2:00PM Water Cooler 3/23/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Wood Thrush, Sleepy Creek WMA, Sleepy Creek road 0.5 miles west of ranger station, Berkeley, West Virginia, United States. “An adult male Wood Thrush singing in the distance from a perch in the lower canopy of the forest.”

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“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

“White House disbanding its covid-19 team in May” [WaPo]. “But Deborah Birx, who served as the nation’s first coronavirus coordinator, suggested that too few anti-pandemic mechanisms have been put in place to justify winding down the team. She said the administration has missed opportunities to improve the monitoring of virus data, invest in the development of more durable vaccines and take other steps that Biden vowed to accomplish in his sweeping covid plan. ‘It’s not too early [to disband] if we had used the last two years to build all of these systems that we needed — but we haven’t,’ Birx said. She also lamented the public’s reduced attention to covid’s risks, noting that the virus’s evolution has allowed it to evade some treatments and left immunocompromised Americans with fewer protections. ‘No one is even talking about that vulnerable Americans are more vulnerable today than they were a year ago,’ Birx said.” • Of course, creatures like Wachter also have their say, higher up in the text.


Interesting sequence here: Daily Mail from Spectator from FOX, which FOX being most precise:

“‘They tell us to be peaceful!’: Trump issues ANOTHER threat and tells ‘Soros-backed animal’ Alvin Bragg to drop the Stormy Daniels case – as grand jury is canceled for the rest of the week and questions grow about looming indictment” [Daily Mail]. “It remains unclear why the grand jury is not reconvening for the rest of the week amid reports that the panel needs to hear from a final witness before levying a judgment. One source told DailyMail.com: ‘They are having trouble convincing the jury to swallow the case. It’s a weak case and has caused divisions in the DA’s office.’ … [B]ombshell new documents obtained by DailyMail.com show that Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen claimed in a 2018 letter that he was not reimbursed by his client or his businesses for the hush money payments to Daniels. The letter to federal authorities could throw a wrench in the works for prosecutors looking to pursue criminal charges against Trump for the payment.” • More on the Cohen letter–

“Has Alvin Bragg bungled his case against Trump?” [The Spectator]. “[W]hen a prosecutor conceals exculpatory evidence from a Grand Jury or defense attorneys he is guilty of prosecutorial abuse. He is said to have concealed ‘Brady material,’ after the landmark 1963 Supreme Court (aren’t they all ‘landmark’?) Brady v. Maryland which stipulates that prosecutors must hand over such material. In his eagerness to Get Trump (the popular new reality TV show), Bragg appears to have kept back material from the Grand Jury from which he was attempting to wrest an indictment of the former president. Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, had testified that the payment he made to porn blip (no star, surely) ‘Stormy Daniels’ was really a campaign contribution because it was intended to save Trump and his campaign from embarrassment. Earlier, he had testified that, no, it shouldn’t count as a campaign contribution because it was intended to save Melania, Trump’s wife, from embarrassment over a false accusation. Cohen’s own former lawyer, Robert Costello threw a wrench into Cohen’s new testimony. ‘While testifying for over two hours, Costello said he realized that Bragg had been hiding from the grand jury nearly all of the files he had previously turned over to the DA that corroborated Cohen’s original story,’ Fox News’s Gregg Jarrett writes.”

“The sudden turn of events that could derail Trump’s indictment” [Gregg Jarrett, FOX]. Marked “Opinion.” “The indictment appears to hinge on the DA’s argument that a 2016 payment made to porn star Stormy Daniels was intended to help Trump’s presidential bid and should have been accounted for as a campaign contribution, not legal fees, when he reimbursed his then-lawyer, Michael Cohen, who paid Daniels to keep her mouth shut about a purported 2006 affair that Trump vigorously denies…. The flaw in Bragg’s tortured logic is two-fold. First, non-disclosure agreements in exchange for money are perfectly legal. Second, Cohen long ago stated that the payment had nothing to do with the campaign but was made to protect Melania Trump from an embarrassing, albeit false, accusation. As such, it is not an illegal campaign donation under the law. Hence there is no crime. It appears that Bragg’s star witness is none other than Cohen who has performed an astonishing pirouette by recanting his earlier statements. …. In a sudden turn of events, Cohen’s former attorney Robert Costello — no longer bound by the attorney-client privilege that was waived by his ex-client — testified before the grand jury on Monday. According to Costello, in April 2018, Cohen repeatedly stated that the Daniels payment was intended to protect the candidate’s wife, not the campaign. Moreover, Cohen insisted that he acted all on his own and not at the behest of Trump. While testifying for over two hours, Costello said he realized that Bragg had been hiding from the grand jury nearly all of the files he had previously turned over to the DA that corroborated Cohen’s original story. Concealing exculpatory evidence from a grand jury is reprehensible conduct.” • Finally, some clear exposition. And from FOX….

“Trump can run for president from prison. Just ask Eugene Debs” [Vox]. “Debs ran for president five times for the Socialist Party in the early 20th century, and was a dedicated union leader who helped organize his fellow railway workers into the first major railroad union in the United States. (It was eventually crushed, and he was jailed in the aftermath of the Pullman Strike of 1894.) Debs also was a dedicated opponent of US entry into World War I, convicted of sedition in 1918 and jailed for speaking out against the war. And, from the Atlanta federal prison, he ran for president in 1920 and received over 3 percent of the national vote, with almost a million votes cast for him as Convict No. 9653. Debs has long been the most prominent American to run for president from prison. But if New York prosecutors have their way, former President Donald Trump may soon follow in Debs’s footsteps, and finally give the ideologically committed socialist and the politically transactional real estate mogul something in common. The unlikely comparison between Trump and Debs shows how unprecedented Trump’s indictment is in American politics.”

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“The Next U.S. Presidential Election will be a Battle Over Pandemic Memory” [Time]. “As we enter a new phase of the pandemic, one centered on how to remember, we might look towards the past. Reeling from World War I and the devastating impact of the 1918 influenza pandemic, Ohio’s Republican Senator Warren G. Harding spoke before the Home Market Club of Boston on May 14th, 1920, in what became a hallmark speech, ‘Back to Normal.’ His speech is credited as helping him win a convincing victory in the Presidential Election in November 1920 over Democratic candidate James Cox (Harding won 60% of the popular vote). ‘Poise has been disturbed, and nerves have been wracked, and fever has rendered men irrational,’ Harding began. ‘America’s present need,; he urged, ‘is not heroics, but healing; not nostrums, but normalcy; not revolution, but restoration; not agitation, but adjustment; not surgery, but serenity.’ Taking aim squarely at former president Woodrow Wilson’s progressive foreign and domestic policies, and set against the context of race riots in Chicago, strikes in the steel and meat packing industries, and controversial attempts by local authorities to ban public gatherings and institute mask mandates to curb the flu pandemic, Harding jabbed that ‘the world needs to be reminded that all human ills are not curable by legislation.’ ‘Let’s get out of the fevered delirium,’ Harding concluded, and head towards the ‘normal forward stride of the American people.'” • Interesting 1918 context, indeed (and Wilson was a horrid President; see on Eugene Debs above). Still, whatever DeSantis may be, he can’t deliver Harding’s “Morning again in America”-type “normalcy” speech. Nor can Trump. Maybe Youngkin, who isn’t as sharp-edged, with proper coaching from an excellent staff. But if anyone can, it’s….. Biden (and certainly not Buttigieg, Pritzker, Adams, Warnock, Newsome. None of them have the gravitas),

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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“Sinema Trashes Dems: ‘Old Dudes Eating Jell-O'” [Politico]. • And though Sinema is wrong, wrong, wrong in so many ways, she’s not wrong about that, is she?

Realignment and Legitimacy

Classes are not aggregates:

“From Georgetown to Langley: The Controversial Connection Between a Prestigious University and the CIA” [Mint Press]. “f you have ever wondered, ‘where do America’s spies come from?’ the answer is quite possibly the Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS) at Georgetown University. It is only a modestly-seized institution, yet the school provides the backbone for the Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Defense, State Department, and other organs of the national security state…. [W]ith more than two dozen ex-CIA officials among its teaching staff, the school tailors its courses towards producing the next generation of analysts, assassins, coup-plotters and economic hitmen, fast-tracking graduates into the upper echelons of the national security state. The CIA has also quietly funded the SFS, as journalist Will Sommer revealed. The agency, based in Langley, VA, secretly donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund the department’s work, despite Georgetown insisting on its website that this money came from anonymous donations from individuals.” • That’s quite a lead. Good to know.


