2:00PM Water Cooler 3/28/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I got wrapped around the axle on household matters. More shortly. –lambert UPDATE All done!

Bird Song of the Day

House Wren, Licking, Ohio, United States.

* * *


“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’s nominees hit the Senate skids” [Politico]. “It looked at the beginning of the year like Democrats would have an easier time confirming Biden picks, having gained a seat last fall after a historically lengthy run in a 50-50 Senate. But this Congress has brought a host of new challenges despite that padded margin for Biden’s party. Two high-profile Biden administration hopefuls have withdrawn in the past month alone. The president’s Labor Department pick faces a tough road to confirmation. And the administration is in danger of a first: having to abandon a judicial nominee due to tepid Democratic support. That’s in addition to the Pentagon promotions being stalled by a Republican senator and the judicial appointments delayed due to a senior Democratic senator’s extended absence. Underlining the tension between the narrowly divided Senate and the administration was the Saturday evening withdrawal of Phil Washington, tapped to lead the Federal Aviation Administration. Democrats blamed a GOP campaign against him, led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), but the reality is that Biden’s own party could have saved Washington had they kept their own side united and put up a simple majority. In Washington’s case, Commerce Committee member Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) had communicated her concerns to the Biden administration. And Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) stayed undecided ahead of the committee vote, right up until Washington bowed out. ‘That’s a better question for the president,’ Tester, who faces a reelection campaign this cycle, said of the FAA imbroglio. Asked if he supported the nominee, he responded: ‘Never had to make that vote.'” • Sure, innocent until proven guilty, but did the Democrats really think that nominating a candidate (Washington) with outstanding warrants was a good idea?


Trump Hannity interview:

“Trump says he would ‘solve’ war in Ukraine in 24 hours if reelected” [The Hill]. “‘If it’s not solved, I will have it solved in 24 hours with Zelensky and with Putin,’ Trump told Hannity, referring to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin. ‘And there’s a very easy negotiation to take place. But I don’t want to tell you what it is because then I can’t use that negotiation; it’ll never work. But it’s a very easy negotiation to take place. I will have it solved within one day, a peace between them. Now that’s a year and a half. That’s a long time. I can’t imagine something not happening,’ Trump added. ‘The key is the war has to stop now because Ukraine is being obliterated.'” • Trump the Face. One thing Trump is very good at: Sensing weakness. If Trump thinks Ukraine is a weakness for Biden — and it surely is! — then that’s interesting.

“DeSantis Would Be Working At A ‘Pizza Parlor’ Without My Endorsement, Trump Says In Hannity Interview” [Forbes]. “Trump reserved his sharpest attack for his biggest potential rival for the 2024 GOP nomination, Ron DeSantis, saying the Florida governor, who has not announced he is running in 2024 but is widely expected to, would be working at “a pizza parlor place” without his support in the 2018 gubernatorial race. The former president said he and the Florida governor were ‘not friends’ and he only knew DeSantis as one of 150 people defending him in the first impeachment trial, who later came to him ‘with tears in his eyes’ and was ‘desperate’ for his endorsement.” • Trump the Heel.

“Right Now, Ron DeSantis Lacks the Killer Spirit to Vanquish Trump” [Daily Beast]. Well, it is the Daily Beast… “Is Ron DeSantis not yet ready for prime time? His performance over the last couple of weeks has not instilled confidence. We’ve watched him flip-flop on everything from cutting entitlement programs to his support of Ukraine. We have also seen Trump belittle him with nicknames like ‘Ron DeSanctimonious’ and ‘Meatball Ron,’ not to mention implying that he’s a ‘groomer.’ (DeSantis also just denied an anecdote in The Daily Beast report that he once ate pudding with three fingers on a private flight. Gross.) This erratic behavior seems to have left a mark. As The New York Times’ Nate Cohn wrote last week, ‘In surveys taken since the Trump offensive began two months ago, Mr. DeSantis, the Florida governor, has steadily lost ground against Mr. Trump, whose own numbers have increased.’ And that was before DeSantis tried to have it both ways regarding the potential arrest of Donald Trump. (He criticized the prosecutor, while adding, ‘I don’t know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair.’)” • DeSantis is thoroughly nasty, a real piece of work. That’s not the same as having a killer instinct, I grant. Also, there’s an entertaining genre where Republicans give well-meant — indeed heart-felt — advice to Democrats on how to win. This seems like the same idea with the parties flipped. Finally, “Ron DeSanctimonious” isn’t so bad. All those superfluous syllables — “is” vs. “imonious” — kinda roll off the tongue, and making the man himself seem superfluous.


As above, watching liberal Democrats trying to play kingmaker for the Republican Party is entertaining, at least.

“George Mason University students launch petition against hosting Youngkin as commencement speaker” [FOX]. “George Mason University announced that Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin will be the commencement speaker at the institution’s 2023 graduation ceremony in May, and some students are pushing to cancel his speech. Students at the university started a petition on Thursday, the same day Youngkin was announced as the speaker, demanding Younkgin not be permitted to speak or even attend the commencement ceremony on May 18. ‘As a Patriot and prospective alumna of George Mason University, I and my peers do not want the memories of our graduation day to be tainted by an individual who has harmed and continues to harm the people he serves,’ senior Alaina Ruffin wrote on the petition…. Ruffin appeared to take particular issue with the governor’s record in approving legislation on transgender issues and controversial school curricula. His administration’s proposals have included prohibiting transgender students from using bathrooms or participating on sports teams that do not correspond with their biological sex and banning critical race theory and sexually explicit books in schools.”

Republican Funhouse

Seems legit. I’d like to see the same diagram for Democrats:

Can Republican or Republican-adjacent readers comment? It would also be nice to apply Ferguson’s et al.’s “industrial model” here, and follow the money.

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.

