2:00PM Water Cooler 3/30/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

House Wren (Northern), HUNTSVILLE; SNOW BASIN REC. AREA, Utah, United States. This is an “LMS Catalog” recording. From 1961!! I really like the fact that there’s an enormous archive going back that long. Historical continuity!

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

Biden Administration

“Biden admin led massive ‘speech censorship operation,’ former state AG will testify” [FOX]. ” The Biden administration has led ‘the largest speech censorship operation in recent history’ by working with social media companies to suppress and censor information later acknowledged as truthful,” former Missouri attorney general Eric Schmitt will tell the House Weaponization Committee Thursday. Schmitt, now a Republican senator from Missouri, is expected to testify alongside Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and former Missouri deputy attorney general for special litigation, D. John Sauer…. The three witnesses will discuss the findings of their federal government censorship lawsuit, Louisiana and Missouri v. Biden et al—which they filed in May 2022 and which they describe as ‘the most important free speech lawsuit of this generation.’ … The lawsuit is currently in discovery, and Thursday’s hearing is expected to feature witness testimony that will detail evidence collected to show the Biden administration has ‘coerced social media companies to censor disfavored speech.’…. Missouri and Louisiana also deposed an FBI agent about the Hunter Biden laptop story, which revealed that the FBI ‘deliberately planted false information about ‘hack-and-leak’ operations in advance of the Hunter Biden laptop story in order to deceive social media platforms into censoring the Hunter Biden laptop story.'”


“Why Glenn Youngkin Would Be Crazy Not to Run for President” [Politico]. “The reality is that Youngkin is less an updated version of Mitt Romney than he is of someone who actually became president, George W. Bush. Apparently by chance rather than design, what Youngkin articulates is something very much like ‘compassionate conservatism,’ the credo that got Bush elected in 2000 and then went into retreat as he became a war president after 9/11 and the Iraq War. That is reflected in Youngkin’s prominent advocacy of improved state mental health services — ‘Nobody has been spared this crisis” — and a state partnership with the impoverished and predominantly Black city of Petersburg, just south of the capital. Like Bush early in his national career, Youngkin combines the background of a wealthy elite with an affable jockish sensibility — Youngkin played Division I basketball at Rice — that helps with populist messaging. As with Bush, his political persona is intertwined with a plainly sincere if showy religiosity. ‘Can I say grace real quick?’ he asked during a recent interview.”

“Trump: Desantis’s Attitude Toward Russia Makes Peace Negotiations ‘Impossible'” [Breitbart]. “DeSantis told the British commentator that Russia is ‘basically a gas station with a bunch of nuclear weapons’… Trump said this kind of approach ‘is exactly the kind of simple-minded thinking that has produced decades of failed diplomacy and ultimately war.’ He added that the stance belittles Russia and shows a lack of respect for the nation’s culture and history… He also referenced additional comments from DeSantis’s Morgan interview, in which he dubbed Putin a ‘war criminal’ who should be ‘held accountable’ for the Ukraine invasion. ‘This kind of neo-con rhetoric mocking Russia’s nuclear weapons, along with implying that Putin must be tried and presumably executed as a war criminal, only increases the chances of deadly nuclear escalation,’ Trump said. DeSantis’s position on Russia and Putin displays a ‘lack of depth, a lack of seriousness, and a lack of sophistication on the subtleties and complexities of foreign policy,’ in the 45th president’s view. Trump declared that Americans ‘need a statesman and peacemaker in the White House’ and that he is the lone candidate who could prevent a third world war.” • Sure, A/B testing. But….

“Playbook PM: Trump’s indictment limbo drags on to late April” [Politico]. “The sword of Damocles that is the possible criminal indictment of DONALD TRUMP could dangle over American politics for yet another month: Our colleague Erica Orden scooped from NYC that the grand jury looking into the STORMY DANIELS hush money probe is expected to take a break for the next several weeks.” • Heck. I thought they had him this time for sure!

“DeSantis’ board says Disney stripped them of power” [Associated Press]. “Board members picked by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to oversee the governance of Walt Disney World said Wednesday that their Disney-controlled predecessors pulled a fast one on them by passing restrictive covenants that strip the new board of many of its powers. The current supervisors of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District said at a meeting that their predecessors last month signed a development agreement with the company that gave Disney maximum developmental power over the theme park resort’s 27,000 acres in central Florida. The five supervisors were appointed by the Republican governor to the board after the Florida Legislature overhauled Disney’s government in retaliation for the entertainment giant publicly opposing so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation that bars instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, as well as lessons deemed not age-appropriate. In taking on Disney, DeSantis furthered his reputation as a culture warrior willing to battle perceived political enemies and wield the power of state government to accomplish political goals, a strategy that is expected to continue ahead of his potential White House run.” • “Pulled a fast one”? On a Yale man like DeSantis?

“Voters Can’t Even Name Many Democratic Presidential Prospects” [New York Magazine]. “This collective amnesia only matters if Biden doesn’t run. But it tells you that the political capital a lot of people spend on preparing themselves for a presidential candidacy winds up getting wasted. Democrats better hope Biden serves out the rest of his current term and runs for a second. Otherwise, Democratic candidates will need to start all over introducing themselves to the voting members of their party. Right now, a lot of them are basically nonentities.” • Monmouth:

Democrats en Déshabillé

Patient readers, it seems that people are actually reading the back-dated post! But I have not updated it, and there are many updates. So I will have to do that. –lambert

I have moved my standing remarks on the Democrat Party (“the Democrat Party is a rotting corpse that can’t bury itself”) to a separate, back-dated post, to which I will periodically add material, summarizing the addition here in a “live” Water Cooler. (Hopefully, some Bourdieu.) It turns out that defining the Democrat Party is, in fact, a hard problem. I do think the paragraph that follows is on point all the way back to 2016, if not before:

The Democrat Party is the political expression of the class power of PMC, their base (lucidly explained by Thomas Frank in Listen, Liberal!). It follows that the Democrat Party is as “unreformable” as the PMC is unreformable; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. If the Democrat Party fails to govern, that’s because the PMC lacks the capability to govern. (“PMC” modulo “class expatriates,” of course.) Second, all the working parts of the Party reinforce each other. Leave aside characterizing the relationships between elements of the Party (ka-ching, but not entirely) those elements comprise a network — a Flex Net? An iron octagon? — of funders, vendors, apparatchiks, electeds, NGOs, and miscellaneous mercenaries, with assets in the press and the intelligence community.

Note, of course, that the class power of the PMC both expresses and is limited by other classes; oligarchs and American gentry (see ‘industrial model’ of Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Jie) and the working class spring to mind. Suck up, kick down.

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Theatre (1):

Theatre (2):

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IL: “Chicago Mayoral Candidates Scramble For Latino Votes” [HuffPo]. “A series of Latino elected officials, nonprofit leaders and educators lined up to speak on Friday evening at a packed “Vamos con Vallas” rally in support of Paul Vallas, the more conservative of the two remaining candidates for mayor of Chicago. The remarks of Iris Martinez, the first-ever Latina clerk of the Cook County Circuit Court, and the aunt of a young woman who was murdered in Chicago, embodied the mood at an event where support for law enforcement and charter schools were second only to frustration with the city’s nascent activist left. ‘This notion about racism ― please everybody!’ Martinez said, apparently referring to suggestions by Vallas’s rival Brandon Johnson that Vallas has trafficked in racist tropes. ‘Let’s talk about the real issues that are plaguing Chicago today ― and that is crime.’ ‘I don’t see how we can actually address crime if we are defunding the police. I stand with the men and women in blue,’ she added, prompting cheers from a crowd that contained many Latino law enforcement officers. Surveys have consistently shown Vallas, who is white, leading Johnson, who is Black, with Latino voters. But unlike Black voters with whom Johnson has a decisive lead, and white voters with whom Vallas is dominant, Latino voters are still relatively split, and seen as up for grabs by either candidate.”

PA: “Fetterman set to return to Senate week of April 17” [The Hill]. “Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) is set to return to the Senate the week of April 17, two Democratic sources told The Hill. A source close to Fetterman confirmed he will return once the Senate comes back from its upcoming two-week recess. The Pennsylvania progressive has been absent from the Senate since mid-February after checking himself into Walter Reed Medical Military Hospital with clinical depression…. Despite his recovery, Fetterman still struggles with auditory processing issues stemming from the stroke, using closed captioning in order to communicate with lawmakers and aides.”

