2:00PM Water Cooler 3/20/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Wood Thrush, Parc du Sanctuaire, Drummond, Quebec, Canada. “Grive des bois, chant: “a-a-iola tzzziiii, a-a-ioli tzzziiii, a-a-iola tzzziiii.”

* * *


“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

“Biden uses first veto to defend rule on ESG investing” [Reuters]. ” U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday rejected a Republican proposal to prevent pension fund managers from basing investment decisions on factors like climate change, in the first veto of his presidency. ‘I just signed this veto because the legislation passed by the Congress would put at risk the retirement savings of individuals across the country,’ Biden said in a video posted on Twitter…. The bill cleared Congress on March 1, when the Senate voted 50-46 to adopt a measure to overturn a Labor Department rule making it easier for fund managers to consider environmental, social and corporate governance, or ESG, issues for investments and shareholder rights decisions, such as through proxy voting.” • I assume Biden is lying, but how, exactly? (If Biden really cared about “the retirement savings of individuals” he’d be going after private equity. But n-o-o-o-o!)


Trump arrest hysteria. Personally, I hope they do. Arresting Trump would bring welcome clarity to the situation.

“Trump indictment could land as early as Monday, sending law enforcement scrambling” [Politico]. The deck: “A grand jury is expected to charge Trump late Monday or Wednesday, according to three people involved in the deliberations.” • Why not Tuesday? Because that’s the day Trump picked?

“Source: Lawyer invited to testify before Trump grand jury” [Associated Press]. “A lawyer who previously advised Michael Cohen, the key government witness in the hush money payment investigation into Donald Trump, has been invited to appear Monday before a Manhattan grand jury that is considering potential charges against the former president, according to a person familiar with the matter. Robert Costello had advised Cohen before the two had a falling out, and is prepared to offer testimony to the grand jury attacking the credibility of Cohen’s statements, according to the person, who insisted on anonymity to discuss secret legal proceedings. Costello had contacted a lawyer for Trump saying that he had information that contradicted Cohen’s current statements and that could be exculpatory for Trump, the person said. The lawyer brought it to the attention of the district attorney’s office, which last week subpoenaed Costello’s law firm for records and invited him to provide testimony on Monday afternoon. The Manhattan district attorney’s office declined to comment on Sunday. Prosecutors have not said when they expect to conclude their work or when or if Trump might be charged. The former president claimed in a post on Saturday that he would be arrested on Tuesday, though people close to him later said that he had been given no updates from prosecutors.” • I love it that Trump ignited the firestorm himself. Trump is the world’s greatest troll, easily.

“‘America’s Got Trump’: Get Ready for a Truly Made-for-TV Prosecution” [Jonathon Turley]. “Although it may be politically popular, the case is legally pathetic. Bragg is struggling to twist state laws to effectively prosecute a federal case long ago rejected by the Justice Department against Trump over his payment of “hush money” to former stripper Stormy Daniels. In 2018 (yes, that is how long this theory has been around), I wrote how difficult such a federal case would be under existing election laws. Now, six years later, the same theory may be shoehorned into a state claim. It is extremely difficult to show that paying money to cover up an embarrassing affair was done for election purposes as opposed to an array of obvious other reasons, from protecting a celebrity’s reputation to preserving a marriage. That was demonstrated by the failed federal prosecution of former presidential candidate John Edwards on a much stronger charge of using campaign funds to cover up an affair. In this case, Trump reportedly paid Daniels $130,000 in the fall of 2016 to cut off or at least reduce any public scandal. The U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York had no love lost for Trump, pursuing him and his associates in myriad investigations, but it ultimately rejected a prosecution based on the election law violations. It was not alone: The Federal Election Commission chair also expressed doubts about the theory. Prosecutors working under Bragg’s predecessor, Cyrus Vance Jr., also reportedly rejected the viability of using a New York law to effectively charge a federal offense. More importantly, Bragg himself previously expressed doubts about the case, effectively shutting it down soon after he took office.” •

“Manhattan DA Bragg privately warns of intimidation after Trump calls for protest” [Politico]. “Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg offered a private retort to Donald Trump’s message Saturday urging supporters to protest his expected indictment, telling office employees in an email that ‘we do not tolerate attempts to intimidate our office or threaten the rule of law in New York,’ according to a copy obtained by POLITICO…. Bragg’s office appears poised to bring criminal charges against Trump in connection with a hush-money payment made to a porn actress, Stormy Daniels, at the height of the 2016 presidential campaign. A flurry of activity related to the grand jury investigation into the hush-money issue, including recent testimony by Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer who arranged the payment to Daniels, has signaled an indictment is likely to happen soon.”

“McCarthy discourages protests amid looming Trump indictment: ‘We want calmness'” [FOX]. McCarthy: “I don’t think people should protest this stuff… Nobody should harm one another…And this is why you should really make law equal because if that was the case, nothing would happen. If was this to happen, we want calmness out there.” • We’ll see. Personally, I don’t think it makes sense for the protesters to make themselves the story. And no selfies!

“Before His Death, I Asked the Manhattan D.A. What His Greatest Fear Was. He Answered: ‘Trump.'” [New York Times]. The DA: the legendary Robert M. Morgenthau. One the one hand: “The D.A. had a blind spot when it came to Mr. Trump, one he would recognize years later. In his final years, Mr. Morgenthau witnessed a new blood lust — demonization of immigrants and people of color, the rise of white supremacy — and was taken aback. One morning in the spring before his death, I asked Mr. Morgenthau what his greatest fear was, and he did not hesitate to answer: ‘Trump.'” That’s the quote? That’s it? On the other: “In more than a decade of digging, I never found a case in which Mr. Morgenthau took a dive or closed an eye. Could he have found criminal wrongdoing in the Trump Organization? Cyrus Vance, the Manhattan D.A. from 2010 to 2022, spent more than three years and untold millions in taxpayer money trying and came up short.” And the conclusion: “Should Mr. Bragg indict the former president, the spirit of the office’s longest occupant [Morgenthau] will not howl with fury. Yes, Mr. Morgenthau once introduced Mr. Trump, in another call to the dais, as a ‘great New Yorker who has made this a great city,’ but I’ll bet Mr. Morgenthau will rest just fine, knowing that what he cared most about, the integrity of the office, is alive and well.” • So, Morgenthau would approve indicting Trump because Trump is a Bad Guy? Because that seems to be the moral of this story (and the operational definition of “integrity”). The whole piece is worth a read for the backstory.

* * *

“Chicago, Atlanta, NYC: Biden faces early test on convention site” [Crain’s Chicago Business]. ” Even before he announces a run for a second term, President Joe Biden faces one of the most consequential decisions of his nascent campaign: Which city will host the 2024 Democratic National Convention. Each of the three finalists — Atlanta, Chicago and New York — would send a different message about the kind of campaign Biden intends to run. ‘It’s a close political call,’ said David Axelrod who worked as a top strategist for former President Barack Obama. ‘They are not just looking for a great convention town. They are looking for a town that is also going to offer them the most political benefit.’ Chicago has strong labor support and a billionaire governor committed to backing Democrats. New York would put the convention on its largest possible metaphorical stage. And Atlanta — the only finalist in a battleground state —- offers a backdrop of civil rights movement history that could appeal to Black voters. It’s high-stakes choice: The wrong venue could alienate key parts of Biden’s base, put the party in a financial hole or foment protests that could mar Democrats’ image. Biden’s decision, which is expected as soon as this month, also could provide a platform for the next generation of Democratic leaders: Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock or New York Mayor Eric Adams. • Well, at least Pritzker and Adams don’t owe me six hundred bucks. There is that.

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.

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IL: “Chicago’s longtime chief labor negotiator sizes up Paul Vallas, Brandon Johnson” [Chicago Sun-Times]. “The April 4 mayoral runoff between Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson has been portrayed as the candidate of the Fraternal Order of Police versus the candidate of the Chicago Teachers Union. Jim Franczek, the city’s chief labor negotiator, doesn’t see it that way — and he’s in a unique position to know. Franczek called Vallas the ‘clear choice’ and Johnson and his ties to the CTU a grave concern. If not for Vallas, Franczek claims, the contract would never have included all of the ‘core police accountability provisions’ demanded by City Council members and the consent decree outlining terms of federal court oversight of the Chicago Police Department. Those provisions include ending the 40-year ban on the investigation of anonymous complaints about police misconduct; no longer allowing officers to change their stories after reviewing bodycam video of an incident; eliminating a requirement that disciplinary records older than five years be destroyed; and lifting the ban on rewarding police officers who report wrongdoing by fellow cops. ‘In the world of labor relations and the world of police accountability, these [reforms] were pretty big deals. And frankly, nobody but Paul Vallas could have done that. It was Paul’s considerable powers of persuasion and the ability to be able to bring people together that resulted in that agreement,’ Franczek said.” • Hmm. “Disaster capitalism came to New Orleans in full force in the wake of Katrina, possibly more powerful than a hurricane, in the person of Paul Vallas and his education policy, the Recovery School District.”


“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).

Lambert here: Will alert reader square coats please resend? I have checked my mail and see nothing from you. Thanks!

• Readers, thanks for the push. We are now up to 43/50 states (86%). I have helpfully added “______” to the states still missing data. We should list states that do not have Covid resources, or have stopped updating their sites, so others do not look fruitlessly. Could those of you in states not listed help out by either with dashboard/wastewater links, or ruling your state out definitively? Thank you!

Resources, United States (Local): AK (dashboard); AL (dashboard); AR (dashboard); AZ (dashboard); CA (dashboard; Marin); CO (dashboard; wastewater); CT (dashboard); DE (dashboard); FL (wastewater); GA (wastewater); HI (dashboard); IA (wastewater reports); ID (dashboard, Boise; dashboard, wastewater, Central Idaho; wastewater, Coeur d’Alene; dashboard, Spokane County); IL (wastewater); IN (dashboard); KS (______); KY (______); LA (dashboard); MA (wastewater); MD (dashboard); ME (dashboard); MI (wastewater; wastewater); MN (dashboard); MO (______); MS (______); MT (dashboard); NC (dashboard); ND (______); NE (______); NH (wastewater); NJ (dashboard); NM (dashboard); NV (______); 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, FreeMarketApologist (1) , Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JEHR, JF, JL Joe, John, JM (6), JW, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, otisyves, Petal (5), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (7), 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 39 43/50 (86% of US states).

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Look for the Helpers

Filing this here, because “The Area Under the Curve” is a useful concept:

As readers know, I’m not strong on arithmetic. Is this a fair representation of “under the curve” for the US?

It feels wierd to me to convert what looks like a graph to an area chart, but…

* * *

“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.

“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.