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

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

• Readers, thanks for the push. We are now up to 47/50 states (94%). 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 (dashboard; wastewater, Lawrence); KY (dashboard, Louisville); LA (dashboard); MA (wastewater); MD (dashboard); ME (dashboard); MI (wastewater; wastewater); MN (dashboard); MO (wastewater); MS (dashboard); 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, KatieBird, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, otisyves, Petal (5), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (11), 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 47/50 (94% of US states).

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Look for the Helpers

Simpler than Wachter’s algorithm, that’s for sure (23 steps, was it?):

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“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:

Scientific Communication

This strikes me as a useful takedown of “hybrid immnunity”:


However, this does involve what looks to me like statistical reasoning, so if readers would be good enough to check?


“‘I can’t cope with multiple inputs’: a qualitative study of the lived experience of ‘brain fog’ after COVID-19” [BMJ]. 50 participants, 42 female, 32 white British. “This study focused on patients’ lived experiences with no objective examination. However, their descriptions often related to specific domains of cognitive function—particularly, executive function, attention, memory and language, with most describing difficulties across all of these domains. Participants described problems with planning, decision-making, flexibility and working memory, which concorded with executive function cognitive processes (quote 2), while impairments in complex attention included difficulties with selective, sustained attention, divided attention and processing speed (quote 3), and long-term memory impairments were experienced with free recall, cued recall and procedural memory (quote 4). Language deficits varied between individuals, including difficulties with word finding and fluency, syntax, reading comprehension and writing (quote 5).” • From 2022, still germane.

“Kashyap Patel, MD, Sees Link Between COVID-19 and Cancer Progression, Calls for More Biomarker Testing” [American Journal of Managed Care]. “Kashyap Patel, MD, CEO of Carolina Blood and Cancer Care Associates, sees something different in his practice since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic—not just with cancer care, but with cancer itself. Since March 2020, the longtime community oncologist has seen multiple patients in his Rock Hill, South Carolina, based-clinic with cholangiocarcinoma, and these patients are developing the rare cancer 20 to 30 years earlier than the typical age at presentation, which is usually 65 years or older.1 In the past year alone, physicians in Patel’s practice saw 7 patients with this cancer, and 3 have died…. ‘The trend is getting more and more alarming,’ Patel emphasized. ‘We are noticing trends in hematological malignancies, breast cancer, colorectal carcinoma, and pancreatic cancer.’ … With COVID-19 added to the mix, Patel now fears a ‘perfect storm; of factors will trigger inflammatory responses in some patients, causing cancer to arrive years earlier than normal and making it deadlier once it is diagnosed. ‘If you go back and look at the post–COVID[-19] recovery phase—we are coming out of almost like a hibernation—a lot of people don’t know how to deal with the stress,’ Patel said. ‘Combined with the obesity pandemic, people didn’t exercise a lot with the fear of going out in the pandemic, and the alcohol intake has increased. All of this descends down on inflammation, and I think it’s creating a perfect storm between [these] risk factors, and we need to learn how to deal with that.'” • Hmm. I grant this is anecdotal. But I’ve heard similar anecdotes elsewhere. Of course, if your goal is profit, cancer — and, in fact, inflammation generally (hmmm) — is A Good Thing.

Science Is Popping

“Lingering SARS-CoV-2 in Gastric and Gallbladder Tissues of Patients with Previous COVID-19 Infection Undergoing Bariatric Surgery” [Obesity Surgery]. n = 80. From the Abstract: “Gastric and gallbladder tissues can retain SARS-CoV-2 particles for a long time after COVID-19 infection, handling stomach specimens from patients during an operation must be done with care, as we usually do, but now with the knowledge that in 1/3 of patients they can be present.” • So if SARS-CoV-2 lingers in the tissues… What about transplants? Does this matter? Is anybody checking?

“SARS-CoV-2 infects human adult donor eyes and hESC-derived ocular epithelium” [Cell]. • The headline says it. Again, what about SARS-CoV-2 and transplants?

Elite Malfeasance

“The Times Switches to C.D.C. Covid Data, Ending Daily Collection” [New York Times]. “Since nearly the beginning of the pandemic, The Times has been collecting and standardizing Covid data from hundreds of state and local sources. The C.D.C. now has a similar process: The agency collects data from hospitals, counties and states, and then it standardizes and reports the data to the public. While Covid still kills thousands across the United States every week [ho hum], the data from state and local sources is reported less frequently and less reliably. The comprehensive real-time reporting that The Times has prioritized is no longer possible.” • Doesn’t this argue that CDC will soon be shut down too? And guess what our newspaper of record decided to use for country data? Community level or transmission? That’s right:

Community Level (“the Green Map”). As I wrote in “New Biden BA.5 “Plan” Openly Abandons Metrics for Preventing Infection, Butchers Mask and Ventilation Policy“:

[T]he Administration is recommending CDC’s Community Levels metric. Community Levels combines a leading indicator (cases) with a lagging one (hospitalization). The lag between infection and hospitalization can be as much as two weeks. Therefore, by the time Community Levels kicks in, infection in the community could already be high (important given that Covid exhibits doubling behavior. The CDC does have a map of transmission only (and explictly discourages dull normals like you from using it). That map has been solid red (dangerous) for a long, long time. However, CDC’s Community levels map, gamed as it is, has been green (safe) also for a long, long time. Eric Topol described CDC’s game-playing with metrics back in May, 2022

[INTERVIEWER: ] But you look at the CDC’s [Community Levels] map, it shows the country where there’s a few hot spots, the orange up in New York and some yellow up in Minnesota and Michigan, but the rest of the country looks green, as if it — there isn’t a problem with this virus. What is the disconnect there?

[TOPOL: ] Well, I have called it a capitulation.

That is, the CDC is — frankly, it’s a deception, that the level of the virus is low, when the transmission is incredibly high. I mean, it’s starting to approach that of what we saw with the Omicron wave. And it’s continued — it’s rising quickly.

So this is really irresponsible of the CDC to give us this impression that things are copacetic, when they couldn’t be — that couldn’t be further from the truth.

In other words, if you follow the CDC’s Community Levels metric, you could be masking up two weeks too late. Don’t use it. Use the map of transmission only, the one that shows the real danger to you (scroll down to the red map with the “Community Transmission” dropdowns for Data Type and Map Metric. Ignore the CDC’s hectoring, immediately above the map, that “Community Transmission levels are provided for healthcare facility use only.”

Hard to know whether the editors who made this judgment are fools, authoritarian followers, or sociopathic eugenicists who are trying to keep the body count high. All three could be true, of course. Don’t make your “personal risk assessment” off Community Levels, even if the Times implies you should. Community Levels are a Torment Nexus.

“The failure to recognise the ongoing severity of COVID-19 is creating a reality gap that is being filled by groups peddling misinformation” [The John Snow Project]. “[T]he failure to recognise the ongoing severity of COVID-19 is creating a reality gap that is being filled by groups peddling misinformation. A recent film viewed by millions of people around the world falsely claims vaccines are causing the excess mortality and sudden deaths. Rather than recognising and educating the population about the well documented role of COVID-19 in cardiac and neurological damage50-53 as a consequence of vascular damage or auto-immune dysregulation, governments and policymakers have remained silent, thus allowing misinformation and disinformation to flourish. The end result, predictable and indeed predicted since almost the start of the pandemic, is that trust in vaccination as a whole is eroding, undermining the foundation of public health, beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“The Banality of VAERS” [Josh Guetzkow, Jackanapes Junction]. “In December I wrote about some FOIA’d contracts between the CDC and private contractors it hired to process the anticipated deluge of COVID-19 VAERS reports. Recall they were expecting an increase from 1,000 reports a week to 1,000 reports a day, and even that turned out to be a colossal underestimate…. Just how colossal? The same anonymous source who obtained those contracts sent me FOIA’d reports from the main contractor, General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT), to the CDC’s immunization safety office. General Dynamics is a major defense contractor, and these monthly reports read like a casualty report from a battlefield or a way to keep track of the body count.” • Hmm. I’ve always loathed VAERS. Submissions are not qualified. The coding is rotten.