WI: “What to Watch for in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race” [Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. “Next week, Badger State voters will head to the polls to weigh in on what has been billed as the most important judicial election of the year. If Democratic-aligned Judge Janet Protasiewicz prevails, liberals will assume a 4-3 majority on the state’s highest court. If voters send Daniel Kelly, a former justice who is effectively the GOP nominee in the contest, back to the body, conservatives will retain control…. Throughout this survey, we’ve emphasized Democratic softness in the Milwaukee metro in past state Supreme Court races, as it has typically manifested to at least some degree. But it’s possible that this year’s contest is so nationalized that a more ‘presidential’ coalition takes form, with Protasiewicz making considerable gains in urban areas while doing worse than expected in the west and north — this would essentially be the opposite of Neubauer’s result…. With that, we’ll end on something that we can be fairly certain of: next week’s race will be a high turnout affair, at least for a judicial race.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Fox lawsuit highlights effects of conspiracies on Dominion” [Associated Press]. “‘The evidence will show that Dominion was a valuable, rapidly growing business that was executing on its plan to expand prior to the time that Fox began spreading and endorsing baseless lies about Dominion voting machines,” Stephanie Walstrom, a Dominion spokeswoman, said in a statement. The company’s challenges haven’t ended, as conspiracies about the last presidential election have permeated much of the Republican Party. Trump allies continue to travel the country meeting with community groups and holding forums to promote election conspiracies. The conspiracies have been cited by some county officials, who say they are responding to constituent concerns, as justification for refusing to certify election results and have fed attempts to decertify or ban voting equipment. ‘People aren’t acting rationally,’ said Lawrence Norden, an election security expert with the Brennan Center for Justice, which has advocated for more voter access and funding for election offices. ‘They are canceling contracts at great expense to their taxpayers.” Not included in the Dominion expert’s report are more recent actions, including in Shasta County, California, where the board of supervisors terminated its contract with Dominion early. At a meeting in January, the board cited a loss in public confidence in the machines, which are used in the county to tabulate paper ballots marked by hand. In 2020, Trump won Shasta County with 65% of the vote.” • It’s entirely “rational” to remove digital intermediaries from the voting process, whether marking ballots or counting them. For this election, we do seem to have a case of “A Business That Should Not Exist Unjustly Accused,” sadly.

Cop-loving liberals have a long history:


“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

A “Long Covid Choir” is especially touching because the Skagit Valley choir was one of the earliest epidemiological studies that showed #CovidIsAirborne:

I assume the Hall is properly ventilated! For starters….

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“Introducing: The Covid Underground” [Covid Underground]. The deck: “Welcome to The Covid Underground, a newsletter for the Covid-free movement and all of those who continue to avoid infection.” More: “True health is the ability to change. About 10-30% of the U.S. population has changed their lives in the light of the freeing revelations of 2020, and we keep changing. We are dynamically, creatively faithful to what was— briefly— plain to all: normal is a dangerous illusion.” • Worth a read.

“Covid Meetups” [COVID MEETUPS (JM)]. “A free service to find individuals, families and local businesses/services who take COVID precautions in your area.” • I played around with it some. It seems to be Facebook-driven, sadly, but you can use the Directory without logging in. I get rational hits from the U.S., but not from London, UK, FWIW.

Finding like-minded people on (sorry) Facebook:

Covid Is Airborne

“Intro to Ventilation” [Joey Fox, It’s Airborne]. What the title says! And very thorough. This table caught my eye:

Efficiency vs. effectiveness:

The answer:


“The role of respirators and surgical masks in mitigating the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in healthcare settings” (PDF) [UK Health Security Agency]. “Whilst the body of evidence has grown since the overview of evidence conducted in 2021, the epidemiological evidence from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic remains limited due to methodological limitations, lack of precision and differences between studies. The evidence, albeit of low or very low certainty and of mixed findings, suggests that N95 respirators may offer a degree of increased protection against coronavirus infections in healthcare workers compared to surgical masks.” And: “The overview of evidence also reported that mechanistical evidence from laboratory studies showed that N95 respirators had higher filtration efficiency than surgical masks, but that there was a need for more research in real-world settings, including from well-designed and powered intervention studies, to assess the effectiveness of N95 respirators (or equivalent) versus surgical masks in healthcare settings.” • (Last I checked, Bangladesh was part of the real world, but whatever.) So, the problem is not engineering — testable, and a solved problem — but the persistent refusal of hospitals to purchase high quality masks, train personnel in their use, and make masking universal? Really a chicken and egg problem here. Hospital administrators have only described the world, but the point is to change it….

Cleveland Clinic patients and supporters please note:


“Transmissible SARS-CoV-2 variants with resistance to clinical protease inhibitors” [Science]. “Vaccines and drugs have helped reduce disease severity and blunt the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). However, ongoing virus transmission, continuous evolution, and increasing selective pressures have the potential to yield viral variants capable of resisting these interventions…. [P]hylogenetic analyses indicate that several of these resistant variants have pre-existed the introduction of these drugs into the human population and are capable of spreading. These results encourage the monitoring of resistance variants and the development of additional protease inhibitors and other antiviral drugs with different mechanisms of action and resistance profiles for combinatorial therapy.”

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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.

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 30:

-0.4%. 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: 1,154,353 – 1,153,972 = 381 (381 * 365 = 139,065 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

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose by 7,000 from the previous week to 198,000 on the week ending March 25th, slightly above expectations of 196,000. While surpassing expectations, the result remained at a low level by historical standards and continued to point to a stubbornly tight labor market, in line with the hot payroll figures for February and the Federal Reserve’s outlook of low unemployment. The tight job market forces employers to raise wages to attract and keep staff, magnifying inflationary pressure on the American economy and adding leeway for the central bank to continue tightening monetary policy.” • ‘Til the pips squeak!

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Banks: “Go West, young banker!” [Insider]. “[B]ecause the [Silicon Valley] bankers in question here saw themselves as innovating the way startups get funded, their bleating for government aid actually comes from a whole other wellspring. They were pioneers on the frontier of tech and finance, and as such they acted the way pioneers always do. After declaring themselves ungovernable — mavericks too free-spirited to be shackled to polite society — they headed into the wilderness to live off nothing but their rugged individualism. Then they got massacred and came running back to Fort Washington, demanding that the people in charge expand the boundaries of the camp outward to protect their precarious settlements. This cycle of bold sowing and whiny reaping is how the West was won.”

Tech: “Can Mastodon seize the moment from Twitter?” (interview) [Eugen Rochko, The Verge]. Rochko is CEO of Mastodon. You were ready for the moment in November of 2022 — the product was there, the servers were there, the ecosystem and the community was there. It’s very important to be ready for the moment, but you couldn’t have possibly known it was coming. So what made you stay focused? ROCHKO: “[T]he writing was on the wall for me back in 2016, that something was going to happen sooner or later…. social media websites come and go. They die. Even if they stay around, like MySpace did, nobody’s talking about MySpace like it’s a relevant thing anymore. There are plenty more that have literally disappeared, like App.net, Google Plus, Friendster, or whatever. It is a graveyard, and I never believed that Twitter would be completely immune to that. You can see that for all seven years I’ve worked on this with a preparation for this sort of thing, just without knowing exactly when it would happen or what to do. It has been a long process of figuring out the right features, the right designs, and the right messaging, how to do this and how to do that, so I will not claim that I had all the details figured out from the start. It was a long process to figure stuff out.” • Well, I hope so, given that my tiny personal account just got banned on Twitter. (I can read, but not post). I recall lI got banned the first time when I made it to 500 users; this time, I made it to 300, so I feel like I passed some sort of threshold. It’s not the biggest thing in the world, but it does sting, and I can see how somebody whose income depended on Twitter would feel a little sketchy right now. All I did was post photographs for a hundred hits or so, and fight about Covid! So, anybody know a good Mastodon server for photography? (Instagram won’t let me in, because I have an existing Facebook account that I haven’t used for years and can’t get into, and in any case, Facebook.)

Tech: “OpenAI faces complaint to FTC that seeks investigation and suspension of ChatGPT releases” [CNBC]. “OpenAI is facing a new complaint to the Federal Trade Commission that urges the agency to investigate the group and suspend its commercial deployment of large language models, including its latest iteration of the popular tool ChatGPT. The complaint, made public by the nonprofit research group Center for AI and Digital Policy on Thursday, accuses OpenAI of violating Section 5 of the FTC Act, which prohibits unfair and deceptive business practices, and the agency’s guidance for AI products. CAIDP calls GPT-4 ‘biased, deceptive, and a risk to privacy and public safety.’ The group says the large language model fails to meet the agency’s standards for AI to be ‘transparent, explainable, fair, and empirically sound while fostering accountability.’ The group wants the FTC to require OpenAI establish a way to independently assess GPT products before they’re deployed in the future. It also wants the FTC to create a public incident reporting system for GPT-4 similar to its systems for reporting consumer fraud. It also wants the agency to take on a rulemaking initiative to create standards for generative AI products. CAIDP’s president, Marc Rotenberg, signed onto a widely circulated open letter released Wednesday that called for a pause of at least six months on ‘the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4.'”

Tech: “Regular Old Intelligence is Sufficient–Even Lovely” [Bill McKibben, The Crucial Years]. “Ezra Klein, has done some of the most dedicated reporting on the topic since he moved to the Bay Area a few years ago, talking with many of the people creating this new technology. He has two key findings, I think: one is that the people building these systems have only a limited sense of what’s actually happening inside the black box—the bot is doing endless calculations instantaneously, but not in a way even their inventors can actually follow. And second, the people inventing them think they are potentially incredibly dangerous: ten percent of them, in fact, think they might extinguish the human species. They don’t know exactly how, but think Sorcerer’s Apprentice (or google ‘paper clip maximizer.’) Taken together, those two things give rise to an obvious question, one Klein has asked: ‘If you think calamity so possible, why do this at all?’ Different people have different things to say, but after a few pushes, I find they often answer from something that sounds like the A.I.’s perspective. Many — not all, but enough that I feel comfortable in this characterization — feel that they have a responsibility to usher this new form of intelligence into the world.’ That is, it seems to me, a dumb answer from smart people—the answer not of people who have thought hard about ethics or even outcomes, but the answer that would be supplied by a kind of cultist. (Probably the kind with stock options). Still, it does go, fairly neatly, with the default modern assumption that if we can do something we should do it, which is what I want to talk about. The question that I think very few have bothered to answer is, why?” • Profit?