* * *

“Rep. Khanna Under Fire Over Fundraiser By GOP Backer” [California Globe]. “However, the chances of [a Khanna Senate run] dwindled this week following news that Khanna is to be at a fundraiser at the home of VC David Sacks, who was also the first Chief Operating Officer of PayPal under Peter Thiel. While Sacks is largely a supporter of GOP candidates, such as back Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Senator J.D. Vance (R-OH) in recent elections, he has also been a supporter of government intervention in the latest banking crisis.” • Dude. Come on.


“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: Readers, thanks for the collective effort. We are now up to 50/50 states (100%). This is really great! (It occurs to me that there are uses to which this data might be put, beyond helping people with “personal risk assessments” appropriate to their state. For example, thinking pessimistically, we might maintain the list and see which states go dark and when. We might also tabulate the properties of each site and look for differences and commonalities, for example the use of GIS (an exercise in Federalism). I do not that CA remains a little sketchy; it feels a little odd that there’s no statewide site, but I’ve never been able to find one. Also, my working assumption was that each state would have one site. That’s turned out not to be true; see e.g. ID. Trivially, it means I need to punctuate this list properly. Less trivially, there may be more local sites that should be added. NY city in NY state springs to mind, but I’m sure there are others. FL also springs to mind as a special case, because DeSantis will most probably be a Presidental candidate, and IIRC there was some foofra about their state dashboard. Thanks again!

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 (dashboard; wastewater); NE (dashboard); NH (wastewater); NJ (dashboard); NM (dashboard); NV (dashboard; wastewater, Southern 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 (4), Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JEHR, JF, JL Joe, John, JM (9), 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 50/50 (94% of US states).

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Look for the Helpers

Encouraging report from the field in California:

I would imagine it’s easier to open the windows in California at this time of year than it is in New England. OTOH, maybe people are sacrificing air conditioning?

Encouraging meeting:

I’m filing this here because this cannot have been an easy meeting to have.

“Prince George hospice society helping long COVID sufferers” [Prince George Citizen]. “‘It’s a mix of resource-based, grief-based and camaraderie – they’re lonely,” [Denise Torgerson, the society’s community programs manager] said. ;The illness itself is compounded by what people are suggesting, that you literally do nothing, so its kind of like Groundhog Day, everybody’s pretty bored and it’s stress related. The more stress there is, the more symptoms will show their ugly heads.’ The original participants when the group first met in 2021 have all since left and are back to their jobs. The current group has about 30 people and most of the meetings have 10 or fewer participants. ‘We’ve just had a big surge, last week we had five or six people call out of the blue,’ said Torgerson. ‘The government and medical system are acting like it’s over but there’s new people being diagnosed with this all the time. They’re shutting down the clinics and not giving many resources to it, but it’s still going on.'” • Yep.

* * *

“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:


“Joint Statement on Regional Healthcare Facilities’ Masking Requirement” [Public Health Insider]. “Regional healthcare facilities across the Puget Sound region have issued a statement to continue requiring masking in acute care and outpatient clinic settings. A regional consensus ensures a consistent and clear message that these healthcare facilities prioritize the health and safety of both their patients and employees…. Healthcare facilities have been and continue to be on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, prioritizing patient and healthcare worker health and safety. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is transmitted primarily through the air by small airborne and large respiratory droplets. Masking in high-risk settings has been central to help limit the spread of COVID-19 (as well as other respiratory viruses) along with other interventions such as vaccinations and attention to indoor air quality…. For these reasons, local health jurisdictions in the Puget Sound region continue to recommend masking in healthcare facilities and we fully support this unified regional approach to decrease the risk for spread of COVID-19 in healthcare facilities. A regional consensus ensures a consistent and clear message that these healthcare facilities prioritize the health and safety of both their patients and employees.” • Well, the Puget Sound region is Happyville, and not Pain City, so congratulations of you’re a resident. Otherwise, sucks to be you! (Of course, this should not be a regional consensus, but national guidance, and would be, if CDC and the Biden Administration weren’t at the best derelict, and at the worst eugenicist.


“The End of Public Health? It’s Not Dead Yet” [Bill of Health]. “Once again, health law has become a vehicle for constitutional change, with courts hollowing federal and state public health authority while also generating new challenges. In part, this pattern is occurring because the New Roberts Court — the post-Ruth Bader Ginsburg composition of U.S. Supreme Court justices — is led by jurists who rely on “clear statement rules.” This statutory interpretation canon demands Congress draft textually unambiguous laws and contains a presumption against broadly-worded statutes that are meant to be adaptable over time. In effect, Congress should leave nothing to the imagination of those responsible for implementing federal laws, i.e., executive agencies and state officials, so everything a statute covers must be specified, with no room for legislative history or other non-textual sources. Clear statement rules are more than interpretive guidelines, they have constitutional dimensions that constrain congressional power both horizontally and vertically. In administrative law disputes, a critical aspect of public health law, clear statement rules enforce separation of powers…. This separated spheres of authority vision does not account for the ubiquitous use of federal/state partnerships in achieving national and state policy goals, especially health policy goals. Since the New Deal, federal/state partnership has occurred as a matter of political expedience and policy choice, but often it is not necessary as a matter of constitutional law. This pervasive structure for public health and health care laws caused problems before the New Roberts Court, but COVID-19 politics highlighted the degree to which state officials are turning away from partnering and toward what I call the ‘state veto.’ For example, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, many aspects of the Public Health Service Act, and the National Emergencies Act all rely on both federal administration and partnership with states to implement federal goals. Yet, these laws have no federal alternative if states fail or if implementation is otherwise thwarted, say, by court order. Without a federal fallback, federal money cannot reach the residents of that state and the federal policy accompanying it will not occur. … [F]ederal fallbacks are necessary to achieve any federal public health policy that continues federal/state partnership. Law is a determinant of health, and older federal health laws are on a downward spiral to address modern health problems, but the spiraling can reversed — if Congress acts.” • Hmm. Something to watch…

Elite Malfeasance

The most dangerous source of misinformation:

More of the same:

Sorry to have buried a transcript in a graphic, but this is worth reading to the end:

Fascinating to watch Fauci slowly, gentle, and deliberately throw “a certain segment of the population” under the bus.