Finding like-minded people on (sorry) Facebook:

Covid Is Airborne


“NY Department of Health announces new COVID guidelines for nursing home visitors” [Rochester First]. “The Friendly Home Nursing Care and Rehabilitation also released a statement: ‘Today, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) announced that, effective immediately, nursing homes are no longer required to verify that visitors have a negative COVID-19 test upon entry or to conduct active COVID-19 screening. The Friendly Home welcomes this news as we continue to move forward from the pandemic. In compliance with the new DOH regulations and after review of the guidelines by the Home’s Medical Director, the Friendly Home is no longer requiring COVID testing or screening for visitors. Because our top priority is always the safety and well-being of our residents and staff, the Friendly Home is strongly encouraging visitors to defer non-urgent visits if they are experiencing respiratory symptoms and/or have had a COVID exposure. Further, COVID tests will remain available at the Friendly Home for anyone who wishes to take a test before visiting.'” • The Friendly Home is a friendly death trap because Covid spreads asymptomatically.


Good news from Enovid/SaNOtize:

Good that they actually answered questions!


“US airplane near misses keep coming. Now officials are talking about averting ‘catastrophic’ incidents” [CNN]. The other day, we saw that incident in TX where the air traffic controller had to talk the pilot of a private plane down…. “Since the start of the year, there have been a concerning number of high-profile ‘near misses’ as planes involved in airport landing or taking off procedures came perilously close to potential disaster…. The litany of incidents that have clocked up less than three months into 2023 have prompted such concern that this week the US Federal Aviation Administration convened a ‘Safety Summit.’…. The FAA, which is also investigating the recent spate of incidents, says it has not found a common cause. It seems like stories like this are becoming increasingly common. Or are they?” • Commentary:

‘Tis a mystery! But with Mayo Pete on the job, I’m sure we’ll get to the bottom of it!

And can any aviation-adjacent readers confirm?

Anecdotes that suggest the same mysterious cause that’s making pilots to go all random is also happening with drivers:

I’m not a driver. Can any readers provide similar anecdotes?

“Can the Lingering Effects of a Mild Case of Covid-19 Change Your Brain?” [American Academy of Neurology]. “– People with long COVID who experience anxiety and depression months after a mild case of COVID-19 may have brain changes that affect the function and structure of the brain, according to a preliminary study released today, February 20, 2023, that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 75th Annual Meeting being held in person in Boston and live online from April 22-27, 2023.” More:

The study involved 254 people with an average age of 41 who had a mild COVID-19 infection an average of three months earlier. Participants completed tests to assess symptoms of depression and anxiety. A total of 102 people had symptoms of both anxiety and depression and 152 people had no symptoms.

Participants also had brain scans. Researchers looked at damage to the brain’s gray matter to determine if there was brain shrinkage. They also compared the brain scans of the people with COVID-19 with the scans of 148 people who did not have a COVID-19 infection.

The people with COVID-19 and anxiety and depression had shrinkage in the limbic area of the brain, which plays a role in memory and emotional processing, while the people who had COVID-19 without anxiety and depression and the people without COVID-19 had no brain shrinkage.

Researchers also looked at brain function and changes in connectivity—how the brain communicates—between areas of the brain. Using a special type of software to analyze brain networks with resting-state brain activity, they looked at 84 people from the asymptomatic group, 70 people from the anxiety and depression group, and 90 people who did not have COVID-19.

Researchers found that the group with both symptoms of anxiety and depression had widespread functional changes in each of the 12 networks that were tested, while the group without symptoms showed changes in only five networks.

“Our results suggest a severe pattern of changes in how the brain communicates as well as its structure, mainly in people with anxiety and depression with long COVID syndrome, which affects so many people,” Yasuda added. “The magnitude of these changes suggests that they could lead to problems with memory and thinking skills, so we need to be exploring holistic treatments even for people mildly affected by COVID-19.”

A limitation of the study was that symptoms of anxiety and depression were self-reported, so people may have misjudged or misreported symptoms.<>/p>

Now do repeated infections.

“She couldn’t recognize her dad after COVID, study says. ‘Something was off with faces'” [Lexington Herald-Leader]. “Imagine the familiar face of a family member or friend is suddenly unrecognizable the next time you see them. That’s what happened to a 28-year-old woman, who works as a part-time portrait artist drawing faces, after her COVID-19 infection, according to a new study published in the journal Cortex. A few months after getting COVID-19, the woman, identified as Annie, couldn’t recognize her father’s face when she met with family in June 2020 for the first time since getting sick, the study involving Dartmouth College researchers says. ‘My dad’s voice came out of a stranger’s face,’ Annie explained to the researchers. Annie’s new struggle to recognize faces — a neurological condition known as prosopagnosia, or ‘face blindness’ — emerged seven weeks after her COVID-19 infection began in March 2020, according to the study…. Annie also began having trouble navigating familiar surroundings after catching COVID-19, the study notes. This includes her troubles navigating the sections of grocery store she frequents or finding her car in a parking lot, the study notes.” • Faces, parking lots… Or cockpit instruments? Runways?

* * *

“Immunodysfunction: A Cause of Stealth COVID-19 Illness and Death” [Infection Control Today]. A round-up on immune dysregulation: “Finally, there is abundant laboratory evidence of immunodysfunction after COVID-19. Anthony Leonardi, PhD, MS, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Rui B. Proenca, PhD, Department of Biology, Johns Hopkins University, first described aberrant T cell differentiation and lymphopenia in severe COVID-19. The authors stated: ‘These facets depict SARS-Cov-2 as a lympho-manipulative pathogen; it distorts T cell function, numbers, and death, and creates a dysfunctional immune response.” SARS-CoV-2 can infect lymphocytes through ACE2-independent receptor (LFA-1) and cause a “marked lymphopenia in severe patients.’ A study published in Nature Immunology reported laboratory data and findings that documented immune dysfunction for up to 8 months (the longest time period studied) in individuals with long COVID. These individuals were described as having ‘highly activated innate immune cells and lacked naïve T and B cells.’ P. Chattopadhyay, PhD, et al have reported an impairment in the B-cell maturation process and an absent subset of naïve T-cells in COVID-19-recovered patients, which is present in healthy individuals. Jacob K. Files, MD, et al also found that “‘data suggest a prolonged period of immune dysregulation after SARS-CoV-2 infection’ and that ‘many of these changes were found to increase over time in nonhospitalized longitudinal samples, suggesting a prolonged period of immune dysregulation after SARS-CoV-2 infection.’ Cong-Ying Song, PhD, et al described immune dysfunction following COVID-19 and found that this ‘…dysfunction plays critical roles in disease progression.’ Along with heart disease, immune dysfunction and severe infections are becoming another cause of stealth COVID-19 deaths. The public needs a paradigm shift from believing that COVID-19 is a respiratory disease to understanding that COVID-19 impacts every organ of the body, causing delayed manifestations such as strokes, heart attacks, and infections which can present long after one becomes COVID-19-negative.” • I’m used to thinking of IC as a citadel of reaction, so this realism is refreshing.

Elite Malfeasance

“The Checkup With Dr. Wen: Three questions that remain after three years of covid” [Leana Wen, WaPo]. WaPo didn’t paywall this, so they really want you to read it. “One crucial area of inquiry is what happens with repeat infections, which will almost certainly become more common with covid exposure going forward. We might come to expect some frequency of post-covid symptoms, and the resulting disability, as a ‘new normal.’ In that case, health resources must shift from avoiding the coronavirus to reducing and treating its worst consequences — including long covid.” • How soon until Wen comes out against improved ventilation? And just to be clear on those “repeat infections”:

Significant that Leonardi says this:

I’m not the only one thinking this way….

Even Leana Wen admits Covid is not seasonal:

(Ryan is the guy stuffed Tedros back in his box when Tedros said Covid was airborne. On camera!)

“The CDC’s Vaccine ‘Misinformation’ List” [The Reactionary]. “We have obtained just a sampling of the CDC’s ‘Weekly Social Listening Report,’ distributed by the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), a division of the CDC whose focus of late has been awarding billions of dollars in funding to further COVID-19 vaccines for children…. The CDC put together this research by targeting specific keywords and hashtags and to report back on how those trended.” I have no sympathy accounts that pushed those hashtags. However: “More problematic, and more concerning for those who oppose government censorship, was the fact that the CDC was targeting true content as part of the broader social media “misinformation” trends. On TikTok, for example, the account MuumboJumbo had legitimate questions about who was spreading COVID-19. As we have known for quite some time, vaccination does not prevent transmission. Yet here was the CDC, stating this TikTok user ‘promoted COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy by saying there’s no way to know who is spreading COVID-19, vaccinated or unvaccinated.'” • Incidentally, for those really concerned about misinformation, the public health establishment, with its noble lies about masks and its fierce and continuing resistance to aerosol transmission is a more powerful disinformer than any Twitter account.

* * *

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

NOT UPDATED BioBot wastewater data from March 16:

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

SITE DOWN From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, from March 11:

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 20:

-2.4%. Still high, but at last a distinct downturn.


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,151,642 – 1,150,567 = 1075 (1075 * 365 = 392,375 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).

Excess Deaths

NOT UPDATED (but updating). Excess deaths (The Economist), published March 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

There are no official statistics of interest today.

* * *

Banks: “Chartbook #202 What went wrong at Credit Suisse? The Swiss roots of the debacle.” [Adam Tooze]. “As Straumann points out in his NZZ interview, the Credit Suisse debacle is best seen as the latest phase in the crisis-ridden effort by Zurich’s liberal Protestant elite (Freisinn) to build corporate champions of global scale on the basis of the incestuous networked politics of Switzerland. The world got to know Swiss chocolate giants, pharmaceutical, insurance and banking giants but behind them stood tight local networks. At home this elites political wing was the FDP party, one of the perpetual parties of power in Switzerland’s conservative democracy…. It is the hubris of this network of influence, seeking to combine a domestic Swiss universal bank, a global wealth management operation and a US-style investment banking arm, which ultimately led Credit Suisse into its current dire straits. It is also those connections however that ensured that it would never be allowed to fail…. What are stake here are not simply matters of global financial stability, or general principles of competition policy, but the 21st century rearrangement, under the sign of globalization, of elite networks in a small and confined society that traces their roots back to the 19th century. ”

Tech: “Google stacks its legal team with former DOJ employees as it faces antitrust cases” [CNBC]. “Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has stacked its legal team with former Department of Justice employees as it fights two separate antitrust lawsuits from the agency, public profiles show. Former DOJ employees make up both its in-house team and members of outside counsel firms it employs. The company has hired three former DOJ officials into regulatory roles since May 2022, and one before that in 2021, according to public information including social media profiles. Google also uses four different outside counsel firms loaded with nearly 20 former DOJ officials, many of whom worked in the antitrust division at various times. Such hiring for its internal regulatory team is a reflection of the intense scrutiny Google is facing from governments around the world. It can be a signal that a company anticipates dealing with regulatory challenges in years to come, even if it doesn’t know exactly what form it’ll take yet, according to two former government officials. ‘When companies find themselves under intense scrutiny from regulatory authorities, antitrust law or otherwise, they make moves like this,’ said Bill Kovacic, a former Federal Trade Commission chair who now teaches antitrust law at George Washington University.”