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 43 Fear (previous close: 40 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 32 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 30 at 1:40 PM ET

Our Famously Free Press

“Texas Observer will continue publishing after staff crowdfunds more than $300,000” [Texas Tribune]. “Three days after voting to cease publication and lay off its journalists, the nonprofit publisher of the Texas Observer said on Wednesday that it would change course and keep the 68-year-old liberal magazine going, following an emergency appeal that crowdsourced more than $300,000. ‘Today, upon receiving significant financial pledges over the past few days, the Texas Observer board gathered to vote to reconsider previous board actions,’ Laura Hernandez Holmes, the president of the board of the Texas Democracy Foundation, which publishes the magazine, said in a statement. ‘The vote to rescind layoffs was unanimous, and the board is eager to move the publication to its next phase.’ She praised the donors who had stepped forward and expressed ‘gratitude to the Observer’s staff for stepping up and working hard to keep the publication alive.'” • The Defector has been very successful as a co-op. I wonder if that option is available to the staff of the Observer?


“Study: Antibiotics don’t reduce risk of death from viral respiratory infections” [Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy]. “Prescribing antibiotics for hospital patients with viral respiratory infections does not appear to have any protective effect, according to a study to be presented at next month’s European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID). In fact, the study by researchers in Norway found that patients with viral respiratory infections who received antibiotics at any point during their hospitalization were more than twice as likely to die as those who didn’t receive antibiotics. The authors of the observational study say the findings provide further evidence in support of more judicious antibiotic use in patients hospitalized with viral respiratory infections…. Early studies during conducted during the pandemic found that as many as 70% of COVID-19 patients in some countries received antibiotics, in part because of the lack of other treatments but also because of concerns about bacterial co-infections. Yet those studies, and subsequent research, show that fewer than 10% of COVID-19 patients have bacterial co-infections.”

Class Warfare

“Occupational Disease and Women: From the Radium Girls to Garment Workers” [Kim Kelly, Teen Vogue]. “All occupational diseases start somewhere. Sometimes they have a well-known history and treatment, as with certain cancers, tuberculosis, and more common stress-related ailments and fractures. Coal miners develop pneumoconiosis, also known as black lung. Meatpacking and poultry-plant workers get repetitive stress injuries. … No matter what an occupational disease is called, the reality has always been uglier. Sometimes capitalism extracts its pound of flesh metaphorically, and sometimes more literally, but it’s always the workers who pay the price. Throughout history, women have faced particular occupational diseases, with a spectrum evolving across time as our employment options have expanded. This is not an especially rosy part of Women’s History Month, but it’s important to remember what these workers were forced to endure in the name of profit — and how some organized to fight back so that future generations would not suffer the same way they did…. As historic and contemporary examples show, the best protection workers have from occupational diseases is the power of their voices and the collective strength that comes from organizing. If your job is making you sick, you owe it to yourself and your coworkers to speak up. Every worker deserves a safe workplace that is free from contaminants, hazards, and disease. If government agencies aren’t prepared to take action to keep us safe, we’ll have to do it ourselves.”

News of the Wired

“Kindness Can Have Unexpectedly Positive Consequences” [Scientific American]. “Scientists who study happiness know that being kind to others can improve well-being. Acts as simple as buying a cup of coffee for someone can boost a person’s mood, for example. Everyday life affords many opportunities for such actions, yet people do not always take advantage of them. In studies published online in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Nicholas Epley, a behavioral scientist at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and I examined a possible explanation: people who perform random acts of kindness underestimate how much recipients value their behavior…. Across our investigations, several robust patterns emerged. For one, both performers and recipients of the acts of kindness were in more positive moods than normal after these exchanges. For another, it was clear that performers undervalued their impact: recipients felt significantly better than the kind actors expected. The recipients also reliably rated these acts as “bigger” than the people performing them did…. When we asked one set of participants to estimate how much someone would like getting a cupcake simply for participating in a study, for example, their predictions were well calibrated with recipients’ reactions. But when people received cupcakes through a random act of kindness, the cupcake givers underestimated how positive their recipients would feel. Recipients of these unexpected actions tend to focus more on warmth than performers do. Missing the importance of warmth may stand in the way of being kinder in daily life. People know that cupcakes can make folks feel good, to be sure, but it turns out that cupcakes given in kindness can make them feel surprisingly good. If people undervalue this effect, they might not bother to carry out these warm, prosocial behaviors.”

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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 RM:

RM writes: “My daughter in Missouri just sent me this and was thrilled as usual to announce ‘soon spring will be here.'”

* * *

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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. Jason Boxman

    So no one’s talking about mandatory insurance for firearms, like for automobiles? Also worth noting that, as mass shooting are a near daily occurrence in the United States, liberal Democrats and Biden had two years to do something and as usual did not. Always look to what one does, not what one says.

    1. shinola

      The Comprehensive Personal Liability that is included in most homeowners, condo & renters policies provide coverage for accidental injuries and/or property damage to others caused by the insured. Unless excluded by endorsement, this includes injury/damage caused by the insured’s use of a firearm. The key word here is ‘accidental’.

      Caveat: Personal property & casualty policy coverage is subject to the approval of each individual state insurance dept. & there are 50 of those; I was licensed in only 4 midwestern states so YMMV.

    2. MT_Wild

      Would be really curious how this would price out and what risk factors would be included in rate computation.

      The majority of gun crimes are committed by people who cannot legally possess firearms. I doubt compliance would be high in this group, but tacking on a mandatory 10 years for lack of insurance might keep them out of circulation. But only if we get serious about prosecuting gun crimes.


      1. Jason Boxman

        I had this thought as well; although it seems like quite a few nationalized shootings of late involve someone that was able to buy a fire arm legally at the time, or was able to do so, even after being flagged or should have been flagged for metal health or other reasons, as unable to buy.

        Regardless, this side steps any kind of restrictions on ownership, if you can get insurance, you can buy, although I think the universe of weapons available for sale, the accessories, and the clips and ammunition, ought to be curtailed.

        1. MT_Wild

          That’s just a sample bias based on what gets media attention.

          Day in, day out, the majority of murders and gun crimes are committed with illegally aquired handguns. Depending on how you define the terms, mass shootings are also predominantly handguns as well.

          But if we limit the discussion to white suburban kids, their weapon of choice seems to be a semi-auto rifle.

    3. truly

      On this very topic, just this week I had a conversation with a friend who is a right leaning, Trumpy gun nut. Owns over 100 firearms. At least 6 AR’s. I proposed the solution of 3 year renewable tabs (like we do with canoes here in MN) and mandatory insurance on each individual gun. Any gun not with tabs and up to date insurance can be confiscated if taken off of their home property or involved in ANY way with any domestic. He was very supportive of this concept.
      He liked the idea. And he thinks that gun control solutions should come from his own party.
      So maybe there are some fault lines in the pro gun community?
      Watch Trump sneak into the conversation with a sensible idea and flip the conversation on its head.

      1. JBird4049

        One of the good things about living a while is being able to see the changes both good and bad as well as the connections.

        We are having another useless argument over guns. Maybe, hear me out, here, the murders are merely the symptoms? Yes, guns are evil. But America has always been a heavily armed and violent nation. It has been for centuries. Unfortunately, it is deep with in us and is not just a Southern phenomenon or a gang thing, or the police, or anything truly isolated from everything else. Somehow, we inherited this. It varies, changes from place to place and overtime, but always there. Whenever something happens that can create violence in almost every society, we have a national violence supercharger for it.

        There use to be target ranges at some schools and students use to leave their rifles in their cars in the school parking lots. The schools that were completely open and unguarded. Not to mention that the local courthouses and government offices were not locked up, fortified, or have metal detectors. And the process for getting aboard a plane use to take me twenty minutes from taxi to seat.

        And mass shootings were almost unheard of, almost mystical.

        We have over **two million people** in prisons and jails right now. This does not include those on probation or parole. Trapped in an increasing violent and corrupt system using them for profit, often keeping them in this system because it is profitable to do so. This is the largest carceral system on Earth.

        A**million people** that are homeless with more every day despite the unused housing stock and other empty buildings.

        I have not had to use a food bank (thanks Mom!) since before the pandemic, but even then the food was often more representative or notational, than truly useful, in amount in some weeks. Sometimes it T-bone steak and on others… I still remember the packages of dried Korean seaweed I got for Christmas. (Rolling eyes here) Hunger is getting worse.

        Government corruption reaching insane levels with money being more important than a functioning government, economy, or society.

        And let us not mention the police death squad in a city near me, and no, I am not joking, and the county with the police gangs at the other end of the state also with police that celebrate deaths.

        The last bit is just a symptom of corrupt, violent legal system that is more about control, even destruction of individuals and sometimes organizations, and wealth extraction or just plain theft, especially at the state and municipal levels often in place of taxes. This includes the various state and local prisons often built and used for profit.

        Not only do we not have a system of national healthcare, but what we have is collapsing, partly to greed and partly to the pandemic.

        Oh, and a pandemic that has killed more people in three years than murder by all causes guns, knives, poisoning, whatever combined for over twenty years. This is a 7-1 ratio. Even at its so-called low level, each year twice as many people die or are crippled by Covid than by guns and likely all varieties of weapons combined. It has now declined to just a 2-1 ratio.

        (IIRC, even with knives, America has been and is unusually violent, and the murder rate was much, much higher during the drug wars of the 1980s and during the 60s than it is today.)

