2:00PM Water Cooler 3/29/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

House Wren, Coronado National Forest, Pearce, AZ, United States. “Habitat: Dry Forest, Mixed Coniferous/Deciduous. Song.” Begins with what I swear is the sound of bees, then comes a lot of virtuosity.

* * *


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


“Idaho Is About To Become The First State To Restrict Interstate Travel For Abortion” [HuffPo]. “House Bill 242, which passed through the state House and is likely to move quickly through the Senate, seeks to limit minors’ ability to travel for abortion care without parental consent. The legislation would create a whole new crime — dubbed ‘abortion trafficking’ — which is defined in the bill as an ‘adult who, with the intent to conceal an abortion from the parents or guardian of a pregnant, unemancipated minor, either procures an abortion … or obtains an abortion-inducing drug’ for the minor. ‘Recruiting, harboring, or transporting the pregnant minor within this state commits the crime of abortion trafficking,’ the legislation adds…. State Rep. Barbara Ehardt (R), one of the sponsors of the abortion trafficking bill, said plainly that the intent of the legislation is to limit minors’ ability to travel out of state without parental consent.”

Biden Administration

“Justice Department Reinforces Federal Nondiscrimination Obligations in Letter to State Officials Regarding Transgender Youth: DOJ Letter Regarding Federal Nondiscrimination Protections” [U.S. Department of Justice]. “Intentionally erecting discriminatory barriers to prevent individuals from receiving gender-affirming care implicates a number of federal legal guarantees. State laws and policies that prevent parents or guardians from following the advice of a healthcare professional regarding what may be medically necessary or otherwise appropriate care for transgender minors may infringe on rights protected by both the Equal Protection and the Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Equal Protection Clause requires heightened scrutiny of laws that discriminate on the basis of sex4 and prohibits such discrimination absent an “exceedingly persuasive” justification. Because a government cannot discriminate against a person for being transgender ‘without discriminating against that individual based on sex,’6 state laws or policies that discriminate against transgender people must be ‘substantially related to a sufficiently important governmental interest.'”… 6 Bostock v. Clayton Cnty., 140 S. Ct. 1731, 1741 (2020).” • Hmm. My views on all this were formed in the early 70s, when sex and gender were understood to be distinct. Perhaps somebody more knowledgeable in case law than I am can look at 2020’s Bostock v. Clayton Cnty.


“Is DeSantis really ‘dropping like a rock’?” [Politcio]. “There are still 10 months to go before Republican voters actually begin choosing between Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis and numerous other candidates to be the GOP’s 2024 presidential nominee. But the former president is already taking something of a victory lap. DeSantis, Trump bragged this weekend at a rally in Waco, Texas, is ‘dropping like a rock.’ That’s overstating the case. But it’s true that DeSantis, who hasn’t even announced he’s running for president, is receiving the kind of scrutiny reserved for frontrunning candidates — and the attendant slippage in national polling that can come with it. Just last week, polls from Monmouth and Quinnipiac universities showed Trump gaining on DeSantis. Trump netted 14 points against DeSantis in the Monmouth poll, compared to last month, and 8 points in the Quinnipiac poll. Most notably, Trump’s gains appeared to be concentrated among the voters most skeptical of his candidacy eight years ago: those with higher incomes and greater levels of educational attainment. On balance, those groups still lean away from the former president and toward DeSantis as Trump’s leading competitor. But any gains from Trump among this cohort severely damages the chances of dethroning him next year. The good news for DeSantis? There are some polls, including in the key early states, that suggest the Florida governor is still neck-and-neck with Trump at the top of the field. And, of course, there’s no national primary — just a succession of contests, each influenced by those coming before.”

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.

* * *

They’re still at it:

“Trust me. I’m a Democrat!”

“What American Liberals Can Learn From Israel’s Protests” [The Atlantic]. “The success of this protest movement, which yesterday finally forced Netanyahu to postpone a vote on the bill, has to do, it seems to me, with the flags. They were everywhere, flung around shoulders, fluttering on long sticks, painted on young cheeks, stretched over the heads of crowds. There seemed to be no square foot without the blue Star of David. The protesters wrapped themselves in the flags: If there were indeed only two possible choices, this demonstration was unabashedly pro-Israel. Those who came to resist Netanyahu and the moves of his extreme-right coalition partners avoided the framing of their actions as the expected leftist response—as a form of reaction, that is. They were the ones, they said, who were being true to the values of Israel. They were the ones who represented the Jewish and democratic state that Israel was founded to be. They were the authentic Israelis—even, one might say, conservative in the truest sense of hewing to tradition—while those looking to enact what they called ‘judicial reforms’ were the dangerous radicals, the ones trying to bypass the rule of law and impose an alien authoritarianism akin to Hungary’s.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Nashville school shooting – latest: Audrey Hale’s post about partner’s death revealed as motive still unknown” [Independent]. “Police said that the suspect, who was armed with two assault-style rifles and a handgun on Monday, was a former student at the school who had methodically planned the attack and may have harboured ‘resentment’ against the institution…. Police say shooter Audrey Hale attended The Covenant School in the past.” • Hmm. What resentment? Here is an interesting factoid from 2015–

“Co-Author Of Mike Huckabee Books Was Accused Of Child Molestation In Two Legal Cases” [Buzzfeed]. “Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is facing fresh controversy over links to a child abuser today…. John Perry, a prolific author who helped co-write hit movie The Vow, was not prosecuted because the statute of limitations had passed by the time police became involved… Documents uncovered by Buzzfeed News show that Nashville, Tennessee, police investigated Perry in 2012. … Perry reportedly copped to the abuse and was subsequently excommunicated from his church. His wife also left him, citing ‘inappropriate marital conduct’ in the divorce proceedings…. Catherine Davis, a parishioner at Perry’s former church, Covenant Presbyterian Church, said in the court document that the alleged victim told her that she began telling her family members, church leaders, school officials and other people in her life about the abuse that year, though she did not share her story with Davis until the summer of 2012.” • The Covenant School was founded in “2001 as a ministry of Covenant Presbyterian Church.” So it would be irresponsible not to speculate that the alleged shooter, Hale, may have had motives currently not discussed; abuse is, after all, no less an issue for Christianists than it is for Catholics or the Boy Scouts. UPDATE The head of the school was targeted, which is atypical and suggests a desire for accountability of some sort.