* * *

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 20:

Lambert here: Note that if we look at “the area under the curve,” more people have died after Biden declared that “Covid is over” than before.

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

Covid Emergency Room Visits

NOT UPDATED From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, from March 18:

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. Notice also that this chart shows, at least for its time period, that Covid is not seasonal, even though CDC is trying to get us to believe that it is, presumably so they can piggyback on the existing institutional apparatus for injections.


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

-1.6%. Still high, but we’ve now reached a point lower than the low point of the last valley.


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,152,525 – 1,151,882 – 1,151,778 = 643 (643 * 365 = 234,695 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-learning 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.

• One more statistic to shut down or game, I suppose:

After all, what country is more about normalizing wretched excess than the United States?

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell by 1,000 from the prior week to 191,000 on the week ending March 18th, compared to expectations of 197,000. The result provided further evidence of a stubbornly tight labor market, in line with the hot payroll figures for February and the Federal Reserve’s outlook of low unemployment.” • The Fed keeps trying to turn that rubber thumbscrew….

Manufacturing: “United States Kansas Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Kansas City Fed’s Manufacturing Production index increased to 3 in March of 2023 from -9 in the previous month. It was the highest reading since last July.”

The Economy: “United States Chicago Fed National Activity Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Chicago Fed National Activity Index declined to -0.19 in February 2023 from +0.23 in January. All four broad categories of indicators used to construct the index made negative contributions, and three categories deteriorated from January.”

* * *


Hmm. Does Huawei own any towers? Could we blow them up?

Media: “Frequent TV Series Cancellations Altering Viewer Behavior, Survey Shows” [Variety]. “Frequent TV show cancellations are starting to change how U.S. viewers decide what to watch. In fact, whether or not the show has concluded has a significant impact on whether people sample it, according to a survey from YouGov. A quarter of U.S. adults wait for streaming originals’ finale before starting, citing fears over the show’s potential cancellation with an unresolved ending (27%) or because they do not want to wait for the next season after a cliffhanger (24%). Nearly half (48%) of the participants who said they prefer to wait until the series ends before starting it cited a preference for binge-watching shows.”

The Bezzle: “Coinbase Tumbles Amid SEC Storm Clouds. What It Means for Robinhood and Crypto” [Barron’s]. “Coinbase (ticker: COIN) stock fell 13% in U.S. premarket trading on Thursday following a disclosure Wednesday that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had sent the group a “Wells Notice.” This means the regulatory agency’s staff has decided to recommend an enforcement action, with Coinbase saying it believed this would target its core trading operations as well as an interest-bearing service, institutional trading solution, and custody business…. Crypto isn’t going away any time soon, and American investors are likely to look offshore should their opportunities to trade digital assets be limited in the U.S. This may only further concentrate market risk in the likes of Binance—by far the world’s largest crypto exchange—which is based offshore and not as well-regulated. The SEC and others concerned about financial stability should pick their poison.” • Yes, there will always be a marketplace for fraud.

The Bezzle: “Crypto price: Market fears crackdown amid ‘legal threats’ to Coinbase” [Independent]. “SEC Chair Gary Gensler has claimed that cryptocurrency exchanges in the US like Coinbase are operating unregistered securities exchanges and should therefore take action to register with the SEC or face legal action. ‘Although we don’t take this development lightly, we are very confident in the way we run our business – the same business we presented to the SEC in order for us to become a public company in 2021,’ Coinbase’s blog post stated. ‘We continue to think rulemaking and legislation are better tools for defining the law for our industry than enforcement actions. But if necessary, we welcome the opportunity for Coinbase and the broader crypto community to get clarity in court.'” •

The Bezzle: “The venture capitalist’s dilemma” [Molly White]. Worth a read, but this caught my eye: “But it was not the tech industry as a whole, its employees, or consumers and small businesses who were on the receiving end of the broad disdain that we saw throughout the SVB collapse. It was the financiers. We are coming to a point, I think, where the shine is wearing off. People are realizing that despite the hundreds of billions of dollars being deployed each year by venture capital firms in pursuit of “innovation”, the world doesn’t really feel hundreds of billions of dollars better off for it. For all the talk of unbridled innovation, venture capital services only very specific types of innovation: those that stand to produce large exits for investors, and with relatively low risk, regardless of whether the business itself holds much promise or provides any societal benefit.” • Yep. Why are these easily panicked herd animals in charge of capital allocation, a social function?

The Bezzle: “The Incredible Tantrum Venture Capitalists Threw Over Silicon Valley Bank” [Slate]. ” The industry is overconcetrated—enmeshed, as Geri Kirilova at venture capital firm Laconia Group puts it—and structurally drives capital into a few well-connected hands who pile it into larger funds, cut it into larger checks, and hand it off to a tightly knit network of entrepreneurs and startups. This overreliance on established actors or social networks may seem like a shortcut when you’re risk-averse or unable (and unwilling) to vet every single prospective investment, but it has at times left venture capitalists unable to weed out well-connected or charismatic charlatans. In a comprehensive case study of the VC industry, UC Davis law professor Peter Lee argues that these are structural deficits that fundamentally undercut venture capital’s ability to actually provide social utility…. To put it more plainly, for the past 10 years venture capitalists have had near-perfect laboratory conditions to create a lot of money and make the world a much better place. And yet, some of their proudest accomplishments that have attracted some of the most eye-watering sums have been: 1) chasing the dream of zeroing out labor costs while monopolizing a sector to charge the highest price possible (A.I. and the gig economy); 2) creating infrastructure for speculating on digital assets that will be used to commodify more and more of our daily lives (cryptocurrency and the metaverse); and 3) militarizing public space, or helping bolster police and military operations….. You would be hard-pressed to find another parasite that has so thoroughly wrecked the body and environment of its host, all while trying to convince the host that it is deserving of praise and further accommodation.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 37 Fear (previous close: 36 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 24 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 23 at 2:01 PM ET.

Our Famously Free Press

“Negative words in news headlines generate more clicks — but sad words are more effective than angry or scary ones” [Nieman Lab]. “News publishers, as rational economic actors, want to maximize the audience for everything they do, and there’s something about the negative lens on reality that draws eyeballs to copy. Those suspecting that last culprit find support in a new study just published in the journal Nature Human Behavio(u)r. The title says it all: ‘Negativity drives online news consumption.’… So: Add a negative word to your headline — words like harm, heartbroken, ugly, troubling, angry — and get 2.3% more clicks, on average. And adding a positive word — like benefit, laughed, pretty, favorite, kind — does the opposite and keeps people from clicking…. As Baumeister et al. put it in an oft-cited paper 20 years ago: Bad is stronger than good. … In the context of media research, this concept is often called surveillance, a term popularized by Harold Lasswell. (Not in the CIA/FBI/NSA sense of the term.) People consume news media to learn of any new threats — and to be at least somewhat comforted that the absence of alarming headlines meant the world is moving along as planned….. Perhaps the most surprising finding to me was a breakdown of the effects of different kinds of positive and negative words… Headline words associated with sadness increased clicks. Headline words associated with joy and fear reduced clicks. And headline words associated with anger had no statistically significant effect. That’s fascinating, and unexpected — both for me and for the authors, who expected anger, fear, and sadness to all increase clicks….” • Certainly worth a read. The sample is from Upworthy. And my sense is that there aren’t a lot of sad headlines around — despite the many reasons one might have thought there would be.