        What I am saying here is that rather than focusing on one expression of our nation’s collapsing with laws that don’t work, and will probably exacerbate it, why don’t we fix the whole system? This would be hard, maybe even impossible, but any efforts on this would be more effective than the usual useless blathering about the constitutionality or the banning of guns.

        It is really just a distraction, albeit a real and horrific one, from our whole society’s dysfunction. Let us do other than feed our fears and become more locked down and authoritarian. This does nothing but make us more unsafe, unstable, unhappy, and will get us even more mass murders.

        And if, really when, we will get violent protests of the kind that threatens the survival of entire cities, as in the Watts Riots or the later ones in 1968, what will our heavily armed gendarmerie under the increasingly weak authority of an increasingly incompetent, sclerotic and authoritarian government ruling over an already frightened and angry population, do?

        Quoting JFK…“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

        So, I guess that the guns are really the problem? /S

        1. earthling

          A good and thought-provoking post. Young men and women) with bright prospects for a good life, who feel hopeful and worthy and have a stake in their community, do not commit mass murders.

          We have become a very crowded nation run by the greedy and ruthless, which thinks forcing people to do this or that, and keeping decent employment elusive, keeping people living paycheck to paycheck, while surveilling their every move and thought, is a good thing. Then we are surprised when people reject this lovely system and turn to violence. It must be the guns, it can’t be our shit-ocracy.

  2. fresno dan

    Jacob Chansley, AKA the Q-Anon Shaman, was very quietly released from prison into a halfway house reported the Daily Mail.
    The Bureau of Prisons gave no explanation for the decision, but it is impossible not to think that it is related to the release of a video that showed Chansley being escorted peacefully and helpfully by Capitol Police, suggesting that the prosecutors misled the jury on the circumstances of his arrest.
    The January 6th prosecutions have been a farce. It’s not that the rioters deserve no consequences for their actions. They do.
    But the response has been utterly disproportionate to the cause. The fiction that this was an insurrection, not a riot, is absurd on its face. Putting rioters in solitary confinement for months to pressure them into guilty pleas? Unforgivable.
    What he did was wrong, but hardly proportionate to the crime. I am glad he is out.
    As usual, no punishment for prosecutoral malfeasance. Its designed that way….

    1. TMoney

      Without exception the system functioned as expected. The punishments metered out to the 6th Jan were harsh, but LESS harsh than had the perps been of a different color. Members of the establishment felt fear, which warrants more punishment than poor people in DC being scared – par for the course. Moreover, it’s clearer than ever that justice is NOT blind.

      Nice to see “regular” Americans experience “Justice”. The Shaman got off light.

      The system has always been thus.

      1. MT_Wild

        It may not be getting media attention, but I have not seen much coverage of prosecutions regarding the Floyd protests or the Seattle Chaz episode. Clearly lots of associated violence, arson, looting, etc. and no shortage of video evidence.

        The government sure does get nervous when “regular” people get rioting.

    2. Mark Gisleson

      And how many of QAnon Shaman’s fellow protesters are still awaiting an appearance before a judge?

      There simply have to be consequences for this kind of criminally malicious behavior. They sent people to jail and then kept them there because they didn’t know what they could charge them with that would stick.

      Does this remind anyone else of Gitmo and why we can’t seem to shut it down?

    3. britzklieg

      He did exactly what every other congress person does: act like a clown and accomplish nothing serious.

    4. TomDority

      He was involved in a coordinated crime or if you like, a coordinated riot that resulted in the deaths and injuries of people.

  3. kareninca

    I have a question about masks. I have a relative by marriage who is in her 70s, who is still working (she is a university lecturer), and she is the biggest mask fan I know. She is a multiple-cancer survivor, and she wears one whenever she is out in the world. It would not even occur to her to say anything against masks. But she did just write this to me:

    “Sometimes I feel out of breath and I know that it is from the mask-wearing and going up steps or rushing from one building to another. It affects oxygen levels.”

    The thing is, I’ve felt the same way at times wearing a mask (which I always do in relevant settings), especially if I am doing any sort of physical labor. I’m not going to write to her to say “no, you’re imagining things”; she has a lot of current health problems (including a 2006 diagnosis of lower pulmonary obstruction which albuterol doesn’t help) and if the mask makes her feel like she lacks oxygen I’m not going to tell her she’s hallucinating. But why would it be? I thought that it was pretty well established that mask wearing didn’t affect oxygen levels. So why would she and I feel like it does? She uses a 3M aura; I sent her a bunch of them, so it’s not that she’s wearing lousy masks.

    1. curlydan

      I’ve worn 3M Auras a lot, and there are times when I felt out of breath, particularly if I just put the mask on and start up a flight of stairs or immediately start some activity. I’d encourage her to put the mask on, wait a minute or so, then start her activity. Honestly, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me why this would/does work, but it’s what I’ve found to help.

      1. kareninca

        I will be moving boxes of books around where I volunteer (while masked), and suddenly I will feel as if I lack oxygen. In her case, she is running around on campus doing things (masked) and will start going up some steps and be out of breath. So it’s not right after putting the mask on; it’s after having the mask on for a while, even an hour or more. If I go outside and take the mask off it does help after a few minutes, so I don’t think it is some undetected ailment (in my case).

        1. anon in so cal

          Wondering if your relative is only out of breath going up steps or rushing, and if this were the case without a mask on, pre-pandemic.

          1. pretzelattack

            indeed, I have done stair climbing workouts with the standard (and not very effective) blue surgical masks and not experienced a difference. I’m old, but with no major health problems (lots of minor ones, though).

            1. kareninca

              She and I both use N95s, not blue surgical masks. I didn’t have the problem earlier in the pandemic when I was using a blue surgical mask; only since using an N95.

              1. tevhatch

                Get a decent oxygen level meter, or borrow a good smart watch like latest from Apple and plot out your blood O2 levels. If your O2 levels don’t change, then the next highest possibility is a fungal or bacterial infection of the lungs which mimics the feeling of shortness of breath without necessarily impacting 02/CO2 exchange (at first, but if the infection goes untreated, then scarring can occur which will permanently reduce exchange). If you wear the same mask repeatedly, particularly in humid environments, then the mask can itself become a breeding ground for infection, which is one of the reasons they recommend ditching them after an 8 hour cycle. I could push this by using UV sterilization (if it’s real UV and not fake (blue LEDs)) but as you are already having a problem you might need to go for shorter periods until you rule out infection. I hope you are not in America, or have damn good medical insurance.

                1. kareninca

                  Aggghhh!! Okay, I will do those things. Thank you very much.

                  Do you think a fingertip oxygen meter would do? I checked a bunch of them and they don’t seem to be very accurate, from the reviews. Maybe it is enough to just see if there is change, and not worry about the absolute number?

                  I do reuse the masks. I let them sit for a few days, then reuse them. But they could be growing fungi, it is true.

                  I am in the U.S. and in an HMO. Oh, well.

          2. kareninca

            Since she said that it was the mask, I think she meant that it was the mask. She wrote (per above):

            “Sometimes I feel out of breath and I know that it is from the mask-wearing and going up steps or rushing from one building to another. It affects oxygen levels.”

            She is very attuned to her health, and to how she feels in reaction to things. She is very pro vaccine (about to try to get her second bivalent), and pro pharma, and pro mask, and pro medical industrial complex, and keeps incredible records. So I don’t want to say “are you really sure it is the mask???” since that would be obnoxious for me to do since she did specifically say it was the mask.

            Now, it is possible that she or I have developed some new ailment since we starting masking. But it only is symptomatic when the mask is on.

        2. Yves Smith

          There have been studies using pulse oximeters showing no change in CO2 levels with masks.

          I do serious weight training in a mask. The only bad thing that happens is I can get very moist and drippy in the mask. Admittedly anecdata.

      2. Martin Oline

        I had to wear masks occasionally when I was working for dust control. OSHA used to insist that you could not wear masks all day in a workplace or the employer was violating health and safety rules. I never wore them all day so I cannot tell you what the safety threshold is in hours but there is a problem with many hours use. When Covid started I made this observation on PhaseBook and was immediately flamed by everyone for pushing false information. These people probably never had to wear a mask as part of their job. I cancelled my account years ago and have not been there since. I wear one throughout any flight on airlines or mass transit, my health and safety being a greater consideration than sharing a smile with strangers.

        1. kareninca

          That makes sense. The only times that I have needed to wear a mask for extended periods has been for two flights to the East Coast (from CA) and back. I don’t have to wear them otherwise for more than an hour or two at a time.

          I did carry two medium suitcases all the way from one end of the Philadelphia Intl. airport to the other at a swift trot last month, wearing the N95, with no problem. So it is mysterious.

          1. Martin Oline

            Incidentally, cheap, disposable industrial masks conform to the face and have no exhaust ports. They are not the loose surgical-type masks. Using them creates a risk of carbon dioxide buildup in the system.

    2. ChiGal

      absolutely masks impact breathing. if you check out the Mask Nerd on YouTube, he rates different masks on a number of factors, including “pressure drop” which I think is the term for how much the mask affects airflow.

      1. Carolinian

        Of course they do. Why would anyone think they don’t? I’ve been wearing a K-95 outside for pollen and can feel the difference.

        And this just in from ZH via the NYT–Trump has been idicted by Manhattan Grand Jury with announcement soon.

        1. Yves Smith

          Sorry, false.

          I am wearing a very heavy duty half face respirator, the sort you use with nasty chemical stuff, like the varnishes painters and woodworkers use. A P100.