Tech: “Culture War Bullshit Stole Your Broadband” [Cory Doctorow]. “Apologists for America’s internet-of-garbage will tell you that all of this can’t be avoided. America is too big, its rural communities are too spread out, its infrastructure is too old. Bullshit. Hundreds of American small towns have built their own fiber networks, mostly in deep red counties in deep red states. Far from living in Stalinist broadband hellscapes, these rural Americans whose broadband comes from their local government are the only people in America who are happy with their broadband. There is no place too rural for public broadband: the poorest county in Appalachia pulled fiber to every home, including the ones beyond narrow mountain passes (they used a mule called Ol Bub to make those runs!), and experienced an economic miracle. As good as American cities and towns are at providing fiber, the private sector is very bad at it…. As bad as the private sector is at providing broadband, it is absolutely brilliant at corrupting the political process. Cities that so much as ponder providing decent broadband are beset by ‘grassroots; activists who are spittin’ mad at the idea of having reliable, low-cost internet. More often than not, these are really astroturf groups, fake activists in the employ of big cable and telephone companies. The whole bestiary of shadowy conservative billionaires get in on this — even the Kochs. Increasingly, though, conservative turkeys are being convinced to vote for Christmas, demanding their inalienable right to be fleeced by monopolists. How do you convince conservatives to vote against decent internet at a decent price? The same way you convince conservatives to do anything: You tell them it’s woke.” • Sigh.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 27 Fear (previous close: 24 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 23 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 20 at 12:28 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: 185. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) NOTE on #42 Plagues: “The coronavirus pandemic has maxed out this category.” More honest than most!


“Match Day”:

What a strange ritual. It reminds me of the NFL draft. Is that fair? Anyhow, all the best to our new doctors!

Our Famously Free Press

Fooled me:

Ha ha, only serious. See discussion of AGI.

Zeitgeist Watch

“Futurists predict a point where humans and machines become one. But will we see it coming?” [The Conversation]. “The internet and smartphones were other examples. But unlike those technologies, many philosophers and scientists think AI could one day reach (or even go beyond) human-style ‘thinking’ This possibility, coupled with our increasing dependence on AI, is at the root of a concept in futurism called ‘technological singularity.’ This term has been around for a while, having been popularised by the US science fiction writer Vernor Vinge a few decades ago. Today, the ‘singularity’ refers to a hypothetical point in time at which the development of artificial general intelligence (AGI) – that is, AI with human-level abilities – becomes so advanced that it will irreversibly change human civilisation. It would mark the dawn of our inseparability from machines. From that moment on, we won’t be able to live without them without ceasing to function as human beings…. Recently OpenAI (the company that developed ChatGPT) released a blog post reaffirming its commitment to achieving AGI. Others will doubtless follow.” • It has occurred to me that all the stupid that sloshed into and then out of crypto and Web 3.0 had to slosh somewhere, and that somewhere was AI. However, I find it very hard to believe it’s a coincidence that AI (and robots) are getting such play now that capital, through its policy of mass infection without mitigation, has slaughtered and sickened enough workers to affect the labor markets. (Note that I don’t believe that robots and AI can actually replace human workers in the general case; they call science fiction fiction for a reason. But we live on the stupidest timeline, and our capitalist elites are stupid too, so they may believe that AI can, just like they believe in mainstream macro, American exceptionalism, rugged individualism, their own innate superioritym and all sorts of other stupid ideas.

Class Warfare

This guy should have part ownership of the building he built:

News of the Wired

Network effects:

I’ll say one thing for this account: They know how to put a thread together!

“The United States Frequency Allocation Chart” [Beautiful Public Data]. “Somewhere above you right now, a plane is broadcasting its location, speed and bearing on 1090 MHz. A geostationary weather satellite 22 thousand miles from Earth is transmitting detailed weather maps on 1694.1 MHz. A car driving by your home is transmitting a signal with the pressure readout of one of its tires at 315MHz. A GPS satellite flying overhead at 8,000 miles per hour is pinging a signal to your phone at 1575.42 MHz. A data buoy bobbing in the Atlantic ocean transmits sea temperature, wave height and wind speed readings to a NOAA satellite at 401 MHz. On top of all that, every single mobile device and WiFi router near you blasts out everyones internet traffic through the air rover radio waves. How the hell are all of these signals getting to the right place, intact without stepping all over each other? The answer is a very carefully regulated radio spectrum….. The Frequency Allocation Chart uses 33 color coded categories to visualize the information from the Table of Frequency Allocations in a crazy quilt of blocks spread from 9 kHz (Very Low Frequency) all the way to 300 GHz (Extremely High Frequency).” • This is a wall chart so it’s a little smushed:

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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. ambrit

    I dunno. I’m drawing a blank here.
    Trump runs for President from jail? [What about bail? Will the Assistant District Attorney argue that Trump is a flight risk? Where would he flee to? Des Moines? West Palestine? Plano? American politics is entering the Twilight Zone.]

    1. fresno dan

      “Source: Lawyer invited to testify before Trump grand jury” [Associated Press].
      Robert Costello had advised Cohen before the two had a falling out, and is prepared to offer testimony to the grand jury attacking the credibility of Cohen’s statements, according to the person, who insisted on anonymity to discuss secret legal proceedings. Costello had contacted a lawyer for Trump saying that he had information that contradicted Cohen’s current statements and that could be exculpatory for Trump, the person said.
      • I love it that Trump ignited the firestorm himself. Trump is the world’s greatest troll, easily
      Now, if I believed in CT’s, it would be that Trump is arranging for his own indictment, cause Trump thinks he (Trump) is running low on media attention. And an indictment would rile up his base, but from what I can tell, they are rather nonchalant about the whole situation. I doubt we would seen even ONE HORN at the protest…
      But really, does anybody really seem very interested??? It just seems like no one much cares about any news or politics. DeSantis/Trump or Biden – I don’t think I would bother to vote (I am assuming by then the US has moved on from Ukraine)

      1. ambrit

        After the US moves on from the Ukraine we can all rest assured that the tagline will be: “And the Bandera played on.”
        After WW-2 America did a covert immigration policy and called it “Operation Paperclip.” This time let’s call it “Operation Bent Staple.”

      2. John k

        Yeah, but mic would throw a tantrum if we didn’t pivot smoothly to another useful war ans we did do after Afghan, again against somebody with nukes and hypersonic missiles. So for me it makes enough difference whether we elect a warmonger or not that I’d get off the couch and drop my ballot into the mail.
        And between the 2 Fl guys, I’d pick the on that demonstrated the ability and interest in saying no to war.
        I’m nearly done, but I’ve got 3 grandkids.

  2. fresno dan

    It’s no secret that there has been an increase in the number of Americans who oppose feeding an endless supply of weapons and cash into Ukraine to support the war against Russia or are at least skeptical about the process. Such people are regularly decried in the media as being “Putin stooges” or supporters of Russia. But who are these people? ……
    The MSM is quick to answer that question for you. It’s the Mega-MAGA Republicans, of course, likely following top-secret marching orders from Tucker Carlson or whatever.And the man behind it is none other than Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream fame. Given his historic support for politicians like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, along with various progressive policies, Cohen isn’t exactly the Mega-MAGA monster you were expecting to find under the bed.

    This doesn’t fit the media narrative regarding military support for Ukraine. And it’s a narrative that is constantly repeated by many Republicans in Congress as well. We have to support Ukraine “for as long as it takes” because “democracy is in peril” or something. But that position isn’t reflected among the American public anywhere near as solidly. The latest poll from NBC News shows that support for providing more weapons and funding to Zelensky and his government has finally fallen below 50 percent. 49 percent supported more funding while 47% were opposed. Rather than being some sort of issue with near-unanimous consent, that poll paints the picture of an evenly divided nation.
    Reporting based on confirmation bias of the audience – who would have thunk it….

    1. John

      I have not supported the administration’s Ukraine Project from the start in 2014. It has nothing to do with being a “Putin stooge” or a “MAGA Republican.” I am neither. It has everything to do with my assessment of reality. The US provoked the Maidan Coup in 2014 and provoked the invasion in 2022 to weaken Russia by collapsing its economy with sanctions while Ukraine’s NATO armed and equipped military forces defeated Russia and reclaimed the Donbass. Both arms of this strategy have been failures. Ukraine has suffered great damage and huge casualties, which I lay at the doorstep of the Biden administration.

      During the Vietnam War, anti-war protests sometimes chanted, “Hey, Hey, LBJ. How many kids did you kill today?” American casualties mattered. Vietnamese casualties not so much. No one is chanting. Anti-war sentiment is muted or not reported. Few Americans are in harm’s way in Ukraine.There seems to be little concern for the number of killed and wounded Ukrainians.

          1. CanCyn

            No, I meant they blame the whole situation on Putin. With zero understanding of the role of the US and NATO. Do I think that Russia attacked? No. But there is no doubt in my mind that they have been highly provoked. Let’s try to place the blame where it really should be – squarely on US foreign policy. You can just as easily call Biden a murderous thug. Not to mention the Presidents before him.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Can’t find the link right now, but two “experts”from a “conservative” stink tank in DC say that all the concern about NATO directly confronting Russia and thus pushing the red button can be waived away by some institutional legerdemain. Just set up a new “coalition of the (unwilling vassals,) some joint forces agreements and memoranda of understanding, all done by Bidenfiat without regard to that Quaint Document’s “war powers held by Congress” noise, a slick new acronym, and US troops in US uniforms with green and gray “American flags” velcro’ to their shoulders will be just like Zelensky said: dying to keep the Fokking carousel spinning… “all nice and legal, see?” And an easy pivot to South Asia and a shooting war with China, which fears us for our staunch stand on Democracy.

        What will Kim Jong Un do, I wonder? We already know the neocons are insane and will use nuclear weapons at the drop of a hat, and we ought to remember, those of us who favor trying to decapitate the Russian government that there’s a “Doctor Strangelove” dead-hand Doomsday weapon already deployed — if the civilian government and senior military officers don’t report in frequently to the “Perimeter” system, the WOPR computers distributed across vast Russia will assume they are fried and launch all their thousands of nukes at whatever is on the target list, end of US, end of Europe, not sure about Israel but the fallout might get the Likudniks too…

          1. GramSci

            Probably a typo for some submarine ‘deckhand’ or two, who, after learning his wife, kids, and country have been vaporized, decides to return the favor…

          2. Efmo

            Well, it’s not exactly the cobalt doomsday weapon from Dr. Strangelove, but there is supposed to be an automatic launch system in place in case communication is lost (assuming a first strike has taken place, I guess). I think it’s called Dead Hand or something like that. More like the movie War Games.