“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).

* * *

Look for the Helpers

Paul is Paul Farmer.

Organization has get to take place, presumably because there’s nowhere in the existing party structure where such organizing could be done.

* * *

“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:


Report from the field in New South Wales:


Could be that the anti-masking campaign has brought masking down to the lowest possible level, which is not zero. Time for a rebound?

A long thread on mask-fitting:

There are many good tips, but I liked this one:

“Masking Still Required in About Half of Medical Offices, Poll Finds” [MedScape]. To me, that’s surprisingly high (as was the survey of hospital epidemiologists here). Perhaps I’ve allowed myself to be gaslit? More: “Nearly half of medical groups continue to require masking even as local public health officials have dropped mask mandates, according to a recent poll from the Medical Group Management Associationopens in a new tab or window (MGMA). Of 859 respondents, 49% said their office still has a mask requirement in place, while 51% said they do not. Among the medical groups that reported not having a mask requirement, nearly three-fourths (74%) said they had one in place at this point in 2022 and removed those rules within the past year, while the remaining 26% had either previously removed such policies or never had one, the poll found. The results come from MGMA’s March 7 Stat poll, which is a poll sent weekly via text message to more than 4,000 self-selected MGMA member participants. The 49% of groups that still have mask requirements varied in how they were enforced, with 72% saying they applied to everyone — patients, staff, and visitors. Another 20% said they applied only to symptomatic patients and the staff members working with them, and 8% said masks were required for staff but optional for patients and visitors. Masking requirements also varied in where they were applied, with 31% of respondents with mask requirements saying they were required throughout their facility, while 63% said they applied only in limited areas (e.g., public/patient-facing areas or clinical areas).” • My takeaway is that with non-eugenicist CDC guidance, we’d have near 100% masking in all medical facilities. Ah well, nevertheless.


Reality is more cunning than any theory:

IIRC, both the Kent variant in the UK and a South African variant emerged out of immune-compromised indviduals. Hard to see why this hasn’t happened in the United States.


“COVID-19 and Immune Dysregulation, a Summary and Resource” [World Health Network]. From the summary: “COVID-19 infection has several very concerning effects on the immune system that might easily lead to advantages for other pathogens as well as worse outcomes in COVID-19 reinfections. This immune dysfunction or aging is at least one of the most likely scenarios explaining the recent surges in diseases like RSV, influenza, Strep A, and other infections. By contrast, immunity debt is not considered a viable explanation as the surges of these diseases continue in countries that had surges last season and immunity wanes for many of these diseases. Another serious concern at this point is that repeated infections by COVID-19 might lead to depletion or exhaustion of cytotoxic CD8+ T cells which could have downstream effects on other diseases like cancers, as these T cells are instrumental in limiting tumor proliferation and have been shown to differentiate to become dysfunctional.”

Elite Malfeasance

“Improving Ventilation in Your Home” [CDC]. From 2022, but still up. “Ventilate your home by getting fresh air into your home, filtering the air that is there, and improving air flow. Improving ventilation can help you reduce virus particles in your home and keep COVID-19 from spreading…. The more people inside your home, and the longer they stay, the more virus particles can accumulate.” • No mention of measuring CO2, a proxy for shared air. While all the suggestions are good (opening doors and windows, HVAC filtering, HEPA air cleaners, exhaust fan in your bathroom and kitchen), the CDC denies its readers knowledge that these measures can be tested to see if they work. Unconscionable. And while we’re accumulating evidence for the Hague Tribunal, this cute little graphic appeared in my inbox:

The masks have ear loops, so they’re not N95s (which have elastic headbands). Therefore, they tend to be more gappy, since they’re not tightened round the face. Sending a pleasingly diverse group of children out to get infected is what liberal Democrats are all about, isn’t it?

* * *

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 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.

• “CDC wastewater data shows Omaha COVID level increase” [WOWT]. Simultaneous headline, on the same page: “Omaha hospitals doing away with mask requirements.”

• “State sends rapid respond team to a Pittsfield nursing home after COVID outbreak hits more than 60 residents, staff” [Berkshire Eagle]. “A coronavirus outbreak at Springside Rehabilitation and Skilled Care Center in Pittsfield has decimated staffing levels and prompted the state to send its rapid response team to the facility…. Federal and state law allows visitation at all times, even amid outbreaks, given how critical family and other visitors are for the well-being and safety of nursing home residents.” • Speaking of safety, there’s nothing in the story about ventilation or masking. There is, however, this link on understaffing, apparently a perennial problem in the Berkshires:

Way too many deaths traps around for comfort, these days….

Covid Emergency Room Visits

From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, from March 25:

NOTE “Charts and data provided by CDC, updates Wednesday by 8am. For the past year, using a rolling 52-week period.” So not the entire pandemic, FFS (the implicit message here being that Covid is “just like the flu,” which is why the seasonal “rolling 52-week period” is appropriate for bothMR SUBLIMINAL I hate these people so much. Anyhow, I added a grey “Fauci line” just to show that Covid wasn’t “over” when they started saying it was, and it’s not over now. 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:

-0.7%. 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: 1,153,972 – 1,153,816 = 156 (156 * 365 = 56,940 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 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

There are no official statistics of interest today.

* * *

Retail: “New Report: The Dollar Store Invasion” [Institute for Local Self-Reliance]. “Last year, nearly half of new stores that opened in the U.S. were chain dollar stores, a degree of momentum with no parallel in the history of the retail industry… One might assume that the dollar chains are simply filling a need, providing basic retail options in cash-strapped communities. But the evidence shows something else. These stores aren’t merely a byproduct of economic distress; they are a cause of it. As this report shows, in small towns and urban neighborhoods alike, dollar stores drive grocery stores and other retailers out of business, leave more people without access to fresh food, extract wealth from local economies, sow crime and violence, and further erode the prospects of the communities they target. Dollar General and Dollar Tree (and its subsidiary Family Dollar) single out communities that have been marginalized economically and politically. In urban areas, they blanket Black and Latino neighborhoods, opening multiple outlets near one another.11 This carpet-bombing strategy undermines existing food stores, especially the independent grocery stores that often serve these communities, and makes it hard for new businesses to take root and grow, effectively locking in neighborhood deprivation. The chains also target rural towns, many already struggling from the effects of corporate consolidation and globalization.12 They typically locate next door to or across the street from the town’s only grocery store, and often succeed in wiping it out. Dollar stores are dismal substitutes; they stock little fresh produce and sell only a narrow range of processed foods, such as canned soup and soda.”