Zeitgeist Watch

“Toward Parsimony in Bias Research: A Proposed Common Framework of Belief-Consistent Information Processing for a Set of Biases” [Perspectives on Psychological Science]. From the Abstract: “By now, a number of different biases have been identified and empirically demonstrated. Unfortunately, however, these biases have often been examined in separate lines of research, thereby precluding the recognition of shared principles. Here we argue that several—so far mostly unrelated—biases (e.g., bias blind spot, hostile media bias, egocentric/ethnocentric bias, outcome bias) can be traced back to the combination of a fundamental prior belief and humans’ tendency toward belief-consistent information processing. What varies between different biases is essentially the specific belief that guides information processing. More importantly, we propose that different biases even share the same underlying belief and differ only in the specific outcome of information processing that is assessed (i.e., the dependent variable), thus tapping into different manifestations of the same latent information processing. In other words, we propose for discussion a model that suffices to explain several different biases. We thereby suggest a more parsimonious approach compared with current theoretical explanations of these biases.” • Handy chart:

This works for the first three, at least:

Class Warfare

“Update from CEO Andy Jassy on role eliminations” [Amazon]. From January, still germane. What a horrid example of corporate ooze: “As I shared back in November, as part of our annual planning process for 2023, leaders [oh] across the company have been working with their teams [another word I have to look at] and looking at their workforce levels, investments they want to make in the future, and prioritizing what matters most to customers and the long-term health of our businesses. This year’s review has been more difficult given the uncertain economy and that we’ve hired rapidly over the last several years [which, thanks to Elon’s good work at Twitter, we now know was a mistake]. In November, we communicated the hard decision to eliminate a number of positions across our Devices and Books businesses, and also announced a voluntary reduction offer for some employees in our People, Experience, and Technology (PXT) organization. I also shared that we weren’t done with our annual planning process and that I expected there would be more role reductions in early 2023.” • There certainly is a lot of “sharing” going on at Amazon (13 usages in 576 words).

Who knew that employment listings were a poor proxy for the labor market:

News of the Wired

“Permanent Daylight Saving Time Bill Just Made Clock Change More Annoying” [New York Magazine]. “Last year, a bold group of lawmakers blew up everything I knew about time. They informed the public that the mandatory biannual hour shift was only around 100 years old, and that we had the power to stop it. The Sunshine Protection Act, which would make daylight saving time permanent, was unanimously approved by the Senate in March 2022. People were shocked and elated. If they could just get the bill through the House, then convince President Biden to sign it, March 12, 2023, would be the last ‘spring forward.’ Well, that’s Sunday, and there’s no sign that the same old temporal malarkey will come to an end anytime soon. The bill expired at the end of the last Congress without ever getting a vote in the House.” • I hate the time change with the hatred of a million burning suns, because I photograph at the golden hour. That time is fixed, I have to rearrange everything else around it, and I don’t handle schedule changes well. Idiosyncratic motives, I know!

* * *

Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. From Jody Curley:

Yahara Flowage, January. What subtle colors. I bet this would look even more lovely wall-sized.

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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. ChrisFromGA

    So, thanks again to John Zelnicker for the NC Songbook. I’m really enjoying it, having been somewhat out of action last fall.

    Perhaps “The Bards of Naked Capitalism” is a suggested sub-title? I was inspired to come up with this, I suspect some influences have rubbed off on me.

    Old Donetsk

    (Sung to the tune of, “Bombs Away” by the Police)

    The Kremlin watches the telly and thinks
    The pay is good but their NATO foes stink
    Teutonic girls, hard and sweet
    The weekend warriors they’d love to meet

    The president looks at the ‘prompter and mutters
    Confusion spreads with each phrase that he utters
    Missing shells
    Theyll turn up in the Seychelles

    Ceasefire, nyetsk!
    It’s not time, yet-sk
    Ceasefire, nyetsk!
    So bomb Donetsk

    The general only wants to teach Sholz to dance
    His army life doesn’t give him romance
    Mail order brides, fled to the west
    He’s not gonna pass their bougie lifestyle test

    The comic looks at his options and grins
    Hes got a backup plan if he don’t win
    Hollywood girl, scantily clad
    They’ll frolic in the sun and laugh at Vlad

    Ceasefire, nyetsk!
    It’s not time, yet-sk
    Ceasefire – nyetsk!
    In old Donetsk

    [guitar solo]

    Ceasefire, nyetsk!
    It’s not time, yet-sk
    Ceasefire, nyetsk!
    In old Donetsk

    1. John Zelnicker

      Thank you, Chris. I’ll give some thought to your suggestion; I like it.

      Stay safe.

    2. ChrisRUEcon

      Hahahaha! :)


      Bravo! One of my faves from Zenyatta Mondatta … and notably writer by drummer Stewart Copeland (not Sting)!

      1. ChrisFromGA

        I loved this era of music, especially the Police, before Sting got too pretentious for his own good and broke up the band.

        I wonder if Copeland wrote the lyrics as well as the music. They have Sting’s penchant for biting cynicism, but they’re rawer and less pretentious than I’d expect from Sting.

        Love Copeland’s drumming. It made the band what they were.

    1. tegnost

      I still check it every day.
      I’ve noticed an uptick in retail workers masking so it seems like the front lines are still seeing enemy action.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I wish Lambert would move the covid links to another page like the Democratic party page.


      I tend to resist any proposal that tends toward minimization; we’re still on a high plateau. Covid er, resistance is also one of the very, very few places where the notion of a public, and of our duty to each other, persists. I mean, where else? I also think we will be dealing with the consequences of the pandemic for a long time; I’m not sure how to fold it into other sections, or even if that should be done.

      Also, either a separate page pushes other stories off the “Recent Items” list at the top of the front page, or it doesn’t appear there, in which case it’s buried. Neither alternative is palatable to me!

      You can always skip the section…

      1. SteveD

        I vote for keeping it. I don’t explore it every day, but I do drill in at times. It’s not unlike being reminded of a set of bookmarks each day. Without that reminder, I might fall further and further out of date.

        1. Pelham

          I also vote for keeping it. I have only so much time to scan online, and I appreciate its ready (and vital) presence here. As also mentioned, a move away from the water cooler would add just a bit to normalizing Covid. Not a good move.

      2. Glen

        I vote for it. Our betters would like to pretend that covid is gone, but it’s reshaping our world and country more than just about any other event in my life time.

        I’m beginning to think 65 is the new 70, and if things continue to get worse it will slide to 62 is the new 75. I honestly would like to keep working, but as I get older and recover from a second, much, much worst round of covid, I’m concluding between that, and a rapacious health care system, I must retire.

        But what does that mean? How does an economy which will have less and less workers function? Personnel I think people like Larry Summers will want to “solve” this problem with what functionally amounts to slavery and child labor, but I have to conclude that an economy which assumes an unending supply of labor which can also be asset stripped and rent raped at will is doomed to failure. That idiotic wars that also rely on a functional labor force that is well educated and can make stuff to be “the arsenal of freedom” is also doomed. That laber force no longer exists.

        So please keep us in the loop on how covid is shaping us and the world.

    3. cfraenkel

      I don’t – those are the main reason for checking in here.

      Where else are you going to find it? The CDC!?!?

      Keep up the good fight Lambert!

      1. cfraenkel

        More — the DNC / party stuff is for all practical purposes new people pointing out the same old thing. Party is crooked, follow the money, news at 11.

        New perspectives are interesting (if you’re into that), but not really anything that wasn’t the case last year.

        On the other hand, the COVID science is still rapidly evolving, the gov response is still stuck in fingers solidly planted in the ears mode, and if I didn’t get my daily reminder here, I know it’s all too easy to get sucked into following the herd, since we certainly don’t get this news anywhere else.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > the DNC / party stuff is for all practical purposes new people pointing out the same old thing.

          ESTRAGON: I can’t go on like this.

          VLADIMIR: That’s what you think.

          Reminiscent of Stein’s Law: “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.” I do tend to go with Stein, as opposed to Beckett, because of my sunny, optimistic nature. A break must come (I seem to recall Lincoln saying something similar, but can’t bring a quote to mind). But as always with bears, and the “right but early,” timing is the bugaboo,.

        1. Verifyfirst

          I second cfraenkel. Especially during these extremely confusing times re Covid. I was thinking this morning–how many times per year is going to be considered “normal” to get Covid? You can stop reporting on Covid once Covid is, you know, over.

        2. Cameron Jones

          such thoughtful and generous replies you make, though you surely must be busy. Thank you for this place.

    4. mrsyk

      I like it. Even if there soon may be no data to feed the graphs, I very much appreciate that Lambert is not willing to let Covid fade away in the rearview.

      1. JM

        I piped up before when the COVID block was potentially getting chopped, and I still stand by it staying. It’s still negatively affecting a huge number of people, and deserves to escape the memory hole until the point in the future where the public re-coalesces to care for each other (even if that might be an overly optimistic pipe dream).

    5. eg

      Keep the COVID section right where it is, please, Lambert — it’s the only place where I can escape the conspiracy of silence foisted upon us by corporations and the governments they’ve purchased.