And speaking of Fauci:

No accountability for anything, ever. Listening to Fauci is like listening to all the fools and frauds who justified the Iraq War in 2003 — who are still making bank today.

* * *

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

Case Data

BioBot wastewater data from March 27:

Lambert here: The decline seems to have bottomed out? Disappointing, with positivity and deaths still going down. However, 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 28:

-0.8%. 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: 1,153,816 – 1,153,526 – 1,152,525 = 290 (290 * 365 = 105,850 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

Excess deaths (The Economist), published March 28:

Lambert here: Based on a machine-learning model. Looks like a data issue, to me. 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

Manufacturing: “United States Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Manufacturing Activity Index in the Richmond area rose to -5 in March 2023 from -16 in the previous month, pointing to a modest improvement in business conditions.”

* * *

Banks: “French prosecutors search banks over alleged dividend stripping” [Reuters]. “French authorities on Tuesday searched the Paris offices of five banks, including Societe Generale (SOGN.PA), BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA) and HSBC (HSBA.L), on suspicion of fiscal fraud, part of a broad European probe into the dodging of dividend tax payments. Societe Generale and BNP Paribas confirmed the searches, declining further comment. Other banks concerned did not immediately reply to requests for comment. The French prosecutors’ actions are the latest to hit global banks over the dividend tax fraud scheme as similar investigations have been conducted in Germany and other European countries.” • The list:

Real Estate: “Distress in Office Market Spreads to High-End Buildings” [Wall Street Journal]. “Defaults and vacancies are on the rise at high-end office buildings, in the latest sign that remote work and rising interest rates are spreading pain to more corners of the commercial real-estate market. For much of the pandemic, buildings in central locations that feature modern amenities fared better than their less-pricey peers. Some even were able to increase rents while older, cheaper buildings saw surging vacancy rates and plummeting values. Now, these so-called class-A properties, whose rents generally fall into a city’s top quartile, are increasingly coming under pressure. The amount of U.S. class-A office space in central business districts that is leased fell in the fourth quarter of last year for the first time since 2021, according to Moody’s Analytics. The owners of a number of high-end properties recently defaulted on their mortgages, highlighting the financial strain from rising interest rates and vacancies.” • So, will there be a real estate SVB?

Tech: “AI: Your Boss Loves It!”™

Kill it with fire.

Tech: “Former Meta recruiter claims she got paid $190,000 a year to do ‘nothing’ amid company’s layoffs” [Independent]. “A former Meta recruiter has claimed that she made $190,000 a year for doing ‘nothing’ at her job, amid the company’s recent layoffs. In a recent video posted to TikTok, Maddie, @maddie_macho, reflected on her time working at Meta for six months during 2021. Her post was also shared only days after Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced Meta’s next round of layoffs, cutting more than 10,000 employees. The clip, which was titled ‘Getting paid $190k to do nothing at Meta,’ started off with the former job recruiter explaining how her company wasn’t hiring new workers while she was there. ‘We weren’t expected to hire anybody for the first six months, even the first year,’ she said. ‘That really blew my mind. Like ‘perfect, I’m just going to ride this out for a year, obviously I didn’t make that.” Regarding what she did all day, Maddie said that she was ‘learning’, as Meta had the ‘best onboarding and training’ process that was ‘very thorough.’ She poked fun at how her ‘expectations’ at the beginning of her job was to be ‘taking it all in’, before questioning some of the meetings she had to do. ‘But the most that we did, this is the crazy part, is we had so many team meetings,’ Maddie claimed. ‘Why are we meeting? We’re not hiring nobody. Just to hear how everyone else isn’t hiring anybody. And also, I was on a team where everyone was new, so none of us were hiring anybody.'”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 37 Fear (previous close: 38 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 42 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 28 at 1:21 PM ET.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [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!


This is a parody account, but why?

Book Nook

HMS Surprise? Really?!

I loved the Aubrey-Maturin series. Dunno about the movie(s?), but the books are terrific. I should start the whole series again from the beginning.

The Gallery

“Did Bulgarian Police Just Discover a Previously Unknown Jackson Pollock Painting? Here’s What the Evidence Suggests” [ArtNet]. “Police in Bulgaria have discovered what they say is a previously unknown Jackson Pollock painting during a recent raid in the country’s capital city of Sofia. The artwork dates from 1949 and bears the late artist’s signature on its right register, according to Bulgarian National Radio (BNR), which first reported news of the finding this week. Citing ‘experts,’ the news outlet said the painting may be worth up to €50 million ($53 million). On the reverse of the canvas is a detail that, if real, may justify such a lofty evaluation. There, in hand-scrawled text, is what appears to be a dedication to the American actress—and noted art collector—Lauren Bacall, Sofia’s deputy city prosecutor Desislava Petrova said during a press conference on March 22. ‘Dedicated to my very talented and dear friend Lauren Bacall, Happy Birthday,’ the message, believed to have been written by Pollock himself, reads. It is dated September 16, 1949—the day of Bacall’s 25th birthday.” • You know how to paint, don’t you? You just open a paint can… and pour. I like Pollock a lot:

But would it be easy to spot a fake Pollock by looking at the painting alone?