Tech: “‘It’s a dangerous race that no one can predict or control’: Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and 1,000 other tech leaders sign letter calling for pause on AI development because it poses a ‘profound risk to society and humanity'” [Daily Mail]. The Mail includes the text of the letter: “Contemporary AI systems are now becoming human-competitive at general tasks, and we must ask ourselves: Should we let machines flood our information channels with propaganda and untruth? Should we automate away all the jobs, including the fulfilling ones? Should we develop nonhuman minds that might eventually outnumber, outsmart, obsolete and replace us? Should we risk loss of control of our civilization? Such decisions must not be delegated to unelected tech leaders. Powerful AI systems should be developed only once we are confident that their effects will be positive and their risks will be manageable. This confidence must be well justified and increase with the magnitude of a system’s potential effects. OpenAI’s recent statement regarding artificial general intelligence, states that ‘At some point, it may be important to get independent review before starting to train future systems, and for the most advanced efforts to agree to limit the rate of growth of compute used for creating new models.’ We agree. That point is now. Therefore, we call on all AI labs to immediately pause for at least 6 months the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4. This pause should be public and verifiable, and include all key actors. If such a pause cannot be enacted quickly, governments should step in and institute a moratorium. AI labs and independent experts should use this pause to jointly develop and implement a set of shared safety protocols for advanced AI design and development that are rigorously audited and overseen by independent outside experts. These protocols should ensure that systems adhering to them are safe beyond a reasonable doubt.” • This is a call for self-regulation. No wonder so many “tech leaders” signed it.

Tech: “Google again accused of willfully destroying evidence in Android antitrust battle” [The Register]. ” Google Chat histories handed over by the web giant in ongoing Android antitrust litigation reveal the biz has been systematically destroying evidence, according to those suing the big G. ‘Google employees regularly and intentionally diverted to ‘history off’ Chats [sic] conversations about Google’s anticompetitive Revenue Share Agreements, Mobile Application Distribution Agreements, Google Play Billing payment policies and pricing, and a variety of other critical issues – specifically to ensure that those Chats would be destroyed,’ the plaintiffs – a mix of state government, corporate, and individuals – claim in a legal brief [PDF] filed on Monday.” • Wait. You’re telling me SBF wasn’t an outlier?

Tech: “Disney Scurries Away From Its Half-Baked Metaverse Ambitions” [Gizmodo]. “As Disney creates worlds, so too can it destroy them. The happiest company/place on Earth no longer includes a dedicated metaverse division. Disney has cut its entire “next-generation storytelling and consumer-experiences unit,” according to a Tuesday Wall Street Journal report. It’s an early glimpse into how the company intends to focus its planned layoffs of thousands of employees. Disney announced that it would slash 7,000 staff (approximately 3% of its total workforce) during a February investor call, amid a rather grim 2023 first quarter earnings report. The metaverse workers were the were the first to go, according to the WSJ’s unnamed sources. The storytelling and experiences team, comprised of about 50 staff, was responsible for grappling with metaverse strategy. The next-gen storytelling unit was reportedly supposed to come up with ways to incorporate Disney characters, narratives, and other aspects of the company’s vast compendium of intellectual property into new types of interactive, digital experiences. Specifically, the company was exploring new ‘applications in fantasy sports, theme-park attractions and other consumer experiences,’ per the WSJ. Though, what exactly the division actually delivered and developed in its brief existence is unclear.” • Froth.

* * *

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!

The Gallery

“Explore Hundreds of Thousands of Japanese Woodblock Prints in a Ukiyo-e Archive” [Colossal]. “From Katsushika Hokusai’s unmistakable views of Mount Fuji to contemporary landscapes by Asano Takeji, Ukiyo-e Search collects a wide variety of Japanese woodblock prints. Programmer John Resig built the online database back in 2012, and the archive now boasts more than 223,000 individual artworks from the early 18th century to today. Encompassing an array of styles, subject matter, and aesthetic impulses, the database is organized by artist and time period, and the system facilitates easy comparison of copies held at museums and institutions around the world.” • For example:

A pairing, still on the agricultural theme:

Another Regionalist painter. Something about that style makes my back teeth itch. I don’t know what it is! It’s not the subject matter. As long as we’re on the farm:

Class Warfare

“The Jobs Most Exposed to ChatGPT” [Wall Street Journal]. “Accountants are among the professionals whose careers are most exposed to the capabilities of generative artificial intelligence, according to a new study. The researchers found that at least half of accounting tasks could be completed much faster with the technology. The same was true for mathematicians, interpreters, writers and nearly 20% of the U.S. workforce, according to the study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and OpenAI, the company that makes the popular AI tool ChatGPT.” • Oh, so OpenAI funded the study? And therefore this is the optimistic prediction? (Note that I think that, since AI is bullshit, the quality of the work done by AIs replacing humans will go down. That does not mean, however, that the work won’t be profitable — which is, after all, the point of the exercise — or that managers won’t get their bonuses, etc.

“The EduSkeptic’s Guidebook 1.0” [Freddie deBoer]. deBoer finds this claim “indisputable”: “Students in essentially all learning contexts sort themselves into a position in the ability spectrum at an early age and stay in that position with remarkable consistency. That is, when we measure learning we find that different students perform at different levels of ability in various quantitative metrics, which creates a hierarchy of performance. What we find is that, with some wiggle and some exceptions, most people don’t move around significantly in that hierarchy of performance over the course of formal education. The students who are high-performing in early childhood education tend to remain high-performing right through college, while the students who are low-performing tend to stay in the same place as well. A remarkable number of interventions consistently fail to move students around in this performance spectrum. We can give kids skills and knowledge that they didn’t previously have. But thousands of years of formal education have not revealed consistent means to change relative performance. Again, you can see this post for many studies and datasets demonstrating this core point.”