  3. ChrisFromGA

    Brought to you by the musical production team of Lindsey Graham, Joe Biden, and Nikki Haley!

    A duet, sung in Moscow, by two world leaders, to the tune of “Build this Dream together” by Starship.

    Introducing … Vlad and Comrade Xi! (Apologies to Starship and Grace Slick.)


    Lookin’ in your eyes
    I see you realize
    This gang of neocons wants to slaughter you, too!
    Standin’ here beside you
    Want so much to give you
    Cheap gas and markets that we’ve opened for you!

    Comrade Xi:

    Let ’em say we’re crazy!
    I don’t care about that
    Form a new alliance
    Comrade, don’t ever look back
    Let a dying empire
    Just fall apart
    Comrade, we can make it, cause Joe’s not too smart


    And we can end this hegemony
    Bankrupt all their cronies
    Nothing’s gonna stop us now
    And when this world runs out of petrol
    Gas, and rare earth metals
    Nothing’s gonna stop us
    Nothing’s gonna stop us now

    Oh, whoa!

    Vlad: I’m so glad I found you
    I’m not gonna lose you
    Whatever it takes
    Kissinger’s turnin’ blue
    End global institutions
    Stop color revolutions
    Whatever it takes
    Is what I’m gonna do!

    Comrade Xi:

    Let ’em say we’re crazy!
    What do they know?
    Sending arms right at ya!
    Comrade, roll those tanks through Po-land
    Let a dying empire
    Be dead and gone,
    Comrade, we can make it, I got next (Taiwan!)

    And we can end this hegemony
    Bankrupt all their cronies
    Nothing’s gonna stop us now
    And if this world runs out of dollars
    We’ll just laugh and holler
    Nothing’s gonna stop us
    Nothing’s gonna stop us now!


    Ooh, now capitalist pigs are screwed
    Ended by their own greed
    All that I want to do
    Is watch DC meltdown, and Paris, and London!


    And we can end this hegemony
    Bankrupt all their cronies
    Nothing’s gonna stop us now
    And if this world runs out of dollars
    We’ll just laugh and holler
    Nothing’s gonna stop us
    Nothing’s gonna stop us now

    1. ambrit

      Oh no, do not apologize. The old Grace Slick would have endorsed the duet. An ageing Jane Fonda could do some photo shoots on top of some S-400 SAM units “somewhere in the Donbas.” Once again, ‘Hanoi’ Jane will be vilified yet end up on the “right side of history.”
      Where’s Barbarella when you need her?

  4. Carolinian

    Re NYT on Morgenthau–I know it sounds crazy but Morgenthau said exactly the same thing to me! (Don’t ask for proof.)

    Can the NYT sink any lower? Just askin

  5. Fiery Hunt

    Red light running is a thing now. I’ve had cops tell me that that people blantantly, purposely run reds in front of them knowing the cops won’t chase ’em. I’ve seen so many that I wait an extra 2 beats before entering certain intersections. Saw one jackass go around cars stopped in front of him (swerve into the bike lane) before flooring it thru a red.

    Between the denegration of cops in particular and a general disdain for society, life in Big Blue Cities is deteriorating fast.

    1. Martin Oline

      My wife stops on the yellow light and I am afraid she is going to get killed. Usually two or three cars will go through an intersection with a red light.

      1. JBird4049

        Yes, I have had to go through a red just so the fool behind me does not kill me. What is it with this stupidity? Then there are the pedestrians…

    2. Carolinian

      Or small red cities. They’ve been running stop signs here for years–not quite so blatantly. I think they do it because everyone else does it. The madness of crowds.

      FWIW standard traffic engineering practice is to have one second between the red light and the other green. Also the yellow lights last one second for every 10 mph of speed limit.

      1. Wukchumni

        It’s about 25 miles to the first set of traffic lights here in tiny town, so nothing to report.

    3. herman_sampson

      Nobody can drive now:passing across double yellow lines, speeding, running red lights, expired plates, parking on and across sidewalks, rolling sometimes barely slowing down for stop signs. Heard that indianapolis is doing away with traffic court (cases will be disbursed to other courts) because of the decrease in tickets written. I rarely see any driver stopped by police. At least being retired, I don’t drive as much (I had to retire at 62, couldn’t stand the current work environment, saw too many people die before or shortly after retiring, and felt the time was more valuable than the money if I waited to 67), and I am used to looking out for me and other drivers when riding my bicycle.
      But indianapolis is having another bumper crop of homicides, mostly at night and usually involving handguns – related?

      1. Questa Nota

        Freeway carpool lanes separated from other lanes by double white lines. In the old days, say, last decade, there was at least a chance that people would observe those and not cross over until they were in designated transition zones.

        Now people zip in and out of carpool lanes with impunity. The worst offenders, as in so many cases, are large, expensive sedans and SUVs. Their hurry is obviously more important than your safety, although they would probably admit that the word your overstates what they feel about you, which borders on nothing.

        Yet another defensive driving pointer for those about to venture out.

        1. semper loquitur

          I rarely drive but every. single. time. I’ve driven in the last six months I’ve seen some kind of insanity. Life threatening stuff. This is what it looks like when a society crumbles.

      2. wuzzy

        Right turn on red after stop?!? Left turn yield to oncoming traffic?? 50mph on residential street after the speed bumps were removed?? Business as usual in this small town.

    4. Kurtismayfield

      Ummm you don’t have to chase them, there are #$@&ing cameras everywhere. If a cops sees it, they can ask for the traffic footage, get the plate, and viola ticket.

      1. GF

        The republicans in AZ banned the traffic cams a few years ago after many of the legislators were caught on camera.

        1. Carolinian

          So now it’s the Republicans who speed and the Dems who don’t? Oh c’mon.

          Also you leave out the incident where the mobile radar monitor sitting on the side of highway 60 was shot and killed. It seems there was widespread resentment of the cams which many viewed as money generating speed traps.

          That said, I do believe the uptick in violations stems from a general lack of enforcement. It could be that all recent the social turmoil over bad traffic stops have made police departments–or certainly mine–gunshy about traffic policing which also can be risky for the cops themselves.

          1. JBird4049

            There is also the fact that some cities were manipulating the traffic lights by decreasing the yellow’s length to increase traffic tickets as well as putting the cameras mostly in poorer areas of town. Add that some people were being popped because either nobody living verified the violation or because they did even when the driver was innocent or was the wrong one.

            With the amount of corruption as well as the use of fines and fees instead of taxes, both city government and the vendors who operated the cameras had incentive to manipulate the cameras and lights to get as many tickets as they could. The law and safety often does not matter.

            The idea of red light cameras might be good although I don’t like them myself, but the practice was often just twisted and sometimes even done illegally.

            1. Fiery Hunt

              Yeah, the enforcement/cost is hardest on those trying to stay on the right side of the law.

              Unfortunately, those who don’t try, don’t care.

            2. Hepativore

              I am sure that the surveillance and data collection devices that will come pre-installed on new vehicles soon, will automatically send your driving speeds and road habits to your insurance company so that they can promptly raise your rates the moment you drive one mile over the speed limit.

          2. JTMcPhee

            Had this argument with fellow law student in 1972: Proposition: people obey the law out of a sense of comity and obligation. Counter: people only obey the law out of fear of enforcement. I was dumb enough to believe the former as I started my law school sojourn. Know much better now.

        2. TimH

          The traffic cams in Phoenix were privately owned and so ‘fines’ not legally binding. Hence removal.

    5. Joe Renter

      It’s quite bad here in Las Vegas. Actually this is the scariest city I have driven in. Seattle was tame comparatively.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > It’s quite bad here in Las Vegas

        I forget who told this joke, Johnny Carson? Back in the days of arm signals–

        “Things are terrible in Vegas, terrible. I was signaling right and somebody took the martini right out of my hand!”

  6. Screwball

    Biden vetoed his first bill today. In a Tweet he said it was a good thing even if MAGA and MTG think it is. Machin not happy either. From Reuters;

    The bill cleared Congress on March 1, when the Senate voted 50-46 to adopt a measure to overturn a Labor Department rule making it easier for fund managers to consider environmental, social and corporate governance, or ESG, issues for investments and shareholder rights decisions, such as through proxy voting.

    Anyone following this? I don’t know if this is good or bad (depends on where you read, as usual), but I do know I don’t trust any of the players involved.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Anyone following this?

      I just added some orts and scraps, including a link to this issue.

      On the one hand, I assume the Republicans are frothing and stamping about nothing. On the other, I assume the Democrats are lying through their teeth. ‘Tis a puzzlement!

    2. Louis Fyne

      The standard rule is that money managers have to be a fiduciary to the retirees for the money that they are investing—-basically you gotta reasonably maximize returns for the risk taken.

      The Labor Dept ESG rules weaken that fiduciary standard—essentially saying if A is getting 10% in an index fund, but B is only getting 8% in a ESG fund, B is doing the reasonably correct thing and can’t be sued by B’s retirees.

      Whether this is good or bad, depends on one’s politics/worldview.

      1. notabanker

        I just read this lawsuit filed by the State of Texas against the Dept of Labor.

        Yes, you can read this as big oil vs climate change, but you can also read this as a Democratic administration tightly aligned with Wall Street stripping away fiduciary requirements that are part of current ERISA law and replacing them with the ESG acronyms, that are allegedly ill-defined:

        “The 2022 Rule also undermines a fiduciary’s prudence obligations. While
        fiduciaries had previously focused on risk and return estimates of financial benefits, under
        the revised 2022 Rule, a fiduciary’s analysis of an investment’s risk and return “may
        include the economic effects of climate change and other environmental, social, or
        governance factors on the particular investment or investment course of action.” ”

        “The preamble to the 2022 Rule gives several examples that are potentially
        relevant to a fiduciary’s risk-return analysis, including “exposure to the physical and
        transitional risks of climate change,” board composition, and a corporation’s “progress on
        workforce diversity, inclusion, and other drivers of employee hiring, promotion, and
        retention.” Id. at 73,832. Such changes demonstrate the degree to which collateral factors
        can enter the investment decision-making context under the rule, departing from ERISA’s
        mandate that plan assets be held in trust for “the exclusive purpose of providing benefits to
        participants.” ”

        Also, by stripping away supporting decision documentation, they leave no accountability mechanism for benefit holders to review or enforce action on these decisions.

        This reads as being illegal with regards to the conflict with ERISA and likely unconstitutional.

        And then there is the whole notion of ESG actually being effective on the E part. Seems to me the Dem’s focus is far more on the S and G pieces knowing the E part is a lost cause.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Is anything desired by Big Money/Big Business ever, any more, either “illegal” or “unconstitutional?”

          Wealth is the rootstock of all power.