          Very very very easy breathing. No difference than w/o a mask. But pinches the face morethan 3M Auras and other fabric respirators.

    3. Objective Ace

      If she doesnt care about infecting others (who obviosly dont care about infecting her) she could switch to a vented n95. I’ve had success with those. Even throwing a surgical mask overtop allows me to breath smoother than a non-vented n95

    4. Michal

      V Flex (they come in small size too) or one of the duckbill N95 seem to have larger area and therefore smaller pressure drop and may thus feel easier to breathe through.
      The other option is a powered respirator (PAPR) where the air is pushed through the filter for you. The good ones are a bit pricey but I get a kick from wearing one when I give a lecture.

      1. kareninca

        Thank you, I will check out the V Flex and duckbill for my relative. She has had financial setbacks due to her cancers and the problems of one of her kids, and so she can’t easily afford extra fancy versions. But maybe there is something that is more workable for her than what she is currently using.

  4. Jason Boxman

    But on Mastodon, see Mastodon is big in Japan. The reason why is… uncomfortable

    I started down the path to lolicon because I wanted to answer a simple question: was Mastodon growing as fast as it was back in April, and if so, why wasn’t I seeing more friends on the service? The answer seems to be that Mastodon continues to grow, but a major engine of its growth is Japanese erotica. And while I can see the headlines now — “Japanese Child Porn Powers Decentralized Publishing” — let’s be clear: this is exactly what decentralized publishing is good for.

    Can’t find the post that describes the enormity of this content on Mastodon; it was linked here some months ago, last year? It described how global search is intentionally disabled, per a GitHub or GitLab filed bug, explicitly to keep people from finding that Mastodon is stuffed full of explicit content, including of minors.

      1. Jason Boxman

        Publicly owned social media run as a utility, although how you’d detox that exactly I’m not sure. We know the masses of underpaid contractors that spend their days in this country and others looking at explicit and violent content posted to Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, ect ect suffer from PTSD. I’m not surprised; I consciously avoid any videos of even mild violence that find their way onto Twitter or even NY Times exposes, because I don’t see any reason to look at blood spattered scenes, or the like. You can’t unsee things. (I learned this early on Slashdot, where a popular joke was to post a link with a different href to some nasty stuff. Lesson learned.)

        And we already know from the Twitter files that these services are somewhat state censored based on political preferences, so it isn’t like we don’t already face government control of the platform in some sense. So nationalize and be done with it, says I. Just because public goods like Social Security are poorly run in terms of customer service, because of bad political actors and ideologies, certainly doesn’t mean we can’t have well run public goods. We should demand this, in fact, from the DMV up to Social Security, Medicare, the IRS, and so forth.

        But I digress.

        1. earthling

          Yes, there are lots of public services that run just fine, libraries, firehouses, etc. And lots of private businesses that are plenty profitable with state supervision of them as a public utility, namely utilities.

          Aha! Let’s have the firefighters who have downtime between calls do policing of the internet!

      2. IowanX

        I looked for an update on Panquake, which Suzie Dawkins is leading. Evidently its on track. I contributed when it was announced, and your question prompted me to look for an update and here it is:

        Here is the Home Page. I’m not a beta tester but I’m curious to see how it works out.

    1. some guy

      I gather Mastodon is some kind of bunch of loosely connected separate free-standing little Baby Mastodons. The answer to Kiddie Porn Baby Mastodons is for non-fans of Kiddie Porn to not use the Kiddie Porn Baby Mastodons. And just accept the fact that there is not a damn thing anyone will ever be able to do about some Baby Mastodons choosing to be Kiddie Porn Party-Havens.

      1. Jason Boxman

        Looks like you can try to avoid some of the bad:

        While every Mastodon server is a world unto itself, Mastodon servers also know about other Mastodon servers. We already talked a bit about this with person-to-person communication and following. In addition to this, Mastodon’s Federated view will display posts from every user in “the network”. Similar to the local view, this view is (or appears to be?) a chronological list of the most recent posts. “The network” is the list of other Mastodon servers that your server knows about. The Federated view is meant to replace the global Twitter view we talked about earlier.

        The key to my understanding of the difference between Mastodon and Twitter is in the details of that federation. There are myriad ways a server knows about other servers — the underlying technical protocols of Mastodon take care of this. However, individual server administrators get to decide what servers their server federates with. I haven’t looked deeply at the implementation details but at a high level this can mean choosing to exclude individual servers, and it can also mean only federating with one or two different servers and creating a closed network.

        This is a feature of Mastodon. Let’s say a group of violent right-wing extremists intent on hurting people and destabilizing the trustworthiness of the network show up with their own server. Administrators can just tell their own server not to federate with the nazi server, banning them from that server. It also means marginalized groups can create their own small networks of safer spaces to talk and share things.


  5. rudi from butte

    When I look around – traveling mid west (Minnesota) to south western MT (Butte) I’m amazed that only 1.2 million folks died from covid. Fat people galore!! It’s really sad.

  6. digi_owl

    Mastodon is a network and a protocol more than a singular platform.

    There a few instances, some of them quite large, that the rest of the network has basically blacklisted. Now as i understand it, this do not stop you individually from following someone on those instances, but anything posted there will not be aggregated by the rest for searching etc.

    I suspect that in due time some company will come around, announce they are implementing mastodon, and then pull the age old embrace extend extinguish. Where their own take on Mastodon the protocol develop features so fast they become the de facto standard.

    Anyways, what killed off the early open protocols was that they assumed a persistent connection ot the net. People moving from landline to mobile put a massive wrench in that, as a mobile phone is liable to get a new IP address each time it hops network tower.

    Thus the rise of pseudo-online, where Apple and Google run massive notification forwarders. That inform the phone when there is something new to grab. Thus giving the impression that they are always connected when they are not.

  7. Mikel

    “Go West, young banker!” [Insider]. “[B]ecause the [Silicon Valley] bankers in question here saw themselves as innovating the way startups get funded, their bleating for government aid actually comes from a whole other wellspring. They were pioneers on the frontier of tech and finance, and as such they acted the way pioneers always do.”

    Change “pioneers” to “rentiers” and they’d be on the right path with the assessment.

    The DOD, Pentagon, and NASA were the pioneers for a lot of the tech systems.

    1. notabanker

      “We satisfy our endless needs, and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny, and in the name of God.”
      -The Last resort

  8. nippersdad

    While it is great that Taibbi finally got the goods on social media censorship, now that Pandora’s box has been opened up I wonder how far back they will go. I can remember being shadow banned on Huffington Post PRIOR to Obama telling people not to get their news from there.* The stuff going on with Twitter might been a novel intervention by the (unimaginative) Biden Admin., but I am betting that it has been a preexisting condition for quite some time.

    * https://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2015/01/obama-to-house-dems-dont-read-huffington-post-201856

  9. Tom Stone

    For those that aren’t aware, the United States had a Nationwide “Assault Weapons” ban in place for a decade 1994-2004.
    It had no effect on violent crime.
    One prominent American politician who was asked to define what an “Assault Rifle” was replied that they “Had a shoulder thing in back that goes up”.
    Are these really the best politicians that money can buy?

    1. Harold


      Excerpt: Since the law expired, there has been a sharp increase in the number of mass shooting casualties due to assault weapons. One 2019 study found that mass shooting deaths were 70 percent less likely to occur while the federal assault weapons ban was in effect based on data from 1981 to 2017.

      We’re seeing more of them because there are more of them and they’re easier than ever to get. And there is an appeal to those who wish to do harm to the community,” said Nick Suplina, senior vice president of law and policy at the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety.

      In lieu of a federal ban, nine states, along with Washington, DC, have implemented their own assault weapons bans — but Tennessee is not among them. Rather, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, has taken steps to loosen the state’s gun laws in recent years: In 2021, he signed a law that allows most adults 21 or older to carry handguns without a permit or training requirements.

      1. JBird4049

        Just what is an assault weapon? I can get a definition for an assault gun, which are effectively banned in the entire country anyways. The term “assault weapon” is a word made to sound like something else that is already banned. It is dishonest.

        It is okay to argue for gun control, and I can see strengthened gun control; it is honest to argue about features like the amount of ammunition that can be carried or about the ability to reload, but it is not honest to use scare tactics.

        Also, I would suggest looking at the overall rate of crime before blaming “assault weapons” for anything, and I would suggest looking at the overwhelming amount of gun deaths caused by handguns; this includes mass shootings.

  10. hk

    Gilbert Doctorow has, I think, a fairly sober assessment of the situation as his reading of Russian newsmedia suggests:


    I think he is right that MacGregor and Ritter did go far in discrediting themselves (and creating wildly exaggerated sense of Russian prowess, ironically projecting their own view of how wars should be conducted.) If, as Doctorow suggests, Russians fear that NATO can escalate dangerously through other means, perhaps in other parts of the world, they can’t commit too large a share of their forces to Ukraine. Russians are probably wise (not sure how correct they are) to suspect that the West has more gizmos than what is publicly known and far more military gear (along with training and, quite likely, actual personnel) to Ukraine than has been admitted (with preparation to supply more–e.g. large quantities of US arms seen being stockpiled in Poland.) But, also, per Doctorow’s suggestion, this is where things get dangerous: if Russia is winning so convincingly, it is relatively easy for the West to just give up and cut losses. But if the Russians are visibly nervous and their gains are incremental, there’s every reason for the West (by which we mean the US) would escalate further in hope of changing the situation and complicate the situation further.