News of the Wired

“Museums Are Improving Life for People With Dementia” [Reasons to be Cheerful]. This caught my eye: “A study in Australia that tested saliva of participants in an art museum’s dementia program found stabilized levels of cortisol — a hormone that can indicate stress. In adults generally, cultural engagement has been linked to reduced depression and anxiety, findings that Camic says also apply to people with dementia.” • I’ve been eating oysters to combat cortisol. Perhaps I need to go to art museums too!

* * *

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 AM:

AM writes: “Roger Williams Park on MLK Day 2023. One half of the swan pair swimming in the distance.” Looks more like February….

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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

    Re: Disney dumps the metaverse group.

    Suggestion – the metaverse shall heretofore be dubbed the “bezzleverse.”

    It helps me to remember what it is really all about. Cooking up another embezzlement scheme.

    1. Mikel

      Like I’ve said: the main thing that would be real in the metaverse is the financial transactions.
      The metaverse would be a place for financial transactions in an environment with unclear regulations.
      Ultimately another derugulatory environment (at least early on) for financial transactions.
      Perfect for the “bezzleverse” you describe.

  2. chris

    OMG. How hard is it to say that the Ukrainians have increased their attacks on the nuclear power plant? How the Guardian and IAEA continue to use such vague terms here? “Activity in the region” “fighting is intensifying” – is the bears doing this intense fighting? It’s like there’s just a natural outbreak of fighting in the region. You know, like how butterflies migrate this time of year. This is just a naturally occurring migration of intense fighting near a nuclear generating station with no one responsible for it… my sweet family blogging aunt fanny! These fools want to blame the Russians for a nuclear meltdown in the region. Call it what it is. Tell the Ukrainians to stop attacking this facility now!

    1. Not Again

      You are asking a group of psychopaths who are distributing cancer-causing weapons, blew up a pipeline of an ally, and is blithely sacrificing an entire generation of Ukrainians to stop lighting up a whole country? I’m pretty sure that’s the point of the exercise.

      1. chris

        That would be a hard lift. I’m asking for something that, in principle, is much easier. The media could start clearly identifying that the Ukrainians are the ones who are attacking the nuclear facility. The media could refer to what the Ukrainians are doing as reckless endangerment of Europe in general, and the eastern portion of Ukraine in particular.

  3. Mikel

    “Note that I think that, since AI is bullshit, the quality of the work done by AIs replacing humans will go down. That does not mean, however, that the work won’t be profitable — which is, after all, the point of the exercise — or that managers won’t get their bonuses, etc…”

    Yes, crapification won’t matter. The idea is to force it anyway.

    Just spitballin’, but I can’t help but notice the accelerated AI hype came about around the same time as the crisis that hit a bank like SVB. How was the issue partly described? The funding to companies had decreased and the withdrawals had increased. Need that extra spice and spin on the hype for funding now.

    To the next bubble! (It’s all they got.)

    1. clarky90

      “Horton (Our Sun) Hears A Who (Our Earth)”

      The Sun is “farting” CMEs (Coronal Mass Ejections) in our direction every day. When (not if) A Big One hits us, square on, it is goodbye AI, electric cars, electric phones, electric money……!
      ..oh my….

      “The Carrington Event”

      “In August 1859, astronomers around the world watched with fascination as the number of sunspots on the solar disk grew.

      On Sep. 1, 1859, as Carrington was sketching the sunspots, he was blinded by a sudden flash of light. Carrington described it as a “white light flare”. The whole event lasted about five minutes.”

      Multiple Sunspots and Coronal Hole / Extreme Weather WARNING



      “In the heat of the day, in the cool of the pool, He was splashing…enjoying the jungle’s great joys… When Horton the elephant heard a small noise. So Horton stopped splashing. He looked towards the sound. “That’s funny,” thought Horton…”

  4. Carolinian

    Taking shots at The Atlantic is a dog bites man enterprise but I doubt that Bibi”s temporary backing off was out of guilt at being a bad Israeli. Apparently his military is turning on him. Meanwhile his religious party partners don’t even serve in the military and can’t replace.

  5. NotTimothyGeithner

    Re: DeSantis

    DeSantis had a line that he clearly thought would play that went like “you won’t hear any stories about me paying off porn stars to keep quiet.” And I imagine everyone who heard it snickered, “yep. We know”.

    1. mrsyk

      I can’t get my head around the fact that he, or someone he listens to, can think some of his recent heavy handed policy adventures are going to see him to the nomination. I don’t think there’s much real estate available to the right of Trump. I see some moderate Rs not taking a shine to either the content or the authoritarian tone. If Trump becomes “out of the way” all bets are off.

      1. nippersdad

        The guy was one of the JAG corps at Guantanamo. Were I Trump that would not go unnoticed.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Report says he participated in the actual torture, which to this JAG OFFicer was apparently “all nice and legal, see?” https://mronline.org/2022/11/26/i-was-screaming-and-he-was-smiling-desantis-ran-guantanamo-torture/

          Since the Guantanamo Festering Pustule still is open for business, and a lot of not-terrorists who are too much of an embarrassment to release are still there, in violation of just about every “inalienable right” enshrined in our Constitution, “that quaint document,” seems like this and all the other sins of commission and omission of the Empire will get a nice never-even-fear-consequences pass. So us mopes can just sit down and shut up, since none of us have the interest or initiative to “do anything about it.”

  6. marym

    > …one of the sponsors of the abortion trafficking bill, said plainly that the intent of the legislation is to limit minors’ ability to travel out of state without parental consent.

    The intent is more likely to force minors to carry a pregnancy to term and open the door to limiting travel out of state for pregnant women.

    It’s never about the children.

    1. JBird4049

      >>>It’s never about the children.To be fair, I do not think that is quite true, but yes, too often it is about control. However, if it was truly about the children, I would think that they would do all that they could to limit the need for abortion and to actually provide real assistance to parents and their children. But then, I don’t think that many supposed supporters of women’s rights give a fat darn about it when it comes to spending money on supporting families either.