          But it’s nice to remember those halcyon days of child labor, substantive due process, freedom of contract and all that…

        2. Late Introvert

          My take on this issue. It’s simple, I don’t want to invest in oil or defense companies. Even if they are the best return, I do not want it, it’s blood money. I have my wife and my IRAs in a fund that eschews those industries. Do I like the ones they chose instead? No, I do not.

          I’m aware I don’t have control over pensions, covered well here on NC. I do have a small one that vested last year and is a pittance unless I can work until age 69, at which point it will be over $700/mo.

          The whole investing world seems like a trap, I’ll never understand it. I had the IRAs heavy on bonds for safety reasons, and managed to take a beating there lately.

  7. Jason Boxman


    Since throwing things away, rather than cleaning and reusing them, was convenient, too, it seemed like progress. An ad for Toss’ems, a single-use baby bottle introduced in 1971, summed up the ethos with a question: “In this disposable age, is there a reason for the non-disposable bottle?” Manufacturers and consumers alike fell in love with the lightweight and unbreakable material. More than a third of all plastic ever produced has been used for packaging, most of it created and disposed of in the same year.

    But that’s not even true; My mom’s told me of how her mother and grandmother would try to find uses for these new disposable containers, because throwing things away simply made no sense to that generation. Why would you? But with such an increasing flood of disposable containers, that approach wasn’t sustainable. What do you do with dozens of empty containers and packaging, ever increasing, year after year? And so we have today’s nightmare.

    1. anahuna

      Dating back to Andalucía in 1960, where I learned to rewash the little jars that yoghurt came in and return them to the store so I could buy another, I feel vaguely uneasy every time I wash out an empty jar or bottle and toss it in the recycling bin. Some of the jars have pleasing shapes. They end up holding a variety of nuts or dried fruits, but I can’t keep up with the supply. Out go the rest, as the alternative is endless clutter.

      It still seems wrong somehow.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        my jar saving is well tolerated…and mostly without comment.
        i use them mostly for seed saving, and fastener/do-dad organising in the shop(many lids screwed to ceiling).
        boys have discovered the utility…but haven’t acknowledged it.
        both my grandma’s had the annoying habit of running used zip loc baggies through the dish sink.

        1. mrsyk

          I must confess to being a jar saver as well. I find uses for them as I can. Good for the homegrown herbs and spices, but ridding the lids of the aromas of the original content can be tricky. Pairing scents is one technique, sort of like pairing that ’55 Mouton with the duck only without the financial resources and really good wine.

      2. wuzzy

        and in Vienna in 1963 I had to buy the bottle to put the lighter fluid in. Now “organic” bananas have a big plastic wrapper saying organic

      3. BeliTsari

        Was just discussing with a fellow, old crank: Pittsburgh, during ’50s “urban renewal” still had 33 purveyors of yogurt; along with dairy co-ops with heavy glass wash-out bottles (along with actual milkmen, not unlikely our genuine fathers, not joking in the least!) My “inner city” girlfriend, from Westy had a Teamster half Mohawk dad, with a degree before WWII, who’s milk cart was pulled by a sway-back horse. Now, I’d not drive through there in a ceramic carbide Unimog with Lexan windows? We’d a hippie food co-op, where you’d innoculate Deaf Smith Valley peanut butter with spores and occasionally get horribly ill & destroy brain cells, due to substance abusing rich kid’s inability to wash out Hellmann’s jars. Who’d invariably have mysteriously heavier jars, to save fractions of a cent. These were Yuppies, awaiting powder cocaine, Ayn Rand, Whole Foods, TM, EST & BMW fetishes (Carly Simon, blaring NPD/BPD from apartments their landlord parents gave them). We’d show ‘Glen or Glenda’ & “Harlem on the Prairie” for kids making-out & smoking dope in unwashed stainless vegetable display bins. Hey, this brain-fog works wonders for psychological regression flashbacks & 2nd childhood wistfulness, huh?

  8. hamstak

    “Why not Tuesday? Because that’s the day Trump picked?”

    My guess is they have some other news release planned for Tuesday — come to think of it the Fed meeting starts tomorrow — but maybe somebody crucial just had a conflicting golf outing scheduled.

    1. Questa Nota

      Tuesday, to be reused in campaign ads in the lead-up to that First Tuesday after the First Monday in November next year.

    2. FreeMarketApologist

      First hit on google tells me that it’s “National Common Courtesy Day”, so maybe… ?

      1. ambrit

        Isn’t “common courtesy” an oxymoron?
        Like “honest politician,” or perhaps “disinterested observer.”

  9. JM

    I’m not sure what I see really matches the description of people mindlessly following other drivers, or the flight issues. But, I’d say that in the smallish city I lived in before and the mid-sized city I moved to last year both had noticeably worse driving overall compared to pre-COVID. My new city in particular has been terrible, with egregious running of red lights, even skirting around stopped cars to run the red or turn; and generally reckless or aggressive driving.

    I’d attributed it to generalized anger, and a lack of regard for themselves and others (basically an initial dissolution of the social contract on the individual level), but maybe that wasn’t right… my new city was significantly worse back when we were tracking COVID infections.

    1. Lexx

      My current fav is watching someone ahead of me decide from the far right lane that they really want to make a left, and not go through the bother of making that right they seemed committed to and then turning around. Nope, just suddenly turning hard left and the only reason it works is because he/she are surrounded by defensive drivers who’d rather not have their vehicles damaged . What was once a rare sighting is now every time I get out on the road and I don’t drive a lot, so that’s saying it’s probably become common.

      Do they know it’s illegal? Where is their sense of self-preservation? Personally I hate being out the money for the deductible; it hurts my checking account.

  10. Martin Oline

    Re. “I’m not a driver. Can any readers provide similar anecdotes?”
    You bet, but then I have lived in Florida for over a decade and they drive crazy down here. I don’t expect it is any better elsewhere. I think younger people learned tp drive from video games but who knows. I totaled two cars in two years from people running stop signs in front of me. One stopped in the middle of the street (my lane) when he saw he couldn’t get all the way across. Turned out later he was uninsured and the trucks owner was dead.
    I’ve rode a bike for the last two years and they haven’t killed me yet. I have learned it is better to ride the traffic direction on sidewalks even though I prefer to keep my eye on oncoming cars. This is because motorists waiting to turn never look in the direction they are turning. If you are going the other way they will hit you when you are in front of them. About a hour ago motorist turned from a side street across the six lane road I was on. He came across three lanes on my side and crossed the driveway I was crossing at about 40 MPH. I braked because I was going against traffic so I saw him coming. He saw me too because happily waved at me as he missed me by inches. People are so friendly down here.

      1. Martin Oline

        Only biking for two years so no data. Motorists have been driving crazy for ten years, though I don’t know if that is just Florida. Insurance is much higher (double+) here than Midwest.

      2. mrsyk

        Hard to confirm but reasonable to wonder if and how much brain fog is contributing to an increase in dangerous driving behavior. In NYC (I drive there a half dozen or so times a year) driving became noticeably scarier with the onset of Covid. I had attributed it to a sharp increase in cars on the road. Or maybe there’s a correlation with an ever angrier society in general. Probably all three.

        1. rowlf

          My son and I joke when we see odd scary dangerous driving that the driver is either wearing their mask too tight, has covid brain or vaccine brain.

          In contrast to what I see around Atlanta Georgia, I don’t see any of this driving in the South American, South East Asia and European cities I have been to in the last year for work. Everyone else seems to be able to work together driving around.

      3. Carolinian

        I’ve been biking all my life and cars never look for bikes. IMO those bicyclists who insist on their “rights” are flirting with the pearly gates.

        In my town I don’t hesitate to use the sidewalks downtown when needed even though technically illegal. Since they are usually empty it’s not a problem here. However we do have some new bike trails to address the problem. On those you just have to worry about being run over by other bikes.

        In my neighborhood where people are walking I don’t do this.

      4. Ghost in the Machine

        A girl in our neighborhood was killed recently by a truck turning left at a light as she walked home from elementary school. She was in the crosswalk with a signal to walk. The driver said he did not see her. A tragedy for the neighborhood.

            1. Terry Flynn

              Didn’t even need to hover over the link to know what that video was. Note for others – a lot of such channels have completely ad-free sponsorship-free extended non-self-censored versions on Nebula.

              Quite a few YT channels will get you the $25 (ish) p.a. rate reduced even further to pay for them all plus Curiosity Stream ones thrown in. Hope this isn’t seen as breaking any NC rules – it’s just alerting people how to bypass our “friends” at Google and reward content creators more fully.

              My only warning is that they don’t have “native” comment/”below the line” sections. Sometimes blatant mistakes go unchallenged in what I have come to call “citizen journalism”. Quite a few channels are complementary to NC so provide great “deeper dives” into topics. The downside is a “lack of NC type commentariat” to correct any mistakes.

      5. petal

        Yes. Much, much worse after covid.

        I live at the corner of a busy main intersection in a very blue town and watch the crazy from my 2nd floor apartment or while I’m waiting for the bus or walking/walking the dog. There has been more running of dead cold red lights(a lot more), the near-taking out of bike riders incl those with toddlers on the back, and the increase in speeding has been ridiculous. Right after covid lockdown ended, the increased running of red lights was shocking. That was the behavioural change I noticed first. Big trucks(semis and log trucks) don’t even slow down anymore. They just keep going and run the red. I count to 5 before pulling out into an intersection in my car, or when I am crossing as a pedestrian. 2 or 3s after the light change is no longer enough.

        They all know the cops won’t pull them over. We simply do not have enough town cops to make a dent in this dangerous driving, and people do not act responsibly anymore, so what is to be done? The local PD is stretched very thin. Things get bad after dark, too, esp with people using the streets as drag strips-a car will get through the light and literally floor it. It’s terrifying. People have become much more selfish and aggressive since covid, I think. It’s all mememe and there is no thought to those around them. The “What do you do/how do you act when no one is looking?” character concept has morphed into “I do whatever I want and to h-ll with everyone else.” People are a lot angrier now, I think. It’s not just one or two here or there, it’s across the board. Stressed, angry, aggressive, selfish.

        1. semper loquitur

          The following is a rant:

          You have to be a total fu(king m0r0n to strap your baby to the back of a bike and ride on the street. No doubt they feel they “have a right”. There is a certain mind-set out there that will blithely ignore cold reality to make a point.

          It reminds me of an old friend I had in Philly years back. He was a radically minded progressive, his wife was a liberal progressive. Really nice people but totally blinkered when it came to certain harsh realities. Especially her. She would argue the right and wrong of it with an ax wielding maniac.

          They told me they were moving at one point. Where? To the heart of the West Philly slums. Why in the name of God would you do that? Because they wanted to build “community” with people of color.

          I told a friend, a person of color who grew up around there. He was like “WTF?! Two whiteys on that street?” He predicted trouble for them.

          A few months later, trouble came. The guy was on his front lawn when a group of young toughs walked by. He said hello. They said “Fu*k you, white boy.” He went inside.