    6. The Rev Kev

      When the pandemic is over, then I am sure that Lambert would gladly send this section to the recycle bin. Till then, it should stay as a permanent reminder that no, the pandemic is not finished with us yet. Not by a long shot..

    7. Acacia

      I don’t. Lambert is doing a great job on this and it’s important to keep this discussion in the foreground. Also, the comments on a separate, dedicated page would quickly grow into the hundreds or thousands. It would be unwieldy to say the least.

    1. ambrit

      And what prison would the Orange Haired Satan be banged up in? Riker’s Island? I doubt it. Let’s hope he isn’t accommodated in the Epstein Memorial Cell Block. Even the Apartheid Era South African government wasn’t stupid enough to bump off Mandela, especially while he was in custody.
      A proposed shift in nomenclature.
      Pocket Universe describes a string line off of the observer’s habited “Frame of Reference.”
      Bubble Universe describes an integral but ‘cloistered’ line within the observer’s “Frame of Reference.”
      Pocket Universes can, theoretically, continue in “existence” independent of the observer.
      Bubble Universes can be ‘terminated’ independent of the observer.

    2. Cat Burglar

      The article comparing Debs and Trump misses that James Curley actually served time in prison during his time as Mayor of Boston. He ran for office while under felony indictment under the slogan, “Curley Gets Things Done.”

      He actually did get things done. Earlier, he was elected to the Boston Board of Aldermen while serving time for fraud, for taking a federal civil service exam for a constituent. Now that’s what I call personalized constituent service! His campaign slogan was, “He Did It For A Friend.” Between getting in office and receiving the dosh, the epicycle of delivering policies for most people has been eliminated; now we just get nothing for the corruption.

      At the end of the delightful Wikipedia entry on Curley, you can find mention of an economic study deploring the distortionary economic effect of Curley’s policies — authored by none other than Andrei Shleifer! Curley’s dead hand from the grave reached out to even the score.

  2. Mikel

    “The Incredible Tantrum Venture Capitalists Threw Over Silicon Valley Bank” [Slate].

    “…And yet, some of their proudest accomplishments that have attracted some of the most eye-watering sums have been: 1) chasing the dream of zeroing out labor costs while monopolizing a sector to charge the highest price possible (A.I. and the gig economy); 2) creating infrastructure for speculating on digital assets that will be used to commodify more and more of our daily lives (cryptocurrency and the metaverse); and 3) militarizing public space, or helping bolster police and military operations…”

    This is what makes me suspect the next “jobless recovery” will be even more sticky after this crisis.
    They’ve dumped all of this money into automation. It’s being said that now the policy is causing the tightening of lending to “fight inflation” (or increase unemployment).

    So, I’m just entertaining the idea that this crisis will be used to pressure businesses into trying out the AI hype. Resembling a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy (for lack of a better phrase at the moment).
    Longer lasting unemployment, even when interest rates are eventually cut. That moment will be turning the dial to 11 to amplify inequality.

    Talk me down…

  3. Wukchumni

    You get a shiver in the dark
    It’s a raining in the park but meantime-
    South of Sand Hill Road you stop and put a hold on everything
    A bank is blowing up, double four time
    You feel alright until you hear a twitter ring

    Well now you step inside the bank and see familiar faces
    Coming in out of the rain they heard the bank could go down
    Competition in other places
    Uh but on the internets they blowin’ that shrill sound
    Way on the down low
    Way on the down low in
    Silicon Valley town

    You check out high-tech George, he’s wearing cords
    Mind you if he gets his gotten gains out it’ll make him sing
    They said $250k is all he can look forward to
    When he’s got $100 million in the thing

    And Harry doesn’t mind, if he doesn’t, make the scene
    He’s a Unicorn, he’s doing alright
    He can play the FDIC like anything
    Servin’ it up, no fear of fright
    With the Sultans
    They’re the Sultans of Swing

    Then a crowd of depositors they’re a lining up around the corner
    Drunk with power and dressed in their best Patagonia vests
    They don’t give a damn about any rules you understand
    It ain’t what they call their role
    And the Sultans
    Yeah, the Sultans, they play hardball

    And then the man he steps right up to the microphone
    And says at last just as their moment of deliverance rings
    “Goodnight, now it’s time to go home”
    Then he makes it fast with one more thing

    “We are the Sultans
    We are the Sultans of Swing”

    Sultans of Swing, by Dire Straits


    1. MaryLand

      That was quick! I recognized it with the first line! Thanks very much! Bravo for all the great synchronized lyrics, Wuk!

  4. aj

    RE: Frequent TV Series Cancellations Altering Viewer Behavior, Survey Shows

    Same here. Too many times have I watched a season or two and the show gets cancelled abruptly with no conclusion. I just recently started watching Succession after they announced the upcoming fourth and final season. I really dislike cliffhangers, and it’s all the fault of you Boomers and your Dallas and JR. Just kidding. But seriously, modern streaming needs to kill the season cliffhanger. I really enjoy some of these new anthology shows like White Lotus or American Crime Story, where each season is a new cast and/or stand-alone story.

    1. Carolinian

      In the over the air TV past drama shows would deliberately avoid a conclusion because they thought it would hurt syndication by providing a “spoiler” that discouraged viewing.

      Then there were shows that promised an ending but really didn’t like Lost and The Sopranos.

      I’d say in many or most cases you are probably better off thinking up your own ending anyway since their’s is liable to disappoint. Just look at the row over Game of Thrones.

      TV is really about providing the audience with a set of characters that they like or can relate to. Story is secondary.

      1. Wukchumni

        I never watched Lost, but have been told a few times by friends that I reminded them of John Locke.

      2. fresno dan

        and sometimes the series just go on and on with the same old story over and over and over. At first I was very interested in “Walls are Closing In” series, but after several YEARS the show’s plot never seems to advance to ANY kind of conclusion.

    2. MaryLand

      I read that Netflix often cancels a show after two seasons especially if it’s really popular. That’s because by then the actors demand higher pay. Netflix would rather start a new series with low paid actors no matter what the subscribers want.

      1. aj

        Their profit metrics are different too than what TV used to be. Used to be all about eyeballs watching and Nielsen Rating and getting those sweet advertiser dollars. Netflix is all about subscribers, so shows that cater to their existing base don’t really bring in more money. They need new content to try to encourage people to sign up for new subscriptions. A hit show that everyone watches, but doesn’t get new subscriptions is essentially a waste of money for them.

        1. Carolinian

          Back in the network days CBS or NBC made money on the ads but the production companies made their profits on syndication and thought they needed four seasons or so of programs for that to happen. So the incentives are just the opposite of Netflix et al

          Of course the network days are still around although with lots of reality shows that are cheap to make and dump the syndication model. DVDs and all those streamers have likely changed things forever from the old days.

      2. ian

        I read an interesting story somewhere that a key metric Netflix uses when deciding whether to cancel a series is how many people finish the series – the so-called ‘completion rate’.

      1. Carolinian

        Interesting. And I’ll admit that my comments above apply to the old days of network television rather than the streaming world of miniseries that last several seasons. In fact I only see the latter if they make it to the library via DVD.

        But to the degree these new shows are attracting viewers via plot one must concede that being creative with story is hard. Consider




        So I’d still contend that it is actors who sell a show while conceding that they can only do so much if the writers don’t even have enough ideas for 8 episodes much less 8 seasons. TV, old and new, as a medium is selling a hopefully entertaining product, not literature.

    3. The Rev Kev

      The Critical Drinker was talking about this a few months ago in a video. How it does not matter if a series is profitable or not but some executive will cancel it anyway to clear the space for a new series that is favoured. Normally when you throw stuff against a wall to see if anything sticks, the idea is to retain what does. But in Hollywood it does not work that way.

  5. pjay

    Wait. Do you mean to say that the walls might *not* be closing in on Trump? I was sure that *this* time they had him! I guess the ‘Get Trump’ reality show continues. Tune in to see how he eludes their grasp next week.

    In truth, the Establishment (I won’t call it the “Democratic” Establishment because it is bipartisan) should hope that Bragg’s case collapses, and the faster the better for them. Are they really so clueless that they don’t realize how much these stunts help Trump in both visibility and popularity?