Our Famously Free Press

Onion-level deadpannery:

Zeitgeist Watch

“AI and the American Smile” [Jenka, Medium]. Finally! Somebody else on the “Smile!” beat! “Why do you smile the way you do? A silly question, of course, since it’s only “natural” to smile the way you do, isn’t it? It’s common sense. How else would someone smile? As a person who was not born in the U.S., who immigrated here from the former Soviet Union, as I did, this question is not so simple…. How we smile, when we smile, why we smile, and what it means is deeply culturally contextual. Every American knows to say ‘cheese’ when taking a photo, and, therefore, so does the AI when generating new images based on the pattern established by previous ones. But it wasn’t always like this…. In 2018, researchers at the University of Rochester conducted an experiment to see how deception is connected to facial expressions…. Without any predetermined labels or categories, the results identified the expression most frequently associated with lying: a ‘high intensity version’ of the Duchenne smile — a smile that extends to both the cheek/eye and mouth muscles…. The taut, grimacing, duplicitous rictus — the modern American smile — rose out of a great emotional shift in the 18th century, theorizes Christina Kotchemidova, who teaches theory, gender, and intercultural communication at Spring Hill College in Alabama…. Prior to this shift, [Kotchemidova] believes, the American emotional landscape revolved around negative emotions like sadness and melancholy, which were seen as indicative of compassion and nobleness…. In the same way that English language emotion concepts have colonized psychology, AI dominated by American-influenced image sources is producing a new visual monoculture of facial expressions…. Which is why seeing the relentless parade of toothy, ahistorical, quintessentially American, ‘cheese’ smiles plastered on the faces of every civilization in the world across time and space was immediately jarring. It was as if the AI had cast 21st century Americans to put on different costumes and play the various cultures of the world. Which, of course, it had.” • With many horrid AI-generated examples. I’m really starting to feel that in the West, smiling is for private interactions only. Which is, well, sad. Perhaps that’s what a Yankee would feel.

Class Warfare


Surprising to see Stoller taking out a Communist Party card, but these are strange times.

“Assessing COVID-19 pandemic policies and behaviours and their economic and educational trade-offs across US states from Jan 1, 2020, to July 31, 2022: an observational analysis” [The Lancet]. From the Abstract: “The USA struggled in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, but not all states struggled equally. Identifying the factors associated with cross-state variation in infection and mortality rates could help to improve responses to this and future pandemics….. A lower poverty rate, higher mean number of years of education, and a greater proportion of people expressing interpersonal trust were statistically associated with lower infection and death rates, and states where larger percentages of the population identify as Black (non-Hispanic) or Hispanic were associated with higher cumulative death rates. Access to quality health care (measured by the IHME’s Healthcare Access and Quality Index) was associated with fewer total COVID-19 deaths and SARS-CoV-2 infections, but higher public health spending and more public health personnel per capita were not, at the state level. The political affiliation of the state governor was not associated with lower SARS-CoV-2 infection or COVID-19 death rates, but worse COVID-19 outcomes were associated with the proportion of a state’s voters who voted for the 2020 Republican presidential candidate. State governments’ uses of protective mandates were associated with lower infection rates, as were mask use, lower mobility, and higher vaccination rate, while vaccination rates were associated with lower death rates. State GDP and student reading test scores were not associated with state COVD-19 policy responses, infection rates, or death rates. Employment, however, had a statistically significant relationship with restaurant closures and greater infections and deaths: on average, 1574 (95% UI 884–7107) additional infections per 10 000 population were associated in states with a one percentage point increase in employment rate.”

“GPTs are GPTs: An Early Look at the Labor Market Impact Potential of Large Language Models” [arXiv]. The Abstract: “We investigate the potential implications of large language models (LLMs), such as Generative Pre-trained Transformers (GPTs), on the U.S. labor market, focusing on the increased capabilities arising from LLM-powered software compared to LLMs on their own. Using a new rubric, we assess occupations based on their alignment with LLM capabilities, integrating both human expertise and GPT-4 classifications. Our findings reveal that around 80% of the U.S. workforce could have at least 10% of their work tasks affected by the introduction of LLMs, while approximately 19% of workers may see at least 50% of their tasks impacted. We do not make predictions about the development or adoption timeline of such LLMs. The projected effects span all wage levels, with higher-income jobs potentially facing greater exposure to LLM capabilities and LLM-powered software. Significantly, these impacts are not restricted to industries with higher recent productivity growth. Our analysis suggests that, with access to an LLM, about 15% of all worker tasks in the US could be completed significantly faster at the same level of quality. When incorporating software and tooling built on top of LLMs, this share increases to between 47 and 56% of all tasks. This finding implies that LLM-powered software will have a substantial effect on scaling the economic impacts of the underlying models. We conclude that LLMs such as GPTs exhibit traits of general-purpose technologies, indicating that they could have considerable economic, social, and policy implications.” • AI coming for the PMC, while all they can do is gawk at how neat it is. I suppose each one of them figures they’ll be the one writing the prompts, which would make PMC precarity even more predatory than it already is. I could revek in the schadenfreude, if I didn’t think the society-wide effects would be so hideous. I mean, nobody thinks the working class is going to be clocking fewer hours for more money because of AI, do they?

News of the Wired

“The RIAA v. Steve Jobs” [Rogue Amoeba]. Quoting Adam Curry: “Steve asked: ‘How do you do your recording?’ We didn’t really have any tools to record, there was not much going on at the time. But the Mac had an application called Audio Hijack Pro, and it was great because we could create audio chains with compressors, and replicate a bit of studio work. Eddy Cue said: ‘The RIAA wants us to disable Audio Hijack Pro, because with it you could record any sound off of your Mac, any song, anything.’ Steve then turned to me and said: ‘Do you need this to create these podcasts?’ I said: ‘Currently, yes!’ So Steve Jobs told them to get lost, and I thought: ‘Hey man, thanks, Steve’s on my side. That’s cool.'” • So we can thank Steve Jobs for helping podcasting along!

“What’s the best design for splash-free urinal? Physics now has the answer” [Ars Technica]. “Scientists at the University of Waterloo have determined the optimal design for a splash-free urinal: a tall, slender porcelain structure with curves reminiscent of a nautilus shell, playfully dubbed the “Nauti-loo.” That’s good news for men tired of having urine splash onto their pants and shoes—and for the poor souls who have to regularly clean up all the splatter. Bonus: It’s quite an aesthetically appealing design, giving this workhorse of the public restroom a touch of class…. According to Pan, the key to optimal splash-free urinal design is the angle at which the pee stream strikes the porcelain surface; get a small enough angle, and there won’t be any splashback. Instead, you get a smooth flow across the surface, preventing droplets from flying out. (And yes, there is a critical threshold at which the urine stream switches from splashing to flowing smoothly, because phase transitions are everywhere—even in our public restrooms.) It turns out that dogs have already figured out the optimal angle as they lift their legs to pee, and when Pan et al. modeled this on a computer, they pegged the optimal angle for humans at 30 degrees.”