          The next day he was chatting with a neighbor, who informed him that he was on the local proto-gang’s hit list. Not $hit-list, hit list. Proto-gangs are made up of kids too young for the big gangs so they make up smaller, neighborhood gangs to try to earn street cred and get taken up into the bigger outfits. So these guys weren’t looking for trouble, they were hungry for trouble. What better way to earn some points than to shoot some white guy?

          So I get a call from him explaining all of this. I told him that he, his dip$hit wife, and their newborn were welcome to come stay with my girlfriend and I for a few nights to see if things calmed down. He said thanks but that they were going to stay with his mother-in-law for a while or something.

          Things calmed down eventually but they easily could have not calmed down. They ignored all common sense. They were going to build bridges! They almost got smoked.

          Our friendship waned after that. I had already been on the outs with the wife because I had laughed in her face when she said she was “fighting” President Bush by voting for Kerry. Now they were embarrassed. Their moral certitude had been revealed to be gross naivete.

          What it boiled down to was a sense of entitlement. The notion that they could somehow tilt the scales of racial animosity by moving into a neighborhood in which they were decidedly not welcome wasn’t some sign of virtue. It was the mark of a presumptuous sense of moral superiority and a hunger for virtue signaling. That’s what I see when I see some f00l on a bike with their kid strapped on the back. And it’s always some white parent. We’re fighting climate catastrophe! Never mind the lunatics in cars all around!

          1. JBird4049

            All true, but what about the murderous jerks who think shooting or running over someone is just peachy?

            The virtuous, suicidal flakes or the arrogant, murder happy fools? They both can get lost.

          2. petal

            Our small town has a lot of cyclists, and the rider was in the designated bike lane. Car driver was not paying attention.

      6. Carla

        In the main street shopping district closest to me, we recently had two pedestrians killed within one week. I’ve lived here all my life and don’t think that’s ever happened before. Both pedestrians were crossing at busy intersections, in the crosswalk, with the “Walk” signal. One, a hit-skip, occurred right in front of the library. The librarian’s office is on the second floor and she saw the man (in his early 60s) get hit and the car take off. It took the victim something like 17 days to die. Our librarian can’t get it out of her mind. The other case occurred at a major intersection. A woman in her 20s was crossing with the “Walk” light when a sudden four-car accident occurred, sending one of the cars out of control and it hit her, causing fatal injuries.

        I have never heard of two pedestrians being killed in a year in our city before, let alone two in the same business district, the same week.

        Yes, IMO, Covid has changed things…

        1. Dennis Szilak

          Hmmm. I had twins, one front seat & other rear; with a toddler in a back carrier; would cross Clark St. Chicago into the Park.

      7. Ed S.

        I’m in a mountain town and the level of craziness (and/or just outright stupidity) in much higher than a few years ago. Case in point: driving on a partially snow and ice covered 2 lane highway with some blowing snow – speed limit is 55. I’m going 45-50 in a AWD Subaru and following a pickup with plenty of distance between us. Up from behind comes an Audi SUV; tailgates for maybe 1/4 mile then passes both me and the pickup across double yellow lines and accelerates to about 80.

        Did I mention that this was a 2 lane, partially snow and ice covered road with limited visibility?

        Overall much more speeding (and I’m not a slow driver) particularly in unsafe conditions. More crazy lane changes on the highway (across 4 lanes to get to an exit). More illegal turns and passing. Definitely more light running and stop sign rolling. And cars are really fast and handle exceptionally well today so people can simply drive much faster.

        1. Ed S.

          And as a follow on to “cars are much faster” – a new V6 Toyota Camry will do 0-60 in 5.8 seconds with a top speed of 135 (per Car and Driver). That’s faster acceleration and only slightly lower top speed than the “Magnum PI” Ferrari 308 from about 35 years ago.

          A Tesla Model S “Plaid” edition will do 0 to 60 in 2 seconds and top out at 200 mph . Insane.

          Most cars are “more” car than most drivers can handle.

        2. cnchal

          > And cars are really fast and handle exceptionally well today so people can simply drive much faster.

          What is sold as safety, the electronic nanny in the dash that saves the driver’s ass is used for speed. Whocoodanode? Audi’s are special and so are their drivers.

          Coming soon to a freeway near you, a nearly five ton 1000 HP Hummer with brain damage Brandon at the wheel. Up next, the 1500 HP SUV at seven tons 0 to 60 MPH in 1.8 seconds and an optional upgrade to 2000 HP to knock another tenth off that time. Perhaps when we see 2500 HP SUVs the insanity limit will be reached, but someone will want 4000 HP because moar is never enough.

    1. Adam

      Chicago report. I semi regularly now drive to O’Hare airport for business trips from the far northwest suburbs and noticed that many drivers are now frequently exceeding 100mph including occasional cars racing significantly above this. I haven’t seen any police.

      On the positive side there’s now a giant billboard by the airport from a Hasidic group telling me the Messiah has returned in the form of their Rabbi. :-)

      1. OwlishSprite

        Um, I didn’t think Jews believed in the Messiah (also called Jesus). Is this like the Dalai Lama?

        1. Daniil Adamov

          IIRC, they do believe in the Moshiach (or a lot of them do). They don’t think he’s called Jesus or has arrived yet (well, most don’t think he has…). Quite a few claimants have stepped up over the centuries, though.

        1. petal

          I heard someone floor it late last night as soon as they got through the light. Never ends. I figure it is a matter of time before someone is going to flip, hit a tree or a house, person, post, or another car. I keep a first aid kit handy just in case.

  11. Louis Fyne

    —It’s been discussed all week, but this year, there were more unfilled EM spots than there have been in the previous 15 years combined.

    this is disconcerting. Next time you’re in the ER and it’s a (relatively) young doctor, she either really wanted to be in the ER or she really didn’t want to be in the ER.

    (yes, yes, I get it….the random scheduling, pay, lifestyle, emotional stress, etc)

    But in the medicine field there aren’t more (unpaid) higher callings than literally snatching people away from the jaws of the grim reaper and delivering babies.

  12. tevhatch

    My brother-in-law is in Canada right now, he says he’s seeing a lot more bumpers and other crash debris, damage curbs, broken fire hydrants, etc. that he use to see on his walks. It may be an indication of people drifting out of their lanes, and now will simply go cross country when it’s not possible to walk facing the traffic, plus he keeps a bike riders review mirror hooked onto his eyeglasses.

    1. C.O.

      Further anecdata from Canada, example Langford, BC:

      Times Colonist, 9 March 2023: ‘Near misses’ near Langford schools prompt warning to drivers: “We’ve had people shake their heads at us and say ‘No, not stopping’ and they just fly right through,” says a crossing guard.


      The other day in my westcoast town, I also saw two different pedestrians in regular crosswalks who began to step out into traffic without checking for drivers about to speed on through, understandably because they had the light up to cross. One case was at a particular crosswalk I use regularly, and it is placed on a rare long, straight stretch where a corner finally comes up. I was nearly struck by a car as a middle schooler on a similarly positioned crosswalk back in the day (not the same town), and so have an ingrained distrust of drivers under those conditions. The other pedestrian was not so wary, and not even reading on a phone or anything.

      At least the driver started laying on the horn soon enough for the woman to jump out of the way, loud enough to drown out me shouting a warning. It was a wild afternoon.

    2. Terry Flynn

      BIIIG backlog of EIIR postboxes in UK. They are being mowed down by speeding cars at markedly increased rate since lockdown but replacements are still ER not CR.

      I suspect they’ll still be installing ER ones by the time we get to WR (assuming he uses own name as regnal name, which I suspect is becoming the new norm)!

  13. some guy

    Interesting that the ornitological taxonomists still put the wood thrush in the genus Hylocichla along with the other spot-breasted thrushes like veery, hermit thrush, etc. Because I saw a very suggestive argument once that the wood thrush should really be placed in the genus Turdus along with the other robins, because it has the same body-form as the robin, and when vaguely alarmed or highly alert, it strikes the same pose as the robin does, which is different than the pose struck by all the other spotted thrushes.

    But so far, nothing has come of that argument, I suppose.

    1. Wukchumni

      The thing is, I could do that if the girders were a few feet above the ground, but hundreds of feet worth of drop changes the whole equation, and i’d freak out.

  14. some guy

    About Biden lying about why he has defended ESG rule against Republican legislation . . . perhaps he is not lying. Perhaps his brain-mind has somewhat de-laminated into separate free-spinning modules which communicate with the outer world through his brain’s speech center at different times. Perhaps the particular brain-mind module which vetoed this legislation is telling the truth about why ” it ” instructed Mr. Biden to veto it.

  15. Judith

    Three drivers and two Canada geese all cut me off yesterday; nobody seemed to be looking but everyone was moving slowly, so it was not a problem.

    But then I was stopped at a red light and an immature red-tailed hawk was across the intersection in the middle of the road eating road kill. The light turned green and I drove very slowly trying to drive around the hawk and it just kept eating. Finally, it flew off when my car was right next to it. Hopefully, the hawk has learned what a car is.

      1. ambrit

        We had a nesting pair in our front yard certain times of the year down on the Gulf Coast. Bloody big birds, and loud. The locals all listened for the distinctive Two Tap that would identify an Ivory Billed Woodpecker, (the fabled supposedly extinct bird.)

      2. Nikkikat

        Oh, I love the pileated woodpeckers! To me one of the most awesome birds in the US. I have a pair in woods behind my house. They some times visit for a little suet.

        1. OwlishSprite

          I have seen them take apart a huge dead pine tree in no time flat. I do appreciate they eat a lot of invasive grubs.

  16. jsn

    Area under the curve is simpler than you’re imagining.

    Each point on the curve is the top of a stack of points under it totaling the value for that day: each successive day adds another point along the curve and a stack of points below it supporting the value of that top point: the cumulative total of the points below the points along the line (including those points) is the area under the line.

    The chart as drawn, no conversion necessary, has an “area below the curve”, the curve being the daily totals, the area under the curve being the running total.

    Or maybe I misunderstood your question.

    1. chris

      I think that’s what he wanted to know. As far as calculation of the area under the curve, the simplest way for that kind of data where you have discrete points over a domain is to use the trapezoidal rule. You’ll get some error but for a regular time series like that it won’t be bad.

      1. Terry Flynn

        You’ll get some error but for a regular time series like that it won’t be bad.

        Indeed. A running/moving average is a way to check if you’re “over simplifying” by doing what Lambert did. Just eyeballing the raw data I can tell that what Lambert did is mostly fine. (the first box *might* be a little misleading – but I doubt by much) but I’m too weary to try to check it formally but overall it passes the sniff test.

  17. wendigo

    Quote from a local police chief

    ” I am seeing a lot of behavior in general that we didn’t see before the pandemic. I don’t want to lay it all on the pandemic, but there’s a lot of anxiety, there’s a lot of anger out in the community and I think it manifests itself, you know through crime rates, through traffic. ”

    He went on to say he couldn’t think of anything else that would impact the number of crashes and fatalities.