      The Democrats had control of Congress often enough that they could have passed a federal law guaranteeing the right to an abortion. Both parties could have funded healthcare, birth control, housing, food, and whatever else is needed for a family with children could survive, but have refused to do so for decades because reasons. That the death rate for pregnant mothers is the highest in the developed world and higher than in some undeveloped countries is damning enough.

      Actually, both parties are scolds, wagging their fingers into the face of the needed, berating them for the sin of being human in an often hard and unpredictable world. And it is mostly political Kabuki, using the lives of the vulnerable as the coin needed to appease the donors and the morality police. I almost wish I could send the whole of them to Perdition.

      1. marym

        I’m certain there are people who care about protecting children from various dangers. However, as authoritarian right wing politicians have been passing supposedly child-protecting laws placing limits on minors – access to abortion, gender transition medical intervention, drag queen story hours, books allowed in school libraries – there’s been pretty rapid escalation to proposing laws that place further limits on adults as well.

        I agree that both “sides” of these issues don’t care about children (or adults) in all the ways you reference.

        1. Daniil Adamov

          That is what happened in Russia. Laws penalising the conveniently vaguely-defined “propaganda of homosexuality” in books for children have been extended to cover adults as well, as of last year. And all kinds of other media besides books. And “propaganda of sex change” too. Enforcement is haphazard as usual but the initial chilling effect was appreciable.

        2. semper loquitur

          Yes, heaven forfend the children don’t have access to Drag Queen grooming hour. How will they start their own drag career at the age of 11 like that boy in the article I posted yesterday, without “guidance”? Oh, and lots of Venmo payments from adults.

          Or being mutilated for profit, as has been detailed a number of times here. Or books detailing sex acts they are too young to understand the dangers of:

          Parents Concerned Over Sexually Graphic Books Found In Kansas Middle School Class Library

          In “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” passages describe sexually explicit content such as, “He reached his hand down and pulled out my d**k. He quickly went to giving me h**d. I just sat back and enjoyed it as I could tell he was, too.”

          “He didn’t know I was a virgin, and I did my best to act dominant like my favorite porn star,” the book continued.

          “For the first few minutes, we dry humped and grinded,” another passage read. “I was behind him with my stomach on his back as we kissed … he pulled out some condom and some lube … I had never done it before … I had one point of reference, though, and that was seven-plus years of watching pornography. Although the porn was heterosexual, it was enough of a reference point to get the job done.”

          This book was donated to a school that educates 11 to 12 year olds.


          I’m shocked, shocked to learn that the Right is using such wholesome fare as a battering ram to further their own repressive ends. You might even start to wonder if that isn’t the point. What’s not shocking is to hear liberal progressives despairing at the notion that some people find these things harmful to children. It’s because, as with the Right, it’s never about the children. Or people of color. Or queerfolk. For the liberal progressive championing the Victim of the Day, the Holy Lamb, is simply a means to elevate themselves on the moral pecking order with public displays of self-flagellation and righteous fury. They are devoid of any moral compass, unless it points towards furthering their own status.

          1. Stephanie

            I think you’ve just explained the popularity of charter schools. Non-unionized and atomized, constantly advertising for students to boost enrollment and get more of those sweet, sweet state funding dollars, they are at the mercy of parental choice. Parents know that, and if they are going to do nothing else, they are at least going to raise their children as they see fit, and to hell with anyone who says otherwise.

            1. semper loquitur

              Yes, that makes a lot of sense. And who can blame them? I wouldn’t let any child have access to these books:

              Fairfax County Mother Reveals Books In School Libraries Depicting Child Porn And Pedophilia

              Langton discovered that the books depicted pedophilia and sex between men and boys, including one book that showed a fourth-grade boy performing oral sex on an adult male.

              “The other book has detailed illustrations of a man having sex with a boy,” Langton said to the school board, while she unfolded copies of the x-rated illustrations. “The illustrations include fellatio, sex toys, masturbation and violent nudity.”

              The school board recording of the meeting avoided a close-up shot of the book content and censored the images, Nomani reported.

              “I can’t wait to have your c0ck in my mouth — I’m going give you the blow job of your life,” Langton read from “Gender Queer.” “Then I want you inside me.”

              Another line in “Lawn Boy” read, “What if I told you I touched another guy’s d!ck? What if I told you I sucked it? I was 10 years old but it’s true. I sucked [Doug]’s d!ck, the real estate guy, and he sucked mine too.” The “real estate guy” was a reference to an adult man, Nomani reported.


              I try not to get tin-foily but it’s hard not to think that the intent of such filth in libraries that serve kids as young as 12 is to sow social discontent, regardless of the political alignment of the source. Who wouldn’t think parents would react negatively? It’s a win-win for authoritarianism. Woke school boards get to toss their weight around and sentient mannequin Don Lemon calls for federal protection for them from enraged parents. Meanwhile, on the other Right, Matt Walsh waxes biblical about the moral rot in the heart of America and the need for a return to older ways.

              1. chris

                Yeah, those books certainly make for good headlines. It’s a shame because they’re not good books. The graphic novel “Gender Queer” in particular is not great and seems to have gained its current standing because so many people spoke out against it that the CBLDF and others lined up behind it as anti-censorship.

                To me, the ultimate test of whether this is ideologically motivated pr0n that one side is pushing on everyone else is whether you could replace it with a rightward idol and these same school boards wouldn’t push back. I know if I tried to get a collection of “Soldier of Fortune” or mature reader comics focusing on excessive violence into school libraries, there would be a huge push back. This is something that only goes one way. And the graphic nature of much of this makes it different from school library books that had questionable sexual content that previous generations were exposed to, like “Flowers in the Attic”.

                My favorite made for TV moments with those LGBT+ positive books are when a parent tries to read them aloud at a school board meeting, or shows blown up images from them, and they’re forbidden because the content is considered pornographic at the meeting. So… a group of adults can’t discuss the content but a bunch of middle schoolers can read it in the library after tax payers buy them for the school?

                What a stupid world we’re living through right now.

            2. chris

              I will try to find the links to the studies, but as far as I’m aware, charter schools on average out perform public schools in the US in only one aspect. Charter schools make parents feel like they have more say in their kids schooling. Outside of that, kids in charter schools perform academically at or below most public schools on average, and that’s really bad considering how most charters can choose to not accept troublesome students or those with IEPs.