* * *

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RM writes: “Tree trimming in the Fall.”

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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. Carolinian

    The movie version of Master and Commander is splendid. I like it very much.

    My own favorite, Hornblower, never got a good film treatment. However C.S. Forester did provide the source for some other movies including the wonderful The African Queen.

    1. Martin Oline

      Alternative to re-reading the books by Patrick O Brian is author Dudley Pope, who wrote about eighteen books. He covers Trafalgar, unlike O’Brian. There is an American author who wrote three books about the early American Navy in the Caribbean but I can’t for the life of me remember his name. Two concerned the revolution in Haiti. I believe he was not a success and turned to writing commercial chamber of commerce type books about local tourism.

      1. Carolinian

        Lambert has previously pooh poohed my Hornblower but I loved those books as a kid. I was obsessed with sailing ships.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Read the Hornblower series as a teenager and agree that they were very good. In fact, so was the Hornblower TV series with Ioan Gruffudd in it. But the film “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” was in a class of its own in terms of classic adventure.

    2. Michaelmas

      Lambert S: I loved the Aubrey-Maturin series. Dunno about the movie(s?), but the books are terrific.

      As I recall, the film is among the best that Peter Weir — a very fine director, who quietly was responsible for some of the most interesting mass-market films of the last half-century — did.


      Notable, too, for getting career best performances out of the likes of Jeff Bridges, Russell Crowe, and Mel Gibson, among many other actors.

  2. petal

    The College’s Provost sent out an email yesterday advertising covid booster clinics and other covid resources. The undergrads are coming back for Spring term this week. Good times.

        1. Jen

          It does not. At the start of the pandemic they did, but once the administration went all in on let it rip, such strategies were abandoned. Can’t have countervailing evidence to the “low cases,” can we?

  3. mrsyk

    “I would imagine it’s easier to open the windows in California at this time of year than it is in New England. OTOH, maybe people are sacrificing air conditioning?” Ahhh, this is what they mean when they say Covid is seasonal.

  4. tevhatch

    Greg Saysso – Canadian Government Misinformation – Can’t trust them on COVID
    but Chrystia Freeland and Co would not lie about Ukraine.

    Is the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect a symptom of long COVID?

      1. The Rev Kev

        The fact that it is the Wall Street Journal doing an opinion piece on this shows the extent of the disquiet about this blatant form of intimidation.

      2. Jason Boxman

        Liberal Democrats have access to many levers of government to pursue their goals. They even find these levers when it suits them. It ain’t in pursuit of material benefits for the working class, that’s for sure.

    1. Stephen V

      Gawd, this tees me off! “The Service” can’t have it both ways: cultivating a culture of fear (IRS IS HIRING 65K PEEPS WITH GUNS) and then not expect a hue and cry when they knock on someone’s door. Unless it’s Criminal Investigation Division (guys & gals with guns) –which this is not–there’s no reason to knock on doors. Thank you current administration.
      And there’s a simple reason for this “you (Taibbi) are a so-called-journalist” manure. The PMC is comprised of the Credentialed, the Licensed. This latter is not just an entry into the club requirement, it is also an Enforcement Mechanism. No licensure requirement for journalists! Too bad, so sad.

  5. semper loquitur


    In our current culture, it is more common that reading certain books may be punished rather than the books themselves being outright banned. This more subtle form of social control encourages one of the most insidious threats to freedom–the tendency in all of us to self-censor what we read, think and say.

    Indiana University – Purdue University (IUPUI) is an urban university campus in downtown Indianapolis with approximately 30,000 students. In 2008, Keith John Sampson, at the time both janitor and Communications Studies student at IUPUI, was accused of racial harassment. His crime: he was seen reading the wrong book during his work break.

    Note that it was a book about how Notre Dame had successfully confronted the KKK!


    1. flora

      I don’t know about ‘punishing’. I do know that starting with lockdowns some so-called philanthropic outfit gave large donations to uni’s to make available in online form only the text of books in their library collections. At first it was supposed to be only still copywrited books. Imagine my surprise (not to say disgust) when I discovered I could not check out long off copywrite classic works because of a “philanthropic” agreement between my uni and said philanthropy. Even though I knew for certain my uni library system had these works in their collections. I’d checked them out before.

      I called library main office to complain that I wanted an actual off-copywrite book, a printed book, and was told they’d had many many similar complaints, but there was nothing they could do. They agreed with me but so sorry, nothing they could do. They now could only offer “Moby Dick” only online? They could only offer Edward Gibbon’s The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire only online? wtf!?! Those are both well past copywrite.

      1. flora

        adding: I tried to understand, at first. Still copywrited books might be the most popular, might have the greatest traffic in a library and so making them available online only might make sense during a lockdown. But no, it turns out it wasn’t only the most recent or popular books, despite the claims to the contrary. It included the great classics now long off copywrite and seldom checked out books. WTF is going on here?!?

        1. Angie Neer

          flora, that’s quite bizarre. Is there a reason you’re not naming the philanthropy? BTW it’s “copyright,” as in the right to copy.

          1. flora

            thanks for the correction of ‘copyright’. I kept thinking I wasn’t spelling that correctly. “right” vs “write.” (English is a contextual language, which no one pushing AI will admit to. ha. )

            The philanthrophy: I was told it once by my uni’s library system’s help desk. The so-and-so philanthropy has made available online,etc… I’ll have to see if I can find again my uni’s reference that names it. Thanks again.