    To me it does seem people are driving more aggressively, which is subjective. But crime and accident rates are up from before covid.

    1. petal

      wendigo, good point. Driving is one of the few things people have control over. It’s the outlet for all of that pent-up stress and anger, etc.

      1. BlakeFelix

        Maybe a police chief can’t think of anything besides anxiety and anger that could impair brain function, but I can…

    2. JustAnotherVolunteer

      Also a sharp rise in folk using “intoxicants” and driving in my blue town. Several wrong way accidents in the last couple of months were tied to meth use. Legal pot also has some effect – mostly very slow/erratic driving in those cases which leads to bad behavior from the impatient behind them. I’m very careful entering intersections these days – which I’m sure enrages some as well.

    3. some guy

      I’ve lived till now without driving or having a car, and this makes me think I will keep right on not driving or having a car.

      1. earthling

        Did you miss all the ‘pedestrians killed in crosswalks’ anecdotes? Be careful out there!

      2. Martin Oline

        I have gone two years without one. I called a guy yesterday who was selling a car and while speaking to me he was almost hit by a careless driver. Makes me stop and reconsider whether I want one.

  18. fresno dan

    “Before His Death, I Asked the Manhattan D.A. What His Greatest Fear Was. He Answered: ‘Trump.’” [New York Times].
    • So, Morgenthau would approve indicting Trump because Trump is a Bad Guy? Because that seems to be the moral of this story (and the operational definition of “integrity”). The whole piece is worth a read for the backstory.
    Not being a NYT subscriber, I can’t say for sure, but it seems from the synopsis to me Morgenthau gets treated much better than another (special) prosecutor. Must be rooting for the home town guy….
    Which seems kind of churlish, as Morgenthau had how many decades?

  19. Reader_In_Cali

    It seems Lambert was certainly on to something when he said a few days ago that Elon, via his never ending rounds of layoffs at Twitter, was “taking one for the team” by leading the way for his billionaire class mates in destroying the labor aristocracy in tech: Amazon cutting another huge tranche of jobs

    Oof. Getting real ugly out there.

    1. Questa Nota

      How many people actually learned how to code?
      Use them for discussion as a proxy for the workforces of many FAANG and similar companies. That could lead one to anticipate widespread employment devastation through the rest of the economy as more AI takes hold. Some bleeding edge.
      Now find a job that is less likely to be outsourced, automated or crapified. What will be left? At some point even haircuts will probably have some robot scissorhands action.

      1. Ranger Rick

        The flipside of remote work was bosses finding out just how much they could get away with outsourcing. If I remember my headlines right, Facebook led the charge by adjusting peoples’ salaries depending on where they lived versus where their ostensible “office” was.

  20. edwin

    re: COVID 19 wastewater:


    Ontario is a large physical area. It takes 3 days to drive across it. Like most of Canada the population hugs the border between the US and Canada.

    I live in the “South West: Chatham-Kent Public Health; Grey Bruce Health Unit; Huron Perth Public Health; Lambton Public Health; Middlesex-London Health Unit; Southwestern Public Health; and Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.” Grey Bruce to be exact.

    The heart of this area is London. This entire area represents a medical area, not an economic area. People don’t go to London as a normal thing. At just over 2 hrs, Toronto is the big city for things that can’t be found closer. When my local hospital can’t hack it, you get sent to London. It is 3 hrs away. Windsor is 5. If you can swing it, you arrange to be sent to Toronto for serious medical problems even though London is the region we are in. Saving 2 hrs of driving while sick makes a big difference. There is no connection in COVID rates between Grey Bruce and London let alone Windsor. Toronto would be more useful, though not a whole lot.

    The graph is worse than nothing at all for me. Any signal that may be local has been completely overwhelmed by much larger urban areas like London or Windsor who did not have the same pattern but a much higher intensity of infection. Similarly, the inclusion of data from our area only adds a small amount of noise and slightly degrades accuracy. It helps to probably consistently provides an under-estimate of the true rate. During the time that covid numbers were actually reported locally we did significantly better than the large urban centres to our south.

    I have no idea how to access the local waste water numbers before some nameless bureaucrat gets a hold of them and makes them worse than nothing at all, all in the name of public health. And people wonder why the medical establishment is not trusted.

    If someone actually can find the waste water numbers for Meaford, please post.

    1. Will

      Last year I thought to set something up for myself when it was announced Ontario’s original Covid dashboard would be discontinued. I figured it wouldn’t be too difficult given the government’s open data portal. I was wrong and gave up because while some searching online got my around this (intentional?) obstacle, it was too much work for me to do on my own.

      Problems I encountered were:

      1. Ministry of Health was not tasked with collecting and compiling waste water data. It was the Ministry of Natural Resources and Water Management or something like that. And they are definitely not making that info public except what you see in the current waste water map.

      2. However, at least as of last summer, it was the local Public Health Units (PHUs) collecting and reporting the data to the province since that’s how the system was originally established. So I could get more granular data from some PHUs that decided to publish online but it varied by PHU.

      3. Many (all?) PHUs seem to have partnered with local colleges and universities to do the actual work of sampling and testing. So, where a PHU website wasn’t helpful, a school’s website, if you dug around to find the faculty or department subdomain, was sometimes better. Hit and miss, and variance on how published.

      4. Boundaries of PHUs do not necessarily line up with the boundary of a sewage basin(?), so there was some extra work needed but I can’t remember what. Also, a single system might not cover an entire municipality.

      In any event, if you’re curious about your local numbers, I’d start with 2 above and find the website of your local PHU. If they aren’t hosting anything more relevant, try searching for announcements between the PHU and local schools or a local story about the university’s wastewater monitoring. Then it’s a matter of finding, if it exists, the school’s webpage publishing the data. Finally, be sure that the data actually covers your house. As mentioned above, the borders of a PHU and sewage systems don’t necessarily line up.

      Good luck!

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Heaven forfend that Federalism (or subsidiarity) should lead each level of government to aggregate data from levels beneath them (or from the ground or rather the waste-pipe).

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Any signal that may be local has been completely overwhelmed by much larger urban areas like London or Windsor who did not have the same pattern but a much higher intensity of infection.

      I went check the CDC wastewater site just to see if it was still half greyed out, but naturally it was down. The United States is such an unserious country.

      It is true that I have tended to assume that state or provincial sites (dashboards or wastewater) are useful aggregators, but it’s not so (nor is the CDC, see above). Just thinking in terms for formatting, I’d need to think about how to handle multiple localities in Ontario (or California, for that matter). Looks like Doug Ford and Ron DeSantis are birds of a feather….

  21. Laughingsong

    “I’m not a driver. Can any readers provide similar anecdotes?”

    Too many to list, including stuff I’ve done, and AFAIK, I never got COVID…of course there’s a chance that I did have an asymptomatic infection. But I think I won’t be going on any road trips anymore …

  22. Tom Stone

    Then other day Chris asked about blood cancers.
    I have been diagnosed with “Waldstrom’s” disease which fewer than 2,000 people are diagnosed with per year in the USA.

    1. Buzz Meeks

      My father and his sister both had Waldenstroms. My sincere best wishes to you. I moved home to help take care of my father his last two years.
      Good luck.

  23. Tom Stone

    Sonoma County has been a center of the creative driving movement for decades, but it does seem to be getting extreme.
    Left turn from a right turn lane on a red light was a recent near winner of a Darwin.

    And speaking of extreme, hasn’t Brandon become increasingly provocative and reckless over time?
    Arresting Trump now…
    Idiocy, malevolence or both?

  24. Ranger Rick

    re: the man/machine merge

    Leaving aside the bizarre religious fervor with which technologists believe AI will happen, since the first time a human scratched something in the dirt we have engaged in what cognitive science calls “external cognition” — thinking that is handled by other means besides what’s between our ears. The list of inventions that humans use to make decisions on our behalf, perform calculations, or augment our memories is long and growing longer. With respect to the ongoing societal adjustment to the reality of having worldwide internet access, anecdotally at least I have heard it said that people are starting to lose the ability to distinguish between their physical and digital identities. Perhaps the man/machine merge is sooner than we think, but not in the way science fiction dreams of.

    1. OwlishSprite

      Regarding losing the ability to distinguish between physical and digital identities, I see a lot of people online telling others to go ‘touch grass’ these days. “Bizarre religious fervor” yes! I wish these tech bros would figure out already how to live with their brains in a jar hooked up to whatever circuits they crave and leave the rest of the world alone to enjoy what’s left of Nature.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Some of those Silicon Valley billionaires seem to be suffering from Peter Pan syndrome. They are afraid of ageing – and dying – so seek any possible solution from being transfused with the blood of young people to wanting to have their consciousness uploaded to a machine. It may disturb them that even with all their billions that they too will be dead and I think that as a class, that this frightens them and so want to hang onto their youth by getting plastic surgery, living extravagant lifestyles, having younger partners, etc. But it is the idea of a man/machine merge that really has their hopes up. No word if you can upload a soul as well.

      1. OwlishSprite

        Martine Rothblatt. Yikes.

        I do believe “she” thinks there is a way to capture the elusive Spirit in a robot cage. Personally I can’t think of any way you can miss the point of being human on Earth more completely.

      2. Sean gorman

        My only response to ‘uploaded consciousness ” is to note my emotional state is often affected by my diet.

      3. digi_owl

        Hardly limited to tech billionaires, but they are perhaps the most flagrant about it.

        Just look at the amount of Hollywood output that is nostalgia driven these days.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > cognitive science calls “external cognition” — thinking that is handled by other means besides what’s between our ears.

      What Marshall McLuhan called “extension and amputation.”

      One might also urge that all cognition is external, according to that definition. Being animist-adjacent, tht makes a lot of sense to me. I don’t think an isolated brain with no “external” input or proprioception would remain sane for long (suggesting that, in fact, there is no “external”).

      I don’t know if there are any commenters who have read Frank Herbert’s Destination: Void, but it bears on a lot of these ideas, not necessarily coherently. (I think there are two editions running around, the later one “better written” but worse as science fiction.)

  25. Jeremy Grimm

    A little update of sorts on an issue of past concern.

    As of January 2023, Biden appointees hold five of the nine seats on the Board of Governors of the United States Postal Service. There is one seat filled by a Trump appointee who is currently in his holdover year. He will continue to serve under his current appointment until December 8, 2023, unless he or a successor is nominated. The next session of the Board will be in May, according to the tentative meeting schedule on the USPS website: https://about.usps.com/who/leadership/board-governors/

    I sent letters to my Congressmen and Senators and to President Biden begging that the USPS be saved. I wrote that if the USPS is privatized — one of the oldest most venerable services of the u.s. government little will remain of America. The only response I received was a letter from President Biden [a staff member] stating Biden’s support for the USPS.

