up.

      1. Polar Socialist

        As Rev Kev said, their reporter did the unthinkable and visited the place only to see that Crimea wants to be Ukraine in the same way Texas wants to be Mexico.

        Even most obtuse journalists eventually can see some truths. And then it’s hard for them unsee it, so it’s easier to weave it in as a minor part of the general narrative and then move back to the regular propaganda before cognitive dissonance gets too bad.

  13. John Beech

    White boots? Yup, best ones you can buy. Negative comments? Just the ignorant proudly defining their callow disregard for the realities of a life involving manual labor.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Years ago in Queensland in Oz there were a group of wealthy people like land investors who were nicknamed the “white shoe brigade” as it was common to see them wearing white shoes. It was a way of them showing that they were in a different class who need not worry about getting their white shoes dirty. Under the corrupt State government back then, their propensity to use paper bags full of cash was also noted.

      1. JBird4049

        One has to try to find boots as ugly white and uncomfortable looking. Interesting fashion choices, but I am not sure about sending a message wearing such tacky stuff. It could be a deliberate insult, but the why do the visit? Could be just so ignorant that he didn’t even see the problem, or did they forget to buy them before the photo op and that was all they could find at the scene?

  14. Mikel

    “I Just Tested Positive for COVID. Should I Get on the Plane Anyway?”

    My younger brother is on day 3 of his first Covid infection. I told him not to make it a habit and to not try to rush recovery.
    I’m checking in on his progress because he lives with our parents and both have co-morbidities.

  15. Mikel

    “President Joe Biden said Thursday he would not veto a Republican-led effort to roll back changes to the District of Columbia’s criminal code, changing the White House’s position on the issue as he aims to project a tough-on-crime image ahead of an expected 2024 reelection run…”

    Maybe JB should have been as tough on Hunter as he makes the legal system for other parents’ children for his entire “tough on crime” political career.

    1. Daryl

      It’s just so… boring. Democrats pretending to be “tough on crime” has never worked, but maybe this is the time?

  16. The Rev Kev

    ‘Lazarus Long
    No. The workers did not want to catch CoVid. They were careful.
    See the quote below from Anne who caught CoVid below.
    And the outbreak continued, until someone decided to test the ventilation.’

    Anybody else thinking about how they originally found out about Legionnaire’s Disease and its vector of spread?

  17. Mikel

    “Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California is receiving treatment for shingles in a San Francisco hospital, according to a San Francisco Chronicle report citing her spokesperson. Feinstein, who isn’t seeking re-election next year, has missed a dozen votes and two committee hearings. Shingles is not a life-threatening illness and is more common in older adults, the Chronicle report said….”

    The Chronicle has a paywall, but that’s the basics of the story.
    I thought about the studies that showed people being twice as likely to develop shingles after serious Covid illness, due to a weakened immune system.

    1. Darvon

      Nickname for chipped beef on toast in U.S. military is “shit on a shingle.”

      Reverse it for Feinstein, the decaying hag held together with wig glue and formaldehyde.

  18. digi_owl

    So apparently Iran has announced that they have a massive lithium deposit.

    Like they didn’t already have a massive target on their back, painted in stars and stripes…

  19. some guy

    That ” rich versus wealthy” item reminds me of a “Standard and Poor” joke I read some decades ago in the National Lampoon’s “White Culture” issue.

    “Standard and Poor” jokes were a fictionally crafted satirical example of prejudice against rich White people. They then offered a Standard and Poor joke . . .

    Mr. Standard: ” I’m so rich, I bought my dog a pet boy for Christmas.”

    Mr. Poor: ” That’s nothing. I’m so rich , I don’t have air conditioning in my Bentley. I just keep a dozen fresh ones in the freezer.”

  20. Jason Boxman

    Once again we’re in the most dangerous phase of the pandemic. This year, the elite deny there even is one. More insidious than even personal risk assessments.

    Stay safe out there.

  21. Angie Neer

    Lambert, with all due respect and appreciation for your work, the recurring problem with duplicated tweets, in this case the Lazarus Long sequence, is a serious flaw in your workflow.

  22. ChrisRUEcon


    Am I the only one noticing how near perfectly the last crest and fall of the Biobot data matches the Walgreens data? That would seem to suggest that Walgreens sampling is indeed “indicative”.

  23. Joe Well

    >>“A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators”:

    Ever since I read Neuromancer I’ve wondering where he got the term “legitimate operators”. It sounds like something out of 1980s computing, but I can’t find anything on it.

    1. Acacia

      The term appears to be over a century old, at least.

      E.g., it appears in A Manual of the Ornithology of the United States and of Canada (1832), p. 368.

      There are several dozen similar examples from the XIXth century in Google books’ archive.

  24. will rodgers horse

    Even the authors themselves acknowledge in the paper: ‘The high risk of bias in the trials, variation in outcome measurement, and relatively low adherence with the interventions during the studies hampers drawing firm conclusions.’
    enough said. That IS the conclusion. Period

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