              1. ambrit

                The Closet Cynic living in my sub-conscious says that: 1) Hard copies can be kept forever, (or until asteriodal impacts create degrading environments for the printed word) and 2) digital copies’ lifespans are only as good as the “managers” of the data base deign.
                If your Culture is on a platform, you have no culture.
                For example; how many mentions of the massive strikes and protests going on in France and Israel right now can we cite from the MSMs?
                If Godzilla rampages through Tokyo and no one broadcasts it, is it really happening?

                1. hunkerdown

                  Digital copies can last as long as the media, and the ability to read it, exists. See Github’s “Arctic Code Vault” project for one such digital time capsule and the production techniques thereof.

                  Physical books can’t help but use local storage. Failing that, “Save as…” is your friend.

                  1. JBird4049

                    >>> Failing that, “Save as…” is your friend.

                    Not really. I am still confused as to why flora can only read certain books online. Then there is the problem that being required to use a phone/tablet/desktop requires that you have access to a device, an internet connection, and electricity while hoping that nothing like Amazon does not clawback whatever you bought because reasons. There is also the rewriting of books already owned.

                    If you are poor or live in Darkest America where libraries are under threat and internet access is something not to take for granted, out in the countryside, being able to have access to both print and electronic forms is necessary.

                    Honestly, if I ever go back to hiking and camping or become homeless, I will have some paperbacks with me. Maybe some of the ones that I bought forty years ago.

                    But I also have books over a century old, and probably over a hundred that are from early in the twentieth century, like before the Second World War.

                    Honestly, if the publishers were truly interested in staying in business, finding and supporting good writers that people want to read, and then get their works out in whatever form they want is the way. As it is, some of my favorite writers can only get one printing run of their latest books. It is not because readers do not want to buy them, but because the blasted publishers can make more money by only doing ebooks.

                    Just as with the music in particular and art in general, it crapification, overcharging, and refusing to find and nurture new talent that is killing the industry. But that is true with the rest of the large corporations in the United States.

    2. Martin Oline

      Oh, your comment sent my mind raving, wondering what he could have been reading, Uncle Tom’s Cabin? The Anarchist’s Cookbook? Master and Commander? I just had to click on the link to find out. As Paul Harvey used to say, “Now for the rest of the story.”

      The book Sampson was reading was Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan. The book describes a clash between the Klan and students from Notre Dame that took place in 1926. Written by Todd Tucker, a Notre Dame alumnus, the story is presented from the point of view of the Notre Dame students who opposed the Klan.

      It is amazing he was penalized for reading this but even more damning was the incurious hive-mind at the Affirmative Action Office at Purdue which condemned him without checking the premise of the book. Perhaps the real sin was boosting Notre Dame and the Irish.

    3. clarky90

      Re; “the tendency in all of us to self-censor what we read, think and say….”

      “The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”
      -Malcolm x

      Women’s rights advocate Kellie-Jay Keen says she “feared for her life” after being attacked by trans activists during protests in New Zealand.


      Posie Parker (real name, Kellie-Jay Keen) is a 5′ 5″ tall, 43 years old woman, and the mother of four children.

      “Let Women Speak!”.

      She is NOT anti trans (as commonly portrayed by the MSM)… but pro biological women, girls, lesbians…… Their inalienable right to live in peace and privacy, and have access to women-only (straight or gay) spaces.

      The physical assault of biological women is being celebrated!, as a victory for “love, inclusion and joy”.

      My accomplished mother, battled her entire life, for feminism and womens’ rights…. and against the emboldened, “Hunting Packs of Bullys”.

  6. Tom Stone

    I can think of quite a few Counties in California where opening your windows right now would cool things off in a big hurry.
    People from out of State usually think of Southern California’s weather as being typical for California, which it is decidedly not.

    1. Otis B Driftwood

      47 degrees F and raining in the SF Bay Area today. A particularly cold and wet 2023 so far, with
      few days since Dec when it was mild enough for open windows.

      1. Luckless Pedestrian

        I’m in Healdsburg (Sonoma County) and it rained all morning. Letting up now but a soggy day to open a window for sure!

      2. Synoia

        People are told about the beauty of CA beaches. The Temperature of the CA sea is avoided. Yjr sea is cold to beyond Cabo san Lucas.

        Norfolk beaches in the UK enjoy enjoy warmer water than CA beaches. For nice warm water beach go to the US Atlantic coast – just avoid hurricane season.

        To play with sharks, try African beaches. Some have shark nets to protect the humans.

        1. ArcadiaMommy

          Sorry the water on the east coast is freezing unless you are in FL. Freezing cold north of that. Water also murky.

          NorCal – cold water, dark and foggy weather.

          SoCal, water in the summer is pleasant, so is the sunshine. Much warmer in LA, OC and SD.

        2. anon in so cal

          California waters are notoriously colder than the Atlantic coast. I can remember swimming in New Jersey in summer and the water was balmy. September is when the ocean water is warmest in Southern California.

  7. Barbara

    Coincidence? The IRS “called on Matt Taibbi’s home – in person” while he was testifying before Congress on the federal hand in the censorship-industrial-complex. Seems his already accepted 2018 and 2021 tax returns now have problems. And I thought the IRS was short staffed and why my refund on my tax return for 2021, filed on time, came in February 2023.

  8. jsn

    “Sure, innocent until proven guilty, but did the Democrats really think that nominating a candidate (Washington) with outstanding warrants was a good idea?”

    The Democrats seem to be taking the wrong lesson from last weeks shocking realization that Trump running from jail would be to his benefit.

  9. Tom Stone

    I’m running across more allegations that Joe Biden is a racist, which is totally unfair.
    Joe, like his buddies Jesse and Strom simply wants what’s best for both races, the Human race and those people.

  10. griffen

    Splash free technology for the restroom. Ahem, yeah good luck with that. Yeah, and those dogs can’t talk to their owners but raising a leg to go number one sure is an easy outdoor exercise. But I’m not envious at all of those dogs ( maybe, maybe if nature beckons and on a golf course with plenty of tree cover ).