    1. Robert Hahl

      Alexander Mercuris recently quoted the Russian ambassador in London saying that Brittan keeps trying to to escalate the war in order to blame its upcoming economic depression on the war. This wouldn’t be the first time something like that has happened, so the Russians are digging in, and perhaps inviting escallation as a way to roll back NATO. Gilbert Doctorow never discusses this war aim of Russia.

    2. pretzelattack

      how have Macgregor and Ritter been discredited? and how about people like Brian Berletic, who also thinks Russia is winning convincingly, backing up his conclusions with analysis of the logistics?

      I disagree that the West can give up easily, because the US and the assorted poodles have invested so much political capital, not to mention money and arms, in this project to strangle Russia and break it up. how is that going to play in Germany (sorry about that pipeline, it was all a misunderstanding)?

      1. hk

        Macgregor thinks, among others, that Russia has called up far more people than it has admitted through “stealth mobilization” and has up to a million troops ready to deploy to Ukraine (the figure of a million came up in a recent video). I think this is a bit extreme, to say the least, not to mention that even if Russia has a million additional troops under arms, the possible need for troops elsewhere means that the upper ceiling of troop commitments to Ukraine is limited. So I think both Macgregor and Ritter, along with thinking that some giant Russian tsunami will crush Ukraine soonish, are pretty much discredited. Ironically, I think Berletic is not so discredited since he has largely come to dismiss the idea that Russia will sweep aside the Ukrainian with a big sledgehammer blow, and in fact, has been suggesting, if I’m right, that Russians will never resort to the kind of big offensive people imagine will take place.

        Still, even Berletic is guilty of downplaying the Russian strategic dilemma: even if they crush Ukraine, the war continues, with far larger prizes at stake. The war hasn’t been about Ukraine since at least last March: it is now about fates of Germany, France, and Europe generally. I don’t see how the war could end without Germany and France surrendering, at least de facto, and accepting “protection” of Russia, with all the attendant consequences. I actually do expect Russia to win in this manner eventually, but it will take a long time (at least several years) and a great deal of effort, with a lot of things can and will happen along the way, including some nasty surprises all over the world, probably. Russians are being wise to limit their commitment to Ukraine and think the big picture. But, with all the things that can go wrong, they are rightly being worried.

        1. tevhatch

          Elenskyi himself nailed it on his recent train ride interview. When the people of Ukraine grow tired of dying and rise up, then the gig is up. I think the death rates of Ukrainians by the Kremlin are accurate, compared to the overstatements by pundits, because the men are not fragging their officers in sufficient numbers. If they faced certain death, then they’d be risking all, particularly as many are either ethnic Russians or Hungarians gang pressed into service. However, as the logistics bite and aerial mines, 155 shells, etc. dry up, the death rate will probably go way up, and then eventually there will be a collapse of will, particularly as the Russians have been careful to leave open escape to West Europe, ie: there will be an armed invasion of the EU, but not by Russia, but by Right Sector AFU brigades and para-militaries. Poland and everyone behind them have no way to resist, having given it all away.

        2. OnceWereVirologist

          Harsh on Ritter, I think. He has gotten a lot of flak for saying that Ukraine was finished a couple of days into the war, then seemingly flip-flopping in being the first to say that the original big package of Western heavy weapons was a “gamechanger”. Now he has switched again to saying that the Ukrainians are being crushed. But when the facts change, why shouldn’t one’s opinions change ? We’ll have to wait and see if he’s right that the Ukrainian army is finally on its last legs but he was not wrong in his previous flip-flop – the delivery of that enormous package of heavy weapons from the West was the number one factor that allowed the Ukrainian army to continue to make a fight of it.

          1. hk

            The part that I’m especially skeptical about nowadays is the casualties inflicted on Ukrainian military. I don’t doubt the numbers too much, but which type of soldiers Ukraine has lost so far is the suspicious part. Properly trained and experienced soldiers don’t grow on trees, but without them, an army can’t really function, with or without weapons deliveries. The Ukrainian Army hasn’t collapsed yet, meaning that they must have developed some effective scheme for conserving their cadre (or, there is no “Ukrainian Army,” but a Polish one–while I think this is probably true to some degree, the number of foreign troops in Ukraine appears to be relatively small for now). (NB: This is exactly the reason as why I think Western msm stories about Russian losses is garbage–especiallt since Russians haven’t been mobilizing en masse like Ukrainians.)

            Maybe things have changed and Ukrainians really have run out of experienced troops this time? Perhaps, but the last time I was wondering about this, Ukrainians did manage to mobilize a significant army and launched sizable counterattacks, meaning that they had conserved enough experienced troops to run large scale offensive operations, or somehow trained new ones. The talk of coming Ukrainian offensive makes me wonder how things look this time:.never mind if they’ll succeed, but how many competent NCO’s and junior officers can they call on now to make an army actually operate? If there aren’t so many left, how the heck do Ukrainians manage to maintain a functional army on the battlefield.

            Big Serge’s recent piece on Barbarossa pointed to USSR’s incredible ability to raise new armies even after countless setbacks and gigantic casualties. I feel like Ukrainians have kept a bit of that Soviet black magic, too. Unless the Ukrainian Army actually breaks, I wouldn’t trust anyone who would count them out.

            1. PlutoniumKun

              This is a key point you raise – counting raw casualties is a fools game, as Robert McNamara would testify. There is an enormous difference between losing a trained experience soldier and a poorly trained recruit. Its also a reality of war that a defending nation can always withstand more casualties than the invader. So far, the Ukies have tried very hard to keep their best men alive. How successful they’ve been I don’t know, but it does seem clear that they have maintained at least some high quality units. The best units were withdrawn from Bakhmut months ago – so far as I can tell from what I’ve read, there is at most one elite unit still in the city. The rest are fodder. If anyone really knows how many good units they have left for a counter-offensive, they aren’t saying.

              Another point often forgotten is that Nato/Ukraine have shown so far a very effective ability to force multiply crude weaponry through using western tech. There has been an understandable reluctance to put the latest weapons in the hands of front line troops, but that does not mean that they haven’t been throwing a lot of resources into the problem. The obvious example is the use of live tracking of Russian aircraft with real time feeds to Ukie air defences. This means the Ukies don’t have to light up their radars to fire a crude missile like a Buk at an incoming target. This, I think, is the key reason why Russia has failed to establish full air dominance. We’ve yet to see Tupelevs at work over front lines. And a combination of high quality targeting with the GLSMB and cruder locally made drones could well inflict a very high cost on Russian forces.

              I share Doctorows scepticism about a lot of the Russia leaning commentariat. We’ve a year now of hearing about the impending collapse of the Ukie military, but it hasn’t happened yet. Maybe its pending, but I’m really not so sure. Getting through the winter was a key test and whatever the cost, they succeeded. They even held Bakhmut through the mid-March deadline. And once Russia controls the entire east bank of the Dnieper they still have to cross it if they want to get Odessa, which I assume is a key strategic objective.

              My guess – and this is only a guess – is that Russia may feel that relying on time and attrition to win the war may be less attractive over the summer, so if they have the forces, they will go for a major offensive, the primary objective being to crush the remaining core Ukie reserve forces. But its entirely possible that Ukraine has a Nato delivered surprise waiting. Ukraine cannot win this conflict (at least defined by its own objectives), but it is not odds on that Russia will win it either. This war is not nearly over yet.

              1. tevhatch

                “The obvious example is the use of live tracking of Russian aircraft with real time feeds to Ukie air defences.”

                200+ sorties per day by Russian Aircraft, but yes, no B-52 over Cambodia style raids (if the Russians were so inclined to do that scale of war crime). I’m with Scott Ritter on definitions, and SMO means something.

                This targeting by USA is not free though. The 30 + flights of Russian aircraft over US bases in Syria followed up by improved targeting by third parties is one of those slow and low pressure ways the Russians exert pressure. 350 bases, a lot of which are in semi-hostile territory, means a lot of leverage for hybrid/asymmetrical games by Russia on USA when they reach that point.

            2. salvo

              given that fact that most casualties are inflicted by artillery and long range strikes. I don’t see how being supposedly “experienced” is going to save you, and addtionally, even if true, that the Ukrainians have somehow magically managed to save most of their “elite” troops, losing massive amount of so-called “green” troops will affect your available manpower from which “experienced troops” are drawn. Yes, “experienced” troops don’t grow on trees, but neither do the “inexperienced”. As far as I have understood, “green” troops, possibly many force conscripted are mixed into existing units, as you can’t have units on the front line consisting only or mainly of “green troops”, as they would almost immediately break down. Anyway, when this great counter offensive takes place at the latest, we’ll see how well being “elite” saves you from incoming artillery fire and missile strikes.

              btw … as for Scott and mcDouglas being discredited: does having a different perspective than yours make someone “discredited”? I think no. And, it is not the term Doctorow has used in his article, which is focused on the dangers a further escalation on the side of US/NATO in that “counter offensive” may lead to Russia using nuclear weapons. The most important aspect of the article which is oddly ignored.

            3. salvo

              btw … the last time I saw Scott Ritter, was on the channel of Garland Nixon, and there he talked about the war ending by August/September because of US/NATO unable to provide Ukraine with the amount of ammunition to be able to go on. I never heard him “cheerleading” the russian army. I’m sure, he’s basing his predictions on a better informational basis than we have.

        3. Yves Smith

          I have from the very outset raised the problem that Russia could win the war and lose the peace, and what it does with Western Ukraine is a huge thorny mess unless it gets so lucky that Poland makes a land grab.