          2. JBird4049

            I could be called an old school classically liberal Progressive, not whatever wacky socially approved “progressives” who are Woke IdPol. But that is the problem isn’t. Supposedly liberal, but really deranged socially, people who advocate garbage after pushing aside people like me after calling them bigots and haters; they are opposed, maybe better say helped by the equally authoritarian, maybe budding totalitarian, far right reactionaries who want to impose their idea of the good society.

            These “leftists,” “liberals,” and “conservatives” are all going extreme. Some because they honestly believe what the say, while others are just ambitious, political ghouls.

            There are plenty of people along the social and political spectrum who actually want a functional society that works for the welfare of everyone and isn’t a corrupt, Mammon worshipping death cult run by power hungry child ghouls. We all might disagree on what exactly is the best welfare and how to get there, but we all agree on the goals, which is why we are supposed to have a classically liberal democracy, to hash it out. However, we are all buried alive under the toxic sludge produced by those that control this country.

            I do have to mention that both sides are dangerous, but they camouflage their worse aspects by showing their more socially appealing sides, such as they are, to the different national “tribes.” With the gradually speeding up of the destruction of the law, democracy, and the economy to gain power and wealth, both major political parties, their allies, and factions within each coalition are infiltrating their chosen organizations politically, police and military, economically, and socially (the NGOs and political activists).

            The members of both sides may not clearly understand this, and the Democrats generally are so short sight that they are blind, as well as a smaller faction of the Republicans probably are as well, but they are heading into an endgame where one side will try to take it all. Which side, how deliberate and organized it will be, when, and what will happen, I have not a clue, but that it is coming. I would guess between 2024 and 2029 when the major federal elections happen, or within a thereafter when the electoral shocks are processed, and the leadership makes a decision. There is also the 2030 Census and the shifts in population especially if any migrations happen to climate change. Think of the Okies of the Dustbowl.

            The latter it happens, the more well armed and organized the various factions of both sides will be. I am including the left as well as the rightwing militias, the local police, and the various security/police agencies. For example, the Border Patrol and the local sheriffs are likely rightwing, as is the Air Force Academy, while the FBI, CIA, and parts of the military will likely go Democratic and the more conventionally conservative Republicans (what’s left of them anyways)

            This is all very tentative what with the spreading chaos including rule by reflex by the West. It is all like a sports game, but it is our lives that are being decided, both by chance and by morons.

            1. semper loquitur

              I should be more precise, I know that there are liberal Progressives of the old mold who I generally agree with on most issues. The IdPol Woke are the one’s I’m disparaging here.

          3. marym

            Well, I did say “both “sides” of these issues don’t care about children (or adults).

            As JBird4049 comments below: “…both sides are dangerous, but they camouflage their worse aspects by showing their more socially appealing sides…”

            It’s necessary to criticize and be wary of either side claiming something is for the children (or healthcare, or freedom, or Our Democracy™), and to understand and oppose the actual agenda being promoted.

          4. Etrigan

            Equating drag queens with grooming is an embarrassingly thin bit of invective which does a disservice to the quality of this site.

            It has gotten to the point where I dread seeing links to stories about trans rights, drag and political backlash against queer culture knowing the comment section will become a poorly reasoned grab bag of vitriolic talking points and name-calling.

    2. Glen

      > It’s never about the children.

      No, we can force those minors to have children, and, if we get rid of enough child labor laws, then we can force those children to be cheap labor. We already have effectively enacted slave labor in our prisons, so just how far fetched is this?

      And thus the neoliberal march to full on Nineteen Eighty-Four gains steam.

  7. Val

    On this day some years ago, I visited the temple at Nara, as a tourist does, and enjoyed an unexpected series of subtle yet charmingly mystical experiences that I still reflect upon with wonder, only one of which involved deer.

  8. britzklieg

    It’s been reported that 60-80% of the Ukraine aid stays in the US, in what seems an obvious attempt at mis-directing a brewing anger at the growing price tag. A comment from another blog:

    “The United States is giving Ukraine only 20% of the financial assistance it allocates to Kyiv. More than 60% of these funds remain with Washington. Michael McCall, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives of the US Congress, admitted this.

    “Of the allocated $113 billion in four supplementals, approximately 60% is allocated to US troops, US workers, and to modernize US stocks,” the legislator said.””

    Zelensky and the Ukrainian Cirque du Sang = fund raiser…

    1. vao

      That Ukraine only receives 20% of the aid allocated to it while the rest actually gets spent in the USA is perfectly in line with what usually happens with aid granted to developing countries.

      1. britzklieg

        oh wait… do I detect a whiff of snark?
        “perfectly in line with” indeed, snarkus maximus

    2. ChrisFromGA

      Of the allocated $113 billion in four supplementals, approximately 60% is allocated to US troops, US workers, and to (pump) US (defense) stocks,”

      Editorial suggestions.

    3. jsn

      We have achieved grift off!

      Ukraine has become a self licking ice cream cone.

      When its reduced to toxic mud, maybe well help Poland take on the evil Putin monster!

  9. Tim

    I dug into Open AI’s website. I think they have deceived themselves that they are doing good things, while still enabling really bad things to happen beyond arms length.

    They are governed by a non-profit board, and they have a capped-profit model that all profits above the cap are sent to the Non profit to invest in things to mitigate the downside of their AI.

    It’s almost like the inventor of TNT creating the Nobel Peace price in advance of their selling the TNT.

    And those capped profits? Per their website, the only data on capping so far (pun intended) is that profits for 1st round seed investors are limited to 10,000% (100X) of their initial investment..

    Perhaps I’m being a bit harsh. If all they succeed in doing is getting ahead of worse actors, then perhaps this is the least bad scenario, and we should be appreciative they are succeeding without being 100% bloiodsucking vampire psychopaths.

  10. Revenant

    The Edusceptics’ Guide: as an anecdatum, I have two lovely friends who are identical twins. Throughout their formal education they came in the same place as each other every year, including as Cambridge undergraduates when, in different Triposes, they both came in the same place in the University examinations every year.

    Admittedly one specialised in applied mathematics and the other in theoretical computer science so they were studying two sides of the same coin but the metronomic consistency of their performance was remarkable.