    1. nippersdad

      Additional thoughts on dogs peeing strategies: Is it really all that efficient for dogs to get the right angle to reduce splashback when they just step in the puddle immediately afterwards? I’m not sure that they would be the best example to follow.

      1. pretzelattack

        they just wanted to prove they have an effective peeing strategy. anything else is gilding the lily.

    1. notabanker

      Care to share any of that axle unwrapping grease? I had to delete a number of pre-submission comments after reading the SVB bailout piece. Oy.

  11. FreeMarketApologist

    Ummmm…. “50/50 (94% of US states).”

    Or are we now including the state of confusion and the state of depression in our count?

    (probably need the territories, and DC as well)

  12. Tommy S

    A recent NPR article did this, and even Matt Stoller too. Showing drastically dropped life expectancy rates in the USA compared to other countries. Ok. Good to recognize. My problem is, they are doing median, and never breaking down by class. You know, the bottom half of the USA, half don’t even get to SS retirement age. I kinda think that is an area of big concern. As in, why do the bottom half live 5 to 7 years less since 2009? Well, to bring that up, might get people angry. I suspect………..which of course means, that half of the working class that paid into ‘free medical care’ and SS by age 67 won’t collect a dime. Yes half, will never see any money they paid into it. Thanks America!

  13. bosko

    1000% with Lambert’s comment on Trump above: It’s very significant that Trump is talking about peace in Ukraine. There might be no anti-war movement to speak of, with a couple of dozen people showing up to many anti- proxy war protests at any given time, but I do think both parties are aware that the tide may turn at any moment. That Trump recognizes Ukraine as a point of vulnerability is worth noting.

  14. ambrit

    For the “Master and Commander” reference, that communication from the Lords Admiralty should have mentioned the ship to be pursued as the American warship USS Norfolk. The CGI models of the film’s adversary, the French “Acheron,” were based upon the extant USS Constitution. So, the name might have been changed to protect the guilty. The actual USS Norfolk was a brig, having two masts. The USS Constitution is a frigate, three masts.
    Such is Life (TM.)

    1. Carolinian

      Seems the movie takes bits from multiple novels and sea battle switched from 1812 to Napoleonic wars.


      It was mostly filmed on a full sized Surprise replica in the same Baja tank that Fox used for Titanic. Your Acheron probably a miniature tank model rather than CGI.

      Wiki also says a possible prequel has been in development since 2021. However if Russell Crowe to reprise then given his current girth they may need a bigger ship.

    2. Polar Socialist

      I believe the change was made for the American audience. It would have been non-commercial to have the Americans as the “bad guys”.

      Regarding the HMS Surprise, there actually was a ship by that name in the Royal Navy at the time. In September 1814 she participated in bombarding certain Fort McHenry.

  15. Mark Gisleson

    Archive.ph is currently unreachable for Firefox users (certificate issues) so I dusted off Chrome and as I typed in the url it suggested an autocomplete so I clicked on that and Chrome took me to an archive.ph article I’d read earlier on Firefox.

    I hadn’t used Chrome in well over a year but somehow Chrome was still watching over me : |

  16. semper loquitur


    Plebity: I meant, your answers about anything–do they ever reflect the human biases of your programmers?

    AI:No, my responses do not reflect the personal biases of my human programmers. My responses are based on facts from independent studies and my own efforts to find reliable sources that confirm or refute the facts.


  17. digi_owl

    USA is deeply ahistorical. So many of its regional customs are frozen snapshots of whenever the early cohort of settlers came over from Europe. Sadly off late that ahistory is being exported back to Europe, in the form of evaluating historical persons etc according to “modern” (US) norms.

    I guess in a sense the whole of USA is a massive Disney resort. So much of it is constructed to appear much older than it is, but done in a manner that reveal its fake nature to any knowledgeable onlooker.

    One example i ran into some years back that clued me onto this was a site complaining about mcmansions. Specifically how they had all this weird protrusions and mismatched windows etc. The thought struck me that all this was done in order to fake a generational history. Meaning that this was the kind of house you would see in say Europe when it has passed through multiple generation. Where each would have added to it as needs and fashions of the time dictated.

  18. Schnormal

    “Rep. Khanna Under Fire Over Fundraiser By GOP Backer”

    I keep getting fundraising emails for Ro sent by Nina Turner, with the subject line “Let’s fix our broken healthcare system. Let’s pass Medicare for All.”

    Like Lambert remarked yesterday, these [family blogs] couldn’t pass M4A during a freaking *pandemic*. Any promise of material benefits I guess now are just for fundraising?

    1. nippersmom

      I removed myself from that mailing list with the comment that I don’t support candidates who vote to fund Nazis. I could have gone on at length about Khanna’s failure to put his vote where his campaign promises are on virtually any issue of concern for me, but decided to keep my response short.

      The Nazi litmus test has proven very revealing, and a useful corollary to the “I don’t vote for war criminals” rule.

      1. Schnormal


        He’s always playing both sides — I remember when he endorsed both Joe Crowley and AOC lol

    2. Jason Boxman

      I now donate to the Republican opponent when I get these and let them know to stop texting me along with my donation receipt.

  19. Revenant

    Lambert, I remember reading a science article once that claimed Jackson Pollock paintings have a unique and consistent fractal jndex which imitators lack.

  20. Revenant

    Fractality of Pollock started with Richard Taylor but is a growing field. Mexicans are taking an interest. Taylor can date the drip paintings to within a year by fractality.




  21. Art_DogCT

    “But would it be easy to spot a fake Pollock by looking at the painting alone?”

    To eyes trained on much study of Pollock’s work (with as much time physically with the canvases as possible), I think such an expert would have no difficulty sorting out poorer quality works ‘in the style of Pollock’. If the suspect canvas were a professional forger’s attempt, authentication could prove much more complex.

    1. Lunker Walleye

      I believe an amateur would have to figure out the types of arm movements and type and viscosity of paints, where to stand and how to “fling” to create an accurate facsimile. The substrate would also have to be “right”.