    1. fresno dan

      Do you mean to say that the walls might *not* be closing in on Trump?
      I’m not sure how big the living room at Mar-a-Lago is. Wikipedia says:
      After purchasing the estate, Trump did extensive renovations, adding a 20,000-square-foot (1,900 m2) ballroom.
      So, the ballroom may be a rectangle so lets suppose 100 by 200 feet. Soooo based on how much previous walls have closed in, I think its perfectly plausible that the walls have closed in to 99 feet and 11 inches by 200 feet. I can see Trump being crushed by those collapsing walls in ….300 years.

    2. mrsyk

      “The sudden turn of events that could derail Trump’s indictment” Hold on. Am I to understand that this grand theater production is based on a campaign finance violation? (please forgive if this is common knowledge, I haven’t been paying much attention). I’d follow with a rant but I’m guessing that’s been done.

      1. pjay

        Yep. Otherwise the payoff wouldn’t be illegal. As others have noted, the case is a legal Rube Goldberg concoction. They have to somehow show the payoff was intended to “influence the election.” Billionaires can now legally spend millions to do just that today, of course. But I guess I’m too dense to understand the subtleties of campaign finance law.

  6. John

    The election will swing on Pandemic Memory: Perhaps it will. I have my doubts. The coming debacle for administration foreign policy and its looming effect on banks and the economy may play a role as well, but that aside, why would one assume Glenn Youngkin, a political novice, has or can conjure up the appearance of gravitas any more that can DeSantis or Trump? I quite agree that the others mentioned are not to be taken seriously and would be relegated to the clown car by some. I find none of them appealing. I was never more than resigned to Biden as president. The unfathomable and dangerous foolishness, to put it mildly, of his foreign policy makes it impossible for me to consider his re-election as anything but calamitous. This is a fine mess we have gotten ourselves into. I do hope to survive it.

    1. fresno dan

      Ask yourself this – are the current possible presidential nominees, and the current election coverage, even a tenth as good as any election held prior to 1980?
      These are the best the supposed greatest country on earth can produce?

      1. John

        If they are the best, assume we are doomed and you owe it to yourself save what you can. You may also assume that Congress also will be too busy phoning donors and listening closely to their concerns to have time for something as passé as the national interest.

        If I may rant on, such things as the ” ban all things Russian” for example, novels written and music composed in the 19th century is, like “Freedom Fries” evidence of a decline in or absence of understanding of the expanse of western civilization for those novels and that music are certainly part it.

        From my perspective, the DC Bubble and Echo Chamber displays on a daily basis a frightening lack of awareness to itself and how the rest of the world sees it.

      2. ian

        I find it interesting that people focus so much on voting rights when elections so often come down to crappy choice A or crappy choice B.

        1. Jeff V

          It’s important to be able to vote for whichever warmongering corporate stooge most closely represents your views on social issues.

    2. Wukchumni

      …the Donkey Show has fallen prey to cunning multi-linguists such as Blinken & Buttigieg

      So I have the perfect candidate for them in 2024, as it looks like the ‘Killer B’s’ aren’t all that…

      He lives in Humordor and is only 46, which is like 14 compared to the octogenarians who hold sway!
      The remarkable brain of a carpet cleaner who speaks 24 languages

      “So, how many languages do you speak?”

      “Oh, goodness,” Vaughn says. “Eight, fluently.”

      “Eight?” Kelly marvels.

      “Eight,” Vaughn confirms. English, Spanish, Bulgarian, Czech, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian and Slovak.

      “But if you go by like, different grades of how much conversation,” he explains, “I know about 25 more.”

      Vaughn glances at me. He is still underselling his abilities. By his count, it is actually 37 more languages, with at least 24 he speaks well enough to carry on lengthy conversations. He can read and write in eight alphabets and scripts. He can tell stories in Italian and Finnish and American Sign Language. He’s teaching himself Indigenous languages, from Mexico’s Nahuatl. to Montana’s Salish. The quality of his accents in Dutch and Catalan dazzle people from the Netherlands and Spain. (WaPo)

  7. Louiedog14

    Wood thrushes this week!

    Sultry mid-summer afternoon. Splayed halfway dozing on a hammock in the Maine woods. My dogs snoozing and gently snuffling about me. The gentle lap of a pond on rocks and sand. The other birds resting in the heat of the day and a lone wood thrush fills the wood effortlessly, almost laconically with his music.

    The recordings fail to capture the true musicality of its’ tone, but plenty well to bring back good memories.

    Perhaps the best definition of ‘sublime’ I’ve ever encountered.


  8. mrsyk

    Anyone read Simplicius the Thinker? His Latest post, “How the USSR’s Fall Unleashed a Neocon Goldrush to the Heartland”, is a fascinating, well written essay. It’s also above my knowledge of history pay-grade, so I’m uncertain to where the line of conjecture occurs. Here’s the first paragraph for context.
    “Many people are aware of the various disparate geopolitical events of the 1990s and their respective imports—from the dissolution of the USSR, to the rise of the American Neocon movement to center stage, which precipitated the imperialist military actions of the end of the 20th to the 21st centuries. But few recognize the essential teleological link binding these events with a direct causality”
    Simplicius the Thinker

  9. fresno dan

    “The sudden turn of events that could derail Trump’s indictment” [Gregg Jarrett, FOX].
    Concealing exculpatory evidence from a grand jury is reprehensible conduct.” • Finally, some clear exposition. And from FOX….
    Maybe with what is happening with an ex president will expose how ill logical the American legal system is. Concealing exculpatory evidence should be more than reprehensible – it should be illegal. And not illegal in some law that is actually never enforced. First, if exculpatory evidence is purposefully with held by a prosecutor, shouldn’t that be a crime?
    There is a case going on in Iowa where the Daybells are being prosecuted for murder. Supposedly, the prosecutor failed to provide discovery evidence within the time frame. The penalty (sanction) for that is that the prosecutor (i.e., state) cannot charge the most severe penalty against the defendant.
    Is it me, or is that rather idiotic? Shouldn’t the perpetrator, i.e., the prosecutor, that is the one who committed the act (or failed to do what he was suppose to do) be the one held to account??? – fired, disbarred, or even prosecuted if this is such egregious misconduct? To somehow act if this is a real deterent or punishment of a prosecutor is absurd, and indeed, it is a harm to the victims committed by the legal system against the victims. Yet this is how the American legal system believes justice should be assured…seems like a self protection racket.
    In general, it seems there is a code of omerta that far surpasses the cosa nostra when it comes to speaking ill of government prosecutors.
    Supposedly in the Trump case, the grand jury is apparently not acting like a rubber stamp – but in general grand juries are said to indict ham sandwiches at the behest of prosecutors. When one sees how many innocent people our legal system convicts, despite the incessant self praise of how it strives to protect the innocent, perhaps like a lot of things in America, its time to look more critically at how it actually works.

  10. Stephen V

    Oh dear Lord, my hatred of Trump and NPR are the only things keeping me going, lo these many years. My headline is “lagubrious.” ‘Undeniable evidence!’ The image of DeSantis signing off on his extradition. Trump being bused to NYC. MAGA lining the streets the whole way. Say it ain’t so! Can Trump be more innocent than a ham sandwich?

  11. semper loquitur

    Vonnegut Event:

    So I’m in the store today. A commercial comes over the radio playing through the speakers. It’s for a check cashing chain. The “urban” announcer explains how they are the cheapest check cashing joint in NYC. They are open 24/7, for your convenience. Government checks welcome!

    Then an undoubtably mandated disclaimer begins. Now, they are usually sped up to free up valuable advertising space. But this one was like Alvin and the Chipmunks on meth. An incomprehensible babble of squeaks. Utterly pointless.

    The surreality was striking. A parasitic organization looking to feed off the poor and “unbanked” fills the air with the sound of noise pollution to skirt the rules that demand they provide information to their customers. All rather ludicrous and sad.

  12. Tom Stone

    For those of you worried about Violent crime, there’s good news!
    We know what the causes are, they were nailed down decades ago and the top 4 causes are
    1) Poverty
    2) Inequality
    3) Corruption
    4) Lack of opportunity
    High trust societies have less crime of any kind and low trust societies have more of all kinds.