    1. NN Cassandra

      IMO big flaw in deBoer argument is the fact that people can and do make significant improvements in their education, but it’s over time. Today’s back row kids are better at education than their counterparts from 50 or 100 years ago. He mentions this and says it doesn’t matter because what is measured is relative performance between today’s kids. Which may be true, but it still invalidates the thesis that educational performance is somehow preordained. If you could take kid from 1920, put him in school in 2020 and then send him 100 years back, he would exceed his original relative performance, which is based on peers from his time.

  11. clarky90

    “State laws and policies that prevent parents or guardians from following the advice of a healthcare professional regarding what may be medically necessary or otherwise appropriate care….”

    I do not trust health care professionals. Or advertising executives, politicians…….. and sundry.

    1. JM

      TL;DW notes: the law gives incredible leeway to the Secretary of Commerce to decide what is and is not allowed, it seems to effectively criminalize VPNs, all decision making related to implementation would be FOIA exempt, it would allow lobbyists into the decision making process (more).

      Basically seems like this would allow any sort of censorship shenanigans whoever happens to be in power at the time can dream up with no opportunity for oversight.

      And then, punishments for those found guilty would include: up to $1 million in fines, and/or up to 20 years in jail.

      1. JBird4049

        Bans or limits VPNs, FOIA exempted, and controlled by a protected position usually given to large donors. Hello, China.

        It is said that the office of the Presidency was created with George Washington in mind, but how often do we get someone like him? It shows the folly of our leadership we they can’t even think of giving power to their enemies never mind the rest of the nation.

    2. Mikel

      If I was going to get a social media app (I’m not), it would be TikTok – using a fake name.
      They all collect info they don’t need to be collecting.
      If I did or said something that was not approved, all China could do is throw me off the app.

  12. ProNewerDeal

    Do NCers have any predictions on the future of Covid?

    1 Will there be an actually sterilizing vaccine and/or prophylactic vitamins (Vitamin “I”, Vit D, etc) in the future, as opposed to the Limited & Temporary protection the existing vaccines and/or prior infection provide?

    I suppose it is best to follow the Precautionary principle here, & assume Covid will continue indefinitely, and thus continue using precautions, including using quality N95-masks at public indoor locations.

    2 Are we in a Long Covid Denial Bubble, & if so what will be the effect on the economy & job market when that Bubble ends? Jobs could be lost due to entire occupations like restaurant Servers/Cooks getting 50%+ downsized. OTOH for those who avoid Long Covid, could there be a 1990s-now Japan-like near-Full Employment job market, due to the slowly increasing amount of disabled working-age workers?

    What do ya think?! (c) Ed Schultz

    1. Acacia

      My understanding (and I hope somebody with a better understanding will chime in) is that a true sterilizing vaccine for a coronavirus is very unlikely. We might get some nasal spray vaccines that work better than the mRNA types, though I keep hearing that these are coming and I keep not seeing them materialize.

      Regarding Long COVID denial, my impression is: yes. There’s widespread denial even of COVID (“this strange cough that doesn’t go away…”), so denial of Long COVID naturally follows. By extension, I would think that yes there will be an impact on the job market, though it may take a while to have good numbers on this. The changes will be waved away as something else, something seasonal, transient, whatever, until they can’t be waved away, and still there will be deniers who want to wave them away because Biden told them that COVID is so over.

      1. Jason Boxman

        But the impact is certainly real; We’ve had the Federal Reserve say as much about dead people shrinking the working populating. And we know even from the CDC!! that long-COVID afflicts several million people. We see the same in other countries as well, such as England and Canada.

  13. Louiedog14

    It’s a dangerous race that no one can predict or control

    Yeah, so I don’t know the difference between a gigabyte and a fleabite but I coulda told you this at least 10 years ago. So thanks E and Stevie but when the “experts” admit there’s a problem, the horse has long since skedaddled.

    I’d really like to hear less in these discussions about jawbs and productivity, and more about ethics, morality, what it means to be human. I’d say killing AI with fire would constitute an appropriate moratorium.

    1. semper loquitur

      “what it means to be human”

      These people think they are defining exactly that.

  14. David in Friday Harbor

    Love the link on the health benefits of oysters — particularly about Omega-3 fatty acids reducing the stress hormone cortisol! I always attributed the feeling of well-being that I get after consuming oysters to the value-priced French Champagne that I chase them with. I suppose that the briny bivalves themselves are contributing more than I thought. Who knew? Bibendum!

    1. ChrisFromGA

      Sort of like the one our own governments in the west are running on us with the “Ukraine is winning” malarkey?

  15. Jason Boxman

    The Liberal Helping Conservatives Fight Race-Based Affirmative Action

    In books, ‌articles and academic papers, Mr. Kahlenberg has spent decades‌ ‌arguing for a different vision of diversity, one based in his 1960s idealism. He believes that had they lived, Kennedy and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have pursued a multiracial coalition of poor and working class people, a Poor People’s ‌Campaign that worked together toward the same goal of economic advancement in education, employment and housing. ‌ ‌

    My money is on Ivy League schools using DEI cynically to preserve the status quo because it suits them.

    1. JBird4049

      Major and charismatic reformers, MLK, RFK, Malcom X, even Fred Hampton, were advocates of a cross class and race coalition that focused on the poor.

      Isn’t funny, how they all died of lead poisoning?

      The thing is that after King died, the Black Misleadership Class really came into power. The leaders of the Black community were given seats at the table of power, privilege, and wealth, and in exchange they would keep the lid on the bottom 90%. Sooth the masses with righteous speeches much like King, but do nothing to actually bring reform about. Help to split the poor of all races into separate groups fighting alone again, thus killing both the Civil Rights Movement and the fight against poverty. Much the same happened with the Women’s Movement.

      1. digi_owl

        I can’t help wonder if that is how the socialist/worker movements in Europe was neutered as well.

  16. NorD94

    Biden declines to veto GOP-led measure to end COVID-19 emergency

    President Biden will not veto a GOP-led effort to end the COVID-19 national emergency, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told Democratic senators on Wednesday.

    A Senate Democratic source confirmed that Schumer informed senators of the decision. The move comes ahead of a planned vote in the upper chamber on the measure later in the day.