          However, Russia Telegram is full of uber hawks and armchair generals who are constantly criticizing Russian performance, routinely on very minor issues. Russian Telegram however is the most detailed source of info and no doubt influences media and pundits in Russia.

          The West is running out of ammo to send Ukraine. Period. It will become critical sometime over the summer. You can’t fight a war with pitchforks and shovels.

          Having said that, I have wondered about Macgregor’s stealth mobilization claims. He does have insider (Pentagon) sources but no one else has been making similar statements. Are some in the Pentagon being gaslit by bogus Russian intel?

  11. Stephen V.

    Not sure if this in an example of Joe’s surveil and suppress program but we searched for the TV series version of this last year:
    A highly touted Russian novel.
    Prime says “we have it but you can’t watch it” (video unavailable). Okay N=1 so who cares.
    Last night we tried to pull up Ep. 5 (of 6) of Spy Among Friends. (Excellent BBC series with Guy Pearce 1st aired last December) Same deal : video unavailable.
    If I want disinfo. for my entertainment, why can’t “they” leave well enough alone? Anyone seeing anything similar

    1. petal

      Stephen, not sure where in the world you are located, but when I(located in US) pull it up on YT, it says “Try MGM+ for free” and there are 4 episodes of Season 1 listed. It might be a licensing issue, due to location or timing-like it isn’t allowed to air where you are before a certain date?

    2. hemeantwell

      We came by the Life and Fate miniseries through a friend and are watching it now. Can’t comment on possible suppression. It’s quite good despite the fact that parts of the novel I found particularly moving apparently had to be sacrificed to keep the length manageable.

    3. anahuna

      We’re watching “Spy Among Friends” on MGM+, which is doling out episodes one week at a time, every Sunday. The later episodes are labeled unavailable, which means unavailable as yet.

  12. Tom Stone

    Since nothing is going to be done to decrease poverty,inequality, corruption or the lack of opportunity here in the USA IS there anything that can be done to reduce violent crime?
    The answer is yes.
    We could enforce the laws that ban those convicted of domestic abuse and felonies from possessing guns.
    We’ve had firearms registration for decades, match the database of those who originally purchased firearms legally against the database of prohibited persons and after doublechecking to make sure you have the right Juan Smith send the SWAT teams.
    Start with the ex Sheriff of San Francisco, Ross Mirkarimi who showed up on TV wearing a gun after pleading guilty to beating his wife.
    Chicago is an interesting case, the Gangs there have been competing with each other to produce the best Gangsta Rap for quite a few years.
    Look for the dudes with tears tattooed on their cheeks and PC187 on their biceps who are waving around Gunz.
    Your gang task force will recognize them and know where they live…
    The US Government has shown a great deal of interest in disarming the unworthy poor ( And especially blacks) and no interest at all in disarming violent criminals

    1. Jason Boxman

      But we don’t don’t have functional registration. Not practically. Wish I could find the investigative reporting on that.


      How often do federally licensed gun dealers sell guns that are then used in crimes? It’s hard to know, because for nearly a decade such gun trace data has been hidden from the public. Even local law enforcement had been, until recently, barred from accessing the database for anything but narrow investigations.

      Under the Gun Control Act of 1968, licensed dealers are required to record certain information about a buyer and the gun’s serial number at the point of sale. When a gun is recovered from a crime scene, local law enforcement agencies can request The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to trace the firearm’s origins. The retrieved information is compiled into a crime gun trace database maintained by ATF. A tool to catch criminals, the database in the early 2000s became a political flashpoint, as the Washington Post details. Outside research tying seized guns to a small handful of dealers spurred the federal government to impose tougher sanctions and inspections on gun retailers and manufacturers.

      Or this:

      It’s true that ATF does possess hundreds of thousands of firearm records, most of which have been digitized. And federal law prohibits a national gun registry.

      But those records are not stored in a searchable database or a format consistent with a registry, as claimed.

      “ATF does not maintain a federal gun registry for firearms that fall under the Gun Control Act, and none of the records ATF maintains relating to those firearms may be used to create such a registry,” Carolyn Gwathmey, a public affairs officer at the agency, said in an email.

      Here’s a quick rundown of the facts:

      ATF retains records from federally licensed firearms dealers, manufacturers and importers that go out of business. The records include information about gun sales and transfers.

      The records are stored as digital images that can’t be searched for identifying information. The repository is essentially a giant folder full of pictures of forms.

      ATF can only access the records if a law enforcement agency asks for help tracing a gun linked to a crime.

      (bold mine)

      It’s only out of business dealers. The rest are scattered across however many dealers we have in this country. Some database. And it’s microfilm. In 2023.


      But this debate will continue while more are slaughtered. I don’t expect the status quo to change, if dozens of dead children and attempted assassinations of Congressional Republicans didn’t change it. It ain’t gonna change. These are seriously dangerous times. I don’t carry because I don’t want the responsibility.

  13. Wukchumni

    The Southern Sierra is sitting on 297% of average snowfall, besting the previous winter of record in 1968-69 which could only muster a crummy 268% of average.

    This makes for serious issues with skiers and in particular snowboarders of accidentally falling into what are called ‘tree wells’.

    Living trees give off warmth and create cavities around the periphery of the pine. You don’t want to be anywhere trees in a winter such as this one.

    This 5 minute video shows a skier coming upon an upside down boarder who would have certainly perished if the skier hadn’t come upon him when he did.

    Tree well rescue at Mt. Baker


    1. ChiGal

      wow Wuk, that is amazing! I have done downhill skiing but not powder, never occurred to me that a collapsible shovel would be a basic requirement…

    2. The Rev Kev

      The lesson seems to be that if you are skiing off the beaten track, then go with a buddy or two. One to help and maybe another to go for help.

      1. Wukchumni

        Going skiing tomorrow @ China Peak with a couple buddies, another 3 feet of snow fell in the past few days, lotsa powder which is unusual here, as the snow we typically get is commonly called ‘Sierra Cement’.

    3. britzklieg

      The tragedy averted is too ghastly to imagine.. really unnerved me despite the good ending. There’s really not an adequate word for the fortunate coincidences which saved that guy’s life and made a hero out of his savior. Luck? Divine intervention? Karma… Miracle?

      My lack of faith is tested…

  14. Samuel Conner

    > but the answer that would be supplied by a kind of cultist

    Maybe they’re already working for Roko’s Basilisk

  15. ProNewerDeal

    fwd I read The Analysis News interview of former bank regulator/lawyer Bill Black https://theanalysis.news/bill-black-on-svb-a-bipartisan-clown-car-crash/

    Black says the Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) failure is a matter of interest rate risk, and is more similar to the 1980s Savings & Loan financial crisis than the 2008 crisis.

    SVB had too much long-term treasury & mortgage MBS bonds.

    If I am interpreting correctly, SVB’s overall weighted bond duration was too long and thus faced excessive interest rate risk of the quickly rising Fed Funds Rate

    1 Dumb question, are US commercial banks required to place all their reserves in US Treasury or US MBS bonds? I presume no portion of reserves could be in say a stock index fund or gold ETF?

    2 If so, could SVB averted failure just by having a lower duration – a mix of more sub-5 year maturity ST bonds and less 10+ LT bonds?

    3 Could SVB have “diversified” a bit away from the LT bonds by actually taking a portion of the deposits, and making $10 in loans for each $1 in deposit? Although if their clients were venture capital and startups, perhaps the clients would be “too rich” for there to be much personal loan demand, perhaps only for home mortgages? Would the business loans to the startup companies be prohibited, because of the startups would be regulated as too risky and only investment banks could make such loans?

    1. Jason Boxman

      2 If so, could SVB averted failure just by having a lower duration – a mix of more sub-5 year maturity ST bonds and less 10+ LT bonds?

      Yes. Instead they reached for yield. Their risk management was basically AWOL, and bank management got away with it and got their bonuses as well. The Federal Reserve was clearly aware and did almost nothing as well, with months of lead time. No one looks particularly competent here, and almost no one lost except shareholders.

    2. FreeMarketApologist

      You are interpreting correctly.
      #1: Reserves can be put a variety of places, but the riskier they are (i.e., the greater the likelihood of default and not getting their money back), the less they can be counted as a solid reserve. US Treasuries and MBS, which have a government backstop on payment of interest and repayment of principal, take no haircut against their valuation. (there are some technical considerations there, but generally true).
      #3: The bank could, and did, loan to employees of the startup companies who banked there, and to the owners and employees of the VC funds that funded those startup companies. SVB also appears to have not considered concentration risk very closely (the risk that too many of your loans or depositors are in tightly related fields, which increases the likelihood of widespread loan losses, or, as we saw, mass withdrawls).
      Business loans to the startups aren’t prohibited, but would be considered very risky (capital intensive, low likelihood of success). The function of funding very risky startups is what VCs get to do (that funding is essentially uncollateralized, and banks won’t issue uncollateralized loans).

      There are ways to structure the holdings of high quality reserves (treasuries, MBS, etc.) that reduce interest rate risk, or you just go buy some interest rate swaps to hedge against the risk of rising interest rates. Both cost money, and SVB was trying to maximize return, so doesn’t appear to have been very interested in such solutions.

  16. bassmule

    The Hill: “Despite his recovery, Fetterman still struggles with auditory processing issues stemming from the stroke, using closed captioning in order to communicate with lawmakers and aides.”