    The United States of America has become a low trust Society awash in Gunz, not less than 500,000,000 of them.
    And while disarming the rabble has always and everywhere been the desire of the Petit Bourgois I do not see how it can be done in the USA.
    “Sensible Gun Laws” have been around for Centuries and the effect EVERY ONE of them has had was to disarm the unworthy poors, the rabble.
    The very people who are most of the victims of violent crime and who most need the ability to defend themselves.
    Gun Laws do have an effect on crime, where the populace has the means for self defense there is one violent crime that decreases drastically and that crime is rape.

    We have the data and it is conclusive, anyone claiming that restricting or banning firearms ownership by law abiding Citizens reduces crime is either deliberately ignorant or acting in bad faith.

    1. Wukchumni

      Fear is quite something, my brother in laws who are in their early to mid 70’s fell under the sway of Fox News around the turn of the century, and the net it cast was quite wide, both are retired engineers who had long careers, and have never been the victim of a gun crime, nor seen one happen in their 150 or so years on this good orb.

      They went out and got all armed and dangerous about a decade ago in one of the many fear factor episodes, I think Obama was going to take everybody’s guns away that time.

      So on a couple of occasions in the past year i’ve asked them if somebody was stealing their stuff, would they shoot them?

      Sadly, both times were very much in the affirmative, they’d kill somebody over things.

      1. Tom Stone

        The laws regarding the use of force are crystal clear, the use of lethal force is only appropriate when there is an imminent threat of death or grievous bodily injury.
        Period, full stop.
        If you are a California Gun owner you should keep in mind that you will be held to a much higher standard of Care than a Law Enforcement officer will in similar circumstances .
        It’s real good idea to pick up a copy of “How to own a gun in California and stay out of jail” because the Gun laws of Cailifornia are the result of virtue signalling by politicians who are profoundly and proudly ignorant of the existing laws and how they are enforced (Selectivly).

      2. The Rev Kev

        My brother fell down the Fox rabbit hole too years ago. But he lives in Oz, not the US, so how far is their reach?

        1. Wukchumni

          I was comparing Henry VIII with Rupert the 5th (soon to be with 5th wife) and the oversized impact both had on their worlds, with Murdoch’s reach unlimited.

          He, more than anyone else is responsible for the rancor we have today in these not so united states, couldn’t have done it without him.

  13. JM

    I looked to see if I could find the last couple of states in the COVID tracker list and I got the following:

    North Dakota: https://www.hhs.nd.gov/health/coronavirus/cases
    Nebraska: https://atlas-dhhs.ne.gov/Atlas/Respiratory_Illness
    Nevada: https://empower.unlv.edu/

    Note that I couldn’t find anything from the state for Nevada, their general page has zero tracking data, closest I could find was the University’s wastewater page. But there might be something hidden somewhere for someone who’s willing to do more digging.

  14. ambrit

    “This Old House” from two years ago builds a ‘Corsi Rosenfeld’ box, but calls it something else. Even so, they give quite a bit of useful information about air filtration in general. I like that the “expert” mentions that Covid is airborne. How this got through the censors at PBS is beyond me.
    Stay safe! “Officially!”
    See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aw7fUMhNov8

  15. truly

    Winning the typo of the day:
    From the Mint Press article,
    “f you have ever wondered, ‘where do America’s spies come from?’ the answer is quite possibly the Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS) at Georgetown University. It is only a modestly-seized institution”

  16. Jason Boxman

    Frequent TV Series Cancellations Altering Viewer Behavior, Survey Shows

    This. Ever since Firefly was canceled, or Farscape, I’ve been skeptical of ever watching a show that isn’t complete. Or you get disaster endings, like BSG or Man in the High Castle, ugh. I think the writers strike contributed to BSG getting nerfed. Or The Expanse was canceled, bought up by Amazon, which then ended it with a nonsensical partial final season. Huh. Or Walking Dead jumped the shark years ago now. I stopped caring.

    There’s almost no reason to watch anything that isn’t complete at this point. Saved me from some disappointments, like apparently Lost had a much maligned ending, and I saved 7 whatever seasons worth of time never bothering, hooray!

    1. The Rev Kev

      You can tack on “Stargate Universe” to that list which ended in a cliff hanger at the end of its second season and was then cancelled, just as it was finding its feet.

  17. kareninca

    Since the start of the pandemic, I’ve been using ivermectin and dosing my husband with it (this is NOT medical advice!!!!! I have no medical training or certification!!!!). In the beginning, it was to ward off covid. However, for the past year or so, it has been to ward off cancer, since ivermectin is very promising as a cancer treatment and it was clear from early on that covid was going to increase cancer cases. Not . . . medical . . . advice . . .

    I know so many people who are all of a sudden developing high blood pressure, and people who had their blood pressure under control but now they need extra meds for that purpose. This includes people who have all their lives had very, very low blood pressure; suddenly it is extremely high and they need meds right away.

    My examples, with identity removed:
    CC: always low, now very high (vaccinated, never had covid)
    DD: always reasonable, now very high and fluctuating (vaccinated, never had covid)
    GG: always very low, now very high (vaccinated, don’t know if he’s had covid)
    MM: was on bp meds and stable but now needs more (vaccinated, had covid once)
    HH: was on bp meds and stable but now needs more (vaccinated, never had covid)
    HHH: had bp under control with diet but now it is up a lot and he has been told to lose weight (even though he is skinny by American standards)(vaccinated, never had covid)

    My bp is up a little, but it could be due to all the weird supplements I take, and it is still fine (just took it and it was 116/70). I’m not vaccinated and as far as I know I’ve never had covid (I test weekly).

    1. playon

      From what have been reading I don’t think there is any way to be sure who has had COVID and who has not. Sometimes symptoms do not present initially but damage can still be done. Even the PCR tests can be iffy with newer variants – false negatives.

      1. kareninca

        That seems right. You can tell for sure that you have had it, but you can’t tell for sure if you’ve evaded it.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      So, you’re saying that mass infection without mitigation is extremely profitable? (A corollary: The source of profit under capitalism must always be concealed*. Hence “Covid is over” etc.)

      NOTE * The Bearded One has a great passage that I am never able to find, which I will paraphrase: “In Greek legend, a[n unnamed] hero concealed himself by walking backward into a cave, using a branch to brush away all traces of his passage as he did so.” There’s your Biden administration…

      1. kareninca

        Well, high blood pressure is one of the very cheapest things to treat. The entry level meds have been around forever, are manufactured in India, and cost the consumer (after insurance or via goodrx) about five bucks a month.

        It’s the early onset dementia which I am also seeing (two second degree acquaintances; one relative by marriage) that will bring in the big bucks. Plus the cancers; I have a friend who is getting ten $17,000/apiece injections after having had surgery, chemo and radiation (she’s from Canada and it’s a good thing she is here in CA and Kaiser is willing to spend).

  18. Mo

    Another reason for bogus job listings is H1B visas. I believe companies have to prove that there was no qualified American to fill a particular job before they sponsor someone on an H1B for that job. So the company has already have hired someone on a temporary visa for the job that they are supposedly advertising. It was a Chinese coworker who tipped me off to this phenomenon. We were looking at job adverts together, and he was telling me which ones he thought were bogus and which he believed were real.

  19. fjallstrom

    Regarding daylight savings time, the EU bureaucracy marshalled the research around it a couple of years ago, and to sum up it brings nothing good, and plenty bad. It’s worst for the frail, with each time turn seeing an uptick in deaths. It is also very inconvenient on parents of small children and keepers of animals as biological clocks are not so easily changed.

    The EU had a public consultation, and it turned out that the public wanted to stop turning clocks. The views were split on eternal summer time or winter time.

    Decisions were made and some years ago it was announced that the decision had been made, we would stop turning clocks. The states would each choose their time, but no more daylight savings time!

    And yet, it continues. Somewhere it got hold up and ground to a halt. What powerful, yet invisible, lobby is halting progress? Sleeping pill manufacturers? Caffeinated beverages industry? Or is it the grey men from Momo that is stealing the hours?

    1. hunkerdown

      Auto insurers have an interest in DST. Half-asleep people on early morning commutes don’t necessarily see kids in the dark all that well.

    1. Wukchumni

      I just looked up AOC’s legislation in regards to anything she’s introduced or co-sponsored that became law, and like all of the lackeys in the House, here’s one of the few things I could find…

      To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 15 Chestnut Street in Suffern, New York, as the “Sergeant Gerald T. ‘Jerry’ Donnellan Post Office”.