    The bill would terminate the COVID-19 national emergency effective immediately. The Biden administration has said it would let it expire in mid-May.

    1. Jason Boxman

      Sick f**king people, without a doubt. But I guess many have gotten COVID and recovered, so it’s just the flu, right? My original opinion almost three years ago is that the death rate just isn’t high enough for a real national response, once we got past the acute phase where it was possible we’d have bodies pilling up in the streets and hundreds and hundreds of thousands dead in short order. Without a population level CFR in the double digits, we’ve gotten this horrid response. Although I honestly thought if the CFR really were extraordinarily high, we’d have national guard shooting people in the streets and mandatory quarantines. Shrug. Either way, the great masses were always screwed.

      It seems like the long term consequences of this denialism might be severe. We’ll see.

  17. will rodgers horse

    Not zero but very close IMO
    Based on my recent flights in which I was the ONLY person wearing a mask i would say you are off on this

  18. Tom Stone

    I think it would be nice to have a lefty but honest version of “In this House”….
    Something along the lines of
    We eat too much on Holidays
    Mock the sanctimonious
    Sometimes cheat at solitaire

    We have some inventive wordsmiths here from Antifa to Wuk which is close enough to Z for Government work.

    1. hunkerdown

      That’s a tough one. Anyone who wants to riff off of this is welcome, with my compliments.

      In This House We Believe

      Grub is Grub (or Grubs Aren’t Grub)
      Black Russians Matter
      Scientism is Lame
      Sanctimony is for No One
      No/Every Human is Special
      Kind Bud is Everything
      Diversity Makes Tactics Stronger

  19. Wukchumni

    Oh-oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh-oh

    You’re living in your own Handmade’s Tale you know
    Living in your own private hell, Idaho

    Don’t go underground and drop that wild potato
    Don’t go on the road
    Beware of air hangars
    If you’re still in high school
    I-90 leads you straight
    Right through the gate
    That opens on another state

    You’re living in your own private hell, Idaho
    You’re living in your own private hell, Idaho

    Keep on the 9 month path
    Beware of your fate and wrath
    Watch out for signs that say no abortion trafficking
    Don’t insert a hanger between your thighs
    Or be blind to the awful surprise
    They’re waitin’ for you to deliver
    Another baby to the bottom of the bottomless
    Red, red, red pool

    You’re livin’ in your own private Handmaid’s Tale-a starring role
    Idaho you’re out of control
    Powers that be who score an own goal
    You fell into underage pregnancy and must stay in Idaho
    Get out of the state
    Get out of the state you’re in
    You better beware

    You’re living in your own private hell, Idaho
    You’re living in your own private hell, Idaho

    Hey, you’re living in your own private hell, Idaho
    Where do you go from here
    To a better state than this?
    Well, don’t be blind to the big surprise
    Swimming round and round thanks to the deadly hand
    Of a radical righty politician in potato land
    At the bottom of the gene pool

    Idaho, Idaho
    Get out of the state
    Get out of the state
    You’re living in your own private hell, Idaho
    Livin’ in your own private hell, Idaho

    Private Idaho, by the B-52’s


  20. lambert strether

    Added some orts and scraps. Be sure to look for the Nashville shooting material under Realignment and Legitimacy.

    1. JBird4049

      Good grief. It hits just about all the flash points. Is there a Russian spy somewhere? We’re a mess of a country.

  21. Wukchumni

    Evangs hate, hate, hate, hate anything trans with a burning passion, and does the evang mass murderess somehow turn into a latter-day Herschel Grynszpan, setting off something similar to Kristalnacht, but with a different focus?

  22. The Rev Kev

    About that object that was found in the area of the Nord Stream 2 blast site. The Danes retrieved it and they said ‘Investigations indicate that the object is an empty maritime smoke buoy, which is used for visual marking. The object does not pose a safety risk.’ Random junk in other words which was why they allowed representatives of the pipeline operator, Nord Stream 2 AG, to partake in the salvage-


    1. tegnost

      Looks like strategic ambiguity to me…
      Kind of similar to the output of ChatGPT…
      When everything’s a haystack, how do you find the needle?
      Random junk and a lot of words…

  23. Mikel

    “…An inquiry into a €100 billion fraud reportedly led French officials to raid five major banks. The governments of Germany and France are also looking into a possible money laundering case involving a number of financial firms.

    Societe Generale, BNP Paribas, Exane, Natixis, and HSBC are the banks under scrutiny. According to DW, they are specifically being investigated for the “legally dubious ‘cum cum’ practices.” Additionally, those activities comprise banks developing intricate legal frameworks to help wealthy clients dodge specific tax obligations for dividends.

    In the end, the investigation’s goals are related to these institutions’ dubious tax strategies. The institutions are alleged of serious tax fraud laundering, according to the authorities. BNP and Exane, on the other hand, are “suspected of aggravated tax fraud.” The raids that happened on Tuesday, according to DW, are related to PNF investigations that were started in December 2021…”

    There’s that word again: “cum cum”

  24. Randall Flagg

    >Retail: “New Report: The Dollar Store Invasion” [Institute for Local Self-Reliance]. “Last year, nearly half of new stores that opened in the U.S. were chain dollar stores, a degree of momentum with no parallel in the history of the retail industry…<

    Vermont Public did an interesting story on this back in Jan 2020 about the Dollar Stores sprouting like weeds in the Green Mountain State.

    1. polar donkey

      12 years ago, I briefly worked at DYI auto parts store. Company invested heavily in mapping and store placement . Shortly before I started working there, the person who ran the store placement left and went to Family Dollar.

  25. Mikel


    More unnecessary crap:
    “…For instance, ergonomic and biomimetic sensory plane seats with smart materials will adapt to passengers’ body shape, height, weight, and temperature, providing a tailored comfort flying experience, according to the report.

    In addition, food printed by a 3D printer will likely be served to passengers eating on board the flights…”

    Yeah, right. In the US they are so busy shrinking airplane seats that people would eventually just be sitting on a computer chip.
    And I’ll bring a sandwich.

  26. tevhatch

    cartoon of cloth masks on kids
    Interesting that the kids are all focused on their post inoculation bandages, pretty colours too.

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