    Louis DeJoy is still Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer of the USPS.

    1. OwlishSprite

      I did the same letter writing begging about getting rid of DeJoy. I no longer write letters to these people. Bernie scolded me thoroughly for thinking sending billions to Ukie was a bad idea at the very beginning. The world has finally passed me by and dumped dust in my face, so I put my energy elsewhere these days.

  26. Watt4Bob

    All that talk about Chicago and the Mississippi and no mention of the most interesting part of the story.

    Chicago is very flat and the Chicago river used to run into Lake Michigan. This led to a problem with getting sewage to flow, and since it ended up going into the lake, the city had a disgusting lake front, and frequent cholera outbreaks.

    The city fathers developed a plan which raised the city by jacking up the buildings to allow for proper drainage, but it still drained into the lake, so there was obviously a problem with sanitary drinking water. (There still buildings downtown that have their original first floors, below ground level now.)

    Around the turn of the last century Chicago executed a massive project that reversed the flow of the Chicago River, from going into the lake, to flowing through a canal that connected it to the Des Plains River, and from there to the Mississippi.

    This is the reason Chicago has a beautiful, clean lake shore, and safe water today.

    A friend of the family works the lock that separates the river from the lake.

    1. upstater

      The are supposed to be electric grates at the locks you mention to keep invasive Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes. The carp were used in catfish ponds in the Mississippi Delta to control weeds. The Great Lakes, of course, have many invasives without getting 4 foot leaping carp.

  27. OwlishSprite

    I stopped accepting rides during Covid, and don’t need them anymore. But I do have other complaints.
    I am no longer a driver either. I do ride an ebike and I have to plan my times on the road to avoid the crazy times: M-Sat 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. commuters and delivery trucks, Fri-Sat afternoon and evening drunk drivers. If I do laundry, Sunday morning by 7:30 a.m. before 8 a.m. Mass. People are scary behind the wheel these days. There was an effort by the town to make the speed limit in town 25, down from 30, and you’d think their guns were being taken away. I got hate messages on the local Front Porch Forum for pointing out I had every right to be on the road, and it’s not my fault there are no shoulders. I touch base with my Angels every time I set out. (Central VT) Otherwise, I love my bike! :-)

    1. herman_sampson

      I’m sure no driver wants to be reminded that driving is a privilege (in Indiana) and that bicycles and other non-motorized means of transport have a right to the road. Also, stay off the shoulder – take the whole lane if you need to, you have the right. (I know, flirting with the pearly gates, but you have to be assertive, not aggressive, to ride a bike.) Might be time for a Critical Mass action.

          1. OwlishSprite

            We have this. Once a year, an event called ‘Human-Powered Parade’ happens through the town with people on bicycles and bike-powered floats with a party and awards for the kids and floats at the end. It’s a lot of fun, but not any kind of protest, more of an awareness-raising and supportive event.

      1. OwlishSprite

        I hear you about being assertive, but drivers here come hardwired with so many pre-conceptions and prejudices about the kind of people who ride bicycles that I just roll with that, and because I am flexible, avoid busy times as much as possible. I never expect any guy in a pickup to realize any more this is a necessity for me and I’m not just throwing a middle finger up to their lifestyle.

  28. JTMcPhee

    About the Florida COVID data reporting, particularly the link given, that is only about St. Augustine and stopped updating in August 2021.

    DeSantis regime is all about the two rules of neoliberalism, no statewide reporting of data and of course pretty much ZERO public health activity. Many local govt web sites offering advice are still focusing on cleaning surfaces, washing hands, occasional recommendations to “wear a mask” (unspecified) and nothing on improving ventilation..

    Various cities in FL got lots of federal grant money, as did the state, to establish data collection, tracking and reporting. As of mid-last year, it appears very little of it went to and is going to public health. Here’s a long article from the Tampa Bay Times, our paper of record, laying out the history and fairly current status: https://www.tampabay.com/news/health/2022/05/05/tracking-covid-in-wastewater-is-the-future-but-not-in-florida/

    So there really does not appear to be a dashboard or data collection and reporting resource state-wide. The Pinellas County health department site looks to have last updated in August 2021. https://www.tampabay.com/news/health/2022/05/05/tracking-covid-in-wastewater-is-the-future-but-not-in-florida/ Orange County appears to have an active wastewater tracking, but other than comparing reported current numbers of genetic hits to a maximum observed number from a couple of years ago, no way to determine personal risk or any of that idiocy. https://orangecountyfl.net/WaterGarbageRecycling/WastewaterSampling.aspx#.ZBj3uS8pAgo

    I’d note that St. Petersburg was known many years ago as “God’s waiting room.” Any more, there’s a lot of young people running a furious gig economy now, but the Tampa Bay Times front section, usually eight pages, now devotes four of those pages to obituaries. Memento mori.

  29. none

    There is a book about those construction workers like Albert Stalk. A very high fraction of them were Native American, who for whatever reason (upbringing or whatever) seemed to have no fear of heights. The book is “High Steel: The Daring Men Who Built the World’s Greatest Skyline” by Jim Rasenberger though I’ve read articles on the same topic from way before 2004. The book was the first search hit but I’m not gonna link Spamazon here.

    1. witters

      I don’t think it was ‘no fear of heights’ – all things being equal, no one wants to fall to their death. I reckon they were surefooted.

  30. square coats

    Lambert, here’s the wastewater links I had emailed you:

    Kansas city of Lawrence arcgis:


    Kentucky Louisville-Jefferson County wastewater:


    Missouri wastewater Sewershed Surveillance Project:


    Mississippi covid data, I don’t think they do wastewater:


    (I also had an Idaho one but I see Idaho’s been filled in now)

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I am not tracking “variant soup” in general. If a variant breaks out with greater transmissibility/morbidity/mortality, then I will worry.

      A “breakout” variant may have arisen in China or India right now, for all I know, but let’s remember we’re perfectly capable of generating our own “Kent” variant (B.1.1.7), in homeless shelters or encampments, or among the immunocompromised generally.

  31. square coats

    Re: drivers driving badly

    The situation in the tweet sounds like a perfectly average day driving in/around Boston.

    One thing I noticed early in the pandemic with lock downs etc, and I think this was reported in the news too, was a big uptick in things such as running red lights and driving much more above the speed limit, likely due to the much reduced number of drivers on the road.

    I think a compounding factor for an overall increased trend now in bad driving is worsening financial stress that more and more people are experiencing.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I think a compounding factor for an overall increased trend now in bad driving is worsening financial stress that more and more people are experiencing.

      That makes a lot of sense. I do think, however, that neurological issues are one part of the puzzle.

  32. NotTimothyGeithner

    Re: driving

    One thing I’ve noticed is people seem to only focus on the car immediately ahead of them and drive accordingly, only paying attention to a car in front of them not the relative speeds or approaching vehicles one should really see. They cant pass because they don’t notice until it’s too late..

    My car was totaled in November by a kid in a jacked up truck. When I went car shopping, it was appalling how many vehicles had atrocious visibility. Then there were gizmos to warn about vehicles in every vehicle. Maybe these are better in the long term, but I would rather see than trust a machine.

    I realized the driver of the truck probably couldn’t see me after he had the truck raised.

      1. ambrit

        It’s known as “entrainment.” We all know what has been happening with trains recently.

  33. LawnDart

    Covid has unleashed more than disease, as if that weren’t bad enough. At first I thought it was just me, but speaking with others and now having some numbers that back up these observations, we’re seeing a whole host of bad and unacceptable behaviors become suddenly commonplace.

    Theft is one of these behaviors. And I’m still trying to figure out why that is, or why so many moral compasses are now seemingly askew– is this a phenomena limited to the United States, or is this happening elsewhere as well?

    In the course of writing a short article that few will read, only yesterday I spoke with the Maintenance Manager of a largish steel manufacturer in the Midwest with regards to practices by contractors and subcontractors to inflate charges or to otherwise pad the bills. He agreed that this recently, since covid, seems to have become the norm.

    Some of what we are seeing:
    •Charging for unnecessary travel
    •Grossly inflated parts pricing
    •Parts-changing (vs. actual troubleshooting and diagnosis) to boost labor hours and charges for parts
    •Outright lying about work needed and the time that it will take to complete the work
    •Intentionally damaging equipment in order to get paid for repairing it

    Just like shady auto mechanics in the car-repair biz, there has always been some of this in the manufacturing industry, just never to the degree or as prevalent as is has become since 2020.

    But this callousness can also create physical hazards as well, and is part of the reason that I’ve been on an extended sabbatical from industrial maintenance since 2021 and am unlikely to focus on repair work ever again: the risk of horrific or lethal injury due to negligence is great, and rising– I’ve personally faced those risks too often, and electrocution or hydraulic injection don’t have much appeal to me.

    Why is there now such a blatant, obvious disregard for the rights and well-being of others?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Just like shady auto mechanics in the car-repair biz, there has always been some of this in the manufacturing industry, just never to the degree or as prevalent as is has become since 2020.

      I don’t know what the proxies for this “norm shift” (see 2021, “vibe shift“). More than telling anecdotes, I mean (of which there are rather a lot; post-Covid, I set store by anecdotes, since so often they were harbingers when official data was not).

      Perhaps you could send me a link to your article when it is published? Thanks!

    1. ambrit

      As someone who lives in Mississippi, I must wonder why you make this assertion. When the Truly Great Madrid Earthquake happens, we here Down South fully expect Lake Michigan to extend on down to Memphis. Imagine all of the beneficial effects an inland freshwater sea would have on the Midwest!

      1. Terry Flynn

        Err I am simply linking to a video that explains why the US environmental agencies say linking the Mississippi basin rivers to the Great lakes would be an environmental disaster.

        Rather than attacking me, could you perhaps offer counter arguments to those made in the video illustrating environmental policies? Or offer a link to a cost-benefit analysis of such a link up? Thanks.

  34. thoughtfulperson

    I was really impressed with the covid round up in this water cooler. Long covid in particular, and the ever increasing ways covid affects so many organs, most importantly the brain.

    Ventilation, air filtration and of course masking so important!

    However we are living within a society and world where the virus is running the show, running rampant and unchecked. Only plus at this point is deaths look to be down, but look at reported infections! Either asymptomatic is way higher, or, we are ina state of extreme denial. Which is in the viruses interest! It’s like toxoplasmosis etc that affect the host. The goal being zombie apocalypse lol

  35. JBird4049

    Our Famously Free Press

    Fooled me:

    Why do we even need poor people? pic.twitter.com/6CRbyZHAXc

    — The Atlarntic (@TheAtlarntic) March 18, 2023

    Ha ha, only serious. See discussion of AGI.

    I am sure that it is surprising that this account has now been suspended by Twitter.

    I am also sure that we should not give out dis or misinformation, but it is nice to know that our delicate minds are being protected. Right? /s

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