    2. mrsyk

      Sigh. I hate when my castle of sand gets washed. I really had a load of high hopes for her. I’m going to blame it on Biases and Fundamental Beliefs.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I really had a load of high hopes for her.

        See the last Fundamental Belief in column one, Table 1, “people’s attributes (not context) shape outcomes.” AOC’s attributes were brilliant and heartening, but the context (being an elected) was orders of magnitude more corrupt and disheartening than I ever imagined.

        In retrospect, I had the same fundamental belief. I was wrong! (To be fair, when she was elected, I thought “the left”* was a force, albeit a weak one, in American electoral politics. I was wrong about that too.)

        NOTE * Which I define as putting the working class first. Among electeds, Sawant, perhaps. Nobody else.

  20. mrsyk

    That “Biases and the Fundamental Beliefs on Which They Might be Based” chart sure is an extra large slice of humble pie. I’m checking boxes like Elizabeth Warren filling out a college application. I should probably use it as my screen background. Seriously, how exactly do I keep my priors in check. And am I still allowed to say this commentariat is the best commentariat?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > how exactly do I keep my priors in check

      For more limited use case:

      “the defect must be supplied, by so contriving the interior structure of the government as that its several constituent parts may, by their mutual relations, be the means of keeping each other in their proper places”

      One might regard the design of government described in the Federalist Papers as a means of avoiding “embubblement” (feedback-less groupthink on priors) as well as tyranny (or that embubblement is a form of tyranny, hmm).

  21. Jason Boxman

    COVID is airborne is also like onions. You can’t see it. But it burns. People aren’t going around rejecting that that’s why your eyes burn. No need for enhanced ventilation for onions. But if it gave you brain damage… The howls that it’s just an onion would commerce.

    1. mrsyk

      @Carolinian Thank you for this link. Fascinating take. Is this a broadly accepted take on the subject? Makes sense to me. One aspect I like is that it’s a sort of engineer’s analysis, similar to Aurelian’s style, Serge in a physical manner, David in a philosophical manner.

  22. Glen

    So I had NPR Morning Edition on while driving home from work, and heard something I never expected to hear. I think they were interviewing Gen. Mark Milley, and he stated the all volunteer army has failed, and that America needs to reinstitute the draft.

    Hmm, me be thinking the DOD DOES NOT want to get dragged into a war without massive buy-in from the American people. Because he flat out said that’s why he wants a draft!

    1. VietnamVet

      When Secretary Antony Blinken says the war won’t be over until occupied Crimea is retaken, deep down in the Bunker, the Joint Chief is saying to the leadership that the Eastern Front needs the draft to man the attack to retake Yalta; not to mention, defending Corregidor Island in Manila Bay from the Chinese Horde.

      But, since less than 20% of young Americans are fit to serve in the military, millions of Americans have long-COVID, a crash program to teach, feed, shelter and provide healthcare for them is also needed to provide the number of troops required for a two front World War III between the three nuclear armed superpowers.

      This is just as crazy as “Steiner’s Attack” in the movie “Downfall”.

    2. wol

      Include all draft-age gender pronouns/acronyms and watch a bigger anti-war movement than before the Iraq invasion.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Gen. Mark Milley, and he stated the all volunteer army has failed, and that America needs to reinstitute the draft.

      What does Milley mean, “failed”? We won Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria! Oh, wait….

      1. ambrit

        The Generals are only being pragmatic. The Russians have proven yet again, through their progress in the Ukraine War, that the defining aspect of a land war is “boots on the ground.” The Russians have demonstrated that the more “boots” on said “ground,” the better your chances of success.
        It takes people pretty close to the fighting front to guide those drones properly. Artillery spotters may now work through the drones, but those drones are just one tool in a kit of useful technology and systems. Drones can be neutralized in the eternal measure, counter measure dynamic. Under systems, we need to include close combat drill. After the drones and artillery have done their jobs, real, live troopers must take the ground and deny it to the enemy.
        Russia has resurrected the mass army. America must now play catch up if it wants to compete.

      2. Glen

        I’ve actually been in favor of a draft for the last twenty or so years. I think if we had HAD a draft that maybe the American public protesting could have kept America out of Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya (and those many, many other countries with an American base that nobody really knows about.)

        As Richard Clarke (President Bush’s Anti-terrorist advisor) stated: “Invading Iraq after 9/11 was like invading Mexico after Pearl Harbor.” Invading all these countries after 9/11 never made any sense and it has wrecked the all volunteer force that the US military so carefully created after Vietnam. When I was in, the higher ups pretty much HATED the thought of a draft. Heck, at one point the life in the battle field of a first lieutenant in Vietnam was down to two weeks and they were normally being fragged by their own troops.

        And if we do go back to a draft, can we somehow arrange preference by if their parent’s are Senators? And no more allowing sons to join the Texas Air National Guard and spend all of Vietnam by blowing white powder up your nose. How about if the people that have demonstrated “competence” by high net worth and a fancy education get drafted FIRST? We’re going to need them.

  23. Wukchumni

    Boom, boom, boom, crack-up boom
    Its gonna shoot you right down
    Right off your feet
    Take your home down you see
    Put you in a lowered value house
    Boom, boom, boom, crack-up boom
    Mmmm hmmm
    Mm hm hm hm

    I love to see you walk
    Up and down the floor
    When you talking to me
    That nest egg talk
    I like it like that
    You talk like that
    You knock me dead
    Right off my feet
    A haw haw no more HELOC

    Once upon a time you walked the walk
    And talked that talk
    And whispered about it going up in value to all who could hear
    Tell me that you loved appreciation
    I love that talk
    That nest egg talk
    You knock me dead
    Right off my feet
    A haw haw no more HELOC
    Yeah, yeah!

    Boom, Boom, by John Lee Hooker


    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      [applause] both to John Zelnicker for the concept and the execution, and to the commentariat for their mad songwriting skillz.

      Truly, the NC commentariat is the best commentariat!

  24. tegnost

    Why should I care that a us “contractor” as killed in syria? Aren’t they paid to accept the risk of “contracting” in a war zone?
    Because markets…go die.
    I thought that was how it’s supposed to be?
    One fewer social security recipient…
    What am I missing?
    He wasn’t a banker, was he?

    1. Glen

      The DOD is completely flush with money. A co-worker had been a contractor at a base in Afghanistan, and it was like 35,000 contractors to 5,000 military. He said the contractors did everything that he use to do as military when he was in.

      I think the military terms would be the “tooth” has shrunk considerably, and the contractor “tail” is now huge.

  25. vao

    Regarding hybrid immunity and the question: “However, this does involve what looks to me like statistical reasoning, so if readers would be good enough to check?”

    The problem is easier to understand if, instead of focusing on the death rate, one considers the actual “success” event, which is to survive covid.

    For the sake of the discussion assume that:

    Of 100 persons who are infected exactly once by covid, 97 survive.
    Of 100 persons who are infected exactly twice by covid, 98 survive.
    Of 100 persons who are infected exactly thrice by covid, 99 survive.

    The chances of surviving one additional bout of covid improve as the number of infections increases. However, the chances to survive the entire succession of infections decreases inexorably, because:

    One has 99% chances of surviving 3 infections; but this assumes that one was already in the lucky 98% who survive two infections, who are also amongst the 97% who survived one infection. Hence, the final survival rate is 0.99*0.98*0.97 = 0.941094, a bit above 94%.

  26. TV-phobic


    > I really dislike cliffhangers, … [e.g.,] Dallas and JR.

    But that was the cliffhanger of all cliffhangers, though, wasn’t it, for those of us old enough to remember it! I never watched an entire episode of Dallas but couldn’t help seeing the odd snippet from time to time whilst changing channels, or being in the room with someone who was interested. Besides, it was completely impossible to avoid the ‘Who shot JR?’ phenomenon that gripped the country. Every talk show; every TV critic; millions of fans … . I’d say ‘who shot JR?’ was a meme before there were memes. :-) I know there was a country song devoted to the topic (‘I shot JR’) and the whole idea disseminated through the popular culture to the extent that it yielded an instance that made me laugh out loud at the time and still brings a smile when I recollect it now, 40+ years later. I was walking down the street and passed a pet shop. In the window were various accessories and accoutrements, including several wee-tiny woolen doggie sweaters. Embroidered on the side of one of them it said ‘I bit JR’.

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