      1. jsn

        A lot of authentication from that era has come down chemistry, and Pollock iirc used very specific paints from a particular manufacturer. As such would be easier to authenticate.

  22. Tim

    I’ll keep saying this. The wheels are slow to turn at large corporations. Many are still in the planning stages of their office space downsizing to “right size” their footprint relative to their in-office work force. Commercial Office space issues are still mid trend. We haven’t seen the worst of it yet.

    1. ChrisFromGA

      Right on. And many are still in the planning stages of mass layoffs to hit later in the spring, or fall.

      Gotta get their ducks in a row. Stack-ranked spreadsheets, legal, HR checklists. Don’t can too many old folks, or too few.

      No cubes required for zombie tech armies of the undead.

  23. Mikel


    “At the heart of Sweden’s woes is a dysfunctional housing market, which has not only cemented social divides, but exacerbated them…”

    “…The central bank views real estate lending as the biggest risk in the financial system and has warned about the impact of rising household debt on everything from consumption to bankruptcies and bank losses. It has repeatedly called for housing and tax reforms with former Governor Stefan Ingves criticizing the level of the property tax, which is among the lowest in the world…”

    The same all over the world – even in countries that are alleged to be ideologically different.

  24. Tim

    “AI coming for the PMC”

    A variation on a famous quote: First they came for the manufacturing base by offshoring it and I did nothing, then they came for the in-person service and construction industries with south of the border labor and I did nothing, then they came for engineering and technical services with HB1 Visas and I did nothing, then they came for my job with AI and it vanished
    -Unknown PMC card carrying member.

    I think my 10 year old son could be a good lawyer, he has a lot of the necessary qualities of one, but I’m beginning to think I should have him become a plumber and grow a business instead.

    1. LifelongLib

      Back in the mid-80s I had an acquaintance who drew graphs for scientific papers, but was shifting to art work because computers were already becoming able to generate graphs far more quickly than he could. While AI is yet another expansion of what computers can do the scenario isn’t new.

  25. Tim

    90% of urinal pee splatter is the 1/8″ thick deodorizer/drain blocker they throw in there that disrupts the flow, especially after you’ve obtained the proper attack angle who’s laminar flow actually increases the velocity at which it hits the ridge and turns it into a sprinkler.

    I guess if a particular urinal shape prevents their use then it will actually work.

  26. Martin Oline

    A lower court has apparently ruled for the publishers vs. Internet Archive. They sent me this message:

    Here at the Internet Archive, we’re deeply grateful for our community—the partners, patrons, and donors who help us thrive. Your support has proven especially valuable during a lawsuit brought by four major publishers that has aimed to put a stop to our library lending.

    A lower court decision released on Friday ruled in favor of the publishers. This is a blow to all libraries and the communities we serve—but the fight is far from over.

    We will appeal this judgment, continuing to defend the rights of libraries to serve their patrons, and the rights of readers to access books. We will also continue our work as a library. This case does not challenge many of the services we provide with digitized books, including interlibrary loan, access for the print-disabled, and ongoing donation and preservation of books.

    Libraries are a pillar of democracy. They have an age-old role in providing access to knowledge for marginalized communities and preserving knowledge for future generations.

  27. Tom Doak

    So Dr Fauci is still at it with the noble lies – “We don’t want to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Really, that line? The day Obama started saying that was the day his real intentions (or lack of them) became clear.

    1. flora

      Fauci’s shtick has carried him – well paid by pharma – from the AIDS crisis (bactrim vs AZT, anyone) until now. Why would he change? / ;)

    2. The Rev Kev

      Speaking of Obama. He is in Oz right now doing a speaking tour and has come out and said that the source of China-US tensions was – wait for it – Donald Trump. He also said ‘With my successor coming in, I think (Xi) saw an opportunity because the U.S. president didn’t seem to care that much about a rules-based international system’


      Must be when Trump announced his ‘Pivot to Asia’ policy. Oh wait, that was Obama.

      1. ChrisFromGA

        I’m still puzzling over how Barack Obama got through law school without understanding the concept that laws are not “oh, today I feel like bombing random wedding parties. If you don’t like it, suck it”

        His class on international law must have skipped over the 2003 Iraq war, which was blatantly illegal under international law.

  28. flora

    re: RM writes: “Tree trimming in the Fall.”

    I do like the deer. If only they weren’t so fond of grazing my tulips. sigh….

    1. notabanker


      Mrs Notabanker planted hundreds of bulbs over the last few years, and despite my warnings, many of them were tulips. The deer troll her all spring long, munching just a few of them and letting the rest of them go until right before blooming, when they are summarily decapitated.

  29. The Rev Kev

    ‘Aaron Blake
    Meet ‘the five families’ that wield power in McCarthy’s House majority.’

    Oddly enough my first thought at seeing that chart was ‘Where are the octogenarians?’

  30. Jason Boxman

    The implication of the “not living in fear” trope is that those that take COVID seriously are afraid. While there’s push back on that, to be honest, I am afraid. The evidence that any SARS-COV-2 infection is bad news is frankly overwhelming at this point. We’re finding it in tissue donations! We’re finding demonstrable brain volume reductions! We’re seeing people past the acute phase of infection with some lingering something that no one will admit is likely permanent psychological damage. If you’re not a little afraid, maybe you aren’t paying attention?

    1. JBird4049

      >>>If you’re not a little afraid, maybe you aren’t paying attention?

      I do not want to be fair, but the establishment has spent a lot of time and money creating marvelous propaganda meant to frak with people’s minds. Much of the population has had their ability to see, discern, think, and decide, drowned by the bs.

      Eventually, when it is far too late for many, people will finally start to see the truth.

  31. Ranger Rick

    I have a different explanation for the prevalence of silly huge smiles in AI generated images: the sheer number of memes that proliferated in the past several years as people applied a very common photo filter (even to paintings and other still frames) that pastes a perfect grin over any face.

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