    Fellas and gals, there is a difference between “disabled” and “demented.” If there’s anybody who needs to be kept off the floor it’s Feinstein.

  17. Bugs

    “WI: “What to Watch for in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race”

    For really excellent coverage of Wisconsin politics, head over to the Recombobulatiom Area:


    Dan Shafer is a pretty darn good reporter and deserves the clicks.

    Anyone who’s from Milwaukee will understand the name 😁

        1. Wukchumni

          I think Tom DeLay is the only other politician to smile for his mugshot, he’ll be in fine company.

        2. Martin Oline

          Smiling phases
          Showing traces
          Even if they bust you
          Keep on smiling through and through
          And you’ll be amazed at the gaze
          On their faces as they sentence you
          You don’t need a lawyer
          When you’re in a fix
          Someone gets to pay up
          Your friends are full of tricks
          But happiness is something
          That you just can’t buy…
          Smiling Phases

    1. pjay

      Trump just got a HUGE boost in support! Those feckless idiots. Hell, I might even vote for him now!

      1. flora

        No kidding. If his 2016 win was a giant… uh… one-finger salute to both estabs for their handling of the economy… the 2024 election will be epic. He’s already sending out fund raising emails, according the the NYPost.

    2. hunkerdown

      To ape a meme, he’s not the Eugene Debs we need, but may be the Eugene Debs we deserve.

    3. ChrisFromGA

      Are we officially admitted to the organization of banana republics? Do we get a trophy for that?

    4. The Rev Kev

      They had to do it to make sure that Joe Biden gets a second Presidential term as he is the best that the Democrats have to offer. But if they want to splash gasoline all over the place to do so, who am I to disagree?

    5. Onward to Dystopia

      Good God the brunch libs are gonna be insufferable for the next few days.
      …well, more than usual anyway.

    6. Jason Boxman


      As a practical matter, how do you jail a former president. Does the secret service accompany? Is he with general population? What about COVID running rampant in jails? I suppose if he does die, that serves liberal Democrat purposes. Will he make bail? Is he a flight risk? House arrest? With a monitor bracelet?

      This is a dark day for the Republic. And W Bush, of war crimes fame, walks free.

      1. some guy

        And also Obama walks free for granting W Bush his immunity and impunity for war crimes, so W Bush could walk free.

        I wonder how many underage girls Clinton had rape with, there on Epstein Island. For which he walks free also.

    7. hk

      Walls closed in on whom? The Dems and so-called establishment Reps have scored a giant own-goal.

    8. Sardonia

      It’s been said that a Grand Jury will indict a ham sandwich.

      Or in this case, a ham.

      I wouldn’t put it past Trump to dress up like Hannibal Lector for his arraignment. The Circus Master will have fun with this.

  18. Jason Boxman

    This is shaping up to be a horrid election cycle already. I keep getting liberal Democrat texts. Now for the Wisconsin race. I don’t live anywhere near there. It’s another national liberal Democrat group; In response I’ve begun donating to the Republican and sending along my receipt along with a very impolite note to stop texting me. It’s gonna be an expensive two years, I guess. I doubt this won’t stop a single text that I didn’t ask for and never authorized, but there is a certain rage catharsis in it.

    1. hunkerdown

      Baldwin? A RESTRICT Act sponsor? Of course they’re making rain for her. I wonder if they’re doing the same for the other sponsors.

      1. Jason Boxman

        This is the supreme court race there according to the text which I only skimmed in rage.

        All these grifting out of state groups. It’s not my business.

  19. Anthony K Wikrent

    Regarding “Regular Old Intelligence is Sufficient–Even Lovely” [Bill McKibben, The Crucial Years]. “Ezra Klein

    I’ll beat the old drum for civic republicanism yet again. As John Kasson wrote in Civilizing the Machine, Technology and Republican Values in America, 1776-1900 (New York, Grossman, 1976; Penguin 1977):

    The questions of the introduction of domestic manufactures and the role that labor-saving machines might play in American life were considered not as isolated economic issues but as matters affecting the entire character of society. No doubt profit motives existed, but would-be manufacturers had to make cogent arguments which addressed broader ideological concerns. In addition to asking, “How much will it pay?” they had to consider as well, “How will it advance the cause of republicanism?”

    So, what is republicanism? Well, for one thing, it is a philosophy of self-government in which the general welfare has as much weight as individual liberty, and arguably more weight than private interest. The political economy of republicanism is centered on the idea that all human beings have the capacity to seek truth, make useful discoveries and inventions, create beauty, and contribute to civilization. The idea of “unwashed masses” is repugnant.

    Therefore, looking at AI from the perspective of civic republicanism, we should be asking if AI will advance or threaten the human ability to seek truth. The early indications, as I read them, is that AI threatens to overwhelm the human capacity to seek truth, and therefore, as Lambert advocates, should be nuked from orbit.

    The problem, of course, is that the “entrepreneurs” and “disruptors” of Silicon Valley wouldn’t know civic republicanism if it paid them a visit and tore a chunk out of their ass. This is our society quite unprepared to deal with a livable future, let alone create one.

  20. Mikel

    Is Silicon Valley Beyond Redemption?

    About a new book…

    “…Harris wants to wipe the hard drive clean. He makes no calls to protest, divest, or boycott. He is not interested in seizing the means of digital production (and reproduction), organizing tech workers, or “socializing social media.” Harris instead argues that returning the land to the Ohlone could help “draw a new path, away from exhaustion and toward recovery, repair, and renewal.” (The tribe is currently focused on regaining federal recognition, and Harris joined its delegation in D.C. this month.) But he entirely bypasses another way forward: reclaiming Silicon Valley for the public…”

    1. The Rev Kev

      Normally it would be. But the Biden White House has more important things to deal with – such as the Ukraine and sending Trump to jail. But when that is all over, then they will look at that China-Brazil deal for sure. Well, unless something happens with Taiwan that is.

      1. notabanker

        I’ve been a long time reader here, going back to TARP days. Back then I felt things were coming to a head and more savvy and wise commenters said, no way, it will be at least a decade, probably longer before we see a fundamental breakdown.

        It sure feels like the wheels are coming off the cart.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Can you imagine going back in time seven years – to 2016 – to tell your earlier self all the things that would be happening in the years to come? Would you believe yourself? Who could have predicted everything that has been happening over the past year alone? I should have gone long in popcorn.

          1. notabanker

            I subscribed to Taibbi’s substack, I encourage all to do so, and he just sent out an interview with Jacob Siegel who is releasing a book on disinformation. It’s for paid subscribers so I’ll keep this brief but here is a money quote:
            When the government is generating pseudo-events and operating through a convoluted and byzantine secrecy apparatus, it leads people to become suspicious of reality and therefore vulnerable to top-down narrative control. They’ve been spun around and are dizzy and therefore more susceptible, because they are desperate for something to orient them.
            That is the beauty of NC, it keeps me grounded in what is really going on. Not because anyone’s authority makes it so, but because the reader is left to draw their own conclusions. It’s not always pleasant and there are times I have to take a break, but it is very real.

            1. hk

              I don’t know if that’s true in the long run, and I base this in my interactions with Chinese (PRC) and Russians. They’ve heard so much propaganda for so long that they are unbelievably cynical, but that has also led them to a healthy skepticism of any official looking narrative. I think this actually led to the media and government in Russia, in particular (I have more doubts about their Chinese counterparts) being, if not more honest, certainly more frank and straightforward. I suspect that they have largely given up on spinning things too obviously all the time, knowing how that would only cost them credibility.

              What makes the current spinning techniques work in the West is that Westerners haven’t really been exposed to an extreme propaganda state, where everyone was predictably lying through their nose to support their agenda–at least not for too long. As we are getting there (of being in that state for long enough time that is) it will be fascinating to see if people remain that spinnable in the long run…assuming there is a long run.

          2. ChrisFromGA

            Let’s catalog it:

            Russia stole the election!!
            Repo crisis
            Impeachment farce
            Assad must stay!
            Operation warp speed
            Pudding head and Kamala run
            BoJo gets Brexit nominally done
            Ukraine takes us back to WWII (or begins WWIII, stay tuned)
            FOMO does the big dirt nap
            Meme stock mania
            Truss does not outlast a head of lettuce
            Pipeline goes boom
            Greens for burning more coal
            Crypto craters
            Operation Thud!!
            Trump indicted

            I’m sure I missed some. There is a songbook contestant in there somewhere but I’m too lazy to take it on.

            We didn’t start the fire pt2

    2. Wukchumni

      It probably only matters if your savings & investments are denominated in US $’s, otherwise no biggie.

    3. Yves Smith

      Countries in SE Asia have already ditched the dollar for trade.

      The nevertheless have to settle up every few months via central bank dollar trades because they don’t want to hold each other’s currencies.

      China would wind up net holding Brazilian currency. Not sure that’s a great position to be in.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Maybe they can do a deal where they pay other South American countries in Brazilian currency who would use it in their own dealings with the Brazilian economy.

    1. some guy

      Kissinger destabilized and disordered Cambodia to the point where the Red Khmers could take it over.

      What the Red Khmers then did with it was entirely their own choice and entirely within their own power. Kissinger didn’t instruct or order them to conduct the recreational pleasure-genocide which they freely decided on their own to carry out for their own amusement.

      Kissinger’s responsibility for the Pinochet events in Chile is a lot more direct, because Pinochet was conducting in general the sort of social engineering which Kissinger wanted to get him into power to have him conduct.

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